The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #83

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with episode #83 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 other case occurs when the individual is attempting to assume a role outside of his/her “calling.” Because of a need for power, a need for recognition, or due to a misguided view of ministry, this person decides to proclaim for him or herself a certain type of ministry. Therefore, the individual assumes the role of “minister” using the societal definition. This particular person may be attracted to the aura and the perceived prestige of “ministry.” Those factors may lead this person to embrace ministry in order to feel good psychologically or to garner a sense of importance. Such is done because the individual sees that role as providing a sense of self-actualization or the opportunity for other gains.”

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 “That All May Be Free, Part 1: Slavery and the Revolutionary Philosophy, Part 1” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

By the middle of the eighteenth century, slavery in the United States was an integral part of a maturing economic system. There had been protests against the slave trade, some colonies had imposed almost prohibitive import duties, and some religious groups, notably the Quakers, had questioned the right of one person to hold another in bondage. There had been, however, no frontal attack upon the institution, and even in the Northern colonies, where there was no extensive use of slaves, the majority of the articulate colonists paid little attention to slavery. Perhaps it was the colonists’ preoccupation with their economic and political relations with England that accounted for the widespread indifference with which they regarded slavery. Colonial problems were so urgent that little time was left in which colonists could concern themselves with humanitarian matters. If there could be assurance that blacks would neither conspire to rebel nor offer aid and comfort to the French or the Indians, there seemed to be little reason to be concerned over this condition.

This general attitude prevailed up until the end of the French and Indian War in 1763. This significant year not only marked the beginning of a new colonial policy for England but also ushered in a new approach, on the part of the colonists, to the problem of slavery. There was, moreover, a discernible connection between the two developments. As colonists saw in England’s new colonial policy a threat to the economic and political freedom that they had enjoyed for several generations, they also seemed to recognize a marked inconsistency in their position as oppressed colonists and slaveholders. John Woolman, a New Jersey Quaker, and Anthony Benezet, a Philadelphia Huguenot, had already begun their anti-slavery activities in the Middle colonies, and others, such as Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush, had joined in the work to free the slaves. But there had been no dramatic denunciation of the institution by any outstanding political leader in the colonies. The resurrection of the hated navigation acts and the imposition of new regulations like the Sugar Act of 1764 brought forth eloquent defenses of the position of the colonists. One act of Parliament had, as James Ortis declared, “set people a-thinking in six months, more than they had done in their whole lives before.” They began to think of their dual role as oppressed and oppressor. Almost overnight the grave but quiet efforts of Benezet and Woolman bore fruit, as some colonial leaders began to denounce not only England’s new imperial policy but slavery and the slave trade as well.

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 4: The Walls Came Tumbling Down, Part 4” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

As ‘the walls of segregation tumble down’, it is the institutions which embody the secular interests of Negroes which are being undermined more rapidly than those representing their cultural interests. As white establishments cater to the personal needs of Negroes there is less need for what is known as ‘Negro’ businesses to supply such services. Moreover, as the large corporations and other so-called white business enterprises employ Negroes in all capacities, there is less need for an association of people engaged in ‘Negro’ businesses. Likewise, as white newspapers carry more news concerning Negroes and employ Negro journalists, the Negro newspapers decline in circulation as the foreign language newspapers have done. Although schools are cultural institutions, the segregated Negro public schools and state colleges will become less important.

The situation is different in regard to the cultural institutions within the Negro community. There are some privately supported Negro educational institutions with deeply rooted traditions in Negro life that resist the trend towards the integration of the Negro. On the other hand, as Negro professors are increasingly taken on the faculties of so-called white colleges and universities and Negro students are admitted to such institutions, Negroes are joining the mainstream of American life. When one comes to the Negro church which is the most important cultural institution created by Negroes, one encounters the most important institutional barrier to integration and the assimilation of Negroes. White churches may open their doors to Negroes and a few Negro ministers may be invited to become pastors of white churches; the masses of Negroes continue, nevertheless, to attend the Negro churches and the Negro church as an institution continues to function as an important element in the organized social life of Negroes.

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

In time, internal strife erupted; a leader, Sheik Claude Greene, was killed. Arrested for murder, Noble Drew Ali died under mysterious circumstances in 1929 while released on bond and waiting for trial. After Ali’s death the cult split into a number of factions. The leader of one of the surviving splinter groups was none other than Wallace D. Fard or Farrad Mohammad or Wali Farrad, who initially considered himself the “reincarnation of Ali.” Fard, who was later proclaimed to have been “Allah in Person,” was once a peddler of “exotic goods” (silk, incense, perfumes, etc.) in the Black sections of the city of Detroit. Some say that he was a White man, which of course, if true, would be an embarrassment to the Black Muslims. Others describe him as being of “light color” with “an Oriental cast of countenance.” All this is difficult to ascertain since so much mystery surrounds Fard.

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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