It’s tempting to see figures like Cone and Wright as fringe actors with no constituency in the wider black community. Yet Cone considers himself to be the natural successor to Martin Luther King, Jr., and not everyone finds the comparison jarring.
Similarly with Rev. Wright. At a summit of black pastors held shortly after the recent controversy broke, many defended Wright’s sermons as part of the “prophetic preaching” tradition embodied by the assassinated civil rights leader.
Said Rev. Frederick Haynes III, senior pastor at Friendship West Baptist Church: ‘If Martin Luther King, Jr. were pastoring a church today, it would look very much like Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois, and the sermons you would hear him preach would sound very much’ like Wright’s.
Stacey Floyd-Thomas, who teaches ethics and serves as Director of black church studies at Brite Divinity School in Texas, explained that King, foreshadowing Wright, had once called America ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.’ Moreover, said Floyd-Thomas, King was assassinated before he could deliver his scheduled Sunday sermon entitled ‘Why America May Go to Hell.’
Black Liberation Theology, in short, cannot be dismissed as a minority view. Americans are thus left with the troubling knowledge that millions of their fellow citizens consider them to be ‘devils,’ having been taught to think this way by their religious leaders. They must wonder, too, why they should entrust the presidency to a man who has surrounded himself with those who actively despise the very country he seeks to lead.
I wasn’t able to squeeze in anything about a heretical aspect of Wright/Cone’s teachings and attitudes that I haven’t seen anywhere else. (Perhaps because I’m seeing a heresy where none exists…)
But take Rev. Wright’s overheated interview with Sean Hannity over a year ago. He asks petulantly again and again: “Have you ever read XYZ? Do you know anything about XYZ?”
And Cone himself has been quoted as saying (again, somewhat snidely): “I’m sure Obama would be able to understand black liberation theology if it were explained to him.”
I detect a whiff of Gnosticism in all this.
The oldest heresy, Gnositicism is (to vastly oversimplify) the very unChristian notion that Jesus’ teachings are only comprensible to an enlightened elite few.
That Jesus preached to thousands of ordinary people, and interacted with people from every strata of society is something Gnostics conveniently ignore. The impulse to Gnosticism is stronger than common sense or the (mundane) facts: it is the very human desire to feel superior to “the crowd”. And so it will never be completely wiped out, even at this late date.
That two men with PhD’s present themselves as “men of the people” and leaders of a perpetual victim group, while preaching an elitist theology is pretty comical.