By Rev. Dr. Tommy Davis
The recent justification by black clergy of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s uncomplimentary utterances of America that forced presidential candidate Barack Obama to shift tactics in his quest for the White House require some contrary attention.
While Our U. S. Constitution allows protection for certain free speech in our criticisms of government, clerics should be attentive regarding the content and the subsequent effects of racially charged homilies. Far too often the black clergy of contemporary times have involved themselves in post traumatic theology fashioned after the Civil Rights movement of the mid-twentieth century that exhumes cultural tension.
Any informed citizen do recognize the need for improved ethnic and gender relations in our economy; and that was the objective of what African-Americans termed “liberation theology” that had its beginning with the Africans’ experience after the Middle Passage upon their conversion to Christianity. Within the context of this historical phrase was the psychosocial consciousness that the oppressed women and our forebears in slavery were equally important in the eyes of the living God as discovered in the revealed Scriptures. The aim was egalitarianism in regards to the human race and liberty without compulsory subjugation. Progressive liberation theology also included the sociopolitical, the participation in civic life that promoted the interest of America as a republic by honoring our civil duties, thereby benefiting the residents within who were subject to its jurisdiction.
Unfortunately, it seems that some ministers of the minority order have lost ground and have produced pews of parishioners of the separatism with children of aggression in the community who are committing crimes and going off to prison by the hundreds of thousands. This is the offspring of deficient learning. Only smoke is left of the once inferno of religious devotion in the African-American church that was forced upon her by white separatists. We scream and shout from the pulpit, not from high blood pressure and lack of amplified audio, but from the emulation of custom that had substance long ago when black clergy were truly devout and serious about their commitment to Christ and family. The Christian’s God will never speak through sermons in contrast with His declared Word —the Bible. God has no black church or white church or any other label we insert in our religious journey that seeks to exclude others while inflating our personal worth.
My homiletical instruction in Bible college taught me that every sermon must serve two purposes —-repentance and inspiration. An oration that generates a contrite heart and arouses in the hearers a need to change is what sodium is to chlorine that produces salt. Without the combination of these two elements there can be no valued substance that would serve as a seasoning or a product that prevents bacteria from rising.
Thus, acceptable biblical hermeneutics would have, as its goal, the herald advocating a communal liberation whereas the public would live in harmony and share the earth’s resources through collective contribution in producing wealth rather than the suppression of one group for the benefit of the other.
The liberation theology that has affected me most was the spiritual freedom that released me from the mindset of a juvenile delinquent to that of a productive member of society. Through its educational component I’ve learned to recognize the possibilities before me and the ability to proceed to fulfill my spiritual and economic purpose in this ever changing world. Thus, if I am to liberate others spiritually, economically, and educationally, I must be the outcome of that way of life, or else, as the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, that if he preached to others while in unbelief: “I myself would be disqualified.” I conclude that Rev. Wright’s proclamations exhibit personal grievances that lack biblical confirmation when considering the whole counsel of God.