The Scriptures are clear about the responsibilities of Christian ministers: Saint Paul in I Corinthians 9:16 in reference to the high calling of the preacher states, “Woe is me, if I preach not the gospel.” A preacher’s first and most compelling responsibility is to preach the gospel –– which does not mean merely teaching a doctrine and certainly does not mean stirring up negative emotions and producing destructive behavior and attitudes –– it means proclaiming Jesus Christ in words and actions. Jesus Christ described himself as “the same yesterday, today and forever.” So, the black church is not different from any other church. All Christians are called to be instruments of Christ’s presence and to be “salt and light” in the world; in other words, to spread truth and to call for repentance so that Christ can forgive and transform those who believe.
Further, Mr. Wright distorts the issue of American slavery. Christianity was a major force –– if not THE major force –– ending slavery in the United States. The revivalism of that era produced conviction, repentance and conversion for whites and well as blacks. And, it was the power of the gospel that led white Americans to fight slavery and become outspoken abolitionists. That same gospel transformed the lives of the slaves who became believers so that they were able to rise above their circumstances to accept the equality of the Bible and the freedom that only Christ can give.
After the Civil War, Christian black families and communities were strong and supportive of each other; it was not until the 1960s and its entitlement programs that the black family disintegrated. Sadly, Mr. Wright is not the first black preacher to manipulate black church congregations into victimization rather than salvation; Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and others present the same worldview. We can only hope that after the media spectacle this week, the light of truth will shine through the darkness of distortion to focus on the gospel message that Christ came to redeem and transform the lives of all who are lost.