Answering Jeremiah Wright
by George Hutto
When Jeremiah Wright, the former preacher at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, recently challenged the media in a National Press Club speech, he was asked a question concerning Jesus’ words in John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The questioner sought an explanation for the preacher’s acceptance of Muslims and others into his religious fellowship. Wright boldly and confidently replied, “Jesus also said, ‘I have other sheep which are not of this fold.’” The questioner was silenced, and perhaps the whole country was left with the impression that somehow Jesus made arrangements for Mohammed, New Agers, etc. as God’s accepted children.
First, let it be known that Jesus did not contradict Himself. If He said, “No man cometh to the Father but by Me,” and then said “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold,” (John 10:16) meaning folks like the Jews or Muslims who are hostile to Christianity, there is a serious contradiction in the New Testament. Something must give!
Wright’s nonsense presents just this problem, which many take as the truth – “You can prove anything by the Bible.” However, Jesus did not contradict Himself, and He is the only way to Heaven, as shown by many passages.
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).
“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,” (Hebrews 10:26. i.e. Jesus is the only acceptable sacrifice for sin).
And, Jesus certainly did not mean to say that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers like Oprah, or any other group which rejects Christ as the supreme authority would be one of His “folds.” He referred to the Gentiles and to later generations of followers who would “obey the gospel” and “become Christians.”
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, … For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38-39).
Second, interpreting the Bible so that it makes sense may require some effort, but to abandon it as incoherent or contradictory is simply not fair. We often hear statements from others which require scrutiny and deliberation, which we interpret in such a way as to give credibility to the speaker.
If a nutritionist says that a healthy diet is the only way one can be guaranteed a sound body, we don’t look at some other statement she makes about avoiding sweets and try to make her out to be conflicted. We try to make her statements fit in harmony, even if her statements restrict our diets more. (i.e., must eat vegetables, avoid sweets, don’t overeat, take vitamins, etc.) The Bible deserves the same consideration, without being minimized or mischaracterized – “Everybody interprets it in his own way.”
Third, Jesus never made any arrangements for Muslims or other religions in the Bible except for them to repent and become Christians. If an individual does not come to Jesus in humility and gospel obedience, he is none of God’s. (I John 5:19; 4:1) If Wright, Louis Farrakhan, and Oprah want to get together and “play church” they’re free to do so, but they should leave the Lord out of their schemes, because He never approved them.
Actually, Jeremiah Wright and his Trinity Church are good examples of the Social Gospel gone to seed. The Social Gospel is a movement which began in the late 1800’s which emphasizes elaborate good works in the world as opposed to preaching salvation of the soul. It started among those who doubted the virgin birth, the resurrection, the miracles, and the inspiration of scripture. As skepticism increased, the utilizing of good intentions, clout, organizational skills, and money from the churches were all used to eliminate ignorance, poverty, disease, and prejudices from the world. The hospitals, colleges, and social institutions bearing denominational names sprinkled across the land are monuments to the Social Gospel movement.
The United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Church, and to a notable degree the mainline denominations are promoters of the social gospel. Many good deeds (and some bad) are done by them, but not at the Lord’s calling.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
The reader will remember that Peter wanted to build tabernacles for Christ, Moses, and Elijah, but God had other plans. (Matthew 17:4ff) Good deeds do not always equate with being acceptable to God.
Sometimes the causes taken up are anything but Biblical: environmentalism, the Gay Movement, support of socialist governments, etc. The Trinity United Church of Christ has clearly gotten into politics, race issues, and who knows what else.
So, please be aware that Jeremiah Wright’s misuse of the scripture is not designed to promote the Lord’s cause and salvation, but to push his own twisted agenda. Jesus is still the only way to eternal life and always will be. (Matthew 28:18-20)
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (II Peter 2:1-3).