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The History of Black Americans and the Black Church

As many of you know, the church and religion has played and continues to play a big role in the African-American community. Yet, many of us who grew up in the traditional black church do not have an understanding of how our faith evolved under the duress of slavery and discrimination to be and to represent what it does today. The purpose of this broadcast is to provide that background knowledge while also pointing out the dividing line between what is just tradition and true faith in Jesus Christ.

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The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #71

Welcome to episode #71 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is John 14:6 which reads: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Our History of Black Americans and the Black Church quote for today is from Lee June, a professor at Michigan State University and the author of the book, “Yet With A Steady Beat: The Black Church through a Psychological and Biblical Lens.” He writes, “Updating Lincoln and Mamiya’s church membership data (they estimated a total membership of 23,700,000 in the 1980s) and using the same percentages they used, it would be estimated that of the African American population (36,023,000 of the total 282,082,000 as of March 2002; see Current Population Statistics for constant updates), that 28,097,940 of the 36,023,000 (78%) are church members and have attended services at least once in the last six months. The remaining 7,925,060 or 22% of the 36,023,000 African Americans are not church members and have not attended a service in a six-month period.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 5: Virginia and Maryland, Part 5” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

The increase in the black population and fear on the part of whites for their own safety led to the enactment of stringent laws covering their conduct and activities. In 1659 came laws relating to the return and treatment of fugitive slaves. Soon there were laws forbidding slaves to deal in stolen goods and liquor, as well as laws providing for the punishment of free blacks and slaves found guilty of murder, arson, larceny, association with whites, insolence, and going about without permission. Punishment ranged from death to branding and whipping. Enforcement was rigorous, but clemency was not rare. There are numerous examples of intervention on behalf of slaves accused by masters who, while approving of the strict enforcement of the law, wanted “on just this occasion” a bit of leniency.

There is a real possibility that the blacks in Maryland were a contributing factor to the religious strife that existed in that colony. From its very beginning in 1634, Maryland had witnessed an intense rivalry between Catholics, favored by the ruling Calverts, and Protestants, who were heartened by the Puritan ascendancy in England. In 1689 there were rumors that the Catholics were plotting against the government of Maryland. Indians were suspected of collusion with the Catholics, and the blacks of some of the southern counties were also watched with suspicious eyes. This doubtless led to the law of 1695 which prevented frequent meetings of blacks. In the eighteenth century when some Maryland colonists hoped for a Jacobite succession in England, those opposed to it continued to keep under surveillance all the Catholics, Indians, and blacks to be certain that they did not conspire to commit some devilish act. No effective rebellion ever materialized, but blacks enjoyed the distinction of being suspected of belonging to an international clique conspiring to overthrow the government of Maryland before handing it over to the French, the Indians, the English Catholics, or all three.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 20: Negro Cults in the City, Part 6” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

Mother Horne, who lacked the humour of Elder Michaux, carried on a grim evangelism of the fire and brimstone variety. She claimed to have raised thousands of people from the dead besides having made hundreds of the blind see. In their religious services the members of Mother Horne’s cult are stimulated by clapping their hands to maddening rhythms accompanied by a piano and a drum. They generally give testimonies to the powers of Mother Horne while she illuminates these testimonies with such remarks as ‘punching the devil in the eye’. She was reputed to have had properties worth millions of dollars which enabled her and her daughter to live well.

The recent death in 1960 of Bishop Charles Emmanuel Grace, better known as ‘Daddy’ Grace, has brought to the attention of the American people a cult leader of considerable influence who possessed a considerable fortune. He was a man of mixed parentage, Negro and Portuguese, who came to the United States around 1920. He is said to have worked as a cook in the railway service before he began to preach in 1925. He founded an organization known as the United House of Prayer for All People with churches in twenty or more cities along the eastern seaboard. Bishop Grace, with his flowing hair, was the undisputed head of the United House of Prayer. All moneys had to be returned to Grace in his office in Washington. Membership in this organization was supposed to be based upon a special religious experience, but membership seemed to be open to anyone. There was considerable emphasis upon the money with the result that numerous collections were taken during the services. This cult is essentially a sect of the holiness type, including conversion, sanctification, and the usual taboos. According to Fauset, ‘the beliefs boil down to a worship of Daddy Grace. God appears to be all but forgotten.’ Bishop Grace has been heard to tell his worshippers: ‘Never mind about God. Salvation is by Grace only. Grace has given God a vacation, and since God is on His vacation, don’t worry Him. …. If you sin against God, Grace can save you, but if you sin against Grace, God cannot save you.’

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our third and final topic for today is from “The Black Church in the U.S.: Its Origin, Growth, Contributions, and Outlook” by Dr. William A. Banks.

Today we are looking at part 14 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

We meet certain professed Christians today who deny what is called the Eternal Sonship of Christ. They tell us He was not Son from eternity. They admit He was the Word, as set forth in John 1:1, but they say He became the Son when He was born on earth. Galatians 4:4 definitely denies any such teaching. “God sent forth His Son to be born of a woman.” He was the Son before He ever stooped from the heights of glory to the virgin womb. It was the Son who came in grace to become Man in order that we might be saved.

This same truth is set forth in 1 John 4:9,10: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Nothing could be clearer than the two definite statements in these verses. God sent His Son, sent Him into the world, sent Him from heaven, even as John 3:16 declares. We dishonor the Lord Jesus Christ if we deny His eternal Sonship. If He be not the Eternal Son, then God is not the Eternal Father.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

Negro Cults in the City, Part 6 (The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #70)

Welcome to episode #70 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Matthew 5:13 which reads: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

Our History of Black Americans and the Black Church quote for today is from Lee June, a professor at Michigan State University and the author of the book, “Yet With A Steady Beat: The Black Church through a Psychological and Biblical Lens.” He writes, “Lincoln and Mamiya estimated that 86% of Black Americans were Christians (80% were in seven major denominations and another 6 percent were in the smaller communions). Further, according to them, the following were characteristic of African Americans and/or “African-American churches” in the 1980s:

— Approximately 78% of all African Americans claimed church membership and attended church services at least once in a six-month period.

— African Americans had slightly higher weekly attendance rates (40%).

— African Americans had the highest rate of being what the sociologists call “super churched” (attending more than once weekly (37% versus 31%).

— African American denominations had not experienced severe declines in membership experienced by some mainstream White denominations like the Disciples of Christ (40%), the United Presbyterian Church (33%), or the Episcopal Church (33%).

Gallup and Jones found in their survey that 96% of all American adults believed in God or a universal spirit. For Blacks, Gallup and Jones reported that virtually 100% indicated a belief in God or a higher power. Thus given these percentages, the Protestant Christian church community has a large impact on individuals in America and particularly the Black and White populations.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 4: Virginia and Maryland, Part 4” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

The slave population of Maryland was slow to increase, not because of any disinclination on the part of colonists to own slaves but because they were not in ample supply during the colony’s early years. This is the principal reason why, during the restoration period, laws were enacted to encourage and facilitate the importation of slaves. In 1671 the legislature declared that the conversion of slaves to Christianity would not affect their status. Masters now felt that they could import African heathens, convert them to Christianity, and thus justify the act of holding them in slavery. By the end of the century the importation of slaves was increasing steadily. In 1708 the governor reported that 600 or 700 had been imported during the preceding ten months. By 1750 there were 40,000 blacks as compared with 100,000 whites.

As in Virginia, blacks in Maryland early showed resentment against their status as slaves. In several instances white masters died at the hands of their slaves, and there was more than one case of a black cook poisoning an owner. In 1742 seven blacks were executed for the murder of their masters. Others were convicted for committing acts of sabotage such as arson, stealing of property, and the brutal treatment of livestock.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 19: Negro Cults in the City, Part 6” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

The followers of Father Divine believe that he is God and that he will never die. To them God has appeared as a Negro because the Negro is the lowliest of God’s creatures and God prefers to bring salvation to the lowly. The followers of Father Divine are not to refer to the passage of time, as for example, age. A true follower of Father Divine will never die and illness means that he has strayed from the faith. Death represents the culmination of the failure to live according to the faith. When faced with difficulty, the faithful need only to say, ‘Thank you, Father’.

Father Divine made his triumphant entrance into Harlem during the first half of 1932 at the depth of the Great Depression. To hungry Harlem, ‘The real God is the God who feeds us’. Ten years later, Father Divine, though God, fled from New York City to Philadelphia in order to avoid a number of embarrassing lawsuits. There ensued a struggle for the spiritual control of the Negro masses in Harlem. The two contenders were Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux [MIH-SHOH], a former fish peddler, whose disciples call him the ‘Happy Am I Prophet’, and the other was Mother Rosa Artimus Horne, a former seamstress, described as the ‘Pray for Me Priestess’. One investigator has written as follows: ‘While sharing a mutual dislike for each other, the two oracles have many things in common. Both operate five temples throughout the nation; claim to be miraculous healers; profess national radio and sawdust trail followings numbering in the hundreds of thousands; are coy about revealing the exact amount of their earnings; and both are adroit showmen who harbour contempt for the methods of Father Divine.’ Elder Michaux [MIH-SHOH] has a larger popular appeal and has been able to enhance his prestige by association with important public leaders. He has had mass baptisms in the Griffith Stadium in Washington, where two hundred white-robed candidates are immersed in water from the Potomac River. His sermons consist chiefly of tirades against sin, rowdy women, slot machines, whisky, beer, and gamblers. He is reputed to be a millionaire and keeps a retinue of servants, including cooks, valets, maids for his wife, and chauffeurs to drive his eight large automobiles. He has much influence among some government officials who regard him as a spokesman for many Negro church people.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our third and final topic for today is from “The Black Church in the U.S.: Its Origin, Growth, Contributions, and Outlook” by Dr. William A. Banks.

Today we are looking at part 13 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

In January 1961, Bishop Johnson arrived in Kingston, Jamaica, to visit a branch of his church. Addressing a large meeting on February 17, the bishop collapsed. He was taken to the home of an elder, where he died of pneumonia. In conformity with the tenet of his church, there was no viewing and no formal funeral. For more than twenty years Bishop Johnson broadcast in Philadelphia. In time, his talks were taped and sent out over more than sixty other radio stations. More than ninety congregations, including three in the West Indies and one at Toronto, Canada, have sprung from the original church. Communicants numbered many thousands. Under Bishop Johnson the organization practiced washing of feet and prohibited the wearing of cosmetics and silk stockings, straightening of hair, use of alcoholic beverages, and attending the movies. Members were forbidden to watch television or listen to the radio except to hear the bishop. He was also against women preachers. However, other Apostolic assemblies are not as stringent. Johnson claimed that (1) he was an apostle. (2) Christ is no longer the Son of God. (3) you must speak in tongues in order to be saved. (4) Acts 2:38 is the key verse in the Bible, (5) there is no Trinity, (6) the words, “I baptize you in the name of Jesus Christ” must be pronounced over the candidate or else he is not saved, and (7) Jesus Christ is the Father (the Father’s name is Jesus)!

We see here the apostasy predicted in 2 Peter and Jude. Despite the Bishop’s claims (1) there are no apostles today. The true apostolic church ceased with the death of John the apostle about 100 A.D. (2) Christ’s Sonship is not based upon the Incarnation. He did not become the Son at birth or give up His Sonship at death. Jesus Christ always was, is now, and ever shall be the Son of God.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

Negro Cults in the City, Part 5 (The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #69)

Welcome to episode #69 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Galatians 5:1 which reads: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Our History of Black Americans and the Black Church quote for today is from Lee June, a professor at Michigan State University and the author of the book, “Yet With A Steady Beat: The Black Church through a Psychological and Biblical Lens.” He writes, “The possibilities for positive working relationships between the field of psychology and the church community clearly exist. However, there are numerous challenges that must be faced head-on by both communities. In this chapter, the basic tension points have been addressed and suggestions have been made to help resolve them.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 3: Virginia and Maryland, Part 3” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

But the fears of insurrection were not groundless. Within two years after the first statutory recognition of slavery, the blacks of Virginia were showing clear signs of dissatisfaction and began to plot rebellion against their masters. In 1687, while a funeral was taking place, a group of slaves in the northern neck planned an uprising, but the plot was discovered before it could be carried out. Rumors continued, and plots of varying sizes were uncovered. Where there were no plots there was general disobedience and lawlessness. By 1694 Virginia slaves had become so ungovernable that Governor Edmund Andros complained that there was insufficient enforcement of the code which, by that time, had become elaborate enough to cover most of the activities of slaves.

The Virginia slave code, borrowing heavily from practices in the Caribbean and serving as a model for other mainland codes, was comprehensive if it was anything at all. Slaves were not permitted to leave plantations without the written permission of their masters. Slaves wandering about without such permits were to be returned to their masters. Slaves found guilty of murder or rape were to be hanged. For major offenses, such as robbing a house or a store, slaves were to receive sixty lashes and be placed in the pillory, where their ears were to be cut off. For petty offenses, such as insolence and associating with whites or free blacks, they were to be whipped, branded, or maimed. The docility of slaves, about which many masters boasted, was thus achieved through the enactment of a comprehensive code containing provisions fo punishment designed to break even the most irascible blacks in the colony. With the sheriffs, the courts, and even slaveless whites on their side, the masters should have experienced no difficulty in maintaining peace among their slaves.

While slavery in Maryland was not recognized by law until 1663, it came into existence shortly after the first settlements were made in 1634. As early as 1638 there was reference to slavery in some of the discussions in the legislature, and in 1641 the governor himself owned a number of slaves. Colonists had no difficulty, therefore, in turning their attention to the problem of the status of blacks and in concluding that legislation was necessary to fix their status as slaves. The law of 1663 was rather drastic. It undertook to reduce to slavery all blacks in the colony even though some were already free, and it sought to impose slave status on all blacks born in the colony regardless of the status of their mothers. It was not until 1681 that the law was brought in line with established practices by declaring that black children of white women and children born of free black women would be free.

The slave population of Maryland was slow to increase, not because of any disinclination on the part of colonists to own slaves but because they were not in ample supply during the colony’s early years. This is the principal reason why, during the restoration period, laws were enacted to encourage and facilitate the importation of slaves. In 1671 the legislature declared that the conversion of slaves to Christianity would not affect their status. Masters now felt that they could import African heathens, convert them to Christianity, and thus justify the act of holding them in slavery. By the end of the century the importation of slaves was increasing steadily. In 1708 the governor reported that 600 or 700 had been imported during the preceding ten months. By 1750 there were 40,000 blacks as compared with 100,000 whites.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 18: Negro Cults in the City, Part 5” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

Another important feature of this cult is that it does not tolerate any form of racial discrimination. Wherever Negroes and whites live together, they are required to eat and sleep together. This may account for the fact that the movement has not spread into the South. At the same time it has been suggested that the strict sexual taboos are designed to meet the eventuality that the movement may spread into the South. Nevertheless, after Mother Divine died, Father Divine married a young white woman about twenty-two years of age, who has become the new Mother Divine. The sex taboo forbids man and wife to live together. When a married couple enter the cult, they become brother and sister and can have no relations with the opposite sex. Even dancing with members of the opposite sex is forbidden.

Although intoxicants are strictly forbidden, there are no food taboos. And what is more important, business enterprises are encouraged. In fact, the movement publishes a weekly periodical, New Day, which is the sacred text of the organization rather than the Bible. New Day contains every speech uttered by Father Divine. It also carries advertisements of many large and well-known commercial enterprises. Every advertisement carries within its text the injunction: ‘Peace’ and sometimes adds ‘Thank you, Father’. The use of such words as Negro and white is forbidden. A single copy of New Day may contain 132 pages filled, with the exception of the advertisements, with the words and activities of Father Divine.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our third and final topic for today is from “The Black Church in the U.S.: Its Origin, Growth, Contributions, and Outlook” by Dr. William A. Banks.

Today we are looking at part 12 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

THE APOSTOLICS
Perhaps the largest and best known of the Apostolics is The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, founded by the late Bishop Sherrod C. Johnson. Born in Halifax County, North Carolina, in 1898, Johnson went to Philadelphia before he was twenty to become a businessman. He met several holiness preachers in North Philadelphia and shortly afterward, according to a church spokesman, differed with them and started preaching in his home. As the number of his followers grew, they moved three times to larger quarters. In October 1947 the church purchased the building of the Bethany Collegiate Presbyterian Church for $105,000. Founded in 1858 by John Wanamaker, who was superintendent of its Sunday School until his death in 1922, it was considered one of the largest Presbyterian churches in the world. The building burned to the ground in November 1958. Betty Ann McDowell, ten years old, one of about 1,500 worshipers when the seven-alarm blaze was discovered, died in the building.

Bishop Johnson immediately set out to build a one-story structure with a seating capacity of 3,500. The basement chapel accomodates 1,500 and there are offices, a dining hall, a nursery, and a studio room for broadcasts. The building was constructed with a minimum of paid labor. Workmen and laborers who were church members contributed hours of work. Bishop Johnson insisted that the building proceed on a pay-as-you-go basis. There were no mortgages, no indebtedness, and no public solicitation of funds, although estimates at that time of the value of the structure ranged to one million dollars.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

Negro Cults in the City, Part 4 (The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #68)

Welcome to episode #68 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is 1 John 4:4 which reads: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Our History of Black Americans and the Black Church quote for today is from Lee June, a professor at Michigan State University and the author of the book, “Yet With A Steady Beat: The Black Church through a Psychological and Biblical Lens.” He writes, “While there are few national associations of predominantly Black Christian counselors, social workers, counselors, or therapists (The Association of Biblical Counselors is the exception), there is a Division of the American Association of Christian Counselors Association. This division is called the Black African-American Christian Counselors. There are increasing numbers of Black Christian counselors, psychologists, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists throughout the nation. Biblical counseling professionals must network with such professionals. This responsibility is true for both sides.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 2: Virginia and Maryland, Part 2” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

The actual statutory recognition of slavery in Virginia came in 1661. The status of blacks already there was not affected if they had completed their indenture and were free. As a matter of fact, the recognition was almost casual and was first indicated in a law directed at white servants: “That in case any English servant shall run away in company with any negroes who are incapable of making satisfaction by addition of time . . . that the English so running away . . . shall serve for the time of the said negroes’ absence as they are to for their owne.” In the following year, 1662, Virginia took another step toward slavery by indicating in its laws that children born in the colony would be held in bond or free according to the condition of the mother. Some mitigation of slavery was intended by a 1667 law indicating that slaves could be baptized as Christians. In order to protect the institution of slavery, however, this law provided that “the conferring of baptisme doth not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or freedome.” Thus, “diverse masters, freed from this doubt, may more carefully endeavour the propagation of Christianity.”

At first the black population of Virginia grew quite slowly. In 1625 there were only 23 in the colony, and as late as the middle of the century scarcely 300 could be counted. With the chartering of the Royal African Company in 1672 the shipment of slaves into the colony was accelerated. By the end of the century they were being brought in at the rate of more than 1,000 per year. It was in the eighteenth century that the black population grew at what some Virginians began to view as an alarming rate. In 1708 there were 12,000 blacks and 18,000 whites. By 1756 there were 120,156 blacks and 173,316 whites, with blacks outnumbering whites in many communities.

Although Virginians greatly appreciated the importance of slave labor in the development of the colony, they soon became apprehensive about such large numbers of blacks living among whites. Already whites and blacks were mixing, and a mulatto population was emerging. There were, moreover, persistent rumors of conspiracies of rebellion, and many whites feared for their lives. Those who were apprehensive took the lead in attempting to control the importation of slaves, but commercial interests fought off these attempts with all the resources at their command. For the time being they were successful.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 17: Negro Cults in the City, Part 4” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

It was not long before the attention of the public authorities was called to the fact that women were living in the ‘Heaven’. Moreover, the white residents complained about the noise and the motley throng of men and women who were attracted to these emotional orgies. Divine became a sort of martyr when he and his followers were arrested and he was indicted for maintaining a public nuisance. When Divine refused to co-operate with authorities his case was taken before Justice Lewis J. Smith of the Supreme Court of Nassau County, a Presbyterian who was disgusted that educated white men and women should testify that they believed Divine was the ‘personified perfection’ of God. Divine was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to jail. Within less than a week after Divine’s conviction, Justice Smith died unexpectedly. It was this event that set on Father Divine the seal of omnipotence in the eyes of his followers. Divine was released from jail on bail during an appeal to the Appellate Court which reversed the ruling of Judge Smith. In Harlem at a mass meeting characterized by shouting and singing where white women as well as black sought to kiss his hand there occurred ‘the apotheosis, the deification of the man who acclaimed himself Father Divine’.

Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement is distinguished from other cults first by the fact that Father Divine is the organization and that all directions are issued by him. This follows logically from the fact that Father Divine is God. He is surrounded by secretaries, the majority of whom are white and Negro women, who record everything he says and transmit his orders to his followers. His intimate participation in every activity is indicated by his role at the banquet table or Holy Communion, where every dish passes through his hands, he pours the first glass of water, cuts the first slice of cake, and places the serving spoon in each container. Certain figures are close to Divine, one being his personal secretary and the other his wife, known as Mother Divine. Everything done, even in other cities, must meet with his approval and he meets scores of his followers daily from far and near. His followers have been estimated from thousands to several millions but nobody knows the actual number. Nor is it easy to ascertain how membership is attained. It appears that one type of member is the person who subscribes to the beliefs and practices and attends service and the other has renounced the world completely and joins the ‘kingdom’ after disposing of his worldly goods according to instructions. He becomes completely subject to the will of Father Divine. This is all tied up with the question of the support of the movement, a question which no one has been able to answer.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our third and final topic for today is from “The Black Church in the U.S.: Its Origin, Growth, Contributions, and Outlook” by Dr. William A. Banks.

Today we are looking at part 11 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

After analyzing all the reasons why Blacks are attracted to the cults–the personalities of the founders and leaders; the economic, social, and spiritual conditions of their members; the need to fulfill their desire of being wanted and loved; the feeling of belonging; plus the faults and failures of the orthodox and established churches–there still remains the matter of the sin of unbelief in the human heart. And there is the role played by Satan, the world’s greatest deceiver and the father of every cult, false belief, and “ism.” Sociologists with their facts and figures fail to recognize this malignant being who directs all cult activity.

But Bible-centered believers cannot afford to gloss over Satan’s work in this area. We know that the world is asleep in Satan’s lap, but we rejoice because Christ who is in us is greater than the Devil in the world. Three main cults that began during this Radicalism period of 1951-53 are the Apostolics, Father Divine, and the Black Muslims. Each group will be considered separately.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

Negro Cults in the City, Part 3 (History of Black Americans and the Black Church #67)

Welcome to episode #67 of The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Galatians 2:16 which reads: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

Our History of Black Americans and the Black Church quote for today is from Lee June, a professor at Michigan State University and the author of the book, “Yet With A Steady Beat: The Black Church through a Psychological and Biblical Lens.” He writes, “Such a conceptualization is consistent with Wimberly’s view of pastoral counseling and care as corporate. Why are these concepts important to the biblical counselors and the church in its approach to biblical counseling? An understanding and implementation of these approaches are necessary for at least the following reasons:
– Not all problems/issues need individual or small group counseling.
– No matter how skilled individual counselors are, many persons will not seek out counseling.
– Individual and small group counseling are time consuming and if they are the only options they are inefficient, at least for certain issues.
– Therapeutic communities need to be built. Communities cannot be built effectively by just dealing with individuals. The church is a community—the Body of Christ.
– Applying individual interventions to problems that stem from group and system-level issues will result in what William Ryan calls “blaming the victim.””

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery: Virginia and Maryland, Part 1” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

The twenty Africans who were put ashore at Jamestown in 1619 by the captain of a Dutch frigate were not slaves in a legal sense. And at the time Virginians seemed not to appreciate the far-reaching significance of the introduction of Africans into the fledgling colony. These newcomers, who happened to be black, were simply more indentured servants. They were listed as servants in the census counts of 1623 and 1624, and as late as 1651 some blacks whose period of service had expired were being assigned land in much the same way that it was being assigned to whites who had completed their indenture. During its first half-century of existence Virginia had many black indentured servants, and the records reveal an increasing number of free blacks.

But as time went on Virginia steadily fell behind in satisfying the labor needs of the colony with Indians and indentured servants. It was then that the colonists began to give serious thought to the “perpetual servitude” of blacks. Virginians began to see what neighboring islands in the Caribbean had already recognized, namely, that blacks could not easily escape without being identified; that they could be disciplined, even punished, with impunity since they were not Christians; and that the supply was apparently inexhaustible. Black labor was precisely what Virginia needed in order to speed up the clearing of the forests and the cultivation of larger and better tobacco crops. All that was required was legislative approval of a practice in which many Virginians were already engaged. Indeed, by 1640, some Africans in Virginia had become bondservants for life. The distinction between black and white servants was becoming well established. In that year, when three runaway servants, two white and one black, were recaptured, the court ordered the white servants to serve their master one additional year. The black servant, however, was ordered “to serve his said master or his assigns for the time of his natural life here or elsewhere.” Thus, within the first generation of Virginia’s existence, African servitude was well on the way to becoming African slavery.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 16: Negro Cults in the City, Part 3” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

Membership in this church is determined by a period of test- ing which ‘is known as sanctification, and an experience, usually speaking in tongues, which is the sign that one has been filled with the Holy Spirit’. 21 After one becomes a member one may join the Preachers’ Class in which one is drilled in the Bible and ‘spiritual wisdom’. Financial support of the church is provided through tithes and collections taken at the services when the bishop leads the members to the collection table. At these services there is singing and the clapping of hands after which there are testimonies. These testimonies tell of God’s having guided these witnesses to the power of Holy Spirit in healing ills of the body. The sermon by the bishop which consists of attacks upon the sins of this world which is approaching its end, results in the rising of individuals who become frenzied as they speak in tongues and engage in ‘shouting’. After the bishop leaves or rests, there are other services which culminate in a communion service during which they drink grape juice and are served crackers. The practices of the church include the tabooing of divorce and marriage outside the circle of members. Men and women may show sentiment toward each other only when they plan to marry. Women are required to dress in a ‘holy’ manner which means wearing plain black or white dresses and stockings, preferably of cotton, and if men wear neckties they must be plain white or black.

The most important and most widely known of the Holiness cults is the Father Divine Peace Mission Movement. Little is known of the history of Father Divine before 1919 when he acquired a modest cottage in Sayville, New Jersey, in response to an advertisement that one or two German-Americans, who still continued to fight the Great War, would sell even to ‘coloured buyers’. Major J. Divine, as he signed his name, and ‘Pinninah’, his wife, opened a free employment bureau but soon began to take in the destitute and feed them. During the next ten years or so people flocked in increasing numbers to the house for religious services and ‘Reverend’ Divine became ‘Father’ Divine. He added rooms to the house, which began to be known as ‘Heaven’, as the number of people came to ‘lift their voices in praise of Father Divine’. The visitors were impressed by the sumptuous feasts which were served after Father Divine had blessed every dish. Legends began to grow concerning the unlimited wealth of Father Divine and his miraculous powers of healing. Those who listened at the shaded windows ‘were shocked by ejaculations in which rapture and pain were intermingled with cries of “Thank you, Father”.’

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our third and final topic for today is from “The Black Church in the U.S.: Its Origin, Growth, Contributions, and Outlook” by Dr. William A. Banks.

Today we are looking at part 10 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

WHY THE CULTS?
The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ success in teaching is largely due to the fact that souls are hungry and too often they are not fed or taught. Many times I have spoken to Witnesses who said they never learned anything as Baptists. One lady Witness, who had been a Sunday School teacher for twenty-five years in a large Baptist church told me she never heard of the Battle of Armageddon until she joined the Watchtower Society. This is not surprising; her former pastor once declared that the Book of Revelation was so full of symbolism and so controversial that he had no intention of ever preaching from it.

Cults teach their people and challenge their minds; doctrine is foremost. But it is also true that some cults are strong because they stress the supernatural: faith healing, speaking in tongues, and tarrying for the Holy Spirit and a “second blessing,” etc. Some cults as well as the Christian groups came into being because of the glaring inconsistencies of the established churches. Groups that stress “holiness” exist in part as protests against the carnality and wickedness of orthodox denominational church members and leaders. Some Blacks have found greater acceptance in “White” cults than in conservative assemblies. A Black man could attend the Watchtower Society’s Gideon School but he could not attend or was not welcome at certain White fundamentalist institutions in America. Thus, the need for fellowship and the sense of belonging are supplied by the cults, fulfillment often not found in the denominational churches. Admittedly, some cults are racial, so their appeal is due to racial identification and the provision of a refuge from racism and impersonal city life.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

PODCAST: Negro Religion in the City, Part 15 (The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #66 with Daniel Whyte III)

Welcome to episode #66 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Matthew 7:15 which reads: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

Our History of Black Americans and the Black Church quote for today is from Lee June, a professor at Michigan State University and the author of the book, “Yet With A Steady Beat: The Black Church through a Psychological and Biblical Lens.” He writes, “One of the major contributions of community psychology to the counseling field is the conceptualization of various approaches to prevention and intervention. These are: Secondary prevention/group intervention. This approach rests on the belief that problems or issues are the result of the way groups operate. The assumption is that in order to eliminate or treat the problem one must make changes or interventions at the group level. Tertiary prevention/individual intervention. This approach rests on the belief that problems or issues are the result of deficiencies in the individual. The assumption is that in order to eliminate or treat the problem one must make an intervention at the individual level.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Slavery in Mainland Latin America, Part 10” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

Another factor was the significant role that the Catholic church played in Latin America. Priests often accompanied explorers and were usually present when settlers came. It was they who insisted that slaves be instructed in the Roman Catholic religion and baptized in the church. Owners were not permitted to work their slaves on Sundays and on the approximately thirty feast days during the year. Catholic slaves were married in the church, and the banns were published regularly. There was no law against their learning to read the catechism, and thus the whole world of reading was opened to them. Meanwhile, in the British colonies, where slaves could not enter into any kind of binding agreement, permission of the owner was the only prerequisite for marriage. Although many slaveholders in the British colonies encouraged slaves to be religious and to attend church regularly, the discipline of the Anglican church encouraged but did not require owners to tend the spiritual needs of their slaves. Far from encouraging them to learn to read and write, British colonies generally discouraged such activities, and some of them forbade them altogether. If the church in Latin America had some salutary influence on the treatment of slaves, it did not achieve complete success in eliminating cruelty altogether, as David B. Davis and others have reminded us.

A final factor was that blacks enjoyed a higher level of esteem in the Latin colonies than in the British colonies, which perhaps helps to explain why many more Spaniards and Portuguese than Britons intermarried with blacks. It should be remembered that there were relatively few Spanish and Portuguese women in the New World. Choices were therefore limited. Even so, any stigma attached to intermarrying with blacks was virtually absent, and they did so in the church. Meanwhile, if any British Americans had intimate relationships with blacks, they were generally clandestine and without benefit of clergy.

Still, it does not necessarily follow that slaves fared better in Latin America than in British America. Examples abound of inhuman cruelty in all parts of the New World, and it is well to recall that during the 1830s, long after the United States outlawed the slave trade, Brazil imported 400,000 slaves from Africa. Although converted and baptized as Christians in Latin America, slaves were appraised and sold just like any other merchandise. The point to remember is that it is virtually impossible to speak of slavery other than in terms of its inhumanity, and that few institutions, including the churches, did anything to mitigate its fundamental cruelties and the insensitivity of one person who had complete dominion over another.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 15: Negro Cults in the City, Part 2” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

We shall begin with the cults which seek to restore a purer form of Christianity through the sanctification of their members. In Chicago, 107 of the 475 churches were Holiness churches and 51 Spiritualist. The Holiness churches are composed of people who seek to restore the church as it was given to the Saints. The chief religious activity of the members of the Holiness cults is that form of ecstatic worship which is known as ‘getting happy’ or ‘shouting’. This frenzied behaviour is often accompanied by drums, guitars, or tambourines. The worship in these Holiness churches is the type of behaviour which Daniel studied in the nine ecstatic cults. They insist that Christians shall live free of sin and in a state of holiness. They refuse to compromise with the sinful ways of the world. By sin they mean the use of tobacco, the drinking of alcoholic beverages, cursing and swearing, dancing, playing cards, and adultery. All of such activities are regarded as ‘carnal-mindedness’. In recounting their achievement of a state of holiness, some members tell of having visions of heaven. They claim, as a pastor of a Holiness church said, that they ‘are the common ordinary people that Jesus dwelt among’.

One of these Holiness churches in Philadelphia was founded by a woman, known as Bishop Ida Robinson, who was born in Florida and grew up in Georgia. She was converted at the age of seventeen and became active in the church. However, she left the South and went to Philadelphia where she founded the Mt. Sinai Holy Church in 1924. Bishop Robinson is described as ‘tall, sharp of feature and eye, medium brown in colour, probably of mixed Indian-Negro blood. Her education has been limited, but she is extremely intelligent, and a competent leader. She is, of course, a keen student of the Bible.’ She acquired the building for her church from a white Pentecostal congregation. She is the supreme head of the cult because, as she claims, her authority comes directly from God. She has ordained a woman as vice-bishop and a number of elders and preachers who are heads of member churches in other cities.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our third and final topic for today is from “The Black Church in the U.S.: Its Origin, Growth, Contributions, and Outlook” by Dr. William A. Banks.

Today we are looking at part 9 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

CULTS AND THE BLACKS
Some Blacks have repudiated Christianity altogether and have joined radical cults, religious groups regarded as unorthodox because in certain beliefs, interpretations, or practices they differ from other religious groups considered as the standard expressions of religion. Each cult seems to play up some weak point or neglected area of the orthodox denominations. Christian Science stresses divine healing. “Apostolics” stress the deity of Christ. Jehovah’s Witnesses emphasize prophecy. Father Divine’s movement emphasizes fellowship or integration. Each cult takes a truth, blows it out of proportion, mixes in error and falsehood, and deceives the unwary. The Black Muslims exist because of the failure of White professing Christians to recognize Black Christians as their brothers, or to treat the Black man with respect, justice and equality. Many Blacks have become easy prey for the cults.

Some intellectual Blacks have turned to Unitarianism and ethical societies. Jehovah’s Witnesses have made great strides among the Blacks because their emphasis on teaching has appealed to the hungry hearts of the doctrine-starved former members of Black Baptist and Methodist churches. Considering the circumstances, it is no wonder that so many are drawn to these unorthodox groups. Certainly the religious-economic-social background of the American Black man lends itself to such aberrations and errors. Fauset suggests that the following factors–listed in what he believes is the order of importance–attract members to these cults: (1) personality of the leader, (2) the desire to draw closer to God, (3) racial or nationalistic urge, (4) miraculous healing, (5) dissatisfaction with Christianity as it is known, (6) a disdain for orthodox churches, (7) mental relief afforded by the cult, (8) an urge for leadership and participation, (9) help to one’s business, (10) a dislike for the clergy, (11) the fact that the cult teaches, (12) finding within the cult a common bond of friendliness, understanding, and sympathy, elements all too often lacking in more orthodox assemblies.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

Slavery in Mainland Latin America, Part 9; Negro Cults in the City, Part 1; Radicalism: 1915 – 1953, Part 8 (The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #65)

Welcome to episode #65 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Matthew 18:20 which reads: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Our History of Black Americans and the Black Church quote for today is from Lee June, a professor at Michigan State University and the author of the book, “Yet With A Steady Beat: The Black Church through a Psychological and Biblical Lens.” He writes, “One of the major contributions of community psychology to the counseling field is the conceptualization of various approaches to prevention and intervention. These are: Primary prevention/systems intervention. This approach rests on the belief that problems or issues are often the result of the way systems operate, policies are implemented, structures are put in place, etc. The assumption is that in order to eliminate or treat the problem one must make an intervention at the systems level; that is, at the level of institutions, policies, and structures. This is the approach that Dr. Willie Richardson basically takes in the book Reclaiming the Urban Family—How to Mobilize the Church as a Family Training Center.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Slavery in Mainland Latin America, Part 9” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

While slaves in Brazil and elsewhere were a source of profit, they were also a source of constant trouble. Living in small, crowded huts and subsisting on coarse fare, they frequently became restive and sought to break the chains of slavery. In 1550 the slaves of Santa Marta [SAN-TA MAR-TAH], Colombia, committed great atrocities and burned the city. Five years later an African calling himself king led a violent insurrection that was subdued only by strenuous exertions of the authorities. One of the most desperate bids for freedom in the New World occurred in Brazil in the seventeenth century. It was the establishment of the Republic of Palmares [PAL-MAHR-ES], an African state in Alagoas [AH-LAH-GO-AHS] in northeastern Brazil, between 1630 and 1697. Fleeing the towns and plantations between Bahia [BAH-HEE-AH] and Pernambuco [PEHR-NAM-BOO-KUH], runaway slaves penetrated the heavy forests and settled rustic communities in the Rio Mundahu valley. Despite sieges laid by the Portuguese and by the Dutch, who were attempting to occupy that portion of Brazil in 1644, these Maroons held out until 1697, when the superior forces of the Portuguese soldiers entered the walled city of Palmares [PAL-MAHR-ES]3. Refusing to surrender, the leader and his principal assistants hurled themselves to certain death from the rocky promontory overlooking the city. Although the other insurrections and Maroon communities established in Spanish and Portuguese America perhaps never equaled Palmares, many of them were greater than any that slaves undertook in British America.

Several factors distinguished slavery in Latin America from that institution in British America. One such factor was the relatively small number of Spaniards and Portuguese in their colonies as compared to the considerable numbers of Britons in the English colonies. It was not at all unusual for slaves to outnumber by a large margin their Spanish and Portuguese owners and officials who frequently had little or no family with them and who were, all too often, infrequent visitors to their New World domains. Such a disproportionate number of blacks facilitated the many more successful insurrections and Maroon communities that arose in Latin America than arose in British America. Perhaps it also had something to do with the strict slave codes which were introduced into Latin America earlier than in British America.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 14: Negro Cults in the City, Part 1” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

The cults which have developed among Negroes represent something new in the religious life of Negroes. They are sometimes not differentiated from the traditional religious groups which meet in abandoned stores and houses because the cults often meet in the same type of buildings. In most of the ‘store-front’ churches the Negro maintains his traditional beliefs and conceptions of God and the world and himself. On the other hand, in the new cults which flourish in the cities, Negroes have abandoned their traditional notions about God and the world and, what is of crucial importance, their conceptions of themselves. An attempt has been made to classify the different types of cults from the standpoint of such features as faith healing or holiness or whether they claim an Islamic origin, but there is much overlapping. Moreover, while all these cults represent ‘New Gods of the City’, there is an important difference between those which seek to restore a purer form of Christianity or sanctification and holiness and those which tend to be secular in outlook and represent primarily a complete transformation of the Negro as a race. Of course, in some of those cults in which the Negro escapes from his racial identity, there may be faith healing and sanctification but these are subordinate to the main orientation of the cults.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our third and final topic for today is from “The Black Church in the U.S.: Its Origin, Growth, Contributions, and Outlook” by Dr. William A. Banks.

Today we are looking at part 8 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

Some men who organized storefronts did so out of their own vanity and the desire to be leaders. Conflict of leadership within the established denominations also help increase the number of such churches. But it is also true that some leaders desire to be used by the Lord Jesus Christ to win souls unto Him and nourish those souls in God’s Word. Some men have obviously been led of the Spirit of God to found such assemblies.God has blessed their efforts. Blacks who criticize storefronts often ask, “Why are there so many of them? Look! Four in one block. Why don’t they get together?” They often refer to poorly trained ministers as “jacklegs.”

Whatever the motivations and reasons for their existence, and in spite of the criticisms, the storefronts serve a good purpose. As Frazier remarks, it is irrelevant in a sense and useless to try to answer the question, “Are we overchurched?” For many Blacks in the North and South, the storefront represented a haven from the cruel White world and afforded the only true fellowship and social life they had. This is not to overlook the fact that where the Word of God is faithfully preached and taught, sinners are saved and the saved sinners are edified.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.