What is "Bad Company?"

Thursday, January 28, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments



Reflection from my devotional reading this morning:

1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

(NIV - Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”)

This is a very interesting text addressed to Christians. There is no underestimating the influence of what and who we allow. In context, the Apostle Paul was aware of, and spoke into, specific conditions within the church at Corinth during the First Century, including those who denied the resurrection of Christ.

Here in the 21st Century, we face our own challenges that may adversely affect one's character. “Good character” can be corrupted by “bad company.” The question is: What is “bad company?” The word “company” suggests current relationships, associations, and interactions.

As Paul wrote to church folk, “Do not be deceived...” and “Some do not have the knowledge of God.”

Paul also provided a solution, “Awake to righteousness.” Righteousness is God's standard or God's justice framework. In the Bible, righteousness and justice are related. We don't establish God's righteousness, we can only receive it.

It is the nature of “bad company” to corrupt justice/righteousness by creating religious standards, not rooted in an accurate Bible interpretation. Worse, is the creation of “biblical” false narratives to explain things that never existed, such as the USA being founded on “Christian principles” which is the heart of Christian Nationalism. (FYI: 26 of the 55 Framers of the Constitution owned other people--the real meaning of slavery)

So, I suggest that Christian Nationalists are “bad company” among other untoward influences.

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Jesus in the Middle of Agreement

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

 


Matthew 18:19, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

We usually read this text and highlight the importance of having agreement among ourselves. Jesus makes a powerful promise in stating that anything we ask will be done by our Father in heaven. Of course, the proper context of “anything” involves the will of God.

The most significant part of this text is this: When we “gather” in His name, we invoke the Presence of Jesus Christ: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.It is not that we are ever without Christ, it is that we become intentional about doing His will and operating in the Spirit of God.

I spoke to a friend yesterday about a historical topic. It was something I had learned and was in my head, but I could not recall the details. When I researched the topic, my awareness heightened and I felt confident to fully discuss that topic.

We know the Lord, but sometimes our active awareness of His presence is low and our capacity to act is diminished. This is the value of gathering in His Name by physical meeting, by phone call, by Zoom meeting, or other means. We certainly can get things done by ourselves, but God's purpose requires agreement and Presence.


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A Beautiful Tribute. A Statement of Priority. A Recognition of Competence.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

January 19, 2021 – This was a beautiful tribute to those lost to COVID and a statement of priority on people more than self by incoming President Biden and Vice-President Harris.

As a photographer, I appreciate the composition and power of this image. As an American citizen, I appreciate the hope this photo represents. As a Christ follower, I appreciate the opportunity to pray for a new president to help lead our country through a difficult season.

Going forward, it is my hope that we have understood the importance of competence at every level of our society. It is the work of God's church in Christ to preach the gospel, conduct our lives according to God's word, edify one another, and serve our community.

Great divisions remain among us, and those troubles, like the COVID pandemic, will not simply disappear. We will have to be diligent, systematic, and prayerful in developing solutions, while trusting willing persons to help and avoiding the unwilling.

On January 19, I received my first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Being among the health professionals who administered the vaccine, I thought about all of the work of dedicated and competent people, who understood medicine and the scientific method, who brought the vaccine online within a few months. The best thing that we did as Christ followers was to pray for those who possessed the competence to bring the vaccine to market. This is a model for progress in our nation and world, everyone doing what he or she is designed by God to do.

Competence is remarkable! Hope is a force for good!

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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” (From Biblical and Social Justice: What Is It?)

Monday, January 18, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments


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


CHAPTER 7
Rev. Dr. King’s Concept of Justice and the Role of the Church - Commentary on his ”Letter from the Birmingham Jail”

Don Cravens / The Life Images Collection / Getty; Bettmann / Getty

©2020 Bryan Hudson, D.Min.
(Note: Taken from a draft of the book. Book contains final, corrected content)

Listen to this article read by a digital voice

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 ↩︎


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Book information and purchase: https://www.biblicaljusticebook.com







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Closure, Clarity, Covenant: Recover all! Part Three: Covenant Makes Everything Better! Firm Foundation Podcast

Sunday, January 17, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments



Throughout the Bible, we see that covenant was the basis of something good happening to God's people. From the first mention of covenant in Exodus related to Israel's deliverance from Egypt, to the rebuilding of the walls under Nehemiah, to the covenant Jesus made that produced salvation for us, covenant makes everything better.

In this lesson you will learn some of the great examples of covenant in the Bible as well as instruction offered by the Hebrews' writer that pronounced as a better covenant based on  better promises through Christ.


Key Thought: "Covenant makes everything better"

Key Scripture
Hebrews 13:20-21, Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Reflection Questions
1. What is covenant?
2. Why was the old covenant under Moses weak? Was the weakness because of the covenant or the people?
3. How do the "covenants of promise" for Israel relate to believers in Christ today today?
4. How does covenant make everything better?
5. What does it mean to covenant within covenant? What is an example?

Listen to teaching on the Firm Foundation Podcast 


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Closure, Clarity, Covenant: Recover All! | Part Two (Podcast, Video, & Notes, Reflection Questions)

Monday, January 11, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments



In this series we are looking at principles of recovery following 2020, which was one of the most challenging years of our lives. The insurrection against our government capital on January 6 by supporters of the President, and incited by the President, highlights the necessity of Closure, Clarity, and Covenant as Christ followers and part of the citizenry. Justice = Righteousness!

Read these posts:

As a prophetic voice and people, we recognize the necessity of being firmly grounded in God's kingdom, exposing and rejecting falsehoods, and being socially relevant within our community and nation. During a time of prayer and meditation while preparing for the message, these scriptures came to heart and mind (exposition during the message),

Isaiah 28:17, I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the level; Then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies and the waters will overflow the secret place.

Remember that justice equals righteousness. Insurrection and sedition are neither just nor righteous, no matter how much people talk about God and wave a flag. 

Philippians 3:18, For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.

Our God is a refining and a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:28, Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

TO THE MESSAGE


Key Thought: "Clarity begins with self-examination"

Key Scripture
Matthew 7:1, Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 

Reflection Questions
1. Why is self-examination necessary to gain clarity?
2. What is the definition of clarity?
3. How did David's actions at Ziklag lead to his gaining clarity?
4. How have Jesus' words about "Judge not" been misapplied or lacking in understanding?
5. How are the Scriptures a great source of clarity? Provide an example.


Listen to teaching on the Firm Foundation Podcast 










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Historical Context for Insurrection of January 6, 2021 by Trump Supporters

Friday, January 08, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments





As a perspective on historical factors contributing to the insurrection by Trump supporters on January 6, 2021, below is an excerpt from Chapter Six of my book, "Biblical & Social Justice: What Is It?" 
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The Shifting Values of Conservative Christians

Only weeks after “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965 during which peaceful protesters who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge were beaten by State Troopers, Rev. Jerry Falwell gave his response during a sermon;

“Believing the Bible as I do, I would find it impossible to stop preaching the pure saving gospel of Jesus Christ and begin doing anything else— including the fighting of Communism, or participating in the civil rights reform... Preachers are not called to be politicians, but to be soul winners.”1

This was the position of many conservative Christians of the era, including those who opposed the efforts of Dr. King, the Civil Rights movement, and the pursuit of Black Americans seeking equal rights. By the 1970’s, Jerry Falwell reversed course and stated;

"The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country.”2

Jerry Falwell started the Moral Majority in 1979 which began a trend of Evangelical Christians using political action and government authority to achieve the aim of “running the country.” The organization disbanded in 1989.3  The movement’s greatest achievement culminated in helping elect Donald J. Trump to the presidency in 2016, a man without governing experience, lacking moral character, but compliant to the wishes of religious leaders. 81% of Evangelical Christians supported his candidacy. A similar percentage supported his presidency, and by association, endorsed his poor character. The Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s did not make the mistake of becoming politically partisan. They exercised their Christian influence in society and upon government using appropriate Biblical justice and social justice methodology.

This era of American history will be remembered as unBiblical compromise in the service of political power to bring America “Back from the Brink” in the words of one of the politically motivated Christian groups during the 2020 election cycle.4 These actions are an illustration of the phrase, “The Ends Justify the Means,” and represents a departure of the Biblically focused Evangelical movement of the early 20th century. Spiritual renewal and revival was the focus of the past. Today the focus is more on forming political alliances and working to Christianize government.

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1 Jones, Robert P. White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity(p.103). Simon&Schuster. KindleEdition.
2 Ibid.
3 Moral Majority | Definition, History, Mission, & Facts. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Moral-Majority
4 America On the Brink. (2020, October 1). Truth & Liberty Coalition. https://truthandliberty.net/voteyourvalues

©2021 Bryan Hudson

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Taking the White Christian Nationalist Symbols at the Capitol Riot Seriously | by Dr. Robert P. Jones

Friday, January 08, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments


On the tragedy of the insurrection on January 6, 2021, I am posting on my blog the entirety of an article written by Dr. Robert P. Jones. I'll share my thoughts in a later post, but Dr. Jones' perspective is accurate and insightful. ~ Bryan Hudson, D. Min.

From: https://religionnews.com/2021/01/07/taking-the-white-christian-nationalist-symbols-at-the-capitol-riot-seriously/



A Trump supporter carries a Bible outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

January 7, 2021

If there was one thing of value to come out of the shameful chaos of Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, it’s that the horrific events made plain the powerful ideological and theological currents of American politics that often stay just under the surface. The emblems carried by the rioters — particularly the comfortable juxtaposition of Christian and white supremacist symbols — bear witness to these forces.

There were crosses, “Jesus Saves” signs and “Jesus 2020” flags that mimicked the design of the Trump flags.

Some of the participants, organized as part of a “Jericho March,” blew shofars — Jewish ritual horns — as they circled the Capitol, reenacting the siege of the city of Jericho by the Israelites described in the Book of Joshua in the Hebrew Bible. And one video showed the Christian flag — white, with a blue canton containing a red cross, used by many white evangelical churches — being paraded into an empty congressional chamber after the doors had been breached and members of Congress evacuated.

RELATED: Evangelicals must denounce the Christian nationalism in Capitol riots

I recall that same flag standing behind the pulpit of my Mississippi Southern Baptist church, where as a child I was led in a pledge of allegiance to both the American and Christian flags.

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that “the conflation of Trump and Jesus was a common theme at the rally” among people he interviewed. “It’s all in the Bible. Everything is predicted. Donald Trump is in the Bible. Get yourself ready,” one told him. “Give it up if you believe in Jesus!” said another, then “Give it up if you believe in Donald Trump!” — which elicited loud cheers from nearby rioters.

Comfortably intermingled with Christian rhetoric and these Christian icons were explicit symbols of white supremacy. Outside the Capitol, Trump supporters erected a large wooden gallows with a bright orange noose ominously dangling from the center. These Trump supporters managed to do something the Confederate army was never able to accomplish — fly the Confederate battle flag inside the U.S. Capitol. One widely shared image showed a rioter with the Confederate flag strolling past a portrait of William H. Seward, an anti-slavery advocate and Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of state, who was seriously wounded as part of the broad assassination plot in 1865 that killed Lincoln.

People listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a rally Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

At least one protester sported a “Camp Auschwitz” hoodie, a reference to a concentration camp where over 1 million Jews were killed by the Nazis, even as others made outlandish comparisons between Christians as victims of American society and European Jews in the Third Reich.

Crowds also formed at state capitols in Ohio, Kansas and Michigan.

If we are to understand the events of yesterday, and the challenges ahead for us as a nation, we must take these symbols and this rhetoric seriously, not in isolation, but in combination and conversation with each other.

This seditious mob was motivated not just by loyalty to Trump, but by an unholy amalgamation of white supremacy and Christianity that has plagued our nation since its inception and is still with us today. As I show in my book “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity,” there remains a disturbingly strong link between holding racist attitudes and identifying as a white Christian.

RELATED: How the shofar emerged as a weapon of spiritual warfare for some evangelicals

We should remember that this moment, and the divisions of the last four years, are set against the upheaval of religious and demographic change.

Since 2008, the country has moved from being a majority Christian nation to one that is no longer a majority Christian nation (from 54% white and Christian to 44% white and Christian). This change took place during the tenure of our first African American president. The dysfunction and violence we are seeing is in large part an attempt to preserve a vision of white Christian America that is passing from the scene.

The willingness among those in the crowd Wednesday to believe outlandish conspiracy theories and the unwillingness to accept the election results are born from the same source: a desperate desire by some white Christians to hang onto ownership of a diversifying country.

As many have rightly declared, the violent disregard for the rule of law we witnessed is not the best of who we are. But if we’re going to heal our nation, we need to confess that it remains, still today, a troubling part of America’s political and religious heritage.

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(Robert P. Jones is the CEO and founder of PRRI and the author of “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity” and “The End of White Christian America.” The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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Closure, Clarity, Covenant: Recover All! | Part One (Podcast, Video, & Notes, Reflection Questions)

Monday, January 04, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments



DOWNLOAD KEYNOTE SLIDES AND NOTES

At the beginning of 2021 it is important to find closure and clarity. An important part of your success in 2021 is settling the issues from 2020. This an important truth for every year, but the unusual nature of 2020 makes it all the more important to have closure in preparation for advance. Two of the key words for this first lesson in the series include CLOSURE & RECOVERY.

Closure is coming to terms with what something is, or what was, for the purpose of being able to move forward.

Recovery is Returning to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. The action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.

Key Scriptures:
John 15:7, If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

1 Samuel 30:8, So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them? And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”

Reflection Questions
1. Based on the lesson, what is your understanding of CLOSURE?
2. How can issues become SETTLED without understanding every detail?
3. What are 2-3 promises from the Word of God are your basis for trust?
4. What 1-4 matters from 2020 require CLOSURE?

Recommended resource by Pastor Hart Ramsey: https://www.facebook.com/1354418096/posts/10225473404486065/?extid=0&d=n

Listen to teaching on the Firm Foundation Podcast 









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