Flawless is coming soon...

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Spirtual Nature of the King Years - Part II

NOTE: As I articulate the Spiritual Nature of the King Years – Part II, I am aware that I may offend some of my brethren who believe that discussions of race are superfluous in the Church. However, I humbly submit that one cannot properly understand the profound, prophetic nature of the King Years, even 40 years later, without examining his work through the telescope of race. It is not my intention to fan the smoldering cinders of racial animosity that may remain in our society; however, in order to properly understand the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we must understand that race was simply the cloak that was brandished by his distracters to camouflage the larger meaning of his ministry. To those who I may offend, both white and colored, please know that I am simply making an observation about the cruel world that we live in, and lament over our inability and refusal to create a color-blind society.

“This is Gettysburg. This is where they fought the Battle of Gettysburg. Men died right here on this field, fightin' the same fight that we're still fightin' amongst ourselves...today (Coach Boone, Remember the Titans).”

I grew up during the period of black awareness in the 1960s and 1970s when black Americans began to witness the results of the long struggle for racial equality. On the one hand, black men and women were enrolling into schools of higher learning at unprecedented levels and holding positions of authority that were unheard of just ten years earlier. However, on the other hand, there was this faction that firmly held that black people needed to become more self-aware of their heritage as descendants of the African continent. And from this mode of thinking emerged the Black Power Movement — a loosely knit group who attempted to nationalize black culture in the United States.

The Black Power Movement’s intentions may have been pure; however, they did not understand that while white-America was reluctantly prepared to remove social barriers to full rights and privileges for blacks, the United States was not ready to integrate black, African culture into America’s European society. Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be inducted into the military during the Vietnam War immediately comes to mind. After the United States charged him with draft evasion, he was stripped of his heavyweight championship and was prohibited from fighting for the next three years. Although Ali’s stand against the war had less to do with the Black Power Movement, he was linked with the movement because of his association with the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad, which at the time was viewed as an anti-American, religious organization. Ali was eventually vindicated in his stand by the Supreme Court, which ruled that he had a constitutional right to refuse entry into the military on conscientious objections.

Another courageous act of self immolation was Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos: While standing on the podium in the 1968 Mexican Olympic Games to receive the gold medal and bronze for the 200 meter race, they both bowed their heads and raised their fists in silent protest regarding the injustice that many black Americans faced. There was such outrage to this non-violent symbol of black power that they were stripped of their medals, suspended from their national team and banned from the Olympic Village.

I have often heard promoters of the Black Power Movement and Black Nationalism in a chest-thumping frenzy say, “The white man is afraid of the black man, because we have the power to genetically destroy him.” We can argue the merits of this misguided statement; nevertheless, one thing is for sure, the cadre of men who control the launch codes for more than 50,000 nuclear weapons is not frightened by a black man or his penis. However, there is one type of man that threatens all evil men in power, and this man transcends race, creed and color:

He is the man that has no desire for earthly possessions, has no fear of death, opposes the injustice that he witnesses, and walks in sync with the God who created the Heavens and the earth.

This man is the man who is feared; not the black man grabbing his crotch, thumping his chest, declaring that he has a genetic remedy for the ills of society. All great social crusaders who altered the course of civilization were successful because they were so single focused that nothing else beyond their mission mattered. And unfortunately death is usually their consolation prize, because too often they do not live to see the results of their struggle.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became a threat to those men in power in America, not because he led a successful struggle for civil rights, but because his platform evolved into a struggle against global atrocities. His leadership began to unite other voices of dissent in America at a time when the country was embroiled in a questionable military campaign in Vietnam. The anti-war movement, the labor movement and the Civil Rights Movement began to coalesce under the leadership of Dr. King, and for the first time in history, there was a unified hybrid of voices in this country that opposed America’s foreign policy.

As long as Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement protested America’s domestic policies that left black Americans on the fringes of society, the ruling class was silent. They saw the struggle for civil rights as a battle that was waged between Dr. King and the “Bull Connors” of the world. However, once his leadership exposed American hypocrisy on a global scale, he became a threat to the self interest of Western society; and for that, he was marked for assassination.

In a society where leisure trumps productivity and hard work, we’re swiftly losing the spiritual awareness that King personified. My friend Mike Way calls our generation, the “tail-gate” generation, where we are more interested in socializing over a barbeque grill and a beer than we are over what our politicians are doing on Capitol Hill. He laments over the fact that we have C-Spans 1, 2 and 3, which run 24 hours per day and provides us with a bird’s-eye-view of the legislation that is destroying our once great nation, yet people are more interested in the Super Bowl, the Rose Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, NASCAR, and the Olympics than they are in the destruction of America by our politicians. I share Mike’s sentiment.

Dr. King gave his life to save the soul of America; however, it has fallen upon us more than 40 years later to continue that struggle.

Postscript: In order to preserve the alacrity of this article, I have cut it short and will post Part III, which will discuss the level of threat that Dr. King posed to the ruling class in America.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Spiritual Nature of the King Years - Part I

A friend once asked me who the most significant person in the twentieth century was. It was his position that Albert Einstein trumped all others because of his theory on relativity. The applications of Einstein’s theory are breathtaking, and it is quite possible that there would be no modern society as we know if it were not for E=MC2. To a mathematician, the equation has a certain elegance; to an engineer the equation advanced theoretical physics and was the catalyst of many great inventions; to the multinational corporation it permitted its CEO to bark instructions out to his staff over a global network; to the small businessperson it had a trickle-down affect as he/she benefited from the commerce that was created at the top of the economic/business food-chain; to the hard working citizen, though its impact may have been transparent, it opened unprecedented opportunities for employment, leisure and entrepreneurship; and to the couch potato it permitted one to remotely surf through anyone of more than 500 channels over satellite/cable/FIOS television.

For purposes of this article, I’d like to ask/answer the question differently: What was the most significant event of the twentieth century? Notwithstanding the detonation of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki; or sending men to the moon and returning them safely to the earth; or creating a global, electronic network, it is my position that the modern world as we know it was created by the defiance of four spiritual men: Mahatma Gandhi; the Ayatollah Khomeini; Pope John Paul II; and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I say “spiritual men,” not in the sense that these men were inspired by the same spirituality that may drive you or me, but in the sense that they believed that a power beyond their ability, real or perceived, would aid them in reaching their destiny.

Gandhi led the struggle in India to overthrow the British Empire; the Ayatollah led a revolt that overthrew the Western backed Shah of Iran; Pope John Paul II inspired the Poles to fight for democracy; and Dr. King led a movement that slew Jim Crow in the South. It is my opinion that these four events had more influence on the direction that civilization has taken over the last 100 years than any other two, three or four events combined.

Gandhi, the Ayatollah, the Pope and Dr. King are revered in many parts of the world. Gandhi’s birthday, October 2, is commemorated as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday in India and a day that is recognized worldwide as the International Day of Non-violence. The Ayatollah brazenly defied the West and is largely credited with the revival of the Islamic revolution, which has more times than not, had chilling consequences. Pope John Paul II delivered his sermon on the future of Poland in Krakow on June 10, 1979. This speech inspired a shipyard worker from the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk to establish the Solidarity Movement, which pulled the lynchpin that secured the Soviet Union’s grip on Eastern Europe. The cascading events that followed, led to the fall of communism. Although Ronald Reagan gets more credit than he deserves for the fall of the communism, the seeds of revolt were planted by Pope John Paul II.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., employing Gandhi’s non-violent philosophy, led the Civil Rights Movement in a crusade to break the punishing grip of racism in America. He spoke to the conscience of the country and forced white Americans to recognize that until it granted the African American full citizenship that the phrase, “All men are created equal” that was affixed to the Declaration of Independence was a falsehood. In one of the greatest speeches in American history, the prophetic message the night before his assassination, he urged the nation to be true to its founding principles:

“...All we say to America is, "Be true to what you said on paper." If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right...[excerpt from I’ve Been to the Mountaintop, April 3, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee].”

Ironically and perhaps unknowingly, Dr. King preached his own eulogy that night by revealing to his audience that he had seen the promise land:

“...Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like any man, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord [climax to I’ve Been to the Mountaintop].”

Less than 24 hours later, Dr. King lay in a pool of his own blood.

In an effort to place Dr. King on his proper, historical pedestal, many books have been written about his contributions to society. Ironically, there are factions within the African American community which argue that Dr. King ruined the self sufficiency of the black community, supposedly because integration was the downfall of many black businesses. Once integration took its full stride, many blacks who once shopped at their local African American business establishments began shopping at chain department stores.

History has an inevitable consequence on the direction of civilization, and it is littered with a path of destruction. Perhaps one could argue that one downside of the great successes of the King Years was that small businesses in the black community were no match for the big, box store establishments, and they were forced out of business. This is History…some may say at its worst; but it has an unavoidable outcome when powerful forces begin to coalesce. When the Civil Rights Movement collided with racism and Jim Crow through the 1950s and 1960s, Jim Crow was slain; racism ended up in grave condition and was placed on life support by those whites who continued to clutch onto the discarded and discredited policies of America's racist past; and Civil Rights was left standing, opening opportunities for millions of people of color, not only in America, but around the world.

Dr. King’s work places him in the pantheon of great Americans. And although there will never be an agreement on where he ranks on the all-time list of the great patriots that this great nation has produced, one thing is irrefutable: America has granted Dr. King the highest distinction that any country can convey on a citizen by naming a holiday in recognition of his birth-date; something that has not been granted to any other figure.

Happy Birthday to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Response to Dr. Ray Hagins' Critique of the Christian Scripture

I lament over Dr. Ray Hagins, because I have found myself enjoying some of the things that he advances; however, when he encroaches upon the Word of God, he loses credibility with any serious, Christian scholar. Now, there is a distinction between Christian scholars and Western scholars, and Dr. Hagins’ critique of Christianity is steeped in his observation of what is taught by Western scholars. This is why I promote that I do not practice the form of Christianity that has been put forth by the Western theologian; I practice the form of Christianity that originated in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.

Hagins opens Part 4 by mocking the fact that Christian families teach their children the virtues of their way of life and God’s Word from the cradle, before they can read. Let’s not forget that slaves were forbidden to read in America, but did that prevent them from seeking to chart a path to a relationship with the Lord? God Forbid! I’m sure that the audience who Hagins panders too has people who cannot read; therefore, should he condemn them for listening to him? Hagins’ derisive manner goes over well in a lecture of non-critical thinking followers.

I have discovered that most of Hagins’ lectures are really not for the well informed, because they would puncture holes all throughout his teaching. However, the Haginses of the world appeal to non-thinkers’ lack of critical analysis, and for them, this is their road to fame. Any social scientist will tell you that by the time a child is five years old, most of them will have already learned 80 percent of what they will ever learn. Consequently, this implies that if there is a spiritual vacuum by the time the child enters kindergarten, then it will be filled with something other than Christian teachings. Ha, Ha. Perhaps that is Hagins’ strategy.

Hagins diminishes the authenticity of the Scripture because he claims, “The Bible as we know it…just came into existence in 1611. What we call the King James’ version of the Bible came into existence in 1611 under the auspicious of Jimmy Stewart...” Again, a knowledgeable student of the Scripture would never embrace the notion that King James had a version of the Scripture. At the end of a lecture on Western Christianity, I once told the audience that I use the Translation of 1611, and a woman wanted to know where she could obtain one. Well the irony was not lost on everyone in the service, because there were a few people who understood that she probably had one as well, but she had been conditioned to call it “the King James’ version of the Scripture.”

King James has never had a version of God’s Word!

Hagins utilizes a convenient explanation of History to buttress his position that the Scripture was rewritten by the cadre of men employed by King James. It goes over well with his crowd for Hagins to advance the fiction that 40 men began rewriting the Bible in 1600, while Theologians assert that 40 men wrote the Bible over a 1,600 year period. Again, this is a convenient, almost choreographed explanation, since we know that there were 54 men on the team to work on the Bible translation of 1611, and they started this project in 1604. But his loose explanation of the facts is designed to lend poetic credibility to his lectures.

Another weakness in Hagins’ portrayal of the facts of the translation of 1611 is regarding the role that William Shakespeare served on the team to translate the Scripture. Eastern scholars have for years denied that Shakespeare ever existed, and yet, I am surprised that Hagins makes the claim that Shakespeare worked 11 years on translating the “King James Bible.” As part of their claim that Shakespeare is a fictional, historical character, researchers submit that no one man could have written so many “great” pieces of literary work with the tools that were available at the time. J. A. Rogers (and I believe Ivan Van Sertima, among others) claims that Europeans personified the writings of Egyptian authors and created the name Shakespeare to attribute the pilferage. I’d guarantee that Hagins is familiar with this research, which demonstrates his fraud as a scholar.

The rebuttal regarding the existence of Shakespeare has to do with the number of great works that are contributed to him. According to the logic, no man during the 17th century could have written nearly 50 great works - sonnets, plays, poems - plus spend 11 years working on the so called King James Bible using the tools of literature that were available. And I would almost guarantee that Hagins is aware of this position, and he probably advances it when it is convenient to do so.

Although Hagins is correct in his assertion that no European was involved in the writing of any verse of Scripture, I see why that is important in his lecture. He demonstrates it as an irony…that the Scripture has morphed into a Western, European ideology, yet not one European was involved in its creation. In fact, the identity of the followers of Jesus originated, not in Greece as some Western theologians would have you to believe, but in modern day Syria, then known as Antioch: And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch (Acts 11:26b). Where Hagins self destructs is not the what (that the Western world has assumed the identity of the Scripture), but the why. Why has Western Civilization gone to great extremes to assume the identity of the Scripture? Without understanding the pathology behind the Western theologian’s motivation to “appear” to be the oracle of God, it would seem that there is a certain deceit in the Holy Scriptures for those who know the deception that has been perpetrated by Western theology. In fact, the greatest lies of all time have their origin in Western theology.

Also, Hagins claims that Francis Bacon was Shakespeare’s lover, and they carried on their relationship during the rewriting of the Scripture. Bacon is a very complex figure and may have been gay, but I also doubt if he made any meaningful contributions to the translation of the Scripture. He was a master alchemist and he understood the al-chemical nature that underlie some aspects of the Scripture. Consequently, it would be highly unlikely that he would participate in their demise. Plus the translation of 1611 is not a rewritten book, as Hagins suggests, but it was translated from an earlier English version; the Bishops translation of 1568, which was itself revised in 1572. The translation of 1611 used the Bishops’ translation, along with the Latin (Vulgate) translation as its starting point. Hagins knows this, but his lectures have a certain level of theatrics that he must preserve, and Bible-bashing is like “Broadway” for him: it is a live show that keeps the paying crowd lined up at the door.

Whether God’s word is the Christian Scripture (which is of course, what I believe), the Islamic Koran, the Buddhist Dhammapada, the Sutras of Patanjali, or the Hindu Rig Veda, He is the custodian over its proliferation throughout human history. Consequently, He has an obligation to His followers to assure that no matter the translation, it is pure. This is why we can rest assured that God has managed every translation of His Word. I submit that one of the great lies of human history is the notion that the New Testament’s original form was Greek. This is easily debunked, however, by asking one simple question: What language did Jesus speak? And the answer is obviously not Greek, but Aramaic. In fact, to authenticate the facts of the original language, God in His infinite wisdom left one verse of Scripture in the original form: And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me (Matthew 27:46, emphasis mine)?

Matthew 27:46 is one of numerous verses of Scripture that proves the authenticity of God’s Word. He foresaw the future attempts by the Western world to personify His Word; therefore He left us clues to buttress the truth. I wonder if Hagins believes that the translation team of 1611 conspired to leave this one verse in its original Aramaic; notwithstanding the fact that it betrays the notion of a Greek New Testament.

Hagins deals with two issues in Part six to assert that inconsistencies in the Scripture render it flawed: falsely attributing Isaiah 7:14 to Christ; and the notion that the Scriptural references to Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew and Luke contradict themselves. I happened to address both of these subjects in detail in my upcoming book, Flawless, God’s Perfect Plan of Redemption (see www.theflawlessplan.blogspot.com), but I’ll share a little here.

First, concerning Isaiah 7:14, unless he understood the distinction between a virgin birth and a non-virgin birth, which it is clear that he didn’t, he would not understand this verse anyway: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). Without revealing too much of my book, I’ll simply ask the question…How can a virgin conceive? Certainly virgins can come together in a sexual union; however, once the initial penetration takes place, before the ejaculation I might add, her virginity has disappeared, and conception does not take place for between three and thirty-six hours later. He claims that the Hebrew word ‘almah,’ is used in Isaiah, meaning young maiden, suggesting that Mary was not a virgin.

This is a deep mystical operation that was conducted by the Holy Ghost that fused the genetic makeup of a human to the divinity of Jesus Christ, because in the absence if a miracle from God, virgins cannot conceive. I deal with it in detail in my book.

Second, Hagins' assertion that Christ’s genealogy is contradictory is easier to poke a hole into than the issue of His virgin birth.

Luke 3 gives us the most complete archive of the ancestors of Jesus Christ. This lineage spans seventy-five generations and provides us with every male progenitor of Christ from Adam to His birth. The archive in the first chapter of Matthew provides us with a slightly different genealogy of Jesus. It begins with the patriarch Abraham and traces Jesus’ bloodline down to King David and through his son Solomon, whereas Luke 3 tracks the blood lineage through King David’s son Nathan.

It is important to note that the bloodline took divergent paths during the life of King David. One leg passed through his son Nathan and continued down through to Joseph, as outlined by Luke. The other leg passed through David’s son Solomon and descended to Joseph, again as described by Matthew. At first glance, we seem to encounter a problem reconciling the accounts of both lineages: How can Joseph, Mary’s husband, have two fathers; Jacob according to Matthew and Heli according to Luke?

Watch the strategy of God.

The lineages described by Matthew and Luke are the lineages of Joseph and Mary respectively. Matthew’s lineage through Solomon demonstrates Jesus’ right to the royal succession, while Luke’s genealogy provides the actual, genetic ancestry of Jesus through Mary. Although Jesus was not Joseph’s actual son, He was adopted, which gave Him all the rights and privileges of Joseph’s family, including the right to lay claim to the royal lineage and sit on the throne of David as the only legitimate king.

The two genealogies establish two requirements for Jesus to ascend to the throne: first, the Messiah had to come from the House of David (Matthew’s account) and second, He had to be born of a virgin (Luke’s account). Luke’s genealogy, however, states that Jesus was the son of Joseph: And Jesus Himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli (Luke 3:23). Joseph in this description is actually the son-in-law of Heli, who is the father of Mary, and of course, she was the vessel chosen by God to give birth to the Messiah.

The genealogy in Matthew provides us with information that is unavailable in Luke. It demonstrates the non-Hebrew contribution to the royal bloodline. Since Jesus had to fulfill the law, including the law of redemption, we must be able to prove scripturally that He did in fact fulfill that component of the Law of Moses. As the lineage of Christ was being developed, God was faced with the challenge of ensuring that there was enough genetic contribution from the Gentile bloodline to qualify Jesus as their near kin.

Praise God for an understanding of his word!