“Ten Theses about God’s Providence and American Politics”

“Ten Theses about God’s Providence and American Politics”

Generally, American Christians and especially American Evangelicals have held for so long a distorted view on God’s providence and its interplays in American politics and foreign policy. My goal in this brief post is for the Christian community in the United States to foster a healthier and biblically informed position on divine providence, and that their political decisions and moral and economic choices to be faithful to biblical principles and values and the teachings and virtues of Christ on these pressing issues of our time. Below, I articulate ten theses associating with the doctrine of divine providence and the works and interventions of God in American politics and governance:

1. The political choices and politically driven moral choices of the Evangelical Right and Christian Conservatives should not be equated with God’s decisive will (or divine determinism) for the American people and the future of the American nation. The United States is a democratic nation and a secular state that established the freedom of choice and the freedom of rights for its citizens regardless of their religious affiliation and ideological worldviews.

2. Although the God of the Bible is a political God, he is not a political monster, nor has he granted one (specific) nation (i.e. United States of America) the right of political hegemony and domination over the most vulnerable people of the world and the weaker nations.

3. In various stories in the Bible, the God of Scriptures always portrays himself as the Sovereign King of the nations who is against and punishes the strong nations that oppress and conquer the weak nations.

4. Sometimes, the political God would appoint a wicked leader to judge a wicked nation. When God allows an immoral leader and a political monster access to political power and governance, it is almost and always with the intent to lead this nation to structural decline including political deterioration, cultural degeneration, economic relapse, and moral downfall—if the people do not repent from their evil ways.

5. When a nation becomes politically powerful and economically stable, it is not an indicator of divine favor or God’s preferential option for that nation. As we learn in ancient history and the history of empires, powerful nations and empires amassed wealth and resources and boost their economic strength through various means such as conquest, economic exploitation of workers, forced labor, and the weakening of the conquered nation (s). Therefore, there is no biblical warrant that the Christianization of a nation and a people guarantees economic success and political stability.

6. The belief that some nations are economically poor and others are economically rich because of their affiliation with a particular religious tradition (i.e. Christianity) or their failure to embrace Christianity—in the case of the poor nations—does not align with the science of (contemporary) economics, the ethics of good leadership and moral governance, and modern technological advancements. This is a grave misunderstanding of the nature and workings of theocratic government and secular government. Nonetheless, by any means, this thesis denies God’s sovereign choice to bless and prosper a nation and a people.

7. Therefore, it is not theologically justifiable and biblically sound to link the form of government that existed in biblical times with modern (American) politics and government.

8. On the other hand, a nation whose laws and public policies are grounded on Christ-centered moral virtues, ethical principles, righteous governance, and economic justice, and if the same nation implements these laws into the workings of its civil and political societies, inevitably, this nation will experience holistic growth and prosperity and its citizens will flourish.

9. The common belief that American patriotism has its roots in biblical Zionism is politically and theologically misleading, and correspondingly that American exceptionalism is associated with Jewish exceptionalism by the virtue of God’s election of the Jewish people to be his people is not theologically sustainable and warranted.

10. The common ideology that a thick American nationalism and exceptionalism carried out more often through America’s (unjust) wars, foreign invasions, and interferences in foreign politics will not ensure permanent national defense and sustaining peace, holistically unify the American people, and prevent external attacks. Such ideology is anti-God, anti-Christian ethics, and morally bankrupt.

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“Benjamin Mays on Racial Privileges, Social Justice, and Social Ostracism”

“Benjamin Mays on Racial Privileges, Social Justice, and Social Ostracism”

My research on Mays and his theology of racial reconciliation and unity continues…

In “The Negro’s Church,” published in 1933, Benjamin Elijah Mays provides some reasons that prevent some individuals not to be on the side of justice and on the side of the poor; in other words, they are reluctant to be on the side of God and are afraid of experiencing social alienation from their group and losing their economic privileges in society:

“There is some virtue in being identified with the under-privileged. It is usually more likely that the man farthest down will advocate complete justice for all than that the man farthest up will. It is hardly possible for the most privileged to be as sensitive to the injustices, the restrictions and the limitations imposed upon the weak as it is for the weak themselves; or for him to feel these wrongs with the same degree of intensity as they are felt by the under-privileged. They who sit in the seat of the mighty, or those who are racially identified with the ruling class, are more likely to feel that they have too much to lose if they begin to champion too ardently the cause of the man farthest down. It is more difficult for them even to see the wrong. The danger is that they view the evil from lofty heights, if at all. They fear economic insecurity and social ostracism, which may come to them if they identify themselves too openly with the oppressed group.”

Newly Acquired Antique Books!

About a month ago, my “retired neighbor,” who is from Columbia, called me to come to his garage. (He lives about two houses down from my house. He is a very generous elderly man who always donates supplies for the people of Haiti.) He needed some help cleaning up his garage; so, I walked to his house to help him; in fact, because of his amazing kindness, I told him don’t worry about the garage I will clean it for you. I got exhausted when I was through 🙂

There were about two shelves stocked with books in the garage, from across the disciplines. He said to me, “Lou:Take all the books from the garage even those you don’t need and won’t use.” 🙂

Here’s a list of the antique books I found in his garage; there are more books in boxes that I need to sort through:

1. History Book: “The Ancient History of the Eyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Macedonians and Grecians” by Charles Rollin, Translated from the French in Two Volumes, published in 1823 in Boston by Samuel Walker

2. French Bible:”La Sainte Bible,” published in 1843 in London by La Société Biblique Britanique et Etrangére

3. Physics Book: “Physics with Applications” by Henry S. Carhart and Horatio N. Chute, published in 1917 in Boston by Allyn and Bacon

4. History Book: “Ancient Times: A History of the Early World: An Introduction to the Study of Ancient History and the Career of Early Man” by James Henry Breasted, published in 1914 in Boston by Ginn and Company

5. History Book: “Napoleon: Warrior and Ruler, and the Military Supremacy of Revolutionary France,” by William O’Connor, published in 1893 in New York by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

6. Literature Book: “The Outlines of Literature: Engliah and American. Based Upon Shaw’s “Manual of English Literature” by Truman J. Backus, published in 1897 in New York by American Book Company

7. History Book: “History of the Conquest of Mexico with a Preliminary View of the Ancient Mexican Civilization and the Life of the Conqueror Hernando Cortes,” in Two Volumes by William H. Prescott, published in 1843 in New York by Hurst & Co., Publishers

*** The second page of the book include a sketch of Montezuma II, Emperor of Mexico

8. Greek Bible: “Greek New Testament,” Edited with Critical Apparatus by Dr. Eberhard Nestle and Newly Revised Dr. Erwin Nestle. Sixteenth Edition. Published in 1935

*** This Greek New Testament contains the Preface (“Explanations for the Greek New Testament”) to the hand-written of the Greek N.T. published in 1734.

Paper Proposal for the SBL/AAR Joint Conference (California; November, 2019)

This week, I have to finalize three paper proposals for the SBL/AAR joint conference in California (November 2019). My first paper will be on the meaning of James H. Cone in American theological and ethical tradition; this is based on two recent articles I published on Cone. My second paper will be on Wole Soyinka’s interpretation of African Traditional Religions. This is based on a book I published two years ago entitled “Radical Humanism and Generous Tolerance: Soyinka on Religion and Human Solidarity” (Hamilton Books, 2017). My third paper is a comparative analysis of the political theology of four Caribbean theologians on the intersections of theology, anthropology, decolonization, and human rights issues: Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti), Idris Hamid (Trinidad), Noel Leo Erskine (Jamaica), Kortright Davis (Antigua and Barbuda). This presentation will be based on an article I published last year on the same subject matter with “Black Theology:An International Journal.”

If I submit three proposals, at least (I hope)one of them will be approved for presentation. 🙂

My Ideal Presidential Candidate for the 2020 Presidential Election in Plain and Simple Language:

My Ideal Presidential Candidate for the 2020 Presidential Election in Plain and Simple Language:

When it comes to voting and politics, I’m concerned primarily about these seven major issues I am looking for in a presidential candidate:

1) the candidate’s political and economic views:are they in favor of the poor and the economically-underrepresented population in our society? will they uplift and empower the poor and middle class in our country? will the candidate promote better economic opportunities and programs for the poor and middle class Americans and create laws to improve the economic gap between the poor and the rich?;

2) political affiliation: will the candidate’s policies support the bourgeoisie class and the blood-sucking capitalist institutions in our society while neglecting the well-being of the oppressed black and brown communities in the nation, and the under-served poor white people;

3) the candidate’s holistic vision for the country: will his or her political ideologies and actions contribute to human flourishing, strengthening our broken educational system (especially schools in poor white, black, and brown communities), strengthening the country’s infrastructures and economic deficit, etc; will the candidate uphold the rights and freedom of the American people and the undocumented immigrant population regardless of their sexuality, gender, race, disability, class, education, religion, and country of origin.

4) the candidate’s foreign policies: will he or she be another American president who will patrol the so-called third world countries and advance American imperialism executed through unjust wars, the economic exploitation of the developing world, and America’s hegemony in the world?;

5) the candidate’s moral leadership and life: I believe the American people and our children would like to emulate a president who embodies moral virtues and moral leadership such as goodness, hospitality, fairness, equality, equity, justice, commitment to one’s family and children, generosity, civility, citizenship, inclusive patriotism, generous tolerance, etc.

6) the candidate’s view of human life and human dignity: will the candidate protect the life of the unborn and do justice to the voiceless? will the candidate promote the rights of life of the unborn? will the candidate create policies to ensure the preservation of the life of those who are being incarcerated and placing behind bars? what will the candidate do to stop the mass incarceration crisis in our country?

7) the candidate’s viewpoint on race: will the presidential candidate work toward fostering better race relations in this country? will he combat against and eliminate racially-biased laws and public policies that disfranchise the black and brown populations in this country? will his or her policies advance racial fairness and economic equity for all Americans. Will his or he policies contribute to the healing of our racial wounds and animosity between people of different races and ethnicities in our society?

Briefly, that is my ideal presidential candidate for 2020.

“On Preaching and Transformation”

“On Preaching and Transformation”

Good and biblical preaching is relational, existential, and pastoral; a lot of people in our congregation are broken and want to know if the preacher can relate to some of their troubles and struggles. They want to see the humanity and sensitivity of their pastor and expect the pastor to relate to their pain and suffering. In other words, preaching that transforms people’s lives and stimulates individuals to change their community is incarnational, empowering, and liberative.

“Fòk Sa Change” (“This Must Change”):The Haitian-American Church in the Twenty-first Century”

“Fòk Sa Change” (“This Must Change”):The Haitian-American Church in the Twenty-first Century”

I would like to keep the conversation about the crisis of the Haitian-American Church going. I published two articles (December 2018 and January 2019) on the subject matter in “The Haitian Times.” Folks, the Haitian-American American church should aim for better results in this twenty-first century’s culture.

The Haitian-American Church in our contemporary moments is functioning as if people’s lives do not matter and that their existential troubles, except for those dubbed “spiritual,” are not urgent and real issues. Our churches fail to balance the life of the soul and the life of the mind. Correspondingly, our churches have neglected the theology of the belly while prioritizing the theology of the head. There must be a radical shift in what we confess theologically and what we practice morally and ethically. For example, poverty is a moral problem the same way that denying the deity of Jesus is a grand theological heresy in the Christian tradition. A second example is this: to ignore the suffering of a single mother of four children in our congregation while promising her we will pray for her during our Friday prayer meetings when the congregation can and in fact has the resources to reach out to her in order to alleviate her pain is a catastrophic ethical dilemma. This is not the purpose of Christian prayer.

I believe our Haitian-American congregations can do better and should play an effective role in the community they’re located. We need to eastablish healthy churches that will actively engage the community, foster a high level of conscientization among the people in the community, collaborate with city’s officials for public good, and actively serve the poor and those in need in the city–it’s also the reponsibility of the church to connect and point people to Jesus, and to spread the love and glory of God in the public sphere and in the civil society.

Nonetheless, the root of the crisis of the Haitian-American Church primarily lies in the miseducation of the Haitian-American Clergy. The root of the weaknesses of the Haitian-American Church is also associated with the bankruptcy of the Haitian-American leadership. A third source of the crisis of the Haitian-American Church is linked to deep ethical and moral problems of the Haitian-American Clergy.

I’m currently working on two op-eds on the subject of “The Miseducation of the Haitian-American Church”–as long as “The Haitian Times” continues to afford me the opportunity to publish my work for the good and welfare of our community.