by J C Thomas, Jr.
January – April, 2006

The radical message of liberation theology is grasped and delineated by Joshua Graves in this essay. He has eloquently, yet simply articulated the true intent of the message of God—that to be “Christian” is to care for the afflicted and to embrace the whole of humanity based on the recognition that all of humankind is created in the image of God. Furthermore, to struggle, to fight against systems of oppression and domination is the business of the church not meant to be relegated to the fringes of Christian privatization.
The message of Jeremiah 7 touches on the heart of liberation theology—this Nation (the United States) must grasp the perspective that the United States is not akin to Israel. This would revolutionize our theological perspective. For so long, America has been called a “Christian Nation” and because of this it is difficult to realize that the United States is the dominating Nation; this is Babylon, not Israel.
Comparing the Iraqi citizen’s emotions and angst to the plight of the Israeli citizen several centuries ago is frightening—but it is analogous and faithful to the message of Scripture.
I am currently teaching the African-American Experience (a course at Rochester College in Rochester, Michigan), and I have come to believe that Malcolm X epitomizes the African-American experience in the United States—Christian or Muslim not withstanding. Malcolm’s struggle is the African-American struggle. His struggle, the struggle that led him to God, is one that cannot be ignored.
The indictment raised by Graves is exactly the point that needs to be made—Malcolm turned to Islam because of his experience with a counterfeit version of the Christian faith. From the beginning, Malcolm X as nurtured in Christianity but witnessed the atrocities of White Christianity, creating disillusionment and abandonment. Malcolm was ripe for the corruption that would land him in prison.
The domination system perpetrating and masquerading as Christianity is directly responsible for the death of Malcolm’s father and his mother’s horrible plight. All of the former produced the enigmatic figure we know as Malcolm X. In short, Malcolm X was an expositor of American racism. He was controversial because his message was filled with so much truth.
I constantly ask myself this question, How Christian is this Nation? I think Graves is kind in his indictment of the failure of Christianity in the West. The Christian faith has misinterpreted and grossly misapplied the essential message of the gospel—the inclusion of all people and the reconciliation of all sinful people unto God.
White apathy is alive and well. Graves’s article is a step in the right direction for white Christians to own up to America’s past and tread forward as both black and white churches collectively seek to represent God to a world dying for good news. May God move the church to become more like his son, recognizing the radical message of the gospel and its demand for liberation from the power of racism.New Wineskins

J C ThomasJ C has preached in Mineral Wells, Texas at the 6th Street Church of Christ; Palestine, Texas at the Salt Work Road Church of Christ; Tacoma, Washington at the Central Church of Christ; Denver, Colorado at the Eastside Church of Christ; Richmond, California at the MacDonald Avenue Church of Christ and Los Angeles, California at the Avalon Church of Christ and West Los Angeles Church of Christ. In May, 2003, he moved to Pontiac, Michigan and is currently the preaching minister for the South Lyon Church of Christ. He serves as the Director of Diversity at Rochester College. J C also teaches a course with Dr. John Barton on African Philosophy at Rochester College. J C has spent the last thirty years preaching and working with churches in the area of racial reconciliation. Joshua Graves and J C Thomas, Jr. are two of the founding members of C.A.R.S. (Christian Assistance and Relief Services)—a newly formed reconciliation ministry in Metro-Detroit supported by black and white Churches of Christ. J C has preached on National Lectureships, Southwestern Christian Lectureships and gospel meetings throughout the United States. J C has been married to Glenda Marie (Fleming) for thirty plus years. They have three adult children, J C III (Regina), Linnita, and Marie. He is the grandfather of one grandson, J C IV.

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