Thoughts on Rev. Richard Allen

For a seminary class – rushed,

Allen portrays justice as an act of a sovereign God. Throughout his narrative, he relates that he can only accomplish something because God was with him or that God had ordained it as such. But, Justice is demanded by God from his Creation, else there would be no balances to be weighed in. This is the case for emancipation, that to have slaves weighed the slaveholder down. His own master, not being a good man himself, felt the worry of being found weighed down by the injustice of slavery and set about, albeit in a very capitalistic manner, to divest himself of his slaves, or perhaps just the two brothers. Of particular insight is the role in which the character of the then-slaves played upon the master. They always put his work above the work of God’s. He could not question them in their work or devotion to him, so much so that he become convicted that much more so. He sought them to be good on their behalf, and finally, finding that he would alone answer for himself, he made for them a path to exodus. What case is this that a slave would become more enslaved so as to gain freedom? Is this now what the Apostle said when he brought edification to the brethren to serve their masters as if they were serving God? Indeed, thus is the case for emancipation, that once the masters became enslaved to the good works of grace as eschewed by their slaves, no salve would remove the blister from their soul, no balm but freedom.

He would enjoin blacks to work as to Christ, not to be bitter at the masters, but to, in every way, preach the Gospel. To the whites, I believe he would beg them to watch and then to listen. There is not great diatribe of abolition in this narrative which would be well fitting considering that it takes place concurrently with the birth of a so-called free nation. Instead, it is by subtle example which would marvel the great Greek orators of yesterday. The whites, who were serving their own hypocritical notions of creating a free nation upon the backs of slaves, must be reminded through this narrative that their comfort is brought by the discomfort of another. The slaves become Christ, beat down, murdered, scarred, and finally, not only are they set free, but they become a freeing force so that God goes with them, as freemen, to conquer the hearts and minds of the white populace, to return vital religion.

Today has given us a new set of challenges. We can easily blind ourselves to the plight of the oppressed by giving a small portion of our monthly salary to a late night speaker who speaks to the hunger of the children in Appalachia or Africa. Indeed, we can suffer the deafness to the calls for freedom by signing a pledge card, or perhaps, enjoying the comfort of avarice so that we ourselves feel good. Justice is still waiting in the cotton fields of our plantations. Race is there, but so too other ways to divide ourselves. In regards to race, I am reminded of the often spoke cliché, that Sunday mornings are the most segregated day of the American week. Why? In most major cities, I would venture to guess that there is at least one white church with a black church just a few blocks away, of the same denomination and quite possibly, of the same history. As Allen tells us, when the whites had the freedom to choose how to worship, they then made it more clear that they would also choose whom to worship with. The same thing is rampant today. We have lost a great prophetic voice by refusing to have one church, but instead, continue to separate into the white and the black churches. There needs to be a way to stop this, to be reminded of the oppression and segregated in our past so that we do not do so again.

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