theological reflections on xzuberant faith

here is a letter I have written and emailed (xfmpstreetball@yahoo.com as well as xfmag@yahoo.com) to the leaders of the XFBA.

Michael Heard, Gregory Railey and Jevon Blake,
In this whole expose of trying to discover what is true and false about this basketball league I began re-thinking this whole thing from top to bottom, so a bit of theology is due. Due to these reflections we have posed 6 challenges to you, if you are able to exemplify that these are and will be your own actions, we will leave you alone.

When I began digging into this basketball league, I only did so because things sounded fishy. In fact I hoped to find that my feelings were ungrounded and ill conceived, but in fact the more my friends and I have dug into this the more we’ve felt uneasy about this whole league.

A good starting point for discussion quite frankly is what underlies Christian practice? The first and primary ethic that should characterize Christian groups, leagues, business, bands, movie stars, theologians, whatever – is Love. But not the kind of spineless and heartless love that much of the liberal church is characterized by. Neither is it the kind of fanatic and judgmental “love” that characterizes the conservatives. Rather true love – tells the truth even in the face of danger and fear of rejection. Because there is no reason to fear with love – it casts it all out. The only things we fear are those things left in secret, those things that we cannot trust. Christian community is then characterized by trusting one another, even when we know we really can’t be trusted at all. We trust – because we love, and we love because God loved and loves us.

This is then what real exuberant faith is, it is zealous faith lived out in honesty, love and truth. The kind of faith that Jesus had was exuberant, it was full of life, and hope, full of the love and openness of God.

The irony is that the xzuberant basketball league seems to be characterized by the opposite. The team leaders don’t trust their players instead they have to follow every command and change to policy with something like “if you don’t do it your off the team forever, you lose your chance.” This is not trust.

Love is not characteristic of a basketball league that forces its players to go to church, and at that a specific church, and at that tithe to that specific church. And if they don’t go the players “lose their chance.”

And what of not making sure every player has a copy of the contract he signed? In fact the contracts have supposedly been thrown out because the leaders never signed them (before throwing them out, why don’t you just have them signed?). This is not a characteristic of love or trust.

Jesus’ community is formed by love and trust. Trust comes by telling the truth. This is really important to the way Christians always do business (not just if you’re trying to scam people). Ananias and Saphira learned this lesson the hard way – they lied to the Holy Spirit and died because of it. This is how categorically significant truth-telling is to those who call themselves – Christ-followers.

And so if the XFBA is a group of people trying to pull the blindfolds over people’s eyes OR if they are just really naive business people who don’t know how to do what they’ve set out to do – then either way the Gospel calls them to tell the truth. And so do we.

What we’ve been doing on this blog over the past week is calling for the truth to be told and for the light of God’s truth to be shed upon your group.

So here are our challenges:

1. If you have nothing to hide from the media, or from the web then we challenge you to contact the Canton Repository, Alliance Review, or Action news 19 and let the truth be known (they are all already aware of what is going on…). If there is nothing to hide, then even what has been said on this blog will not stop a legitimate business, and this is exactly what we are calling for – legitimate Christian business practices to be shown.

2. Give every player a copy of the contract before they sign it.

3. Stay in Canton, because fleeing to Atlanta only makes it look a lot worse. And there is no reason to leave because of allegations about Mr. Alexander, and because of a little bad press, Walmart gets that kind of stuff all the time and they don’t seem to ever go away.

4. Actually pay these men, who have quit their jobs to join this league under the promises you’ve made to them.

5. Do not force anyone to go to Mr. Heard’s church, nor to pay tithe to him or his ministry.

6. No more lying. No more lying about media being places when its not, no lying about what the salary is or will be, and because there is no lying, the refund of the registration fee’s must be reimbursed per your own words.

Jesus was always up front about everything he was doing, so much so that people didn’t understand what he was talking about many times. He never forced people to follow him, or support his ministry, in fact there is no record of him ever asking for anyone’s support at all. He looked out for those in need, and went the extra mile to preach that all are deserving of justice, and love. All people deserve the respect to be told the truth.

So if the XFBA is willing to agree to do these things, we are willing to move on and leave you alone. We call you to God’s truth – move out into the light.

Other Information written about this here on my blog:
Update 1
Update 2
Update 3
Update 4
Update 5
Update 6
Update 7
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Wess

...is the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

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