Colouring outside of the lines: addressing the exclusivity of the Church

Jorge Bergoglio

Though the first 300 years of the Church was characterized by followers being openly tortured and vilified – since the Greco-Roman hijack of Constantine, the Church has been the oppressor not the liberator, the executioner not the comforter, the racial bigot not the embracer of all people groups. Brian McLaren unpacks the Church’s historical problem with pluralism by likening it to a psycho-social syndrome of role-reversal, in which “former victims later become victimisers and in which former hostages end up identifying with their captors” (McLaren, 2010, p. 288).

Evidently, after 300 years of Roman persecution, it seems that the Church has been in this role-reversal syndrome ever since, only on rare glimpses seeing past the ‘justified exclusivity’ and looking out towards the socially inclusive horizon that Jesus incarnated. The Greco-Roman philosophy that has underpinned colonization; slavery; apartheid; witch hunts; racism; the holocaust; the burning of ‘heretics’;  the oppression of women; capitalism; and the marginalization of the LGBT community; needs to change.

Quite frankly the Church needs to be saved.

If God is not a socio-cultural and religious bigot, then followers of Jesus need to challenge the very system that supposedly carries the message of the good news.

The good news is meant to be good news for all, right?

The separation curtain (which was torn in two by Christ’s passion) seems to keep being put back together to exclude the majority and include the ‘elect/saved’ minority. If the gospel is in, for and through all, then we need to address why the Church continues to be (not a beacon of hope and renewing but) a beacon of exclusive judgement, authorized and supported by an exclusive and judgemental God.

“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity.” – Pope Francis


Works Cited

McLaren, B. (2010). A new kind of Christianity. London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.


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