The Black Church as Prophet, Patriot

Shortly after the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001 a reporter called requesting an interview about the events … Continued

Shortly after the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001 a reporter called requesting an interview about the events of that awful day. He asked me what we ministers were saying about what had happened and what is the responsibility of a pastor in such a situation. I told him that our first responsibility is pastoral. We must seek to comfort those who lost loved ones, to help them work through their anguish and grief; We must respond to the needs of those who were injured, those who had lost their jobs and the emergency workers who were involved in our rescue and recovery efforts. We must calm the fears of all of us who are at various stages of post-traumatic disorder. All of the leaders of our tradition will do their best to make sense of the tragic events and to offer prayers of healing for courage and hope to face the uncertainty of the days ahead.

But there is another responsibility. It is called the prophetic dimensions of ministry. What do I mean by that? What is the source of that aspect of a preacher’s task? And how does the prophetic dimension manifest itself in the witness of the black religious experience?

Rabbi and Professor Joshua Abraham Heschel in his classic work, “The Prophets,” describes the prophet as one who feels the pathos of God, who is moved by the heartbeat of the God of Creation, one who senses a powerful calling to be a courageous spokesperson of God’s will. The prophets speaks to both the faithful and their foes. The prophet is a seer and a sayer and even a provocateur, who speaks truth to power. The prophet holds up a plumb line against which the present policies of the nation are critiqued by principles of righteousness and justice. The consciousness of the prophet penetrates contemporary circumstances to the core of the moral and spiritual tendencies at work in the society. The prophet foretells and forthtells what is going to happen to the nation if there is no repentance and restoration to truth, justice and compassion.

The words and the dramatic declarations of judgment may be inflammatory and denunciatory but they come from a deep love for the people. There is almost an uncontrollable longing to see them repent of their misdeeds before the wrath of God visits disaster upon them. The paradoxical juxtaposition of condemnation and compassion reflects the nature of God’s love that will not let us go even as God threatens to destroy those who break faith with the covenant and desecrate God’s holy laws.

The black church has become a specialist in bringing the balm of Gilead to a people “buked and scorned” and “dehumanized and brutalized.” But on the other hand there is the critiquing aspect of the ministry. Because their members know that their only hope for survival comes from a God of love and justice who hates oppression, they grow accustomed to hearing their pastors burst forth from time to time with words of denunciation and damnation. They know that such harsh words come from the divine Mother’s love pushed to the breaking point. They also know that no matter how blood curdling the critique, compassion is just around the corner. The black church members sense that in their anguished cry for justice they are expressing the mandates of a just God. It is never a plea for themselves alone, it is a yearning for peace, justice and compassion for all God’s children. It is an incessant longing for a transformed society. In the very fabric of its existence, searching for meaning purpose and power, straining under the weight of oppressive power, there is always a restless revolutionary hope when black people gather to worship the God who has promised to deliver them from bondage. The tone, text, hymns, prayers and the preaching will reflect variations in terms of class culture and style. But their will-to-live-free creates a constant critique of the systems that binds or confines them.

We all tend to resent and sometimes reject the criticism of those who would expose our flaws or our signs of decay. Coaches, teachers, doctors, structural engineers and loving friends are expected to tell us the truth even when it hurts. Could the black church be the best friend America has ever had? We have told an unpleasant truth about a fatal flaw in our system and we have stood with our nation in every crisis we have faced. We have offered prophetic patriotic truth about the malignancy of racism, economic exploitation, imperialistic war and rapacious greed to the point that we eviscerate or pollute the environment which is our earthly home. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prophet who helped to bless our nation with his wisdom and truth. The black church has something on its heart which it has received from the heart of God. Let us pray for the humility and grace to receive the prophetic critique from the same dark corner from which we were given spirituals, blues, jazz and the gospel of hope.

The Rev. Dr. James Alexander Forbes Jr. is President and Founder of the Healing of the Nations Foundation of New York and Senior Minister Emeritus of the Riverside Church. Dr. Forbes completed his leadership of this historic multicultural church after 18 years of service, to begin a national and global ministry for spiritual renewal and holistic health.

  • DoTheRightThing

    Let us pray that the self-appointed prophets have the humility and wisdom to discern where the greater good lies in the choice between a dictator and a democracy, between political tyranny and political freedom, and between personal advancement and self-sacrificing service to human beings.

  • Lynn E

    You can’t just tear somebody down to make things better. You make them angrier. Since Black Liberation theory seems to bemoan the treatment of blacks in the Americas for several centuries, it shows that tearing people down doesn’t work, because the wounds become deep and difficult to heal.

  • Joan W. Drake

    I am immensely grateful to Dr. Forbes and to Sally Quinn for their compassionate response to Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s remarks to the gatherings at the Press Club & NAACP. After focusing on sound bytes, the media chose to bring his remarks to the nation and people of good will heard his message. We of a certain age remember the media frenzy and public furor that erupted and cast a shadow over the careers of John F. Kennedy & Martin Luther King. Let us hope that the current crisis in our public life will be resolved with deepened understanding and a determination to heal our divided society…we can no longer afford to have “two Americas — one black, one white — divided and unequal.” Truly it is time for change and a change is going to come.

  • Jeff

    There is a difference between “telling the truth” and defaming or stereotyping others. Americans should accept being told the truth, even when it hurts and embarrasses us. I think the vast majority of Americans realize that, contrary to Mr. Forbes’ apparrent belief.However, that is a far cry from the racial stereotypes and outright lies promoted by the likes of Rev. Wright and Louis Farrakhan. These people foster racism and/or anti-Jewish hatred to aggrandize their own sense of importance and to gain money and fame. There is a virtual industry of haters out there, of all races and creeds, all makine a living off of their hypocrisy and the gullibility and latent prejudices of others. Mr. Forbes clearly glosses over this reality, painting all black church leaders as prophets and tellers of unpopular truths. Many are indeed as he describes them. However, some are promoters of popular lies, instead.

  • Jeff

    Note to Mr. Forbes: the Taliban and al Queda also believe they are expressing the “mandates of a just God” to the people as God wishes. The problem with people who attempt to push “God’s Wishes” on others is that there is wide disagreement on what God wishes, and expressing one’s beliefs about God’s wishes inevitably imposes an element of manipulation or outright force. The only way to prevent preaching of God’s Truth from becoming coecion is to maintain a strict separation of religion and the state. Members of the clergy have every right to state their opinions about secular matters as individuals, but dictating public policy from the pulpit can only lead to the imposition of one’s religion on others.

  • Don

    “…They know that such harsh words come from the divine Mother’s love pushed to the breaking point…”What in the world is he talking about? The church that he is from is interdenominational, and by definition Protestant. Is he suggesting that God is female? Or that Mary divine? Either one tells that Dr. Forbes is no prophet.Not only that, but he made no mention of Jesus. The only flaws that Dr. Forbes exposed were his own (and Wright’s).

  • Jim

    The attempt by religious people to bring the word of God to people is no different then a scientist trying to explain the Big Bang Theory or the Theory of Evolution or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity it cannot be done.Jesus, when asked how man should spend their lives said if I can paraphrase him “eat, drink and be merry”. When Jesus was asked which of God’s Ten Commandments was the most important replied “place no God before the Father and treat your neighbor as you want him to treat you”.Religious people are suffering from religious insanity an insanity that convinces them that they understand God’s word better than others. Scientist suffers from mathematical lunacy because they have convinced themselves that they can prove the hidden questions of the universe using mathematical algorithms.The biblical story of Job was given to man so that men not interested in anything other than loving God, his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit can to make it through life without the need of preachers and scientist. God can only be accepted through faith nothing more. Where were we when God created this? The only thing God asks from us is love nothing more. If we truly love God how can we do the things we are doing? Where have we gone so seriously wrong? There are many examples of God’s power. For instance God honored the sacrifice his son Jesus made by leaving evidence of his power that no man can change. 2008 years ago God stopped time prior to his sons death and named it BC (before Christ) he then restarted time and called it AD (after death). END THE WAR IN IRAQ.

  • Angela

    Jim, are you saying that pastors should not preach the word of God. Scripture states: that the preaching of God’s word is what brings about revelation of how we stand before God but only God’s spirit can convict and convert the soul that’s true. Don’t generalize; that’s not fair. Let’s clarify something: Jesus did not say, eat, drink and be merry; hew was telling a parable about the rich young ruler and the ruler was the one who was storing up more grain and he will slothful and greedy and if you read a little further Jesus said that the ruler was told: you fool, athis very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’Also, Jesus sure did love the lord your god with all your heart, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. He then went on to say in John 14: Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. What’s wrong with Christianity: well, some believe that since we’re all sinners and God is a forgiving God, as long as we know we’re sinners and believe in Christ, then we are Christians; not true: Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. We have to first have a heart transplant by the Lord. In addition, there are so many pastors and professing Christians that walk around with the sin of pride which over and over again God says: When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom, Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Instead of tearing each other down, we should be praying for their repentence not in judgment as we’ve all experienced the sin of pride. All of us. Hopefully, we will all be taught something about what has happened.

  • Jonah Kipp

    It is very interesting to read and see how many people think way out there and other think from inside.As America you all have a long way to go concerning race and hate rate in many of your hearts. And of cause not all of you hate people. You can see in those playing the sounds bite the hate and hear it in their voices. How unfortunate such a thing goes on in these grate land. How long will it take you to love each other. I like what one person here said and that is ” Love each other” It is that simple. It does not mean agree with each other. No, it just mean, disagree with respect. And not because you want a republican in office you demonise the other or because you want a Demongrat in office you kill the other.As Americans you all have so much to give to this world than some sounds bites of some pastors who is trying to explain something to his people who have lived in oppresion for years and years. All those sound bite has build a celebrity out of him. He is making money to speak now, yet before nobody knew who this man was.Therefore Love each other. Got it?

  • Disgusted

    I am disgusted. So to defend Reverend Wright and Obama you now have to demean MLK?

  • Consuelo

    I agree that the Black Church longs for equality not only for ourselves, but for ALLL people. And yes, I do believe in prophetic teachings, as God’s children we must stand on his words for they are true, even when the majority think differently. We all must STAND against the Antichrist. God is coming back, and its the church responsibility to prepare God’s people.However – I believe that Rev. Wright’s timing has hurt Senator Obama during his campaign for presidency.

  • Dwight

    Afrocentric means no white people allowed…

  • Blacks can be racist too

    Please spare the sanctimony. Rev. Wright is an unapologetic racist and bigot. His “performances” reek of the racist blatherings of Hitler and the worst of the KKK. I suggest you come out of your shell and view his NAACP stunts, mimicking sarcastically the Kennedy’s, ‘whites’, and other non-blacks before a ‘friendly’ audience. It is nauseating. There is no defense for Wright or his bigoted followers. And there is no defense for Obama, who has listened to this pompous racist windbag willingly, sought his blessing, and used his racist pulpit for political advancement.

  • Blacks can be racist too

    Please spare the sanctimony. Rev. Wright is an unapologetic racist and bigot. His “performances” reek of the racist blatherings of Hitler and the worst of the KKK. I suggest you come out of your shell and view his NAACP stunts, mimicking sarcastically the Kennedy’s, ‘whites’, and other non-blacks before a ‘friendly’ audience. It is nauseating. There is no defense for Wright or his bigoted followers. And there is no defense for Obama, who has listened to this pompous racist windbag willingly, sought his blessing, and used his racist pulpit for political advancement.

  • Jim

    Angela,I love to read and I accept your interpretations of God’s word. There is room under the tent for us all. The problem as I see it is the complexities that we strap unto the words of God. It seems that most people of God cannot accept any interpretation but their own and consider all other interpretations as errant.I prefer to believe what I want to believe about God’s word because I will stand alone at judgment day. Preachers will not accompany me during my final testimony. I feel that we are all children of God built uniquely different so that the challenges that we face have to be faced alone. I love the challenge. END THE WAR IN IRAQ.

  • EMERALD FALCON

    How unfortunate that we are a society of ‘The Soundbyte’ and make claims to full understanding of a subject based solely on that. Rev. Wright said a lot of things that if heard in complete context, yes, would be hard to swallow truths. HIV-AIDs and the African American view, yes, a real possibility, based on historical fact. 9-11 being of our own making in-part, yes, when taken into consideration the facts (1)the Bush’s and Bin Laden’s go back generations as family friends in the oil business, (2)The USA, under President Bush, got his friends, The Bin Laden’s, out of the USA within less than 24 hours, on the taxpayers dime.The Bible teaches us to study the word to show ourselves not sheep. The message was harsh when recvd by White America. But in actuality, it may start the ‘Racism’ conversation that White American has treated as the non-elephant in the room. Rev Wright is simply a case of not what you say but how you say it. Stop being sheep and accepting a sound-byte only existence.

  • Tricky

    How easily are some of you led by the media? Aside from the sound bites force fed to you, how many of you actually heard the whole sermon? I ask because if you got the entire message I think this would have been a non-issue a long time ago. And while you’re being distracted by this – remember you have to get gas and groceries. Your kids, mine and somebody else’s are fighting in an unjust war. Oh, Exxon reported record-breaking profits……AGAIN.

  • Angela

    Jim, I hear you but as you said; But God’s word also says we interepret scripture in line to what we want to hear and sometimes we may have idols in our hearts. 2 Thessalonians speaks plainly about this. Also, if we are not led by the holy spirit, then we are reading it like a book not God speaking to us. Also, per scripture: John 8:40-45: “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41You are doing the things your own father does.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” 42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! IT SOUNDS HARSH BUT THIS IS GOD’S WORD….

  • Anonymous

    What Wright is expressing is racism, hate and intolerance. He is as skillful as Hitler and as smooth as David Duke in his delivery and his ability to coalesce a group together against an imaginary enemy.This is no rational appeal to God any more than the islamic model of killing innocent people is a mandate for virgins and a wonderful afterlife.Wright is building a 10k square foot mansion in a predominately white neighborhood.His brand of poison sells very, very well.Notice how he has siphoned off enough millions to live in extreme luxury – by taking donations from undoubtedly very poor peopleOne nickel at a time.

  • Etta D. Jackson

    This is a critical time in the history of America and the world and foing forward, politics as prcaticed in America can and will not be allowed to continue as usual. The candidacy of Barack Obama is a catalyst the Divine is using to bring attention to issues too long push aside. These issues regarding race, of equality and of justice are what provided the cornerstone of the idea that is America. September the 11th was the turning point on every level for America and the world and what we are seeing is a stirring up of the unfinshed business in America. America must address these issues in a decisive way for its people before it can be qualified in earnest to assist the world. I wish Americans understood the gift, and the challenge it has been given so it can rise to the responsiblities of its awesome destiny.

  • LongTallSallie

    Rev. Wright is oh so Rev. Wrong. Initially, my thoughts were that the media had treated him unfairly by airing snippets of his sermons instead of playing them in their entirety. Then, to hear him recently speak, suggesting that the media attacks aimed at him are somehow against the “black church,” well, sorry, but that’s just crazy-talk to me. I was ashamed to watch Rev. Wright at the National Press Club this week. All black ministers don’t preach like Rev. Wright. There are some good black ministers in America – that love America and all people. While there is a need for the truth and debatable opinions, oftentimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it . . . and I don’t know if the church is a good place to say it. I find man’s interpretation of “the word of God” is oftentimes bias and cult-like. Just like Senator Barack Obama, black ministers and black folks in general have found themselves in positions of defending and defining their religious beliefs because of Rev. Wright’s mouth.

  • LongTallSallie

    Rev. Wright is oh so Rev. Wrong. Initially, my thoughts were that the media had treated him unfairly by airing snippets of his sermons instead of playing them in their entirety. Then, to hear him recently speak, suggesting that the media attacks aimed at him are somehow against the “black church,” well, sorry, but that’s just crazy-talk to me. I was ashamed to watch Rev. Wright at the National Press Club this week. All black ministers don’t preach like Rev. Wright. There are some good black ministers in America – that love America and all people. While there is a need for the truth and debatable opinions, oftentimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it . . . and I don’t know if the church is a good place to say it. I find man’s interpretation of “the word of God” is oftentimes bias and cult-like. Just like Senator Barack Obama, black ministers and black folks in general have found themselves in positions of defending and defining their religious beliefs because of Rev. Wright’s mouth.

  • LongTallSallie

    Rev. Wright is oh so Rev. Wrong. Initially, my thoughts were that the media had treated him unfairly by airing snippets of his sermons instead of playing them in their entirety. Then, to hear him recently speak, suggesting that the media attacks aimed at him are somehow against the “black church,” well, sorry, but that’s just crazy-talk to me. I was ashamed to watch Rev. Wright at the National Press Club this week. All black ministers don’t preach like Rev. Wright. There are some good black ministers in America – that love America and all people. While there is a need for the truth and debatable opinions, oftentimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it . . . and I don’t know if the church is a good place to say it. I find man’s interpretation of “the word of God” is oftentimes bias and cult-like. Just like Senator Barack Obama, black ministers and black folks in general have found themselves in positions of defending and defining their religious beliefs because of Rev. Wright’s mouth.

  • lescaine

    what the world needs now is…

  • maybelle spring

    The concept of “the black church” or “the white church” is racist and the end goal (no matter how you get there) is division.The Gospel of Christ is known by its power to unify. Our Church members are people from every tribe, nation, and culture. It is the Love of Christ that binds us. The color-line is washed away by the Blood of Jesus. I invite you to visit any of the many Spirit-filled churches in America and look around. When Jim Forbes speaks of the “black church”: I want to say- Brother, don’t stand in the corner and point your finger. Come out into the Light. Come back to your first Love. If G-d has led you to the top of a mountain: you are not supposed to sit down- Stand up and speak the Gospel in Love..”Wherever God can get a people that will come together in one accord and one mind in the Word of God, the baptism of the Holy Ghost will fall upon them.”-William Seymour

  • Roy

    Right on Maybelle Spring.This article is more race-baiting we don’t need. We don’t need a “Black church” nor a “white church”, we need leadership to get us out of Cheney’s nightmare.

  • CAM

    Ok Mr.Forbes. But a pastor should be a person with some integrity and knowledge above the average of his congregation. Suggesting that AIDS was genetical engineered by the US to kill black people qualifies a person as a complete ignoramus or a dangerous fanatic whose ideas are defined not precisely by Love.

  • Anonymous

    This article is more race-baiting we don’t need. We don’t need a “Black church” nor a “white church”, we need leadership to get us out of Cheney’s nightmare.Obama has zero interest in doing that. That is why he sat in that church for 20 years and listened to Wright.Obama tried to portray himself as some sort of messianic uniter – and now has been outed as just another race hustling con man.

  • Jim

    Angela,I can barely make sense out of a common conversation and I am terrible with riddles. Because of these limitations I let the words God gave us prior to the advent of parables direct my life. The words of God that I obey are very simple, they are the Ten Commandments. I understand those words. The hidden meanings in the bible as well as the many attempts by man in multiple books to write about the bible only confuse me more. I have lived for sixty six years and I am proud to say that I haven’t nor will I under any circumstance kill someone.I work at fulfilling the rest of the Ten Commandments as best I can. I look at the Bible as a tool that was provided by God to further enhance my chances of living within the Ten Commandments. I do not look upon the Bible as anything else but a tool I can use towards that end. END THE WAR IN IRAQ.

  • stan satz

    Reverand Wright is no prophet–he is a profiteer, a shameless exhibitionist feasting on his own festering bitterness while he preys upon the vulnerabilities of his congregation. And on a lighter note, how can anyone believe a man who smirks more than President Bush does?

  • stan satz

    Reverand Wright is no prophet–he is a profiteer, a shameless exhibitionist feasting on his own festering bitterness while he preys upon the vulnerabilities of his congregation. And on a lighter note, how can anyone believe a man who smirks more than President Bush does?

  • stan satz

    Reverand Wright is no prophet–he is a profiteer, a shameless exhibitionist feasting on his own festering bitterness while he preys upon the vulnerabilities of his congregation. And on a lighter note, how can anyone believe a man who smirks more than President Bush does?

  • Elizabeth Renant

    The black church may have something on its heart, but when that “something” includes hero-worshipping a man who nakedly professed admiration for the orchestrator of history’s most successful attempt at genocide based strictly on ethnic identity, you have to ask yourself what planet that church is living on.You see, the thing is, you can’t shift your principles depending on whether or not it’s YOUR ox that’s being gored. Obama should have left those pews when he saw how fervently Wright admired Farrakhan – that should have TOLD Obama something about who Wright really was: the kind of guy you can’t trust, the kind of guy who only has problems with bigotry when it’s his skin on the receiving end. Farrakhan is one of the world’s biggest anti-Semites, and if you go along with anti-Semitism because you ain’t Jewish, you can’t complain when white people go along with racism because they ain’t black. And in not repudiating Wright for hanging with Farrkhan and his ideas, Obama was tacitly admitting that those views just didn’t bother him that MUCH – because, after all, he ain’t Jewish. Those views are bothering him now because they’ve become suddenly very, very, politically inconvenient.The black experience in America has been awful – but it’s not going to get better or become undone by making excuses for someone like Wright holding up someone like Farrakhan as a “role model” for the black community. You’ll notice that what Arab Muslims are doing to black Muslims in the Sudan (let’s see, I think the Janjaweed is closing in on 500,000 dead and more than a million refugees) never enters Wright’s conversation – nahhhhh, it’s JEWS and ZIONISM that are black people’s problem!!!!They have a quaint saying in England: “you can’t run with the fox and hunt with the hounds”. You can’t call yourself a real Christian and hang with Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, and you can’t hang with Wright’s embrace of Farrakhan and claim you’re shocked, shocked, SHOCKED when that guy turns out to be someone who also thinks the US government cooked up the AIDS virus to kill black people, holds up bombing Japan in WWII as terrorism while forgetting to mention Pearl Harbor, and stabs you in the back because you’ve distanced yourself from his nutsos.It’s all of a piece, brothers and sisters. Principles remain principles even when history makes it irksome to maintain them. Obama is sowing what he reaped by not heaving himself out of Wright’s church years ago, and finding himself another black church – because the “black church” is no more a monolith than the Catholis are nowadays, or the Anglicans, or the Presbyterians. For some reason, Obama stuck with THIS one, and his reasoning for why just doesn’t hold water.

  • Tarik

    This is a great time in America.But to me the pride of performance goes to the young white woman who was so brave or maybe so bored in Kansas, had the insight/folly, to marry a blackman and ; walla ,lo and behold, now America is on the verge of electing its first genuine product, its first real and truly authentic (DNA)President whose mother was white as the snow and whose father was as black as the night.

  • thommie

    Sir, Thank you for you expose’ on Black Liberation Theology, it is the best explanation I have heard so far.

  • dmanagan

    It has become the norm for ministers such as Wright to proclaim themselves to be self righteous and to believe their words stand lord of all.His words relating to 9-11 were hateful and I have no doubt he has hid his true idenity from Barak Obama and others all in the name of the dollar. His performance of the past days will be his legend,the good that his former chruch has done will not cover his vindictive mission. Surely he understands the statement a dog always eats it own vomit. Rev Wright is a wolf dressed in sheep clothing, he nor his pack can be ignored least he will slaughter the sheep.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Before Justice there must be Truth:The Truth about Christianity for Doctor/Preacher Forbes’ Perusal and Comments:1. Abraham founder/father of three major religions was either the embellishment of the lives of three different men or a mythical character as was Moses, the “Tablet-Man” who talked to burning bushes and made much magic in Egypt. 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis have relegated Abraham to the myth pile along with most if not all the OT. 2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a mamzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). Analyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, On Faith panelists) via the NT and related documents have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus’ sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects. The 30% of the NT that is “authentic Jesus” like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus’ case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hittites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics. earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html For added “pizzazz”, Catholic/Christian theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the “pew people” to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the “filicider”. 3. Luther, Calvin, Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley et al, founders of Christian-based religions, also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of “pretty wingie thingie” visits and “prophecies” for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immaculate conceptions).

  • Dino Koutsolioutsos

    What Obama’s pastor discussed at the Press Club, the other night, is old hat for many people in Europe and the rest of the world, outside the United States. The policies of many American governments have been imperialistic to the core, and in their imperialistic manifestations, they have been terrorizing the people at many parts of this world. Dino Koutsolioutsos

  • Russ Strother

    I have never heard so much double-talk as I have when folks try to defend Wright. He is nothing like MLK, who appealed for love and justice from the pulpit. Wright is a hater who tries to inflame hatred and preys on susceptible weaklings. Only a few black churches advocate this hatred, and all the others who don’t should speak out — in the name of MLK and his tradition. Their total silence is curious. This type of racism is just that — and I’ve heard too few liberals or blacks repudiate it. Guess that is left to us crackers.

  • OneFreeMan

    Excellent!

  • Ann Clarkson Turpin

    Jim,For the first time in the nearly 50 years since we were seminary classmates, I am disappointed in you. Two months ago, it seemed our nation was coming to a time of healing, a time to build up, a time to gather together. We had, for the first time in four decades, a leader who had the dream and the skills to bring us together. That dream is being shattered, in large part by the very people who have been calling for peace and justice and an end to poverty and war. For Jeremiah Wright, and, for you, as well, this was “a time to keep silence” unless you were going to have something constructive to add to the political scene. Instead Wright chose to tear down, to speak hatefully. You are supporting him. I think our nation has had quite enough of hateful talk, and if Obama loses, you prophets will have to bear some responsibility.

  • Ann Clarkson Turpin

    Jim,For the first time in the nearly 50 years since we were seminary classmates, I am disappointed in you. Two months ago, it seemed our nation was coming to a time of healing, a time to build up, a time to gather together. We had, for the first time in four decades, a leader who had the dream and the skills to bring us together. That dream is being shattered, in large part by the very people who have been calling for peace and justice and an end to poverty and war. For Jeremiah Wright, and, for you, as well, this was “a time to keep silence” unless you were going to have something constructive to add to the political scene. Instead Wright chose to tear down, to speak hatefully. You are supporting him. I think our nation has had quite enough of hateful talk, and if Obama loses, you prophets will have to bear some responsibility.

  • Ann Clarkson Turpin

    Jim,For the first time in the nearly 50 years since we were seminary classmates, I am disappointed in you. Two months ago, it seemed our nation was coming to a time of healing, a time to build up, a time to gather together. We had, for the first time in four decades, a leader who had the dream and the skills to bring us together. That dream is being shattered, in large part by the very people who have been calling for peace and justice and an end to poverty and war. For Jeremiah Wright, and, for you, as well, this was “a time to keep silence” unless you were going to have something constructive to add to the political scene. Instead Wright chose to tear down, to speak hatefully. You are supporting him. I think our nation has had quite enough of hateful talk, and if Obama loses, you prophets will have to bear some responsibility.

  • M Singh

    Excellent article of truth Rev. James. Well done and God Bless you.

  • M Singh

    Excellent article of truth Rev. James. Well done and God bless you

  • Matt Ryan

    What a bunch of logical fallacious ca ca. I stop counting after the first half dozen fallacies. All, every — come on! Universal quantifiers & qualifiers? This guy must count on an ignorant (as in ignoring logic) flock. I am not buying it. Simply stated: Liberals (yes,even liberal Reverends)redefine meaning to fit their meaning. Ugghh!

  • Matt Ryan

    What a bunch of logical fallacious ca ca. I stopped counting after the first half dozen fallacies. All, every — come on! Universal quantifiers & qualifiers? This guy must count on an ignorant (as in ignoring logic) flock. I am not buying it. Simply stated: Liberals (yes,even liberal Reverends)redefine meaning to fit their meaning. Ugghh!

  • Wylie

    The Right Reverend Wright no more represents the black church than the Right Reverend Sharpton represents black people. Rather pathetic that he won’t just take his 15 seconds and go quietly.

  • RL

    Oh please. Religion is what is ruining the world. Everyone believes they are “more right” than the other. And no one can seem to move forward. People keep harboring what was done to their ancestors in the past. The past is the past, there’s nothing you can do about it. As people become more enlightened through each generation, that’s where the real learning and any kind of healing can take place. Crazy religious loons like Rev. Wright prancing and dancing around like an insane person just make things worse. Is he a pastor or a comedian on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam???

  • Brian

    Dino: Criticizing US policy isn’t what got him in trouble, its equating our motives and good intentions with the mistakes that have been made. We don’t intentionally kill citizens, we don’t celebrate when thousands of Iraqis (or any Muslims) die, we’re not happy when we’re killing people….sure we may be misguided and mislead or easily duped into agreeing to a war that was wrong or being stupid enough to believe a preemptive war against a dictator would be percieved as a good thing, but to equate the average American with someone who revels in death is wrong on so many levels. That’s was and is biggest problem. People can be racist or sexist or mean and cruel at times, but most (not all of course) people and americans don’t intentionally set out to be mean, or racist or cruel etc. (speaking of the US of KKK comments or whatever). And what man of god would damn anyone, much less a whole nation of people? Isnt it their job to forgive our sins and bring us closer to god, not damn us?

  • egalitaire

    what is a “black church”?what is a black church? what is black?ever heard of George Forbes, Carl Stokes, Louis Stokes, Jesse Jackson, Malcom X, or some guy called Martin Luther King?look, reverend wright knows jim crowe, even though reverend wright didn’t experience jim crowe. jim crowe only died yesterday.i am so white was born in ’64. i feel jim crowe in my bones. i’ve seen jim crowe. i experienced jim crowe.ever been to the mississipi delta?i have.jim crowe died yesterday, and some people take a week to get over things.barrack obama has personal vitues, is talented, but probably hasn’t killed anything he has eaten.barrack obama is related to dick cheney by blood, but…..i don’t think he has dick cheney in his blood.

  • Bill

    Given the levels of illegitimate births and criminality in the black community in America, the “critique” from black pastors should be more directed to those in the pews than faceless “oppressors” outside.

  • Douglas

    Rev. Forbes,

  • Douglas

    Rev. Forbes,

  • Dalila

    I find the reaction of the media to Rev. Wright statements totally irrational. The media is concentrating on the trivial, while forgetting what is important to the average Joes and Janes, or more precisely the 90% of the population.

  • liam

    Moron. Religionists are all the same: they claim to have a special pipeline to God, so that they can try to imbue their own private cravings with the luster of the Divine.

  • Joseph Reale Bitteford ME

    Abraham Lincoln, President and Prophet The Almighty has His own purposes. ‘Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.’ If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.Lincoln’s remark about how the entire speech was received; “… I believe it is not immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them.”

  • mark

    Religion, Race and Politics…the culture war is raging in America according to the Karl Rove political playbook. Homo sapiens first appeared in Africa. If Man was made in God’s image, and the Judeo-Christian God was “discovered” in Africa…then I guess that God is a black African. If Jesus was born in Africa, he would be the black son of a black god as well. How many Rev. Wright haters pray to a God with “African” features and worship a dark- skinned Jesus? Uh-Oh…race and religion… How many Christians worshiping a European Jesus are conservative republicans? Religion and politics…Can you make the distinction between the U.S. government and the American people, or do you intentionally blur the line between Party and Nation in order to intimidate critics of your policies (un-American, un-patriotic)? Politics and fascism…Is “God’s will”, interpreted by the “prophet”, really the anticipated consequence of an action? Religion and policy…Do you believe that all actions taken in the name of a European God-style Nation will result in only positive outcomes? Will history always prove you correct, or will you wait for enough time to pass that people forget your terrible mistakes?Did any of the Rev. Wright haters actually listen to his sermon or did you just internalize the conservative spin?

  • Miss V

    Dr. Forbes is gifted in this response. Unfortunately, once Miss Hillary wins (steals) the primary, she’ll run off to these same churches that she loathes so much, hook arms with a black pastor, join in singing “We Shall Overcome”, promise everything, deliver nothing, and life goes on. Because too many of our black churches appear so grateful to a white woman for coming to their congregation, that they will forgive and ignore her transgressions.Didn’t Bill Clinton invite Pastor Wright to the White House when he was caughting cheating on his wife? And now Miss Hillary denounces him?Only in America….

  • Scott Free

    Rev. Wright, a patriot and prophet, is going easy on America’s fall from grace: anyone can read “The New Pearl Harbor,” by PhD Griffin, to know with absolute moral authority that Bush and Cheney committed 9-11.

  • Dr. O

    Ah yes, another apologist for institutionalized racism who rights it all by claiming – a people “buked and scorned” and “dehumanized and brutalized.” Dr. O

  • doug resin

    Jesus’s words also make me feel uncomfortable, and often reflect badly on Americannness, so while we are at it, why can’t we all denounce him too?

  • Angela

    Jim, Thank you for your response. The only thing that I was trying to state is #1 there are reasons why so many interepret scripture differently. Also, I wanted to point out the scripture that Jesus states: we are not all children of God, although we are all His creation. One thing I know is that Jesus wants us to love Him and others and as He states, if we love Him then we will obey Him (keep His commandments).Love, in Christ.

  • Frank

    What a relief! So Revs Falwell and Robertson were right to say God removed His protective hand over America because of her sins of abortion and homosexuality! Oh, uh, I forgot, that was a different situation, worthy of the intense media ridicule because… because those were different, non-politically correct reasons for 9-11 that don’t count because…because they’re not politically correct!Forbes, thy name is Blinkered Left-Wing Victimology.

  • JoeA

    To some extent I agree with your argument; however, I think when Rev. Wright makes statements long the lines of his declaration that AIDS was a government conspiracy to eliminate blacks, that is where he crosses the line from speaking unpleasant truths to something more sinister. I’ve personally seen black prejudice against whites, and it’s just as ugly as the opposite. Has white America oppressed blacks? Certainly. No argument there. But it’s time for African-Americans to stop using the oppression of the past as an excuse for failure in the present. Do we need to continue assisting in progress for African-Americans? Yes, but at the same time, they need to work as a group to uplift themselves as well.

  • candide

    Black preachers have specialized in selling baloney to poor congregiants for a long time. They dress in Gucci clothes and drive in Cadillacs on the proceeds from their impoverished flock.

  • mg

    There are no mandates from God based on race or color.The mandates are based on compassion,love,wisdom and keeping God in your life.This country was built on christian faith with a belief in God.If any pastor wants to cry foul, they better look right at their home, their community. The Lord tells us we need to start there, not to blame. We need stronger family values and morals, teach our young respect,discipline.There are no handouts or i am owed this because..The Lord teaches thru our works we will be judged.To many think they have been wronged or are owed something, well your not..Thank the Lord that you live in the United States and have the opportunities that are here. My grandparents and parents did. mg

  • mg

    There are no mandates from God based on race or color.The mandates are based on compassion,love,wisdom and keeping God in your life.This country was built on christian faith with a belief in God.If any pastor wants to cry foul, they better look right at their home, their community. The Lord tells us we need to start there, not to blame. We need stronger family values and morals, teach our young respect,discipline.There are no handouts or i am owed this because..The Lord teaches thru our works we will be judged.To many think they have been wronged or are owed something, well your not..Thank the Lord that you live in the United States and have the opportunities that are here. My grandparents and parents did. mg

  • W. Leland

    I remember on 9/11 how I searched the Scriptures…not just the Isaiah, Jerimiah, Ezekial, Jesus, but also of Mohammad and deep into my own heart for a “Why God?” What wrong could be righted by such a monsterous, and audacious crime?

  • Mike

    There is no excuse or explanation for some of the nonsense Rev Wright has stated. We all have a remarkably similar sense of right and wrong. We must not allow those with an over active vocabulary cloud the difference between right and wrong.

  • ron

    the reverend wright is an intellectual,bright biblical scholar and culturally diverse in many areas.however i am disheartened with his performance at the press club earlier in the week.i feel that he blew an opportunity to showcase himself as a serious scholar of religion and various cultures.it was sad to see a 66 yr old man behave in the manner he displayed during the questioning and answer session.he completely made a buffon of himself and this was sad.i’m sure that many of his parishoners,including senator obama had ever seen this type of behavior from him.initially senator obama refused to disown the rev wright when so many others applied pressure to the senator to do so.in his most recent conference senator obama did repudiate rev wright as a person and his philosophy and the senator was correct in doing so.

  • michael in ontario, canada

    Thank you for the perspective of this article regarding the “different” rhetoric and speech of Rev. Wright, which I gather is not unique within the black religious community. A similar article was in today’s Globe and Mail – Canada’s ‘national’ newspaper, written by Michael Valpy.Yes, Wright had some really over the top speculations such as the U.S. government inflicting AIDS on blacks and other minorities (but it is true that the U.S. govt. did not act quickly to deal with AIDS because of the ‘underclass’ it affected first)….I watched Wright’s speech at the NAACP and the q and a at the next day’s press conference; and yes, the Wright press conference had some of a “full of himself” tone to it but the NAACP speech and Obama’s ‘much phrased’ earlier speech on race relations in the U.S. both identified the isolation and differences between the mainstream community and the black community, things that a society needs to hear, accept and deal with…. not privilege the preferred rhetoric and mannerisms of one’s own group as the only way to talk……. I am amazed by the intellectual impoverishment and fish school group think of the

  • Al

    Yes, it’s good for a black church or white church or any church to point out our collective failings. And collectively we should elect people and support programs that in some measure correct societal injustice in whatever form.But where most well meaning religious people fall down in my view, is in their failure to examine their own personal faults and shortcomings, and change them through acts of honest self-examination, will and self-discipline.If we eat or drink too much, are too often rude, profane or obnoxious, or criticize and judge too much, are petty, jealous or angry, or carry too much pride, greed and selfishness in our natures…….few members of any religion actually make an honest effort to undergo a little self reflection and correct even to a minor degree these frailties in themselves as individuals.Yet they forever demand that others, whether society at large, or white society, or black society or whatever group…..transform their behavior lest they perish in a pit of fire.Why not gage the effectiveness of your religion on the basis of how much it encourages individual responsibility and how much it helps you transform your own individual behavior. Such a process put into some kind of effective practice will actually in turn transform in a positive way the collective behaviors as a by product.

  • DV Sikka

    We have seen sunni and shia killing everywhere in the name of their Allah. Now we are getting into a similar division of black and white church. Nothing could more laughable than this. It is an insult to the Master that his path of love and compassion is now being twisted into hate and revenge. Let us not dismember Christ for whatever reason. We have an Osama in Islam who is solving the worlds problems with his violent means and that is enough. We do want a new Osama on the christian side. Todays world needs the love and compassion of Christ more than ever. Divide and ruin in the name of Christ has to stop. It is time that the black community denounced preachers like Wright. It is time the blacks considered themselves as part of the main stream americans. Same applies to those white preachers, if any, who want to divide chritianity based on color.

  • Anonymous

    There’s a million things that you take for granted that have to go right in this capitalist society for people to be as ‘self-reliant’ as Red states whose roads and infrastructures and subsidies are paid for by blue state urban taxpayers… — I just wish some of the those wonderful blue-staters would use that money to fix up their own infrastructure. Ever live in DC? Baltimore? I have. And let me tell you — it’s one pothole after another. Crime is through the roof. The cities are freaking zoos. Yeah, I’ve seen upclose what happens when “blue staters” have their run of government.

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