Charlamagne and the Handling of Scripture
Lenard McKelvey, or Charlamange the God, is not one to mince words or shy away from asking difficult questions. That’s why “The Breakfast Club,” which he co-hosts with DJ Envy and Angela Yee, is one of the most popular morning shows in urban radio. The trio has hosted people from Jay-Z to T.D. Jakes and is known for putting guests in the hot seat.
The interview with Pastor Carl Lentz was no exception. Lentz, who leads Hillsong Church in New York City, was discussing the chapter “The Lies We Love” in his recent book when Charlamange retorted, “The Bible is one of the lies that we love.”
Charlamange went on to suggest that the Bible was written and used as a tool of manipulation and contains irreconcilable stories and dietary laws (i.e. Cain’s wife and the consumption of pork). Some fans of Charlamange would be shocked because of his perceived affinity for the scripture. He’s written an article about the impact Jesus would have as a disc jockey, he tweets and discusses biblical doctrine, frequently quotes bible verses and has even read scripture to guests on his show.
Sadly, however, with millions of people listening, he raises baseless, unsubstantiated claims about the scriptures and displays a lack of understanding of biblical doctrine (law and gospel) and early African Christianity among other things.
While the Bible has lamentably been used as a tool of manipulation, not limited to slaveholders, Charlamagne displays the colonialism of his thinking. The Bible was written by non-Anglo Middle Easterners and ultimately points to the supremacy of an Aramaic-speaking Jew named Jesus. The Bible is not a product of Western Culture and was widely circulated in Africa for centuries before chattel slavery reared its ugly head.
Many presuppose that the first time Africans read the Bible was on plantations in the south, with slave masters using it as a tool of oppression and manipulation. Charlamagne conveniently overlooks the fact that the gospel was preached prevalently in North Africa and East Africa prior to the Arabian conquest. News of Jesus’ resurrection had already penetrated Africa prior to its expansion into Europe.
The Bible’s impact was so expansive in African countries that Ethiopia became one of the world’s first Christian nations. Frankly, Christianity has been in Africa so long that it could rightfully be considered a traditional African religion. It arrived in Africa prior to Islam and most theologians of the first four centuries were Africans.
Pivotal theological achievements occurred in Africa as well as Europe. The first time that blacks heard the liberating Gospel of Jesus was not on the plantations of southern states but as free men and women on the vast, expansive continent of Africa.
“The Breakfast Club” bills itself as the “world most dangerous morning show” and is revered for controversial discussions with high profile guests. Christian listeners should be aware that one of the most dangerous things someone of Charlamagne’s stature can do is spread misinformed half-truths about scripture.
While Bible-believing Christians should welcome dialogue about honest, healthy scepticism pertaining to the scriptures, we often end up in unfruitful exchanges when the conversation begins with false, pseudo-intellectualism and hearsay. Ultimately, in a post-truth, meme-driven era, let’s use our platforms to spread truth, not misrepresent each other’s worldviews.