Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Judging Heroes

I have presidents I like and dislike. I like Reagan. I dislike Carter. I like Coolidge. I dislike Wilson. I like Teddy Roosevelt, but I dislike Franklin Roosevelt. These are all white, Anglo-Saxon men and I like some, dislike others, and have my own criteria by which I judge whether I like them or not.

I think some people are heroes and some people are not. It takes a little more for me to call someone a hero than it does to say that I like him. I think certain men are heroic. To be a hero, I believe someone must show courage and exemplify character. I'm no hero, but I believe we have heroes in American history. Some men do heroic deeds without themselves being a hero. I see George Washington as a hero. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain did a heroic deed at Gettysburg by defending Little Round Top.

Most of you reading this know that some people think that Charles Manson or Che Guevera or even Osama bin Laden are all heroes. Since there is so much varying opinion today, we are going to disagree on who is a hero and who is not. I believe that Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver were heroes, but that Martin Luther King, Jr. and W. E. B Du Bois were not. The legacy of Washington and Carver was courage and character. Every Sunday evening at Tuskegee, Booker T. would give a talk to the students and faculty after they arrived back from church. In a Sunday evening talk during the 1913-14 school year, he said:
I suspect that each one of your parents would like to know that you are learning to read your Bible; not only to read it because you have to, but to read it every day in the year because you have learned to love the Bible; because you have learned day by day to make its teachings a part of you. . . . Each one of you, in beginning your school year, should have a Bible, and you should make that Bible a part of your school life, a part of your very nature, and always, no matter how busy the day may be, no matter how many mistakes, no matter how many failures you make in other directions, do not fail to find a few minutes to study or read your Bible.
Read this letter that Booker T. Washington wrote in 1909.

What about Martin Luther King, Jr? Consider his dealing with the deity of Christ in one of his papers. He denies the deity of Christ.

If you read this writing about the Divine Sonship of Christ and the virgin birth of Christ from the papers of King, you see that he denied both.

Here in his papers you can read what King said about salvation, that it wasn't found in any one church, teaching universalism.

And then consider this page concerning the teaching of W. E. B. Du Bois, who stole the attention and hearts of black Americans in the early twentieth century, who was not adverse to godless, Russian communism as it came about. Read the last paragraph here to get a handful of Du Bois.

Again, compare that to what Booker T. Washington writes here about work in one of his Sunday evening talks.

If someone told me that he didn't think that Lincoln was a hero. I wouldn't be offended, especially if he had some reasons. People are welcome to that opinion. I shouldn't be judged a racist if I don't think Martin Luther King, Jr. was a hero. He could have even done a heroic deed or two without being judged a hero. His good friend, and fellow civil rights leader, Ralph Abernathy, in his autobiography said King was a serial philanderer. I think that may have been the least of his bad influences. The liberation theology, the denial of the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection, the liberalism and universalism, spreading these and making them acceptable to thousands and millions, making some twice the children of hell they once were---all that moves someone out of the hero category.

I choose to appreciate the influence of men that are heroes to me: Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. I believe that if their policies were followed, instead of those of Du Bois, during the early twentieth century, a Martin Luther King wouldn't even have been necessary. Not only that, but many of the spiritual, cultural, and social problems endemic to the African-American community, would not even be existent. Equality would not just exist politically, but also in reality. On top of that, and most importantly, think of the ground that would be far more ripe for evangelism in the United States. A black president may have been elected 40 years ago.

I believe that in many cases the hero talk about certain men over others is nothing more than pandering to the intoleristas. It enables problems to continue. Ironically, it isn't heroic. It certainly isn't difficult, because it's politically correct. It goes with the flow of society and culture. It isn't what people really need to hear. We need to be honest about who the heroes are and why problems exist. It does matter who our heroes are.


Anonymous said...

Re: Abe Lincoln - there are quite a few people who oppose the virtual deification of Lincoln - here's some articles that paint a different picture of "honest Abe": http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig2/lincoln-arch.html - worth reading

christopher said...

Interesting blogpost, even it if is logically inconsistent. You say MLK is not a hero because he denied essential Christian doctrine and was an adulterer. Yet, George Washington, who also denied essential Christian doctrine and was a slave owner, is considered by you to be a hero? Odd.

Of course you are entitled to your own opinion, but you may well be the only person on the planet whose definition of 'hero' requires subscription to Nicene Creed.

i too, think Booker T. Washington was a great man, but a hero?!

This blogpost seems to be more about your willingness to buck the PC status quo rather than who is and is not a hero.

By the way, did you know that your hero George Washington Carver was rumoured to be a homosexual?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Christopher. Thanks for commenting.

It is pretty typical that someone might beguile George Washington as a slave owner, especially when one knows the history of slavery. It is well documented that Washington in the end despised slavery and would have supported abolition; he said so. You can choose not to have him as a hero. That's fine. Phyllis Wheatley, a slave herself, considered him heroic in her poem read at his funeral.

Regarding Carver, those are unsubstantiated rumors and scandalous in light of his dedication to Scripture. He never married---that's enough for some to start the rumor mongering.

I think that when someone is a preacher, he has a special responsibility. If MLK was simply a political figure, I would view him somewhat differently.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Oh, one more thing, Christopher. Have you read Up from Slavery. You might think BTW a hero if you read that. He was the most prominent black man in America in the early twentieth century, but he died in his early fifties and no one took his mantle.

Cathy said...

It is interesting how the color of you skin, or good looks defines heroism for some.

Most Anglo's wouldn't care much for Jesus these days if they actually considered His ethnicity, a swarthy and comely.