Faith of A Mustard Seed

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington , M. Div.

The ‘Thesis’ statement of Romans, a major ‘Faith Event’ in this letter/book written by the “Original Apostle”,  Paul.  “God’s saving justice was witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, but now it has been revealed altogether apart from law: God’s saving justice given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 3:21-22 New Jerusalem Version.

It is a difficult thing for the modern mind to grip— this thing of “Justice and Righteousness being one and the same”.  Most especially among the English speaking people of the earth.  Again, it is the New Testament Theologian C. H. Dodd who reminds us, yea even calls it ‘embarrassing’ that the English language has not given provision for a proper translation of this most crucial biblical word when it is used as ‘just’.

Look then, at the Philosophical writings of Plato where he discusses the character of a good city.  Some recognize this as the very first citing of ‘4 Virtues’ when he states that “clearly this (good city) will be wise, brave, temperate and just.”  Others who dig deeper find the non-canonized book ‘The Wisdom of Solomon’ where 8:7 reads: “(Wisdom) teaches temperance, and prudence, and justice, and fortitude, which are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in life.”

It is no small thing, then, that the Church Fathers would institute as a very fundamental part of the teachings of Christianity these ‘Virtues’ as a means of transmitting life in faith.  Among those early Christian scholars, Ambrose is seen as having first used ‘Cardinal’ as he too, named 4: “temperance, justice, prudence, fortitude”.  Augustine offers a definition of each and all four using the word “Love”.

So where has American Justice in developing it’s SYSTEM… go so unrighteous?

In approaching this deeply Biblical dilemma I am motivated by the historical relationship that America has had with it’s African American citizenship BORN in part of it’s very own SEED; one of the most significantly overlook facts.

This week in further study in the Facebook Group @American Black Massacres History; which I am building as a study group, I continued the narrative of the “1866 Memphis Massacre”: #RealTimeHistory.  Not an #OralTradition.  Congressman Elihu Washburne in his 1866 Congressional Report on what he says was not a “Riot” as all previous Reports from Memphis has said, but “A Massacre”.

“The City Government was utterly and completely Iris in nearly all its branches: the Mayor was an Irishman;  the Recorder was an Irishman; nine out of sixteen of the City Council were Irish; and out of one hundred and eighty members of the Police Force, one hundred and sixty-three were Irish, and all the members of the police committee were Irish.  The Fire Department was nearly all Irish.  The persons composing the Police Force were of the most unworthy and disreputable character; monsters in crime, iniquity, and cruelty, and who during the riots committed acts that place vandalic barbarity far in the shade.”

In 2013  I attended the “100 City National Day of Action Vigils” which was driven by ‘race’, but was clearly a ‘call for justice’.  In looking at the crowds that gathered across this nation— from New York City where organizer, Rev. Al Sharpton and Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother were met by Jay-Z and Beyonce among others; to Atlanta’s MLK Jr. Federal Bldg; Los Angeles; Nashville; Philadelphia; New Orleans —I could see the call to ‘Justice’ and the ‘righteous’ indignation coming together to find it’s telos.

But, even as I look at the faces of the local Pastors who met with USAG Eric Holder in his Nashville appearance, I have a more grave concern for the (Black) Church’s failure to transmit these “4 Cardinal Virtues” to a generation in dire need of ‘THIS Faith’.  Opposed to killing and dying— both ‘active and passive’ as a People of God…  “The JUST shall LIVE by FAITH”.

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