Joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
whose hope is in the LORD their God…
He gives justice to the oppressed
and food to the hungry.
The LORD frees the prisoners.
The LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are weighed down.
The LORD protects the foreigners among us.
He cares for the orphans and widows (Ps 146:5-9)
In my last post, I discussed how Fundamental Christianity looks back to a golden age, and laments our past actions which have wrecked this beautiful world. Luke Cage’s mantra, “sometimes backward to move forward. Always,” recognises that in order to move forward some times we also need to look backward towards the damage which our actions have inflicted upon our others, ourselves, relationships, and the world around us. These relationships are restored, according to Fundamental Christianity, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. In this post, I want to focus on the idea of continually looking forward which is embodied so well by Liberal Christianity.
The god of Liberal Christianity is also angry albeit for different reasons than the god of Fundamental Christianity. While Fundamentalist Christianity argues that God is angry with us because we have rebelled against him, Liberal Christianity asserts that it is the oppression and injustice of people that makes God angry. This anger spurs the god of Liberal Christianity to free prisoners, restore sight to the blind, protect refugees, execute justice for the oppressed, and feed the hungry. These acts of social justice are valued by Liberal Christians as they look towards a future golden age, in which
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
Pop’s mantra, “never backward, always forward. Always,” embodies the mindset of Liberal Christianity which is spurred on to social action by a vision of a better world. This vision is important and necessary to inspire social change. Social change is something which both fundamental and liberal Christianity embrace, as they both share a dissatisfaction with injustice and oppression, and long for better future. However, as Luke Cage discovers, in our quest for a better future we sometimes have to look backward in order to move forward. This may mean seeking to repair broken relationships and making up for past indiscretions. Such actions, themselves seem to bring relationships forward into a better place than they were previously, even before the actions which caused the hurt and alienation in the first place.
I think Luke is right. Pop’s idea of leaving the past behind, and striving towards a better future is essential if we want to see positive change in our lives and the world around us. Such change, however, can only be achieved by taking responsibility for our past actions, and finding a way to undo the hurt and pain they have caused, as Luke Cage discovers, “sometimes backward to move forward. Always.”