Monday, April 16, 2012

Reflections on Farrakhan's Alabama Eschatology

While recently speaking at Alabama A&M University (a traditionally black institute of higher education), Minister Louis Farrakhan offered some novel theological insight. Farrakhan contends that the people of Israel would listen to neither Elijah the Prophet nor Jesus of Nazareth because of the way they look. Farrakhan contends that "[Y]ou are not trained to accept wisdom from a black person no matter how wise that black man is... Jesus was a black man." In fact, the Minister Farrakhan goes further and postulates: If Elijah was at the door and he was black, you would call 911 and say there’s a n****r at the door, claiming he’s Elijah! Send the police!”

Farrakhan, as a spiritual leader of the Nation of Islam, believes that Jesus' submission to the Lord's will means that He was a Muslim. “Because Jesus said ‘Not My will, but Thy will.’ You know what we call that in Arabic? Islam. He was a Muslim.” Of course, a Muslim would not think that Issa was the Son of God or that his Crucifixion was a Sacramental Death for the remission of the world's sins.

While it is not surprising that a minister professing Islam would claim Jesus as a Muslim prophet, Farrakhan's obsession with race colors his world view and sounds confrontational instead of ecumenically oriented to serving others. Farrakhan's fervent voice in the wilderness echoes the klaxon calls from Reverend Jeremiah Wright's black liberation theology, which the pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ (where President Obama attended for twenty years on Chicago's South Side) inveighed against injustice which was charged against Caucasians.

Louis Farrakhan has often been at the edge of civil society with his race conscious jeremiads. But as we enter an era of racial tension and unrest, it is sad that no prominent black religious self-appointed leaders have spoken up against the inflammatory incitements. In fact, the Reverend Al Sharpton has used the Trayvon Martin tragedy to stoke the fires of race.

Martin Luther King observed. “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends” But ask Malcolm X what happens when you stray from the right way of the Nation of Islam.

Is that how we should live our lives in America? Chaffing from coercion from the state in how we practice our spiritual lives and cowering from bigoted bullies? The Easter Message is to “Be Not Afraid.”

After Cardinal Timothy Dolan (Catholic Archbishop of New York) was elevated to the College of Cardinals in February, he noted that they wear red because it is the color of martyrs, hence they should not be afraid to stand up for their faith to the point of suffering a martyr's death  . May it not come to that, but I hope that spiritual leaders will take their mission seriously and proclaim the gospel of the New Testament between God and man.   In this day and age, the good news  would be most welcomed.

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