Monthly Archives: December 2007

Culture Clash: The Gospel, Worship and Hue (and WORSHIPGOD08 Registration Announcement)

Over at the Council of Reforming Churches the brethren are exploring the issue of Gospel-centered worship and cultural expression. (I guess I should weigh in again soon since I instigated the conversation. But I have been enjoying reading the thinking of my brethren.) You should join us for the conversation. Lance Lewis has made a really thoughtful post in Part 4.



In this journey of trying to navigate through worship wars among my own, I have been helped by Ryken’s Give Praise to God and Carson’s Worship by the Book. I am anticipating help from Kauflin’s Worship Matters. Bob’s blog has been very helpful this past year. (He recently posted info on the WorshipGod08 conference.)  Skip Ryan’s, Worship: Beholding the Beauty of the Lord, should be included in the mix of readings on worship.



Nothing has helped more than God’s Passion for His Glory and thinking through the implications of God’s chief end for corporate worship.



I know, I know: There are no books on the list written from within the hue in question. Yes, but I am looking for Gospel-centered worship in cultural clothing, not culturally expressed-worship with the Gospel attached, which seems to be thrust of many of the books in question. I will take a recommendation if you have one.

By the way, there are some really good comments at Pure Church for thinking about Senator Obama and the coming elections. They should be included in the discussion at hand.  

Blum’s Book Win’s Award

Earlier this year I made a post on Ed Blum’s work on W. E. B. Dubois. It recently won a Gustavus Meyrs award! Congratulations to Ed! I hope many will enjoy this fine work. (It’s not too late to get a copy for Christmas!)

Today, I also enjoyed an article in the Washington Post by Duke University’s Mark Anthony Neal on the “Race Man.” Please notice that he suggests (with others) my colleagues and I are part of an industry that is no longer an (the?) incubator for Black leadership. I suspect we are now the lacuna on the score of 21st Century leadership.

Neal’s mentioning of the church’s stillbirth problem reminds me of part of the message in Spike Lee’s Get on the Bus. Remember, the bus left from the church, but never returned. Spike’s analysis is on target.

But I am not worried. A reformation could do for our community what the Reformation did for Geneva.

Great Stocking Stuffers!

Daniel Hyde just published God With Us: Knowing the Mystery of Who He Is. From the back cover, Michael Horton writes: “Why the God-Man?” Athanasius’s question frames the entire complex of Christian faith, piety, worship, and practice. With devotional warmth and doctrinal clarity, Pastor Hyde makes an excellent tour guide through the treasures that lie at the heart of history–indeed, at the heart of God himself. Whatever the stage in the Christian pilgrimage, God with Us will lead readers from meditation to doxology, (Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California).



Over at Westminster Bookstore there is a great 45% off sale on all ESV Bibles.


John Piper has kind words to say about the newly released The Divine Decrees, by Jonathan Edwards, edited by Oshea Davis.

Finally, among other great reads this year, I have been enjoying Malcolm Yarnell’s Formation of Christian Doctrine. I appreciate Malcolm’s gentlemanly effort to strengthen our methodological senses before we are washed away under postconservatism’s storm.

Megachurches, Megaphones: My Tribute to African American Reformers Anthony Carter and Thabiti Anyabwile (and Carl Ellis, Bruce Fields, Ken Jones, and Wy Plummer)

 When Anthony Carter’s On Being Black and Reformed was published, I think the Reformation in the African American community surpassed Mach 1. Finally there was a rallying point, a buoy, and a field book for those of us saying to others, “come over here and get excited about a better way of thinking about Christian living and ministry in our context!”


  I remember reading the book with great excitement over the course of about two days. (I was so thrilled that I immediately wrote a review of the book for the Journal of African American Southern Baptist History, a journal that is not available online, but can be obtained by contacting the Florida Baptist Convention.)  I am thankful for the Lord’s kindness to us through his servant Anthony Carter.     

 Now another book has me equally excited! Except for getting my children ready for school this morning and writing this blog post, I have not been able to put down Thabiti Anyabwile’s The Decline of African American Theology! This book is going to take the new Reformation to Mach 2. We now have a tool drawing from a common history with other African Americans (as opposed to the Reformation texts and history) from which we can fight the good fight and contend for the once and for all delivered faith. Prior to this text, there was always a loophole in making the case for Reformation in the African American community. But Anyabwile closes this loophole to a pinhole by demonstrating it is not the Black neo-Reformers who have deviated from the faith of our forefathers. Instead, it is the greater African American church and religious community that has deviated from the orthodoxy held by our forbears and almost disintegrated; (yes, in our context it is community rather than communities, for we a quite syncretistic). Thank you, Lord, for giving us the hope of reformation, revival and revitalization through the Pure Church writer formerly known as Ron Burns        

  Thinking of these two men reminded me of an unpublished work I produced in 2006 in which both of them were mentioned as Reformation examples. The article, Megachurches, Megaphones, is included below as an MS Word file. This work is my tribute to them for leading the way in this new Reformation. They exist in stark contrast to the megaphonies.  

megachurches-megaphones.doc  (Megachurches, Megaphones is about the Black Church and social justice, or the lack thereof by Word of Faith churches in particular.)

My tribute also rightly belongs to Carl Ellis, Bruce Fields, Ken Jones, and Wy Plummer, who have been in the trenches of the new Reformation for at least two decades longer than the upstarts (self included). We stand on their shoulders and on the shoulders of many others like them. I am sure Carter and TA do not mind sharing this tribute with these men.   

Culture, Culture, Culture: It’s a CRC Thing

If the well known acts of the Reformers that symbolize the Reformation found equivalents in 21st Century Black America, what would they look like?  Would theses against indulgences become sermons against prayer trinkets advertised for sale at the end of a televangelists’ show?  Would debates over infant baptism become debates over the practice of baby dedications?  Would eating sausage during lent become… (OK, I’ll leave the sausage one alone).  On whose door should I put the nail so that we irk the right king and pope and make the whole African-American community take notice? (Unfortunately, in our community, we may need to irk the right queen.)  Would dividing over Psalm-singing versus hymn-singing become a split about traditional Gospel Music versus Contemporary Christian Music?


Even if we could look through the eyes of the Reformers at the modern Black Church, I am not so sure we could figure out what the heart of the Reformation – the Five Sola’s and the Doctrines of Grace – would look like in African American clothing, (and even then we are really only talking about what it looks like in African American Middle Class Christian clothing, as patterned after modern evangelicalism).


Over at the Council for Reforming Churches blog we are beginning to address the question of Reformation in cultural expression. Join us the next few weeks for some good Reformation-styled table talk discussions.


On another cultural note, I just received my copy of The Decline of African American Theology in the mail. It is tomorrow morning’s reading! Get your copy today!


Also on a cultural note, Lance Lewis the TV critic has alerted the church to the Baal Network.

Finally, when is D. A. Carson’s Christ and Culture Revisited going to get here? Can we petition Eerdmans to push up the publication date? I am hoping the Canadian-transplanted-to-the-USA-world-Christian-and-world-class-scholar can help us figure out which way to hold the mallet.