Saturday, April 08, 2006

Together for the Gospel

There is much discussion concerning unity. A few people have expressed concern that my lastest thoughts may engender disunity or at least put to risk the unity of the Reformed church. Listen, I have no intention of destroying the unity between blacks and whites within the Reformed church. Though I have not witnessed this mass expression of unity between blacks and whites, since I am not omniscient I will take other's word for it that this unity does exist. Therefore, let me say without horns that I am for unity. In fact, unity is one of the driving forces behind my push for having our own.

You see, in a couple of weeks, some friends and I will have the opportunity to travel to Louisville and fellowship with over 2000 other men at Together For The Gospel Conference. I have long anticipated this event and am eager to be in attendance. Yet this conference strikes me as an amazing expression of disunity. You see, two of the primary architects of this conference are CJ Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries and Ligon Duncan of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS. Apparently these men are good friends and fellow citizens and members of the household of God. Yet they could not be more different. They have different views on church government, spiritual gifts, order of service, even proper attire :-). CJ could never pastor First Presbyterian and Ligon could never be comfortable in the Sovereign Grace movement. Ah, mayber for unity sake, someone needs to tell CJ he just needs to stop being who he is and join the PCA and become a member of First Presbyterian in Jackson. Does Ligon not realize that he is destroying the unity of Christians by not being a pastor in a Sovereign Grace church? Of course I speak foolish, but the point needs to be made. These men are friends and are unified and we need not question their unity, though different they may be. Unity is not sitting next to one another in church. Unity is not singing the same songs. Unity is not following the same order of worship. CJ is more unified with Ligon than he is with many who would hold to CJ's view of the spiritual gifts. Ligon is more unified with CJ than he is with many who hold to Ligon's view of church order. Likewise, I am more unified with my white Reformed brothers and sisters than I am with most of the Christians I know who are black. And just as CJ and Ligon do not have to be in the same church in order to express and appreciate that unity, I do not have to be in the same denomination or local church with my white reformed brothers and sisters to express and appreciate our unity.
Unity is showing a deep appreciation for each others gifts, and being willing to bless God for the demonstration of those gifts for His glory. As different as CJ and Ligon are, they have come to understand their need to learn from one another because they have come to respect the gifts each brings to the other. And though this respect and unity may manifest itself in them worshiping in the same building, on the same day, at the same time, it does not necessarily have to. Can I not seek to minister to black Christians and seek to call my brothers and sisters to do the same, and yet still be unified with my white brothers and sisters? Of course I can! Because our togetherness is not that we sit on the same pew, but our Togetherness is for the Gospel.


BlackCalvinist said...

Well said, Bro. Carter. I'm looking forward to the conference as well. :) See you on the 26th!

Anonymous said...

i have been watching your column with great interest,pondering if your church would be a place a white family would feel welcome. While you make a point for unity with those who have different views such as style,formality, etc., you neglect the fact that these are all preferences and beliefs. We are not black or white according to our beliefs, but according to God's providence. Do you subscribe to Piper's various messages on racial harmony, including interracial marriage? We would love to find a church home that is doctrinally sound (reformed), ethnically mixed. Any thoughts?

ajcarter said...

Whether a white family would feel welcome in our church, would be a question you would have to ask a white family who came to our church. All of us would like to think that our churches are welcoming of those who are not like us. Yet the test is not answered by us, but by those who come. So I say, "Come and see."

Piper's views on racial harmony are good. I have spoken with him about racial harmony and have found our hearts to be in the same place.

As far as interracial marriage is concerned. I am not sure why you would ask that question, but to answer it let me say that the Bible does not make same ethnicity a qualification for marriage. The only same race two people must belong to before they can marry is the "chosen race" - the "elect nation" of God.