Wm. Dwight McKissic on SBC Challenges to Russell Moore

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russell-mooreFrom the faithful pen of Pastor Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr., always speaking truth to power:

IF RUSSELL MOORE IS FIRED, “UNTO US” A TRUMP BAPTIST CONVENTION IS BORN

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

The first cabinet member that soon-to-be President Donald Trump will fire, may not be in his White House Cabinet. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics, and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC–a cabinet level entity head position within the SBC org chart–will be the first person fired by the direct influence of Donald Trump and his influential supporters within SBC circles, if they are successful in their unprecedented public attempts, to discredit and dismiss from office the most compelling and effective spokesman ever to hold that office in the history of the SBC. The lynch mob in SBC life who is going after Moore are taking their cues from Donald Trump who was among the first to attack Moore with one of his infamous tweets during the primary season:

“Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!”

What has Russell Moore done to generate such vitriol and hatred from Trump and his supporters and sycophants in SBC life? Moore dared asked the SBC if it is in keeping with their values to support a person for POTUS who mocks the disabled; engages in race baiting; owns strip joints and casinos; admits to sexual predatory behaviors; wants to create a Muslim registry, which violates the religious freedom beliefs of the SBC; and speaks of unlawfully targeting non-combatant in war acts. One would think that a person assigned to address the SBC regarding ethical issues is fulfilling their assignment in addressing these matters.

Future Supreme Court Judges and Reversing Gay Marriage were believed to have a better chance of lining up with SBC values under a Trump Administration. Therefore, many SBC personalities argued in spite of Trump’s misgivings and failures in the aforementioned areas, he’s still worthy of support because of who he might appoint to the Supreme Court who would reverse Roe vs Wade and Gay Marriage. To which Russell Moore responded, how can we count on Donald Trump to keep his word on these matters any more than anyone named Mrs. Trump could depend on him to keep his word to them? This was a brilliant and prophetic response.

Shortly after he was elected, Trump announced that Gay Marriage was settled law, and he would not revisit that matter. Ironically, Pastor Robert Jeffress at FBC, Dallas agreed with Trump on this. Go figure? He has already gone back on his word even before he took office, and many SBC persons voted for him under the delusion that Trump would somehow reverse or, at least, redress gay marriage. With a majority Republican House, Senate, soon to be Supreme Court—and of course occupying the White House–there is absolutely no reason why gay marriage can’t and shouldn’t be reversed; other than Trump doesn’t want to reverse it. Now, a prominent SBC leader is backing Trump in this bait and switch campaign tactic. Rather than holding Trump accountable for his pre-election position supporting traditional marriage, they’d rather spend their time attacking Moore. Again, Moore warned us that Trump’s history did not lend itself to counting on him to keep his word. You would think he would be given credit for his insight. Instead, they’re crushing him. If President Elect Trump—not candidate Trump—view is that gay marriage is settled law, why is it not his view that Roe vs Wade is settled law, using the same logic? Already Moore has proven to be 50% accurate in the lack of trust worthiness of Donald Trump on an issue important to Evangelicals—gay marriage. If and when Donald Trump says the same thing about Roe vs Wade, Moore will be 100% correct in saying that Donald Trump was not a trustworthy candidate in addressing matters important to Southern Baptists. On what grounds then are the ones calling for Moore’s dismissal upset?

Make no mistake about it. The union between the SBC and the Republican Convention is an unhealthy and unholy one, particularly with Trump as President. But that would be equally as true with anyone else as President and equally as true if such a union existed with the SBC and The Democratic Party. It is detrimental to our witness, evangelism, discipleship, church planting, race relations and the identity of our seminaries. This is a malignancy that must be excised from our Convention.

To fire Russell Moore though, cements and consummate the relationship between the SBC and The Republican Party. We shouldn’t give Trump that kind of influence over our Convention. We shouldn’t by default say to the public we value loyalty to the Republican brand over a critical evaluation of a Republican nominee for President.

It’s not enough to say that Russell Moore was speaking against the majority of the SBC and those who pay his salary, as a reason to silence his voice. The Bible is inerrant and infallible, the SBC is not. What’s been missing from SBC history to often was a Russell Moore.

When the majority of the SBC embraced the diabolical institution of slavery, we needed a Russell Moore, even if he was being paid by the SBC. When the majority of the SBC denied women the right to vote as messengers within the SBC annual meetings, and supported laws forbidding women the right to vote in the secular realm, we needed a Russell Moore. When the majority of the SBC voted to support Jim Crow laws and would not support Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, we needed a Russell Moore. When the majority of the messengers in the ‘mid ’70’s voted in a SBC annual meeting to support abortion, we needed a Russell Moore. When the IMB created unbiblical landmark baptismal policies and unbiblical policies restricting missionaries’ private worship in 2005, God raised up a Wade Burleson to prophetically address these matters; and he was publicly maligned and marginalized, and now the same attempt is being made toward Russell Moore.  In 2015, everything Wade Burleson was asking the IMB to do, they did: Return to the pre-2005 private prayer policies, and the prior baptismal policies. Now that they have done so, Wade Burleson is owed an apology, because their actions now prove he was right from the beginning.

SBC, are we going to now make the same mistake with Russell Moore as we did with all of the aforementioned matters that we later reversed policies on? Are we really going to place that much stock in Trump and choose Trump over Moore?

Honestly, a convention that would even consider this is a severely spiritually sick convention. If it were not for a great health insurance plan that I appreciate (connected to GuideStone), and a small life insurance and small retirement account that may be useful at some point, I’d seriously consider whether I could actually belong to a convention that’s so invested and identified in every way with the Republican Party and Donald Trump. To fire Russell Moore will have far-reaching consequences than most persons realize. It defines being SBC as also being Republican, or at least not publicly criticizing a Republican candidate. Minorities tend not to be Republican because they view Democrats as being more sensitive to social and economic justice, equality and fairness issues. They also view these matters as life issues and equally as important as abortion and gay marriage issues. Russell Moore is one of the few Southern Baptists that really have a heartfelt identification and understanding of social justice issues from a minority perspective. There are those who think that this backlash against him is rooted in his outspokenness on race issues and police brutality issues. Russell Moore really feels our pain. In many ways he is being treated as a racial minority by the Convention in this situation. So to fire Russell Moore is to say to minorities, you are only welcome in the SBC if you remain silent regarding your political views. Seriously? Is that what you really want? If so, continue with this lynch party and proposed firing. And Congratulations!!! You will have just birth THE TRUMP BAPTIST CONVENTION.

Russell Moore has spoken as a prophet. The late Professor Jack Gray defined the spiritual gift of prophecy as the ability to communicate a particular truth, to a particular people, at a particular time. This is what Moore has done. To fire Russell Moore is in effect to make the statement that the gift of prophecy is unwelcome among Southern Baptists if it conflicts with our politics. Russell Moore would have gotten the same kind of treatment in SBC life had he spoken prophetically against slavery in 1845-1863 as he is getting now. Southern Baptists can and should do better than this. I pray that we drop this vendetta against Russell Moore. He has asked for an apology if he was misunderstood or crossed over a line. Let’s forgive him and move on. Threatening to withhold funds over a critique of Donald Trump is too small of an issue for us to divide over. During this yuletide season, let’s practice our faith and seek peace on earth and in the SBC and good will toward all men. Brethren, let’s drop our swords and be The Southern Baptist Great Commission Convention and not the Trump Baptist Convention.

John M. Yates: Opposing Hate with the Gospel

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I am grateful for Dr. John M. Yates, Dean at Midwestern College. The article below posted at The Pathway.

HANNIBAL – John Mark Yeats, Dean, Midwestern College, center-right, shared at the 2016 Worldview Conference regarding adoption.

Opposing hate with the gospel

KANSAS CITY – It’s an annual event our house – the celebration of the day our children became part of our family forever. “Gotcha Day” or “Adoption Day” features ice cream, pictures, favorite meals, and a recounting of their unique adoption story.

Like most families, we share these moments online. But this year, our celebration angered individuals in the recently emboldened alt-right movement. The alt-right or “white nationalists” as some call them, are a grouping of far-right individuals that truly believe the best solutions for our country comes from separating races. Some have blamed the rise of the alt-right on the current political climate, others on the rapid expansion of politically-correct cultural change. Whatever the rationale, the trolls from the alt-right assured my racially mixed family that I was a disgrace to whites everywhere and that I was most assuredly “going to hell” for violating God’s racial laws. Even worse, according to these individuals, I was “cucked.”

Perhaps you aren’t familiar with this term, but it tends to be a favorite of the alt-right to refer to Christians who take a stand for racial equality. Historically the term “cuck,” or “cucked,” implied a lack of masculinity and virility – particularly to a husband of an adulterous wife or to men who unwittingly invest parental effort in raising children not connected to them genetically. Creating familial relationships through adoption that bridge the racial divide are case-in-point. Even integrating churches or ministries that work with refugees are seen as cowering to the Political Culture and therefore, weak. Churches taking Biblical stands on these issues become demonstrative of “Cuckservative Christianity,” “Cuckianity,” or “Cucked Christianity.”

For the alt-right, white nationalist, race is tied to cultural expression so that certain races inherently possess cultural markers. For those cultures to then flourish and reach their natural ends, the races should be separated and become their own nations. For many, the white, European race needs to reclaim its uniqueness and primacy and therefore protect its cultural heritage. It’s the grand reversal of the identity politics of the left.

This isn’t a new idea launched during a 2016 political campaign. Incredibly prescient, Carol M. Swain identified this Nationalist impulse present in American culture over 15 years ago. Her book, The New White Nationalism in America: Its Challenge to Integration deserves a close read by anyone seeking answers to the longer history of this movement. Swain, quotes Dan Gayman, leader of the Church of Israel, a Christian Identity/white nationalist movement located in Missouri, “Most white Americans believe in their hearts in the doctrine of racial separatism even if they are too intimidated by its current disfavor in the media and elsewhere to openly acknowledge their beliefs.”

In a post-2016 election cycle that empowered many of radicalized groups on both sides of the aisle, the cultural filter Gayman referenced has lifted. It’s gone. The attacks have gone mainstream.

Swain argued that a variety of economic as well as cultural currents could ultimately lead to the challenges we are facing today. Her suggestion? The solution has to come from the church.

Why?

Because the Gospel doesn’t change. Because the need for all of humanity to be reconciled to God doesn’t change. Because once we trust Christ, our identity changes fundamentally as part of the family of God – we are all adopted sons and daughters and share in the inheritance of the Gospel!

But this concept is often missed by many in America. The Gospel decimates our broken and sinful concepts of race! Jesus’ victory on the cross ended the hostility between Jew/Greek, male/female, black/white/Hispanic/Asian. It doesn’t erase our ethnic heritage or unique attributes – this is not an “I don’t see race” proclamation. Instead, it is a new vision that despite these differences, we are placed into a new family where we become one because of Christ. Ephesians 2:14 is especially poignant: “For He (Christ) himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” We are one in Christ. Period.

But every Sunday, we bring our wretched, broken souls into the gathering place of our churches carrying discrimination against each other or those outside of our doors. How should pastors respond to this reality?

Understand that the media is not “fabricating” or “creating” stories of the rise of an emboldened, racially motivated alt-right. While I believe they are a very small, yet loud, subset of the population, they are doing everything they can to target the young, the disenfranchised, and the poor with their racially charged message. If Swain’s research bears out, this group will continue to see gains if the seed of their teaching is watered and left unchecked.

Your brothers and sisters in Christ who are part of a minority group may actually carry some justified fear about what might happen to them during this presidential transition. If you are not listening to them, please take time to consider what they are feeling and hearing in their congregations.

You must remain vigilant about issues of race and racial reconciliation. Pastors must preach the peace and healing that comes through Christ alone. Beyond preaching, congregations must continue to work to reach their specific mission field. Do a census study of a five-mile radius around your congregation’s meeting place. If your congregational doesn’t mirror the racial proportions of that same space, you are missing your mission field!

Recognize that individuals in your congregation may carry racial discomfort or even hatred against others into your building every week. If the church really is a place where broken sinners find healing through the Gospel, this is a live issue. Since the truth of our true identity in Christ is connected so deeply to the Gospel, we should expect the ideas of race and racial division to be live issues that Satan will use to create division.

Preach the Gospel. Over and again share the hope of the Gospel. There is no underestimating, as Carol Swain states, “the enormous power that Christian religion can exert to save us from our ingrained bigotries and prejudices.” [2] The Gospel forces us to deal with our sin and the inherent racism that each of carries and annihilates it on the cross of Calvary.

Christians must hold to the higher standard that all believers are one, new race in Christ. This is our identity that supersedes all other markers. When it comes to a question of the alt-right, they are wrong. Attitudes of racial superiority or even discrimination are morally wrong according to what we are told in Scripture. Pastors and churches must guard against this cultural moment and continue to point people to the cross where we are made new. 

Reply to Ben Dockery on Choosing the Minorities’ Presence in SBL/AAR Over ETS

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alamo protestWith a few of my colleagues I travelled to the Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting (ETS) in San Antonio, TX, November 15-17. Upon returning, I made two tweets reflecting my observation of seemingly even fewer African Americans and other ethnic minorities in attendance at ETS this year. The tweet below also reflects my observation that many of my African American colleagues at other colleges and seminaries were making note of their presences at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting (SBL) and the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting (AAR), both following ETS, and also in San Antonio. (SBL and AAR sometimes are designated as one unit – as AAR/SBL or SBL/AAR.)

Ben Dockery asked a question in reply to my comment. My response to him is too long for a series of tweets. However, I am posting the link to this blog post on Twitter, and I will post a few of the comments as tweets in reply to Ben.

The comments are closed here so that all comments may be made in the exchange on Twitter.


Twitter, November 18, 2016, 1:21 pm stamp, I tweeted:

#ETS2016#aarsbl Sadly, I must choose AAR/SBL over ETS to see many people of color present research in Biblical Studies & Theology. #4change

Ben Dockery asked in reply,

bendockery ‏‪@bendockery Nov 18 @EricCRedmond‪ why do you think it breaks down this way? (What are the key variables?)

Ben, this is what I see:

First, there is a need for theology to be located socially in application. Seemingly, systematics like Erickson’s and Grudem’s already provide social location – inherently (?) – for members of the majority culture. I have yet to hear one of my majority-culture classmates say of such texts written by conservative evangelicals (and conferences of like workshops and sessions), “That text is too white for our context.” However, for many years I have heard African Americans make this statement about classes, texts, and conferences. While it is true that everyone has to move from texts to application in context, somehow the ethnic context is an additional hurdle that some have to cross because the books and venues do not provide examples of such—in my experience, at least not enough for African American pastors. I cannot speak for other ethnic minorities.

Second, SBL seems to be a safer place for discussions of race, class, and gender. If a professional paper has a minority/ethnic slant, no one in a minority group likely will hear, “That’s not sound doctrine.”  At SBL/AAR, the members largely hale from places where people of color are seen as equals; their ethnicity does not make their scholarship seem suspect in the eyes of their colleagues. Now in some cases, this suspicion might be more of a perception than a reflection of realities on the part of minorities. However, it is a well-earned perception, based upon many experiences of minority students and faculty at evangelical schools. It seems that in the welcoming, come-equally-as-you-are-context of SBL, people of color do not feel the need to prove their worth solely on the basis of their color; there they have no problem proving their worth on the basis of their abilities to do scholarship.

Third, evangelicals need to demonstrate even greater care about underrepresentation in their academic institutions with sustained, long-term, intentional actions. We have been making good strides since the 1980’s, yet we still have more to do. Our institutions – faculties and administrators – as a whole, have to think in terms of the Gospel to greater degrees. This means being intentional about promoting faculty diversity (which I am proud to say characterizes my current institution). Diversifying requires looking out for the interests of minority students and the churches of ethnic minorities (cf. Rom. 12:10; Phil. 2:3-4). Potentially, such intentionality means seeking, cultivating, tracking, funding, returning, mentoring, supporting, developing, keeping, marketing, and leveraging new minority faculty, starting at a student’s time in undergraduate/graduate school through the PhD and first few years of teaching. It also means breaking the cycle of the need to hunt every few years for 1 or 2 new ethnic minorities of one particular people group. After twenty years of teaching, it is odd for me to see evangelical schools still attempting to find an African American to teach in systematics, historical theology, or Biblical studies, especially when the lone African American representative in a department retires, leaving a void and no full-time African American in a department or on the residential faculty. The majority culture never experiences even a 25% loss of representation at larger schools, and certainly not a 50% loss. But African Americans often experience a 50%-100% loss of representation at our schools when a faculty member retires. However, at the schools from where the majority of SBL/AAR members come, there is greater ethnic minority representation. Thus, the lonely evangelical minority finds a strong place of fellowship, networking, sympathy, and understanding. ETS, inadvertently I believe, serves to reinforce a feeling of isolation for ethnic minorities.

On the third point, I ran my reply past a friend, also an evangelical teacher and pastor. He wrote these words:

I absolutely agree with you. On the hiring point, I would only add a personal anecdote. When I was at [a denominational evangelical seminary (DES)], I asked [President of DES] about black professors. At the time, Dr. [“Prof. A” at DES] was the only black professor, though there were several other Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, and Asian profs. [The President of DES] said than he would [like to hire more African American professors], but few meet his criteria of being theologically conservative and not divorced. Of course, I took offense to that, because that implies that the vast majority – [President of DES] could only find one? – were theologically liberal and [matrimonially] unfaithful….

Evangelical culture still hasn’t fully embraced minorities as an integral part of their life, and I think that it could be because it hasn’t fully embraced integration/multiculturalism as an integral part of its theology. Again, from my experience at [DES], I remember guys like Dr. [“Prof. B” at DES, white male] and myself having to argue for local church diversity, because people (profs and students) did not think it was a necessary goal. I still remember Dr. Prof. B’s walk through the book of Acts in a chapel sermon to show the church’s diversity from the beginning.

So there’s a blind spot (intentionally or not) in evangelical culture. As long as evangelicals do not believe that minorities are integral to the evangelical experience, they will neither pursue minorities nor value their voices. On the flip side, if minorities do not believe that they are included and they belong, they will continue to go where their voices are valued.

Fourth, evangelical seminaries and Bible colleges must continue to increase invitations to ethnic minorities to speak in their chapels, and to lecture as visiting professors. The presence of minority speakers in academic settings allows minority students to see that being a scholar in theology and biblical studies is within their reach, and that they do not have to lose their ethnic identities in order to become scholars. I suspect that no white colleague of mine ever heard their pastors say to them, “Now don’t let that school make you too Black,” or “Don’t come back from seminary preaching like a Black man.” But I can assure you many African American students have heard from their pastors a similar statement and many like things with the word “white,” nuanced to reflect the majority culture’s influence in the academy. The point is that to aspire to an academic post in our schools still seems like something out of the reach of ethnic minorities. Thus, ethnic minorities often choose other schools—schools that carry students to conferences like SBL/AAR and not to ETS.

I wish more institutional leaders were like Dr. Paul Nyquist and your father, courageously keeping issues of diversity and minority representation in the forefront of their visions for their institutions. They do so as a matter of the Gospel from their hearts, and not as matters of expediency or political correctness. I appreciate such men and the work they have done and are doing. I appreciate you too, for based on your question, it seems that the apple has fallen next to the tree.

Allow me to leave you with something I read a few years ago in The Skillful Teacher. Very insightfully, when Stephen Brookfield advocates for new faculty being accompanied by an expert instructor who is there to communicate to the class that he is not there to supervise but to learn from the new instructor, he writes, “Creating this dynamic is particularly important for faculty who do not possess White privilege. Faculty of color, and junior women faculty have a much harder time establishing credibility than do White males. This reflects a broadly held (though often unarticulated) ideological assumption that if scholars of color, or women, are faculty members they are only there because of affirmative action requirements. White males, like myself, however, tend to enjoy a considerable longer experiential probationary period when people are liable to give them the benefit of the doubt and to write off mistakes as a necessary part of learning on the job. One of the useful contributions senior White males can make, therefore, is to show up in the classroom of junior faculty and to make it very plain to students exactly how much they are deferring to, learning from, and being stimulated by the teaching of junior faculty of color and junior women faculty,” (Brookfield, Skillful, 62-63). (See also, Ken Bain, “What Do They Expect of Their Students,” What the Best College Teachers Do, 68-79, for significant comments about the treatment and worldviews of ethnic minority and female faculty members.)

 

A Little Edwards Reading

edwards-the-exegeteedwards-psalmscalvin-psalmsFinally, I secured my copy of Edwards the Exegete. I am so excited! It takes a little while to fit a work like this into the budget, even when it is sale price.

Edwards was an incredible Christological, whole-Bible thinker. I hope to learn from his method how to become a better reader of Scripture. From the little bit I have read, I would invite anyone who wants another look at a better understanding of how to read Scripture to slowly wade through Sweeney’s work. It will be worth every effort given to the task. Sweeney is academic, yet lucid in his writing.

Soon I hope to launch into Jonathan Edwards and the Psalms, and Calvin’s Theology of the Psalms. I am preparing to teach through the Psalms. All three readings will be pleasurable.

Black Church Open Letter to Secretary Clinton on Religious Freedom

Several church leaders in the African American community collaborated to write an Open Letter to Hillary Clinton regarding religious freedom for African Americans. I am grateful for words therein like these:

The vast majority of black churches hold biblical teaching, which is eternal, as authoritative for doctrine and practice. Abortion is the deliberate destruction of a human life in its most vulnerable state. Biblical principle and natural law, both of which prohibit the taking of innocent human life, compel our concern about the increasing moral complicity with abortion. For the same reasons that we as black Christian leaders oppose racism, unjust wars, capital punishment and euthanasia, we oppose the violent denial of life to the unborn through abortion. It is our view that human life is a gift of God that we are called upon to protect, nurture and sustain, because we are created in God’s image. Therefore, our opposition to abortion is a logical outgrowth of our view that there must be justice for all. Particularly relevant is the innocence of the unborn child. The Bible places an extremely high value on human life and particularly on the lives of the innocent who are under the special protection of God. Those who take the life of the innocent violate a key biblical principle as well as a fundamental principle of natural justice…. In 2008, Secretary Clinton, you took theposition that abortion should be rare, and you emphasized “by rare I mean rare.” But Black babies are dying at terrifying rates. How do you justify your unconscionable silence in the face of such destruction of innocent black life? Don’t black lives matter? What policies would you pursue as president to reverse the soaring abortion rates among black women?

Read the entire letter here.

 

William Dwight McKissic, Sr. ONE BLACK EVANGELICAL METAMORPHOSIS ON THE 2016 ELECTION

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vote-hereI greatly enjoy the musings of my friend, Wm. Dwight McKissic, Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, TX. Recently he posted some thoughts on the Presidential election and what he will do in the voting booth. Here are a few paragraphs:

 

Police brutality is one of the most pressing, unresolved social issues of our time. It certainly is a life and quality of life matter. It will certainly impact the environment my grandchildren are raised in. Therefore, I must ask myself which candidate will do a better job and be more objective and fair in making sure the citizens and the police are being treated fairly? Who best understands and empathize with both sides of this issue? Whose justice system and attorney general’s office would I rather see be involved in these matters? Whose answers to Lester Holt’s questions will set the trajectory for a better quality of life for my 12 grandchildren growing up in a climate where the criminal justice system and police brutality discriminate against them based on color?

So after much soul searching, I have reached the conclusion that the Life issues that I’m voting to protect this year will be my grandchildren. The racial healing atmosphere and the level of accountability that police know that will be expected from a Clinton administration, suggests to me that police persons will be slightly more cautious in pulling the trigger in the future than they have been in the past.

Blacks comprise 15% of the population; but we are involved in 29% of the police shootings. Certainly there are police shootings that are justifiable. Conversely, there would be some unjustifiable. To resolve or reduce the number of police shootings, the one being shot must take responsibility and try not to put him/her in this position. The one doing the shooting must exercise restraint and use a Taser, patience, wait for backup, or whatever it takes. Hillary Clinton mentioned establishing National Standards to help guide and govern these issues.

You can read the whole thing here.

I’m still working through how to vote in this election. I am not voting for the Donald Trump. I also would deny my conscience to vote for one who is sworn against the life of the unborn and probably would do away with religious freedom.

 

Declared Righteous

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gavelI so enjoyed my time today with the teachers of Salem Baptist Church! What an exciting group of teachers! The people of Salem are blessed richly to have so many people interested in becoming better expositors of the word of God.

As we worked our way through Romans, I was reminded of just how significant Christ’s work of justification is for us, especially in 3:21-26.

Justification is the forensic act by which a sinner comes to stand before God as righteous both actually and declaratively. The righteousness God provides is an alien righteousness—it comes from outside of the sinner rather than from within. By “actually,” we mean the Scriptures teach that the sinner is constituted righteous by having Christ’s righteousness imputed to him. By “declaratively,” we mean that Scripture teaches that the sinner is declared righteous before God as a judge in a courtroom declares the status of a criminal.

In declarative justification, the Judge makes a declaration: The sinner is declared righteous although the sinner is guilty.

Declared righteousness differs from judgment in the Western judicial system in the following: It is not simply an (1) acquittal (to rule not guilty), (2) a pardon (to forgive someone of an offense), (3) an exoneration (to free someone from accusation, blame, or responsibility), and that (4) it is based upon absolute truth. This stands in contrast to the Roman Catholic view, in which justification includes the expulsion of indwelling sin, the positive infusion of divine grace, and the forgiveness of sin. For Rome, justification is the infusion of new virtues after the pollution of sin has been removed in baptism. In Catholic teaching, the grace of justification can be lost, but also can be regained by the sacrament of penance.

Imagine walking into a courtroom in an orange jumpsuit with your hands and feet shackled, and with two Federal Marshals flanking you, because you are guilty of crimes. There is fingerprint and video surveillance evidence, eyewitness and your possession of tools used to commit crimes, and you have made an uncoerced confession. You are guilty. Yet, with all of the evidence stacked against you, the judge renders a verdict: “I declare you righteous [even though you are guilty.]” God, the Judge of all the earth, makes this declaration for sinners on the basis of the righteousness of his Son alone. This is the work of justification; this is mercy; this is reason to shout and to praise our Savior.

Resources

  1. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God’s Sovereign Purpose (Banner of Truth)
  2. Kent Hughes, Romans: God’s Saving Righteousness (Crossway)
  3. Douglas Moo, Romans: The NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan)

Understand Our Struggles: Read The Warmth of Other Suns

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the-warmth-of-other-sunsDear Friend,

You have been kind enough to ask me loving, sensitive, sympathetic, and well-intended questions as it relates to the most recent police shootings of African Americans. If you want your heart broken over the issues facing African Americans, by means of exploring the history of this country and race, I would encourage you to read The Warmth of Other Suns. Within the last two months, I have recommended this book to more than a handful of kind friends like you.

Many African American families of my generation or older grew up knowing stories like the ones in this book, often with respect to the experience of a relative. In an Honor/Shame community such as ours, stories like the ones in Warmth are the fuel for both encouraging our children to excel in school and work, and for making us cautious, if not cynical, about what goes on in this country regarding race. Yes, I know that the Cross and the Empty Tomb are the warp-and-woof of the solution to problems of race in America. Also know, however, every church-going African American, at least my age or older, grows up with a form of these stories turning our engines, and contributing to the filter(s) by which we see everything.

Reading a book like Warmth might help you understand why just one racial incident makes the majority of our community respond as if someone has threatened us with nuclear war or genocide. No one else in this country has faced what African Americans have faced since their inception as an American people. No one ethnic or self-identified social group faces today what African Americans have endured for the last 500 years in America.

Enjoy the book!

ECR

Related: “7 Books on the White-Black Racial Divide You Should Read

#justiceforSandraBland

#justiceforkeithscott

#justiceforterencecrutcher

Celebrating Union with Christ: Blogging Thru Eph in 150 Words or Less, Part 17

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[4] There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—[5] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, [6] one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:4-6 ESV)

mystery1Paul’s exhortation to the church for practical unity recognizes that the oneness inherent in the body is reflective of the oneness inherent in the Trinity. He says three things:

  1. Although we are individual members of the body of Christ, we all are united mysteriously by the Holy Spirit so that our hope as believers remains certain, 4:4.
  1. As we each have called on the same Lord for salvation by being given the same faith to call on Him, we have experienced spiritual baptism, which mysteriously places us together in Him, which is in His body, which is in one another, 4:5 (cf. Rom. 12:5; I Cor. 12:12-13).
  1. Ephesians by Eric RedmondWhile having the authority of Christ and His fullness, we are under the sovereign rule of God the Father – as both Christ and the Spirit work voluntarily within the Trinity – as He rules through Christ through us all, being in the Spirit who is in us all, and being over, through and in the entire Creation, 4:6.

The incredible mystery of our union with Christ–union with the Trinity, union with the Creator–is reason to celebrate our hope, enjoy the fellowship of the body, and to submit to the sweet sovereignty of God in all things.

Knowing the Bible: Ephesians (Crossway) is available at wtsbooks.com.

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