Has Ethnic Loyalty in America Replaced Loyalty to Christ?
By: Frances Swaggart
(This article was originally printed in June, 2008.)
“In America, the church is still the most segregated major institution in America. At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at Western Michigan University
After receiving several e-mails regarding a recent discussion held over SonLife Radio on “Frances And Friends”, we felt we needed to further address the issue at hand. This is one letter that was written on the subject:
“First and foremost I thank God for your boldness by which you preach and teach Jesus Christ and the Cross, Him Crucified for our Salvation. Me and my husband pray for you daily. We tuned in to your program this evening when discussion was taking place regarding politics and primarily Mr. Obama. We are less concerned about the election and more concerned about race relations in this country. It seems like this ‘unexpected’ popularity of Obama has brought out so many fears. I was shocked to hear your comment that he supports ‘black supremacy’ in this country. What does that mean? I already wear the color and know that ‘race does matter’ in America. And many have forgotten that this country was built with 300 years of free slave labor. Immigrants got paid for their contributions. Mrs. Swaggart, I accept that you have human limitations imposed by the color of your skin. Yes in America race does matter as shown on Sunday mornings. Since the Lord is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle, race is still one area that has to be smoothed out. I am, and always have been an Independent (voted twice for Bush) and am not saying that I even know who I will vote for. Obama is an individual running for president. How did he end up being a threat to the white race? He’s either a threat to America which includes us all or he isn’t. God has always used the church (His people) to move America. My prayer is that His church will once again learn to listen to His voice. We love you all with the love of the Lord.”
First of all, please allow me to elaborate on the discussion you heard on our program. It was not of a political nature, but rather of a doctrinal nature. We were adamantly disagreeing with the doctrine held by Senator Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ. His church espouses:
“We are an African people, and remain ‘true to our native land,’ the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community” (http://www.tucc.org/about.htm).
When the Believer is Saved, he is Saved “out” of his culture, not “in” it. If this was not true, then the Jewish followers of Christ discussed in the Bible would have been allowed to hold on to their traditions. Their customs had been in place longer than any other civilization in the world. But the Jewish Christians were not concerned with their old “roots.” They knew that when Christ, the Messiah, came, they were to forsake all of their old traditions and follow Him. Born-Again Believers, no matter what background they come from, have been given new roots! Hallelujah! Now that is something worth shouting from every rooftop, something truly worth being loyal to! As a matter of fact, the Bible warns us against following the traditions of men:
“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in him: Rooted and built up in Him, and established in the Faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:6-8).
This is true for every cultural background. When the Native American accepts Christ, they should forsake all forms of the worship of other gods — the powwows, totem poles, dances, and medicine men, etc. I could even say that about myself. I am of Scottish and Irish decent, but I do not hold to the Celtic traditions of my ancestors or their religion. Neither do I hold to the traditions of my Native American heritage.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17).
While we are all very much aware of our past culture and history, we cannot continue to live in the past! It is important to recognize that inevitably all of the ethnic behaviors of men come back to some form of religious belief — and a belief that does not tell us we are justified by Faith alone! Christians live exclusively by Faith in the Finished Work of Calvary because we have come to realize that it is by His Work alone that man may prosper. This is, in essence, the new “culture” of Christ. And it explains why so many today have trouble coming out of their old traditions. It directly insults man’s pride of life. Man cannot save himself, provide for himself, nor better himself in any way, but yet, this is exactly what the cultures of man were designed to do — prosper the society. The Cross is truly a slap in the face to every way of mankind. However, we should realize that it is a rebuke to our selfishness and self-dependence that keeps us out of fellowship with God, so the insult actually comes from Love. God wants us to be able to fellowship with Him, but such can only come through a complete death to “self ” at the foot of Calvary.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION
The very reason for the Reformation in the 1500’s was because the “traditions” of men that had gone on for so long. If Martin Luther, along with many other of the great reformers at the time, had not decided to step out and come away from the established Church and traditions of that day, we would still be living in a society ruled and controlled by a government based upon false religion. And if that had happened, as horrible as the initial time of Africans coming to this country was, millions of African-Americans would have simply remained African and not known the freedom and prosperity that America has had to offer at all. So, for ANY church to get up and tell its people they are going to be “true to our native land, the mother continent, the cradle of civilization,” they are remaining true to a culture and not Christ. You simply cannot have both. It is because of Christ that America believes in freedom of religion, and it is because of Christ that any of us have been given freedom from sin! The “native land” of Africa did not provide freedom, safety, or salvation for African-Americans, nor did their African ancestors. In fact, it was many of their own people, other Africans, who sold them into slavery in the first place. So, why would such a history deserve the African-American’s loyalty today? On the note of racism, please allow me to preface my comments by saying the following: If you were to walk into Family Worship Center on any given day of the week, you will see what the Body of Christ truly is. We have a congregation of Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Native American, and any number of other nationalities. Any and all races are welcome, and the wonderful thing is that no matter what, as the Spirit of God moves, everyone enters in to the presence of the Lord and worships! The Spirit of God knows no cultural boundaries!
SAVED OR UNSAVED
Having said that, Rev. Wright very prominently says on his website that the motto of their Church is, “We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian . . . Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent” (http://www.tucc.org/about.htm). As well, he unashamedly holds to the ideals promoted within the “black power movement.” What if a white pastor got up and said we are “unashamedly white and unapologetically Christian”? Actually, we do have those groups, and such “white supremacy” groups are evil. Are they the picture of Christianity? Absolutely not! There is only one dividing line in the Eyes of God — Saved or unsaved. Anyone who belittles this or tries to create more divisions is doing injustice to Christ and His Cross. The other problem we had with this pastor is his support of Louis Farrakhan (http://www.trumpetmag.com/pdf/nov_dec_feature.pdf) who is a self-proclaimed Muslim and whose teachings are very much pulling people AWAY from the Body of Christ as a whole. How can any “preacher” of the Gospel support such a religious leader? To be blunt, they cannot! It doesn’t matter how much a man seemingly fights for civil rights or racial equality if he does not stand for Christ! Is your pride as a race really more important than the Truth of the Gospel? Are you willing to team-up with a man who serves “allah” just to have one more black man in congress? Think about it! Whom do you serve? When we put aside the “racial” issue and look at the Spiritual issue, we simply have to take a stand against what is being taught from a Spiritual perspective — whether it is being taught by a black man or a white man. If you will fight for Christ, He will fight for you! He will prosper you in His Way and in His Time if you put your loyalties to Him first.
We should not wish for any type of racial supremacy in this nation at all! We should pray for Christ’s Supremacy! If any ethnic group becomes driven by the desire to be supreme, it is no longer classified as Christianity. It is racism! Webster’s dictionary defines racism as, “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” So, whether it is a Hispanic, African-American, Caucasian, Asian, or any other who promotes an agenda for the sole sake of benefiting his personal race, he is, by default, guilty of racism himself! I hope in America today we would look for leaders who first and foremost are Christian, not in name only, but evidenced in the life they live and the doctrine they hold to (Lk. 21:8). I think you know by now, through listening to our program, that we have dealt with people across a broad spectrum of religious beliefs. It is amazing to me that no one has accused us of racial bias when we have dealt with the Purpose Driven Life, G-12, or even the religious background of our current President. We will not hold back from discussing the doctrine of ANY false religion or teaching, regardless of the color of the man’s skin that is purporting it!
The truth is that the Christian Church has been divided across racial lines. In the political arena, we have the majority of black Christians voting for the Democratic Party because they are led to believe Democrats more readily promote minority equality. And, on the other side, we have the majority of white Christians voting for the Republican Party because they believe this is the party that stands for “Christian” morals. Can’t we as Christians see that this is really just a trick of the Devil to divide and conquer the Body of Christ? Why didn’t the Church recognize the danger of America’s two-party politics a long time ago? Jesus clearly stated: “. . . Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Mat. 12:25). There is an excellent article on the News With Views website that I recommend everyone should read. It was written by Dave Daubenmire and entitled, “What Color Is Your Christianity?”
JESUS ALONE DESERVES YOUR LOYALTY
(http://www.newswithviews.com/Daubenmire/dave108.htm) In this article Mr. Daubenmire states: “Black Christians are voting for candidates who won’t stop the killing of unborn black babies . . . ‘white churches,’ for the most part have been oblivious to the needs of their black brothers and sisters in Christ . . . We have turned the duties of the Church over to the god-of-government and we wonder why our black brothers look to elected officials for salvation.”
Daubenmire continues, “‘White Christians’ pray to their ‘white God’ for more stuff, while ‘black Christians’ pray to their ‘black God’ for justice and equality . . . Tragically, most blacks have been taught to be more loyal to the Democrats than they are to their Lord and how about you, my white Christian brother? Did Jeremiah Wright’s comments make you angry or sad? Are you voting Republican so you can beat the Democrats when you should be voting for Jesus so he can destroy the works of Satan? We have become convinced that Party allegiance trumps allegiance to Christ. The Devil runs both Parties. A vote for either is a vote for Slew-foot’s agenda. What kind of nation would this be if 90% of the Christians voted for the same values? . . . Blacks and whites serve the same Jesus. We just don’t know that we do.” God, forgive us all for being so blind! The Apostle Paul said: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1). All True Believers must begin disregarding cultural backgrounds and start choosing leaders, both political and spiritual, whose actions are directed by Christ rather than his race. Do not allow race to become an idol. It is only Jesus who deserves your loyalty.