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Rev Joel Edwards on Sam Sharpe Inspirational Breakfast


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Sam Sharpe Lecture ‘Rebellion and Righteousness – The foundations of faith?’

7 October 2015: Roehampton University 

Whenever I have the privilege of talking about an iconic figure my immediate tendency is to paint their achievements on a much wider canvas. My own view is that great heroes are constrained by a reading of their work that freezes them into our own politicized construct. Consequently, a Nat Turner, Paul Bogle or Sam Sharpe, shoe-horned into a Black History month may, paradoxically, become smaller as a result.

So I want to discuss Sharpe against the wide lens of Christian religion.

Fallacies about faith
Religion in general and Christianity in particular has been blamed for many atrocities in the world. The absolute claims and intolerance of religious dogma, it is said, is responsible for war and terrorism.

But there is also a misleading idea about faith that has grown up with Christian piety. It is the notion that Christian faith is little more than a political pacifier. In the statement attached to Karl Marx, religion is the opiate of the masses. Peace with God, turning the other cheek, peace-maker status and loving your enemy all amount to a comprehensive passivism which neutralizes Christians from political passion.

Historians tell us that during the European revolutions of the 19th century Wesley’s revival played a major role in averting revolution in Britain. And it used to be said that the House of Lords is the Church of England in prayer.

The truth is that to a very large extent the Church has colluded with this idea. It was a failure of the Church in the rise of Nazism.

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