Saturday, December 31, 2005

Battle Stations 5

Lance Lewis' latest post in his Battle Station series is online.

Battle Stations Part 5

Reformational Women - Reformational Families

As you know by now, my heart is for the glory of God in Reformational Theology. There is no more accurate and God-glorifying expression of truth in this world than biblical, experiential Reformed Theology. Yet, reformed theology is not just the Doctrines of Grace. Reformed theology is not just the Five Solas. Being reformed is not just asserting that one is a 5 point Calvinist. No. Being Reformed is never less than these things, but it is always much more. Being Reformed is a worldview. It is understanding that the biblical truth of God's sovereign glory is to be sought and manifested in all of life. There is no sphere of my life which is not impacted by Reformed Theology. Therefore, if we are going to really seek God's favor in a movement of Reformed Theology among African-Americans, we must articulate it not just in terms of the tenets that are easily identified, but we must seek to bring the truth of reformed theology to bear on all of life. With that said, I want to make a plea for Reformed Black Women and Reformed Black Families.
The Reformed movement among African-Americans needs to here the voices of our women. We need to listen to them, even as we speak with them and to them. The family is one of those glorious realms where Reformed theology must make an impact. The role of women in the home, the church, and the world is key in God's purposes. Where are the reformed black women? I know you are out there. Let's hear from you! Where are those who are committed to Reformed truth in the black family? I know you are out there. Let's hear from you.
Recently, Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters have started a blog for women (and us men, who are so inclined to learn how to better serve the women in our lives). The blog is Girl Talk. It may be an example for what could be done among African-American women.
Brothers and Sisters, the time has come to take this truth to all of life. Reformed Theology says that God is sovereign in salvation. True. But beyond the elementary principles of the Doctrines of Grace is the understanding that God is sovereign in my home, in my worship, in my world. To this end, we need Reformational Women. We need Reformational Families. Who will be the voice articulating these needs? If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Captain Lance Calls Us To Battle

Pastor Lance Lewis has been blogging at Reformed Blacks of America. Apparently he is in combat mode (as we all should be). He is laying out a plan of action for us that we need to seriously consider as we engage our world and communities with Reformed Theology. You can read his comments below:

Battle Stations part 1
Battle Stations part 2
Battle Stations part 3
Battle Stations part 4

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Philip Ryken "Chimes" In on Veith

Here are the comments of Philip Ryken concerning Veith's "Commercialization of Christmas." Does Ryken share your sentiments?

Ryken: In response to Gene Veith's short essay in defense of commercializing Christmas, I have four short observations:

First, as a notable Christmas enthusiast and fellow-Lutheran, Luther himself would have enjoyed Gene's piece.

Second, it is quite right to give gifts -- and generous ones, too -- at Christmas and at other times. When the Bible describes the grace of God as a gift, it assumes a universe in which people give and receive gifts. It is to the credit of Christianity that gift-giving has flourished most in cultures that celebrate the birth of Christ.

Third, when secular people seek to find something special in Christmas, we should not scorn them for missing its true meaning, but rather sympathize them for grasping for what their hearts are seeking.

Fourth, while something can and perhaps should be said for the commercialization of Christmas, something always needs to be said about its over-commercialization.

(Comments are taken from Reformation 21 Blog)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Is Christmas Too Commercial?

In watching the excitement of my children again this year, I was reminded just how great was the joy of those who went to see the Christ-child. Christmas is the most joyous and celebrative time of the year and rightly so. The events surrounding the coming of Christ demonstrate this truth. However, recently Gene Veith has suggested that even the commercialization of Christmas in our culture is a good testimony to the glories that are God's in the coming of the Christ-child. He would not only have us celebrate Christmas, but also find the commercialism rather celebratory as well. Read this article and let me know what you think?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

"When the First Woman urged the First Man to sip the Sweet Poison is it so surprising that the damage was repaired through Another Woman? Is it so astonishing that this Other Woman made up for the sin of the First Man by giving birth to Christ." - Augustine of Hippo

Special Greeting: Merry Christmas from the Carter Family

Thursday, December 22, 2005

For Christmas We Need (2)...

Pastors With Conscience.

"And looking intently at the council, Paul said, 'Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day."(Acts 23:1)

Closely aligned with courage is a preachers willingness to preach with a conscience, not sparing his people the truth. This is second on my wish list this Christmas. We not only need men who will have the courage to stand up for biblical, reformed theology, but we also need men who will preach with a conscience that understands that truth-pursuing, justice-demanding, peace-seeking, and truth-telling are his calling. Often times this calling will lead him to convictions of conscience that perhaps many in his church will not hold. Often times this calling will challenge him to pursue truth and demand justice where he is not comfortable. Yet we need men who will be lead by the truth of scripture and consciences duly informed to tell the truth for the glory of God and good of His people. There will be times when hot, even political issues, become necessary topics of discourse in the church. The African-American Reformed preacher must not only have courage when he is popular, but he must have courage when his conscience has been informed by God's word though the populace may not be. Such issues of abortion, racism, feminism, male-chauvinism, and homosexuality may be contentious and even highly debated political issues, but the man of God must know that these are not just political issues. In fact, they are more importantly moral issues that a man of God with a conscience must be willing and prepared to deal with truthfully and justly when called upon to do so.

We need preachers with conscience who will say, unapologetically that where the Bible calls for a conservative stance, then he will be conservative. And where the Bible calls for a more progressive stance, then he will be progressive. We need preachers who will take these stances not because they are politically expedient, but because they are biblically right. Where police brutality or human torture is evident, we need preachers who will call it what it is, and stand of the conviction of the justice demands of the Word of God. Where abortion is out of control and the slaughter of babies is common fare, then too the man of God must be willing to the call the country and his congregation into account with the just and righteous demands of God's law. When we fail to pursue righteousness, justice, and the truth of God, we fail to truly reflect the God we claim to represent (Mic. 6:8; see also Is. 30:18, 61:8; Amos 5:12).

Have we lost all of the preachers with courage and conscience? Luther was a man of courage who would not go against conscience. John Knox was a man of courage and conscience. So too were Lemuel Haynes and Francis Grimke. Where are the Reformed African-American preachers who will not go against Scripture or conscience because it is neither right nor safe? I am hoping to find a few under the Christmas tree this year.

For Christmas We Need...

Preachers With Courage.

There is a famine in the land - not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord (Amos 8:11).

Today I begin my Christmas Wish List with a plea for Pastors with Courage. More than ever we need African-American preachers who claim to hold to biblical, reformed theology to stand up, preach up, man up and say so. Often it is popular when in the company of reformed brothers and sisters to say you are reformed. However, when the time of testing comes, that is the time of preaching and teaching, there is abject failure. In too many churches where the preacher claims to be reformed, we find little to no reference to the Doctrines of Grace. We find little to know reference to the historic confessions. We find little to no emphasis upon the glories that are the sovereignty and supremacy of God. There is little mention of the depths of human sinfulness. The notion of Christ's atonement being particular and therefore truly efficacious is foreign and far from serious consideration. And though mentioning that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone would get a hearty "amen," the fact of the matter is that few would understand or articulate it biblically so that grace is sovereign grace, faith is the gift of God, and Christ is Lord.

Many would offer the excuse that they would not want to offend anyone in their congregation. They would say that while they hold to these truths privately, it would not serve them nor their church to preach them in public. While I have some sympathy for this position, after all this man is double-minded and therefore unstable, I must challenge him to believe God and stop doubting (James 1:5-8). For such men not only lack wisdom, but ultimately they lack the faith necessary to stand bold and even die for Christ. If we hold the conviction that reformed theology is the truth of the revealed Word of God, then to preach anything else would be an utter abandonment of God's calling. Understand, we all have been in positions where standing firm upon the truth of God has made us uncomfortable. We all have had times when we thought discretion in matters of theology was the better part of valor. Nevertheless, I have found that when reformed theology is presented with gracious, loving, biblical clarity very few African-American Christians flat out reject it. And those who do find it unprofitable, it is the message they reject and usually not the messenger. For if the truth of God offends, then let God be glorified. But if the truth teller is offensive, then let him be ashamed.

Brothers and sisters, "the fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trust in the Lord shall be safe" (Prov. 29:25). This hour is calling for Pastors With Courage. We need men who will not fear men, but will graciously preach the truths of Scripture and live out the implications of these truths in worship without apology. Creflo Dollar does not apologize for preaching prosperity because it his conviction both in public and in private that prosperity is the truth of Scripture. Why should we, who hold to the historical and biblical understanding of Reformed Theology, be so apologetic and apprehensive in our convictions. As Hank Hannegraf would say, "Are we willing to do for the truth, what Creflo does for a lie?"
May we find under our tree this Christmas, men who have the courage of their convictions and give a clear, distinct sound that their people may rightly be prepared for battle.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My Kind of Pastor

Recently I heard CJ Mahaney say that Josh Harris was his favorite pastor. Reading Josh's recent comments concerning this coming Sunday's worship service at Covenant Life Church makes me understand why. With the courage of his convictions and the humility to admit faults, Josh Harris has demonstrated what a shepherd after God's own heart really is. You can read Pastor Harris' remarks at Covenant Life. What an example! We could use more pastors with such courage and humility. Thanks Josh.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I know, I know, I am suppose to begin listing my Christmas Wish List. However, I just had to let you in on this new Christmas CD by Kenton Bostick entitled "Hear What I Hear!" Kenton is part of our worship band at Southwest Christian Fellowship. He plays keyboard, drums, and the saxophone. On this CD he has arranged some our favorite Christmas Songs and hymns with his gifted jazz flavor. This is a must hear and a must get. You can listen to the first track, Do You Hear What I Hear and even request a copy by going to Southwest Christian Fellowship Resources and clicking on the link to the song.

Monday, December 19, 2005

What We Need For Christmas

I always know Christmas has arrived when I receive those Christmas Wish Lists. You see, my wife encourages our children to write down what they would like to receive for Christmas. No matter how long the list, my children understand that they will likely only receive one item from their respective list. Usually, we decide to get the item that is most economical (sorry, no xbox 360 this year) and will serve the family as well as the individual. For instance, my youngest daughter (age 5) will get a bike. This serves the rest of the family in that she will no longer bug her siblings about riding theirs. It is always a joy to see children receive one of the gifts they treasured and to watch them light up with thanksgiving and praise for the faithfulness of their parents (there is a spiritual truth somewhere in there). But this year, I have decided to make my own list. I have decided to let you know what I believe we need this Christmas from those men and pastors who call themselves Reformed. I was most encouraged by the Pastors Conference in Miami last month, however I continue to be disappointed (to put it mildly) by many who say they are reformed, but show little to no evidence of Reformational understanding in their preaching and worship. I will grant that some men are Reformed, but stilling reforming. To these I say, Amen! I am with you and pray that our journey will continue to bear fruit for eternity. However, there are far too many men, particularly African-American, who say they are reformed, but are more misinformed than reformed; their preaching and worship is more deformed than reformed. To them I say, enough! We must be preachers and pastors after God's own heart. And if the Bible reveals God's heart, and if we are convinced that Reformed Theology best articulates the Bible, then my wish list for this Christmas is simple. I wish for Reformed African-American Preachers to indeed be Reformed. Over the next few days I will articulate in more detail what I mean by this. However, today know that I too have a Christmas Wish List. And I pray that we get everything on my list. Yeah I know, my children probably pray the same prayer :-).

Friday, December 16, 2005

No Lord's (Birth) Day this Year

Do you find it interesting that those churches that are opting not to hold worship services on Sunday, Christmas Day, are churches who tend not to have a theology of the Lord's Day? I could be wrong, but the churches that I have heard who are not holding services on Christmas Day are churches in which you would be hard pressed to hear articulated a message of Sabbath Celebration. This should not lead us to believe that churches who do opt to have services on Christmas do so because they have a theology of Sabbath Celebration. Nevertheless, there does seem to be a connection between the biblical and historical understanding of the Lord's Day and the decision to worship or not to worship on Christmas Day Sunday. Canceling services for Sunday and opting instead to have one or two services on Saturday is the prerogative of each church. However, developing a theology of the Lord's Day and articulating it in Word and deed is the responsibility of each Christian and church. Think about it, this year we have the awesome privilege of not only worshipping on the Lord's Day, but to celebrate the Lord's birthday on His day. Why would any church not want to take advantage of the opportunity to make the statement that Christ is Lord, not only on the Lord's Day but even more on the commercialized day that is His birthday? Apparently, Jesus is the reason for the season, but He is not reason enough to gather for worship on Christmas Morning.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Songs of the Season

Christmas undoubtedly has the best songs of all the holidays. Every year as we celebrate the Advent Season, we hear some of the most wonderful tunes, both sacred and secular. I can not recall a Christmas without repeatedly hearing Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song." My family knows that I am feeling the season when Nat's song is frequently coming through the speakers. Likewise, to hear Nat King Cole sing, "O Holy Night" is to know what God created such magnificent talent to do. I am pleased to say that not all the great songs are of years gone by. Recently I came across a song written by Stuart Townend - of "In Christ Alone" fame - entitled "From the Squalor of a Borrow Stable (Immanuel)," which has taken me by storm and has immediately been added to my favorite Songs of the Season. I am not sure if Mr. Townend meant for it to be a Christmas song, but it is on my list. The brilliant opening lines should give you some sense of why:

From the squalor of a borrowed stable
By the Spirit and a virgin's faith
To the anquish and the shame of scandal
Came the Savior of the human race
But the skies were filled with the praise of Heaven
Shepherds listen as the angels tell
Of the gift of God come down to man
At the dawning of Immanuel

If you have never heard this wonderful song, do yourself the favor and find it this Christmas season. The only disappointment I have is that Nat King Cole did not get a chance to add his soulful flare to it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bethlehem Baptist is Calling

Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN - you know, the church where John Piper is Senior Pastor - is seeking to fill two staff positions. The following is the position information provided by Bethlehem Baptist Church:

Pastor for Neighborhood Outreach - North Campus,
Pastor for Neighborhood Outreach - Downtown Campus

We are a multi-campus church of 3,500+ currently meeting on two sites in the Twin Cities. Our mission is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. We are Calvinistic in our theology, Baptistic in polity, Charismatic in our affections, committed to racial harmony and driven by the truth that
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

Bethlehem is looking for two Pastors for Neighborhood Outreach to serve each of our campuses. The Pastor for Neighborhood Outreach - North Campus and the Pastor for Neighborhood Outreach - Downtown Campus will seek to fulfill the mission of Bethlehem Baptist Church by mobilizing the church to love our near neighbors by means of evangelism and deeds of mercy for the glory of Christ.
Successful candidate must be a team-builder, flexible, able to champion a compelling vision, and inspire a movement. He must also meet the elder qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Interested? To apply for the position at the North Campus, please send a current resume to:

Jen Brendsel, Bethlehem Baptist Church - North Campus, 5151 Program Avenue, Mounds View, MN 55112
or via e-mail to

To apply for the position at the Downtown Campus, please send a current resume to:
Connie Kopischke, Bethlehem Baptist Church
720 13th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55415
or via e-mail at

It would be wonderful if one of these positions could be filled by an African-American brother. If you, or someone you know would be interested in one of these positions, do contact Bethlehem and make a serious inquiry.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hearts and Minds

Here's an interesting blog for you bibliophiles. Hearts and Minds Booknotes is the blog for Byron Borger. I recently met Byron at a staff retreat for The Coalition for Christian Outreach. I must admit that he is the most engaging and interesting bibliophile I have met in a long time. Quite the fella.

On Biblical Justice

Recently I read an informative and thought-provoking short book by Chris Marshall entitled, "The Little Book of Biblical Justice: A Fresh Approach to the Bible's Teachings on Justice." Without a doubt, justice and righteousness are essential aspects of God's revelation in the Scriptures. "...For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him" (Is. 30:18). And not only is He a God of justice, but He requires justice and equity among His people. The locus classicus for this truth is Micah 6:8: "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" The more you read and understand the Bible, the more you see just how important justice, and not only justice, but justice with equity is to God. As men and women of faith, we are unreservedly called to pursue justice and equity in our lives and in the lives of others. The recent release of Robert Clark is causing me to question, just how earnestly I pursue biblical justice and how fervently I desire to honor God by reflecting his righteousness in this world. Clearly America has a long way to go in demonstrating God-honoring justice with equity. I wonder how far I have come in my own life. How far have you gone in your understanding and pursuit of biblical justice? You may want to start with reading Marshall's book. It is short, concise, and to the point.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Justice was Late, but it was Served

On his first full day of freedom in almost 25 years, Robert Clark was served grits, eggs, and a full plate of bacon. Robert Clark was arrested and convicted of rape in 1981 when he was 22. He was sentenced to two life terms, plus twenty years. After nearly 25 years of imprisonment, Robert Clark is a free man. DNA testing, which was not available at the time of his trial, has since proven his innocence. Today, he walks the streets of Atlanta for the first time in 25 years. As I read this story, it reminded me of the painful inequities of the American judicial system. America is a great country and I thank God for it and my life in it. However, the God I thank for America is also the God that requires us to do justice and to love the right. In America, too often justice is not right. How often have the rich been wrongly imprisoned? How often do the advantaged in our society find themselves languishing on death rows? Wrongful imprisonments are saved for the poor, the disenfranchised, the disadvantaged - too often for black men. In the case of Robert Clark, one can only wonder where he would be if the woman, whom he was accused of raping, had died. His portion would probably have been the death penalty, and this day would not be in our discussion. Thank God she did not die. Thank God justice, though late in coming, has been served. I can only wonder how many disadvantaged, poor, black men are on death row wrongly accused and prosecuted, hoping that justice would one day be served. Something tells me that in most of their cases, the stove has not even been warmed up.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Calling All Bloggers!

Question: Are there any Reformed African-American bloggers out there? If you know of any, drop me a line to let me know where they are. Or perhaps, if you are Reformed and African-American, you should start blogging today. How 'bout it?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Reformed "La Cosa Nostra"

Who are these "wise guys?" I had always heard that there was a reformed mafioso, but had no evidence to confirm my suspension. Now I have it! Apparently, someone has developed a preliminary line up for us Reformed Detectives who are interested in tracking down these "good fellas." I do warn you, approach with caution. These guys are armed and dangerous. And if you are going to take them on, make sure you are well armed yourself. In fact, if you find yourself in confrontation with these men I would strongly suggest that your call for backup.
The Reformed Mafia.

Monday, November 28, 2005

"Brothers, Man Up!"

"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare." These words by Mark Twain were brought to mind when Sherard Burns took up the challenge at the Pastors' Conference in Miami to expose the fallacious hermeneutic of the Prosperity Preachers. I am always encouraged by Sherard's courage for truth and his love for the church. With a pastor's heart and a theologians eye, Sherard dissected the folly of these preachers and their approach to the Bible. He reminded us of the seemingly unending repetoire of anecdotes and unimaginable interpretations of the Bible that flow from the pulpits of the proponents of "Word-Faith" teaching. We were curiously amused and even shocked by some the quotes Burns set before us. However, I hope we were moved by what I considered to be his most important points.

First, we should lament and have compassion for those brothers and sisters in Christ who are so deceived by these Prosperity Preachers. Every Sunday, genuinely regenerated men and women sit under the influence of false teachers. Most of them have never been exposed to true biblical Christianity. They have been duped by the charisma, eloquence, and appearance of these teachers. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Do we have compassion for them? Are we willing to walk with them and lead them to the truth? As we blast the false teachers, wolves in sheep's clothing, let us be careful to seek to mend and help God's true sheep.

Secondly, as men of God, we must have the courage to take up the charge. Perhaps more than any part of Burns' message, this one seemed to prick the conscience. Burns reminded us that it was time to "Man up!" He reminded us that Paul, in Acts 20, as he leaves the Ephesian elders in charge of the church in Ephesus, Paul charged them to be diligent. He knew that after his departure "fierce wolves" would come in among them twisting the truth and drawing men and women way. Nevertheless, Paul was confident that this would happen after he left, because he would not let it happen while he was there. Or as Burns put it, "Not on my watch!" Are we letting the fierce wolves twist the truth because we fear speaking up and calling them out for what they are? Are we asleep both theologically and homiletically as the sheep are being lead astray by every wind of doctrine? Men, it is time to "Man up!"

Apparently, Brother Lance Lewis is seeking to heed the call and calling the rest of us to do the same. You can read his latest comments in A Call To Action.

Grimke is in the House!

Thanks to faithful brothers like Curtis Love and Thabiti Anyabwile, I now have two copies of Henry Ferry's work "Francis James Grimke: Portrait of a Black Puritan." Not many have heard of Francis Grimke. I am sad to admit that I only came across him in my studies this past year. Yet there was a time when Grimke's name was practically synonymous with African-American church life. As one writer in 1912 put it:

Twenty years ago, when I was a sophomore at Yale, men spoke the name "Dr. Grimke," with respect and reverence. And they do today....Since the death of Bishop Daniel Payne in 1893 and Dr. Alexander Crammell in 1898, Dr. Grimke has remained the most potent figure in the Negro ecclesiastical world.

Unfortunately we are far too ignorant of church history. Our understanding of church history usually extends no further than our grandmother or great-grandmother's contribution to the Mother's Board and Missionary Society. Yet men like Grimke and Lemuel Haynes serve as gracious reminders that the truth of historical, reformed Christianity has been articulated by African-Americans for generations and generations. My prayer is that we would recover in our day this fire for biblical truth and be armed once again with a Christianity that exalts the glory and majesty of God, rooted in Scriptures and testified to by the saints made perfect. This was the ministry of Grimke. After he had read an address by John Calvin, Grimke wrote:

"As I laid it aside, more profoundly impressed than ever before with the character and work of John Calvin there went up from my heart the earnest prayer that when my life ends here that I too may be remembered because of some things I have said or done in bringing men face to face with life and its great and solemn responsibilities for which they must answer at the bar of God. To feel, as John Calvin felt, the sovereignty of God, and to get others to feel the same, a great achievement and will go on working for good long after we are gone."

May we all feel this same since of calling and duty.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Next Reformation

Is there a need for a reformation in our day? Yes!, says Ken Jones. In speaking at the conference in Miami, Ken Jones told us that a Reformation is needed, but not like those in the past. In Josiah's day (2 Kings 23) the reformation was because the Word of God was lost. Josiah led the people of God in finding and restoring the Word in their midst. The second reformation was under Martin Luther (1483-1546). This reformation was not because the Word of God was lost, but was because the Word of God was closed. Luther led the people of God in the rediscovery of the truth but opening the Bible to all people. In our day, however, the Word of God is not lost nor is it closed. We have open Bibles every Sunday all over the country. The Reformation today would need to be because the Word of God is misinterpreted and misappropriated. In other words, this will be an open-Bible Reformation! Yet, Jones told us that for this to be true and God-glorifying, there are 5 necessary presuppositions:

1. The Bible is the inerrant, infallible, and inspired Word of God.
2. Sola Scriptura - The Bible is the only infallible authority for faith and conduct.
3. The people and events of the Bible are real and historically accurate .
4. The Bible is a collection of literary genres, interpreted accordingly .
5. Understanding the Bible is understanding the literary nuances ("A passage can never mean what it never meant").

The reason why hermeneutics matters is because the next reformation matters. The next reformation will glorify God because it will do in essence what the two previous ones did, reveal His glory anew to His people. Whenever the people of God get a clearer vision of God they are not only reformed, they are revived.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A Double Standard is "Why Hermeneutics Matter"

Is there a double standard in predominantly white denominations? This is one of the questions raised at the conference in Miami. Ricky Armstrong, host pastor of Glendale Baptist Church, made the point that within his denomination, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), he was concerned that there may be a double standard for theological integrity (Ricky is not alone in this concerned as some blacks in the PCA are beginning to ask the same question). You see, in the past he raised a concern for the theology of some of the black preachers in the SBC with some of the white leaders. They expressed to him a lack of interest in such theological matters and suggested to him that he focus not on what they considered to be theologically divisive issues, but rather focus on issues of cooperation like evangelism. Pastor Armstrong, however, rightly discerned the hypocrisy in this response. You see, when the SBC at large was dealing with issues of theological liberalism and modernity, the conservatives pooled all their resources to battle these deviant theological and philosophical ideas. Armstrong could not help but conclude that the lack of zeal in confronting many of the same issues and ideas among the predominantly black Southern Baptist churches was due to them being black and to some in the SBC not wanted to be characterized as racist because they call black preachers into account like they call white preachers. Yet, to Armstrong's credit, he did not leave the matter unaddressed. In fact, his vision for the conference in Miami and the theme of the conference was a response to this growing malaise of deviant theology coming from too many of our predominantly African-American pulpits. Admittedly, the answer to this problem is not simple, but it does begin with re-asserting the importance of a Biblical, Historical, and Reformational Hermeneutic that is based in a uncompromising submission to the Authority of Scripture. This is why the conference was called. This is why we answered the call. This is Why Hermeneutics Matter.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Hermeneutics Never Sounded So Good!

Brothers and sisters the Conference was off the chain! I do not believe it an exaggeration to say that this was the most encouraging, faith-building, and important conference I have ever attended. I am sure that most of those who attended would give similiar testimony. The good folks of Glendale Baptist Church went the extra-mile in service and hospitality. The speakers faithfully discharged their duties with joy and spoke the truth with grace. Most of you were not in attendance, but I urge you to let that be the last time. Next year, we will gather again to build upon the momentum. The necessity of Scriptural authority was laid as the foundation of our faithfuly labors, now we will seek to build upon that foundation. You will not want to miss. The wheels of this movement are rolling - slowly rolling maybe - but they are rolling. Jump on and lets ride God's sovereign, historic, magnanimous grace together.

Since most of you were not in attendence, over the next week or so (I must attend another conference at week's end :-) I will try to relate to you some of the highlights. I will be letting you know when the tapes and cds from the conference are available.

The theme of the conference was: "The Authority of Scripture: Why Hermeneutics Matter." The speaking schedule consisted of:

Ricky Armstrong - "The Authority of Scripture: Why Hermeneutics Matter"
Ken Jones - "Safeguarding Your Hermeneutic"
Robert Godfrey - "The Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic, Pt. 1"
Ken Jones - "The Dangers in Failing to Safeguard Your Hermeneutic"
Sherard Burns - "The Hermeneutic of Prosperity Preachers"
Anthony Carter - "Hermeneutics and Christian Experience"
Michael Leach - "Covenant Hermeneutic and the Church"
Ricky Armstrong -"The Hermeneutic of Church Office"
Lance Lewis - "Hermeneutics and the Essence of Biblical Worship"
Robert Godfrey - "The Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic, Pt. 2"

Stay tuned. Hermeneutics never sounded so good!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pastor's Conference @ Glendale Baptist

This coming weekend is the much anticipated Pastor's Conference @ Glendale Baptist Church in Miami, FL. If you have not registered or if you need more info as you make your way to Miami, you can go to the church's website ( to get your trip together. The conference will focus on the need to discover and recapture a Biblical Hermeneutic - that is a biblical and historical approach to interpreting the Word of God. One of the phrases that will be consistently tossed around will be the phrase "Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics." There is a good website - Biblical Theology and Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics - that can introduce you to Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics and explain other differing approaches. If you click on the Frequently Asked Question link, you will find some worthwhile answers as well. See ya in Miami.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Land of the Free, Home of the Slave

America is known as the land of free. Too often this freedom, which is a staple of Americanism, is confused with Christianity. What you get is such cases is the understanding of Christianity that is declared by the likes of Cheryl Swoopes. You see, she believes in America that she has the right to be free as a lesbian. In this, she is right. However, she also believes that in Christ she has the right to be free as a lesbian. In this, she is wrong. You see, freedom in American is often a bondservant of sin. Yet, freedom in the Kingdom of God is always a bondservant to Jesus Christ. What is the difference between biblical freedom and Swoopes' freedom? Here's an illustration that aptly describes it:

Two women may jump from an airplane and experience the thrilling freedom of freefalling. But there is a difference: one is encumbered by a parachute on her back, the other is free from this burden. Which person is most free? The one without the parachute feels free, even freer, since she does not feel the constraints of the parachute straps. But she is not truly free. She is in bondage to the force of gravity and to the deception that all is well because she feels unencumbered. This false sense of freedom is in fact bondage to calamity which is sure to happen after a fleeting moment of pleasure. (John Piper, What is the Difference)

Ms. Swoopes should serve as a sobering reminder to all of us, that sin is deceitful. We are all prone to exchange the truth of God for a lie, and believe that true freedom is the throwing off of the restraints of God's law. Yet it is God's law that graciously serves as our comfort and security from the freefall of sin. We can only pray that Ms. Swoopes would come to realize her awful predicament and repent and cry out for God's mercy and forgiveness before she hits the ground.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Coming Out in Dishonor

Cheryl Swoopes is the greatest women's basketball player in the world. She is the unquestionable star of the WNBA, a three-time MVP, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, and leader of the four-time championship team Houston Comets. But today, she is not known for her exploits on the court as much as she is known for her escapades off the court. You see, she has decided that it is time to "come out of the closet" and make it public knowledge that she is a lesbian. According to Ms. Swoopes, she is tired and desires to be free:

But I'm tired of being miserable. Not being free to be who I am, not being OK with other people knowing who I am -- it has been miserable. And it hurts. I'm a very affectionate person. Going out to the movies or dinner, seeing so-called normal couples show affection in public and knowing that I can't, that hurts. It's frustrating to keep everything inside and not be who I want to be. I'm sure life is not going to be easier for me just because I'm coming out. But at least I'll be free.

Surely it is disturbing that people can be so casual about sin and our society would applaud her for what they would call "her courage." Yet to me the most disturbing aspect Ms. Swoopes declaration is the effect it had and will have upon her mother. Interestingly, according to Ms. Swoopes, her and her mother are Christians:

I'm content with who I am and who I'm with. Whether people think that's right, whether they think it's wrong, I don't care. We shouldn't and can't judge each other. I am a Christian, and my biggest dilemma is when people start throwing in the whole religion thing: you're going to hell for this or that. I think that's the hardest thing for my mom to deal with, too. She's into the Bible and church, and I'm concerned about how she's going to deal with her church friends. What are they going to say? What are they going to do? Five years ago, when I told my mom I'm gay, her reaction wasn't any different than I expected. She just said, "I figured." I don't know exactly what that meant, but I could see the hurt and disappointment.
"Why?" she asked. "What did I do wrong?" I told her she didn't do anything wrong. This is who I am, and it's okay. I love my mom to death. I do. And I would never, ever, ever want to do anything to hurt her. I think she knows that.

Ms. Swoopes says she is a Christian. Apparently she has forgotten that she is responsible to bring honor to her mother. As the Bible so plainly says: "Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice" (Prov. 23:25). There is not much rejoicing in the heart of Cheryl's mom today. And why should there be. Her daughter has decided that her own happiness and freedom is more important that the honor and joy of her mother. Swoopes' coming out is not an expression of freedom. It is an expression of dishonor.

You can read the entire, disturbing article at "Outside the Arc."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Church of the Mighty Dollar

Do you remember the song, "What a mighty dollar we serve...What a mighty dollar we serve..."? Well, you may not remember it exactly that way. But it appears that that is the rendition that thousands and thousands around the world are beginning to sing. You can read the words of the Dollar man, and judge for yourself in the article that appeared in BusinessWeek Online entitled: Church of the Mighty Dollar.

Pimps in the Pulpits?

Melvin Jones seems to think so. You can read is satirical yet insightful and uncompromising thoughts at Bro. Jones holds no punches. He has courage. I like courageous Christians.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Via Negativa (way of negation)

The current issue of TableTalk Magazine takes the via negativa approach to understanding Reformed Theology. The issue is entitled "No Strings Attached: What Reformed Theology is Not." In it you will find the following articles:

Burk Parsons (editor): "Why Not?"
RC Sproul: "The Fine Points of Calvinism"
Michael Horton: "Reformed Theology vs. Hyper-Calvinism"
D. James Kennedy: "Turning the World Right Side Up"
Phillip Graham Ryken: "Hearts Aflame: Reformed Piety"
(By the way, is it a prerequisite for the pastorate at Tenth Presbyterian Church that you use your middle name i.e. Donald Grey Barnhouse, James Montgomery Boice, Phillip Graham Ryken?)
Ken Jones: "Truly Reformed"
RC Sproul Jr.: "God in the Hands"
R. Albert Mohler: "Reforming Our Mission"

This is an excellent issue. If you have never subscribed to TableTalk, now is the time. If you have never received an issue of TableTalk, you can receive a free copy by calling 1-800-435-4343. This would be a good one to get.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Looking for Grimke?

Believe it or not, I am looking for a book. In 1970 Henry J. Ferry wrote his dissertation at Yale University entitled, "Francis James Grimke: Portrait of a Black Puritan." I have been trying to track down this dissertation for some time. Do you have any ideas?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Movie is not The Gospel

Apparently, the buzz around town is how well the movie The Gospel did over its opening weekend. I, myself, have not seen it. However, I have had several friends, including my wife, who have seen it and have only confirmed what I knew would be the story. Having read several reviews and watched the trailers, the movie is as billed, "sound and fury signifying nothing. "The Gospel" is a movie that tragically fails to live up to its name. It is called "the gospel" but you are left wondering what the gospel is. Then again, it does capture the essence of most churches today. When you attend churches reminiscent of the one portrayed in the movie, you leave those places wondering the same thing, "What is the gospel?" In light of this, I found the following review in the Atlanta Journal Constitution most revealing:
Shot on location in Atlanta, "The Gospel" is a preachy soap opera about Saturday night and Sunday morning. The movie's melodramatic musings about the line between the secular and the sacred are set to a soul-stirring soundtrack produced by contemporary gospel superstar Kirk Franklin and featuring performances by the likes of Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams and Delores "Mom" Winans.
That's its greatest appeal, even for those who've never set foot inside an African-American church. But in his retelling of the story of the prodigal son, writer-director Rob Hardy ("Trois," "Pandora's Box") never gets to anything like the depths of the gospel moans and shouts he celebrates. In fact, when the music isn't pounding in sanctified syncopation, the look and the dialogue of "The Gospel" are a lot like what you might see and hear on daytime TV....Hardy has plenty of opportunities to examine the foibles of the current crop of theatrical "prosperity" preachers. But that's clearly not his purpose, as time and again he goes for easier, cliched images --- juxtaposing liquor bottles and leather-bound Bibles, hip-hop bump-and-grind and dancing in the spirit. And with all that, Hardy's sure to please his target audience, even if he's only preaching to the choir.
The key phrase in the review is "a preachy soap opera." The dialogue is trite, predictable, and unimpressive. This movie is nothing more than the unfortunate demonstration of what most of our churches have become, a frolic of entertaining, choreographed, human-centered performances. This movie is a glorified series of videos with the purpose of selling a sound track. If you like modern gospel music, you may overlook the poor theatrical elements and enjoy the video. If you are interested in a movie that delivers what this one promises, that is "the gospel," you will be sorely disappointed. But something tells me that most people go to this movie with the same hope they go to church every Sunday, to be entertained. More's to pity.

Theology in Jazz

I first became aware of the term "jazz theology" when I read Carl Ellis' book Beyond Liberation (now titled "Free At Last"). I found it provocative and enlightening (the way good jazz should be) as Carl distinquished theological methodologies along classical and jazz musical motifs. I can't go into a full explanation of Carl's analysis, for that you will need to read the book, which I recommend you do. However, I have recently learned and am glad to see that there is a brother online who is seeking to implement jazz, sort of an improvisational, approach to theology. He is blogging at Theomoments: Reflections of a Jazz Theologian. Carl would be proud. I am interested. Perhaps you will be too. I do warn you. Sometime jazz takes some listening to in order to appreciate. I'm listening JazzTheo. Let's listen and learn together.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Golfing Goddess

Recently I read an article in Golf Digest in which the author made reference to God as "she." I am pretty sure that most people who read Golf Digest never thought twice about it. The author's mailbox may be filled with many responses to his article, but few if any will make mention of his intentional reference to this goddess. However, it immediately caused me to pause and want to respond. I think I may send this small note to the editor:

I find it odd
those who refer to God
using the pronoun "she",
when it comes to Satan,
whom all are hatin',
they refer to him as "he."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bible Answer Man

I have a secret to tell. Believe it or not I often get help with my answers and understanding to biblical and theological questions. Yeah, I know, most of you thought that I just came up with answers on my own through the intimate relationship I have with Holy Spirit and my vast knowledge of the Bible and Theology :-). Well, I hate to disappoint, but the brother puts on his pants one leg at a time, just like you. Therefore, I have no aversion to informing you of one of my favorite resources for biblical and theological answers, Ra McLaughlin. Ra is a friend and former classmate at RTS. He currently serves as Director of Curriculum and Webmaster for Third Millennium Ministries. I consider Ra to be one the finest, most acute, young theological minds of our time. I have benefitted greatly from his theological and biblical insight. His section on the Third Millennium website is called QandA Knowledgebase. If you have a question about theology, the Bible, or Christian living in general, you may want to see if Ra has answered it in his thorough and gracious way. If you are like me (strong-willed, and not easily convinced), you may not always agree with him, but if you are like me (reformed and reforming) you will find yourself agreeing far more often then not. By the way, lets keep this between you and me. I do have a reputation to uphold you know.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sinclair Online

Until Sinclair is available weekly from the pulpit of First Presbyterian Church, you can listen to one of his fourteen messages at Do yourself a favor and listen to one of the best preachers going today.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Pastor's Theologian

The combination of pastor/theologian is rare these days. Yeah, I know many fancy themselves in that mold. But a true theologian in the theologically astute category who is also a passionate and compassionate pastor is rare. Nevertheless, there are those who do fulfill this lofty office and we are all the more grateful for it. One such man is Dr. Sinclair Ferguson. I consider Sinclair Ferguson a friend, but even more I know him as a teacher, having sat in class under his brilliant handling of scripture and theological issues. Then we knew him as the Pastor's Professor/Theologian. Today, I am pleased to hear that he is going back to what I believe is his first love, the pastorate. For the last few years he has been a professor of theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Dallas TX. Now apparently the Pastor's Theologian is going to be a pastor once again. Sinclair Ferguson to First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC is how the headline at Reformation 21 reads. Selfishly, I can't wait to be able to listen online weekly to sermons by Sinclair. I may even have to make a trip to Columbia every now and then.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Feminine Mistake

The so-called Feminine Mystique has given way to The Feminine Mistake. This is the contention of Mary Kassian in her book by the same name. Nancy Leigh DeMoss recently interviewed Mary Kassian and they shared insights from Mary's book. The show was appropriately entitled, "An Undelivered Promise." Human beings are insatiable in our desire to supplant the law and plan of God. Yet, He who created all things knows best how those things should be.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Solus Christus Project

Now I'm not a rap type of guy. Even though back in the day you could have found me chillin' with the fellas listenin' to a little Run DMC or even better, Eric B and Rakim, my taste for rap left me long ago. I don't particularly find it spiritually encouraging or edifying. Nonetheless, I do understand and appreciate that there are many brothers and sisters who find in rap an avenue of spiritual and intellectual stimulation. They find it not only entertaining but edifying as well. Since this is true, I am pleased that there are brothers who are see are serious about the theological content of their lyrics. If you are into rap music, and don't know Shai Linne, you should. Here is a brother who is seeking to lay down lyrics that are theologically-integrated, biblically-consistent, and intentionally reformational. If I did listen to rap, I would listen to Shai Linne. The name of the album itself, should tell you something of the genuine seriousness of this brother: The Solus Christus Project. Check it out!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Refreshing Wind

There is a breeze blowing across the landscape that is African-American Christianity. It's not yet a whirlwind, nor has it reached wind storm capacity. But it is a refreshing wind that by God's grace is growing stronger and stronger. What is it, you ask? It is the truth of Reformed Theology that is catching hold of African-Americans all over the country. As I travel and spend time speaking with more and more Christians, I am dutifully encouraged by God's sovereign mercy in revealing His truth to His people. Yet, some still are sincerely asking, "What is Reformed Theology?" This is one of my favorite questions to answer. I supplied a brief interpretation of Reformed Theology in my book "On Being Black and Reformed." A very good explanation is also given by Rev. Michael Leach in the article "Why Reformed Theology?" We have been told that it is impossible to catch the wind. Well this wind is catchable. Read the article and see if you don't catch it. Or better yet, it swoops you up!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Desire Street in USA Today

Today there was an article in USA Today on former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel and the work he is doing with Desire Street ministries. If you did not get a chance to read it, you can by going to the link "Wuerffel Says Katrina Won't Destroy Ministry."

Who's in Control?

During these times of lost and frustration, many are wondering what to do and where to turn. As the government is rolling up its sleeves while at the same time pointing fingers, Rev. Michael Campell gives us a fresh and encouraging word from Jackson, MS. Listen to his sermon: What Do We Do Now? 2Cor. 4:16-18

Thursday, September 08, 2005


I am amazed at how many responses I received from the atheist community concerning my last post. I do want to apologize if anyone inferred from my remarks that I was suggesting that atheist should not give to the relief effort. That was not my intention. It is all of our responsibility as human beings, and particularly as Americans, to give in support of the relief for the victims of Katrina. As John Donne rightly said, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee."

I also want to apologize to the Infidel Guy for referring to his work as his "brain cramp." That was a comment made in jest, but admittedly it was not called for.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Fool and His Money

Today I was at the website of The Infidel Guy. This is the brain cramp of Reginald Vaughn Finley who is an African-American, strong freethinking Atheist. As I was at his site, I noticed that he had a couple of links for donations for the survivors of Katrina. I could not help but wonder, why he would give his money to such a hopeless, useless cause as saving humanity. I mean, what difference does it make if they die today or next week or next year? Human beings are nothing more than a fortuitous collection of molecules, highly evolved tadpoles, right? I wonder if he will have donations for all those displaced tadpoles along the Gulf Coast. Oh.... wait a minute.... if the free(enslaved)thinkers are right, these monies are for the displaced tadpoles. No wonder the bible calls this the thinking of a fool (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). God be exalted (Ps. 46:10)!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Support for Katrina Victims

The half has yet to be told of the devastation that Hurricane Katrina has left in New Orleans and other parts of the Southern coast. If you are interested in supporting with prayers and donations, you can give to Desire Street Ministries. You can read about Desire Street Ministries in the latest By Faith Magazine in an article "Desire Street: Bringing the Word to Life." They have lost alot and are in need of our prayers and support. Let us be the body of Christ to them and all others to whom we can at this time of crisis. By God's sovereign mercy and justice, it could be us next time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Long on Money

It appears that Eddie Long is long on money but short on integrity. He and his many non-profit organizations are being investigated for mishandling funds. Apparently, the mishandled funds were handed to him and his wife in the form of house, car, and salary. There is probably nothing that so mars the church in general, and the predominantly African-American church in particular, than these preachers who get rich by self-proclamation of their divinely-inspired authority. Our churches are filled with people who have been duped by the charismatic personality of these preachers. While it pains me to read these accounts, it pains me even more to hear them manipulize Scripture and take advantage of naive Christians. Perhaps Christ is beginning to shake the trees and judge his house. Perhaps He has seen enough of these money-changers. Perhaps the lash is out and the tables are being overturned. If it is, may the Lord have mercy on these men and us. It is unfortunate that such a thing would have to happen, but then again we must know that Christ will not allow his name to be used in vain for long (no pun intended). You can read the report and the monetary compensations Mr. Long has apparently finagled from his ministry by going to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and reading Bishop's Charity Generous to Bishop.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Reforming Worship

It is my heart's desire to see reformation within the church in general, and the predominantly African-American church in particular. I know that I am not alone in these sentiments and this is encouraging to know. However, I also know that if true reformation is going to take place it will be because we have recovered Biblical Worship. What is biblical worship? Well to put it simply, biblical worship is worship where we Read the Bible, Pray the Bible, Sing the Bible, See the Bible, and Preach the Bible. Unfortunately, in the majority of churches in America, particularly predominantly African-American churches, the Bible is nothing more than a prop or an institutional icon. It is present, but we rarely read it, we hardly pray it , we sparingly sing it, we relunctantly see it, and we sporatically preach it. This five-fold approach to worship has been expressed by the church from the beginning. Yet we have lost this simple and yet God-exalting experience in worship. If reformation in our churches is to be a reality, we must ask ourselves if we really have the Bible in its God-ordained prominent place in our services. For a fuller explanation of this biblical worship you can read Ligon Duncan's article From Worship Wars to Biblical Consensus. Without a doubt, it will challenge you to examine your worship so see if your church's worship is a helper or a hinderance to reformation. We will visit this subject again in the very near future.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

William Sheppard "Congo's African-American Livingstone"

Have you ever heard of William Sheppard? Well you should have. He is widely known as the "Black Livingstone." That is, like David Livingstone pioneered exploratory and missionary work in cental Africa, William Sheppard did much of the same in the congo. After graduating from Stillman College (Tuscaloosa Theological Institute at the time) in 1886, he was ordained by the Atlanta Presbytery and called to pastor Zion Church in Atlanta. Yet, he continued to hear the call to missions in Africa. Subsequently, he became the first African-American missionary commissioned by the Presbyterian Church U.S. to labor in Africa. His story is a remarkable and amazing journey. His life is the story of "how an African-American born in the South during the era of slavery emerged as one of the most distinguished Presbyterian leaders in American history." I am familiar with two books that chronicle Sheppard's life and times. One is by Pagan Kennedy entitled "Black Livingstone." The other is by William Phipps entitled "William Sheppard: Congo's African-American Livingstone." Apparently Pagan is a pagan. She makes little note of Sheppard's religious convictions and even makes light of the role his faith and theology played in his life and mission. Phipps on the other hand is an ordained minister in the PCUSA. He sees the undeniable role faith and theology played in Sheppard's life and is more insightful in that regard. I highly recommend Phipp's book, though you may want to refer to the Pagan's because she has good pictures :-) .

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What Are You Singing?

One of the most thought-provoking essays I've read in recent days is the essay by Carl Trueman entitled "What Can Miserable Christians Sing?" In it Carl Trueman argues for the intentional inclusion of Psalms singing in our worship. Since most of the popular contemporary songs and choruses are geared toward the high, victorious life, Trueman rightly asks "what songs are there for those Christians who do not live continually in an emotional high?" If we are honest, this is all of us from time to time. God has given us a repertoire of songs that speak to every human emotion we experience. How impoverished we are when we do not avail ourselves to this divine resource. At our church in Atlanta we have begun to incorporate more Psalms in our worship selections. It has been well received as our worship team have put them in our cultural context. The Trinity Psalter has been an excellent resource for this. I commend it to you. Truly Reformed worship, that is Biblical worship, must seriously consider the role the Psalms play in that worship (Eph. 5:19).

You can read the essay and other insightful musings by Carl Trueman in the book "The Wages of Spin."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Reformed (Charismatic) Chaos :-)

What is becoming of our world? "Human sacrifices! Cats and dogs living together! Mass hysteria!" Who are we gonna call? Believe it or not, C.J. Mahaney preached at Grace Community Church, pastored by none other than John MacArthur. This is remarkable when you understand that C.J. is a self-proclaimed "reformed charismatic" (I have friends who would call this designation oxymoronic, but that is for another post) and MacArthur is the acclaimed author of Charismatic Chaos. Nevertheless, their mutual friend, Ligon Duncan, gives us some insight into the relationship that precipitated C.J. preaching for John. Check it out for yourself. Apparently the Postmillennialist may be right. The lion is dwelling with the lamb.

Ligon Duncan on C.J. and John

Monday, August 22, 2005

Returning "In" Glory

Not long ago (well actually, too long ago), my family and I were on a mini-vacation (these are easily planned and rather affordable). On the way to our cabin destination, I realized that I did not bring anything to read. So, when we stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up some supplies, I browsed through the book section and found Return to Glory: The Powerful Stirrings of the Black Race. I skimmed it a bit and read some of the endorsements and thought it might be an interesting read. Over the next couple days I became amazed at the amount of exegetical flaws in which so-called learned men can engage. Page after page was full of historical and biblical error. The intellectual leaps and presumptions that the authors expect of their readers is appalling and at times offensive. From the very beginning the book is unacceptable in its approach to hermeneutics. This book proposes that the Bible actually teaches that African-Americans are destined to return to the glory that was the Egytian Empire (wrongly assuming that African-Americans trace their lineage to the great Egyptian kings). However, what is most tragic about this book is not the error that it espouses, but the plethora of African-American Christians who have bought into this foolishness. I have been at churches who have shown the video detailing the contents of this book and planning to take their people though a study of it. It is apparent that such churches should not be seeking a return to glory but should be seeking a return to the Word of God. And if they were to return to the Word of God, they would find that the Word of God speaks nothing of a Return to Glory by African-Americans, but rather speaks rather lucidly about the Return IN Glory of the Christ.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Racial Diversity in the PCA

The PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) has begun to publish a new magazine titled By Faith. It is a well done publication. You would be well served in subscribing to it. In the most recent issue, there is an article on the PCA's on going struggle for racial harmony and diversity. Interestingly, in the article I am cited as a "PCA leader." While this is not true, my friend believes that statement may be proleptic. Read the article for yourself: Content With One Voice in the Choir: The PCA's Challenge for Racial Diversity.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Rainbow Mecca

When I first moved to Atlanta in 1990 it was known as the "Black Mecca." Here more than anywhere it was believed that Atlanta was the place where blacks could experience the great
American dream. I must admit that I was taken back when I first arrived within the city limits and saw so many black men and women driving around in luxury automobiles, coming and going from high, upscale, gated communities. The political infrastructure of Atlanta politics was black, with a black mayor and black police chief. Yet, 15 years later, Atlanta is not only the "Black Mecca", but now she is becoming known as the "Black Gay Mecca." That's right. Atlanta is the place to be if you are black, gay, and available. The growing number of Black gays in Atlanta is going to put a lot of pressure upon the predominantly black church in Atlanta, as the church must come to grips with the majority of these blacks who go to church. The debate over gay rights and gay marriage is not going to go away, no matter how many marches Eddie Long plans. As I listen to much of the rhetoric concerning gay marriage, I am compelled to say that the debate is all off base. For the record, the question is not whether or not gays should have the right to marry. The question is whether or not homosexuality is an acceptable and moral lifestyle. You see, if homosexuality is acceptable and moral then marriage is unquestionable. But if we deem homosexuality as unacceptable and immoral then marriage is out of the question. For example, the reason we do not let a man marry his daughter or a wife her son is not because they don't have the ability to, but rather because we have deemed that relationship as inherently immoral and unacceptable. Therefore, let us stop arguing whether or not gays should have the right to marry. Rather, let us engage the conversation at its logical foundations. Is homosexuality a morally legitimate and socially acceptable lifestyle? If it is not, then same-sex marriage is out of the question. If it is, then the next time you are in Atlanta look for the sign that reads "Welcome to the Rainbow Mecca."

Friday, August 12, 2005

A New Reformation....Purpose-Driven Style

Recently "America's Pastor," Rick Warren, was the conference speaker for the Pew Forum's Bi-Annual Faith Angle Conference. During that time he engaged in a discussion entitled Myths of the Modern Mega-Church with several cultural critics and journalist. You can read the entire manuscript of the discussion at the above link. One of the amazing things Rick Warren said during his time of self-congratulatory remarks was the following:
You know, 500 years ago, the first Reformation with Luther and then Calvin, was about beliefs. I think a new reformation is going to be about behavior. The first Reformation was about creeds. I think this one will be about deeds. I think the first one was about what the church believes; I think this one will be about what the church does.
I find it quite interesting that Rick Warren would suggest a distinction between belief and behavior, between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Indeed, the Reformers (i.e. Luther and Calvin) would have never seen such a distinction. To suggest that the Reformation was about beliefs is to miss the central tenet of the Reformation: Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone be the Glory). Furthermore to suggest that there could be another Reformation of behavior apart from beliefs is to miss another tenet of the first Reformation: Coram Deo (Before the Face of God). The Reformers knew well that the right doctrine leads to right living. Do you believe Calvin was only theorizing in Geneva? If you do, you know too little about Calvin's Geneva. The problem with the church prior to the Reformation was that awful doctrine was being manifested in the awful living of the church. The glory of the Reformation is that a right doctrine of the Glory of God, lead to right living before the face of God. The Reformation's goal was not simply orthodoxy, it was also orthopraxy. No one, not even Pastor Warren, wants to see a reformation in our day more than yours truly. But I would not be so naive as to believe that it will happen apart from right doctrine. The first Reformation was not that way, and neither will be the second (if the Lord so wills to grant it to us). Belief and behavior are inseparable in the Scriptures and will always be so in God's agenda. Apparently, Rick Warren is looking for a reformation, Purpose-Driven Style (that may be his next book :-). Yet this should not surprise us, what other kind would he know?

Monday, August 08, 2005

That Ol' Time Religion

I remember growing up in a small church in Woodland Park, MI. One of my favorite songs was, "Gimme That Ol' Time Religion." I don't know why it was. Maybe it was the melody, or may the simplicity of the words. Maybe it reminded me that what I believed was the same thing my mother believed and that gave me comfort. Whatever the case, I really liked that song. Well, today that song would not be found on my "Most Requested" list. Nevertheless, the sentiments found in the song continue to ring in my mind and heart. If there has ever been a time for a reclamation of the "Ol' Time Religion" or as the Bible puts it the "old paths" (Jer. 6:16), it is today. And if we were to search and find the "old paths" we would find them paths marked out by a faithful theology and preaching that was mostly Calvinistic.

The history of Christianity in America, and the African-American Church in particular, is that of Calvinistic distinctions. E. Brooks Holifield, in his book Theology in America, has a chapter entitled Roots of Black Theology. In it he asserts that when early African-American Christians "gave expression to theological ideas, they spoke most often as Calvinist or evangelical Arminians. Among the few surviving theological essays written by black authors, statements of Calvinist thought remain prominent." This is echoed by John Saillant in Black Puritan, Black Republican when he asserts that Calvinism was the accepted theological thought of the first generation of serious Black Christian authors (see pg. 4). From such men and women as Jupiter Hammon, Lemuel Haynes, Phyllis Wheatley, George Liele, Andrew Bryan, Andrew Marshall, and many others, we find a refreshing and viborant faith expressed in biblical Calvinism. In fact, Bryan, a Baptist, was commended by a local presbyterian minister for "giving so clear and decided a testimony to the precious though unpopular [Calvinistic] doctrines of grace" (Holifield 310).

Today we would do well to heed the voice of God saying, "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls" (Jer. 6:16). Maybe we need to find "Gimme That Ol' Time Religion" among our most requested once again.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Best and Worst in us...

My buddy believes that John Owen is the greatest of the post-apostolic theologians. Well, I am sure he would get some debate on that issue, but when you read quotes like these, you understand why he is convinced of Owen's lofty rank.

Sin is never less quiet than when it seems to be most quiet, and its waters are for the most part deep, when they are still. - John Owen

While the best a non-Christian can do is sin, the worst a Christian can do is sin. - John Owen

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Mega-Media-Mess of a Church

One of the proudest moments in what is this modern, media-contrived Christianity that is so popular on television these days was the purchase and dedication of the new Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. You know, the one that is pastored by the media-delivered darling Joel Osteen. They recently moved into the building that onced was the home arena for the Houston Rockets. Now it is the home of the Spacely Sprockets, as Osteen and his faithful followers moved in. It was a grand celebration, I hear. I am sure that many of you heard it too. But what I would like you to read is the assessment of that mega-mess by Rick Phillips, who happened upon the celebration on the television one morning. Watching Joel Osteen, caused Rick Phillips to reflect upon what he was watching, and to offer a most insightful evaluation. By the way, the above article is at Reformation 21, the new online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Good stuff.

Whatever Happened to Modesty?

We live in an immodest society. This is unquestionable. Those things that use to make us blush, today don't even cause us to bat an eye. The public airways are replete with all types of indiscretion and innuendo. The commercialism of sex has trivialized it and caused it to lose much of its heavenly luster, as it is transformed in to a lustful highway of temporary, momentary fulfillment, and often long-term and permanent failure. Yet in actuality, this can be understandable in a world where sin reigns, where the natural mind is not subject to the law of God, nor can it be. Unfortunately, modesty has fallen out of favor and beauty in the church as well. No longer are women seeking to obey the command of God to "adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control" (1Tim. 2:9). While it may seem a minor thing, actually reformation in the church must begin with reformation in the heart. If you want to see reform in your church, one avenue is the proclamation of Gospel. Yet tied to that is the reclamation of modesty among our women. Here's some help for you. Carolyn Mahaney, wife of former pastor C.J. Mahaney, and her daughters have put together a handy and healthy pamphlet entitled, The Modesty Heart Check. My wife and other women have found this helpful. Surely you will too.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Greatest American....

Well the results are in and according to those who participated in the poll, the Greatest American of All Time is...You guessed it, Ronald Wilson Reagan. Some of you will no doubt disagree with that (Sherard :-), and while others will give their wholehearted approval (this is obvious by the mere fact that Reagan won). Well, I am not here to praise or revile Mr. Reagan (for he is an honorable man, so are they all honorable men). I would like to note however that any listing with Bill Clinton in the top ten, needs to be suspect. Nevertheless, the reason for this post is not to comment on the legitimacy of Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton, but rather to draw your attention not to the greatest American, but rather to what I consider to be the Greatest American Speech ever written and heard. It is Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural. Now there have been some wonderful speeches given in the history of our country. From Thomas Paine, "Give me Liberty," to Sojourner Truth's "Am I Woman," to John F. Kennedy's Inaugural, to M.L. King's "I Have A Dream." Yet, I am convinced that none captured the pathos of the day while speaking with such prophetic insight and theological acumen as did Lincoln's Second Inaugural. Lincoln has been called "the most theological of our presidents." To read his Second Inaugural and to understand the circumstances surrounding its writing is to understand why Lincoln would be given such a designation. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading a fantastic book detailing, examining, and breaking down Lincoln's thoughts contain in that speech. The book is Lincoln's Greatest Speech by Ronald C. White, Jr. It is a remarkable and insightful read. Learning the Reformed Theological influences upon Lincoln, particularly as they are expressed in this speech, is worth the price of the book itself. If we had men (politicians and preachers) today committed to such theological integrity in the public arena, we may just see more names added to the list of Greatest Americans. If not, at least more added to the list of Greatest American Speeches.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Loving God, Dissing the Church?

I love the church. This would seem to be an obvious statement for anyone who would name the name of Christ. For to love Christ is to love the things that He loves. And there is nothing as dear to Christ in the world than His Church, the Bride for whom He gave His life. Yet amazingly there are those who would seek to draw this dichotomy between Christ and His church, between loving God and loving the church. This is particularly the case among the so-called "intellectual elite" who find themselves pontificating upon the evils and short-coming of a society that has such a religious soul. For them, short-comings and evils that plague our society are the result of the short-sightedness and sociological impotence of the church. This is particularly true of the so-called "black intellectual" who sees and understands the predominantly Black Church in America to be a socio-political institution that once fought for Civil Rights but now fights for prime real estate to build mega-church edifices. Therefore, they level their criticism at the church, while claiming at the same time to have a relationship with God, or as John W. Fountain, former reporter for The Washington post and current journalism professor at University of Illinois at Urbana, claims to be connected to God but disconnected from the church. In his recent article, No Place for Me: Fountain suggests that the church is no place for him because it has lost its way. He loathes the modern mega-church preacher (or wannabes) because they are men (and unfortunately women) who are more concerned with filthy lucre than with faith in Christ, and faithful living. His criticism, while at many points is legitimate, comes from an illegitimate position. His is a self-righteous, pietistic arrogance that is as evil, if not worse, than the money-grabbing prophets of today. He knows not, nor loves the true church of God.

Journalist John totally misses God and the reality that is the church. His criticism of these so-called preachers is obviously correct, however, his analysis of the church is as wrong as is his criticism of the preachers right. To say, "I feel connected to God, but not connected to the church" is a self-falsifying statement. But he can not know that, because for him church has been nothing but a heavy dose of emotional stimulation. And when the emotional high has worn off, he begins looking for work to do to make him once again feel significant. Here is a glaring and sad illustration of a man who thinks he experienced God when all he experienced was religious experience itself. Yet, he is smart enough to know that something is missing, he just is not spiritually inclined to know what that something is. He thinks its about him. But as you know, church (biblical Christianity) is not about him. It is obvious, he has no desire, or affection for God. If he loved God, as he claims, he would love the church, because the church is what God loves (His Bride). The author's self-righteous is just as bad if not worse than the self-indulgence that he accuses these pimping-preachers of. (By the way: if he had real courage he would call out Creflo Dollar, TD Jakes, Eddie Long, and his own mega church pastor. But alas, such courage wains when it is really called upon). Speaking of courage....The saddest part is the ending. The way the article ends is in an attempt to gain a sympathetic ear. Yet, for me the very converse is true. I am most disappointed and unimpressed with the cowardice he demonstrates in sending his small daughter to church and not leading her. He is teaching her that there is a relationship with the husband (Jesus Christ) while dismissing the bride (The Church). He is teacher her to be individualistic and that God is pleased not with what God wants, but with however we choose to serve Him. How pathetic it is that he who would bemoan the problem is himself the problem. If he would ever get a vision of the God of heaven and earth, of the God whose purpose is decreed from all eternity, who is not defined by the fluctuations of our emotions, nor the schemes of our social agendas, he would see that the God we worship is a God terrible, fearful, and awesome. He is not dismissed at our whims. He is glorified and is being glorified in the heavens and in His church. Those who know not Him nor His church, can not see it. How would they? These things are spiritually discerned.

Those who would criticize the church, must first love her. He who would level accusations of her unfaithfulness, must first realize and joyfully admit that they could not live without her. He who would love God, and therefore have a zeal of God that consumes him, must do so for those things that God loves, namely His bride, whom He is faithfully bringing to perfection through the cleansing of His word. Sorry John. You can not know God, nor love God, apart from the church. As Augustine so rightly said, "He who would have God as his Father, would also have the Church as his mother."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Not to Us, O Lord!

Non nobis Domine (not to us, O Lord). Taken from the first line of Psalm 115, this Latin slogan joined the grand pantheon of phrases that marked the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers understood that if God was going to restore His glory and majesty to the church once again it was going to be for His name and for His glory alone. They knew that the glory of God was in the Gospel of Christ and if God would visit His people He would do so for His name and His glory alone. Subsequently, they all with a singular voice wrote and preached, "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory" (Ps. 115:1). Today will be no different. The Reformation that we pray and labor for in the Church (and the African-American Church in particular) is a Reformation that will only come because God determines to glorify Himself through us and to us, not for our glory, but for His alone. So we, like the Magisterium Reformers, proclaim and pray, Non nobis Domine. It is my prayer that it will be the undercurrent and foundation of all we write, preach and pray.