The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #82

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with episode #82 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is 1 John 5:5 which reads: “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”

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, “Pitfall Three: Ministers without Ministries. Another pitfall to avoid is becoming a “minister without a ministry.” How can that be, you ask? I would suggest that it could happen because of organizational or individual factors. On the organizational side, there are “ministers” without ministry when the church structure is such that the spiritual gifts of individuals are not identified and are not allowed to operate. As indicated in a prior chapter, my belief is that all Christians are ministers in a biblical sense and thus have a role to carry out in the corporate body. However, because of a misunderstanding of certain Scriptures, a narrow definition of ministry, misguided views of authority, personal insecurities and/or perceived threats, spiritual gifts are not allowed to be exercised and the individual with a particular gift is frustrated and not allowed to do what would help the Body of Christ to grow. In other instances, the organizational problems or structure may be such that the individual’s spiritual gift is recognized and the individual attempts to exercise the gift(s) but is not given the freedom to express it to the full glorification and edification of the Body.”

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 15: Blacks in Colonial New England, Part 3” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

Despite some restrictions, blacks in New England seemed to have been free to associate with each other and with peaceful Indians. The houses of some free blacks became a rendezvous where they danced, played games, and told stories. Slaves like Lucy Terry of Deerfield, Massachusetts, and Senegambia of Narragansett, Rhode Island, had a seemingly limitless store of tales about Africa and other faraway places that filled many an hour with excitement and pleasure. There was, moreover, ample opportunity for blacks to associate with whites, for hardly a house or church raising, an apple paring, or a corn husking took place without the presence of at least a portion of the slave population. On Guy Fawkes Day, Lorenzo Greene says, “Negroes joined in the boisterous crowds that surged through the streets of Boston, much to the annoyance of pedestrians.”

Blacks in New England were in a unique position in colonial America. They were not subjected to the harsh codes or the severe treatment that their fellows received in the colonies of the South. Nevertheless, it is possible to exaggerate the humanitarian aspects of their treatment. Masters in New England held a firm hand on the institution and gave little consideration to the small minority that argued for the freedom of slaves. Although New Englanders took their religion seriously, they did not permit it to interfere with their appreciation of the profits of slavery and the slave trade. At the same time, they did not glut their home market with slaves and increase the number to the point where they would be fearful for their safety. There seemed to be the characteristic Yankee shrewdness in the New Englander’s assessment of the importance of slavery to economic and social life.

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 “The Negro Church and Assimilation, Part 3: The Walls Came Tumbling Down, Part 3” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

The second factor and a factor of equal importance, which determines the nature and extent of the participation of Negroes in the wider American community, is their own institutional life. The system of racial segregation in the United States has resulted in an almost complete duplication of the institutions of the American community within the Negro community. We shall begin by considering those institutions which embody the secular interests of Negroes. As Negroes have moved from the world of the folk, they have established insurance companies and banks which have a purely secular end. These institutions are becoming a part of the different associations of insurance companies and banks and they are subject to state supervision. Then there are many other kinds of business enterprises, many of which cater especially to the personal and other needs of Negroes, and thus supply services often refused by white establishments. Negroes are expected to patronize these various so-called ‘Negro’ businesses because of ‘racial loyalty’. There is a National Negro Business League and numerous Negro chambers of commerce. Among the more successful Negro businesses should be included the Negro weekly newspapers which have circulations running into the hundreds of thousands.

Then there are certain cultural institutions among which are included the various secret fraternal organizations such as the Masons, Odd Fellows, and the Elks. In this group we would also include the various college Greek letter societies for men and women. Although they would not qualify as institutions, there are numerous social clubs which may be considered along with the cultural institutions. The most important cultural institution is, of course, the Negro church. It embodies, as we have seen, the cultural traditions of Negroes to a far greater extent than any other institution.

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 24 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

The Moorish Science Temple: The Black Muslim cult is not the first group to make such a radical departure from the traditional Black religion. Timothy Drew, a Black born in North Carolina in 1886, founded the Moorish Science Temple of America. Obsessed with the idea that the salvation of the Black man was to be found in the discovery of his national origin, he taught that we should no longer be called Negroes, black folk, colored people, or Ethiopians. Drew said that the words Negro or Black symbolize death. “Colored” means painted. Since we are neither dead nor painted, the term that suits us best is Moorish-American.

Coupled with a certain personal magnetism, his apparent sincere desire to help his people escape race prejudice and discrimination proved valuable in his efforts to establish temples. He started in Newark, N.J., in 1913 and became known as Noble Drew Ali. The cult professed to honor all divine prophets: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster, and others. Preaching that a change in identification (Negro to Asiatic) would bring salvation, hundreds in Chicago (which became the center of the organization) joined him. Membership may have been as high as twenty or thirty thousand during his lifetime.

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.

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