AN EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH

Written by Robert Stultz Williams, Jr.

The signs of the times are unequivocal.  This assertion is objectified in, particularly, the very recent events regarding the disreputable homicides of unarmed African-American Citizens by individuals in respective police departments abounding from Ferguson, Cleveland, Queens and Baltimore.  We are all mindful that this is not the total story respecting law enforcement as we are in retrospection of persons, of all races and/or persuasions, that have been dehumanized and devalued because of unbridled policing methods demonstrated in merciless beatings, filthy and offensive language, and in falsifying reports.  Small wonder a Seer, from our generation, would label this situation as “official lawlessness”; pressed and uniformed but lawless; badged of office but lawless; armed and readied but lawless.

At all events, there must be an unchallengeable concern for the predicament that seems to have quarantined our immediate community.   There is a threat from “within”, and it is nihilistic in character:  the proliferation of gun violence has reached calamitous  proportions; people of all ages, male and female, are wiped out before they can experience their birthright potential; there is disrespect for one’s self and, thus, disrespect towards others.  Our  citizenry has been stultified and    decelerated because of hatred, hostility jealousy.  Yes, we have made  great strides, and yes there are yet more to be made.

In our community different sorts of organizations exist in their quest to advocate the desires of their  constituency.  Nevertheless, the  Black Church is the most  authentic representation of what it means to be an African-American.   C. Eric Lincoln served word:  the church was the black man’s government, his social club, his political party, and his  impetus to freedom.  Theologian Major Jones affirmed:  the church was a creation of a people whose daily existence was filled with encounter after encounter with the extensive dehumanizing reality of slavery.  It is no small wonder, then, that the church became the one source of personal identity and  sense of community with others.  There must be a great appreciation for this legacy, this heritage if the church is going to be a part of the dynamic that champions the pursuit of freedom pictured in the social, political and economic realms; and, more could be accomplished when there is a fuller understanding of the social context of theology.

In our community different sorts of organizations exist in their quest to advocate the desires of their constituency.  Nevertheless, the Black Church is the most authentic representation of what it means to be an African-American.   C. Eric Lincoln served word:  the church was the black man’s government, his social club, his political party, and his impetus to freedom.  Theologian Major Jones affirmed:  the church was a creation of a people whose daily existence was filled with encounter after encounter with the extensive dehumanizing reality of slavery.  It is no small wonder, then, that the church became the one source of personal identity and sense of community with others.  There must be a great appreciation for this legacy, this heritage if the church is going to be a part of the dynamic that champions the pursuit of freedom pictured in the social, political and  economic realms; and, more could be accomplished when there is a fuller understanding of the social context of theology.

In his book, The Problem Of Christianity, American Idealist Philosopher Josiah Royce informs:  when the Christian Church began, in the Apostolic Age, to take visible form, the idea of the mission of the church expressed the meaning which the Christian community came to attach to social implications of the founder’s doctrine.  What was merely hinted in the parables now became explicit.  The kingdom of heaven was to be realized in and through and for the church, in the fellowship of the faithful who constituted the church as it was on earth.

In The Creative Encounter, Theologian and Philosopher Howard Thurman makes the assertion: the profoundest disclosure in the religious experience is the awareness that the individual is not alone.  What he discovers as being true and valid for himself must at last be a universal experience, or else it ultimately loses all its personal significance. His experience is personal, but in no sense exclusive.   All of the vision of God and holiness which he experiences, he must achieve in the context of the social situation by which his day-by-day life is defined.  What is disclosed in his religious experience he must define in community.

In The Creative Encounter, Theologian and Philosopher Howard Thurman makes the assertion:  the profoundest disclosure in the religious experience is the awareness that the individual is not alone.  What he discovers as being true and valid for himself must at last be a universal experience, or else it ultimately loses all its personal significance.  His experience is personal, but in no sense exclusive.  All of the vision of God and holiness which he experiences, he must achieve in the context of the    social situation by which his day-by-day life is defined.  What is disclosed in his religious experience he must define in community.

We have a sacred and ineffable commission to share and impart the precious gift of salvation with others.  We are not to lie down or recline in spiritual resignation because deliverance is needed both personally and  socially.  Woe to them that are at ease in Zion…!  (Amos 6:1)

Robert Stultz Williams, Jr.
Author:  Spiritual Mind Dynamics (Successful Living)

July 2015

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