Major thanks and blessings to Pastor D. L. Foster for covering the issue of Church of God in Christ leader and head pastor of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ Charles Blake for signing the universal declaration of human rights. Many supporters of Charles Blake have gone to his website and also to my Youtube site where I posted a video of Blake speaking on the topic. Many have responded to the effect that Blake only intended to support human rights, not homosexuality, and as a matter of fact he is a leader in opposing the sin of homosexuality; that his views concerning this area are doctrinally sound. Now I know little concerning Charles Blake’s views and ministry, so I will defer to the statements of his congregants and supporters, who quite naturally are far more qualified to speak to such issues.
Realize that the issue here is not so much Blake’s actual teachings and views on homosexuality, but the fact that Blake compromised himself by dealing with the human rights crowd in the first place. If you join with people who have anti – Biblical agendas, then you inevitably wind up being servants of that agenda. That is why the Bible makes it clear that Christians, especially pastors, are to be very careful about whom we walk with and join ourselves to. This is true of both the “Christian right” and the “Christian left.”
You see, no Christian should ever endorse the concept of “human rights” because according to the Bible, no such thing exists. Read the Bible, and you will never see anything stating or implying that people have human, civil, or individual rights. The Bible has nothing to do with rights, which constitutes treatment and benefits that individuals and groups deserve and that others – including ultimately God – are obligated to provide them. Rather than being a text that grants humans rights, it gives us responsibilities, all of which center around believing in, obeying, and serving God. Again, the Bible speak of rights given to man, but of man’s responsibility to God.
It is true, of course, that the Bible contains many instructions outlining ethical and moral treatment of human beings. But be not deceived: these things are in no way general, and are certainly not because humans deserve this, or have some “right” to this treatment. The idea that this is the case is the common fallacy of political and ideological liberals and conservatives. Liberals de – spiritualize the Bible, in the process removing everything about God and man’s obligation to him, and instead read it as a philosophical tract. So, for liberals the requirements for ethical behavior contained in the Bible is truthfully all the Bible is, and as a result they remove it from its intended context. Conservatives, for their part, use the Bible as a social contract for imposing laws and morality on society at large. While this does emphasize human obligation over rights, this obligation is to the state and society (the world) instead of to God, and as a result often rejects true justice and mercy (the weightier matters of the law).
Though they are opposite ends of the political and even theological scale, in truth liberals and conservatives both create this error for the same reason: that the Bible message is not meant to govern everyone, but rather only members of the faith community in a covenant relationship with God. In the Old Testament this was Israel, in the New Testament it is the church. The exhortations to ethical behavior and treatment of humanity was only revealed to God’s elect; how they were to treat believers and everyone else. Outside of instructing believers how they were to behave towards their fellow man, the instructions that we should love one another, treat one another well, and defend the powerless have no context and application. In short, it is not because of the inherent worth or value of human existence that gives people the right to be loved, well treated, and defended. It is solely because God commands us to do so.
And why does God tell us to do so? It is not because of the people, their value to God, and His love for them, though God certainly does value and love us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to take on sin and be slain on a cross. It is because God is a holy and righteous God, and He expects His covenant people, His elect, to reflect His holiness and righteousness in our behavior. If we are being cruel towards our fellow man, we are not reflecting God’s holy and righteous character. So again, our responsibility to treat other members of the human race with love, decency, and respect is our obligation to God and is an act of loving and serving God.
Evidence of this is the famous statement of 1 John 4:20 “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” Now the humanist perspective on this verse only focuses on how we are to love our brother. Of course, that is wrong. The verse is not about loving your brother at all. It is about loving God. The verse is contained within a passage of 1 John concerning our loving God, and speaks of how this is accomplished. It is not a passage on how we are to love humanity, it is a passage that tells us to love, honor, and obey GOD by loving humanity.
The same is true of Jesus Christ’s teachings about how Christians should treat widows, the poor, strangers, those in prison, orphans, etc. He did not teach that Christians should do this for the sake of people in need because they inherently deserved this behavior, had some human or civil right to this treatment. Instead, Jesus Christ stated “as you do to them, you do to me!” Again, Jesus Christ made ethical treatment of humanity an act of service to HIM, not to humanity. Again, please read Matthew 25:34-46 and you see the emphasis is on Jesus Christ, not on people. Goodness to people is presented as a way of loving Christ, not as an obligation to humanity for humanity’s sake. And again, we are to love humanity because God loves humanity, because as God’s people we are obligated to reflect God’s loving, holy, and righteous character in all that we do, including but not limited to how we treat other people.
Of course, the liberal Christian reads that passage, despiritualizes it, and humanizes it. That results in the emphasis being removed from God and placed on man, and a reading where man inherently deserves and is obligated to receive good treatment, and other humans are obligated to give it. This, of course, comes from liberal theology’s rejection of original sin. The idea that human, civil, or individual rights exist can only be countenanced if we reject the idea that we are nothing but sinners who deserve only wrath and can only be saved by God’s grace, and that any value that we have is not inherent, but rather because God graciously gives that value to us.
So the question has to be asked: why is Charles Blake, the leader of a very theologically conservative denomination (it’s true, if the issue of women in ministry is removed, Pentecostal denominations are actually the most conservative) following after liberal theology to begin with? The answer: the civil rights movement. Charles Blake is black, and has bought into the belief that human rights is the logical extension, the next phase if you will, of the movement that Martin Luther King, Jr. led. To be honest, he is 100% correct. Martin Luther King, Jr. said so himself!
The problem is that the civil rights movement was not a Christian movement at all. It was not a movement designed to bring people to the Jesus Christ of the Bible and cause them to obey and serve that Jesus Christ. Instead, the civil rights movement was about securing better treatment for humanity, and the movement merely appropriated Bible texts that were convenient to their agenda while completely ignoring others. This should come as no surprise, for most of the civil rights movement’s leaders were explicitly not Christian, and even those who professed to be Christian – like King – rejected the doctrines that actually make a person Christian. Virtually every preacher, pastor, etc. in the upper ranks of the civil rights leadership rejected the inspiration and authority of scripture, and King himself rejected the deity of Jesus Christ, seeing Him as merely a human political leader.
Yet, because the civil rights movements gained black people in America so many temporal benefits, it is practically impossible for any black man to stand up and say that the civil rights movement was never Christian in any sense and retain the respect and support of the black community. So, black people desiring this respect and support must continue to carry water for the band of atheists, communists, homosexuals, theological liberals, Jews and other decidedly non – Christians that were the civil rights movements’ spokesmen and leaders and for their movement. This, of course, means black Christian pastors that choose to lead overwhelmingly black congregations. It is sad to say, but any pastor of a black congregation who shares with his congregation the hard truth concerning the civil rights movement will find himself no longer leading – or truth be known employed by – a black congregation in short order. So, as a pastor of a large, prominent, respected church containing many black members of some influence and reputation AND having a leadership post in a black denomination Bishop Charles Blake has to not only go along with it concerning the civil rights like everyone else, but embrace it.
Not only that, but because of the status that he has attained in being a clergy in, of, and for the black community, Blake finds himself under a great deal of pressure. It is not enough to merely be a black preacher, but he is under pressure to be a black leader, to take up the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the other civil rights leaders and carry it forward. The narrative has long been established that black ministers cannot simply ply their trade as white, Hispanic and Asian ministers do, but have to add a social justice/social activism/civil rights component. If you are the leader of a small humble storefront congregation that has 75 members, it is easy to resist the pressure, the temptation, to be “more than just a minister” but a civil rights leader. But the more influential, the more prominent that you become as a pastor in the black community, the greater the pressure and temptation to take up Martin Luther King Jr.’s work becomes. The problem is that the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. was not the work of Jesus Christ, not least because Martin Luther King, Jr. did not even believe in Jesus Christ, let alone serve Him.
So it may yet be true that Charles Blake has the Biblical view towards homosexuality. What is equally true, however, is that Charles Blake has an unBiblical behavior towards the world, and exhibited it by going along with these unbelievers with the human rights declaration despite knowing full well that these unbelievers will – as unbelievers tend to do – use the human rights declaration to support and promote sin while opposing righteousness. There are two verses that apply here. Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Well, Blake is walking with these people despite knowing full well what they are all about. Now while Pastor Foster is focusing on the homosexuality angle (which is a bit regrettable because it somewhat clouds the issue) the main problem with the universal declaration of human rights where I am concerned is that it is very much a religious universalistic – or at the very minimum religious pluralistic – effort, working to make the “many paths to heaven” lie the only acceptable language of religious discourse and bringing us closer to the day where saying that Jesus Christ is the only path to heaven is bigotry – a human rights violation! – because it offends Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, wiccans, etc.
Second, there is James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Look, Pastor Charles Blake is a very educated, intelligent and accomplished man. He knows what these human rights people are about. He knows what the civil rights crowd is and was about. He knows that “human rights” has no place in a Biblical worldview. Yet he does this because of his position in the world and his desire to keep it.
So ultimately, this has nothing to do with homosexuality at all. It is all about worldiness, and what Bishop Charles Blake has allowed himself to get mixed up with is still more evidence why Christians, most of all pastors, should heed the Bible’s instructions to flee it.
P.S. I don’t want any of you folks coming on here quoting what some famous preacher or theologian says about human, civil, or individual rights, and I ESPECIALLY do not want to read any nonsense about “natural law” or any other perversion of what scripture teaches about common grace. Those things are not the process of a literal, exegetical reading of scripture, but notions that came to us from systematic theology. Systematic theology is the convergence of Bible doctrines (which truthfully, is not exactly the Bible itself, but is honestly one step removed) and western philosophy, and western philosophy originated and is largely rooted in pagan Hellenism. Now while systematic theology has its uses (especially for westerners and we do live in a western culture … I should point out that for non – western people systematic theology is must less useful and more problematic, and non – western Christians have been trying to communicate this fact for centuries), it has to be directly wedded to the Bible to make sense. But once you depart from the Bible, well let us just say that I am convinced that a skilled enough systematic theologian could make a compelling case that 1+1=3. If you don’t believe me, go read about how some of the great systematic theologians justified such things as torturing and killing heretics. Yep, the same folks who went around prattling about human or individual rights derived from natural law thought nothing of tying someone to a stake and burning him to death, using green wood so that the death would be as slow and painful as possible. The truth is that if you read the Bible exegetically and refrain from eisegesis (infusing the text with ideas and meanings that aren’t present), you will not find the concept of human, individual, or civil rights and liberties in the Bible, only of man’s responsibility to respond to God in faith with service, obedience, and trembling.