Rev. Dr. King’s Concept of Justice and the Role of the Church – Commentary on his ”Letter from the Birmingham Jail” (BOOK CHAPTER DRAFT)

Saturday, September 12, 2020 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

 

***DRAFT CHAPTER***



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Rev. Dr. King’s Concept of Justice and the Role of the Church - Commentary on his ”Letter from the Birmingham Jail”

©2020 Bryan Hudson, D.Min.

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Many of the answers we seek do not come from new places. Some of the best concepts and insights come from an old place. 

"In April 1963, Martin Luther King was jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, after he defied a state court’s injunction and led a march of black protesters without a permit, urging an Easter boycott of white-owned stores. A statement published in The Birmingham News, written by eight moderate white clergymen, criticized the march and other demonstrations. This prompted King to write a lengthy response, begun in the margins of the newspaper. He smuggled it out with the help of his lawyer, and the nearly 7,000 words were transcribed." (from the Atlantic Magazine)1  

Read the entire letter on the Atlantic website: archive/2018/02/letter-from-a-birmingham-jail/552461/

At 34 years of age, his words were a masterpiece of making an argument in favor of a cause. This letter shows Dr. King’s clarity about injustice, understanding of equal justice, love of country, powers of logic, grasp of Scripture, boldness, humility, and much more. In this chapter I will highlight passages that continue to be relevant and instructive to our 21st Century challenges. This is not an analysis or exposition of the letter. These are my reflections on portions of the words and concepts written by Dr. King.

PREPARING TO RESPOND

I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas…But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

Opponents of equal justice have reasoned their way to justifications for what they do. Whether slave owners of the 19th Century, segregationists of the 20th Century, or white supremacists of the 21st Century, opponents to justice have an intellectual basis for their actions. Too often, that basis is informed by bigotry and bad theology. Dr. King stated “I want to try to answer your statement.” In reality, he didn’t “try.” His words were a “tour de force” of reason and logic. 

In our day of protests lacking discipline and clear purpose, Dr. King and the activists of his era used their intellect to overcome the reasoning of opponents to equal justice. He believed that people of “good will” could be persuaded by sound arguments. We should believe the same. When people of good will know better, they can do better. 

NOT ONE MAN, AN INEVITABLE FORCE FOR CHANGE

We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

Dr. King showed that he was not acting alone. He was part of a large and highly organized organism of capable, like-minded persons. Putting him in jail did not stop the movement. It didn’t even slow it down. He presented a case of inevitability to his fellow ministers. He made them understand that they were dealing with a force for inevitable change not just the actions of a young preacher and a few angry people. 

In the spring of 2020, during the wake of the murder of George Floyd, protests happened all across the nation and world. Unfortunately, too many peaceful protests ended in rioting, which hurt the credibility of the protests. We also know that many of the rioters were outsiders coming into cities. Many of these actions contributed to a narrative that protests were essentially riots caused by Black Lives Matter participants and African Americans. While this was mostly untrue, the lack of planning, purpose, and organization of some protests contributed to chaos, not constructive action. Sadly, many of the effective, organized, peaceful protests were overlooked by the media in favor of more “newsworthy” violent acts. 

One of the persons and movements in the United States who has followed the model of the successful Civil Rights Movement era is Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and the Repairers of the Breach organization (www.breachrepairers.org) based in Goldsboro, North Carolina. 

PRINCIPLES OF ACTION

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation.

Dr. King made it known that they were governed by principles, not emotions. He demonstrated rational action in the face of irrational treatment.

He listed four steps to a non-violent campaign:

1. Collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist
2. Negotiation
3. Self purification
4. Direct action

The item “self-purification” is interesting. The King Center published a “Glossary of Non-Violence” on their website.2 “Purification” is defined as “The cleansing of anger, selfishness and violent attitudes from the heart and soul in preparation for a nonviolent struggle.” This is another indication of the depth of preparation that was built into their actions. This is a far cry from many of today’s mostly unorganized protests, howbeit well meaning.

A NETWORK OF MUTUALITY

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

Dr. King tied the actions of himself and the movement to “an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” In this, he showed how his audience of clergymen were either part of the answer or part of the problem. In addressing the accusation of his being an “outsider,” King appealed to their sense of nationalism and patriotism with the words, “Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” He probably caused many to reach for their dictionaries to understand the words he used!

PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATION

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" …Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. 

Dr. King appealed to the formal training of the ministers, many of whom were highly educated. By citing Socrates, he used the art of Philosophy to present the philosophical underpinnings of their strategy. He revealed to them that creating “tension” was part of their plan to “open the door” to negotiation. In this, Dr. King showed transparency. He gave people of “good will” every reason to support his efforts. It was a remarkable strategy! It seems that we have much to learn today from the movement 57 years later.

WHY WE WON’T WAIT

For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children…

Regarding the assertion that Black people should “wait” for a better time for action or wait for conditions to improve, Dr. King offered impassioned words and personally challenged the clergyman to view Black people as neglected “brothers” – a common term among followers of Christ. He wrote, “You see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty.” At this point in the letter, he used the words “you” and “yours” to engage and implicate the clergymen in his arguments. He made injustice and brutality an experience for the readers.

TWO KINDS OF LAWS

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

Dr. King addressed legal mandates and explained his philosophy of civil disobedience. He answered the question: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" King outlined two types of laws: “just and unjust.” He advocated the importance of being law abiding citizens in affirmation of the conscience of his “law and order” readers. He also subtly reminded them that many whites disobeyed the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education that mandated the desegregation of schools––a “just” law that many whites disobeyed. 

King made a powerful argument, “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all.”

UNJUST LAWS DAMAGE THE SOUL

All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. 

In addition to addressing the Injustice of segregation, he also highlighted the psychological damage caused by it. Not only damage to the person being segregated, but damage to the person perpetrating the injustice through a false sense of superiority. it doesn't make sense to feel superior to any person when God has made us all people in his image and likeness.

DISMANTLING INJUSTICE ARGUMENTS

Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

In his letter, Dr. King continued to dismantle arguments favoring injustice against Black people. He pointed our that some counties in Alabama had majority Black populations and none were registered to vote, which was a clear outcome of racist injustice. He continued to appeal to the conscience and sense of fairness on the part of the white clergy. Again, he appealed to those of “good will.”

GENUINE LAW AND ORDER

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Dr. King fully understood the importance of a society based on law and order in guarding against anarchy. He expressed his understanding and respect for the law and taking responsibility for actions against “unjust laws.” After all, he was sitting in a jail writing a letter as personal proof of that concept!

EXAMPLES OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

He appealed to the clergymen using Scriptural and historical examples of civil disobedience by the Hebrews and Christians. Dr. King then “dropped the mic” with reminding the white clergymen that the United States itself was founded on acts of civil disobedience such as the Boston Tea Party. This was a political protest that occurred on December 16, 1773, at Griffin's Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts. American colonists, frustrated and angry at Britain for imposing “taxation without representation,” (illegally) dumped 342 chests of tea imported by the British East India Company into the harbor. 3

THE SACRIFICES OF LEADERS 

Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. 

Dr. King wrote about the sacrifices of people who dedicated their lives to making other lives better. He cited the Apostle Paul, the reformer Martin Luther (his own namesake), John Bunyan, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and the Lord Jesus Christ! It was a powerful flourish by a preacher communicating to preachers.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, THE PASTOR

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

Martin Luther King, the Pastor, issued an indictment against the church. I cannot envision how a pastor could have read those words and not have been moved. This part of the letter are among the most emotional words of the text. He wrote, “In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”

This was a clear expression of a follower and servant of Christ looking at the broken state of the church in his day. It seems that brokenness is present to this day.

USING CHRIST TO HINDER FELLOW CHRISTIANS

I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth."

It was quite audacious for someone to send a letter justifying the delay of justice to people and believers in Christ using Christ to argue against receiving His blessing. Whatever this person’s reasoning, he certainly showed no respect to the teachings of the Bible and of Christ. I'm reminded of Hebrews 11 which reads, “Now faith is the substance of things hope for and the evidence of things not seen.”

From Matthew 4:17, The scripture reads, ”From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 

“Now faith” and “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” is not something one has to wait 2000 years to receive, or receive "eventually."

LOSS OF AUTHENTICITY FOR THE AMERICAN CHURCH

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Dr. King possessed the insight, and foresight, to know that the actions of the church in his era damage the church’s credibility with unchurched young people. His words were prophetic. The same loss of authenticity is occurring with millennials today who observe ministers compromising with political power brokers.

LOOKING FOR THE “CHURCH WITHIN THE CHURCH”

Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant

In this part of the letter, Dr. King provided examples where other white ministers were taking a godly stand against injustice and racism. This would seem to be a challenge to the clergy readers of his letter. The courage of many white Americans is not in question. We have seen them have sacrifice as much as Black people for a cause that was not to their personal benefit.  Many of the Freedom Riders, marchers, and protesters were courageous white and Jewish men and women.

OPPRESSION CANNOT CONTINUE

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained.

King showed the humanity and equal value of Black Americans. King expounded on the innate yearning for freedom that all humans possess, something they had in common with their white brethren, including the ministers who read the letter.

CONFIDENCE IN THE PROMISE OF AMERICA

We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail.

Dr. King had confidence in the promise of America. He understood that the nation was founded on principles of personal freedom, even though that freedom was denied to enslaved Americans. The people of that era kept their eyes on the prize of the Bill of Rights and US Constitution. They determined to claim benefits denied to their ancestors.  Black Americans were, and are, far more patriotic than people realize. Not by superficial acts like waving flags or wearing flag print t-shirts. A patriot maintains confidence in his country to do the right thing. In hindsight, looking back 57 years, we see that the people of the civil rights movement were correct, “the goal of America is freedom.”

Freedom is not a privilege for African-Americans, it is our birthright and we have earned it as well. Free black labor helped make the country wealthy. King expressed confidence to his fellow clergyman that opposition to freedom would fail.

OPTIMISM IN THE FACE OF DESPAIR

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

This marvelous closing, written from a jail, Pauline in tone, and reflected the heart of a follower of Christ and a lover of God's church. In spite of the abuse and neglect on the part of some fellow clergy members, Dr. King was not bitter but hopeful. This letter would have certainly captivated the hearts and minds of ministers of good will.



1. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’ https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/02/letter-from-a-birmingham-jail/552461/ ↩︎
2. https://thekingcenter.org/glossary-of-nonviolence/ ↩︎
3. https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/boston-tea-party ↩︎


____________________

Justice, What Is It? An Everyday Person's Guide to Understanding Justice and the Role of the Church





NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: 
Friends, welcome to this draft preview of my book project currently in progress. As a minister and community servant for 41 years, and an African American citizen of the United States for 63 years, we've come to a season where clarity and understanding are more important than ever. That need became clear when I found it necessary to apologize to one of my children after a discussion about dealing with racial ignorance on the job within the culture of a major corporation. 
My apology addressed the fact that their generation has to face the same ignorance and dissonance that we faced in my generation. It was my hope that my four children would come of age in a country that had outgrown foolish, ignorant, and racist mindsets. Before a reader says "Well Bryan, things are so much better today," allow me to state that our standards should be higher than settling for "better."  
This draft sample provided here will be publicly shared for a limited time to allow you to read and invite your comments. What you read here is by no means an indication of the full breath of the book. Remember this is a draft posted for a limited amount of time and errors may be present. 

Thank You and God Bless! 
Bryan Hudson

0 comments :

The Reign of Narratives (BOOK CHAPTER DRAFT)

Thursday, September 10, 2020 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

 


***DRAFT CHAPTER***


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Friends, welcome to this draft preview of my book project currently in progress. As a minister and community servant for 41 years, and an African American citizen of the United States for 63 years, we've come to a season where clarity and understanding are more important than ever. That need became clear when I found it necessary to apologize to one of my children after a discussion about dealing with racial ignorance on the job within the culture of a major corporation. 
My apology addressed the fact that their generation has to face the same ignorance and dissonance that we faced in my generation. It was my hope that my four children would come of age in a country that had outgrown foolish, ignorant, and racist mindsets. Before a reader says "Well Bryan, things are so much better today," allow me to state that our standards should be higher than settling for "better."  
This draft sample provided here will be publicly shared for a limited time to allow you to read and invite your comments. What you read here is by no means an indication of the full breath of the book. Remember this is a draft posted for a limited amount of time and errors may be present. 

Thank You and God Bless! 
Bryan Hudson

Justice, What Is It? An Everyday Person's Guide to Understanding Justice and the Role of the Church

©2020 Bryan Hudson, D.Min.




CHAPTER SAMPLE
The Reign of Narratives

With many things in life and society, what we believe often comes from what we have heard. Our understanding of justice is shaped by learning based on hearing well. Within the context of Jesus teaching His disciples about modes of receptivity in the Parable of the Sower, Jesus highlighted the importance of hearing in the Gospel of Mark,

Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” (Mark 4:24-25)

According to Jesus, what and how one hears are major factors to what one receives as well as the effect of those things on the hearer. The “measure” one uses to hear is measured, or applied, back to the hearer in the same proportion. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus described four conditions of soil to the receptivity of seed. Those conditions represented four modes of one’s heart. Three of the conditions did not allow the seed to flourish. The fourth condition described as “Good Ground” allowed the seed to flourish abundantly as described in Matthew’s version of the parable,

But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matthew 13:23).

The keys to fruitfulness were attached to, 1) Hearing, 2) Understanding, and 3) Becoming a Fruit Bearing Condition. “Hearing” accurately and intensely were factors to fruitfulness. Along with God’s Word, the condition of one’s heart and the preparation of one’s mind for hearing are vitally important.

It is fascinating to hear people offer descriptions of cities, people groups, and nations. Many simply parrot what they have heard, as if their mind was preconditioned to seek neither accuracy nor understanding. 

For example, I’ve often heard the phrase that Chicago is the "murder capital of the nation." When an acquaintance on Facebook made that assertion in one of his posts, I investigated and learned that Chicago was most certainly not the murder capitol of the United States. Data from multiple years has not shown Chicago to have the highest rate of murder, per capita.1 When presented with these facts, my acquaintance challenged both the data and myself from what appeared to be a “right wing” political perspective. He sent a link from a propagandist blog “proving” that Chicago was the “murder capitol.” Reviewing the link, it became clear that I was dealing with a person caught up in a narrative, a false narrative in this case. His measure of “hearing” was faulty and it resulted in propagating a faulty measure of spreading an untruth.

We Have Become Dependent Upon Narratives

A narrative is defined as: 

  1. Some kind of retelling of something that happened (a story). The narrative is not the story itself but rather the telling of the story. 
  2. A report of connected events, real or imaginary, presented in a sequence of written and/or spoken words. 
  3. Consisting of or characterized by the telling of a story.2

These words stand out, “The narrative is not the story itself, but ratherthe telling of the story.” Facts are bound to an actual story. Things that happened are a permanent part of a record. Narratives are not bound to the law of facts, any more than a two hour movie can faithfully dramatize a person’s entire lifetime. A narrative is like CliffsNotes for non-inquiring minds, a search for information without depth, insight, or context. A narrative does not have to be inaccurate, but it will certainly be limited in depth, and context may be at risk. As a high school student, I used CliffsNotes, not to gain an understanding, but to get a passing grade on an assignment. Gaining mastery was not the goal, mediocrity and shortcuts were acceptable standards for me at that time.

Our Internet based Information Age affords many advantages related to quick access to information. The days of needing to visit a library to spend hours researching and browsing the stacks to find books and periodicals pertinent to our information needs, has long passed. A 60 second Google search yields more results than hours of researching books and periodicals in a library, but what is the value of those results? 
For modern methods of research, two words have become essential in this age of instant information: Reliability and Validity. Greatly simplifying these terms from the domains of research and education, reliability is about the consistency of a measure, and validity is about the accuracy of a measure.

On the matter of Chicago being the murder capital of our nation, in order to be a reliable statement, data would have to be presented from multiple studies over time. Those studies would need to be consistent in the measurement of the Chicago murder rate in order to be considered reliable. In reality, multiple studies over the years have not shown Chicago to have the worst murder rate per capita. That said, there is no acceptable rate of murder in any city.

Validity has to do with the actual research and its methods for gathering data. It is unlikely that a lone person writing a blog, having a negative perception about Chicago, would be able to offer results with the same validity as researchers who have no bias for or against Chicago. A blogger may have heard that Chicago is the murder capital from another blogger or a news channel. This phenomenon is called an “echo chamber” where inaccurate information is repeated among people with a similar confirmation bias (which is the tendency to interpret evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories).  In this scenario, reality is set aside in favor of a narrative that represents mutual feelings of disdain, not facts. There are many narratives that are accepted among circles of people as fact. In reality, there are probably more narratives than actual stories. We are all aware of blatant false narratives such as NASA moon landings being faked in a studio or the earth being flat. The phrase "fake news” has become an entrance into a false narrative following a rejection of earnest inquiry and facts. 

After the end of the Civil War, in which the Confederacy was defeated and slavery was abolished, work soon began on what became known as the “Lost Cause”3 which was a significant effort in building a false narrative about the Confederacy. Rather than accepting defeat and fully re-integrating with the United States, Confederates through the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) launched efforts to maintain White supremacist values and re-invent their image, not as defeated rebels, but as heroic Christians standing firm on biblical principles.  

These efforts succeeded in erasing gains made by African Americans during Reconstruction, including Black people holding elected offices in the Deep South, including a Governor in Louisiana, P.B.S Pinchback elected in 1872. After the withdrawal of the federal protection put in place by President Abraham Lincoln by President Andrew Johnson, a white supremacist, Black Americans faced a backlash of terrorist violence such as lynchings.4 The UDC worked to establish some 1,747 monuments to defeated Confederate rebels such as Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, including tourist attractions like the giant carving into the side of Stone Mountain, Georgia, outside of Atlanta.5 Researcher Robert P. Jones writes,

Even the placement of the monuments in prominent public places was done with the next generation in mind. After dedicating a monument to Confederate soldiers in 1899 on the county courthouse grounds in Franklin, Tennessee, UDC leaders celebrated its educational value; that children “might know by daily observation of this monument” the values for which their ancestors fought. This message, obviously, was meant for white children and conveyed quite a different message—the continued assertion of white supremacy—to the African American children and adults in the community.6

Through these efforts, false narratives became tools for instilling a sense of pride in the face of unrepentant racism, inculcating a supremacist mindset in the southern white citizenry, and in children being trained. Narratives about white racial superiority became justification for marginalizing African Americans through “Black Codes” and “Jim Crow” laws during the early 20th Century7. Added to this repression were terrorist acts against Black people to incite fear and assert control under the same old Confederate values of racial superiority. 

In defiance to a United States Constitution that states, “All Men Are Created Equal” and in contradiction to the Bible that affirms that all people are made in the “Image and likeness of God,” white supremacists, aided by biblical justification supplied by the Southern Baptist Convention and others, the ultimate false narrative was created: Black people were inferior to Whites, are immoral, dangerous, and they must be subjugated and controlled.

Southern white Christians, particularly Baptists, played a critical role in justifying a particularly southern way of life, including what they sometimes referred to as the “peculiar institution” of slavery. Central to this story, but not widely known, are the efforts of the Reverend Dr. Basil Manly Sr. Born into a wealthy North Carolina plantation family in 1798, Manly followed his mother into the burgeoning Baptist movement in the South over the protestations of his Catholic father. Leveraging his influence as the senior pastor of prominent churches in South Carolina and Alabama, Manly became a pivotal leader in both religious and political secessionist movements. He was the chief architect of the withdrawal of Baptists in the South from cooperative fellowship with their northern brethren over the issue of slavery that established the Southern Baptist Convention; and he was instrumental in building a southern alternative to ministerial educational institutions in the North, which he perceived to be increasingly under the influence of abolitionists. Manly was widely recognized as the leading theological apologist for slavery in his day. (Robert P. Jones)8

False narratives have indeed reigned in revising history or re-stating history for the benefit of people who won’t learn by reading and study. In the 21st Century of a cable news, low information, and sound bite addicted citizenry, narratives have replaced deeper understanding.



1.  https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/11/13/despite-recent-violence-chicago-far-from-u-s-murder-capital/ ↩︎
2.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrative ↩︎
3.  Jones, Robert P.. White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (p. 57). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition. ↩︎
4.  Reconstruction https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/reconstruction ↩︎
5.  Jones, Robert P.. White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (p. 119). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition. ↩︎
6.  Jones, Robert P.. White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (p. 113). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition. ↩︎
7.  The Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws  https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/black-codes-and-jim-crow-laws/ ↩︎
8.  Jones, Robert P.. White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (p. 34). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition. ↩︎

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Pray at All Times, On Every Occasion, In Every Season

Tuesday, September 08, 2020 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

 

Pray at all times—on every occasion, in every season—in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God's consecrated people).” Ephesians  6:18 Amplified (Also read  Timothy 2:1-4)


The Apostle Paul exhorted the Ephesians believers to pray with “all prayers" or "all manner of prayer." Prayer is certainly not a technical issue, so we don't have to fret about how we pray, so long as we are earnestly praying to God.

That said, it is helpful to examine and practice all types prayers so that we may  be more focused and motivated to pray. The scriptures show various types of prayers. Below is brief overview of common types of prayer.

1. Prayer of supplication. 1 Kings 8: 37-40, 54 - 55, Luke 11: 9 - 13, James 5: 17-18
Supplication is a specific request. Theses three scriptures show people were seeking (or asked to seek) for something specific. When you know what is needed, you can offer a prayer of supplication.

2. Prayer of intercession. Genesis 18: 22-33 (Abraham) 1 Kings 18: 41-46 (Elijah) 2 Kings 4: 32-36 (Elisha) Acts 12:1-18 (The early church)
To intercede means to plead or mediate on behalf of another person. Jesus intercedes for us (Hebrews 7: 25). The Holy Spirit prays for us and through us as we pray in the Spirit (Romans 8: 26 - 27).

When we pray earnestly for other people, we enter into the realm of intercession, in which we present people and their needs to God. There is also a dimension to intercession where we "stand in the gap" for people for special blessing or protection. (Eze. 22:30)

3. Prayer of faith. Mark 11:12-14, Mark 11:20-25, Luke 7: 1-10, James 5:13-18, Matthew 9:18-26
The prayer of faith is a supernaturally confident type of prayer, that is absent of doubt. The woman with the issue of blood (Matthew 9) knew that touching Jesus would get her healed. Her faith gave her the strength to press through the crowd. Strong faith and boldness accompany the prayer of faith. This manner of faith releases special blessings and miracles.

4. Prayer of agreement.  Genesis 11:1-9, Matthew 18: 19-20, Exodus 17: 8-13, Psalm 133: 1-3, Acts 4:23, Hebrews 10: 24-25
The prayer of agreement occurs when two or a few people come together (the fewer the better), in agreement with one another and with the Word of God on something God wants to do. The prayer of agreement is connected the authority of God has vested in His church. Prayers of agreement can multiply the effects of God blessings beyond what one can do by oneself.

5. Prayer of praise, worship and thanksgivingPsalm 100, Acts 16:16-34, Psalm 149:4-9
Praise, worship and thanksgiving can be a form a prayer that brings us into the presence of God. When we praise and thank God, we are affirming our faith in Him. This pleases God and helps our faith. Praise and thanksgiving disarm two of the most deadly enemies to our Christian walk, doubt and fear. No wonder the scriptures call praise a two edged sword (Psalm 149: 4-9)

6. Prayer of Dedication. 1 Kings 8:62-64, Mark 14:36, Acts 7:59, 9:6, 13:3, 14:23
The prayer of dedication is used to consecrate or dedicate someone or something to God. In the Old Testament, priests, altars, and tabernacles were dedicated by prayer. In the New Testament, Jesus and others dedicated (or ordained) disciples, apostles, elders deacons to the work of God.

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Justice, What Is It? An Everyday Person's Guide to Understanding Justice and the Role of the Church (Book Introduction Draft)

Sunday, September 06, 2020 Bryan Hudson 2 Comments



NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Friends, welcome to this draft preview of my book project currently in progress. As a minister and community servant for 41 years, and an African American citizen of the United States for 63 years, we've come to a season where clarity and understanding are more important than ever. That need became clear when I found it necessary to apologize to one of my children after a discussion about dealing with racial ignorance on the job within the culture of a major corporation. 
My apology addressed the fact that their generation has to face the same ignorance and dissonance that we faced in my generation. It was my hope that my four children would come of age in a country that had outgrown foolish, ignorant, and racist mindsets. Before a reader says "Well Bryan, things are so much better today," allow me to state that our standards should be higher than settling for "better."  
This draft sample provided here will be publicly shared for a limited time to allow you to read and invite your comments. What you read here is by no means an indication of the full breath of the book. Remember this is a draft posted for a limited amount of time and errors may be present. 

Thank You and God Bless! 
Bryan Hudson



***DRAFT***

Justice, What Is It? An Everyday Person's Guide to Understanding Justice and the Role of the Church


©2020 Bryan Hudson, D.Min.


Introduction
(Listen to This Chapter Read by a Digital Voice)



The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:13–14, Everything exposed by the light is made visible, for what makes everything visible is light. Therefore, it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Justice is both a reality and a dream. It is a source of hope and of frustration. Justice, like a mountain, affords many perspectives depending upon which side one is viewing. 

For persons who are well-established in life, justice is a wall of protection. For persons struggling with obstacles or battling mistreatment, justice is a door through a wall. The appropriate interaction between biblical justice and civil justice is difficult to define. On one end is full separation between church and state. On the other end is extremist dominion theology or Christian nationalism that proposes full integration of the Christian church into the affairs of the state. 

Within a democratic republic such as the United States of America, there is a two centuries old tension between viewpoints and applications of justice. On balance, the nation has been well served by our Bill of Rights and Constitution. Freedom of religion has flourished under a philosophy of government that has not made the Bible our law. Christianity, the predominant faith in the nation, has not suppressed other religions such as Judaism, Islam, and variants of the orthodox historic Christian faith such as the Church of Latter Day Saints and Seventh Day Adventists. 

As a nation founded in rebellion to the King of England, George III, and the state Church of England, the Constitution has proved itself as a successful model of governance and foundation for civil justice— notwithstanding notable failures and gross injustices such as American slavery as well as the mistreatment of Native Americans in forced migration from their lands. 

What is not as clear is the success of the church as it relates to doing biblical justice. The terms “biblical justice” and “civil justice” will be highlighted throughout this book as separate, but complimentary concepts. There is also the term “social justice” which is controversial due to narratives, some intentionally false, that social justice is a rejection of the Word of God and an embrace of some form of Marxism. This is little more than guilt by association. This tactic is not unlike denigrating every form of the statement, “Black Lives Matter” when most of us are not talking about the organization, but the human reality, “Black lives matter.” For the purposes of this book, social justice will represent the practical application of biblical justice in society. 

The goal of this book is to bring light in challenging false narratives and educate by increasing understanding of both scriptural mandates as well as civil justice systems. It is also the aim of this book to bring matters related to racial minorities out of the historical shadows. 

About the writing style of this book

The title of this book is Justice, What Is It? An Everyday Person's Guide to Understanding Justice and the Role of the Church.The term "everyday person" is not intended to offend the status or intellect of any person. The intent is to present material in a manner that is useful and concise. The intent is to present material in a manner that is easy to read and understand. The writing style is informal and conversational. Many resources have been read and researched. These are available in the bibliography of this book. 

There are two books I want to highly recommend as foundational to understanding justice and the role of the church. The role of the church in society has not been entirely positive and unfortunately has too often been highly detrimental to the cause of Christ and equal justice. 

The first book: White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity by Robert P Jones1

This is the most substantial and well researched book I've ever read on the subject of race, white supremacy, and the documented role of the church in North America. By it's honest telling of history, Robert P. Jones provides an immense level of hope for our future progress. No telling of American history or presentation of a “Christian worldview,” is complete without a resource such as this book. 

The other book: Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice by Eric Mason2

As an African-American pastor and scholar, Dr. Mason brings a high level of practical understanding and insight into how today's church can effectively serve God’s purposes and our communities. These two books have provided substantial insight through the research and documentation provided by the authors. 

In a world of opinions and low information, it is essential that we have a firm grasp of facts, both historical and contemporary. The best opinions and concepts are formed from deep understanding. This book will present many insights and opinions, which I will offer as one man's perspective. I trust you will find these insights relevant, reliable, valid, and useful to your life and our times. I welcome reader perspectives and challenges to recommendations and points of view presented in this book.
"The Difficulty Lies Not So Much In Developing New Ideas As In Escaping From Old Ones."
           – John Maynard Keynes





©2020  Bryan Hudson

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Rebellion: What Is It? Is it Always Wrong?

Wednesday, September 02, 2020 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments




LESSON NOTES
Isaiah 30:1 “Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, That they may add sin to sin;

Proverbs 18:1, A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.

The simple definition of rebellion is: “The action or process of resisting authority...”

Rebellion is a major program in every area of life and society. There are also instances were rebellion is warranted. We'll touch on that later.

Rebellion is an artifact of human nature. It naturally occurs in all people, including you and me. In fact, we were born with rebellious tendencies because people are born and shaped in iniquity.  

Psalm 51:5, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
One of the most important features of child training is to check the rebellious spirit. A child who's allowed to be rebellious will grow up as a rebellious adult. A child who grows up resisting the guidance and authority of his parents will become an adult carrying that same attribute. Rebellious people always wind up in trouble or worse.

Some quotes on rebellion:
“A creature revolting against a creator is revolting against the source of his own powers–including even his power to revolt. It is like the scent of a flower trying to destroy the flower.”  C.S. Lewis
“For there is no one so great or mighty that he can avoid the misery that will rise up against him when he resists and strives against God.”  John Calvin
“The beginning of men’s rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart.” Francis Schaeffer

The Bible is very clear about rebellion.
1 Samuel 15:23, For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king. (Speaking to Saul who defied the instructions of the prophet Samuel)
Divination or witchcraft is wicked because it entertains spirits other than the Spirit of God. Presumption is assuming something as true when it is not. Presumption is self-deception.
These behaviors reject the word and instructions of God.

Proverbs 17:11, Evil people are eager for rebellion, but they will be severely punished.

Romans 13:1-2 Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. (This is also used in wrong ways)

In our country, peaceful protest is acceptable. However, rioting is illegal and destructive. It is clearly rebellious and it undermines credibility and achieving justice.

Dr. King and the people of the Civil Rights were correct in their approach. They practiced "civil disobedience" which many called rebellion. They were not rebellious because they remained submitted to authority in other areas of their lives.

There is the story of a wife who was married to an unsaved man. He told her that she could not go to Wednesday evening Bible Study, and that if she went he would lock her out of the house. She went and he locked her out. She came home. When he opened the door the next morning, she fell in because she fell asleep sitting against the door.  She got up, said "good morning" and asked him what he wanted for breakfast.

Notice she rebelled against him telling her that she could not go to church, but she remained submitted as a wife. The man got saved and became the great evangelist named Smith Wigglesworth.

A rebellious person is consistently out of order in their lives, not submitted to authority, and not accountable to anyone but themselves. A lack of accountability and being answerable is the soil of a rebellious spirit.

Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

Isaiah 63:10 But they rebelled against him and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he became their enemy and fought against them.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Hebrews 12:5-6  And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

You have a duty to rebel against ungodly authority like Hezekiah.
2 Kings 18:1, Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign.  4 He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. 5 He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. 6 For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. 7 The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And HE REBELLED against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. 8 He subdued the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.

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