The media assault started Friday with a softball appearance on PBS' "Bill Moyers Journal." How softball?
BILL MOYERS: When I hear the word "black liberation theology" being the interpretation of scripture from the oppressed, I think well, that's the Jewish story--
REVEREND WRIGHT: Exactly, exactly. From Genesis to Revelation. These are people who wrote the word of God that we honor and love under Egyptian oppression, Syrian oppression, Babylonian oppression, Persian oppression, Greek oppression, Roman oppression. So that their understanding of what God is saying is very different from the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians. And that's what prophetic theology of the African-American church is.
I must've been reading the wrong Bible all along, because I didn't get that oppression. And Moyers -- an ordained minister -- just lets this all go. For those of you just catching up with this controversy, here's what "black liberation theology" is all about -- as defined by its creator.
"Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community ... Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love."
That's not in my Bible either.
It continued Sunday night with an address to the Detroit NAACP. I listened to it as I was playing Catan online with some friends, and it sounded like something that could've been given at a Klan rally -- just with different emphasis.
I can't say it much better than Victor Davis Hanson:
One of the strangest things about the NAACP Wright pseudo-scientific speech on learning, and its enthusiastic CNN coverage and analysis, was the abject racialism of Wright. It was sort of an inverse Bell-Curve presentation, based on assumed DNA differences.
His convoluted explanation of African-American right-brain 'oral' culture as more creative, musical, and spontaneous versus European left-brain traditional analysis could never have been given by someone white to that audience without justifiably earning booing and catcalls.
Three comments: this was just the sort of racist 'genetic' difference that most Americans learned to shun, now apparently quite acceptable again, and part of the mainstream.
Second, there is no evidence that so-called Europeans could not "rap" or create an oral literature as well as Africans - remember, oral poetry as we know it , began with bards like Homer somewhere in the southeastern Aegean and continued into modern times in the Balkans.
Three, some of the most accomplished speakers of English and analytical thinkers are African-Americans, a fact everyone immediately recognizes from what they read and with whom they speak.
In short, Wright's speech on black-right brainers, white-left brainers - replete with bogus stereotypes and crude voice imitations - was about as racist as they come and at one time antithetical to what the NAACP was once all about. Again, the Obama campaign and its appendages have set back racial relations a generation. Just ten years ago, any candidate, black or white, would have rejected Wright making a speech about genetic differences in respective black and white brains. Now it's given to civil rights organizations by the possible next President's pastor and spiritual advisor - and done to wild applause for an organization founded on the idea that we are innately the same, while being gushed over by ignorant "commentators."
As I said before, between Wright's racism and hatred, and Obama's contextualization of what he has said, we have so lowered the bar that the next racist (and he won't necessarily be black) who evokes hatred of other races and then offers a mish-mash pop theory of genetic differences will have plenty of "context" to ward off public fury.
The most troubling part of this appearance was this exchange:
MODERATOR: Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but through me." Do you believe this? And do you think Islam is a way to salvation?
WRIGHT: Jesus also said, "Other sheep have I who are not of this fold."
As blogger Dale Mitchell notes, some context is in order:
This is taken from John 10 when Jesus is talking to a gathering of Jews, specifically the Pharisees:
11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
12 "He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
13 "He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.
14 "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,
15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
16 "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. (emphasis mine)
Christ Jesus was not speaking over network TV when he said this. He was talking to a specific group of people. Jewish people!
Jesus said that his ministry was first to the "lost sheep of Israel" (ref. Matthew 15:24) and his entire earthly ministry was focused on the Jewish people. Although He did not turn away the Gentiles who sought Him, His focus was on those "lost sheep of Israel".
Jesus clearly refers to the Jewish people as "this fold". The "other sheep" refer to non-Jews who would come to saving faith in Christ. Christ also said that He was the ONLY way to the Father (ref. John 14:6). To say that Islam, which doesn't recognize Jesus as the "Son of God", but only as a "good teacher", is a way to salvation is at best totally ignorant and at worst heretical. And especially heinous for one who represents himself as a Christian minister.
As I commuted to and from work today, I was listening to last Friday's podcast of the Hugh Hewitt show featuring extensive "context" that Wright insisted was missing from the sermon soundbites everyone has heard.
Bad news for Rev. Wright: The context makes your case worse. Much worse.
I wrote the basic outline for a post on the Rev. Wright about a week ago, but ended up shelving it. I didn't think that I knew enough about Trinity United Church of Christ and Wright to really justify what I was writing. I feel much more sure now.
There are people in every church who aren't Christians. They may attend every Sunday. Teach Sunday school. Play in the Worship Band. Go to Bible Studies. Bow their heads in prayer. But in their hearts, they haven't given their lives to Christ. They view church as a social club or a place where they can do some good works, but the message of Christ doesn't really reach them. I think most pastors know these people exist, and they do their utmost to do everything they can to bring these people to Christ.
I think Trinity United Church of Christ is largely a social club. I'm sure that the church does a lot of good in that community, but based on the Rev. Wright's preaching, I'm skeptical that Christ is in that church. That's not to say that there aren't Christians in that congregation. I'm sure there are. However, I think it's far easier to sit in Trinity's pews week after week and not be challenged in your relationship with Christ than it is in many other churches. Rev. Wright's sermons sound like what you might hear in a college political science class much more so than a church on Sunday morning.
I don't know the state of Barack Obama's soul. Nor that of his wife, Michelle. I won't speculate and I encourage others not to either.
But Obama's got some serious questions to answer. He sat in a church where a whole lot of hatred is preached and where the gospel is seldom heard for 20+ years. He's "friendly" (in the words of his campaign spokesman) with unrepentant terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn of the Weather Underground.
He assures us that he deplores the views of Wright, Ayers and Dohrn, but these are people he chose to associate with. They're his friends and mentors.
I assure you that I'm not one to tout guilt-by-association, after all, if you were to judge my conservative bona fides by the people I spend the most time with, I'd be in trouble too -- I spend 40 hours a week in the newsroom of a major metropolitan daily. But Obama didn't have to go to that church to earn a living. He didn't have to launch his campaign for Illinois State Senate in Bill Ayers' living room.
This is the milieu in which Obama has existed for decades -- and yet he goes out on the campaign trail and you'd never guess any of this. He sounds like a middle-of-the-road Democrat.
The Rev. Wright is right about one thing: Obama is saying what he must to get elected. No more. No less. Obama decries Wright's hate-filled statements to appease the American mainstream, then refuses to repudiate the man to keep hold of the left-wing base.
If character matters, then the Democrats would be absolutely suicidal to nominate Obama. Nominating Sen. Hillary Clinton comes with its own set of problems, but I confess that I wouldn't have guessed that the baggage Clinton was carrying would weigh less than any of her opponents.