Friday, October 31, 2014

Must All Christians be a Calvinist or Arminian? The Infelicitous Assertion by Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary’s Bill Combs or When Devotion to a School of Theology Leads to Impoverished Reasoning



Most of us have seen it in one form or another. Evolutionists are a good example. I am speaking of the case in which a man or woman becomes trapped, if not enslaved, by a particular school of thought, so much so that they lose the virtue of good reason, no matter what is presented to them. Everything and anything is filtered through this school of thought. Ultimately, it (this school of thought) becomes the dictate over the rational and logical processes of a person to the point that the obvious becomes the enemy and exaggerated obscurities and unwarranted minimization become the bewildering merchandise offered as justifications for the sycophant's enigmatic intellectual/apologetic crusades.

If you are uncertain of my aim, allow me to be precise. Over at Theologically Driven, a blog of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (who are self-identified Baptist Fundamentalists), one of the seminary professors, Bill Combs, posted an article, Why You Must Be a Calvinist or an Arminian (and this did not stand alone, it actually augmented an earlier post by another professor, Mark Snoeberger who made a related assertion). This may seem but a blip on a radar but then a plane crashing into a building is, too. Thus, I want you to stop and consider the degree of concern which this warrants, if you consider yourself a Baptist Fundamentalist, a Christian who identifies with Calvinism via DBTS style, someone who intends on attending DBTS or simply a Christian interested in the issue, itself.

I posted a response to Bill Comb’s post at Theologically Driven which was up for a while but then taken down. Nothing rude or personal was contained in the rebuttal. I do think, however, that it shed a rather embarrassing light on Comb’s assertion(s) and consequently Mr. Combs and DBTS who would endorse such an idea, thus, its removal.

I certainly expect binary or black/white thinking to abound in Calvinistic acolytes such as this group, here. However, for a seminary professor who has demonstrated capacity for more considerate paradigms and whose profession ought to reflect it, there is a reason for real concern, especially for his students and those in his sphere of influence. Therefore, I have made this rebuttal post at my blog for all my readers and beyond because this issue is critical in how it is framed and how it affects theological discourse in the Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christian community

Comb’s Assertions

Generally, Bill Combs formulates his argument somewhat the way Snoeberger did in his earlier post at Theologically Driven, namely, by way of circular reasoning combined with selective (should I say elective? – pun intended) logic. Basically put it is:

  • God saves us without help from ourselves (he uses this phraseology which is with reference to monergism, while actually referring to election)
  • Calvinism believes this
  • Whoever agrees with this is a Calvinist
And the same paradigm Combs uses for Arminian assignment with a bit of a qualifier. Basically he asserts that to disagree with his construct, which he claims is a Calvinist construct based on the U (unconditional election) of the Calvinist TULIP, is to be Arminian. Case closed, either you are an Arminian or Calvinist and no other possible taxonomy can exist (he expressly says with regard to this that it is, “the only other possibility”).

On the face of things or as Latin lovers like to say, prima facie, most people’s instinct is correct, that this is very narrow, prejudiced and inconsiderate thinking. Multiple flaws in this thinking instantly come to mind and here are but a few of them.

Quick Rebuttal Points to the Infelicitous Binary Taxonomy

Lutheranism - Let’s first consider Comb’s claim that there cannot be a third way. Enter, Lutheranism, more precisely, Martin Luther. Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses when John Calvin was an 8 year-old boy. In fact, it was not until ten years before Luther’s death that Calvin published his Institutes. While it is a significant body of work, it is quite a matter of history and now plain to see that Luther did not gain his views from Calvin. Thus, the absurd taxonomy Combs and others wish to impose on Lutherans and Christianity is laughable.

Is he not aware of this? Does he not know a large body of Lutherans and their Book of Concord, which articulates Lutheran doctrine so clearly and which was born before Calvinism, exists in robust form today? And he asserts there can only be Arminians and Calvinists? Dear Professor, how embarrassed do you wish to be?

Calvinism is more than a single postulate – Calvinism, in its true theological science, is a body of belief with all of its parts integral to one another for its rationalistically based theological system to function. All of its parts combined make up its proprietary theological identification and system.

Holding to a single postulate that a Calvinist may hold to does not make a person a Calvinist no more than agreeing with a Democrat or Republican on one point makes a person one of them. This is just as true in so many things in this world.

A good example of this simple truth is martial arts. Many schools share various movements, both offensive and defensive, but they are distinguished by their unique developments and specialized or proprietary combat techniques and so on. And in these communities most adherents have the common and good sense to respect such distinctions.

As well, computers share common parts but also have proprietary elements which separate them. One is not the other because of what they have in common but what they have which is not common. Combs completely ignores this reality or irresponsibly dismisses it through reductionism.

Calvinism is, in reality, Augustinianism – Many of the proponents of the oversimplified binary taxonomy proposed by Combs and DBTS, argue that the two labels are warranted because of historic identification. In other words, because historically, Calvinism (at least in their minds) and Arminianism both stick out in opposition to one another, they must be the two polar ends and exist as a reasonable means for identifying others.

Wrong, and for the most obvious reason.

First, Calvinism is not even five-hundred years old while the church is two-thousand years old. If we are going to talk about history and labels, Calvinism is in the last quarter section of a two-thousand year long line.

Secondly and related, Calvin was deeply and admittedly influenced by Augustine who preceded him and dominated theology for over a century before Calvin. In truth, if we are going to argue theological history, Calvin is an Augustinian thus, are all Calvinists and if historic labels are so important then how about a bit of integrity, eh?

Everyone is now a Catholic and Dispensationalist – By way of Combs’ magical thinking in which circular reasoning rules his consideration on this matter, we now are permitted to assert the preposterous, namely, that every Christian is a Catholic and Dispensationalist (Why do I hear someone insisting, "No, really, that is a good point."? UGH).

If someone shares one point in a theological system they clearly warrant being labeled as adherents to such and all Christians share at least one or more points of Catholic theology (the Trinity to name one).  And for dispensationalism, specifically,  most every Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist agrees that we are no longer under the protocols of the Theocracy of Israel. Of course, readers can see the absurdity of this which is exactly the point.

The conspicuous absence of the pursuit of this taxonomy by non-Calvinists – Have you ever noticed who is almost exclusively attempting to force this binary theological taxonomy for all Christians? Right, Calvinists. This easily informs the average person that something conspicuous is going on. Why is this effort so exaggeratedly present with Calvinists but absent with non-Calvinists?

There are a number of possibilities but I suspect the most common one is behind much of this, namely the desire to minimize, isolate or ill-defined those with whom they disagree in order to expedite the dismissal of them in order not be forced to deal with them as peers in arguments they cannot sustain in a debate.

This is done all the time in society. If we label someone or something we or our community considers objectionable, we are then justified in dismissing them and not engaging with them or at least when we engage with them, we may hold them in contempt as inferior students, thus always wrong from the start. We are the correctors and they the correctees, always.

Why would a Calvinist want to do this?

Ego-Investment - The truth is, this is not unique to Calvinists. It happens quite often where there is ego-investment in one’s thinking. When a person buys into an idea or concept they often invest their person or ego, as well. That is a mistake in many ways and for many reasons. Not that we cannot invest our egos, at times, but such an investment must be made for the right reasons.

Theological systems are attractive to people, intellectually and then, theologically if not spiritually as well. Many systems contain many right things. but further, they appear to have all the answers or at least most of them. They do a great deal of thinking for people, thinking for which many people do not have time or capacity. Thus, when they encounter a detailed body of theology such as Calvinism or Lutheranism (just to name a couple but certainly not just these), people can be deeply impressed and mistakenly identify it as so superior to their own considerations that to all of its tenets, they must yield and further, pledge allegiance lest they offend the God who enlightened such a soul or souls who formulated and articulate a grand theological system. Thus, they buy in lock, stock and barrel without ever making the necessary effort to vet and test its major or essential views, rather their energy is spent simply validating them.

Conclusion

I have no doubt Professor Combs desires to please the Lord and serve him and it is demonstrated by his life in many ways as one can view publicly. However, impoverished reasoning is not one of those ways, particularly by one who has been academically and theologically trained to avoid such restricted considerations. It comes across naïve and reckless and ultimately needlessly marginalizes him and DBTS in the Christian community.

And as to theological taxonomies, we ought to find a generous paradigm which both identifies larger schools and their influence while respecting other schools with their own proprietary views and development. I prefer to use and articulate a global theological taxonomy, a three-dimensional one, which I do understand some might have trouble picturing in their brain. However, just get out a globe (if you still have one) and use that as your method of developing a taxonomy or map. In the meantime, when you encounter this kind of thing, deal with it for what it is, which isn’t much other than a gimmick for constructing theological arguments to the Calvinist’s imagined advantage.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Real Reason behind Victoria Osteen’s “Happy” Doctrine: Christian Hedonism and John Piper?



What I am about to propose to you should not shock you nor come as a surprise, though it will not be what you might suspect regarding an opinion as to why Victoria Osteen, the wife of the very well-known Pastor Joel Osteen (actually Co-Pastor seeing that both husband and wife are the Pastors), said what she said recently about the Christian’s happiness, doing good and God’s relationship to it all. If you are not familiar with assertion or have not even heard of the event, here is what Victoria Osteen recently proposed as proper Christian doctrine and practice:

Victoria Osteen

When we obey God, we're not doing it for God...we're doing it for ourself. Because God takes pleasure when we're happy. Do good 'cause God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God, really. You're doing it for yourself because that's what makes God happy.
 
Now my title is rather plain in its giveaway but that is fine. I am not going to do a great deal of elaboration, rather a comparison. Think about what she said and consider how it parallels to many of the statements by John Piper, the originator of the novel theological heterodoxy, if not heresy, he calls “Christian Hedonism”.

  1. The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful.
  2. We should never try to deny or resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse. Instead we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction.
  3. The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God.
  4. The happiness we find in God reaches its consummation when it expands to meet the needs of others in the manifold ways of love.
  5. To the extent we try to abandon the pursuit of our own pleasure, we fail to honor God and love people. Or, to put it positively: the pursuit of pleasure is a necessary part of all worship and virtue.

By Christian Hedonism, I do not mean that our happiness is the highest good. I mean that pursuing the highest good will always result in our greatest happiness in the end. But almost all Christians believe this. Christian Hedonism says more, namely, that we should pursue happiness, and pursue it with all our might. The desire to be happy is a proper motive for every good deed, and if you abandon the pursuit of your own joy you cannot love man or please God - that's what makes Christian Hedonism controversial.

Hmmmm.....has Victoria been reading John Piper’s books?  You cannot “please God” if you don't pursue happiness, says John Piper while Victoria says when you make yourself happy this makes God happy. Granted, they aren’t identical statements but they are kissing cousins at least and so far this is the most plausible explanation I can think of as to where Victoria got her errant pleasure orientation doctrine.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Gospel Coalition’s Thabiti Anyabwile: A Descent into Racial/Theological Incongruity and Liberalism


I personally do not know Thabiti Anyabwile, but I do know his theology and social philosophy; it exists for all to read, daily, weekly, monthly and year-by-year at his blog, Pure Church, which is hosted by The Gospel Coalition. Thus, this essay is not about Thabiti Anyabwile, personally, but theologically and philosophically. Further, it specifically has in view his stated desire for a marginalized people's justice theology to be created and adopted under the umbrella of the Great Commission and the protocols given to the church, the body of Christ.

That said, I do wish to make clear, unlike some of his peers at The Gospel Coalition and beyond, I do not believe Anyabwile to be guilty of theological/ecclesiastical malfeasance. He is sincere, earnest and makes genuine effort to hold himself (beyond the average celebrated Pastor-Bible Teacher) accountable to his own standards. Additionally, he appears, to me, to have a well developed conscience, more so than many. All of these are virtues to some extent.

However, in my view, while all of the above are good and worthwhile, they do not balance out bad thinking regardless of the good motives (and certainly not theology which claims to be conservative while at the same time calling for a an ecclesiastical construct which has been birthed and enlivened by way of leftist or liberal Protestant theology). This cannot be more evident than with his recent histrionic, as I see it, blog essay, Is It “Goodbye Evangelicalism” Or “We Join You In Your Suffering”?  (This begs me to ask what collective "we" Anyabwile is referring to, isn't he part of the Evangelical collective?)

Anyabwile’s Demand to the Conservative Evangelical Community

I wish I could write both a long rebuttal to the many unreliable presuppositions contained in Anyabwile’s article (which alone defeats its seriousness) along with its other arguments, while I write this general essay but time simply does not permit. Thus, I will only highlight the climactic point(s) of the article.

In it, Anyabwile builds his argument by claiming blacks are marginalized as a people without being willing to discuss why they collectively, it seems, persist in disadvantage, as if it cannot be known by things other than outside causes identified or presumed by Anyabwile. Then he voices a lament toward inaction by Evangelical leaders regarding injustice saying, “they’ve been silent en masse” (I am certain theological leftists like Tim Keller who lead The Gospel Coalition, as left scratching their heads).

Anyabwile then attempts to enlarge his narrative in claiming that “racist systems and people so disfigure the body it can’t be shown” (in referencing the many funerals of black victims of violence), all the while ignoring that FBI statistics demonstrate that 91% of murders of blacks are black on black. I'm sorry, who is doing the disfiguring dear brother?

His audacious claim is theater, not truth. Thus, my claim of a descent into racial/theological incongruity (or what some might colorfully call “theological madness”) is because someone like Anyabwile, as I have seen him demonstrate, thus believe, knows better than to use such exaggerations and strongly prejudicial descriptions in dealing with serious and multifaceted issues. It seems he has abandoned his good senses in favor of a fictitious and racially-aggrandizing narrative in which he, as I see it, apparently has invested himself so greatly that retreat from this battle and its justification is far passed.

The Ultimatum

As I said, Anyabwile goes to great lengths to build a case for his grand ultimatum. As you read the article you will observe an absence of finesse, objectivity and full consideration of all possibilities, at least in my view. He is judge, jury and executioner (metaphorically speaking, of course). He begins and ends in a tightly formed narrow peep-hole which permits his view and his alone. Thus, he ends where any good self-righting crusader is expected to end, with the demand of believe or perish (metaphorically speaking, again). Finally, he comes to what he calls “The Call”. And here it is:

So here’s my call: Let there be the founding of a new conservative evangelical body with the aim of (1) providing clear, understandable, biblical theological frameworks for the pressing problems of the marginalized coupled with (2) organized calls to action and campaigns consistent with that framework. Let there be a body tasked with answering, “What does the Bible say about justice and mercy for the vulnerable and weak (of which there are many such groups)?” and stating, “Here then is a biblically-informed campaign for a genuine evangelical church living out that faith.” Let the leaders of the movement stand as leaders in this moment.

Following this are some details in which he prescribes to Evangelicalism the task of coming up with a “how to think, and how to act in these moments” theology, as if the “conservative church” has never historically or recently taught relative principles to such events (again principles he may not identify as such seeing they do not agree with his presuppositions and conclusions).

His incredulity does not stop there. He goes on to bemoan (because he is “soul-deep tired”), with veiled accusations toward the majority culture and specifically evangelicalism, many alleged failures (ultimately this has to be white society/white evangelicalism as the perpetrator as I deduce since he is talking to America) :

“How long evangelicalism before you show deep Christian love for your neighbor?” “How long evangelicalism before you both preach the gospel and show compassion?” “How long evangelicalism before you stop putting people on trial before you grant them your mercy?” “How long before you turn off the television and turn on the porch light for a neighbor?” “How long before you weep openly for someone that doesn’t look like you, earn what you earn, live where you live?” “How long before you stop reflexively identifying with the perpetrators and system administrators and at least show equal empathy for the outcast?” How long? How long before you come on out and say with loud unequivocal voice, “This is wrong!”
Could Soul-Tiredness be from Something Else?

Could it be, Thabiti, your soul is tired and worn out by your pursuing only what God has promised in the next life? That your soul is weary because of emphasizing the wrong thing as a minister of the gospel and chasing the ghosts of a liberal utopia that cannot exist on earth and of swallowing many unorthodox ideas, narratives and theologies which have produced in you, unwarranted and unjust expectations of your brother and sister evangelicals resulting in you painting them in a light so unfavorable that you now crusade with unbridled passion against them with charges for which you appear to have but anecdotal evidence or very general claims? Yes that too will make one’s soul tired, dear brother.

The Fundamental Problem(s) with Anyabwile’s Call

First and foremost, there need be no “founding of a new conservative evangelical body”, we have one, and it is called, the church, the body of Christ. Are you, Mr. Anyabwile, suggesting a schism in the body; that we deliberately form a body within a body with “special interests” which do not either include the rest of the body or demand the rest of the body now revolved around this special interest? Because, brother Anyabwile, you do know that the body revolves, not around racial and/or social interests but around Christ and spiritual interests for his all of his people without distinction and toward the unsaved world we do so with the gospel, right? Is this a new paradigm you are designing?

Secondly, this has been done, over and over again by many, even in the conservative  (whatever this means to you, Mr. Anyabwile, and the rest of us who likely all have something imprecise in view) sect of Christianity but likely you are unaware since you do not recognize any form, it seems, other than your own articulations on the matter. The fact is, dear confused brother, what you are proposing assumes certain propositions that are founded in liberal or leftist Protestant theology as well as their subsequent wayward conclusions and endeavors.

That is to say, you have charged the church to do this with both presuppositions and assumed conclusions that apparently you have special insight into and now demand acquiescence to! Have you considered that what is reflected in your essay and its very prejudiced and narrow narrative might not be what would be reflected in the product, even if such a body were formed for the advancement of race based and/or special interest theology?

Maybe, brother Anyabwile, someone will bring up Philippians 4:12, where we are exampled to learn how to be content, whether abounding or abasing. How does that work out in its application? Which brings me to a point.

Secular Regulations/Protocols vs. Christian/Spiritual Regulations Protocols

While social constructs are legitimate concerns of any member of any society and God frees us, as citizens, to pursue a better government and more righteous state, both individually and corporately, spiritual tenets which are prescribed only to believers (seeing they operate only under the Spirit empowerment of a regenerated individual) cannot apply to the rest of society.

Special and exceptional Christian/spiritual protocols for the believer only apply in that context. Unfortunately, in many of your essays, brother Anyabwile, you mix social contexts with spiritual contexts and passages meant for spiritually enlivened people (of which the general population of a state is never presumed in Scripture to recipients of these special orders, rather only the confessing Christian community), as if society in general can adopt these as social protocols. Thus, your prescriptions often are faulty in and of themselves, just from your lack of distinction between contexts which result in your use outside of proper contexts.

Yes, there are divine protocols for secular or human government but in Scripture there are very few that are absolute. Your discussion about justice assumes so many conclusions and divine rights which simply are not present in Scripture.

Moralizing Government forms and Personal Rights

Let’s take voting, for example. Is voting for a public official a divine right given to all humanity? No, that is nowhere found in the Bible. Suppose you live in a Monarchy, then what? I guess it is time to overthrow the Monarchy because no one is getting to vote?

The Bible does not present governmental forms in any nuanced manner as just or unjust, nor do the Scriptures present civil rights within a society with any detail as divinely ordained (all with the exception of the theocracy of Israel, a divine institution which, regardless of one’s theology, all recognize as nullified at this time). That is because, while nationalism/government itself is a divine institution and its function is intended to follow some elementary prescriptions, its details are determined by its people, its citizens.

What You Describe is the Work, not of the Church and its Resources, but of a People, its Government and Its Resources

The church, God’s bride, does not exist to determine the course of social matters and more specifically build in theory and then demand, in practice, special social constructs they view as more socially just than others. It can and must point out Biblical principles as it relates to God’s desire for divine institutions such as nationalism/government, marriage and so forth. But to build proprietary governmental constructs (specific forms of government) and demand they be employed, all in the name of God, is not the church’s call nor license. Those details beyond general principles are left for those people and their government to work out. And this, in my view, is the ultimate reach you wish to have with this new body.

Yes, Christian Citizens May and Must Involve Themselves in Government

And yes, it may involve Christian citizens whose value system is unique but contributory toward a good society. Still, even when believers are involved they are not so in the name of the church but in the name of their citizenry (and by God but all men, saved and unsaved, are equally called by God to involve themselves in government), that is, their human membership to a society and its national/governmental identity.

Thus, social justice in its detail and policy is a matter of social liberty in which such arguments, policy formation and empowerment are devised in the appropriate context, social/governmental contexts. The church is not called nor permitted to begin assigning moral status to governmental forms and governmental details, including civil order, where the Word of God does not.

Are there Biblical principles which can possibly shine a light on details? Yes, but most are not binding in any conclusive manner and may not be treated as dogma, which, again, seems the intent of your reach, Mr. Anyabwile.

Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement’s Co-Opting of the Persecuted Hebrew Narrative: The Misuse of Scripture to Turn Social Issues into Moral Issues

The title of this segment is what was done by Martin Luther King in co-opting the Moses/Hebrew persecuted narrative in order to make civil rights for blacks a moral issue and not a social one. Now, I agree with King constitutionally, but not morally. That is to say, he did not have a Biblical commission, though he had a Biblical freedom, in his quest for civil rights. Ultimately, he did have a constitutional point which eventually is what convinced many lawmakers.

Unfortunately, King’s turning civil rights into a matter of morality thus, sin (that is to say, to deny civil rights is equal to a sin against God because God demands equal social rights for all people, which is not in the Bible anywhere but King and others elevated their arguments so successfully that this is the subconscious approach by society). Civil rights, as a moral issue, is a conclusion based on proof-texting which, unfortunately, became the model by which much of the church approaches racial issues seeing they dare not be labeled a “racist” – what a weapon that is – or be found guilty of promoting the “sin” of not agreeing with certain views of social justice.

Consequently, but erroneously, it no longer is a social issue in the minds of much of society including many Evangelicals, rather it is categorically a moral/sin issue. Thus, there can only be one right answer and to disagree is to take the side of sin, how dare we, eh? And let me guess, brother Anyabwile, your side is the righteous side and to disagree is to be…?

What, then is the Role of the Church?

Is the church, thereby to be impotent on principles of justice? Has anyone suggested such? I observe that different conclusions have been arrived at by Pastors and Bible Teachers down through the ages on this broad topic which, in and of itself, ought to inform us that crusadership mentality on such matters is destructive and never a means to a well-vetted social philosophy.

Marriage as the Example

The divine institution of marriage is given to mankind by God for his perpetuity. There are binding Biblical principles for all human marriages and exceptional or further ones for Christians who are married. The church is to teach on the subject with regard to what the Bible revels, both dogmatically and in principle.

However, apart from dogma and even toward principles which are applied by the two marriage officers as they see fit per their conscience before God, it is not the church’s role (because they are not licensed by God) to begin to attempt to micro-manage domestic administrations. When a child feels there is an injustice, does he or she appeal to the church? Certainly not.

The church isn’t the arbitrator of domestic conflicts nor governmental. Each has officers for that. In marriage it is a husband and wife, there are no other officers. The church cannot insert itself, rightfully, into a marriage and start demanding things a go a certain way. That isn’t the role of the church to usurp such authority, though it has been known to do this.

Jimmy got Ice Cream but Susie Didn’t

So let’s take it a step further. Last Sunday, little Jimmy was permitted a bowl of ice cream while Susie, his sister, wasn’t. She appealed to the church and asked the church to form a body who will speak on her right to receive what Jimmy receives, in her family. The church responds, “Sorry Susie, we will teach what explicit dogma is and then, by way of affinity, the order of principles for conduct in marriage and family, to your parents as members of the church. However, no such demand exists in Scripture that if you do not get ice cream like Jimmy, an injustice has occurred.” Little Susie said she is going to get some friends and protest outside her home and show the world what terrible parents she has. Her view of justice is not being affirmed and isn’t all so obvious?

The Same Principle Applies to Government

There is no Biblically presented right to many privileges we have in the United States. These are considered constitutional rights, not Biblical ones. Sadly, much of society has heightened the role of social privileges to that of Biblical rights, thus we have the crusading mentality and efforts with all of its anger and hostility present in our country.

How a national government or any government’s administration is constructed and carried out is not prescribed by the Bible in any real detail. The Bible talks about justice, indeed, but leaves those weights to hearts and minds of its people, something for which I am sure they will account.

In that manner, if Anyabwile were speaking and placing his efforts, as a citizen and constitutionally, even with Biblical principles in mind (with the willingness to concede he lacks commission for dogmatic insistence on many points because many principles are debatable in both interpretation and application and when he doesn’t get his way he may not parade around crusading in protest how wrong, sinful or evil those who denied his view are), he would have a proper context for his efforts. But he isn’t doing that nor suggesting that.

He is, in how I read him, attempting to recruit the church and formulate within the church, a specific prescription for what racial justice must look like in a specific society and national government (yes he did refer more largely to marginalized people but his emphasis and devotion in the article was mainly toward race. Also, remember he said this body formed for racial justice theology should teach the church “how to think, and how to act in these moments”, wow, talk about out of line micromanaging the private consciences of believer priests)  And within his essay and other essays, he certainly has revealed that he has very specific conclusions in mind which all others ought to be coming to, suggesting a morally superior position on debatable issues which he does not have.

Anyabwile’s Trend, A Racial Preoccupation?

Finally, I have noticed over the past few years a graduation from broad ministerial emphasis on Reformed theology and Christocentricism in writing by Thabiti Anyabwile to one which has become increasingly race conscious. This and similar isolated pursuits by Ministers reduces them in ways they do not notice.

And I say this, not without prima facie support, as I see it. I suggest you spend some time looking through the history of his work and you will find an increasing devotion, at his website, to racial identification and its relevance.

A Christian minister is not a minister on behalf of blacks, whites, or any other group, they are so on behalf of Christ to toward their brothers and sisters in the Lord. Unfortunately, in my view, he seems to be drawn to racial polarization in his ministry. The call of the Shepherd in the church is not to right to social injustices of the world but to right to spiritual deprivation by preaching the good news of Christ.

Does this mean he may never work as a citizen for good? Of course not. But he is not doing this outside of the church. Rather, as I said earlier, he is attempting to recruit the church and its resources for a specific social justice end, one he has in view and wishes to prescribe to the country/state in the name of God’s Word, hence God himself. I believe he has been overtaken in this matter and is losing his way, very quickly, theologically.

The people you wish to find, brother Anyabwile, exist. They have a very developed social justice theology. But what you are wishing for does not exist. To formulate what you desire and see as right is a social justice theology which comes from the mind of a liberal/leftist Protestant which came to life in the 1950’s and 60’s. There is a reason a conservative body who holds to this theology does not exist, the two are not compatible.

Conclusion 

Racial and ethnic conflicts between the unbelieving world, I believe, has some remedial answers. Answers, however, I also am convinced much of the world cannot endure.

However, I do not speak to the unbelieving world but to the believing world. We, in Christ, are co-heirs and have equal opportunity and equal access to Christ and his riches. He works, without distinction, in our lives, in bringing his promises to pass.

This does not mean your social context will improve, that is not his promise to us. He has promised us spiritual riches, wisdom and understanding. By these you will know the good and perfect will of God.

My suggestion is that you permit God to be your problem solver by applying his promises. Certainly Christian Brother, wherever you live, you have a right to pursue a better social order for yourself and fellow citizens but that is not a spiritual issue, it is a social one.

This is why God told slaves to be content and to work as though working for Christ. Not that they could not seek freedom but that the betterment of their social context was not the objective of Christ, which comes later, in the eternal life with the eternal body. Thus, our battle and preoccupation is a spiritual one.

Is God so weak that as a slave he cannot make you an invisible hero where your glory will be revealed at Christ’s return, though it appears to the world you are but nothing? But you are not a slave, you have so much freedom the world is still running to America for that freedom. Yet, it is not enough for some Christians because their emphasis is on this world accommodating them, affirming them and vindicating them when Christ said, he will come to do that for his children.