Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, May 03, 2008

God Damn America-What Kind of God do you Serve

Adventist Today offers an opinion piece by John Thomas McLarty entitled Is Jeremiah Wright Right? The article begins:

"God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme." -Rev. Jeremiah Wright, 2003

Jeremiah Wright is right. I do not mean I agree with every fact asserted by Mr. Wright, though most of his assertions are incontrovertible historical facts. I don't even mean that I agree with every moral valuation assigned by Mr. Wright. But Wright is right when he weighs our country, the United States of America, on the scales of justice and finds us wanting. Wright is right to employ the most forceful moral language available to describe our culpability. He is right to speak dramatically in his appeal for divine action in response to America's history of slavery, Jim Crow legislation, deeply embedded social evil and ignoble military actions.

It is an amazing piece of propaganda which though mainly uniformed is the traditional viewpoint found in the Seattle area. To say that Wright uses incontrovertible historical facts is strange to say the least. It is similar to saying that the towers destroyed in the 9-11 attack was the result of the Jewish conspiracy. Yes it is an historical fact that the towers were destroyed on 9-11 but the conclusion about the Jewish conspiracy is baseless. That is what Wright does. HIV was created by the US government to kill black people. “The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government lied.”

Feel free to listen to one of Wright’s sermons; listen here. You will hear numerous political fantasies of the type that Bush lied about WMD’s or that the Supreme Court gave the election to Bush in 2000. The connection to Barack Obama is something every voter has to decide for themselves but the statement that Wright is Right is so wrong on so many levels.

The main level I want to write about here is that first line quoted in McLarty’s article with a little more context:

"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

How can any Pastor resort to calls for the all powerful and loving God to damn a country? Is God against the idea of building prisons or passing laws extending prison sentences for three time offenders? The part about the government giving them drugs is more factual nonsense whether John McLarty thinks it is incontrovertible or not. Is it in the Bible that God damns countries, does He damn anyone? What kind of God does Rev. Wright and according to this article, John McLarty, serve?

I did a search of three Bible versions, the NRSV, NIV and KJV and could not find one instance of “damn”. Where does this idea of God damning people come from? To explain where Rev. Wright gets his authority to say that God damns America he explains a few sentences later.

"Tell your neighbor he's (going to) help us one last time. Turn back and say forgive him for the God Damn, that's in the Bible though. Blessings and curses is in the Bible. It's in the Bible."

So we realize that to people like Wright and extension McLarty God is still blessing and cursing nations. Because there is a reference to blessing and cursing Israel as well as curses for some of Israel’s neighbors. After all the argument goes God destroyed the world with the flood isn’t that a good God Damn. Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed by fire and left desolate. That must be the way God acts right? God can kill the innocent by flood and fire, think of all those children destroyed by the flood or in Sodom, but we as America are damned for destroying Japanese cities to end their war of aggression with us. Collateral damage is acceptable when God destroys everything but not acceptable when it happens in a war where an aggressor attacks and kills people of another nation and that nation fights back. Do you see the problem here? The Almighty God destroys the whole earth to kill wicked people. Why not just destroy the people and individual lightning strike for each sinner that should not be too hard. No collateral damage, instead God destroys plants and animals just to get at the wicked except a few in the ark.

The story does not add up with God it does not add up with a normal intelligent human. But it becomes the pretext for making God as the one who makes everything better by destroying it. Of course the earth was not any better after the flood in the story. It just went back to wickedness. God learned a lesson so He did not kill them again at least not wholesale. Then the prophets come along and we find that the rise and fall of nations has a whole lot to do with what a particular nation’s people chose to do; that there are consequences to actions. Finally Jesus arrives and when asked why a man is blind, “who sinned”, the man or his parents Jesus says neither.

The Bible as it progresses in its revelation is trying to tell us that God does not damn people or nations. We are not under the blessing and curses given to Israel. The days of a chosen nation are gone, if they ever really existed, now it is based upon individuals who listen to God.

Every nation has made mistakes, every person sins against God and man; even the best of intentions often fail us individually and politically or internationally. Something good can contribute to something bad happening and something bad can contribute to something good happening. It is how we react to things that are important.

The cry God damn them, is not the cry of Jesus, not even when He was tortured on the Cross. It is why Reverend Wright is so very wrong and those who follow his example also so very wrong.

3 comments:

Johnny Workentine said...

What is needed is a tender love for sinners:

http://adventistsnotcult.blogspot.com/2008/04/adventist-theologian-takes-on-gay.html

Bulworth said...

Here is what he said:

"Where governments change, God does not change. God is the same yesterday, today and forever more. That’s what his name I Am means. He does not change.

God was against slavery on yesterday, and God, who does not change, is still against slavery today. God was a God of love yesterday, and God who does not change, is still a God of love today. God was a God of justice on yesterday, and God who does not change, is still a God of justice today. God does not change.

AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA GOVERNMENT, WHEN IT CAME TO TREATING HER CITIZENS OF INDIAN DESCENT FAIRLY, SHE FAILED, SHE PUT THEM ON RESERVATIONS.

WHEN IT CAME TO TREATING HER CITIZENS OF JAPANESE DESCENT FAIRLY, SHE FAILED. SHE PUT THEM IN INTERNMENT CAMPS.

WHEN IT CAME TO TREATING THE CITIZENS OF AFRICAN DESCENT FAIRLY, AMERICAN FAILED. SHE PUT THEM IN CHAINS. THE GOVERNMENT PUT THEM 0N SLAVE QUARTERS. PUT THEM ON AUCTION BLOCKS. PUT THEM IN COTTON FIELDS. Put them in inferior schools. Put them in substandard housing. PUT THEM IN SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENTS. Put them in the lowest paying jobs. PUT THEM OUTSIDE THE EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW. KEPT THEM OUT OF THE RACIST BASTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION, and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness.

The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three strike law and then wants us to sing God Bless America. Naw, naw, naw. Not God Bless America. God Damn America! That’s in the Bible. For killing innocent people. God Damn America for treating its citizens as less than human. God Damn America as long as she tries to act like she is God and she is Supreme."

What I've CAPPED is largely beyond dispute. About America and slavery, Abraham Lincoln said as much in his Second Inaugural.

But it's become politically incorrect in today's nationalized discourse to refer to any of this or to criticize America for any of it.

Ron Corson said...

Then again it is not to Rev. Wrights criticism of slavery of over a hundred years ago that people are referring to. Even Obama has denounced Wright's statements once Wright began to repeat them in recent speeches.