A comment appeared on the third installment of this series, one which, to some extent provides a natural segue to the rest of this series. But that isn't the only reason for my decision to not only leave the anonymous commenter's words on this site, but to address the opinions expressed there.
Another big reason is that this commenter's words reflect such a misunderstanding of what I have been saying here, I can only conclude that I haven't been effectively communicating in the first three installments. In short, I have experienced no change of perspective on Jeremiah Wright's public pronouncements. My goal has been fairness throughout. More on that momentarily.
The commenter writes under the pseudonym of adept2u. Below are extracts from the comments, in green, followed by my responses:
Judge not lest ye be judged...Good words! They're from Jesus, cited, among other places in Luke 6:37:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven..."It is absolutely wrong for Christians to apply standards to other Christians they would not apply to themselves. We know that all people are sinners who fall short of the glory of God. Christians believe that we are saved by God's grace and not because of moral superiority. So far as I know, I have not violated Jesus' directive against judging in my words about Pastor Wright's public communications. I have attempted to be fair and gracious, striving to do unto Pastor Wright what I would hope that he would do unto me.
But we members of "the one holy, catholic, apostolic Church," the body of Christ, also are called upon to make judgments about what is right and wrong, what will advance and what will harm the witness of Christ and the Church each and every day.
Let me be honest: I am imperfect. I am a sinner. I do things that displease my Lord. Each day, I approach the Lord with a list of my most recent sins and I repent for them, seeking God's forgiveness and the capacity to love God and neighbor more faithfully each day.
But that doesn't mean that when another Christian leader or layperson create what I think is a misconception of Christian faith, I should keep silent. When people like Pat Robertson (also here) and James Dobson have given the general public wrong ideas about Christ or the Church, I have spoken up. I imagine that Pastor Wright has done this as well. That's not judging; that's witnessing. In some cases, it's leadership. As Pastor Gerald Mann has noted, sometimes it seems that the primary job of Christians is cleaning up the bad reputation given to God by Christians. That's one of the purposes of this series, to analyze some of Jeremiah Wright's public pronouncements from the perspective of Christian faith, and not just as political statements, the way the news media and many bloggers were analyzing them.
Next, adept2u writes:
I'm glad you finally had took the opportunity to view the Rev. Wright through your lens, but do you remember the charactherizaitons you made before you were so kind to actually listen to the mans words. I believe you called his expressions hateful, anti semetic as well as several other things.Actually, I had listened to the post-9/11 sermon even before I wrote the first installment of this series. In the first installment, I alluded to several things that Pastor Wright had said or promoted and wrote:
Earlier this evening, CNN gave heavy coverage to articles by Wright and by a Hamas functionary which appeared last year in Trinity's bulletin. Some of the comments were antisemitic. Others were anti-Israel and some anti-Italian, replete with racial and ethnic slurs. Let me hasten to say that talk like this has no place in Christian discourse. In the most famous passage in the New Testament, Jesus told Nicodemus that God so "love the world," that's everybody.I stand by what I wrote there. But I hope that what I have presented here thus far will contribute to a fuller picture of Reverend Wright. He appears to be one who strives to be faithful to Christ, but who has expressed some really hateful notions, notions contrary to the character and will of Christ. He appears to be, like me, saint and sinner. But he seems not to perceive the hatefulness or the prejudices of some of the ideas he embraces. (More on that in the next installment of this series, I hope.)
Skipping ahead, adept2u writes:
I hope you will now endeavor to correct people when the call the Rev. Wright hateful etc, and I believe you further owe him an apology.I agree with Martin Luther's understanding of what we Lutherans render as the Eighth Commandment (You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor):
We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.Part of what I have tried to do in this series is to fairly understand Jeremiah Wright. I do this in part, in response to Senator Obama's call for building bridges of understanding across the racial divide in this country. But mostly I do it out of simple Christian duty. It is my responsibility as a Christian to attempt to understand my neighbor and to put the most charitable construction on what my neighbor thinks, says, and does.
But I have a higher duty to Christ, the Lord Who saved me. I must speak the truth about Christ as a loving Savior Who doesn't like ethnic stereotyping, for example.
Near the end of adept2u's comments, we read:
I also feel I must let you know that no one and especially the Trinity UCC is going to cry one tear if you would not grace that church with your presense. The days of black people having to cow tow and beg for the acceptance of the likes of you is blessedly passed.I don't know what my "likes" are, but I can assure you that nobody has to kowtow to me. I want no one to do so.
But I also hope that our churches can be places where all we recovering sinners come to wrestle with the reality of our own sin and be empowered to live with love, confidence, and hope because, through the Savior Jesus Christ, repentant sinners are transformed by God from His enemies to His friends. Based on what I have learned about Trinity United Church of Christ, I'm confident that I would receive a warm and loving welcome if I showed up for worship there.
Onto that analysis of some of Jeremiah Wright's more disturbing public communications in the next post, I hope.
[The first three installments of this series can be found here, here, and here.]