Mar

04

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|1:42 am CT

Why Did Edwards Miss It and Haynes “Get It”?

Last week I had the privilege of joining Derek Thomas and the saints at First Presbyterian (Columbia, SC) and Erskine Seminary to deliver their annual John L. Girardeau lectures. It was a wonderful and engaging time with both members of the church and many of the professors and students from the seminary.

Since the lectures are named in honor of John L. Girardeau (1825-1898), who pastored a congregation of slaves at the height of the institution and alone opposed segregation in the Southern Presbyterian Church, I thought I’d take a historical look at social justice and Reformed theology. The lectures have the general title, “Bondage or Freedom? Questions in Early American Theology.”

In the first lecture, we considered Jonathan Edwards’ almost complete silence on the greatest social justice issue of his day: slavery. In the second lecture, we considered a theological descendant of Edwards, Lemuel Haynes, and his rather developed abolitionist stance against slavery. We tried to compare and contrast the two men according to their social location, theological preoccupations and biblical interpretations and ask how those factors affected their positions on slavery.

It was a joy to reflect on these questions with the saints there. I heard many touching stories about the power of the gospel and the march of grace in the hearts of people with family histories closely associated with these historical issues. We stood across the street from places that played significant parts in South Carolina’s secession from the Union and the resulting Civil War. Our time there reminded us of this history and also of the progress that has been made through the gospel and a lot of God’s grace. I hope you enjoy the lectures should you listen.

 
 

Mar

01

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|2:12 am CT

Around the Blog in 80 Seconds

This past week has featured some good reading around the blogosphere. Listed below are some posts I enjoyed:

Sunday (23rd)

Charles M. Blow, “Thomas Speaks… Blindly about Race.” Loved this paragraph:

We must stop having these juvenile discussions of race and face down the big questions: How can we help people see a thing so vaporous? How can we help direct dialogue among individuals about things happening on a grand scale? How can we help avoid victim and guilt fatigue in addressing problems whose formation was glacial and whose undoing is likely to be so as well? And how can we encourage people to fight on two fronts at once: holding the culture responsible for allowing and even nurturing roadblock biases, while still encouraging individuals to make every effort to overcome those biases, identifying and eliminating self-destructive behaviors?

Monday (24th)

The Preaching of William Still

I received a real gift in a comment from Malcolm Duff, who read a post I’d written some time back on William Still’s book, The Work of the Pastor. Still was used of God to impact many better known men in the evangelical world today. He pastored Gilcomstom Church in Scotland for 52 years (1945-1997). He was committed to the exposition of God’s word, but I’d never heard him or knew his sermons were available. Then this gift called Tapes from Scotland which makes available some of Still’s preaching.

Kevin DeYoung shows us how to charitably but critically critique a book in his review of Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed by Austin Fischer. He opens:

Austin Fischer, the 28 year-old Teaching Pastor at Vista Community Church in Temple, Texas, has written an honest, intelligent, accessible book about why he is no longer Reformed. Lauded by the brightest stars in the Arminian firmament–Scot McKnight, Roger Olson, Greg Boyd, Rachel Held Evans–Fischer is to be commended for writing on such a difficult topic with disarming prose and without biting rancor. I can understand why Christians on the other side of this issue may feel like this is the Book They’ve Been Waiting For. Of course, given my position as an ordained Reformed pastor, it will come as no surprise that I found his arguments ultimately unpersuasive and, in several instances, full of significant weaknesses.

Wednesday (26th)

I’ve always respected former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Chris Carter, both for his exploits on the field and his commentary. He’s one of the likable guys from league. I thoroughly enjoyed much (not all) of what he said about the use  of the N-word and other epithets in the NFL.

 
 

Feb

25

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|7:00 am CT

The Artistry of Sex Forgotten in the World

We’ve lived so long in a hyper-sexualized culture that we no longer recognize its hyper-ness. What was once shocking and offense has become “entertainment” and mainstream. One sad consequence is an accompanying loss of beauty in sexual things. With loss of beauty comes also a loss of worship. Not the worship of the thing itself (sex); there’s plenty of sacrifice and prostration at the altar of raw, pagan intercourse. No, there’s the loss of the worship of God who created sex and gives it its ultimate meaning. Losing worship also means losing inspiration. So few truly great ballads are written anymore. Lovers rarely write poetry anymore. When’s the last time a suitor painted a portrait of his beloved? The inordinate exaltation of the act robs the actor of the noble faculties of imagination, creativity, spiritual perception and worship.

Sex is meant to beget artistry, not just children.

When it comes to sex Christians can be among the most act-centered and least worshipful. We can fall into docetic notions of the body’s corruption and fail to recognize the solidity and artistry God himself has given to the body–and to sex. I’m reminded of all this by a brief aside Francis Schaeffer makes when commenting on the Song of Solomon. He writes:

How often do Christians think of sexual matters as something second-rate. Never, never, never should we do so according to the Word of God. The whole man is made to love God; each aspect of man’s nature is to be given its proper place. That includes the sexual relationship, that tremendous relationship of one man to one woman. At the very beginning God brought Eve to man. A love poem can thus be beautiful. So if you are a young man or a young woman and you love a girl or you love a boy, you may indeed write beautiful love poetry. Don’t be afraid. That too can be praise to God. And when the two people are Christians it can be a conscious doxology (Art and the Bible).

“When the two people are Christians it can be a conscious doxology.” If all of life is worship, we ought not box up our romantic lives and sit them in the garage. That part of our lives belongs to the realm of praise, too. “The whole man is made to love God”–including the sexual man. The whole man is made to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ–including the sexual man. That means Christ not only rules our sexual lives but that we also offer up our sexual lives as beautiful artistry, as worship.

One sad irony of our times (of all times really) is that the artist class has taken all the art out of human sexuality. I’m thinking here  mainly of cinematic arts and music, but it’s probably as true in other areas. Not since the pottery scene of “Ghost” or the poetry of “Love Jones” has art even been associated with romance. The link is mostly severed. So, here’s another place where the Christian life takes on redemptive meaning and promise. For if we presented a sanctified imagination in sexual matters, the world might be touched in the most intimate human act with the beauty of holiness in the worship of God.

 
 

Feb

24

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|2:20 am CT

Spoken Word Monday: “Human Persons” by Micah Bournes and Propaganda

I really appreciate Micah Bournes and Propaganda giving attention to what it means to be human. How you answer this question matters immensely for how we live and regard each other.

 
 

Feb

12

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|1:21 am CT

Is Your Church a Living Church?

From Anne Ortlund’s Up With Worship:

A living church (small or large, traditional or not) is a contemporary one; it isn’t trying to be twenty years ahead–strained and strange.

It isn’t content to be twenty years behind–musty and dusty.

A living church gathers its members of all age groups and says, “Come! In this precious, unique, ‘now’ time, let’s all together go hard after God!” (p. 6)

I read this and felt compelled to ask myself some questions. I pass them along to you:

Is my church a living church?

Is it present in this moment every moment?

Does its history focus me on now?

Does its future ambitions shape my now life?

Am I alive in this present moment, to this present moment?

 
 

Feb

10

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|7:21 am CT

Spoken Word Monday: “The Greatest of All Time”

Today’s spoken word piece comes from Jefferson Bethke. It’s called “The Greatest of All Time.” I couldn’t help but hear and see Muhammad Ali’s boast when I heard the title. Great reflection on the Most Superlative Artist ever. Enjoy!

 
 

Feb

03

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|8:06 am CT

A Great Regional Conference in the Philadelphia Area

If you’re in the New Jersey area, you might want to check out P&R Publishing’s and Alliance of Confessing Evangelical’s regional conference called “The Faithful Shepherd: Persevering in Your Church and Ministry.”

Targeted to pastors and elders, this conference has much to benefit men in church leadership as well as those preparing for pastoral ministry. The speaking line-up looks fantastic:

Harry Reeder, Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church
“How Can God Revitalize Your Flock”

Ed Welch, Christian Counseling and Education Foundation
“Peer Pressure and Pastoring”

Timothy Witmer, founder of The Shepherd’s Institute
“Seven Elements of Successful Shepherding”

Steve Estes, Senior Pastor of Community Evangelical Free Church (Elverson, PA)
“Dealing with Angry Sheep”

The conference is scheduled for Monday-Wednesday May 5-7th at Harvey Cedars Bible Conference in Harvey Cedars, New Jersey.

For more information, visit the P&R conference page.

 
 

Jan

21

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|9:53 am CT

Two New Sites Dedicated to Thinking About “Race”

“Race” is a perenniel problem. It seems inescapable and good thinking about “race,” racism, “post-race” and the like can be difficult to find. Even those who think about it professionally have difficulty managing the spiraling issues that “race” spawns. Because of that, we might be tempted to think we need less thinking, writing and discussion of “race,” not more.

But the reality is that unless we apply ourselves to thinking biblically, carefully and hopefully about these things we won’t make progress. We can’t acquire a new mindset or escape the quagmire of “race” and racism by osmosis. We’re going to have to do some hard work.

That’s why I’m glad to highlight two new sites dedicated to the cause.

The first is a site called “The Gospel and Race“. It’s a new joint venture between Soong Chan-Rah and Anthony Bradley.

The second is Eraçe Ourselves. It’s a new blog dedicated to imagining and pursuing a world  where “race” as a construct no longer defines the way we think of ourselves and others. I plan to post there about once a week or so. I’d love it if you would join me there and, more importantly, join me in the project of fostering a biblical view of humanity’s unity and a celebration of God-given diversity rightly understood.

 
 

Jan

20

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|8:29 am CT

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abortion

This past week featured two annual remembrances in much of the evangelical world: “Sanctity of Life Sunday” and the Martin Luther King, Jr. public holiday. Some churches, like Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, have long made the two days a period of intense focus on the protection of life and racial reconciliation.

It’s an important juxtaposition orchestrated by divine providence. If Dr. King were known for anything it would be the protection of human life and dignity. We think of him as the great Civil Rights captain marching his troops to justice. But in every step of his march was the firm conviction that all men are made in the image of God and created equal. Had he not held that more foundational belief, along with a deeply biblical conception of love, it would be difficult to imagine so sturdy a fight for equality and inclusion. Those twin commitments have rightly made him an American hero, an icon representing the best of American ideals.

So, it’s worth asking: What would Martin Luther King, Jr. think about abortion?

There are many who will no doubt pronounce with unwavering certainty that, “Dr. King would have….” Some will say so with all the moral authority that comes from having “knew Dr. King” or “marched with Martin.”

To be clear, abortion came later, a few years after Dr. King’s murder. So, Dr. King himself never spoke  publicly to the issue. Any “definite” pronouncements are most assuredly speculations and extrapolations.

But if he were consistent with his principles of love and justice it’s inconceivable that he would have favored the practice of killing unborn children in the womb. If he were consistent as a husband and father, who enjoyed the blessing of several children himself, it’s inconceivable that he would support the choice to end life before it entered the light of day. If he held as deeply to the Christian belief that all people are created in God’s image as he appeared to, then it would be inconceivable that he would support the legalization of the murder of millions of children each year.

Perhaps the best way to conceive of his position would be in a picture, worth about a thousand words, or about 50 million unborn babies:

 
 

Jan

19

2014

Thabiti Anyabwile|2:59 am CT

My Son Shoots David Platt Preaching

So it looks like my son, Titus, has been bitten by the shutter bug, too. He’s been asking for a camera of his own for a while. And every chance he gets, he borrows my camera or his sister’s to take a few snaps. He’s actually pretty good. At least he consistently shoots better shots than I do. Case in point: Here are a string of snaps he took of David Platt preaching at #CROSScon last week.

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Two quick reactions:

1. This is not bad for a seven year old; and

2. Captures the subject pretty well.