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Category: Theology
Posted by: RBAFounderX
James Cone

For some of yall out there just calm down...yes, the quotation was from theologian James Cone. But let's try to think through this together. Shall we?

So what is it that made Cone, a systematic theologian (as opposed to the biblical studies scholar who seem to understand this a little bit more) make the (summary) point that “one’s social and historical context decides not only the questions we address to God but also the mode or form of the answers given to the questions,” which was mentioned in my previous blog, “Who said and Why?”

I believe Cone was forced (by many Blacks at the time) to make this connection unlike many systematic theologians because he could not get away with much abstract theologizing that did not bear immediately upon (and I dare say flow from) real people in real situations with real problems in reality. Black slaves and people had to grapple with what does theology have to do with their current situation of slavery, oppression, suffering and racial injustice.

Unlike Cone, many of his white colleagues and counterparts could theologize in such a way that seem to be removed from a particular reality, that is, their own moral and social reality in America. But why? They were not always forced to deal with the explicit dehumanization and harshness of reality, primarily due to the sins of others in power because they were the dominant culture and the ones in power. This enabled them to avoid coming to grips with pervasive societal sin and certain difficulties of life because society was intentionally designed to work in their favor. Then there was no question of White privilege (regardless of whether it still exists now). Whereas Blacks had no choice; they had to interact with the overt sinfulness in life that was self-consciously inflicted by others that more often than not came at their expense because it was always in their face and forced upon them whether they wanted to deal with it or not. For Whites, it was more optional as to whether they wanted to deal with the individual and systemic sins of American life. They could live (and did live) as if it did not exist and not morally wrong, but not true for Blacks. We had no other option, but to wrestle with injustice and other people’s sins if we were going to maintain our divine image bearing status that was constantly being threaten in order to overcome unrighteousness with the righteousness of Christ’s in-breaking revolutionary kingdom into our corrupt world, which he is already undoing through his kingdom of priests.

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Posted on: 04/26/06:

Who said and Why?

Category: Theology
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Male Silhouette

Before you begin to read the below quotation, I ask that you maintain an open mind and don’t jump to unnecessary conclusions. The reality is that quotations like these can cause many of us to lose our intellectual honesty as we begin to engage certain matters from an unfamiliar angle. So let us begin...
I respect what happened at Nicea and Chalcedon and the theological input of the Church Fathers on Christology; but that source alone is inadequate for finding out the meaning of black folks’ Jesus. It is all right to say as did Athanasius that the Son is homoousia (one substance with the Father), especially if one has a taste for Greek philosophy and a feel for the importance of intellectual distinctions. And I do not want to minimize or detract from the significance of Athanasius’ assertion for faith one iota. But the homoousia question is not a black question. Blacks do not ask whether Jesus is one with the Father or divine and human, though the orthodox formulations are implied in their language. They ask whether Jesus is walking with them, whether they can call him up on the “telephone of prayer” and tell him all about their troubles. To be sure Athanasius’ assertion about the status of the Logos in the Godhead is important for the church’s continued christological investigations. But we must not forget that Athanasius’ question about the Son’s status in relation to the Father did not arise in the historical context of the slave codes and the slave drivers. And if he had been a black slave in America, I am sure he would have asked a different set of questions. He might have asked about the status of the Son in relation to slaveholders. Perhaps the same is true of Martin Luther and his concern about the ubiquitous presence of Jesus Christ at the Lord’s Table. While not diminishing the importance of Luther’s theological concern, I am sure that if he had been born a black slave his first question would not been whether Jesus was at the Lord’s Table but whether he was really present at the slave’s cabin, whether the slave could expect Jesus to be with him as he tried to survive the cotton field, the whip, and the pistol.

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Category: Church
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Sorrowful man behind the cross

“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41-42).

As John wrote in Revelation 21, the entire earth and all of creation will finally one day luminously reflect the everlasting, royal and majestic glory of the Warrior King Yahweh. He has not yet been crowded as the King of the New Heavens and Earth but in Revelation 21, He will after a long wait vest Himself in complete regality and be crowded the King of all creation, of the entire cosmos. Correspondingly, the earth and heaven will finally and completely reflect His royalty and Kingship. The Kingdom will reach the point of consummation. At the center of the New Creation, of the restored, remade, transformed Heaven and Earth is the New Jerusalem. In that Christ came, He inaugurated this kingdom on earth and we, through His strength, push this Kingdom forward (the continuation of the Kingdom) engaging Satan and the kingdom of darkness.

In the Old Testament, earthly Jerusalem was to be the place where God ruled creation on earth through the line of Abraham, through the chosen line of David. Jerusalem was to be the capital of God’s Kingdom on earth. Jerusalem was the focus of God’s actions throughout Scripture and link God’s rule, sovereignty and power to the earth through the line of David.

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Category: RBA
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Flowchart

It comes to no surprise that many people in Black churches are not entirely familiar with the Reformed theology. Although, they may ascribe to certain aspects of this theological tradition, they are unaware of the full world and life view that is offered by Reformed theology. Therefore, there have been many attempts (and rightfully so) to "bring" Reformed theology and in particular, the doctrines of grace to many Black people. This is the most obvious response from those Blacks in the Reformed camp to want to widen and deepen the theological tradition of Blacks while simultaneously, I would argue allowing Black theological traditions to also inform our Reformed theological tradition. It is at this point, however, I would like to suggest a better way to go about addressing this issue that respects the current landscape of non-Reformed Blacks and the emerging Black Reformed community. So the inherent question I seek to answer here at the core is where should a Reformed Black movement start or depending on how you look at it, what should be the first objective for a Reformed Black movement?

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Category: Partnerships
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
RTS Logo

Reformed Blacks of America (RBA) is pleased to announce the launch of the Reformed Theological Seminary African-American Student Recruitment Initiative. This initiative at Reformed Theological Seminary-Orlando (RTS) will provide significant scholarship funding for qualified Reformed African-Americans interested in pursuing a Masters of Divinity as a participant in the African American Imagination and Theology Project. Through prayer and discussion, RTS-Orlando has expressed not only a desire, but also a definite commitment of necessary funds in order to secure such an opportunity for some scholarship applicants.

The foremost purpose of this initiative is to establish a relationship between RTS and Reformed Black churches through the recruitment and education of the students of those congregations. But the initiative is focused also on locating any qualified Reformed African-Americans interested in obtained a Masters of Divinity at a reformed institution.

RBA is currently contacting interested individuals and churches and will soon engage a limited number of churches across the country through travel to respective cities and personal visitation.

If you or someone you know is interested in finding out more about this initiative, please email us at info@ReformedBlacksOfAmerica.org. Please include the subject heading: RTS African-American Initiative. Also, please include the name and contact information (email and phone number) of the interested church(es) and/or individual(s).
Category: Church
Posted by: epeay
Half Dollar

Fear of end results not matching the great amount invested. We live in a culture where if we don’t get exactly 15.62 fries in our French-fry order, we are ready to complain to the manager (and that’s just for the 99 cent size). Well, maybe no one has ever done that, but we do live in an American culture that often only feels satisfied in investing money in something that will have equally measurable quantitative value. There is nothing wrong with valuing a fair quantitative return for your investment, but there is something wrong with only considering something a good investment if it will produce a desired amount. Where are the investments in things of qualitative value? If the Church is not careful, we can develop the same tendencies with the money that God has given us. I am not stating that there is no place for wise-planning as a church considers how its (especially, limited) funds should be used. I am stating that we should ask God to guard our hearts from assuming our human reasoning is always correct. With our fleshly eye, it can be tempting as the Church to look at some communities and assume that no amount of financial investment would be enough to see change in hearts, and therefore choose not to invest. And while money does not save souls, God uses the means of money to finance ministry as a means for saving souls. Our motivation should not be how many people will accept Christ (because what if our human understanding predicts that none will), but that God has given us a commission and privilege to spread the Gospel and a also a mission field (just outside our doors) in which to do so. We should value obeying God’s Great Commission. We should value the promise that God will draw all those whom he has called to salvation to himself. We should value the possibility that there may be some in the community (even one person) that will embrace the Cross (even many years after being ministered to). Let us invest financially in these most valuable truths and Commission. Although not relating to investing financially in acts of obedience to the Great Commission, Paul praises the Macedonian church for their sacrificial giving to the Jerusalem believers. He describes the process of their giving this way, “...they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us” (2 Corinthians 8:5). If I am interpreting this correctly, it seems that what motivated them to give to Paul’s fund for the Jerusalem Christians was that they first re-established in their hearts that the Lord was of greatest value to them. So out of the abundance of their hearts, they gave eagerly, joyfully and sacrificially to helping the saints (v.2-4). May we likewise give, being motivated by our valuing the Lord and his commission.

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Category: Politics
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Patriotic Cross

We as American evangelicals, as believers living in the United States, too often regard ourselves in privileged relationship with Christ simply because we are Americans. We overflow with nationalism, patriotism and conservatism but it seems that amid the current political and economic landscape, we have in some way transformed these in many ways admirable attributes into badges of Christianity. Within the evangelical community, the title “Good American” is almost synonymous with “Good Christian”. We view ourselves as the educator and never as those who need to be educated. Often the propaganda of nationalism, patriotism and conservatism is commingled with the preaching of Christ. We turn Christ into an American Warrior, an American god, even an American Good Ole’ Boy. Our communication about Christ is so often communication about our Christ, the Christ for which we have become so comfortable, the easy Christ, the Christ who speaks when we want Him to and quickly becomes quiet when we are made uncomfortable. We so easily embrace our Westernized and Americanized god. If there were positions of authority set aside in the world for those who supposedly have the spiritual advantage or “standard position” in relationship with Christ, we would no doubt think Americans would need to hold the majority of those seats. We can be very patronizing.

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Category: Church
Posted by: Lance Lewis
Church

Hey fam, it’s been a bit since we’ve talked. Let’s see what new. Oh yeah, CLF is about to begin evening services. Our hope is to have simple, beautiful worship that honors God, glorifies Christ and edifies His people. We plan an extended time of praise, testimony, Scripture reading and weekly communion.
Our first sermon series will feature on of my favorite N.T. books, the letter to the Ephesians. If there’s any book that speaks of the church it’s this wonderful letter from the apostle Paul. Ephesians has two interesting facets that lead many to think that the Spirit inspired Paul to pen this for overall benefit of the church. First off, unlike Paul’s other letters there are no personal greetings either in the beginning nor toward the end. That’s odd in that we know that Paul spent a lot of time with the church of Ephesus and clearly loved them. (see Acts 20:17-38) Secondly, there doesn’t seem to be a specific problem or occasion for the letter. Paul doesn’t dwell on any specific sinful issues such as an unhealthy interest in Greek philosophy or Jewish legalism. He does however write a great deal about the church. In fact the theme verse of the book may be Eph 3:21 ‘to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’

My last two battle stations blogs (‘Battle Station: Part 8 - The Necessity of the Church,’ and ‘Battle Station: Part 9 - The Fellowship of the King’) have spoken of the need for a biblically driven understanding of the church of God. We cannot and will not impact or renew our communities apart from the church. Despite what detractors within and without say, the church is still the Body of Christ, His bride of which He is the head, the temple of God, the manifestation of His wisdom, the vehicle through which He gets glory in Christ and His instrument to carry out His final mission to rescue humanity. Those ready to discard the church as an outdated and useless relic of a bygone age would do well to read, pray through and study this book that among other issues testifies of God’s love for the church. How does our Lord love the church?

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Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Black Preacher

I have decided to clear the air a little bit as to what is a Black Reformed person by way of negation just in case there may be some misconceptions lingering around. I also think this is vital in order for a Black Reformed movement to succeed (as I have been advocating) because we must understand who we are, especially if we are going to have “our own thang” as Anthony Carter puts it.

So let me give 15 identity statements about what I believe every Black Reformed person is NOT

1.now a sound preacher just because he “has” Reformed theology.
2. …someone you bring in just to do practical stuff or even practical theology.
3. …theologically and philosophically untrustworthy or inferior.
4. …someone who only value Berkhof, Sproul, or Piper, but devalue (Carl) Ellis, (James) Cone, and (Anthony) Carter.
5. …doing Reformed theology with a “Black spin or perspective,” which becomes sub-Reformed in the minds of many.
6. …a potential D.Min student as opposed to Ph.D.
7. …anti-Anglo or Anglo theologizing.
8. …a Republican because he/she is Reformed.
9. …a Democrat because he/she is Black.
10. …less “Reformed.”
11. …a Baptist.
12. …a loud preacher or worshipper.
13. …just a 5-point Calvinist.
14. …a church planter.
15. …a sociologist in Reformed garb.


Disclaimer: This is only a generalization and more could possibly be said. Also these 15 statements are not in any particular order.

Co-Founder Xavier Pickett
Category: General
Posted by: Christopher
Peace with God

The promise, one of the promises, of the Gospel is utter peace with God and how glorious a truth we have been given in such a promise. How amazing that, with this God we have so spurned we may now have such peace in our inner man, through turmoil may rage all about us and though the gates of Hell wage war against our immortal souls. What can any man do or any demon perpetrate against us that would some how negate, or diminish the peace we now have with our Creator?

Yet, for lack of better wording, there are two types of "peace": There is the actual peace, in which we have been reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, having been made the righteousness of God. This is unchanging and shall never fade through endless ages of eternity. We are at peace with God no matter what we do, for Christ Himself is ever at peace with God and we are seated, not simply with Christ, but in Christ in the heavenlies. Then there is the experiential peace that we have with God, which can be disrupted according to how we live out our actual peace with God. Did you follow that?

Having been put at peace with God we now live as sons and daughters of this God, with His Holy Spirit within us (which is just another blessed truth of the Gospel!). Having the Holy Spirit within us, whose soul desire is that we may be conformed more to the image of Christ Jesus our Lord, when we go against this desire our feeling of peace is disrupted from within by the Spirit. Going against this God who has granted us such peace, we are now sunk into a feeling of "spiritual turmoil". Yet, this is one of the great and glorious ministries of the Holy Spirit, which is simply a bullet-point under the heading of making us like Christ. When we depart from the path of Christ-likeness He is compassionate enough to disrupt and disturb from within the people of Christ, so that while we are ever at peace with God, we feel distant as well.

Yet, if we should find ourselves living constantly and consistently against the ministry of the Spirit of Peace, then we must question with whom we are at peace: The God or the World. God's own, until the day of seeing Christ face-to-face, will battle with and lose to sin. We fight, we fall, we get up and win and we fight and win and fall and on and on and on. Yet, should we find ourselves, not simply losing, but having no care to win, it is not the God of peace with whom we are at peace.

Christopher Pearson
Posted on: 04/03/06:

Ownership...40 acres...Stones?

Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderX
What do you own? Is it 40 acres and mule? Do you own anything (or even stones) to leave behind? Anthony Carter over at Cyrene Ministries is tackling some critical and difficult questions/issues and more that we all need to consider more thoroughly. Therefore, I have decided to refer to you Anthony Carter’s last few blogs that deals with the on-going question(s) at least in my mind about the current status of Black Reformed community in relationship to the larger Christian community.

You would do well to read all 3 blogs (below) especially since they are in harmony with the vision and mission of Reformed Blacks of America.

1. God Bless the Child…

2. Forty Acres…?

3. What Mean These Stones?

Co-Founder Xavier Pickett