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Category: Black
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Thinking Man

As a Black and Reformed individual, I am compelled to in some way understand the distinct thoughts of blacks in conjunction with biblical revelation. How am I to understand the interrelation and dynamics which existence between God and His Word and a people who are so responsive and receptive to their reality? How is black theology a merging of “blackness” and “biblical” understanding? There is no one answer to such a question and no complete definitive response. Such a question draws upon constant discovery and interaction with all aspects of reality.

It’s unfortunate that the mere act of “merging” or “associating,” such notions as “blackness” and “biblical understanding” is supposedly an unlawful endeavor among some evangelicals and for some supposedly flies in the face of phrases such as “pure and unadulterated Word of God,” “Christ, Scripture, faith alone,” “One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism.” Those who shake their Bibles in the face of evangelicals who “associate” such terms as “Black” and “biblical understanding” represent an uninformed and psychologically unconscious brand of fundamentalism. 1) Evangelicalism and the reformation in fact support the belief that we should examine our personal reality and attempt to understand it in light of Scripture. 2) We as humans “associate” or “merge” in order to live. For example, association is performed in order to cross a street or breathe or eat; we must be able to associate information such as speed, force and velocity, or air and suffocation, or sustenance and hunger. 3) Biblical authors regularly associated various concepts to make points. In Ecclesiastes 1:1-11, Solomon formulates his concept of existence, reality and meaning by bringing together thoughts about labor, death, the ecosystem. In the New Testament, Paul’s thoughts about “Judaism and Jewishness” and “God and biblical understanding” often intersected as seen in Romans 2:17-29.

We “merge” to live; communication is “merging;” “merging” is life. Interpretation, which is basic to life, is a merging of thoughts, a merging of various aspects of reality. We interpret and understand reality by merging numerous thoughts, concepts and beliefs; this is how we live. Our faculties are tools of interpretation, utilized for the purpose of merging various aspects of reality in order to gain understanding.

As exegetes, we knowingly and unknowingly merge certain thoughts when interpreting and applying the Bible. Some thoughts are formed directly from biblical meaning and some are formed from other areas of our existence and reality. This of course is innately human and relates to how God has created us. The merging of thoughts in interpretation is basic to our existence and not inherently unholy. We use our mind by merging aspects of reality to make both mundane and important decisions. However, in that interpretation and application are very sensitive processes, our biblical usage can be as utterly profitable as it can be utterly worthless.

Therefore unless there is something, which is inherently erroneous in studying “blackness” or in attaining “biblical understanding,” I see no reason why we should not engage in associating these two aspects of reality.

Founder Michael Mewborn
Posted on: 01/25/06:

Why White Kids Love Hip Hop

Category: Culture
Posted by: RBAFounderX
I wrote about this book some time ago and thought I would share some of my reflections here.

Why White Kids Love Hip Hop

Bakari Kitwana, the author of Why White Kids Love Hip Hop says:
To be "black" is to be "cool" and this something that white American baby boomers like O'Reily won't [admit]--that despite the ways African American men have been vilified during this younger generation's life time, more and more young whites are abandoning old apprehensions about young Blacks and openly embracing black youth culture.
Yes, a white kid engaging in the predominantly Black medium of hip-hop is going to be deemed cool by his peers--if he can pull it off, especially in a climate where hip-hop is mainstream youth culture.
When the descriptions of what it means to be "Black" start rolling off of people lips, I wonder to what degree is there still a type of patronizing air to it. It seem like when there is positive talk about Black culture(s), it is usually in regards to its style rather than substance. And it is to this point what makes me want to call into question just how good of a compliment (assuming it is one) about being Black is to be “cool” as if that is all Black people can be…just a bunch “cool” people who can entertain the dominant culture through dancing, singing, role playing, sports, attire, and etc…while at the same time managing to make a fool of themselves in different (but certainly not all) occasions. I say this mainly because in other aspects of mainstream societal life and thought (e.g. science, philosophy, medicine, education, politics, mathematics, history, religion, etc.) the contributions of Black culture(s) are conspicuous minimum, if not absent all together in a very real sense.

In other words, is hip-hop the only thing “Black culture” has to contribute to society? Let me put it another way; is “Black culture” only needed (or even praised) in society for its “coolness”? Furthermore, why is it that Black people (especially the youth) these days are identified primarily by hip-hop? Even if hip-hop is virtuous in its ideology and impact on society (which I tend to think otherwise in some significant ways, though not entirely), again is this all the Black culture(s) young or old can and should be known for?

HT: Anthony Bradley

Founder Xavier Pickett
Posted on: 01/23/06:

Battle Stations Part 7C

Category: Church
Posted by: Lance Lewis
Worship Service
I was blessed to be born in the merry month of May. Up in the Northeast it’s usually pretty warm and so as a child most of my birthdays were spent outside playing with whatever new toy I got. However, I was also cursed to be born on May 8th. Come again you say? No, there’s nothing particularly onerous about that day. It’s just that every so often the 8th falls on the second Sunday in May. You get the picture, Mother’s Day. I mean how can a kid compete against that? I remember one particular Mama’s Day that fell on my birthday. My father who was a chef planned a big Mother’s Day celebration to honor my mother, her sisters, his aunts and it seemed any other woman who decided to drop by 5417 Thompson that day. I was beside myself with righteous indignation. How dare these birthday usurpers hijack my one special day! This was the one day when everyone was supposed to pay attention to me!

Sadly, I fear that's what many of our weekly 'worship' services are becoming. Instead of focusing the attention on the living Lamb Jesus Christ, we've shifted it onto charismatic, entertaining personalities who cater to our private 'need' to get our praise on. We sing songs about us, have prayers about us, take offerings for us (you've got to sow your seed for yo blessing) and listen to relevant, practical 'messages' that deal with our 'real life' problems. All too often the primary issue in our worship services is how it relates to a particular culture or how it addresses specific emotional or psychological needs. If that weren't enough, we live in an entertainment-saturated society and thus the church is tempted and pulled to align our worship with whatever popular entertainment form rules the day. Having abandoned Scripture as our rule and guide for what happens in worship we now have splashy concerts coupled with inspirational talks designed to affirm our self-esteem, encourage us to pursue our dreams and motivate us to realize our destinies. Christ is neither the object nor subject of our worship. He's reduced to a mascot who exists only as an example of what we can be if we only praise hard enough.

And yet that doesn't have to be the case. We don't have to settle for mere entertainment in the place of worship just so we can fool ourselves into believing we've experienced God's presence. Nor must we relativize our worship in order to make the church acceptable and inviting to non-believers and comfortable for Christian consumers. Moreover, we don't have to act as if we're in the dark concerning the Biblical elements of worship and therefore 'forced' to generate 'worship' that suits our own taste and makes sense to us. There is more than enough Scripture that speaks to how we can engage in reverent, joyful, blessed worship that is beautiful in its simplicity and honors God by placing His character and nature at the center of our family time with Him.

Using Lev. 9 as a guide, Biblically driven worship services begins with a call to worship. The minister or someone appointed by him calls the church together to focus our minds and engage our whole beings in the worship of our great and gracious God. The call to worship gets our attention and reminds us that this is the Lord's time. We have gathered to reflect on His goodness, to sing His praises, to pray for issues regarding His rule and agenda, to listen to the reading of His holy word and to hear a message about His character and nature as expressed in the Person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ. The call to worship serves notice that this is not our time. We are not gathered to watch a drama or enjoy a concert. God does not exist to entertain us; we exist to worship and glorify Him.

Following the call to worship we should engage in a time of corporate singing and praise. The service of worship in Lev. 9 featured various sacrifices that God's people are no longer required to make. However, as the new temple of God we have been given the privilege of offering spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, (see 1 Pet. 2:4-5,9-10 & Heb. 13:15). In New Covenant worship these sacrifices consist of our corporate singing. I'll have more to say about singing in the next article.

While the next four elements that mark Biblically driven worship aren't directly found in Lev. 9 they are seen and commended elsewhere as being appropriate for worship. Scripture reading of some kind must be viewed as an indispensable aspect of Biblically driven worship. This can be done in a variety of ways, but by all means it must be done. For instance a passage from Scripture can be read that is related to the passage of that week's message. A service can have selected but related readings from the Old and New Testament. Some services read through the New Testament consecutively while others enjoy the responsive reading of the Psalms. For those who want to hear a definitive 'word' from the Lord in service the public reading of Scripture fits the bill exactly.

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Category: Black
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Black Folks Praying
"But this confessional is not primarily a Christian apologetic, i.e. a defense of the faith, in the strictest sense. This confessional is an attempt to find ones hiding place, an attempt to locate ones place of comfort and understand, ones place of reckoning, that point were in some way, the pieces come together in recognizable form. This confessional is the act of approaching, examining and determining the reasoning and motivation of the thoughts and beliefs of certain other “religious” and “non-religious” Blacks as well as us.

This confessional is an attempt to understand and utilize that which is true from (1) our construct and system, our paradigm (“that which we know now”) and (2) their system of thought (“that which we may need to know or reconsider”), combined also with (3) those common points of human need.

This process of confession is an initial step in the pursuit to communicate and reapply theology. Our goal is a more robust biblical understanding and application, and hence a greater realization of the God of humanity. In doing theology, we should in this way be confessional. “Our system” relates to that which we know now. “Their system” allow us to understand or reconsider that which may be important. In other words, I can expect that W.E.B. DuBois, Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Alan Keyes and Langston Hughes among many others may have certain informative and profitable things to say in relation to reality, belief and thought, although I need not invest in their paradigm. “Common points” are those aspects of human existence that are God-ordained and innate to human existence."

Founder Michael Mewborn
Posted on: 01/19/06:

Battle Stations Part 7B

Category: Church
Posted by: Lance Lewis
Revolution
Are you ready for a revolution? According to evangelical pollster yet another revolution is occurring in the evangelical church world. Apparently we're beginning to have these on a fairly regular basis. This time the revolution is happening outside the church. From Barna's perspective (how he came upon these stats is a mystery) about 20 million 'evangelical Christians' have exited the church and are discovering a much deeper and meaningful faith walk all by their ruggedly individualistic selves. What is the church's sin that has caused this supposed mass exodus? It seems that with all our contemporary music, dramatic skits, choreographed dance, eye popping multi-media, and informal, relevant real world talks the church is still boring. How interesting that the very tools old George told us to use 20 years ago to attract the new breed of religious consumer are the ones that have now fallen out of favor. What is George's solution to this dilemma? Well scrap the church of course! Who cares what the Apostle Paul wrote in Eph. 3 regarding the church being the manifestation of God's wisdom and the vehicle through which He gets glory. He too was boring with all that stuffy, rigid, unnecessary theology.

Barna's conclusion not only reveals his serious lack of Biblical insight into the church, but more disturbingly His complete disrespect for God and the Scriptural worship He commands. My last blog, "Battle Stations Part 7A" introduced the second important aspect of Biblically driven churches which is Biblically driven worship. Such worship must be pointedly directed by what Scripture expressly commands or positively describes regarding worship. There are two main reasons to maintain this stance. Firstly, Scripture is filled with passages that instruct us on how to worship our Lord properly. We'll briefly examine one shortly. Secondly, it is both foolish and dangerous to leave what to do in worship up to our own little whimsical devices. The worship of the Triune, sovereign, holy King of the universe is not something to be tinkered and tampered with.
The ninth chapter of Leviticus is a precious example of a Biblically directed worship service. Moreover, it is a prime example of how the order and elements of worship function to highlight God's character and emphasize the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

The service of worship begins as does all true, Biblical worship with God calling His people to come before Him to acknowledge His goodness, grace, beauty, sovereignty, holiness, love and presence. It is particularly important to note that God is already present with us in worship. We don't have to call, shout, beg or otherwise entreat Him to join us at the meeting. God is not like some ancient pagan deity that must be awakened by the frantic ranting of its people. He is the sovereign, omnipotent, undisputed King of the universe who creates, redeems and then calls a people to come before His awesome, solemn presence.

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Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Letter

Dr. Ligon Duncan and Alliance Council Members,

In your blog, MLK Day and Exporting the Reformation thank you for bringing to the forefront the sovereignty and goodness of our God as he is still reflecting his unity and diversity in his church today. We should look around the church more often to see his beautiful handiwork, but I believe due to our human tendency towards parochialism, we do not. Nevertheless, I thank God for such Reformational communities around and in the church, such as the Alliance and others. I believe in order to continue to “export the Reformation,” across this country, we must strengthen the global connectedness of Reformed vehicles as we carry the import of Christ’s gospel to their destiNATIONS together.

Founder Xavier Pickett
Posted on: 01/16/06:

"Where Do We Go from Here?"

Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
I believe Dr. King still speaks to us today, which should not surprise us since “prophets” speak ahead of their time. So is some of what King says still true today? Where do we go from here? Do we care to go anywhere? Moreover, where do even Black Reformed folks go from here? I would suggest if you are a Black Christian in America today, you would do yourself a disservice to not hear from these priceless, poignant, and prophetic words of Dr. King. Therefore, I will stand aside and let King speak for himself, which would be much better than my commentary (although, it still may be forthcoming though).

MLK

Some Excerpts of “Where do we go from here?”
Martin Luther King, Jr., last SCLC Presidential Address
Now, in order to answer the question, Where do we go from here? which is our theme, we must first honestly recognize where we are now.

The rate of infant mortality among Negroes is double that of whites and there are twice as many Negroes dying in Vietnam as whites in proportion to their size in the population.
In other spheres, the figures are equally alarming. In elementary schools, Negroes lag one to three years behind whites, and their segregated schools receive substantially less money per student than the white schools.

The tendency to ignore the Negro's contribution to American life and to strip him of his personhood is as old as the earliest history books and as contemporary as the morning's newspaper. To upset this cultural homicide, the Negro must rise up with an affirmation of his own Olympian manhood. Any movement for the Negro's freedom that overlooks this necessity is only waiting to be buried.

Another basic challenge is to discover how to organize our strength in terms of economic and political power…The plantation and ghetto were created by those who had power, both to confine those who had no power and to perpetuate their powerlessness. The problem of transforming the ghetto, therefore, is a problem of power -- confrontation of the forces of power demanding change and the forces of power dedicated to the preserving of the status quo. Now power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political and economic change. Walter Reuther defined power one day. He said, Power is the ability of a labor union like the UAW to make the most powerful corporation in the world, General Motors, say, 'Yes' when it wants to say 'No.' That's power.

Now a lot of us are preachers, and all of us have our moral convictions and concerns, and so often have problems with power. There is nothing wrong with power if power is used correctly. You see, what happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites -- polar opposites -- so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love.

Now, we've got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love. And this is what we must see as we move on. What has happened is that we have had it wrong and confused in our own country, and this has led Negro Americans in the past to seek their goals through power devoid of love and conscience.

This is leading a few extremists today to advocate for Negroes the same destructive and conscienceless power that they have justly abhorred in whites. It is precisely this collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crisis of our times.

Occasionally Negroes contend that the 1965 Watts riot and the other riots in various cities represented effective civil rights action. But those who express this view always end up with stumbling words when asked what concrete gains have been won as a result. At best, the riots have produced a little additional antipoverty money allotted by frightened government officials, and a few water-sprinklers to cool the children of the ghettoes. It is something like improving the food in prison while the people remain securely incarcerated behind bars. Nowhere have the riots won any concrete improvement such as have the organized protest demonstrations. When one tries to pin down advocates of violence as to what acts would be effective, the answers are blatantly illogical. Sometimes they talk of overthrowing racist state and local governments and they talk about guerrilla warfare. They fail to see that no internal revolution has ever succeeded in overthrowing a government by violence unless the government had already lost the allegiance and effective control of its armed forces.

And I say to you, I have also decided to stick to love. For I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind's problems. And I'm going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn't popular to talk about it in some circles today. I'm not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love, I'm talking about a strong, demanding love. And I have seen too much hate. I've seen to much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I've seen hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens Councilors in the South to want to hate myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we are moving against wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who has love has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.

I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about Where do we go from here, that we honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, Who owns the oil? You begin to ask the question, Who owns the iron ore? You begin to ask the question, Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water? These are questions that must be asked.

Now, don't think that you have me in a bind today. I'm not talking about communism. What I'm saying to you this morning is that communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both. Now, when I say question the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.

If you will let me be a preacher just a little bit -- One night, a juror came to Jesus and he wanted to know what he could do to be saved. Jesus didn't get bogged down in the kind of isolated approach of what he shouldn't do. Jesus didn't say, Now Nicodemus, you must stop lying. He didn't say, Nicodemus, you must stop cheating if you are doing that. He didn't say, Nicodemus, you must not commit adultery. He didn't say, Nicodemus, now you must stop drinking liquor if you are doing that excessively. He said something altogether different, because Jesus realized something basic -- that if a man will lie, he will steal. And if a man will steal, he will kill. So instead of just getting bogged down in one thing, Jesus looked at him and said, Nicodemus, you must be born again.

He said, in other words, Your whole structure must be changed. A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will thingify them -- make them things. Therefore they will exploit them, and poor people generally, economically. And a nation that will exploit economically will have foreign investments and everything else, and will have to use its military to protect them. All of these problems are tied together.

What I am saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, America, you must be born again!

So, I conclude by saying again today that we have a task and let us go out with a divine dissatisfaction. Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds. Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort and the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice. Let us be dissatisfied until those that live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security. Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family is living in a decent sanitary home. Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality, integrated education. Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity. Let us be dissatisfied until men and women, however black they may be, will be judged on the basis of the content of their character and not on the basis of the color of their skin. Let us be dissatisfied.

Let us be dissatisfied until every state capitol houses a governor who will do justly, who will love mercy and who will walk humbly with his God. Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. Let us be dissatisfied until that day when the lion and the lamb shall lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid. Let us be dissatisfied. And men will recognize that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth. Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout White Power! -- when nobody will shout Black Power! -- but everybody will talk about God's power and human power. (Emphasis mine)
To view my brief exposition of one of King's selected quotes in the Forum, click here.
Posted on: 01/14/06:

Diabetes Crisis

Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Health Alert: The NY Times has put out a series of articles on rapid growth of diabetes in America, not just Black folks.

East Meets West, Adding Pounds and Peril
Asians are acutely susceptible to diabetes, a factor that is compounded by recent immigrants' collision with American diet.

In the Treatment of Diabetes, Success Often Does Not Pay
Doctors and hospitals profit by treating complications of diabetes but lose money when they try to prevent them.

Diabetes and Its Awful Toll Quietly Emerge as a Crisis
An estimated 800,000 adult New Yorkers now have diabetes, and city health officials describe the problem as an epidemic.
Category: Black
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Black Man Thinking
As a Black and Reformed individual, I realize and value the many contributions of my people particularly in the area of religion and thought. Our contributions even up to the present have been monumental and unique. The genius of many has been evident not in the production of new ideas or concepts, but through the transformation and revitalization of that which was already present. But then again no one really starts from scratch.

Indeed, many religious and non-religious Blacks have left the authority and sufficiency of God and Scripture in search of worldly gain, self-serving pleasure and psychological autonomy. The challenges to the Reformed Black in many ways involve gaining an understanding of why Blacks have removed themselves from the spiritual fight for which we have so long engaged. The greater challenge lies not in understanding the –ism, but in grasping how and why the –ism is so meaningful to the one we long to address as our brother in arms. There is much to be gained, not in embracing religious liberalism, Black liberalism or philosophical pragmatism but in studying the motivation, affinity and supposed wellness with such beliefs among Blacks.

Therefore, much discussion resides at the point of confession, i.e. at the point of articulating one’s motivation and reasoning. Some Blacks run from the basics of modernism to extreme postmodernism, why? Why do many Blacks run from evangelicalism to the supposed freedom of religious liberalism or the health-wealth gospel? Confessions must be made, not in the negative sense of wrongdoing (even though there is a place for such confession), but in the informative and revealing sense of communicating ones perceived hiding place, ones secure place, ones place of understanding. And we as Reformed Blacks must also confess. Why did I stay here, in this place of theology, among so many that don’t look like me? Why did I stay in this supposed modernism of Reformed theology? Why did I relinquish pragmatism for the sufficiency of one book and one God for all situations, all events, all trials and all disappointments? Why did I keep this skinny man from Galilee and turn from that which others (who look like me) proclaim as robust? Black folks have always found some common ground in confession. All human beings find common ground in confession because all have the same needs.

Founder Michael Mewborn
Posted on: 01/11/06:

I want a Christian-Muslim

Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderX
The Nation of Islam
It seems like the Nation of Islam are at it again, but this time they are not using bean pies.

Here is the scoop.
Dressed in bow ties and dark suits, the group of nearly a dozen men entered a corner store and smashed bottles of liquor, wine and beer with metal pipes, shattering refrigerator cases and leaving behind a terrified clerk along with piles of broken glass.

No one was held up. Nothing was stolen. The vandals just wanted to leave a message: Stop selling booze to fellow Muslims

In urban America, friction between poor residents and the immigrant merchants who sell cigarettes, bread and alcoholic beverages from neighborhood markets is nothing new. But the recent attack at San Pablo Liquor has injected religion into the old debate over whether a glut of such stores contributes to violent crime, vagrancy and other social ills.

Followed by an identical attack at another West Oakland store the same evening, the episode highlighted tensions — and different interpretations of doctrine — between black Muslims hoping to reclaim troubled parts of the city and Middle Eastern shop owners, many of them also of Muslim faith.

"Any Muslim is forbidden to sell alcohol but that doesn't give you the right to vandalize by force and try to impose your view," said Mohamed Saleh Mohamed, president of the Yemeni American Grocers Association, which represents 250 to 300 Oakland merchants. "That's not acceptable in any religion" (Source).

Obviously, the Muslims who vandalized those stores are serious about what they believe and they are very much concerned about their own community. They do not want their community to be taken over by the influence of alcohol being sold locally, which could potentially cause crime, vagrancy and other social problems. They even dressed up in bow ties and suits in order to take care of business. I wonder what would happen to our communities if Christians took their religion/relationship (whatever you want to call it) with God just as serious? How about some Christians who would not only dress up just to go to church, but actually get off their butts and do something? OH, I forgot! Many Christians don’t even dress up to go to church these days anyway. If I could have my way, I would rather have 6 or 7 Muslims as oppose to 1 or 2 Christians. Muslims are getting things done these days...why can't Christians (including yall Reformed folks)?

So where are the “Christian-Muslims”?

Disclaimer: Yes, I know that Islam is different from the Nation of Islam.

~ Founder Xavier Pickett
Posted on: 01/09/06:

Battle Stations Part 7A

Category: Church
Posted by: Lance Lewis
Gospel Choir
Any old school gospel fans out there? I’m talking the Hawkins Fam, the Winans, (no not B.B. or C.C.) vintage Richard Smallwood, Rev. Milton Brunson and the Thompson Community Choir and of course the original Commissioned? When I got saved back in the early 80’s they began to dominate the gospel scene. Teens and young adults loved to hear gospel music that actually sounded like it was written in and recorded in 1980 rather than 1950. As time wore on these groups changed and faded, but their sound was indelibly impressed on my mind and heart.

A few years ago one of my favorites, Commissioned did a reunion tour which brought them to Philly. I convinced my teen-age son to join me in my journey back to old school and thus with great anticipation we trekked down to Temple U’s campus for an evening of 80’s contemporary gospel. Though I wasn’t disappointed by much of what Commissioned sang, I was saddened and then concerned with the whole atmosphere of the ‘worship’ experience. I expected the usual lineup of opening acts, but was struck by the single minded theme of our ‘worship’. Every group exhorted, demanded, cajoled and otherwise instructed the audience to act on faith, speak those things and jump up and grab our breakthrough. Everyone seemed convinced that if we just jumped high enough, shouted loud enough and claimed repeatedly enough that evening that three things would happen the following morning: 1) We’d get a phone call from our bank informing us that through some ‘strange’ accounting error our overdrawn account now had exceedingly more than enough to pay off all our bills and take that winter vacation we’ve always dreamed of, 2) a second call from our doctor would inform us that whatever disease or illness they found had ‘mysteriously’ disappeared and that we’re now completely healthy, 3) a third call from our children would bring the wonderful news that they finally decided to reject the world, give their lives to Christ and would pick us up for Sunday School this coming Lord’s Day!

Please understand that I’m not making fun of the very real and present trials and difficulties the saints face in our journey from this world to the next. I especially don’t want to minimize or trivialize the added dimension that trouble plays in the lives of minority people groups. All of us struggle with issues of debt, illness, unsaved loved ones and a myriad of other troubles associated with being human in a fallen, broken world. On top of that there is still the persistent reality that Black and Hispanic folks live in a racialized society. That is not to say that we live in an overtly racist society. It simply acknowledges the fact that America as with all societies skews its economic, emotional, physical and social benefits toward the dominant group. Add to that the temptation of every people group to only concentrate on those aspects of God that serve the interests of the group and its easy to see how neo-Black liberal theology has recast Biblical worship into a self-serving blessing fest. Thus we, not God have become the object of worship. Our issues, wants and whims become the reason to gather and offer praise. Such an attitude is captured in the popular song by Fred Hammond entitled ‘Let the Praise Begin’

Fred Hammond

“Here we are Let's get on one accord
Leave all your problems on the outside
To be consumed with the Holy Ghost fire
Open up your mouth and lift the name of Jesus higher, say
Are you ready for your blessing? (are ya ready)
Are you ready for your miracle?
For the chains that come from the enemy Are utterly destroyed when the praises ring, hey hey
(my italics)

Note how the theme of the song (and consequently the theme of much of the ‘worship’ of neo-Black liberal theology) views worship as a way of manipulating God to release His miraculous blessings to those who will demonstrate their faith with exuberant, expressive praise. Fred assures us that the chains the come from the enemy (elsewhere identified as sickness, disease, poverty etc.) are destroyed when we worship with sincere, enthusiastic faith. It should be no wonder why these attitudes have come to dominate the ‘worship’ of neo-Black liberal theology and by extension the contemporary Black church, for worship is an intrinsically theological activity. What one believes about God, salvation, Jesus Christ, mankind and the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit will be evidently featured in worship.

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Posted on: 01/07/06:

Black and Reformed: So What? II

Category: Black
Posted by: Merobin
St Benedict the Black
Throughout the class, “The Gospel in the African-American Experience”, Carl Ellis repeatedly drove home and impressed upon the class that theology is best defined as “The application of God’s Word by persons to every area of life”. At the time, this definition, while believing it to be accurate in what it asserts, seemed a bit simple to me, especially after having already soaked myself in the heavy theological tomes of Bavinck, Hodge, et al. Perhaps it was the use of the word “application” that seemed to sully the term. It seemed to bring theology and practice into an uncomfortably close conversation. We have systematic theology and practical theology and ne’er shall the twain meet, or so I thought. I’ve come to see that Carl’s definition (for which he credits John Frame) is a very shrewd way in which to conceive of theology. It brings together what tragically has been rent asunder in western thought – theory and praxis. It accentuates a healthy epistemological holism which ought to characterize theological discourse. So, contrary to my previous, unwittingly, imbibed notion that theology is only or primarily concerned with ideas swirling around in my head as it were, I now tend to think that theology is known cognitively as well as acted upon practically, that it is characterized by a “performative understanding” born of the intuitive belief that a proposition apprehended is a proposition necessarily acted upon. Perhaps in this way, theology is more like Old Testament wisdom (a manifestly pre-modern category!). See, as a part of a people constituted around King Jesus, we worship One whose own self designation is as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. Jesus is embodied truth. To know truth is to know a Person, not just an idea. It seems that to start here would go a long way toward curbing our platonic proclivity to privilege ideas over matter, to adore disembodied principles to the neglect of the accidental messy matters of time/space reality. Doubtless, this type of analysis of theology is not new and is perhaps in some ways passé but the need to rehabilitate more integrated ways of thinking about (and doing) theology seems to never cease, especially among us Reformed folks.

I don’t presume to be philosophically sophisticated here. Nor do I claim any real competence in describing psychological modes of thought but it is my impression that we Black folks (and various other non-dominant culture people groups) have a different thinking style, and so don’t natively theologize this way on the whole. I suspect that this owes to the fact that we as a group of people, though having inhabited the west for many generations, never really experienced modernity, and so never really took on fully the hallmark of enlightenment epistemology and modernity -rationalism. Our thinking style is more impressionistic and essayistic than linear and architectonic. So, our theologizing has the qualities of our thought matrix. It has a kind of integrated improvisatory character to it, somewhat along the lines of Carl Ellis’ description of jazz theology.

So, I wonder. What would an honest to goodness systematic theology, written by a Black Reformed person, someone for whom Reformed theological categories constitute the deepest structuring elements of his/her thought, someone who is disposed to think and reason in more “integrated improvisatory” ways, look like? It just might be that at the end of the day, the product reads much like a John Frame with black skin. Maybe it would more resemble poetry than theology (not that the two are mutually exclusive) or maybe such a thing is ruled out in the nature of the case, as too tied to rational, abstract categories and as such, would not be called Systematic theology. Who knows? This is a complex issue and these are only discursive reflective ramblings. (Boy, am I in over my head right now!). In any case, it would appear that Black Reformed folks by the kind providence and grace of God would be well positioned to make such a contribution to reformed theological literature and here’s betting that such a contribution would be one tasty bowl of chocolate ice cream that all could enjoy.

Mark Robinson

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Related: Black and Reformed: So What? I
Posted on: 01/06/06:

The Bakker is Bakk

Category: Culture
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Jim Bakker being taken away
Good ole Jim is back and better than ever. And he has a few words for you (below).
The sermon was like old times for Bakker, who received a standing ovation at his introduction and numerous cheers from the congregation as he made his points. While recalling the memories of his old life, Bakker said he was a different man from the one who led his flock in that building so many years ago.

He said six years ago God revealed to him 31 things that would happen during the biblical last days.

At one point in the sermon, Bakker said he predicted the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At another point, he claimed to have predicted that New Orleans would be devastated by a hurricane. He said he would reveal other revelations during the second part of his sermon Saturday, but only if there was no media present.

"I don't profess to be a prophet," he said, adding that God simply speaks to him sometimes. "God is getting his people ready for the last days. I am not a prophet of doom."

Without offering specifics, Bakker predicted 2006 would be an eventful year for world troubles. (Source)
He doesn’t profess to be a prophet, but he still has predictions? Huh? And the odd thing about his predictions is that they are all…hmmmmm…in the past. You've got to be kidding me! Are you telling me you can get out of prison, start back preaching, make “predictions” about past events and still get people to believe you? If it weren’t for my good record (oh yeah, and the Holy Spirit), I would consider getting locked up since it is that easy.

Oh, hold on…I am getting something…I think it’s a prediction!!! Here is it comes: “George W. Bush will be re-elected as President in 2004.” “The Communism will be defeated.” “John F. Kennedy will be assassinated.” Here’s a good one, “My mom and dad will get together and give birth to a son named, Xavier Pickett.” But wait, I actually have one for the future, “Tomorrow is going to be cold.” How’s that for prophecy? Jim doesn’t have anything on me. And not to mention, thanks to JB’s prophecy, I am now looking forward to an eventful year, especially since events take place everyday around the world.

Founder Xavier Pickett
Posted on: 01/05/06:

Black and Reformed: So What?

Category: Black
Posted by: Merobin
Black Moses
Not infrequently in recent days, during moments of existential self-awareness, I’ve found myself reflecting on what it means that I am Black and Reformed. ‘I’m a Black Reformed person: so what?’ I think. Is there something more to this than just novel nomenclature? What is the real substance of it….what does it really mean? I must admit that the conjunction of the terms Black and Reformed still strikes me as a bit anomalous, kind of like ‘blue-eyed soul’, an interesting and novel notion, but something other than authentic, not the real deal.

However, I am more and more coming to realize that my metaphysical meanderings about Reformed Blackness (or Black Reformed-‘ness’) are more than just interesting ideas. There is something to this black reformed thing. My real life interaction and experience with fellow African-Americans who are self-consciously Reformed (that’s right, real live Calvinist baby-sprinkling Black folk) has served to demonstrate that the nexus of African-Americans and Reformed faith is indeed a meaningful juxtaposition. Yea, I would venture to say that the things that Black Reformed folks bring to the Reformed ecclesiastical and theological table can and do fund fuller, robust, Reformed trajectories of faith and practice. The Reformed community, at least the small part with which I am familiar, is being concretely and significantly enriched by the presence and distinct contributions of African-Americans. I guess this shouldn’t be at all surprising given that the glory of God in Christ, in the new community, is most fully expressed when people ‘from every nation’ are contributing their unique praise and playing their distinct part in the outworking of redemptive history.

So what are some of these things?

Some specific areas which immediately spring to mind are theology, worship, and preaching. At the risk of profound reductionism, I offer a few brief discursive reflections on how a biblical and reformed faith has been nurtured by black folks who share this theological vision.

Disclaimer: I in no way intend to diminish or downplay the wonderful contributions other groups are making to the ongoing reformed conversation. Highlighting some of the diversity of Christ’s body in no way diminishes the true ‘oneness’ that exists between the various members by virtue of our solidaric union with our Savior. Taking a few moments to extol the glories of chocolate ice cream is not to be understood as an implicit denial of the deliciousness of butter pecan or neapolitan!

To be continued...

Mark Robinson

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Related: Black and Reformed: So What? II
Posted on: 01/03/06:

Battle Stations Part 6

Category: Church
Posted by: Lance Lewis
Resue
Did I ever tell you about the time I got saved? No? Well let me tell you the story. I think I was in the fifth or sixth grade. There I was minding my own business when for some reason I aroused the ire of a certain very big and very mean high school student. Honestly, I cannot tell you what I did to this child that made her (yes, it was a girl, but keep in mind, a much, much bigger girl than I was) so mad, but suffice it to say that she set her sights on me and salivated over the opportunity to throttle me after the last day of school. Finally, the last day of school dawned and I ventured to Lamberton School filled with fear and trepidation. (Now I know how some of those Old Testament kings felt). Unlike the rest of my schoolmates I simply couldn’t get into the joy of that last day. There was no talk of summer plans, final grades or who was breaking up with whom. My world was filled with the dread that sometime after the final bell rung my bell was going to be rung.

I caught a bus which let me off a few miles from the school to wait for a trolley. It was here that my adversary planned my demise safely away from the watchful eyes of the all seeing school monitors. I’ve had plenty of long bus rides folks, but I have to say that that was the longest, most foreboding ride on a bus I have ever endured. She kept her eyes on me the entire time as visions of my mangled, bruised and bloodied body surely danced in her twisted little head. We drew near to our stop and the bus driver called out ‘63rd and Girard’. I got up to leave via the front of the bus while my tormentor slowly exited through the side door with a look of sheer, sick glee on her face. As the bus pulled away she began to approach me and I just froze. There was nothing to say, nowhere to turn and no place to run.

Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of light blue and the two familiar fins of a late sixties hog. (That’s a Caddy for the uninitiated among you). My father Charles E Lewis Jr. pulled up in our family hog opened the door and said, “Hey Lance, get in.” With great relief I literally jumped in the car, we pulled off and I GOT SAVED… GLORY HALLELUJAH! My father had rescued me from the certain anger of someone I could not have overcome.

What is the nature of salvation? Do all evangelicals agree on what salvation is and is not? Silly questions you say—perhaps not. Our last two posts detailed the Biblical theology of how God saves; yet present circumstances demand that we focus on the nature of salvation itself. In years past the two main camps of Protestantism disagreed on how God saves. The Reformed camp generally argued that God saves by giving unresponsive, dead sinners new life and bringing them to faith in Jesus Christ. The Arminian camp generally argued that God offers the gospel to all and then saves those who through their own free will believe in Jesus Christ, which causes them to be born again. While both camps held to radically different views on how God saves, for the most part they agreed on what salvation was. With a few notable exceptions Arminians and Calvinists agreed that salvation was a deliverance from the penalty, power and eventually the presence of sin. Furthermore, salvation was deliverance to a new, vital spiritual life that could be enjoyed now even as the saints awaited the full expression of glory in the age to come.

Neo-liberal Black theology, however, has redefined salvation in such a manner as to marginalize the issues of sin and vital spiritual life to the back pew. This new theology views salvation primarily as deliverance from poverty, (or even a good working/middle income) sickness, and any and all forms of trouble, trial, distress and pain in this life. Instead of being delivered to a new, thriving spiritual life in union and communion with Jesus Christ the new salvation brings us into a ‘victorious’ life in which destinies are realized and dreams come true. Obviously this description of salvation is dangerous on a number of levels. It deceives people into believing that faith in Christ will bring a lifestyle that simply does not exist. No matter how much you believe, how high you jump and how loud you shout, money will not drop out of the sky, your body will still decay and the regular troubles of life will still affect you. Thus, to have as our prime witness a salvation that is an illusion is to invite grave consequences to that witness in the near future. Think of what could happen when the next generation finally wakes up and realizes that the emperor doesn’t have any clothes and the Christian's supposed so great a salvation is nothing more than a sham.

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