Thursday, March 5, 2015

Blacks' Distorted Faith (?)

I have read the penetrating and deeply controversial "Confessions of a public defender" a number of times.

That a liberal public defender would outline his searing indictment against black ghetto culture was too much to ignore.

That he was so piercing in his indictment against the religious bent within certain black communities: my interest was so piqued, I had to comment.

Before the end or Election Year 2014, a special election for state senate took place in Inglewood, CA.

The previous officer holder, convicted felon Roderick Wright, was forced to resign for perjury and voter fraud.

The special election took place one month after the 2014 general election.

Three Democrats and one Republican ran for the seat, with a 60-20 Democratic advantage in a heavily machine-dominant Democratic district. Hopes ran high that Spencer would force a run-off, even if he couldn't win outright,

James Spencer, the Republican businessman from Inglewood, had a dedicated though small team of volunteers getting out the vote for him. I even made phone calls for him on election day. I was not surprised to learn from some of the prospective voters that they were unaware of any election taking place. Among a number of individuals, I had mistaken the election day, and I had my pulse very close to the local and statewide politics, at least more than most concerned citizens.

It was understandable that many people were not paying attention the 35th State Senate election.

On December 9th, Special Election night, I  met with a team of Spencer supporters, and the discussion about the pathologies in black communities emerged. One of the volunteers pointed out that there are churches on nearly every street corner in most black neighborhoods, and yet the prevalence of welfarism, disease, and gang-related violence prevails.

Why? I asked myself. Public Defender Michael Smith answered the question:

Black women have great faith in God, but they have a twisted understanding of His role. They do not pray for strength or courage. They pray for results: the satisfaction of immediate needs. One of my clients was a black woman who prayed in a circle with her accomplices for God’s protection from the police before they would set out to commit a robbery.

Imagine that. They see God as some deity who justifies their every action, regardless of the wrong-doing.

The mothers and grandmothers pray in the hallways–not for justice, but for acquittal. When I explain that the evidence that their beloved child murdered the shop keeper is overwhelming, and that he should accept the very fair plea bargain I have negotiated, they will tell me that he is going to trial and will “ride with the Lord.” They tell me they speak to God every day and He assures them that the young man will be acquitted.

The blind trust in a God not revealed in the Word of God is deeply disturbing. Faith has nothing to do with what we say, but with everything that Jesus has done at the Cross.

I can testify that I have rarely, if ever, heard black preachers talk about Christ and Him Crucified. Yet for Paul, the key spokesman for the full revelation of the Gospel, he clearly outlined his priorities:

"For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2: 2)

One pastor told me about his experiences in many black churches. They were celebrated as a time and place where black folks would put on their best clothes and "be black".

It had nothing, if anything, to do with Christ Jesus and His Work at the Cross.

Picture from the American Renaissance article "Confessions of a Public Defender"

The mothers and grandmothers do not seem to be able to imagine and understand the consequences of going to trial and losing. Some–and this is a shocking reality it took me a long time to grasp–don’t really care what happens to the client, but want to make it look as though they care. This means pounding their chests in righteous indignation, and insisting on going to trial despite terrible evidence. They refuse to listen to the one person–me–who has the knowledge to make the best recommendation. These people soon lose interest in the case, and stop showing up after about the third or fourth court date. It is then easier for me to convince the client to act in his own best interests and accept a plea agreement.

Public defender Smith may not have the strongest hold on doctrine or the truth of God's grace revealed in Christ Jesus, but he does pinpoint the distorted understanding which many people, including different black communities, have about faith.

In this country, even in the most affluent areas, there is a prevalent focus on man and his efforts, rather than Jesus and His Finished Work. Men and women see prayer as a form of coaxing God to do something, when the focus needs to be on seeing all that He has done, all the He is, and that in Him we have all things.

We are called to loose our identity from Adam and identify with Jesus:

"figure of him that was to come.
15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5: 15-17)
and also
"16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." (Galatians 5: 16-17)
Never should anyone believe that Gospel grants license to sin, to do as we please, and reject the goodness of godly life.
Romans 6, Titus 2, and Jude dispel these perverse misunderstandings.
What then can we conclude about the churches in ghetto communities?
As long as institutions preach man-centered ideas which glorify a man's flesh or ethnic legacy, as long as churches are revealing the Perfect Savior and the Loving Father, and the Holy Spirit who transforms us from glory to glory, then those buildings with crosses do not constitute churches as much as extant mortuaries.
Men and women, regardless of their color, need to hear the grace of God. His favor grants us His life, and inspire us with fervor to serve Him.
No pathology can survive in the face of the grace of God, in contact with the living Savior who brings dead men to life through His love, demonstrated fully at the Cross.
How many black churches are teaching and preaching the transformational grace and truth of Jesus?

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