Sunday, June 27, 2010

Social Justice or Personal Salvation - or Do We Have to Choose?

I had a wonderful time this past Wednesday, sharing with Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Plano, Texas during their series on social justice. It was an honor to be selected as one of the speakers for their series. While many were kind enough to regard my presentation as 'thought provoking', I assure you that I was provoked to thought as much, if not more than they.

One question was particularly thought provoking. It had to do with whether or not Christianity in general, and the church in particular would be better served by giving attention to one's personal salvation and eternal destiny, as opposed to 'social justice'. I've answered that question before, dealing with it as a pastor and preacher in any number of settings.

My standard answer is essentially this: when Jesus found someone who needed an advocate (the woman caught in adultery, for instance, in John 8:1-11), He was an Advocate; when people needed healing, as in Mark 3:1-5, He healed them; and when they needed to know about salvation as with the 'rich young ruler' as in Matthew 19:16-19 or with John 3:1-21, He shared with them the pathway to eternal life. Jesus didn't have to choose, He did whatever was in front of Him. If that's true for Him and the Church is His Body, then we don't have to choose either.

But, in rummaging through the files on my computer, I ran across this video of a sermon by my friend and brother, George Mason, pastor of the Wilshire Baptist Church here in Dallas. George, as usual is spot on in dealing with this and other divisions that tend to be, shall we say, less than helpful as we seek to live out our faith convictions.

I'd love to learn your thoughts on this subject and your reactions to Rev. Mason's message. It's a great word for our time...

6 comments:

George said...

Thanks for the shout out, Gerald. Always good to know I'm on the same page with you.

Best,
George

Gerald Britt said...

George, yours is a remarkable gift. I have tremendous admiration and respect for you and it!

Anonymous said...

There are greater ramifications than "helping others" in George's sermon. The implications of the organized ""social justice" movement is, at its base, a political wolf in sheep’s' clothing, that ultimately replaces Christianity with a political agenda.
Also, the "social justice" angle and tie in with Liberation Theology which places emphasis on the "oppressed minority" diminishing the message of the gospel and divide people by race upholding black nationalism over the cross of Christ that is supposed to unite us all.
George's sermon indicates a political undertone – he is a more refined version of Jeremiah Wright. Pity for his flock.

Gerald Britt said...

Anon 12:15,

You're pretty much wrong about just about every objection you're raising - well, ok, you are totally wrong.

But having said that, let me also say, that the only thing I wish more than it having been I that preached George's sermon, is that it would have been I that had written your reply. It's a near perfect illustration of the whole point of the message.

Anonymous said...

Gerald,here's another example for you from your ole pal

President Obama's former spiritual advisor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, gave a seminar at the University of Chicago last week (June 20-26, 2010) in which he made numerous anti-Semitic remarks while once again attacking white people.

According to the New York Post, during the five-day course that cost up to $1,000, Wright claimed "whites and Jews are controlling the flow of worldwide information and oppressing blacks in Israel and America."

"White folk done took this country," Wright said. "You're in their home, and they're gonna let you know it."

Despite the astonishingly racist comments during this week-long event, as well as his former connection to the current President of the United States, not one media outlet besides the Post reported what transpired at the Chicago Theological Seminary on the university campus. Not one!

For those that can stand it, here are some more disgraceful things uttered by the man our President worshiped with for twenty years

"You are not now, nor have you ever been, nor will you ever be a brother to white folk," he said. "And if you do not realize that, you are in serious trouble."

He cited the writings of Bill Jones -- author of the book "Is God a White Racist?" -- as proof that white people cannot be trusted. "Bill said, 'They just killed four of their own at Kent State. They'll step on you like a cockroach and keep on movin', cause you not a brother to them.' "

Wright referred to Italians as "Mamma Luigi" and "pizzeria." He said the educational system in America is designed by whites to miseducate blacks "not by benign neglect but by malignant intent."

He said Ethiopian Jews are despised by white Jews: "And now the Knesset [Israeli parliament] is meeting with European Jews, voting on whether or not these African Jews can get into [Israel]."

The civil-rights movement, Wright said, was never about racial equality: "It was always about becoming white . . . to master what [they] do." Martin Luther King, he said, was misguided for advocating nonviolence among his people, "born in the oven of America."

"We probably have more African-Americans who've been brainwashed than we have South Africans who've been brainwashed," he said, and seemed to allude to President Obama twice: "Unfortunately, I got in trouble with a fella for saying this . . . All your commentaries are written by oppressors." At the mention of Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan -- whom Obama disavowed during the campaign -- black leaders "go cuttin' and duckin'," he said.

As media ignore the disgusting things this man says, they are complicit in separating him from the man he once advised spiritually.

It's as if Obama never sat in the pews of the Trinity Church and his Reverend never existed."

I'm sure all of Wright's comments were taken out of context.

Gerald Britt said...

I'm actually trying to see your point. For those of you who wish to excoriate Wright for what he is saying now, its fine. But Wright is no longer a pastor, no longer a leading figure in the Church of Christ. He is no longer Obama's spiritual leader. And his influence is a pretty truncated one in the Black Church.

As I have said before: Wright's sermon clips (the 'Goddamn America' that so many froth about), is an excerpt from a sermon that wasn't objectionable. Especially to the mixed congregation of Trinity Church of Christ. Precious few who have done so much hand wringing and vilifying have seen no more of the message than was shown in campaign commercials or YouTube.

Secondly, how is this worth so much angst. When major political figures have countenanced racism, hate speech and have themselves spouted vieled, coded racist remarks for which there have been no apologies - only the lame, 'we can't control the people who attend our rallies'.

Again, Wright has been effectively marginalized. Such was the aim of those who made political hay out of the YouTube clip. It sounds as if he is indeed a man who has become bitter through this experience and it is a shame. But, if that is the case, why is it you expect greater morality from those who have undergone the meanspirited attacks and virulent hatred that have ruined this man's reputation and yet when conservatives do the same thing - spouting their own morality, they get by throwing up there hands and pleading 'I'm just an entertainer' or 'I'm not running for office' or 'I can't control the crowd'.

Wright is not an issue. And it appears that by continuing to bring him up, you have issues that you might need to take up with him.