Radical inclusion as religious hyperbole

What’s wrong with The Fellowship’s doctrine of “radical inclusion”?

“Radical Inclusivity is the intentional inclusion of all persons; especially people who have traditionally lived at the margins of society, such as people suffering from substance abuse; people living with HIV/AIDS; same-gender loving people; the recently incarcerated; and sex industry workers.”

And so reads the carelessly crafted hyperbole of The Fellowship, an aggregation of gay and gay affirming churches primarily of the African American pentecostal persuasion. However, “Radical Inclusion” seems to accomplish little except to marginalize and minimalize the traditional Biblical doctrines of sin, repentance, sanctification and holiness.

Radical inclusion sounds wonderful to the ear. Its couched in the imagery of a Jesus who went out of his way to touch sinners shunned by the biblical haters and religious lawmakers known as the Pharisees. We’ve all heard how restrictive and self righteous the Pharisees were. We all know how they hated Jesus’ radical new interpretation of the law. And we know that the Pharisees were responsible for tacking over 600 additional laws to the original commandments. And of course we know that the Pharisees were summarily condemned by Jesus as hypocrites of the worst kind.

Armed with such a distasteful history of “the church”, Bishop Yvette Flunder wants you to think of anyone who believes or preaches that homosexuality is a sin, as modern day Pharisees. And she wants you to think of her and her group of self declared, open minded liberals as the new Jesus. They are liberators imitating Jesus and fighting against the modern day Pharisees who still hold on to archaic “traditions and doctrines” which see homosexuality as a sin.

Thus, it was necessary to create a new doctrinal strawman which would cast these modern day Pharisees as foolish, ignorant, stubborn, closeminded, and out of snyc with Jesus anytime they criticized it. Moreover, it markets itself as the only safe haven for the mistreated (read:intentionally unrepentant) to feel included in the love of Jesus. The trick is to make one’s opponent look so unwelcoming, that the mistreated (read:intentionally unrepentant) flock to and proclaim it as the answer to the modern day Pharisee’s harsh rejection.

Says The Fellowship:

“Inclusivity challenges major fundamental, deep-seated Christian beliefs, doctrines and theologies of the center of society which characterize people on the edge as enemies of God and routinely mistreats, oppresses and excludes people from the community of faith and its institutions.  It is our purpose and aim to provide a safe place of refuge for persons who have been wounded by oppresive theologies and to provide a place of nurturing and training for those who feel called to this shared ministry.”

We’re sure you notice the “us vs them” dichotomy necessary to maintain sway over victimized people. That being noted, the biggest problem with radical inclusion is that it isn’t radical inclusion at all. Its selective radical inclusion.

If you were to closely examine any of the churches associated with Yvette Flunder and The Fellowship you wouldn’t find a diverse mix of people representing “the margins”. What you’d find are religious homosexuals and transgender/transvestites/transsexuals and their supporters.

Beyond the obvious, there exists a strong double standard embedded in radical inclusion.
During a 2003 conference called “Love and Acceptance” in Atlanta, a young man asked Bishop Flunder a question which embarrassed her.
“Why is it that I have to give up my drug use and change, but gays are told they are all right the way they are?”, he asked. He just didn’t get it. If what he was doing was wrong, why wasn’t everybody being held to the same standard?

The hype of inclusion

Is there really an “intentional inclusion” of all persons? If that is a true statement, then where are the pedophiles? They are certainly “on the margins”. Where are the pimps and hustlers? They are not in the mainstream of acceptance. Why isn’t The Fellowship intentionally including racists like the KKK? Don’t they need to know Jesus loves them too? What about wife and husband swappers? That’s another marginal group not accepted into traditional society.

Conversely, none of the groups mentioned by The Fellowship as deserving of special “intentional inclusion” are traditionally living in the margins of society.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but AIDS first appeared in the early 80s. How could that be “traditional”? In just a short twenty years of increasing awareness of AIDS, billions of dollars have been poured into its research and treatment. Yet, the New York City Health Department reported:

The number of new HIV infections among the city’s gay men increased in 2006, according to preliminary data published today by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
In 2006, the number of new cases jumped to 499, up 33% from 374 in 2001. In Manhattan, the highest concentration of new diagnoses occurred in East and Central Harlem, where there were 56 cases in 2006, up 115% from 26 in 2001. In the Chelsea and Clinton neighborhoods, the number of cases increased to 39 in 2006, up 56% from 25 in 2001.”

Substance abuse is hardly “marginal”. According to the US Department of Justice:

An estimated 12.8 million Americans, about 6 percent of the household population aged twelve and older, use illegal drugs on a current basis (within the past thirty days). This number of “past-month” drug users has declined by almost 50 percent from the 1979 high of twenty-five million — a decrease that represents an extraordinary change in behavior. Despite the dramatic drop, more than a third of all Americans twelve and older have tried an illicit drug. Ninety percent of those who have used illegal drugs used marijuana or hashish. Approximately a third used cocaine or took a prescription type drug for nonmedical reasons. About a fifth used LSD. Fortunately, nearly sixty million Americans who used illicit drugs during youth, as adults reject these substances.”

Homosexuals, they claim, have always been “in the church”. Flunder repeatedly cites that the church would suffer a dearth of talent were it not for homosexual singers and musicians.

And the “recently incarcerated” seems to have been thrown in for good measure like one would add an extra pinch of salt to a meal. If Bishop Flunder means the “recently incarcerated” are excluded from hearing Jesus loves them, what about the extensive work of Christian organizations like The Prison Fellowships, founded in 1976?

Considering all of its grandiose talk about reaching those on the margins of society, The Fellowship has yet to prove it has the ability to do anything more than spread religious hyperbole.

7 thoughts on “Radical inclusion as religious hyperbole

  1. Christianity is radically inclusive, but not in the twisted sense that these folks are using.

    They miss something foundational to Christianity: God welcomes us on HIS terms, not ours.

  2. “They miss something foundational to Christianity: God welcomes us on HIS terms, not ours.”

    True Neil, they present a partial view of the cross and then intentionally restrict the other view.

    In front of the cross is love, acceptance and welcoming despite one’s sinful condition. Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden and I will give you rest…

    Behind the cross is the yoke, albeit easy. And take my yoke upon you and learn of me. (Mt 11:28,29)
    This is where LORDSHIP, submission and obedience take over.

  3. What you failed to research was radical inclusion in its entirety and the variety of ministries that support the principal. Mot all churches agree on what exactly it is. I am part of a radically inclusive ministry that is not a part of the felolowship but still supports the practice of extending love.

    Ours is a doctrine focused on God’s love that is undeniably spread to all regardless of where they find themselves in life. Sure it may include some of what you listed in your opening statement but is not limited to that. When the church can shift their focus from their personal agendas and biased focuses on the stuff of life that does not matter, and turn with a loving heart to those that are less welcomed in our congregations then will we really hear from heaven.

    On Bishop Flunder, say what you will about her radical beliefs and personal Christan discipline, but you do not know her as a person nor are you privy to the context or totality of her ministry at large. To suggest that she asserts herself as “Jesus” is not only a misinterpretation of her; but it is also a bald faced lie. That is not the context of her ministry.

    As a minister I encourage you to consider your audience and not be so focused on your personal truth that you carelessly wound those that are a part of the ministry (whether you agree with it or not), and/or are a part of her family.

    I respect your right to your gospel- I say “your” not to be facetious- but you know any hold fast to theirs and we can all find something “wrong” with it. I urge you to consider that you are still responsible to lead in love and as yuou are led to speak your thoughts on any matter, you must still consider all who will be exposed to it and offer in love.

    In love it does not offend.
    In love it does not boast.

    Finally – I don’t have your religious experience- but living in California, it is certainly an “us-against-them mentality. Until you have lived it you cannot speak on it. In many churches there is the don’t ask don’t tell code. How can you deny that. You don’t see it? Let’s not avoid the truth.

    What does your ministry include for the homosexual? The transgender? Do you specifically go out and look for them and invite them into a place of God’s love or do you preach them into hell fro your pulpit. How do you minister currently to the teen who is experiencing confusion about who they are sexually? Where is your ministry to these groups? Therein is the need for radical inclusion. We often treat them as the crud of society. It’s a shame. Churches march with their hate signs citing things like “God hates fags!” and we wonder why there is no conversion, no strengthening. Who wants to know a God that hates them?

    Radical inclusion has opened up the church doors to those that had ties in churches but quickly found themselves ostracized. By people who were supposed to love them!

    There may be fundamental flaws in some radically inclusive gospels – but the one that is sure is love. When you open up your doors to the same people then you can write about it. Based on all you’ve said, I doubt there is an abundance of welcome in your community for the transgender population or LGBT persons. Someone had to open their doors.

    Yvette’s Niece

  4. Dear Ree, you are mistaken, I do know Bishop Flunder. Ask her. Further, how can you accuse someone of not being “radically inclusive” because they dont know, Its apparent by your questions that you lack knowledge of our ministry.

    Bishop Flunder and other church gays claim they are everywhere. She once said that without homosexuals, there would only be one of two gospel songs, and nobody would want to sing them. Then on the other hand you claim that churches are blocking their doors and refusing to let gays in. Which is it? There is way too much conflicting rhetoric coming out of the inclusion camp. Since you know, please clear this up.

    You also say that love does not offend, but the gospel does offend. How do you answer that? Even the very cross of Jesus Christ is offensive (Gal 5:11). Should we not preach the cross if it is indeed offensive? Must love be standardless? Without challenge?

    If its your honest contention that we don’t know enough about radical inclusion then, here’s your chance to give the “inside story”. Please tell us something we dont know.




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