17 January 2007

The Dream That Remains A Dream

In March of 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr.Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.
The eloquence of his oratory matched the conviction of his heart.
His words were the revelations of a visionary leader of a movement that would neither ultimately succeed nor ultimately fail.
Peter Marshall, late Chaplain of the US Senate said, “I would rather fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail.”
The speech was filled with imagery that stirred the imagination and kindled the fires of emotion in Americans who were exhorted to take responsible, peaceful action toward the elimination of racism in America.
In contrast to the voice of pacifism and non-violence, there were the voices that advocated violence and were opposed to the mainstream message and methods of the movement.
These voices devastated the hopes for a true coalition of black leadership.The message of rage and racism within the Black Power Movement was articulated by Malcom X, Stokely Carmichael, Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Angela Davis and lesser known indiviuals. They represented The Nation of Islam, SNCC, The Black Panthers and other groups. More voices of opposition added to the turmoil. George Lincoln Rockwell spewed forth his Aryan rhetoric through the American Nazi Party and of course there was the ever present K.K.K.
These were the days of white faced mobs, springing up like hedges along the Civil Rights Marchers pathways, faces snarled with hatred and spitting venemous words of scorn at them.
These were the days of the famous and the infamous proving, once again, that the Bible accurately describes humanity as being depraved, wicked and sinful, (Mt. 15:18-20).
But, these were also the days of seeing the gift of a moral conscience because we are created in the image of God, yet marred by sin. A conscience that can still respond to the inequities in our society that are the result of our common sinfulness (Rom.3:23).
From Selma to Memphis, the consequences of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden were repeatedly illustrated and seared into the memories of a generation.
But Dr.King had a dream.
Curiously, there was one voice that was ambivalent and strangely silent. Barely a whisper came from this voice although it had a presence in every urban center, suburb and rural area of America. Generally, the voice of the “evangelical” white church was not heard.
Jews, Catholics and “Christians” from the mainline and liberal churches were in the mix. Some were killed - black, white, Jew and Gentile. But where was the “evangelical” church, white or otherwise.
This brings us to the essential factor as to why the Civil Rights Movement did not ultimately succeed nor can it succeed as men might hope it will. The underlying theological presuppositions upon which the movement was based were not biblical. The presuppositions of the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man are contrary to our biblical understanding of man.
The key theological presupposition in the “I Have A Dream” speech is evident:
"And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when
we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from
every state and every city, we will be able to speed up
that day when all of God's children (author’s emphasis), black men and white
men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be
able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro
spiritual, Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty,
we are free at last."
The freedom and brotherhood that Dr. King so earnestly desired cannot become a reality when we honestly and biblically assess human nature. Human nature is bound as a slave to sin (Rom.6:17). Without the Gospel and the reconciliation of God and man first, there can be no true reconciliation between men (Eph.2:14-17).
God is the Creator of all and the Father only of those who believe in Christ and repent of their sin.
To be free at last can only be accomplished through the cross and Christ’s resurrection.
Without Christ, the dream is a humanistic desire for a Camelot that man can never create. There was no happy everaftering for King Arthur, nor is there for us, unless Christ is our King and Sovereign Lord.
Many of the leaders in the movement were also trained in Eastern Mysticism meditation techniques and they embraced the philosophy of Mahatmas Ghandi which only obscured the truth of Scripture. Hindus and Brahmans and other Eastern religions believe in the universal fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man and that many roads lead to heaven. This is anti-Christian.
Why were these ministers of the gospel so eager to embrace teachings that are so far removed from the truth of the Bible?
Although I do not agree with the theology of either Dr. King or Billy Graham, can you imagine what might have been if Billy Graham and Dr. King held a joint evangelistic crusade in Selma, Birmingham, Atlanta or Memphis?
Can you imagine addressing racial prejudice by preaching the gospel and being ministers of reconciliation in our multicultural societies today or tomorrow?
Would Dr. King envision that the body of Christ, at least as he understood it, with it’s many hues, continues to and may even take the lead in promoting segregation in America forty-four years after saying, “I have a dream...”.
A more in depth article is available at www.fbceny.org/articles/king1.pdf


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