Urbanites: More Justice, Less Epistemology
I speak as a member of an emerging class of urbanites, namely Latinos and African-Americans, who have received or who are receiving a college education. The table talk that occurs among these rising urbanites tends to center on the issues of social justice.
The pressing question in the minds of most of these students is "Who has been and continues to be exploited by the American system?" Here the American system is synonymous with the white man's molding of an economic system, the creation of an exploited class coupled with a religious system that at once justifies the exploiter and pacifies the exploited.
Granted, this is overly simplistic if not historically naïve, but this is what is propagated from the lectern and what is believed by the vast majority of this emerging urban class. The primary rhetorical targets of this group, then, are capitalism and Christianity. Here the problem is not radical skepticism about knowledge, rather radical suspicion about power relations. Again, the issue for this emerging class isn't that I can't get at truth qua truth; it's the issue of whether I can or should trust you to lead me to whatever it is that Christians claim.
Mainstream American evangelicalism seems blindingly monochromatic and culturally monolithic. And with the emphasis on personal piety as modeled by our leaders, the simple fact is that we urbanites don't want to become what you are—that is, focused on the individual, the immediate, and the idiosyncratic, e.g., "Come to the altar right now and pray like this."
While the epistemology of radical suspicion poses an immediate problem for the gospel in America, the quest for justice and for a well-thought and well-lived Christianity is more urgent.
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