Reverend Jeremiah Wright has recently made national news with his inflammatory comments, and in the process has introduced America to the phrase “Liberation Theology.” What is Liberation Theology? Is it a new Gospel? Is it comparable to any other theology? This phrase and the philosophy behind it are the remnants of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Its logical place would be the black church.
The Civil Rights Movement had to begin in the black church because that was where all past organization and motivation for oppressed black people came from. On the plantation, one of the few places for blacks to meet without being watched by white slave managers was Sunday morning church service. It was also where slaves could have leaders that they chose instead of those chosen by Master. The preacher was one of the few slaves who could approach Master on behalf of other slaves to address grievances.
Thus, the slave preacher was usually in the forefront of the Underground Railroad Movement. He coordinated with other Christians from the North based upon a common faith and a common theology. Christians like Harriett Beecher Stowe, John Brown, the Quaker church, and the Wesleyan Church worked with Christians like Harriett Tubman to publicly denounce slavery and help slaves escape. On the other hand, you also had the militant slave preachers like Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner who lead revolts and rebellions.
It was a Christian movement which eventually pushed this country to tear itself apart to end the institution of slavery. Then came discrimination as “Separate but equal”, and again, it was the Christian church that lead the way with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Christian Leadership Conference, and the thousands of black churches in black communities throughout America organizing, educating, and strategizing to confront this threat to liberty and dignity.
I was a young man in the 1960s, and while I serving in the Navy a white racist shipmate dropped 2,800 pounds of metal on me in an attempt to kill me. I became permanently disabled and continue to face physical struggles. I went through radical and angry responses and found a solution which worked for me and may work for the rest of America. It was racial forgiveness. Not racial “restoration” and not “liberation theology. It was an old theology called “Forgiveness.” As a Christian, what other resolution was there? What other response could I give?
I could have demanded an apology, special treatment, or punishment for the perpetrator. However, if I demanded anything from anyone, I would be dependent upon them. If I was going to be free, I would have to act like a free man. First, I had to totally forgive the hatred and attempted murder. I had to forgive whatever contributing factor I placed upon my country and white people. The real “Liberation Theology” was not new; it was very old – it was the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The “New Civil Rights Movement” has hijacked the Gospel and twisted it to suit themselves. They have taken the philosophy of forgiveness and turned it into a total acceptance of every lifestyle and belief system possible. They have developed a new philosophy called “Tolerance”, meaning to hold everyone’s beliefs to equal standing with your own beliefs. Not just acceptance of others’ right to hold different beliefs, this new philosophy of Tolerance requires you to view their beliefs as of equal value to yours. It requires a change in your beliefs to tolerate others. This requires you to have no beliefs.
So, Reverend Wright can be a Christian minister and accept beliefs of Farrakhan as equal to his Christian beliefs. He can accept abortions as equal to his Christian faith, and he can believe poverty is caused by government action not individual action.
Reverend Wright could build a great church because the masses love to be taken care of and his passion for their plight gives them hope. I found that real hope lies in the total forgiveness of my Christian faith, and it has truly liberated me from the anger, frustration, and hatred of the past. I went on with my life and have achieved some levels of success, especially in my Christian walk. So, I do not need a Black Liberation Theology. I no longer belong to the black race; I belong to the race of Christ.
I was blessed when Dr. D. James Kennedy produced a biography of my life for his television program, “The Coral Ridge Hour.” It highlights my struggle with the anger and how I found complete release. As this nation struggles with past and present wrongs, this message may help us all adjust. Instead of punishment, reparation, or guilt, let’s try forgiveness.
In the 1940s black men and white men (like Reverend Wright) went to war to fight for the freedom of others, and then came back to America to face discrimination at home. White and black people joined hands again for a new push for civil rights. They took down Poll Taxes, fought against illiteracy, and again, worked for the dignity of all men.
This was the era of Reverend Wright. He and I grew up in the middle of that America, and it formed our views of America. I also joined the military, I also faced open hostility from white America, and I also went on to a radical response to that hostility. However, I came to a profoundly different conclusion about my country and the proper response to these problems. The fight for freedom was just, but the response to being free has not always been justified.
Once World War II ended, the “war industry” disassembled and returned to the actions of community building. People went back to their lives and began to build families, culture, and careers. However, when the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s and 1970s was won, the Civil Rights “industry” did not disassemble, but redirected itself to other areas because there is a lot of money, influence, and power in addressing “problems.” So, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, and the others could not maintain their status as advocates for the MOVEMENT unless the movement continued. You will never see them celebrate the achievements of America. You will never hear them praise the accomplishments of the individual. Furthermore, you cannot expect them to acknowledge the great progress America has made in racial equality. They are crisis managers, so they cannot get paid if there are no crises.
After the Civil War, 360,000 white men had been killed on the Union side. They died fighting their brothers and cousins to free strangers. That was the original “apology for slavery” everyone is crying for today. Those that remained alive returned home and started families while the former slaves dealt with the newness of freedom. Slaves did not blame America for slavery, and despite today’s call for “forty acres and a mule”, most blacks did not expect much from the government. The call for Civil Rights was a call for personal freedom and protection, not government control and management. I did not fight for the right to be managed by America; I fought for my God-given right to participate in the America dream.
To view the Coral Ridge Hour program featuring Mason Weaver, see “The Power of Forgiveness” on my web sight http://americanbeliefs.com/media.html