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.