Monday, March 24, 2008
Wright/Obama Theology - The Missing Discussion
I don't know how much attention most of you have been paying to the 2008 election cycle thus far. The huge controversy over Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama and his now-retired pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has dominated the news of late. But there's an element in this story that needs airing badly, and I haven't seen much of it yet. And that is the actual theology behind the contretemps.
A few days ago, I provided a link to an in-depth article by Dr. H. Wayne House on Black Liberation Theology. In this article, Wayne does a stellar job explaining the ideas behind this theological concept. If you believe what is being said on the media, these ideas are commonplace within black churches. Without researching it more myself (time is ever a problem with me), color me a bit skeptical.
It might well be true that Black Liberation Theology is dominant within a certain sector of black churches. Keep in mind that the United Church of Christ -- Obama and Rev. Wright's denomination -- is well known for gross theological liberalism. They left the ranch a long time ago, excepting a few conservative congregations out there. I am sure you could find quite a few black Baptist congregations of a certain stripe where this theology comes into play. However, I have a hard time believing that conservative, Bible-believing black congregations would fall into this stuff. Because Black Liberation Theology is heretical. Period.
Over at Team Pyro, Phil Johnson has been discussing the issue of contextualization and the inherent problems with how the term is being used these days. When you hear apologists for Black Liberation Theology, they will generally start out with a statement like, "Well, you have to understand the context. You have to understand the experience of being black in America." And so on. One of the problems with this idea is that the context is unbiblical, and one's experience is irrelevant to the core truth of the actual biblical message, most importantly the Gospel.
Jesus' primary purpose in coming to Earth and dying on the cross was not to grant political deliverance from "oppression" to blacks or to any other racial group. His primary purpose was to atone for human sin, and make it possible for all races and sexes to have a personal relationship with God. That personal relationship with God, in turn, will have dynamic ripple effects throughout society if it is lived out. Can political oppression cease because of this? Certainly, but that is not the primary goal in view. Sin is the problem, and oppression is sin. Deal with sin, and you deal with oppression. But Black Liberation Theology distorts the Gospel and rips it entirely out of it's biblical context. It makes the Gospel almost entirely a political thing rather than what it truly is, a glorious truth transcendent of politics. And, as was aptly demonstrated by Rev. Wright, there is an ugly core of racism underlying the theology, and that most certainly is unbiblical.
I do wish we could hear this discussed in depth by the pundits, with appropriate experts on the subject involved. Instead, we get weeks of childish "nyah-nyah" and gross superficiality.