taking the words of Jesus seriously

A collective of justice-seeking Christians recently recorded eight powerful discussion videos called Detoxify Christianity. In this series, we sought to center people of color and queer voices.

Many of the presenters in these videos come from an evangelical background in which we received some theology that proved to be problematic and unbiblical. We are troubled by the way that so many Christians today uncritically appropriate the same theology that was used for centuries to justify colonial conquest, genocide, and slavery.

We do not recognize the religion of “law and order” and “God and country” to be authentic Christianity. We do not believe that the church can move forward without purging our theology of its worldly values such as white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and American exceptionalism. Our Christianity needs to be detoxified.

Below are links and brief descriptions of each video discussion. These hour-long videos are also available at our Facebook page as an open source tool for small group conversation and individual reflection. This video series is less about providing clear, resolved answers and more about opening space for critical reflection about our faith.

(NOTE: These videos are currently unpolished live broadcasts. The first video in particular had some glitches that we resolved in later videos. If we are able to update them over time, please check the Detoxify Christianity page for edited videos.)

  1. Detoxify God 

    In this video, Mike Morrell, Rachel Hester, and Morgan Guyton discuss various different ways in which our conceptions of God can be detoxified. As we talked, we realized that one of the most basic toxicities of how we talk about God is that we make God into an abstract concept rather than someone whose love we experience in our lives. This is because we’ve been taught to mistrust our own authority to speak of our experiences with God.

  2. Detoxify Salvation

    In this video, Pierre Keys, Jarell Wilson, Naomi Washington-Leapheart, and Morgan Guyton discuss how to detoxify Christian salvation in the American church. Too often, salvation is reduced to a consumer product, an afterlife fire insurance policy. It is as though there are only defendants in God’s heavenly court and not plaintiffs. There is not recognition of the needs of the victims of sin for restorative justice and Jesus’ solidarity with them as a victim of sin.

  3. Detoxify Holiness

    In this video, Pierre Keys, Alicia Crosby, Kenji Kuramitsu, and Morgan Guyton talk about holiness. We explored the concept of the body being a temple of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians. Somehow this teaching has been perverted into contempt for the body. We need a holiness that loves the body. Though holiness involves restraint and discipline, it is done for the sake for solidarity rather than moral puritanism. The goal is not austerity but dignity.

  4. Detoxify Worship

    In this video, Alicia Crosby, Jonathan Martin, and Rachel Hester discuss how we can experience authentic worship in a church where so much Christian worship has become a consumerist performance. They determined that both justice and creativity need to be part of worship for it not to become idolatrous.

  5. Detoxify Prayer

    In this video, De’Andrea Lottier, Margaret Ernst, and Morgan Guyton talk about how prayer can be misunderstood and misappropriated particularly in an environment where we’re trying to reach out to people outside of Christianity. It’s hip in today’s world to be “spiritual” without being religious, but this can involve problematic cultural appropriation. Yoga for example is a Hindu prayer practice that has been turned into a white, secular, workout program. Also what happens when we pray as an act of public witness? Is there a way to invoke God when we are engaged in political struggle that isn’t disingenuous?

  6. Detoxify Solidarity

    In this video, AnaYelsi Velasco-Sanchez, Alicia Crosby, Rachel Hester, and Morgan Guyton discuss how to detoxify solidarity. One of the biggest problems with solidarity is the way that allies put on performances for each other. Solidarity becomes all about competitive allyship rather than about the people who are supposedly being shown solidarity. Another way that solidarity can become toxic is when allies are too quick to seek solutions and unwilling to sit with grief.

  7. Detoxify Leadership

    In this video, Kevin Garcia, Morgan Guyton, and Naomi Washington-Leapheart discuss how to be untoxic Christian leaders. So many churches have very patriarchal, authoritarian leadership structures which are not only oppressive but poor at producing authentic discipleship. How can we cultivate leadership that empowers all people and creates an environment where everyone listens to God together? How can Christian leaders be pastoral nurturers instead of just chief executives of their ministries?

  8. Detoxify Reconciliation

    In this video, Jarell Wilson, AnaYelsi Velasco-Sanchez, Teresa Pasquale Mateus, and Jade Perry discuss how to detoxify reconciliation. Though reconciliation is supposed to be Christianity’s goal, too often it has been misappropriated in practice particularly in racial conversations. One problem is that too many racial reconciliation conversations are premised on the idea that racial conflict is an interpersonal misunderstanding that needs to be resolved rather than a complex, historically formulated power structure.

About The Author

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Morgan Guyton is a United Methodist elder and campus minister who leads the NOLA Wesley Foundation at Tulane and Loyola in New Orleans, Louisiana with his wife Cheryl. He released his first book in April, 2016: How Jesus Saves the World From Us: 12 Antidotes To Toxic Christianity. He blogs at www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice and has contributed articles to the Huffington Post, Red Letter Christians, Think Christian, Ministry Matters, the United Methodist Reporter, and other publications.

Morgan grew up in a moderate Baptist family in the aftermath of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. His mother’s people are watermelon farmers from south Texas while his father’s people are doctors from Mississippi, which left Morgan with a mix of redneck and scientific sensibilities.

Morgan’s greatest influence as a pastor was his grandpa, a Southern Baptist deacon who sometimes told dirty jokes to evangelize his grandson. From his grandpa, Morgan learned the value of irreverence as a pastoral tactic and the way that true holiness is authenticity.

Morgan used to have a rock band called the Junior Varsity Superheroes, but after becoming a father, he turned to electronic dance music, which he performs every summer at the Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina. In his spare time, he likes to throw basement dance parties with his sons Matthew and Isaiah.

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