The History of Black Americans and the Black Church Episode #85

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with episode #85 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Malachi 2:10 which reads: “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?”

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, “When reference is made to skills, I am referring to proficiencies that a person possesses; these skills may have been acquired through training, education, and/or experience. By talents, I am referring to those things that a person possesses which seem unique to them and appear to have been naturally acquired. On the other hand, gifts refer to the enablement that the Holy Spirit has given to individuals for the edification of the Body of Jesus Christ (the church). Gifts in contrast to skills and talents are not naturally acquired. According to Scripture, each individual Christian has at least one spiritual gift. There are now instruments that have been developed to help an individual discern his or her spiritual gift(s). One such instrument was developed by Wagner. As the educational levels of congregations increase, it will be imperative that pastors and church administrators systematically and deliberatively make use of the array of acquired skills, along with spiritual gifts to the edification of the Body of Christ.”

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 3: Slavery and the Revolutionary Philosophy, Part 3” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

In the years that followed the Boston Massacre, the colonists, as though pricked by conscience, frequently spoke against slavery and England at the same time. In 1773 the Reverend Isaac Skillman went so far as to assert that in conformity with the laws of nature, slaves should rebel against their masters. In 1774 Abigail Adams wrote her husband: “It always appeared a most iniquitous scheme to me to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have.” About the same time, Thomas Jefferson wrote “A Summary View of the Rights of British America,” in which he said that the abolition of slavery was the great object of desire in the colonies, but that it had become increasingly difficult because Britain had consistently blocked all colonial efforts to put an end to the slave trade.

In their thinking some colonists had thus moved from the position of acceptance of the institution of slavery to the position that it was inconsistent with their fight with England and finally to the view that England was responsible for the continuation of slavery. This view was translated into action in the fall of 1774 when the Continental Congress passed an agreement not to import any slaves after December 1, 1775. Georgia, the only colony not represented, adopted a similar measure in July 1775. These can hardly be regarded as antislavery measures, however. It must be remembered that there was general resentment against England’s “Intolerable Acts,” passed earlier in the year, and that many of the enactments of the first Continental Congress were retaliatory measures of a temporary nature.

The test of the colonists’ regard for slavery came in their reaction to the Declaration of Independence, which was submitted to the Continental Congress by Thomas Jefferson. The formulation of a general political philosophy to justify the drastic step the colonists were taking was generally acceptable, even to the proposition that all people, being created equal, were endowed with “certain unalienable Rights…Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Jefferson’s specific charges against the king were harsh and uncompromising. Among them were the following:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative [veto] for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce; and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting these very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

These charges, described by John Adams as the “vehement philippic against Negro slavery,” were unacceptable to the Southern delegation at the Continental Congress and were stricken from the document.

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 6: The Church is no Longer a Refuge, Part 2” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

It was inevitable that the Negro should be drawn into the organized forms of social life in the urban environment. As a consequence, the Negro church has lost much of its influence as an agency of social control. Its supervision over the marital and family life of Negroes has declined. The church has ceased to be the chief means of economic co-operation. New avenues have been opened to all kinds of business ventures in which secular ends and values are dominant. The church is no longer the main arena for political activities which was the case when Negroes were disenfranchised in the South. Negro political leaders have to compete with the white political leaders in the ‘machine’ politics of the cities. In a word, the Negroes have been forced into competition with whites in most areas of social life and their church can no longer serve as a refuge within the American community.

We have seen how Negroes in the established denominational churches developed secular interests in order to deal with race prejudice and discriminations to which they are exposed when the ‘walls of segregation come tumbling down’. We have seen how lower-class Negroes have reacted to the cold impersonal environment of the city and of the large denominational churches by joining the ‘storefront’ churches and the various cults. These all represented their reaction to the crumbling traditional organization of Negro life as Negroes are increasingly cast afloat in the main stream of American life where they are still outsiders.

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

After meeting “Allah on earth,” he dropped his “slave master’s name” of Poole and took the spiritual surname, Muhammad. The “X” used by the Muslims represents their unknown true name, taken away by the White slave masters centuries earlier. In April 1934 Detroit police arrested him, charged him with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He had refused to send one of his children to the public school and was educating him instead at a Muslim parochial school he had set up. The result: six months’ probation. In November of that year some of his would-be followers, disgusted with his teaching, drove him out of the city. He settled in Chicago and made it his permanent headquarters. When World War II came, he preached against the draft as the White man’s draft for the White man’s army. When the FBI tracked him down in September 1942, they found him rolled up in a carpet under a bed in his mother’s home in Chicago.

Seventy-one of his followers were arrested on charges of sedition and draft evasion. Muhammad was convicted and sent to the federal prison at Milan, Michigan, where he stayed until 1946. Prisons proved to be fertile ground for recruitment for the Black Muslims. While their leaders preach hatred in the principal cities across America, lesser lights inside prisons all across the country also spread their doctrines and recruited new “brothers.” Said Dr. Lincoln:

The prisons are made to order for Muhammad. Nine times out of ten, the potential convert was arrested by a white policeman, sentenced by a white judge, directed by a white prison guard under a white warden. The prison chaplain was white, and he knew when he got out that he could not go to a white church for help. The Negro church was not interested, but there was Elijah waiting.

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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