The Prophet that Scandalized Evangelicals Need: Reverend Rivers III Speaks to Students on MLK Day for Black History Month
In honor of Black History Month, Reverend Eugene Rivers III lectured students in the City Room at The King’s College on the significance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a voice for awakening the political consciousness of evangelicals.
“To the extent to which our churches and our organizations have compromised the purity of the Gospel, we have a scandal,” Rivers claimed.
Rivers established Dr. King as a model for exposing the spiritual conflict behind the political events in the Evangelical church: King preached love even while his house was getting burnt down with his wife and children still inside.
“The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a God of love,” Rivers said.
According to Rivers, there has been a betrayal in the exchange of Christian culture for political convenience. His solution to this epidemic comes from reconciliation within the Church and the saints participating in intercessory prayer for the state of our country. The “scandal” came about once the church allowed partisan politics to outweigh the importance of the Gospel of Christ.
Rivers explained that American society often tries to diminish the significance of the martyrs and prophets, like Dr. King, who were sent by God to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” He described Dr. King’s teachings as a commitment to the love that can be reflected in Jesus’ teachings.
“Jesus was not partisan. He wasn’t here for a revolutionary program, he was here to do the will of his Father,” Rivers said.
Rivers explained that after 50 years since the assassination of Dr. King, Americans still lack a mature understanding of those events as a part of a larger, “kairos” moment, which is a time in history where “crisis intersects with opportunity.” Few people think about the spirituality that was working within the Civil Right Movement, he claimed. In reality, the situation of racial segregation would’ve been worse if Dr. King didn’t take a stand with love.
“50 years ago, had King not articulated the ethic of love, we would’ve had a straight out race war,” Rivers said.
He explained that it is imperative for Americans to examine politics through a spiritual lens because there are certain truths that are too vast for the human mind to comprehend apart from the Spirit of God.
Many of the historical depictions of Martin Luther King’s teachings failed to name, unmask, and engage the spiritual powers that determine human existence and capture how white supremacy was a “demonic principality.”
In response to questions concerning how the student body can take action, Rivers said, “Study, pray, and love. We have to learn how to love those who deny a history that they benefited from. The person has to be willing to be open to hear the truth. America needs to have an exorcism performed on herself because she is [a] demon possessed nation. This country has to build bridges between forgiveness and repentance.”
Being a former gang member himself, Rivers advocated against gang violence for over 35 years. He established the Azusa Christian Community in 1984 in Boston, Massachusetts. Rev. Rivers is also an accomplished author who wrote essays including, Political Leadership Regarding AIDS and the Sexual Holocaust in Africa (1999), A Pastoral Letter to President George W. Bush on Bridging our Racial Divide (2001), and many others.