It is the Easter season, a time when Christians celebrate the death, burial and especially the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. In most churches around the world, pastors are speaking on that subject, with a mind to encourage their flocks to minister to others and to bring the lost souls to Jesus. However, one church in Chicago is quite different. The Trinity United Church of Christ. This Sunday, the message was entitled, “How to Handle a Public Lynching.”
This is a church that continues to preach "Liberation Theology" rather than Christ. This is a church that concentrates upon and rekindles racial antipathy and pushes an agenda of socialism rather than discipleship. This is the church that Barack Obama will not leave, where Jeremiah Wright would shout, "God Damn America" and the congregation would loudly agree, almost dancing in glee as he did so.
Why does this matter?
In part, it is because of the lack of judgement involved when a candidate for President associates himself with such an organization, one that promotes hate and distrust. But far more important is the probability that Barack Obama does agree with the basics of what that church teaches about faith and how to live that faith out...in other words, it is a window into his worldview.
The Jesus that is preached in Obama's church is a black man who, as Wright has stated, "a poor black man from Palestine." This is no surprise, for Wright is a preacher of Liberation Theology rather than Christ and there is a big difference. See Cone, Wright, Trinity UCC and black liberation theology for details, but here is one telling excerpt:
"Black theology cannot accept a view of God which does not represent God as being for oppressed blacks and thus against white oppressors. Living in a world of white oppressors, blacks have no time for a neutral God. The brutalities are too great and the pain too severe, and this means we must know where God is and what God is doing in the revolution. There is no use for a God who loves white oppressors the same as oppressed blacks. We have had too much of white love, the love that tells blacks to turn the other cheek and go the second mile. What we need is the divine love as expressed in black power, which is the power of blacks to destroy their oppressors, here and now, by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject God's love." [A Black Theology of Liberation, p. 70] - James Cone
In the view of Cone, taught by Wright and absorbed by Obama, Jesus was a poor black man who sought to unite his people against white oppressors of Rome and give them power that had been denied to him. But evil Rome caught Him and crucified Him. In this view, the followers of Christ intended to take over rule and this is why they followed Him throughout Judea.
As a matter of fact, there was a large sect of Jews during the time of Christ known as the Zealots, one of whom was none other than the disciple Simon. The Zealots were devoted to the overthrow of Roman rule, although Simon changed his alliances upon joining Christ. Judas Iscariot is also thought to have been either a Zealot or associated with Zealots, in part because of his surname. The betrayer of the Christ may well have been thinking along the lines of James Cone, as it happens...
In any event, many of the Jews were waiting for a Messiah who would free them from Roman rule, whereas the Old Testament scriptures and Jesus Himself proclaimed a Savior who would free people from far more than a political situation. Jesus came to "seek and to save those that were lost" and to provide an answer to sin and death and man's separation from God.
When Jesus came into Jerusalem at the end of his time on earth, crowds sang his praises and laid down palm leaves before him, crying "Hosanna, hosanna to the Son of David" for they believed that Christ had come to conquer Rome on their behalf. They believed this in part for it is what they had been taught by rabbis who were themselves unclear on the nature and purpose of the ministry of Christ. So, as He came into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, he was being hailed as a hero. Within hours of His celebration of Passover with his disciples, that same crowd was calling for His crucifixion and desiring the release of a murderer, Barrabas, rather than Jesus. It was a crowd that had been led to believe in the kind of Jesus that Trinity UCC preaches about, a Jesus who brings violence and hatred in His wake.
Truth? Jesus was a Jew, a Semite, a descendant of Shem. There were records kept in the temple that pinpointed the genealogy of His mother and His (step)father. Matthew specifically traces the genealogy of Joseph from Abraham but of Mary all the way back to Adam, in Luke. Now there were three sons of Noah, from whom all the nations of the world are descended (you can find my posts on this subject) amongst peoples of the world that name this descent by naming a son of Noah if not Noah himself). One son was Japheth and his descendants tended to go North and East. In terms of skin color, most of the descendants of Japheth are white or yellow in shading. Ham was dark and his descendants went mainly South and West and these peoples tend to be various shades of dark brown or black. The Shemites, or Semites, largely populated the regions around the Mediterranean and the Mideast region and are most often olive or lighter brown in complexion. Jesus was absolutely a Semite. He was brownish or olive colored and absolutely not a black man! Those who claim otherwise are liars.
Jesus was not a black man.
Secondarily, Jesus had little to do with Rome because His mission, as the Christ, was to go first to the Jews to present Himself as the Messiah. He says little about Romans, but He had very harsh words for the religious leaders of the time, for He exposed their hypocrisies and threatened their place in the hierarchy. A carpenter by trade before beginning His ministry, He may well have been without a source of income during his mission but it appears that the disciples always had some source of funds. Judas Iscariot was the man charged with keeping the money for the group and they always seemed to be well fed and well able to travel at any time. Before His ministry began, as I said, Christ was a carpenter, which was a well-regarded trade. He would have been a middle-class citizen by wealth in the world of Judea before He began to preach and, even at His death, roman soldiers gambled for the rights to his cloak, for it was a well-made and expensive piece of clothing.
Jesus was not poor.
Jesus Christ preached against sin and hypocrisy. He preached against outward obedience coupled with inward rebellion. He preached about doing good and showing love to others. Never did He call upon anyone to rebel against Rome. His Words were radical in the ears of the Jews who had been taught to follow a set of rules and regulations and make several kinds of sacrifices in order to be right with God. Why? Because the Law had been put in place until Jesus would come to fulfill the Law, for no man had ever been able to keep all of the Law until Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life and took the penalty for sinners so they could be legally declared forgiven in the eyes of God. He then would be killed and would willingly take all the sins and penalty for sins upon Himself so that man could be free to live forever in eternity with God. There was nothing in his ministry that sought to overthrow Roman oppressors.
Jesus did not come to overthrow a government.
Christ came to free man from sin, not from other sinners. The Zealots and others among the Jews who did not accept these teachings became angered at Him, one group because He was not going to lead a revolution, and the other because He put them to shame and threatened their standing with the Roman rulers. Thus, it was Jews and not Romans who sought to put Him to death and pressured Pontius Pilate to sentence Him to die.
Liberation Theology is nothing more than a modern form of Zealotry, a philosophy of rebellion and socialism accomplished by any means available. The Otis Moores and Jeremiah Wrights of the time of Christ were the ones running around shouting for Jesus to lead their rebellion and then, when disappointed, called for His crucifixion so that their brother Barrabas might go free. Liberation Theology is at odds with Jesus Christ and His teachings and therefore it qualifies for the warning given by Paul in the Bible in II Corinthians 11, verses 3 & 4 - "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough."
And Galatians 1:7-9 - "which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!"
It was men who believed as James Cone and Jeremiah Wright and Otis Moore and, apparently, Barack Obama, who called for Jesus to be crucified and rejected His teachings. They are those who continue to reject His teachings to this day. Jesus was not a black man attempting to free a people from a group of oppressors. He was a brown man with a mission to save the world from its sins, the greatest oppression of all.
If Barack Obama did not agree with the basics of Liberation Theology, in fact in Black Liberation Theology, he could not for 20 years sit and listen to the teachings of Trinity UCC and Jeremiah Wright. He would have withdrawn himself from the congregation.
It may be that Barack doesn't agree with the most outrageous of Wright's quotations. But why will he not leave the church and completely disassociate himself with those basic teachings? One must conclude it is because he believes in them. Consider what James Cone taught...
Blacks must hate Whites:
"It is important to make a further distinction here among black hatred, black racism, and Black Power. Black hatred is the black man's strong aversion to white society. No black man living in white America can escape it...But the charge of black racism cannot be reconciled with the facts. While it is true that blacks do hate whites, black hatred is not racism. Racism, according to Webster, is 'the assumption that psychocultural traits and capacities are determined by biological race and that races differ decisively from one another, which is usually coupled with a belief in the inherent superiority of a particular race and its rights to dominance over others.' Where are the examples among blacks in which they sought to assert their right to dominance over others because of a belief in black superiority?...Black Power is an affirmation of the humanity of blacks in spite of white racism. It says that only blacks really know the extent of white oppression, and thus only blacks are prepared to risk all to be free." [Black Theology and Black Power, p. 14-16] - James Cone
Whites are demonic:
"For the gospel proclaims that God is with us now, actively fighting the forces which would make man captive. And it is the task of theology and the Church to know where God is at work so that we can join him in this fight against evil. In America we know where the evil is. We know that men are shot and lynched. We know that men are crammed into ghettos...There is a constant battle between Christ and Satan, and it is going on now. If we make this message contemporaneous with our own life situation, what does Christ's defeat of Satan mean for us?...The demonic forces of racism are real for the black man. Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man "the devil." The white structure of this American society, personified in every racist, must be at least part of what the New Testament meant by the demonic forces." [Black Theology and Black Power, pp. 39-41] - James Cone
Christianity is all about black power:
"To be Christian is to be one of those whom God has chosen. God has chosen black people!" [Black Theology and Black Power, pp. 139-140]. - James Cone
Jesus: Matthew 18:2-4 - "He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'"
John 18:33-37 - "Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"
"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.'"
God bless you all on Easter. He has risen indeed! My prayer is that these words will clarify an area of dissent and controversy during these last few days and perhaps in the end lead many to reconsider the truth of the teachings of Jesus Christ. I doubt Barack Obama himself will deign to read this blog. If he or any of his followers eventually find Christ because they have read these words, then all the hours I have spent writing these essays have been well worth it.