America will not be able to complete in the global markets of today and tomorrow, if teachers are finding it difficult to educate children, and if individuals are refusing to enter into the profession then it is time for the church to return to its old traditional role of educating those who society does not value. White Christianity has traditionally encourage minorities or colonalized people to get “saved” work to get into heaven, and live a better life beyond the pearly gates; problem is you have to die to get to Heaven, and a lot of saving is almost a hidden call to wait to die for the better life.

Churches and our mythologies played a significant role in the development and transformations of an oppressed people. Many of our traditional churches are closing. The old folks are dying and the young ones do not feel the need for a savior. They do not get it, they do not understand, that the church was more than just a Jesus house, the church represented salvation from a Christian world motivated to destroy the faithful. Churches were colleges, universities, employment opportunities, creative art centers for music and the physical arts.  Churches were financial institutions, enculturation centers, and the dependable place where an immigrant or internal migrant could come and learn how to survive in new environments. The Black church, with out knowing it symbolized what the Founding Fathers wanted for America. It was behind the closed doors of the church where minority families learned the truth about the American vision, even when it was not demonstrated by other citizens. The church is in decline, and in its place comes a confused people, lost to the understanding of what this great country is all about, and how we the people through our churches and religious institutions are the foundations upon which this great nation was built, kicking and screaming. I grew up in an outstanding Historical Black Church, The St. Marks United Episcopal Methodist Church, my church is gone, I will miss her, she inspired my life and my educational and religious work.

After spending 400 years in bondage in the Egypt of the North American continent, the thought of spending eternity in heaven with racist and oppressors is not something most African Americans are looking forward to; some different arrangements will have to be made, or millions of Christians of color, would look for another path of faith There needs to be a visible image of a Black Jesus and a brown God. Moses had better look more like Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and Marcus Garvey, then Charleston Heston.

 

 

             There is a difference between Black theology and Christian Theology. There is a difference between Black theology and Liberation theology. Black America is guided by liberation theology. The story of the Black experience and achievement is founded on research in Black theology. Moses for Black people is understood through the works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Our spiritual prophets are Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglas and Marcus Garvey. Our apostles are embodiment of Fannie Lu Hammer, Medgar Evers and Harriet Tubman.

Our heroes are Ophra Winfrey and Maya Angelou. Our historical angels are Robert Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, The Quakers, our Catholic and Jewish brothers, who marched with us into battle, and shared our punishment in America’s prisons, and in some cases, shared the sting of death in a final resting place. As Black Christians we were thrown to the lions, but some of our angels had removed the teeth and claws of those lions giving us a chance to fight animal to animal and survive. Our Jesus did not get nailed to a cross, but many sacred men became the fruit swinging from trees grown in Christian yards.

Moses used liberation theology in his role of delivering the Hebrew people out from the land of Egypt. Egypt symbolizes a state of living where people are oppressed and submit to that oppression in the belief that they are helpless to do anything about their conditions.

Social scientist and social workers come to help them to understand the oppression and the helplessness of their situations and to provide them with spiritual talk to help them accept an impossible situation with grace. God in His hidden wisdom, place us in conditions under the Great Britain system, which although believed in conquering the world, and benefiting from their resources, believed in education and leaving her subjects with the tools of the oppressor enabling them to excel. Fascism as a system of rule would have used a final solution as a means to handle a people who many considered inferior.

Today most of Great Britain’s subjects are free, thrust into the 21st century acting and speaking like little Englishmen, but ready and able to hold their own as members of the round table designing the future. Would India be a world player if her conqueror had been Germany instead of Great Britain? Would non-violence have worked with Fascism?

We are the results of a British North American colonial system, designed to control, sustain but educate, and our former owners knew that if they destroyed God’s people, they themselves would be destroyed. Therefore, they put in a two- tiered educational system, one for the rulers, and one for those destined to be ruled. Those who were ruled, if they paid attention, learned both systems and were able to move freely between both systems. The Bible was the major rule book used to give the rulers the courage to rule, and the subjects the guidelines and the rationale for accepting their conditions.

Christianity as practiced in European culture provides a framework for the minority to rule the majority. Christianity made it possible for Rome to rule the world. Christianity made it possible for Great Britain to rule the world, and conquer continents, transporting millions of its citizens all over the world, without a major military battle. The Bible was more powerful than the sword, and with careful use- it subdue whole continents into submission enabling the conqueror the  the wealth in human resources, earthly resources and entitlement. With the use of a white Jesus and a large image of a white God pointing a finger at a large white man in the Sistine Chapel, the pictoral image of who and what power was, is demonstrated with artistic skills second to none.

Christianity has provided the means by which, the weak were able to conquered the strong. First it was necessary to teach the strong to believe and say I am weak and helpless; second you must place into the minds and heart of a people the sense of delayed gratification, and convince them to give up willingly any right to earth’s resources, and instead wait for post death rewards of the after life. White people were given the earth and life, and black people were given heaven and a spiritual life of salvation.

The earth was described as the devils playground, and any and all pleasures of the earth were under the rule of the boogieman referred to as Satan. With black people praying to a white Jesus and carrying around a white plastic Jesus, and having a white bleeding Jesus hanging around their necks, the task of rescuing them out of Egypt was going to be difficult. Enter the role of the Black Church, Black Theology and Liberation Theology. White society was not going to give up its prize easily. White Christians did not like the idea of Black Christians attending their churches. Those who did believe in Heaven were not too happy about sharing their eternal resting places with those who they were taught to believe were not made in God’s image and were in fact God’s pity and mercy people, who out of the kindness of his heart permitted them to gather the crumbs from his table.

               The role of the Black Church was to present the truth to a confused people, open the eyes of an emotionally blind people, help the cripple emotionally helpless to stand on their own two feet and walk, and bring back to life a dead Lazarus. Jesus is the Moses for Black people, and in order that the message is received for those for whom it is intended, His words are coded and spoken in parables. An oppressed people cannot go up against the oppressor with physical strength. The oppressor has used mental conditioning to get the subject to willingly accept oppression without revolt or violence. The oppressor has convinced the oppressed that it is the will of God for them to be oppressed, and that they must be obedient to God’s will and the messenger of His will. Jesus comes in and says the He is the way the truth and the life, and no man can reach the Father without going through the truth. The Black Church had the daunting task of providing that truth but providing  it in coded form so that it would not be blocked out from the ears and heart of those intended for the message.

Black Church was a major institution in the lives of the Black community and provided the social service needs of the community. Men played significant leadership roles in the church, and were considered role models for the community. Political decisions, economic decision, relational decisions and education decisions were sanctioned and formulated in these sacred locations. Men and women of outstanding intellectual ability were elevated to positions of leadership in the church. The Black Church operated its own teacher training academies; where men and women learned the skills of organizational development, classroom management skills, lesson planning and instructional delivery. Churches operated their own after school programs, Sunday school programs, adult Bible study classes and Seminaries Black Christianity was also different from traditional Christianity.

Black people viewed Jesus as a living Savior, counselor and friend. It was he who made it possible to endure difficult circumstances in the personal realm and the political realm of society. Black Christians did not develop an anger or rage against the oppressors of the Christian community, who went to church on Sundays, and some wore white sheets on Monday to attend rallies planning violence and even deaths of individuals.

The Black Church prevented the development of emotional and mental victim personalities as the results of individuals in the outer society placing obstacles in the pathway of progress for countless men and women of color. Jesus was a God of love, and the Black Church and Black Christianity taught people how to truly love the enemy and not permit the sins of the enemy to become their sins.

Men were encouraged to study and become preachers, and women were encouraged to study and become teachers. These preachers would hold the family of God together while they endured the trials of living in a hostile environment. The teachers would dedicate themselves to the task of educating the children so that they would be prepared for a world of the future free of oppression. Teachers were believers of a better world and a better future here on earth.

Black Christianity focused on the quality of life on God’s earthly plane, while at the same time helping Christians to understand that there was life after life, with God in the heavenly realm. The Black Church and Black Christianity had the most effective anti depression and anti neurotic program in the country. Black Christians learned that the attitudes of the behaviors of other Christians, were not their concern, and they had to work out their own soul salvation.

Black Christians learned how to avoid the psychotic behaviors of other Christians who were determined to destroy them in mind, body and spirit. There were  spiritual separations of the two groups and a separation of theologies presented in the churches. Black Christians learned a Black theology, and a theology of liberation.

The Black Church played a major role in transforming the message of white society into a positive one for black society. The school system in the country- was a major force in helping Black people to prepare to leave the Egypt of racism- with gifts and talents. The talents received in these institutions and the church made it possible to survive in the wilderness.

Black parents made it possible for children to sit in the middle of white children so that what ever the teacher was teaching they would be exposed to the same body of information. They had to teach some of the children how to shut up listen and learn, because the knowledge they were receiving was not intended for them, but they were going to get it anyway.

Students struggling in educational systems, which did not want them, and which made every opportunity to shut them down, referred them for counseling or special services, or just frustrate them until they just left. Most stayed, endured and learned. The cost of trying to use injustice on a segment of God’s people enacted a great toll on teachers.

Many teachers became unaware of the reasons for their despair and frustrations as they slowly burned out of a system set up to restrict and prevent the movement of a smart people. Scientific data was complied to convince teachers, parents and students that the Black student was incapable of learning. The result was that the student remained to fight for his rights, and the teacher left. The Black Church noted this burnout of a significant percentage of teachers, and researchers blamed parents and students for the teacher’s inability to remain in an unjust system.

Theology is concerned with the whole person, with all the things that affect the whole person, including one’s socioeconomic status, political standing, relationship to the justice system and the environment, as well as to the universe itself. White America found it easy to accept negative descriptions, of who Black men were, rather than to have interactions with them and make their own decisions. Hollywood, and the media created a man of fear and myth, and created an economic base, which prospered playing to fears rather than facts. Educational institutions, influenced by Hollywood and the media, developed entire theories and curriculum based on who these institutions perceived the man of color to be. College students, in general, and teacher education students in particular, were taught a sociology, which stratified the classes and the people into assigned roles, making sure that the man of color was always on the bottom.

 

The social scientist used the minority population as its laboratory for studying the pathology of human behavior. Selected neighborhoods had to be studied to provide the data necessary to support negative belief systems. If a minority neighborhood did not fit the pattern, it was not used. Minorities learned these negative belief about themselves, and as the results of separation from traditional Black institutions and integrated into institutions controlled and taught by white teachers and preachers, they began to believe what was written about them by white people. The role of the Historical Black churches changed this inbalance in intellectual and factual knowledge. The closing of many main line traditional churches leave a void in the country and a significant confusion and change in our young people. There are many churches around that still teach people how to get into heaven and the rules and sacrifices, which must be made, there are few historical churches understanding how to live on earth. Jesus came to teach us how to live on earth.

The theory on Black Theology comes from the work of James H. Cone

[1] Professor James H. Cone is the Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary. He attended Shorter College (1954-56) and holds a B.A. degree from Philander Smith College (1958). In 1961, he received a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett Theological Seminary and later earned an M.A. (1963) and Ph.D. (1965) from Northwestern University. Dr. Cone has been conferred eight (8) honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (2000

 

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