Brave Commons & the Subversion of Christian Academia
In 2011, Michael Vazquez transferred into Utah's Weber State University as a junior. Early on, he was invited to an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship meeting, and IVCF became like family to him. A rift emerged when he learned that IVCF was not LGBTQ-affirming (Michael identifies as gay), but he stayed with the campus ministry through graduation and beyond. Meanwhile, he also read queer-affirming takes on Christianity.
In 2016, he enrolled in grad school at Western Theological Seminary in Michigan. By this time, he'd left IVCF and fully embraced homosexuality. From WTS, he sought out queer students at conservative Christian schools in the Midwest, including Wheaton, Hope, and Calvin colleges, to organize underground LGBTQ-affirming groups, and in 2017, he started Brave Commons.
Reason for Surveillance:
According to its homepage, Brave Commons is "provoking a movement of faith and justice." Here's what is meant by "faith" and "justice" in this movement:
Faith: Vazquez identifies as a queer Catholic (among other things), but his version of Christianity is wholly given over to liberation theology, which subjects all of Christianity to Marxist interpretations. Liberationists stress that Jesus came to set captives free, which is scripturally accurate. But in liberationism, the captives' captivity doesn't have anything to do with their own sin. In liberationist constructions, just as in Marxism, captives are captive to systems that exist outside of them—power structures, institutions, or "privileged" identity groups.
Justice: Vazquez demands equity now for LGBTQ students. They don't have "equal access to all resources, . . . opportunities, [and] everything that is available under the sun, so to speak." This constitutes oppression, and the entity doing the oppressing is the institution (college or the church, take your pick).
With these desacralized twists on faith and justice, then, Brave Commons casts itself as a kind of queer justice league setting LGBTQ student-captives free. "What we're creating here feels like an underground railroad for queer students," Vazquez says.
On the one hand, this is utterly idiotic, since students enroll themselves in Christian universities and can leave for more LGBT-greenlighting pastures any time they like. But on the other hand, and far more importantly, this is a gross perversion of the gospel. The clear biblical teaching is that Jesus sets us free from the captivity of our own sin. The only discernible transgression in the Brave Commons world is the "sin" of maintaining biblical sexual norms.
Most Deadly Deception:
Brave Commons identifies itself as "a bold and subversive Christian movement of intersectional queer glory. . . . Mostly on colleges. Kinda everywhere." And it puts forth its activism as a matter of life and death. "These students may not be harmed physically by these institutions, but you better believe that they are being killed on the inside," says Erin Green, co-executive director with Vazquez. "[The oppressive theology] of these institutions is directly responsible for suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, and isolation."
But biblical theology and the gospel of Jesus actually do require that something be killed on the inside: either we put to death our own sin, or we become enslaved to it. This conflict of theologies, then, is a matter of life and death, but not in the way Vazquez and company put it. To fancy themselves modern-day liberators is bold all right. But there is no liberation in their false gospel, and no glory in removing the cross from the heart of Christianity.
Brave Commons' mascot is a unicorn. This is fitting. Its gospel is a unicorn of a gospel. Mostly saving—kinda nowhere. So to speak.Terrell Clemmons is a freelance writer and blogger on apologetics and matters of faith. This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #50, Fall 2019 Copyright © 2019 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo50/the-underground-unicorn