Let us make the Black preacher in the image of King our wishes

Posted: April 7, 2008 in Uncategorized

When an article starts like the following blurb, you know you in for a ‘special’ experience.

“The contemporary white church has largely accepted King as a religious hero. Yet some observers say there is one religious community that continues to shun King — the black church.” (John Blake, author of the book “Children of the Movement” and CNN contributor) [link to full article here]

I didn’t know that the church was supposed to fashioned after King. Second, if we’re talking about service to the community, the Black portion of the church does way more than he is willing to acknowledge in this piece.

Forty years after his death, King remains a prophet without honor in the institution that nurtured him, black preachers and scholars say. King’s “prophetic” model of ministry — one that confronted political and economic institutions of power — has been sidelined by the prosperity gospel.

Prosperity ministers preach that God rewards the faithful with wealth and spiritual power. Prosperity pastors such as Bishop T.D. Jakes have become the most popular preachers in the black church. They’ve also become brands. They’ve built megachurches and business empires with the prosperity message.

For starters, make no mistake about it, this whole article is about T.D. Jakes only. Blake makes that point very clear by both his constant references to him and the picture of Jakes used in his piece. While Jakes may be one of the most popular Black preachers out there, he certainly is not the face of the Black church–as mainstream media (and Blake in this piece) have been making him out to be for years.

As far as his bent on the prosperity gospel, I actually agree with him. I have been saying for years that the church needs to return back to the early church model where Christians primarily met in each other’s homes as opposed to building on big mega-ministry. I could go on and on about my feelings towards the prosperity gospel, but I think John Piper nails it in this short excerpt.

This link does a pretty good job in presenting the scriptural stance against such teachings (link).

Back to Blake–

Black prophetic pastors rarely fill the pews like other pastors, though, because their message is so inflammatory, says Henry Wheeler, a church historian. Prophetic pastors like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the former pastor for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, often enrage people because they proclaim God’s judgment on nations, he says.

“It’s dangerous to be prophetic,” said Wheeler, who is also president of the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“I don’t know many prophetic preachers who are driving big cars and living very comfortably. You don’t generally build huge churches by making folks uncomfortable on Sunday morning,” he said.

Blake throws in the term “prophetic”. Since we are talking about the prophetic as it relates to Christendom, let’s take a few minutes to understand the roll of a prophet.

Matthew Finlay of the website Bible.org does a good job using scripture to paint an accurate picture of prophet who is called by God. I am going to highlight his main points below.

1. To reveal the nature and attributes of God to men.

2. To make known to men the laws of God.

3. To call the people back to obedience to God’s laws.

4. To exhort the people to sincerity in worship.

5. To warn them of Divine judgment upon sin, both personal and national.

6. To foretell future events which God had willed.

7. To foretell the coming of the Messiah, the Savior.

8. To record the history of God’s dealings with men.

9. To record the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures.

So the real question for all of this is “Do people really want to hear from God, or someone that is going to echo their sentiments?” Anyone that subscribes to a theology that suggests that we should “kill God if..[He] is not for us and against white people” clearly does not sound like one who his submitted to God in the first place.

Something that T.D. Jakes said some time ago that I feel is very true and pertinent to this discussion–

I do not believe that African-American ministers should allow their political views to dictate the subjects and tone of their sermons. Some believe their calling is to consistently petition society to address its role in depriving African-Americans of the full benefits of citizenship. Others believe they are called to inform, encourage, coax and propel people of color to provide for themselves, shape their own reality and build institutions to better their communities.

Though the black community was served well by ministers who doubled as political leaders in an era when the pulpit was often our only podium, today, the African-American community is no longer limited to the pulpit as our primary lecture post. We now have thousands of African-American politicians elected to serve our interests, nonprofit leaders funded to lead our communal efforts and academics educated to research our options, and convey their findings to the world. (From T.D. Jakes piece which appeared on CNN.com “No political party can contain us“)

I bolded “God” earlier for a reason. While the prophet as it pertains to Christendom is one who is called and inspired by God, many critics like Blake want somebody who is inspired by their own interests. Since King’s death, folks have been on a constant hunt for one who give a moving voice to what they perceive as their victim status and other pet causes. Jakes has been very high on the radar since Time magazine crowned him as “America’s Best Preacher”. He’s Black, he’s a preacher, known and respected around the world with a huge following, and most importantly, he has money and the demonstrated ability to raise it. So all of this ‘deep’ discussion and concern over how he his fleecing God’s people by his critics in the media who oftentimes know very little of the Bible in the first place is not only a bunch of bunk, but a cover for resentment that he has not employed the same tactics for their benefit.

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Comments
  1. Give it a rest! says:

    Duane,

    Right this very moment;

    One man is selling crack in the ghetto and while another man is selling God!

    Notice the key word here is, “Selling”.

    And selling GOD is exactly T.D. Jakes’ business.

    Mind you I do have a somewhat different perspective on the “black” church than most you will come across. The majority of my close family are (where) Catholics. They became Catholic in the early part of the 20th Century in NYC to be able to take advantage of the parochial education available to them at that time. Now Needless to say being black one really cant avoid the black church.

    One perculiar thing I have noticed is that we had two black pastors in our neighborhood growing up. Both were pastors of churches in the ghetto but neither felt the need to live amoung the people they preach to.

    Like the sterotype both lived in nice big houses, both drove nice LUXURY cars. Their children went to private schools and dressed very well. Their wives were also very status consious.

    Very interesting that these “gentlemen” made their money off the backs of poor black-folks but refused to live like or amoung their flocks. These guys used GOD to gain a lifestyle that was like those other men that maybe did some stuff that was a bit less than godly to earn their money.

    BTW, it was one of these pastors’ children that introduced a few of us to Pot smoking and drinking, some of those little habits he picked-up spending all Sunday in Bed-Stuy with his “church boys”.

    When I got older and moved on to Brooklyn myself I used to watch two little old ladies clean the street and line up rubber pylons so the good reverend could park his MB S500 nicely in the shade (this was on the side of the church not in the reserved area in front). Needless to say he too did not feel the need to live amoung those he preaches to.

    Back to the topic at hand;

    Preaching GOD’s word and being wealthy do NOT go hand in hand. Wealth by definitions is the accumulation of valuble, scares resources. One becomes wealthy by gaining control over said resources and limiting there distribution to your advantage. So to claim to be a man of god and to be on a quest to amass great wealth is at odds with each other.

    Oh, how much of that money that Bush was giving out did T.D. line his pockets with?

  2. Duane says:

    One man is selling crack in the ghetto and while another man is selling God!

    Notice the key word here is, “Selling”.

    And selling GOD is exactly T.D. Jakes’ business.

    The problem with your comparison here is that I do not think there are too many crack dealers out there who:

    –teach folks how to get out of debt.

    –provide counseling for drug addiction

    –provide counseling for those who wished to know more about investing

    –have and AIDS/HIV outreach program

    –ministry that addresses domestic violence

    –teach adult education classes enabling folks to get their GED

    –ManTalk – A program that brings in men from all walks of life who have succeeded in business, relationships, parenting, and provide advice on how to overcome addictions.

    –Provide employment in the community

    –Provide quarterly food drives

    –Provide training for those those who wish to become entrepreneurs (includes lender negotiations, market strategies, etc.)

    All of this can be found on the link below. His critics just have to be willing to get the entire story.

    http://thepottershouse.org/historicaltimeline/index.html

    Preaching GOD’s word and being wealthy do NOT go hand in hand. Wealth by definitions is the accumulation of valuble, scares resources. One becomes wealthy by gaining control over said resources and limiting there distribution to your advantage. So to claim to be a man of god and to be on a quest to amass great wealth is at odds with each other.

    Here is where I would have to strongly disagree with you. There are a few pastors I have in mind right now who became wealthy APART from their ministry. In other words, their ability to amass wealth was in no way, shape or form tied to the ministry. There are also plenty of Christian business organizations out there where some/many of its members are wealthy. Instead of gloating over their wealth, oftentimes they discuss how to reinvest part of their monies into worthy charitable organizations and ministries that are doing the work they simply are not able to do. I saw a clip not too long ago where one wealthy Christian businessman helped a couple of ladies during Katrina who took care of some of the mentally retarded who were affected by that storm.

    So while the world may be littered with some of the examples you have mentioned, fortunately, they do not represent the sum total of Christian preachers out there who are doing the work without a plan to get wealthy off of the backs off of folks who should know better.

  3. Wizz says:

    Why is it that the worst communities have the highest concentration of churches. I live in one of these bad neighborhoods and I literally have 7 churches within two blocks of my house. That is not a joke or exaggeration. And I don’t see ANY of them doing any of the things you listed. Not even the “big” one. They are doing no more than building bigger buildings. While people are outside shooting each other up with bullets and needles. Are there some good preachers?…. Sure. Are they doing much to help these neighborhoods? Not from my view. To me they are just giving people a place to go every Sunday and close their eyes. I wish those same people would go every Sunday morning to the local police station and demand some changes.

  4. Give it a rest! says:

    Duane,

    Unfortunately we cant have it both ways in this world. This is an issue that most black folks I know do have a problem with. We in the USA (Black, White, or whatever) live a lifestyle that is born out of our country’s control over a vast majority of the world’s wealth. I know that situation is changing fast so we can leave that story for another time.

    Paradoxically what makes us wealthy here makes many of black people around the world poor. Most of us like to consume such things like Coffee and Chocolate, yet we overlook that fact that there are many Africans without enough to eat because all the best farmland in their country is being used to grow commodity crops for export to US. The land is owned by major corporations that trade on NYSE and the profits go into our 401k accounts and IRAs. We as a people and country waste billions of dollars every year on bottled water, thereby making CLEAN WATER a commodity that poor people thoughout the world cant afford.

    Look, I have ZERO problems with the concept of wealth and how people acquire it. It is truly an UGLY business when we decide to actually open our eyes to what is really going on. For one man to gain generally another man MUST lose. The problem is whether we like it or not amassing wealth is an UNGODLY behavior. What I don’t like are hypocritical men and women that are willing to decive the masses into believing that as a pastor their wealth is somehow different than any other snake oil saleman.

    And yes, T.D Jakes does do some very good things for some but the truth of the matter is as an EXTREMELY wealthy American it is HIS interest that are being advanced by our immoral war in Iraq (directly and indirectly). He (personally) beneifits significantly from our nations current economic policies that do much damage to the poor he claims to serve.

    “Want the word of god according to T.D. Jakes, buy my book for $25.00!”

    Real GODLY, right!

    Charity, come on! Charity by the rich is when they rub some PH on your a$$ after they screw you over!

    It like when the landlord sends you a $10.00 turkey on thanksgiving after NOT providing heat and hot water all year long in your $2000 a month apt.

    Gee, he’s such a swell guy!

  5. Duane says:

    We in the USA (Black, White, or whatever) live a lifestyle that is born out of our country’s control over a vast majority of the world’s wealth.

    Not true.

    Look, I have ZERO problems with the concept of wealth and how people acquire it.

    I think you do. And you next comment proves that point.

    For one man to gain generally another man MUST lose.

    So this also must mean you are against heavily taxing the rich. Most economies are not zero-sum as you are suggesting here.

    Your assertion may hold true in many 3rd world countries that are ruled by dictator-type government, but not here in America. Let me give you an example of something I see practically everyday here in California

    >What you typically hear and see in the media regarding folks crossing our borders are the sad cases where they come to this country and are working for low wages to the benefit of big business owners. While that may be true, that is only part of the story. On a regular basis I see folks who can barely speak English passing out business cards to do things like lawn care, moving, etc. While this type of work alone does not place them in the $1 mil club, they oftentimes make enough to support their family and live in a decent house in a decent neighborhood. Something that every American shoots for.

    My point is this, in ANY demographic, you are going to have folks who are either going to sit on their behinds and do nothing for themselves and folks who are going to have the sense enough to get out there and make it happen. America may not be perfect, but folks around the world recognize this country as a place of opportunity FOR EVERYBODY. You yourself have a good job, make good money. Now point to the people who are at a loss because of YOUR personal success?

    The problem is whether we like it or not amassing wealth is an UNGODLY behavior

    Prove this in the Bible since you are injecting God into this claim.

    What I don’t like are hypocritical men and women that are willing to decive the masses into believing that as a pastor their wealth is somehow different than any other snake oil saleman.

    Again, show me a snake-oil salesman that does the things listed earlier.

    And yes, T.D Jakes does do some very good things for some but the truth of the matter is as an EXTREMELY wealthy American it is HIS interest that are being advanced by our immoral war in Iraq (directly and indirectly). He (personally) beneifits significantly from our nations current economic policies that do much damage to the poor he claims to serve.

    How so? Prove it. This I gotta hear.

    “Want the word of god according to T.D. Jakes, buy my book for $25.00!”

    Real GODLY, right!

    Now here is where I do agree with you. If someone truly has a word from the Lord, one should not have to pay for it. You will not find any example of this in the Bible. But again, who is making anyone pay for it in the first place? Personally, I have never heard or seen Jakes beg folks to buy his book unlike some others who are out there.

    Honestly, I think the hypocrisy that you should be addressing is not found in any church, but in your constant criticism of the American economic system all while you as a Black man have taken full advantage of it with apparently very little problems.

    While I may have some major disagreements with Jakes on theological grounds, there is not way I can minimize the good that he has done for so many struggling men, women, families that I know personally without the financial hook to his ministry.

  6. Give it a rest! says:

    Duane,

    Just because we do not see things happen with our own eyes do not mean that they do not happen.

    What I mean by this is there are many people, businesses and organizations that do some very good things in our communties to draw away any critism for all of the other negative stuff they are involved with.

    So if a “successful drug dealer” (I know, BS) is “giving back” to his/her community are they now worthy of praise? If he makes $10,000 per week selling crack but manages to return $2000 every week by giving out free food to the children of the parents he has hooked on drugs is he now a good guy?

    My point is that when you pull back the curtain on folks like T.D. Jakes you will find the same stuff going on. Granted, they might not be breaking the law like a drug dealer but for the amount of money they suck up into the ether (their personal pockets) whats the difference. I bet good ole pastor Jakes returns at best about $.002 for every dollar he makes off of black folks.

    Andrew Carnaige and his good pal Frick used to work men and women to death for substandard wages. To make themselves feel better they build some very nice librarys and parks around NYC and supported many charities that helped the poor.

    Can you see my point now! They really did not care about people. If they did they would have paid them well in the first place so they would not have been so poor. So let me get this correct it is ok to take a lot with your right hand as long as you are willing to give a little with your left.

    In a perfect world that Mexican dude would be gainfully employed in Mexico. There are many jobs down there, the problem is that they pay at best a poverty wage that does not even make life in Mexico remotely comfortable. This is because the majority of factory work involves making LOW PRICED stuff for greedy Americans who view it as their birth right to consume more than they need because it all so “cheap” at Walmart.

    Dont you get Duane, people around the world are straving because WE pay $100 for sneakers that Nike only pays $8.00 to make because they are only paying some unlucky bastard $0.50 per hour to make them. In America the minimum is at least $8.00 per hour.

    If we want to analysis everything from a Christian perspective we will NEVER find the moral high ground to stand on. That is why it is important to remember that everything is relative to the situation at hand.

    That is why I find disdain for the religious “$uperstar$” of America.

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