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The Free Spirit

Christ Our Conqueror

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Alexander Walters, a bishop in the AME Zion church and one of the founders of the NAACP who was born into slavery, "saw the churches had untapped ability to change society," according to Gary Dorrien.   His career was spent trying to organize a civil rights movement, and he marshaled his theological views to do so.  Dorrien writes:

For Walters, the love ethic of Jesus was perfect, transforming, and universal.  Christ was 'the inspirer of all the reform movements of the world.' Thus Christianity, rightly understood, was essentially progressive, a river of progress. . . . It would probably take another two thousand years for Christianity to reach its highest development and 'conquer all evils,' he figured: 'Christ our conqueror is riding on gloriously and has the ages before Him.'"

Walters preached that "The whole plan of salvation is the complete restoration of mankind to the image of God.  Purity of life is one of the indispensable requisites for happiness and effectual service."

Preachers should teach how Jesus lived--"His self-denial, His meekness, His purity, His blameless life, His spirit of prayer, His submission to divine will, His patience in suffering, His forgiveness of His enemies, His tenderness to the afflicted, the weak and the tempted, and the manner of His death."

In response to their unjust treatment by white people, black Christians needed to learn to agitate--"By wise agitation I mean an intelligent, reasonable, yet manly presentation of the discrimination and outrages to which we are subjected." Had he lived to see the Civil Rights Movement, he probably would have been proud.

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