Every culture recognises that some thoughts, words, or actions are ‘dirty.’ Kester highlights three things in relation to Jesus’ attitude to dirt: firstly, some things declared dirty, Jesus declares not dirty (such as vaginal bleeding, or corpses, or infectious disease, or certain foods); secondly, those people declared as dirty are the very people Jesus chooses to identify with (tax collectors; sinners), not endorsing all of their actions, but refusing to exclude them on those grounds; and thirdly, Jesus drives the money changers from the temple, not because they are dirty – defiling the place – but because they have set up a system that makes it as hard as possible for dirty people to come in – defiling the place? – and be made clean.
Given the evangelical/conservative [and on dirt issues, Charismatic Evangelicals are as conservative as Conservative Evangelicals] tendency to separate ourselves from those we consider dirty, and to make it as difficult as possible for them to come to God in our churches, by dictating how they should come; and, on the other hand, given the liberal/progressive tendency to declare that dirt is an out-dated, repressive idea; dirt, and how we deal with it, and how we relate to those we consider dirty – who we will choose to identify with, spend time with, socialise with [or worry we will be contaminated by] – will be a crucial area. Will we – as we have done in past generations – build our nice suburban neighbourhoods up-wind of the urban stench; or will we be humble enough to shovel shit and maintain the sewers?
The Complex Christ , church , emergence theory