Martin Luther King passionately wrote out of a jail cell in Birmingham some 50+ years ago now… “There was a time when the church was powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed.” A great statement, reaching for a clear answer. Where was the power of the early church centered and for what could each member rejoice? Was the joy that could be counted, as all, an ambiguous or political joy from God deemed worthy for suffering? King continues with his thought…“In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”
Yet over 2000 years removed from the context of the early church and the gatherers of which he alludes, King laments, “Things are different now. The contemporary church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound.” But, what is the certain sound? It could be argued that the thermostat has been replaced, and the numbers on the dial have been substituted for something much less desirable. In fact, some of the more popular manufacturers of the thermostat today are new and foreign. Foreign at least to the good news revealed to the early church. This new thermostat is persuaded to a wrong connection, and the warmth of its source is non-existent, as if different.
If there were a “short term” prophet for the cycle of depravity in government, could it be that we have heard it echoed from Alabama, and if not, King’s message would surely resonate in the culture of today, as it has in many governments formed along the road of history. The accusation for being an “ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound” rings loudly and distinctly in the realm of what is clearly “the gospel”, yet now it becomes muted in a unique fashion through “another manufactured gospel”. “Black and White” congregations alike are duped into considering a false dichotomy. As if the story is written in black and white ink alone. Yet inside the borders of these two colors are all the stories, all the nationalities and ethnicities that live and exist under governments. And these same governments are those that are judged by a higher gospel, different than the ones being manufactured today, in so many places. To craft “another gospel” in the midst of this humanity, is to unleash cruelty on all. Let me explain the cruel reality in several parts.
A New Gospel Under Development
We live in a world of takers. But God has always and uniquely changed that dynamic by demonstrating the obedience of giving. And has demonstrated that “unique action” in giving of Himself through the person of Jesus Christ (God), at the right time, and substantively given in a peculiar people throughout history and into eternity. This unique action “in giving” is intrinsically tied to the Kingdom of God. Not to be confused with any other Kingdom. So, “giving”, a known strength in the Kingdom of God, is but a fleeting foreign objective to the newly manufactured gospel; a shiny social objective, far short on any substance in the real Kingdom of God. Social constructs are easily manufactured to cast the original gospel into a different light. A more popular gospel is deemed worthy to replace the original in the tones of democracy, wherever in the world it may appear. Another gospel closely aligned to the original, yet abhorrently siding with the system of takers. How is the church to respond?
Feeding and caring for this new gospel is the aim of “waterless clouds”. And any church that will receive the message of this new gospel, receives the teaching at its own peril. An assumptive leader of the black community by his own admission, Barack Obama, while nearing his mid forties articulates his faith… “I’m a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it’s best comes with a big dose of doubt. I’m suspicious of too much certainly in the pursuit of understanding just because I think that people are limited in their understanding”. Yet the church knows something quite different. “Big doses of doubt” are not the elements of faith, even if people are limited in their understanding. Obama goes on to form his religious ethic, “I think that, particularly as somebody who’s now in the public realm and is a student of what brings people together and what drives them apart, there’s an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty.”
- Jesus Christ – (through Joel, Luke, and Paul) “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
- Barak Obama – “there’s an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty.”
Barak Obama further represents another gospel, in this way, and within the same breath…. “I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell. I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity. That’s just not part of my religious makeup.” So, what is his religious makeup? He clearly is proclaiming some new gospel message, foreign to the gospel of the bible. It is most assuredly another gospel, not associated to the blood of Jesus Christ. Rest assured, the gospel of the Kingdom of God is rooted in the blood of Christ; a propitiation for sin. A sin that is worthy of Hell for any man or woman that is not covered by the blood. So is there another blood? The essence of the true gospel is a certainty that the blood of Jesus is not Hell bound. It is the power (dunamis) inherent in the gospel of the Kingdom and the blood that is effective and spills is from Jesus. It is in the true gospel construct where we find the essence of “giving”, not taking…a measurable difference.
- Jesus Christ – (through John) “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”….”If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”
- Barak Obama – “I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity. That’s just not part of my religious makeup.”
Duped by Rhetoric and Metaphors
How has the church been duped by this rhetoric? Obama continues… “Obviously as an African American politician rooted in the African American community, I spend a lot of time in the black church. I have no qualms in those settings in participating fully in those services and celebrating my God in that wonderful community that is the black church.”
This is a poor commentary, and a broad brush, on any group whether white or black (or any other ethnicity)! So why would this man feel comfortable? That is easy to answer. When another gospel is accepted and has replaced the gospel of God,…. there is a place of comfort, a place of ease, a place of counterfeit, an easy target for “social”, and “political” platforms that mitigate against the true Gospel. Counterfeit power! Not the power of the gospel, mind you, but another power to persuade men and woman to a cause and effect. It is quite another gospel, with a more sinister and different result that is foreign to the fruit of the Spirit.
Is this the same message of the black church that preaches the gospel of the Kingdom of God? Not if the church you attend believes in the gospel of God, it isn’t. Here’s the antithesis of the true gospel… “But I also try to be (pauses Obama) . . . Rarely in those settings do people come up to me and say, what are your beliefs. They are going to presume, and rightly so. Although they may presume a set of doctrines that I subscribe to that I don’t necessarily subscribe to. But I don’t think that’s unique to me. I think that each of us when we walk into our church or mosque or synagogue are interpreting that experience in different ways, are reading scriptures in different ways and are arriving at our own understanding at different ways and in different phases. I don’t know a healthy congregation or an effective minister who doesn’t recognize that. If all it took was someone proclaiming I believe Jesus Christ and that he died for my sins, and that was all there was to it, people wouldn’t have to keep coming to church, would they.”
- Jesus Christ – (To those in the Corinthian church through Paul) “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this”
- Barak Obama – “I think that each of us when we walk into our church or mosque or synagogue are interpreting that experience in different ways, are reading scriptures in different ways and are arriving at our own understanding at different ways and in different phases. I don’t know a healthy congregation or an effective minister who doesn’t recognize that. If all it took was someone proclaiming I believe Jesus Christ and that he died for my sins, and that was all there was to it, people wouldn’t have to keep coming to church, would they.”
Black and White Churches Beware
This “new gospel” might be appealing, empathetic, create action at the public square, and ascend as seemingly popular today; but it is amazingly foreign to the church that follows Jesus Christ. A nugget of this “new gospel” thinking is rooted in this belief….“arriving at our own understanding at different ways and in different phases”. This teacher is speaking for all religions mind you, not just the church of uncertainty that makes up his religious experience. There are black Pastors that know the gospel of the Kingdom of God, that stand along side preachers of the true gospel everyday, and cringe at this “new gospel” fallacious religious experience. And rightfully so, because they are found participating and preaching a gospel that is foreign to the precepts of another gospel…. while exposing, not coddling the waterless clouds. Oh for more cringing preachers; willing to lead the church that has been purchased by the blood of Jesus!
- Jesus Christ – (through Jude) “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ…..These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever……These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.”
Will You Heed the Warning?
- Is it important to our communities to articulate the gospel of God?
- Have citizens of the Kingdom of God in heaven and living in the earth exposed the “Waterless Clouds”?
- Is the Church important enough to follow the true Gospel?
- Who would you allow to speak and persuade in your Church as representing the Kingdom of God purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ?
Black and White Congregations: Duped by Another Gospel: Part II
-More Waterless Clouds
-Social Justice, Government, and the Gospel of God
-How the Church Worldwide Shuns “Another Gospel”
-Solutions: The Excellent Power of the Gospel in Urban Communities
- Martin Luther King Letter: Birmingham Jail 1963, University of Pennsylvania, http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html
- Obama Interview: transcript at, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thedudeabides/obama-on-faith-the-exclusive-interview/#ixzz3LA93r7vx
- All Biblical Texts: NASB