I’m a prophet to America.
For the longest time I suffered under the delusion that I was training for pastoral ministry, but I was actually a missionary among my own kind. Back when I served in the US military, I knew beyond all doubt that it was my mission field. Nothing in my calling prevented me from reaching out to the local population where I was stationed, but my primary calling was to church folks in uniform. Still, my mind was focused on providing pastoral care. While that worked out rather well in one sense, I remained deeply conflicted about how churches were seldom a welcoming place for me.
It never dawned on me until much later that the mission field was the institutional religious landscape. I was an ambassador from a foreign power they did not really know well.
Most of what passes for American church missions to foreign lands has always been more about cultural mission work. So deep and thorough was the deception that they viewed Jehovah in terms of Anglo-Saxon mythology, and considered their Western middle-class cultural values as “faith.” Their Jesus was a European deity. Most missionaries are wholly unable to think outside their cultural boundaries. They only imagine themselves to be cosmopolitan; their recognition of other cultures subconsciously assumes a Western superiority.
So most of the world thinks of Jehovah as merely a cultural deity. If someone invades their land and succeeds militarily and politically, they might as well placate the god of their invaders, too. A great many Asian converts, for example, remain polytheistic in that sense. They show up for church and express a certain religious fervor, but they also burn incense to their ancient pagan deities. To them, the Bible is just a Western invention hijacked from those belligerent folks in Palestine. Americans pretend to be nice, but are actually no less belligerent.
Seeking now to be a “foreign missionary” would mean having to carry all that baggage. It’s not that I have any less zeal for the rest of humanity to find heart-led faith living, but I dare not associate myself with previous missionary work.
Nor would I accept the image of reformer. Western Christianity doesn’t need renovation; it’s built on a false foundation. It needs replacement, starting over on a proper footing of genuine heart-led faith. Insofar as I am any kind of missionary, I engage in home missions. It’s Americans that need the gospel message. I believe we’ve wasted enough resources, often with massive corruption you never hear about, on what folks call “foreign missions.” You can stop plundering the tithes, church leaders. Let’s find another way to spread the word of truth.
Our virtual parish is a mission center, too. The Internet works just fine; we have little need for all that expensive travel and the risks involved. God is raising up people in every land who can walk by their faith in heart-led living, and it’s easier for them than it is for Westerners in the first place. People from all over the world have subscribed to this blog alone, and we are approaching 800 subscribers. We are hardly the only good source of gospel truth on the Net, but if only those few who pay attention to our teaching here become serious about living heart-led faith, we already have a bigger mission “staff” around the world than most church organizations.
Best of all, I don’t have to worry about compromising the gospel by chaining it to inappropriate cultural arrogance. Local folks can allow the heart-led gospel to manifest within their own cultural context.
Meanwhile, here’s my message to America: God has decreed an end. The sun is setting on the American empire. We can do this gracefully or we can fight it and be destroyed. We can pull in our tentacles of control or have them cut off and bleed to death. The world has suffered enough from our unbearable arrogance and interference. Other empires will displace us and we had better get used to the idea.