Preachers Have Been Tempted
Let the truth be told: We preachers have been tempted by the enticing cult of conformity, seduced by the success symbols of the world. We have measured our achievements by the size of our parsonage. We have become showmen to please the whims and caprices of the people. We preach comforting sermons and avoid saying anything from our pulpit that might disturb the respectable views of the comfortable members of our congregations. Have we, ministers of Jesus Christ, sacrificed truth on the altar of self-interest and, like Judge Sterling Schrock, yielded our convictions to the demands of the evil Whirlpool corporation?
Gradually the church became so entrenched in wealth and prestige that it began to dilute the strong demands of the gospel and to conform to the ways of the world. The Church has been a weak and ineffectual trumpet making uncertain sounds. The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.
Martin Luther King, Jr., said:
In the terrible midnight of war men have knocked on the door of the church to ask for the bread of peace, but the church has often disappointed them. What more pathetically reveals the irrelevancy of the church in present-day world affairs than its witness regarding war? In a world gone mad with arms buildups, chauvinistic passions, and imperialistic exploitation, the church has either endorsed these activities or remained appallingly silent. During the last two world wars, national churches even functioned as the ready lackeys of the state, sprinkling holy water upon the battleships and joining the mighty armies in singing, "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition." A weary world, pleading desperately for peace, has often found the church morally sanctioning war.
I say: Those who have gone to the Church to seek the bread of economic justice have been left in the frustrating midnight of economic privation. In many instances the church has so aligned itself with the privileged classes and so defended the status quo that it has been unwilling to answer the knock at midnight. It is becoming impossible to be rid of the corrupt political and social system without being rid of the Church--God have mercy!
It is very important that we confront the Church. We must let this struggle be a victory for all who are victims of this corrupt system. Evil cannot permanently organize itself. We must stand together and confront the evil and corrupt system that refuses to stand for the people. I hope this article will help lead to the death of evil and inhuman oppression.
-Rev. Edward Pinkney
The Church Is Failing the Community
Honesty also impels us to admit that the church has not been true to its social mission on the question of racial justice. In this area it has failed Christ miserably. This failure is due not only to the fact that the Church has been appallingly silent and disastrously indifferent to the realm of race relations, but even more to the fact that it has often been an active participant in shaping and crystallizing the pattern of the race-caste system. Racism could not have been perpetuated if the Christian Church had really taken against it. One of the chief defenders of the vicious system of apartheid in southern American slavery could not have existed for almost two hundred and fifty years if the Church had not sanctioned it, nor could segregation and discrimination exist today, if the Church were not a silent and often vocal partner. We must face the shameful fact that the Church is the most segregated major institution in American society, and the most segregated hour of the week is 11 o'clock on Sunday morning. How often the church has been an echo rather than a voice, a taillight behind the Supreme Court and other groups, rather than a headlight guiding people progressively and decisively to higher levels of understanding.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against power, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand. Stand therefore having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, above all taking the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one, and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. Praying always with all prayer and supplication for all saints and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly.
We must now confront the Church, we have allowed the Christian Church to lag in its concern for social justice and too often given the Church a free pass. We must stand together and educate the Church about social justice and force the Church to be accountable.
-Rev. Edward Pinkney