African Americans Must Look to Orthodoxy for Peace in a Violent America

African Americans Must Look to Orthodoxy for Peace in a Violent America

by Kaleb of Atlanta

This article was originally published here

Glory to Jesus Christ!

One could see that phrase today and think “How can he be rejoicing? This nation is falling apart! There are riots and a plague, and nothing is being done to combat racism in this country!”

Perhaps they are right, perhaps the nation is falling apart, and yet still we glorify our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, the one who calms the riots (Php 2:10) and heals the plague (Mt 8:4). But what about the healing of race relations?

As Christians, we know that we are all one in Christ regardless of race or identity (Gal 3:28), and yet despite that we are still divided among ourselves by ethnic lines. This verse is spiritual, we are all spiritually one in Christ, and nothing can be high enough to divide us in Him, but that does not mean that our earthly interactions are in any wise not manifested in accordance with our identities and inherent classifications. This is all to say that Black people, even as Christians, will almost universally have unique interactions with other Black people that will not be manifested in interactions with White people. Likewise, White people, even as Christians, will almost universally have unique interactions with other White people that will not be manifested in interactions with Black people.

Bishop Neophytos Kongai of Kenya (center) with Bishop Paul of Chicago (left) and Father Alexander Koranda (right) in the Holy Trinity Cathedral (2018)

How do we reconcile this fact with the current state of race relations in America? One might think my proposed solution would be to overemphasize our unity in Christ and minimize our ethnic differences, but that assertion implies that the current state of race relations is actually normal; and that we should use faith as sort of a foreign glue to keep a dying nation together. These riots and racial conflicts are NOT the normal of human interactions. It is absolutely not right for the peoples of the world or even within a nation to be fighting for that which does not save. I am proposing that we return to normal. That is not to say we return to a certain point in time, as all time periods are rife with the same conflict. Neither is that to say that we return to an idea of normal decided by the general population. We must return to an objective normal, Christ’s normal, wherein we are all according to our own, yet still in the service of the Immortal Word of God.

How do we reach this supposed normal? I seem to be making it out to be some utopia on earth, but of course we must be realistic in understanding that there will always be some obstinate enough to hold back the common good from prospering. We CAN still find a certain Divine Peace in this harsh world, however, it is all dependent on our repentance. We must absolutely flee from the very evils which perpetuate the dangerous times we are living in.

In a time of unjust killings and riots, African Americans are seeking hope where there appears to be none. The Orthodox Church has produced Black African Saints whose lives are beautifully recorded as ways which help us to see how we can walk in Christ and how we can acquire the Spirit of Peace which calms the eternal storm of a corrupted world. Our fight is not mostly physical, but spiritual. Demons attack man every day, causing some to commit evil, and us to respond likewise with evil. We must be like our Orthodox Saints, who fought evil and injustice with love, securing with them the Kingdom of Heaven as a result.

Saint Kaleb, King of Axum; Saint Maurice, Commander of the Theban Legion; Saint Fulvianus Matthew, Prince and Bishop of Ethiopia; Saint Djan Darada, the Ethiopian Eunuch

Saint Moses the Black (AD 330–405) was a slave to an Egyptian government official. He was dismissed after being accused of robbery and murder. After this, poor and impoverished, he sought a life of crime, becoming a gang leader of a notorious group of bandits. This is not unlike the story for many African Americans today. Moses was once seeking to rob a local landowner, but the owner was alerted by the dog. In anger, Moses was now seeking to kill both the owner and the dog before robbing the estate. Moses tried again, and again the owner was alerted. In anger, Moses stole and slaughtered the sheep of the land, but at this point, the authorities sought to apprehend him.

He sought refuge in a local Orthodox Christian monastery. While there, he heard the call of the Lord to repentance and requested to be tonsured an Orthodox monk, but he was initially rejected on his criminal past. The monks were not convinced of the sincerity of his repentance, but the former robber would not be driven away nor silenced. He continued to ask that they accept him. Saint Moses subjected himself to the harshest praying and fasting rules, proving himself to the monks and more importantly to God. He was subjected to constant attacks of temptation towards violence and lust, and yet with God through prayer, he overcame, and eventually was tonsured a monk. After years of service, the local Bishop saw it as good and right to ordain Saint Moses as a priest. In testing him, the Bishop proclaimed “What is this Black man doing here?” An early display of discrimination on the basis of race, Saint Moses proved himself by refusing to rise to anger, and instead choosing to silently remove himself from the situation. The Bishop saw this and was impressed by Saint Moses’s repentance, and ordained him. Saint Moses shows us that we don’t need to let criminality define us. We don’t have to play into the game that tries to make us into criminals. With Christ, we can overcome what harms us. It will not come from listening to the Devil and his calls to violence.

Bishop Sylvestros of Gulu and Eastern Uganda, Metropolitan Innocentios of Rwanda, Metropolitan Jonah of All Uganda, Bishop Neophytos Kongai of Kenya

Riots arise out of anger and hatred. Modern movements attempt to get rid of this hatred towards their own by instead promoting hatred against others. Violence is the logical conclusion of hatred, and when our culture is taught to hate, conflict is inevitable. It is always man-made organizations which will fall into traps such as these, for they put their trust in the fallibility of man in hopes that by some means their torments in this life will cease. The Holy Scriptures warn us about putting our trust in princes in whom there is no salvation (Ps 146:3). Organizations such as “Black Lives Matter” are truly a misnomer, for in their search of attempting to convince people of their namesake, they have removed the value of Black people and made them to be pawns in a greater game which only searches for destruction. They have idiotically convinced themselves that Black people will never rise out of their struggles, so they chose instead to force everyone to dwell in their struggles. “Black Lives Matter” will never be able to convince people of their position because the philosophy forming the groundwork their thought process cannot account for why any lives matter, let alone Black lives. Without Christ, the Objective Rule of Morality, there is no reason to assume Black lives actually do matter, since without Christ nothing matters. We see our Orthodox Saints fight for Black Lives in a way nothing in the modern world can compare to because they founded their defense of Black Lives on Christ our True God and his One, Holy, Universal and Apostolic Orthodox Church.

Saint Elesbaan of Ethiopia (AD 510–540), who is also known as Saint Kaleb of Axum, who is my patron Saint, shows us how to live a Godly life in defending Black Lives.

Saint Elesbaan of Ethiopia was an Orthodox Christian monarch of the Empire of Axum when it was brought to its greatest extent ever, and all for the protection of his Orthodox Christians. When given notice that Jewish Warlords were oppressing Orthodox Christians in Yemen and Himyaritia, much like how many slave ships to America were owned and operated by Jews, Saint Elesbaan mobilized immediately to invade the area, for he could not bear to sit idly by while his own people were being massacred. He declared war on Dunaan, but his military campaign was unsuccessful.

Wishing to learn the reason for his defeat, Saint Elesbaan, with prompting from above, turned to a certain hermit. He revealed to the emperor that he had proceeded unrighteously in deciding to take revenge against Dunaan, since the Lord had said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay!” (Heb 10:30). The hermit counseled Saint Elesbaan make a vow to devote his final days of life to God, to escape the wrath of God for his self-willed revenge, and then to defeat Dunaan. Saint Elesbaan made a vow to the Lord, and marching off with his army against the enemy, he defeated, captured and executed him. After the victory the Saint resigned as emperor, secluded himself within a monastery and for fifteen years he dwelt in strict fasting and asceticism.

What do we see here? This pious King let anger and unrighteous revenge overcome his mind, and as a result, lost his battle in defense of Black Lives. This is very reflective of the modern conflict in America, which only leads to more suffering for African Americans due to the refusal of our people to repent before God and seek righteous overcoming of every evil which perils us. African Americans are a divided flock. We are unsatisfied with our modern churches, which have all deviated from the Original Orthodox Faith. We fight ourselves, degrading both genders for baseless stereotypes, we murder our own unborn in the womb, we allow ourselves to be swayed by the simple propaganda of the mainstream media which lies to instigate us to violence. We do all these things when we could be saving ourselves and each other through our Lord Jesus Christ.

What if we are already plagued by sins? Certainly, we all are. Many of us are hypocritically attending Church while going home to dwell in our iniquities: Fornication and Adultery, leading causes of the epidemic of Black Fatherlessness in America. Abortion, which kills us more than any outside group or disease. Innocent boys and girls were robbed of their lives merely because it would be an inconvenience to us. Why do we not rise up against the destruction of Black Lives in the wombs just as much as we do when they are killed on the street? All these riots and not one destroyed Planned Parenthood! That shows where our priorities are as a people in America. Our churches have left us dissatisfied because they, too, submit to worldliness. It’s a testament to their deviation from the faith of the Apostles. John 5:39–40 [You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.]

Despite all our sins, our God is a loving and merciful God, seeking the salvation of all who repent and turn to Him. Just as the scriptures say a murderer has no life in him (1 Jn 3:15), we are still offered Eternal Life by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim 6:12, Rm 6:23, Gal 6:8) through his Orthodox Church (Mt 16:18). Our Orthodox Saints are the model of repentance.

Saint Fulvianus was a Prince of Ethiopia at the time the Apostle Saint Matthew arrived in the land. The Apostle Matthew established an oasis there using a miracle-working rod given to him by God, and by the miracles displayed there brought many Black People to the Orthodox Christian Faith. This already dispels the tired myth that Christianity is a White Man’s Religion to oppress Black People. In truth, Orthodoxy is the Original Christian Faith, and it made some of its earliest work in African Nations, but I digress. Prince Fulvianus saw the miracles and was angered because he was a staunch pagan. Prince Fulvianus seized Saint Matthew, setting up idols around the Holy Apostle and tying him down to burn him alive. Saint Matthew died and gave his soul up unto the Lord, but his body was miraculously unharmed. Prince Fulvianus was deeply troubled at the sight of this, but still had his doubts of the True Faith. He instructed that the Body of the Holy Apostle be thrown into the sea in a metal coffin, demanding that the God of Matthew protect his body again as it was protected from the flames. Later, the soul of the Apostle Matthew appeared to the Orthodox communities he established and told them to go to the shore, where they found the coffin washed up, and the incorrupt body of Saint Matthew within. Saint Fulvianus begged desperately for forgiveness for his sins, received baptism and confession from the Orthodox clergy there. The Prince abdicated his rule to dedicate his life to Christ, and became a priest, eventually becoming the Bishop there and spent the remaining years of his life preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was crowned with glory in Heaven for his repentance.

So we see, no matter how evil our deeds, God offers us the sacrament of confession, by which our sins are remitted. We must all live a life full of repentance so that the same end met by our Orthodox Saints is met by us.

We have already seen that these worldly organizations are not in the ultimate benefit of us, but how can we be so quick to trust the Orthodox Church?

Saint Djan Darada, also known as Saint Aetius, is the Ethiopian Eunuch in the Book of Acts.

Acts 8:26–40

[Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.

So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this:

“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”

So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.]

We see in the story of Saint Djan Darada the necessity to trust our Bishops, who have been given the authority to Bind and Loose on Earth as in Heaven (Mt 18:18), and have been given the power to forgive sins by our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ (Jn 20:23). The Kingdom of Heaven is our Eternal joy (Heb 11:16), freedom from the bondage of sin (Rm 6:16), and the end of all earthly struggles (Rev 21:4). Anyone who can offer that is to be trusted and only the Orthodox Church can.

Even if you were to not look at the Kingdom of Heaven, for some bizarre reason, we can only see the fulfillment of proper race relations by the Orthodox Church. As seen before, no man-made organization is ultimately going to save us, they will lead us astray. Only the Orthodox Faith is capable of accounting for the ethical justification of why lives matter and applying that in a universal way.

Orthodoxy is the only religion, the only worldview, that can properly, legitimately, and consistently apply the understanding of human dignity compared to any other worldview.” – David Medwhite

If we ever seek to end this reign of terror brought on by the enemies of mankind, we must begin at the beginning of the wisdom (Pr 9:10): the Fear of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God.

I encourage everyone who has graced me with their reading of this article to visit an Orthodox Church near you. Try using this link to a directory.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have Mercy on all of us sinners.

Kaleb of Atlanta

If you, reader, are inspired and encouraged by this post, be sure to check out other musings from the author at https://kalebatlantaprime.medium.com/

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