080315wrightobamahmed7ahmedium_2 Like him or not Jeremiah Wright is your brother in Christ if you are a Christian. I know, some readers will choke and fume and react and then say, "That is simply not possible." I am really not talking to you because you have already  determined who is and is not a Christian based upon what you hear and read, not upon the New Testament criteria themselves. (It is not your vocation, I can assure you, to make these kinds of determinations in the first place but never tell that to a person who "knows" that they "know" who is and is not a Christian!)

The biblical criteria are simple: (1) Confess faith in Christ the Lord who is risen (2) Be a baptized follower of the Savior in the fellowship of his Church. Since none of us lives the life of Christ with even the remotest perfection then all such standards should be jettisoned by people of real charity. Wright, by these and many other standards, is my brother. I do not agree with him at times, as I have noted, but then I don’t agree with a lot of my brothers and sisters about a lot of things.

This all comes down to charity, true Christian charity. You can dislike the man’s statements, you can accuse him as you wish, but don’t be surprised when you meet him in the presence of Christ someday.

Is it possible that we could agree on this much? In conservative white America I doubt it. The well is so poisoned by hate, and by vicious hate speech, that we do not care who might actually be our brothers and sisters. And yet we wonder why the younger generation is leaving the church in droves.

Jasonbyassee_2My good friend Jayson Byassee, who speaks for us at our first ACT 3 Luncheon in two weeks (see www.act3online.com to sign up), had an article in Christianity Today yesterday that sums up what I feel very well. I encourage you to read it for yourself.

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  1. Bob from Atlanta May 8, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Regarding criterion #2, can it be true of someone who is in the fellowship of a church that denies the resurrection?

  2. Chris Criminger May 8, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Hi John,
    There is no question to me that Jeremiah Wright is my brother in the Lord but the more provocative question is Obama or McCain my brother in Christ?
    Obama hardly ever goes to church and one wonders how deep his faith really goes? Then there is McCain who says he is a practicing Christian but he is neither a baptized believer nor does he view himself as a “born-again” Christian? So what kind of Christians are Obama and McCain?
    McCain won’t talk about it and Obama only makes very general comments and never goes into details so how are we to know?
    I probably respect Obama more on this issue in that he will at least talk about it a little whereas McCain won’t and simply says his faith is a private issue between him and God.
    I suspect Obama will be our next President and I pray that his faith and commitment to Christ will grow or ‘come alive’ with the huge responsibility he will undertake as commander and chief. May God give us all the grace to be fully alive in Christ as we face the future together.

  3. George C May 8, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    I definitely think that Christians look at people as in or out much more than they should. I have no qualms with assuming that Wright is indeed a brother in Christ with me, but at the same time, I have no problem questioning his teachings and character; both of which I think are very much lacking for anyone who is claiming to be qualified to lead the Church.

  4. Gene Redlin May 8, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Then, where is the line for the men Paul warned against, the “So Called Brother”?
    I’m not persuaded he falls on the side of the argument you make. We all know of men who name the name of Jesus and yet are vile. Rev Fred Phelps, the guy from Kansas who protests the funerals of soldiers . Is he also my brother? Where’s the line? Or is there one?
    What of the John Birch Society, the KKK those who put out the newsletters I saw as a Child, The Cross and the Flag. They named the Name of Jesus big time as justification fo their actions in bigotry.
    Brothers or no.
    There are warnings about people who cause dissensions by teaching doctrine directly opposed to what Christians already know to be true (Rom. 16:17; Tit. 3:10-11). There are warnings about those who claim to love God but do not love God’s people (1 John 4:20; 5:1), and who deliberately break away from the church on the basis of perverted doctrine (1 John 2:19). Finally, there are warnings against adding to or taking away from the words of prophetic Scripture (Rev. 22:18-19) or twisting the Scriptures (2 Pet. 3:16).
    I find this “brother” Wright in full question when measured against the standard of these scriptures.

  5. molly May 9, 2008 at 12:08 am

    I am so thankful for your voice, John. The “white church” is so blinded by their inherent institutationalized racism. That’s not to say that Dr. Wright is infallible, but just that I’m glad someone out there is raising the question, “Why does Wright make us so darn mad?” I have a feeling the answer to the question isn’t what we’d like to hear. 🙁

  6. c May 9, 2008 at 8:29 am

    I agree with Molly’s words.
    I watched his entire speech at the National Press Club on Youtube, including the Q&A. Honestly, I do not understand why the media blew it up so much. It was obvious in the Press Club’s questions that they were trying to provoke more soundbytes (Sample questions: Is Islam a way to salvation if you yourself believe Jesus is the only way? Do you think it’s God’s will for Obama to be president?)
    I thought he handed these questions well, even though they were specifically set up to trap him (reminds me of another group in the Bible who had these “trap questions.”) When asked how white and black churches can reconcile, he stated:
    “Well, there are many white churches and white persons who are members of churches and clergy and denominations who have already taken great steps in terms of reconciliation.
    In the underground railroad, it was the white church that played the largest role in getting Africans out of slavery. In setting up almost all 40 of the HBCUs, it was the white church that sent missionaries into the south.”

  7. Gene Redlin May 9, 2008 at 9:59 am

    RE Molly and C’s comments. What I also see is a subtle racism that is driven by dialog and not by action.
    Here’s what it sounds like:
    Let’s TALK about the need to understand. Let’s TALK about the desire to fellowship. Let’s TALK about our differences.
    Earlier I asked, What am I supposed to understand?
    Here’s the rub.
    Racism is accentuating differences. Understanding the difference only defines it. It doesn’t change anything. We get universal acceptance of our differences and perhaps our similarities. We all feel better and go back to our segregated friendships, neighborhoods and churches.
    Pure Racism.
    You want to overcome white racism in the church.
    ENGAGE. Go to the places the people you want to understand are. Get into their lives. Hear their hurts. Feel their frustration. Know their anger. Sense their hopelessness. AND THEN, encourage them, don’t commiserate with their victimhood. Help them OUT , not with a hand out. That too is white guilt racism.
    Too much talk, too much embracing identity victimology like Wright has promulgated people to think they are doing something about racism. The man should be denounced for the effect he has on the black community. Not understood.
    I have a suggestion. I’ll bet you have a neighborhood near you where you can find people of color who are poor and downtrodden. Go there. Don’t ever go back to your white church for a year.
    Many of these people don’t have cars. You drive out of the nice lily white suburbs and go pick them up and go to church with them. Take them grocery shopping. Let them pay for it. But carry their groceries. Be their servant. Be their driver.
    Take them out to a nice coffee shop and listen to the stories they tell. Become transparent about your own pain with them.
    Get involved in their lives. Deeply. Daily.
    You’ll soon start to see why and how a Jeremiah Wright aggravates the situation between races. He isn’t helping with his conspiracy theories.
    Your desire to understand and dialog with demagoguery will disappear as your compassion and love for these people who so much need hope and not someone to blame (of a different race) become your friends.
    I speak from first hand experience. I have done and do this.
    When you do you will have earned the right to be listened to in your demand for dialog.
    Anything less than action is actually at it’s real root racism.
    Sorry folks, you don’t understand what real racism is. Get involved and you will.

  8. c May 11, 2008 at 12:09 am

    With all due respect, I think you need some humility.

  9. Adam S May 12, 2008 at 9:03 am

    My issues with a lot of the complaints about whether Wright is a brother or not seem to ignore what seems to me to be the central point, our behavior. If you read through the comments on the Christianity Today article it is filled with vitriol that should never be coming out of a Christian’s mouth. A woman actually wishes for Wright’s death, decent into hell and says she will celebrate at that time. A central teaching of Jesus is that we should be loving toward our enemies. So to me it matters not a whole lot whether Wright is a brother in Christ or not (I believe he is), because whether or not he is we are still required under our faith in Jesus Christ to love him and treat him well. Treating him well includes listening to the whole of what he has to say, being generous in our listening, and not calling for his death. That doesn’t mean we can’t disagree. Disagree, but do it lovingly. Until we can figure that out, we will never impact culture.

  10. RogerC May 12, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Being from the south, I have known of a few “card carrying” members of the KKK who also claimed to be Christian. I guess I have no reason to doubt it. It sure would be interesting to see a meeting in heaven between them and brother Wright, wouldn’t it!

  11. Elder Hoss May 15, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Brother John:
    This would be an instance where I would demur rather markedly from your otherwise sagacious (and always engaging) posts.
    Your assessment fails (terribly so) to do justice to both the confessional boundary markers (ie, “the marks”, viz. Belgic 29), and more importantly, such biblical testimony as the patent warnings of the first few chapters of Revelation.
    Wright and his church welcome sodomite behavior, link the struggle of homosexuals with the struggle of black-Americans, and – at their very core – relay upon that fraud “Karl Marx Meets Stokely Charmichael” heretical theology spawned by Cone et co., during the Woodstock generation….
    We should no more envision Jeremiah Wright as a brother as Machen or John Murray would Harry Emerson Fosdick, unless, even as a recent reply noted, we have in mind the “false brethren” moniker utilized by Paul.
    Jeremiah Wright would be excommunicated by any orthodox communion, conceived even in the broadest sense.

  12. Elder Hoss May 16, 2008 at 11:30 am

    ..Then also, Wright’s transmogrifying “election” to be that of a divine status resting upon “the oppressed” rather than the Bible’s portrayal of the “elect” as those who are “in Christ.”
    This all hearkens back to Cone’s perversion of biblical teaching, leaving men and women to glory in the flesh (“blackness”, or “oppression”) rather than in the cross. What could be more detestable of an error than so slighting the work of our Lord Jesus?
    The Christian Century writer cited in Christianity Today (the ‘twain now appear one!) as well as others, should think carefullly about this extolling of blackness and oppression, not only in view of what Scripture teaches to the contrary, but also, evidentially, n view of Wright’s 10,000 sq ft home in a rich white neighborhood, his $10m credit line, and his $150,000 Mercedes. The man is an injustice-collecting fraud, and part of an apostate communion (UCC).

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