Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Miami Pastors' Conference

Registration for the 2006 Miami Pastors' Conference has officially begun. This years theme is Christ-Centered Preaching in an Age of Pulpit Fads. This promises once again to be a wonderful time of challenge and encouragement as we gather at Glendale Baptist Church for three days, November 9-11. I can not emphasize more how important it is that we support these type of meetings. No one is going to connect with, influence, and represent Reformed Theology among Black Christians like Black Christians can. As we heard at the Together for the Gospel Conference, our White brothers lamented that there were no African-Americans among the presenters. I did appreciate their comments and believe they sincerely lamented the situation. However, we must not just sit around and bemoan this fact, we must get busy with the work of the Kingdom in exposing more African-Americans to these truths so as to find ourselves more accurately and consistently represented. One of the ways in which this takes place is by putting on and promoting conferences like the Pastors' Conference in Miami. All are invited to attend. Yet, if no one else is inclined to come, Black pastors and church leaders must do all they can to be there.
Unfortunately, many of my white brothers will wonder if they should attend. They will wrestle with whether or not this conference is for them. Yet, they should know that none of the African-Americans who attended the T4G Conference wondered if it was for them. None of the Black brothers at that conference contemplated not coming eventhough they knew they would not be represented on the panel, in the display area, or in the bookstore. As Reformed Blacks, we have learned the necessity of learning from our White brothers. I am not yet convinced that our white brothers have learned to learn from us.
Racial harmony among Reformed people is a bagpipe dream until we learn that we have much to learn from each other; until we begin to appreciate each other's gifts and be willing to sit at each other's feet. Where this is happening, we are seeing real strives in community and fellowship. Where it is not, all we are hearing is a cacophony of bagpipes.
So I say, let's all go to Miami in November! What a joy it would be to see my white brothers in attendance, not to teach, but to learn. What an encouragement it would be to see Reformed Blacks and Whites learning, worshipping, and fellowshipping together at a conference put on by Reformed Blacks, but not designed solely for them.

23 comments:

Mitch said...

Thanks for your encouraging words. I am a white pastor and it grieves me to see so many churches being swept away by the fads of this day. I will not be able to attend the Miami conference, but am planning on attending the "Knowledge of the Holy" conference at New Life Fellowship. I will try to bring my white brothers as well. "As Reformed Blacks, we have learned the necessity of learning from our white brothers. I am not yet convinced that our white brothers have learned to learn from us." I have no doubt about the veracity of this statement; however, it is the very truth of it that convicts me. Thank you.

ajcarter said...

Thanks Mitch. Your words are encourging to me as well. I look forward to seeing you in Chicago. The New Life Fellowship Conference promises to be a most edifying time as well. I am so pleased to hear that you are coming and that you are encouraging others to do the same.

jazztheo said...

hello my friend,

I just read your post on what happened with Long and Cone at ITS and then read Rod Garvin's thoughts as well(http://rodgarvin.blogspot.com/).

What has struck me is our differing views on Cone. I'm raising this with the hopes that one of us would take the lead in facilitating a conversation about this pivotal/controversial figure in Black Theology.

When brother's like us who love God and God's word have different views on something I think that we might find the tension will lead us to something of true value.

jt

ajcarter said...

My brother jt,
I have a sneaky suspicion that with Cone we are going to agree to disagree. Rod Garvin calls Cone, "one of the greatest Christian thinkers of our time." Well, I will concur that Cone is a brilliant thinker, but I am not at all comfortable calling his thinking "Christian." I have read much of Cone and unless he has recently changed his opinions, I can only find his writings sociologically insightful, but not inherently Christian. For example, Cone states, "the Bible is not the revelation of God. Only Jesus is." My question to you and Cone is, "How does he know that Jesus is the revelation of God?" Furthermore, Cone says the Bible is not an infallible witness and God is not the author of the Bible. If Cone wants to believe these assertions, let him believe. This is a free country. But why is it necessary to call yourself a Christian? After all, Christian is a biblical term (Acts 11:26), and the Bible is not infallible and therefore can't really be trusted. As for me, I believe "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2Tim. 3:16). I believe God inspired the writers of Scripture and they only wrote what the Spirit lead them to write. Therefore Scripture and Scripture Alone (sola scriptura) is the only infallible authority for life, faith, and conduct. My position and Cone's position are irreconcilable. Admittedly, we both could be wrong, but we both can not be right. One of us would have to recant his position. I don't foresee that happening. Do you?

Donald H said...

Amen! Hey Anthony you are on the money regarding the conferences. I pray that we can see these situations rectified.

There are other particulars that would really revolutionize our churches and fellowships though.

I believe that many of our churches would be be blessed if some of our white brethren would flip the script and submit themselves under an African American Senior Pastor in the Reformed Context.

Mostly it's the other way around even in evangelical and other non-Reformed contexts.

I like your final answer though. Keep up this good work. Your blog is truly dyno-mite!

jazztheo said...

I am in agreement with your concerns. My question lies more along the lines of whether or not you would be interested in a larger dialogue...a little iron sharpening iron?

I understand if you are not.

postmodernegro said...

When did the belief in the infallibility of scripture become a test for Christian orthodoxy? 1930? I see nothing in any ancient Christian text, creed, or council that suggests that scripture be believed to be infallible. I see inspired...but I do not see the modern concept of infallibility used to describe the nature of scripture. The belief in infallibity of scripture was a reaction to higher criticism and protestant liberalism during the early 20th century.

I do not see where the belief in the infallibility of scripture is litmus test for Christian faithfulness. Where is that found?

pax

postmodernegro said...

"My question to you and Cone is, "How does he know that Jesus is the revelation of God?"

I am not sure if Cone or Jazz are going to answer your question but I'll take a stab at it.

Firstly, I do not believe the Bible to be Jesus. We agree right?

Secondly, how does come to faith in Christ? through simply reading the Bible? or by the conviction of the Holy Spirit?

Thirdly, sola scriptura is a Reformed innovation in the history of Christian thought. There is no mention of it in the scripture itself as a 'mark' of orthodoxy. The virtue of sola scriptura, in my opinion, is the community of faith remembering that the testimony of scripture is authoritative and inspirational regarding the beliefs and conduct of Christians. But 'faith' in God's inspiration of the text does not derive from the text...it comes from God first. God first, then the text. The text is not God. If anything Cone is not guilty of bible idolatry. God is the giver of faith in Christ...not the text of scripture.

Sola Fide as well...right?

postmodernegro said...

"Well, my postmodern friend, is the Bible inspired? Are the Scriptures infallible?"

If we are to 'believe' the testimony of scripture it is "inspired" by God. But my belief in scripture comes from what I believe to be the conviction of the Holy Spirit. All kinds of people read scripture...but does that mean they have 'faith' in its being 'inspired' by God...no. Those that believe in the inspiration of scripture acquire such faith as a gift of God...not from the scripture themselves...do we agree?

ajcarter said...

Slow down my friend. Mine is a faith seeking understanding. And I have not understood your answer to the first question. Now, without horns: "How does Cone know that Jesus is the revelation of God?"

postmodernegro said...

"How does Cone know that Jesus is the revelation of God?"

I think Cone would say something to the effect that he 'believes' Jesus to be revelation of God through the combination of the gift of faith from God, the community and tradition that has discipled him, and through the suffering of his people. Something like that me thinks. I could be wrong.

postmodernegro said...

friend,

I know I sound in a hurry but throwing out salvos like heresy towards a brother who identifies with the Christian tradition is a serious matter. I am not sure if one is a heretic because they do not completely square with the Reformed tradition regarding its 'beliefs' about the nature of scripture. He may be a 'heretic' within the Reformed tradition but is he one within the larger body of Christ?

postmodernegro said...

...or is there no Body of Christ outside the Reformed community and tradition?

ajcarter said...

Hey JT,
Postmodern took over the discussion and I neglected to answer you. Please forgive me. Your interest, however, has peaked my interest. What exactly did you have in mind? If I am not inclined to participate, I am sure I could find well qualified brothers who are. Let me know. Thanks.

postmodernegro said...

ajcarter,

Just to let you know..and I probably did not start off in this conversation the right way...I do want to have a conversation. I subscribe to Anselm's dictum as well: Credo ut Intelligam

This is an excellent starting point for any discussion on matters relating to theology.

I apologize if I started out to gruff with you. I saw the Da Vinci Code last night and it kind of ruffled a few feathers.

ajcarter said...

Postmodern,
No, need to hurry my friend. Lord willing, I am not going anywhere soon (except to go finish my sermon for tomorrow :-). Heresy is a word the church has long been comfortable with, though I use it infrequently. Our African church father Augustine wrote a whole book on it and fought with Pelagius over his heretical views. I refer to Cone as a heretic, not because I view him as outside of the Reformed theological tradition, but because in reading Cone I find too much in him that is antithetical to historical Christianity. Admittedly, my opinion is not the final authority on such matters. So you can choose to disagree with me. I can live with that. Yet, I am not so naive as to believe that I could not hold to heretical views if I am not being diligent to test my views against the Word of God and what the faithful in Christian history have taught before.

I must sign out. Tomorrow is coming, and I must put the finishing touches on my sermon before evening. Thanks brothers. I will check in next week.

postmodernegro said...

ajcarter,

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I am interested in what constitutes your litmus test for 'historic Christianity'.

Godspeed on your sermon.

I'll check back next week as well.

pax

mileach said...

To the remarks of postmodernegro I say,
My friend, the infallibility of Scripture is internally attested to by the Scripture.
Firsty, the Psalmist declares The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; Ps 19:7, 8

Perfect means complete, sound, no blemish.. as in the animal sacricfices. It corresponds to "what is complete, entirely in accord with truth and fact."
Amos 5:10.. They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth.

The Hebrew word for truth is the same word, tameem. There are more lexical proofs but these should suffice at this time.

Secondly, the Scripture is God-breathed, 2 Tim 3:16. They are the very words of God, His Own words which He expired. Bearing in mind the character of God, Who is not a man that He can lie, Num 23:19; Tit 1:2, we are obliged to conclude His words are inerrant—they do not lie, as well as infallible- they cannot lie, mislead or deceive.

Obviously, this terse response cannot wipe away all your doubts. Obviously, it cannot resolve any difficulties of the established Christian faith. Yet, this one thing is certain: the Scripture bears the very imprimatur of God in such a way that it is an external representation of His most excellent attributes, to which belongs His rustworthiness.

Scripture has very difficult, unresolved dilemmas. For example, why would Jesus pray all night to the Father before choosing His twelve disciples, one of whom, Judas Iscariot, was predestined to be a reprobate, the son of perdition? Please bear in mind that, in the wise words of the late Westminster professor, John Murray, (genuine) faith is not inconsistent with unresolved questions and that to a believer, these dilemmas are not painful perplexities but adoring wonder.. of the inscrutability of the divine character. The real issue is what is the witness of Scripture to its own character? I’ve already provided two answers.

By the way, have you thought through the deductions of having a Bible that can err? A God who errs is but a lame and lousy god.

jazztheo said...

Anthony,

What has begun here is what I had in mind. Perhaps one of us could host this conversation on our blog. The conversation that you and Anthony are having is uncovering a number of issues facing the black church in America.

jt

postmodernegro said...

Jazz,

That would be great. Where do we begin?

postmodernegro said...

"My friend, the infallibility of Scripture is internally attested to by the Scripture."

Mileach,

Thanks for responding to my earlier post. While I find this issue engaging I cannot help but ask where in the scriptures are we told this: the 66 canons accepted by most Protestant (in your case Reformed) traditions are the infallible word of God?

Where in scripture are we told this: the Bible is the infallible word of God?

ajcarter said...

JT,
I believe something along those lines may be in the works. I have been discussing it with a few friends and they may be interested. I will keep you informed. Keep me abreast of your ideas as well. Peace.

mileach said...

to postmodernegro..
Regarding your comments: ... where in the scriptures are we told this: the 66 canons accepted by most Protestant (in your case Reformed) traditions are the infallible word of God?
Where in scripture are we told this: the Bible is the infallible word of God?

I've already responded to the infallibility of Scripture by citing its internal witness and by stating that it is the external reflection of God's divine attributes. Besides, the fact that God breathed out His words establish their inerrancy, infallibility and absolute authority over all His creatures. In order for this discussion to continue, it is necessary for you to respond to those specific points. This discussion is really circumscribed by the ultimate issues: who is God and what is the Scripture? Also, if the Bible is infallible, what are the necessary consequences for faith, hope, truth and above all, God Himself? And then, what do these mean for you and for all of us?

Concerning the reception of the 66 books into Scripture, this is an issue of canonicity. Again, the internal witness of the Bible is very cogent.
Old Testament
Jesus' citation of the Old Testament as the word of Moses, Mt 19: 8; His frequent references to the old covenant as Moses and the prophets or as the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms, Lk 24:25-45; His use of the story of Jonah to refer to His Own death and resurrection; etc., all verify His view of the old covenant as inerrant and infallible. Historically,there has been just about universal acceptance of the 39 books of the Hebrew Bible as authentic. Externally, the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948 substantiate this claim.

New Testament
Alhough 2 Tim 3:16 makes major reference to the OT, it along with 1 Tim 5:18 and 2 Pe 3:15, 16, correctly refers to certain passages of the emerging NT(in the 1st century A.D.) as the Word of God.

Regarding acceptance in/as the NT canon, 20 of the 27 books were never in question. These were called the homolegomena, meaning speaking the same thing about. The 7 in question, Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude and Revelation, were called the antilegomena, the ones spoken against. The catalyst for the resolution of this issue was Marcion, the second century Gnostic, Neo-platonic heretic who made radical distinctions between the God of the OT whom he called a second-level god and a demi-urge, and the God of the NT, Jesus, whom he considered to be higher and more merciful than the God of the old. Proceeding from this ridiculous postulation, Marcion excised the NT of all refernces to the OT and its God, finally ending up with a diminutive version consisting of Luke and the the 1st 10 Pauline epistles. The matter was finally resolved in 397 A.D at the Council of Carthage where the collective wisdom of the church received (a very technical word) and approved the 27 books we now have. The criteria used by the church in determining authenticity for inclusion were apostolicity-- the books had to be written or endorsed by an apostle; receptivity -- they had to be received by the early church at the very beginning as Scripture; and conformity -- books under consideration for inclusion in the Canon could not contain any contradiction to the core of 20 books. Among some 2,000 aspirants for canonical recognition, only two works, the Shepherd of Hermas and 1 Clement made any serious claim. However, these were withdrawn by their authors who themselves professed their ineligibility. The acceptance of these 66 books alone as Scripture, is accepted by all Protestants

My friend, we have had only two exchanges and already you are showing an affinity for obliqueness. Please answer the first questions posed concerning your views on Scripture and the character of God. For this discussion to continue, we need to have a fair exchange of views and not resort to a Q & A format.

Shalom.