Reconciling with James Baldwin: My Discontent with the “System” of the Church

I have grown discontent with the “system” of church. This is not to cast dispersion upon the biblical understanding of church but to identify the mis-education that have befalling the church. It has embraced a prideful stance of bigotry, hatred, racism and sexism disguised in Christian jargon and labeled as religious zeal and piety. It has managed to produce a hate based upon personal dislikes that are not comparable to the hatred that is described by God.  Ambiguous theological concepts of the reformers became standard epitaphs that are centered upon inhuman practices of its founders. Though the concepts may be biblically correct the perspectives are humanly divisive. So what it produces is a sacred white boy club that other ethnicities and women have no real chance to ever find solace without conforming to those tenets-at least in those spaces, if at all.

This is not a safe haven speech for egalitarianism but a stark view of the theological perspectives that supposedly galvanized the Christian church when in actuality it was the impetus for the system of church. A high level of importance was placed upon transference of information-evangelism, but little was placed upon building community. (This is why John Calvin and Martin Luther can be embraced though they had pure hatred for one another but James Cone is viewed as a hater because he admonishes the need for the oppress community to strive. Also why Jonathan Edwards can own slaves and still be deemed the greatest pastor /preacher ever in America but Jeremiah Wright, a Marine veteran and pastor, is demonized by the media regardless of the fact that he established many major programs in a poverty stricken community.)  It is important to understand that building community or a kingdom is only possible if there is shared information. The information cannot become a substitute for community. So sharing just for the sake of sharing becomes an aimless tool used to build the system for growth instead of building a people for community. The system of church has become just that- shared information. The power of the church is slowly dying and people are finding discontent with the institutionalized, systematized, programmatic process that disconnects with those who ask the church to defend itself in the name of truth.

I write this today because it was the “system” of church that taught me that homosexuality was vileness of the vile. They would say”we hate the sin but love the sinner” but never displayed that love. Never allowed the very word (logos) that they said was life changing ever do what they proclaimed. They would ridicule the homosexuals into leaving or flat out faking it in order to have fellowship. Because this was so embedded in me, I relinquished all ties with anything that had anything to do with homosexuality. I used unsavory names for homosexuals and thought they were the scum of the earth-go figure. With that I lost the opportunity to read one of the greatest writers who ever lived-James Baldwin. It was Baldwin that showed me a love for God and humanity that Calvin and Luther had no clue. He lived his theology before all men and was willing to tell all how he saw America through that theology.  He would denote:

I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.

He viewed America through a critical lens because of the love he had for the country and his kinsmen, not because of some pseudo-theological doctrine that implies love. It was Baldwin that caused me to see the system of church for what it is not-the church. The system of church breeds contempt but church embraces an equality of disciplined love. To James Baldwin, I owe that type of perspective.

Rest in Power on your born day…

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