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The Black Church and the Eschaton

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The Black Church and the Eschaton
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  Evan R. Bunch Final Constructive II Paper April 28th, 2017 Come Ye, All That Are Blessed: The Black Church and the Eschaton Dr. James Cone once said, “ The truth about injustice always sounds outrageous.” Undoubtedly, truth is in competition with alternative facts. Black folks experiences are null and void to a white-heteropatriarchal-capitalist-ablest-hegemonic system. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos claims, that HBCUs’ are pioneers of school choice 1 , and well known and widely used publishing company McGraw-Hill Education, attempted to rename the slave trade to immigration in their textbooks. 2  These are only recent acts to attempt to erase the Black experience in this country. Like Dr. William Edward Burghardt DuBois who lived and  prophesied between the period of Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, concretized the necessity of the black church by explicating, Take a typical church in a small Virginia town: it is the “First Baptist” - a roomy  brick edifice seating five hundred or more person, tastefully finished in Georgia  pine, with a carpet, a small organ, and stained glass windows. Underneath is a large assembly room with benches. This building is the central clubhouse of a community of a thousand or more Negroes. Various organization meet here, - the church proper, the Sunday school, two or three insurance societies, women's societies, secret society, and mass meetings of various kinds. Entertainments, suppers, and lectures are held beside the five or six regular weekly religious 1   "Devos Called Hbcus ‘Pioneers’ Of ‘School Choice.’ It Didn’T Go Over Well.", Washington Post  , last modified 2017, accessed April 27, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/02/28/devos-called-hbcus-pioneers-of-school-choice-it-didnt-go-over-well/?utm_term=.131269bcc89d.  2  Manny Hauser, "Texas Mother Teaches Textbook Company A Lesson On Accuracy", Nytimes.Com , last modified 2017, accessed April 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/06/us/publisher-promises-revisions-after-textbook-refers-to-african-slaves-as-workers.html?_r=0.   services. Considerable sums of money are collected and expended here, employment is found for the idle, strangers are introduced, news is disseminated and charity distributed. 3  The Negro church consisted of worship, societal gatherings, and moral direction. The Negro church was the meeting place that gave the final word of what is morally good and bad for society. Consequently, slavery and Jim Crow South were the moral equivalence to hell in the  Negro church. Societal laws and de facto judicial rulings did not dictate Negro thought. The Black church was the alternative source for how to live in a imperialist society like the U.S. This paper will explore the doctrine of the Church and doctrine of Eschatology in relation to the Black Church. The Black church may not be living with Jim Crow laws or Plessy v. Ferguson, however, African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population, 4  in the 20 states with the largest numbers of Black women working full time, year round, pay for Black women ranges from 48 to 69 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men in those states, 5  a report on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights indicates anti-LGBT violence claimed the lives of at least 594 people in the Western Hemisphere  between Jan. 1, 2013, and March 31 2014, 6  and according to the Malcolm X Grassroots movement, in 2012, police summarily executed more than 313 Black people  —  one every 28 3  William Edward Burghardt Dubois, Donald Gibson and Monica M Elbert, The Souls Of Black Folk  , 1st ed. (Penguin Books, 1989) 157. 4  "NAACP | Criminal Justice Fact Sheet", NAACP  , last modified 2017, accessed April 27, 2017, http://www.naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/.  5  , 2017, accessed April 27, 2017, http://www.nationalpartnership.org/research-library/workplace-fairness/fair-pay/african-american-women-wage-gap.pdf.  6  Michael Lavers, "Nearly 600 LGBT People Murdered In Americas In 15 Months", Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights , last modified 2017, accessed April 27, 2017, http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/12/20/report-594-lgbt-people-murdered-americas-15-month-period/.   hours. The Black church is under incredible assault against the white supremacist establishment and thus, how can the doctrine of the church be of use to the black church under said treatment? After looking at the doctrine of the church I will turn to the doctrine of eschatology where I will utilize Dr. James Cone understandings of eschatology to focus on the here and now, to create an eschaton we can build with our own hands. We should not have a disabled posture when thinking of the final victory but rather what can we do now to actuate an earthly paradise for all to participate in. What are the factors that need to be put in place to realize that we can change things for the better while we are here on earth? When I say church, I mean the Christian church movement. Dr. James H. Evans, highly esteemed systematic theologian and Professor at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, demonstrates a constructive proposal for the church by looking at how race divides the church and can possibly unify the church. In the book Constructive Theology, Dr. Evans argues that the Church has mandates such as kerygma, koinonia, diakonia, and didache as true treasures of the church. Kerygma is the message of Christ, koinonia is the fellowship of the saints, diakonia is the service of the church, and didache is the teaching of the church. For Dr. Evans, the message of Christ must be understood within a definite context. 7  In the second chapter of Acts we see the message being understood among various cultures, languages, and yet they all understood. It highlights the fact that one cannot understand nor appreciate the gospel outside of the racial and cultural context in which it is made manifest, in this case, the Black Church. 8  The Black Church, born out of slavery, the kerygma was operating in a slave context. This led Rev. Absalom Jones in 1808 to preach his famous Thanksgiving sermon in commemorating 7  Serene Jones and Paul Lakeland, Constructive Theology  , 1st ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005) 222.  8  Jones, Lakeland, Constructive, 222.  the end of legal importation of slaves into the United States. He said, “The great and blessed event, which we have this day met to celebrate, is a striking proof, that the God of heaven and earth is the same, yesterday, and to-day, and forever.  Yes, my brethren, the nations from which most of us have descended, and the country in which some of us were born, have been visited by the tender mercy of the Common Father of the human race.” 9  The message of Christ in the  beginnings of the Black church was always centering the urgency to be freed from slavery. In 1808 that was not a reality yet but the sermon demonstrates that it was the hope of the sermon. Inevitably, prior and future sermons centered the need to be free from the bondage of slavery. This is what Black Megachurches and Word Churches often leave out; which is the proven  power of the Kerygma of Christ to deliver black folks from sociopolitical circumstances. When you center the needs of the Black Church you manifest koinonia in the church. What is collectively felt in the congregation should ultimately unify the people. The message of Christ consists of the human experience seeking refuge in the divine. In the time of slavery, Jim Crow South, Apartheid, post racial society, solidarity among folks in the Black Church is a serious  bond. If one is perceived to be catering to whiteness over and against black folks they are seen as an Uncle Tom. A black folk liberation is wrapped up in each other in such a way if a Black  person operates in opposition to the Black church or the collective need to be free, they are an Uncle Tom. Once Koinonia is established and felt among the congregants, diakonia can truly take place. Trust in the midst of oppression is more important than love. Koinonia is important to feel among each other but can you be trusted with maintaining that love by showing up for each other is a harder mandate. To turn to the other and be a neighbor to those who need to 9  "A Thanksgiving Sermon (XHTML) —  Antislavery Literature Project",  Antislavery.Eserver.Org  , last modified 2017, accessed April 27, 2017, http://antislavery.eserver.org/religious/absalomjones/religious/absalomjones/absalomjones.html.    partake of resources that you have enjoyed. Lastly, continue this life of the church through the didache. To perpetuate the message, fellowship, and service of Christ everywhere one goes. Dr. Evans exposes the Word church and Mega church movements that cherry picks from traditional evangelical, liberal, and conservative frameworks to fit their individual product of revelatory knowledge but no real substance in any framework. Consequently, in the Black Church, this is a departure from the church as club house that meets every need of the member. Unlike the white church in the U.S. that was birthed from a white centered U.S.A. patriotism and colonialism, the Black Church was building itself in opposition to white settlers that produced laws that denied black folks access to public office, proper education, good paying jobs, housing, good healthcare, and full human expression in society. When the white supremacist society attempted to limit our resources the Black Church took up the slack. Black Word Churches and Megachurches produces a similar message that does more to indoctrinate someone into the status quo but not prepare them with tools to undo or combat the racial prejudice operating within the status quo. Another plague in the black church is Patriarchy. Famed activist, writer, and Black Feminist Audre Lorde once said, “I am a Black Feminist. I mean I recognize that my power as well as my  primary oppressions come as a result of my blackness as well as my womaness, and therefore my struggles on both of these fronts are inseparable. 10  In other words, the Black church is full of  black folks which include black women, whose oppression is twofold: being black and being women. Consequently, the black church has seen hurt many black women when it comes to ordination, public humiliation when it comes to having children out of wedlock via placing them in the front of the church and chastising them, and blocked from pastoral positions and national 10  "12 Great Black Feminist Quotes - EBONY", EBONY  , last modified 2017, accessed April 28, 2017, http://www.ebony.com/news-views/12-great-black-feminist-quotes-405#axzz4fZzKxK6d. 
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