Mobilizing for the Common Good
The Lived Theology of John M. Perkins
Publication Year: 2013
Born into a sharecropping family in New Hebron, Mississippi, in 1930, and only receiving a third-grade education, John M. Perkins has been a pioneering prophetic African American voice for reconciliation and social justice to America's white evangelical churches. Often an unwelcome voice and always a passionate, provocative clarion, Perkins persisted for forty years in bringing about the formation of the Christian Community Development Association--a large network of evangelical churches and community organizations working in America's poorest communities--and inspired the emerging generation of young evangelicals concerned with releasing the Church from its cultural captivity and oppressive materialism.
John M. Perkins has received surprisingly little attention from historians of modern American religious history and theologians. Mobilizing for the Common Good is an exploration of the theological significance of John M. Perkins. With contributions from theologians, historians, and activists, this book contends that Perkins ushered in a paradigm shift in twentieth-century evangelical theology that continues to influence Christian community development projects and social justice activists today.
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
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Title Page, Copyright
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...“Lady, Give Me a Drink”: Reading Scripture, Shaping Community Prophetic Ministry, the Prosperity Gospel, and Gentrification 130Communities of Resurrection and the Transformation of Bodies 145...
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...cago in 1973 when a diverse group of evangelical leaders wrote “The Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern.” The majority of the participants were white evangelicals. But the gripping story of this daring, innovative black Christian—he and his wife, Vera Mae, had already developed a ma-jor ministry of evangelism, education, health care, and promotion of civil ...
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...influence defy easy categorization. An African American fundamentalist Bible teacher and preacher, a third grade dropout, a recipient of honorary doctorates from numerous universities and colleges, an adviser to presi-dents, an author, public speaker, entrepreneur, provocateur, and commu-nity developer, he is the founding organizer and spiritual leader of the ...
PART I: RELOCATION—CONSIDERING THE JOURNEY
The Black Apostle to White Evangelicals
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...his theological core. In this essay I argue that as the apostle Paul was called to preach the gospel of reconciliation to the Gentile community in the first century, so, too, Perkins’s call has been to preach the Christian gospel of reconciliation, redistribution, and relocation to the white evangelical com-munity of the United States on behalf of the poor, black, brown, and white ...
The Church as Family and the Politics of Food Distribution
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Reagan’s Task Force on Food Assistance. This task force, which also in-cluded neoconservative author Midge Decter and former Massachusetts governor Edward King, was convened during an upsurge in interest in, and controversy about, hunger in the United States. Specifically, the administra-tion’s proposed cuts to food stamps had stoked the ire of hunger activists ...
Brotherhood and Its Limits
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...published He’s My Brother: Former Racial Foes Offer Strategy for Reconcili-ation. The book consists of alternating narratives and religious reflections of the two men as they describe how their journeys to overcome their own forms of hatred and to embrace similar understandings of racial reconcili-ation became essential to their definitions of Christian life. The idea that ...
A Quiet Revolution and the Culture Wars
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...failure and cultural captivity of the white evangelical church in the United States of America. Evangelicals’ active resistance to integration in the 1960s stemmed from their rejection of the social gospel movement and separation from modernist and progressive Protestants earlier that century. The civil rights movement was only one act in a theological drama that continues ...
PART II: REDISTRIBUTION—CHALLENGING THE CHURCH
A Prophetic Vision in an Age of Profit
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...“We have substituted a gospel of church growth for a gospel of reconciliation.”eration of the economics of the kingdom. The apostle Paul writes, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Paul is speaking of a spiritual-physical reality, which has ...
Between Two Gardens: An Organic Salvation for Community Development from the Biblical Narrative
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...between two gardens lies a plantation; it is a cursed garden, a sharecropper’s field. Between Eden and the new earth, there is the cursed land of thorns, thistles, and cotton, marked by the pain, toil, and sweat of the oppressed. This is the ground from which John Perkins sprouted. He is son of a sharecropper scraping out a living from borrowed land, infant ...
Religionless Ecclesiology and the Missional Church
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...and justice. In this imaginative proposal, Perkins delivers a challenge to evangelicals to move beyond institutional religion toward a prophetic evangelical faith in and for the world. In this gesture, Perkins’s theology has much in common with Dietrich Bonhoeﬀer’s “religionless Christian-ity.” From a prison cell in Germany, he too would reimagine the church ...
Lady, Give Me a Drink”: Reading Scripture, Shaping Community Development
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...tian and civil rights activist, gave a presentation on the Christian Com-munity Development Association (CCDA) as part of an academic con-ference hosted by the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Vir-ginia. When I sat down, I expected to hear a few minutes of background information and an outline of the organization’s core principles. Instead, ...
Prophetic Ministry, the Prosperity Gospel, and Gentrification
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...cussion that took place at the University of Virginia on April 23, 2009, as There is a book that I think many of you are familiar with: Divided by Faith.In that book, Christian Smith and Michael Emerson designate John Perkins as one of the founding fathers of the reconciliation movement in evangelical Christianity, and he is named as one of three black evangelical leaders who ...
PART III: RECONCILIATION—CONTINUING THE JOURNEY
Communities of Resurrection and the Transformation of Bodies
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...roots prophet of justice for the poor and marginalized. Yet whose justice? Reaching toward what end or purpose? During the American civil rights movement, Will Campbell argued in Race and the Renewal of the Churchthat in a world of racism and poverty, the church had adopted a largely humanitarian approach around freedom, justice, and democracy. “These ...
Love, Reconciliation, and the Solidarity of Pain
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Community Church. Willow Creek is one of the most influential mega-churches in the United States and the world. While at Willow Creek, I was responsible for some of the ministries that were involved in compassion and justice in the city and around the country. We invited Perkins to be our spiritual mentor and teacher on a weeklong experience called the Justice ...
Only Love Wins: Justice and Public Policy
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Jersey, in August 1983. After listening to the preacher bellow a hell-fire and brimstone message that lit up aged trees surrounding our tent meeting, I sat planted in my seat wondering if I should uproot myself and walk forward. When my friend tapped me on the arm and asked if I would walk forward with her during the altar call, I said, “Yes.” I was the only African Ameri-...
Moving toward the Next Evangelicalism
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...several years ago on a frigid january evening i found myself in the back of a Boston police squad car. Just to be clear, I was not under ar-rest. I was part of an eﬀort by the Boston Ten-Point Coalition to curb gang violence in our city. Armed with my clerical collar, I was teamed with a police oﬃcer to visit at-risk youth in the community. We would visit the ...
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...this is an edited transcript of the extended conversation betweentheologian Charles Marsh and John Perkins that took place at the Univer-sity of Virginia on April 22, 2009, as part of the Spring Institute for Lived Charles Marsh (CM): Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It’s so nice to have you here for this extraordinary event, one that I’m very excited ...
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Spirit works in his life and ministry. I have seen John practicing Luke 4:18–19—the Spirit, the poor, the oppressed, and jubilee justice—in a unique and powerful way. I would argue that the church would benefit greatly if John would describe how the Spirit anoints his understanding and practice of incarnating jubilee justice in poor and oppressed communities. He refuses ...
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...michael andres is the Marvin and Jerene DeWitt Professor of Religion at Northwestern College, Orange City, Iowa. He teaches courses in system-atic theology and philosophical theology. Over the years he has taken many students on Spring Service Projects and to Christian Community Develop-mae elise cannon is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant ...
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...in the 2009 Spring Institute for Lived Theology, particularly John Perkins for his generous and inspiring presence. We are grateful to Noel Castellanos for enabling us to hold a panel discussion on the legacy of John Perkins at the Christian Community Development Association’s annual meeting in Cincinnati that same year. We want to thank Gail Davis and Joe Strife for ...
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ABOUT THE EDITORS
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...peter slade is associate professor of religion at Ashland University in Ohio. He is the author of Open Friendship in a Closed Society: Mission Mis-charles marsh is professor of religious studies and the director of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia. He is the author of multiple titles including Reclaiming Dietrich Bonheoffer: The Promise of His ...
Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013