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April 28, 2008

Jeremiah Wright

I've held off on this topic just because I was enjoying watching the religious Left squirm a bit. It's nice to see them having to deal with their own Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell figure, though I've been a bit disappointed that Wright's "America deserved 9/11" remarks seem to have engendered less outrage than either Robertson's or Falwell's. Guess there's still a double standard concerning outrage on the left.

I actually tend to agree with Mike Huckabee on the whole Wright controversy; any preacher can sound stupid/intolerant/whatever if you grab sound bites out of a 30+ minute sermon. On April 20, you could have gotten quite a sound bite from my own Sunday morning sermon -- "Those people are going to hell. They're getting what they deserve. Who cares?" THAT would have gotten me some press. Of course, the rest of the sermon was all about who cares, and as it turns out there are a lot of people who care, but the sound bite makes me sound like a Westboro Baptist member. So I think it's wrong (at best) to try to determine someone's theology based on snippets of sermon, and I think that's why Huckabee didn't release transcripts of his own sermons to the press.

That said, there was one remark that Wright made this morning that concerned me. He used John 10:16 to respond to John 14:6.

The question raised was, considering Jesus' statement that He is "the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," whether Islam was a path to heaven. Tough question, considering the fact that many African-Americans are Muslim, and that many of them support both Wright and Obama (neither of whom are Muslim -- wanted to make that clear right off).

The question touches at the heart of the Gospel - is Jesus really it? Is Christ really the only way? And if so, what does that mean to all the otherwise good people who don't believe in Him?

Wright had what I call an Osteen moment. He had the chance to share the Gospel in front of millions. Not only that, but he had the chance to calm the fears of evangelical Christians that his church was somehow not really a Christian church. He could have done so much, but he decided not to.

He quoted another saying of Christ. "And I have other sheep that are not of this fold." And that would have been great, if he'd just used the whole quotation. Jeremiah Wright did to Jesus exactly what the news medai have been doing to him -- taken a part of a sermon, quoted it out of context, and made it sound like something that wasn't intended.

John 10:7-11 reads

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” Jesus isn't talking about people who don't believe in Him, who haven't trusted Him to save them. He's talking about people who are His own, who He knows as His own, who know Him, but were not at that time part of His flock. They are sheep that He is going to bring to Himself, so that there will be one flock, and one Shepherd. Jesus is not teaching that all religions will get you to Heaven, as Wright seems to imply. Jesus is saying that there are a lot of sheep out there that are His, who are not part of this Jewish flock that He's talking to. He died for them, too, and He will draw them in. They will hear His voice, and listen to Him. They will know Him as their Shepherd.

The Gospel is exclusive. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, and you know I hate it when people call me intolerant, but the facts are the facts. Christianity is an exclusive faith, and anyone who says differently is misinformed at best. Joel Osteen choked on the exclusivity of Christ, and now so has Jeremiah Wright. It's a struggling point and a stumbling block for many on the left side of religion, but it's still there, and Christians everywhere stake their lives on it.

Posted by Warren Kelly at April 28, 2008 10:37 AM | TrackBack
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