Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Theological and Factual Wantonness of The Gospel Coalition and Thabiti Anyabwile on the Matter of Race, Ethnicity and Culture and How the Cravenness of the Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist Church is Failing to Address the Matter Forthrightly, Bravely, Factually and Biblically


It is not surprising to watch the paralysis in the Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist (PEF) church in America (and abroad for that matter) regarding the issues(s) of race, ethnicity and culture (REC). This ideological and social constituency, as a whole or its individual parts, has become a polarizing topic in society and as well, in the church. Unfortunately, the filter that the body of Christ is suppose to have which eliminates the damning philosophies of the world and instead corrects the errors of kosmos diabolicus and orients the believer to divine viewpoint when it does teach or comment on current (or even historical) events, is largely missing in the PEF body by and large. And this cannot be more aptly illustrated in the recent blog post by The Gospel Coalition’s Thabiti Anyabwile.

At his TGC blog, Pure Church, he recently posted an article entitled, “3 Reasons Why I Stand with the Protesters”. Now, it is not unforeseen to read this from Anyabwile. I have documented his grotesque descent into leftist/liberal Race Based Special Interest Theology, at least as I see it. But all of that aside and even if one knew nothing about Thabiti, his recent posting tells enough about both Thabiti and the PEF world to inform all of us of two main things. But before I go on allow me to link to the article, here, and quote the three salacious assertions Anyabwile makes.

Anyabwile’s Claims
I stand with the protesters because they better demonstrate what genuine faith looks like.

I stand with the marchers because they are the ones protecting the foundations.

I stand with the marchers because they are the ones pursuing a just goal with a just means.
Two Observations

First, Thabiti (and The Gospel Coalition seeing that they have given him this platform without censure) is willing to be either ignorant or dishonest regarding the facts of both recent events (Brown and Garner cases and the protesters' behavior) and overall crime statistics, morally irresponsible in characterizing legitimate authority as systemically villainous toward blacks in America as well as supporting what generally has been gross malevolence toward such authority by self-declared victims (and sympathizers) of this alleged systemic injustice and theologically promiscuous in attempting to justify his race based special interest theology and politics as moral and theological dogma.

Secondly, in light of what has been said by Thabiti Anyabwile (and beyond by those in the PEF body echoing such sentiments) we have an almost vacuous body of forthright, factual and Biblical response by the PEF community who know what Anyabwile asserts (again this includes those predicating similar views) is both wrong and further, scandalous. In other words there simply is little robust push-back to these outlandish philosophies and ideas coming from TGC and Anyabwile and company.

The Sounds of Silence Beckon Men of Conviction

Personally, I believe they (those trusted, recognized and/or commissioned as voices for the PEF church) lack the bravery to take on these race based campaigners of a moralized and dogmatized theological political correctness which they know to be untrue. I am convinced they lack the will because of the haunting fear they will be labeled that one word, the weapon of all social weapons, “racist”.

(Possibly worse, without the label "racist", they fear they will be talked about as simply incapable of understanding racial matters due to their whiteness and its inherent, "white or anglocentric bias" of which they are too stupid or arrogant to be aware. In other words, accept your white guilt and cognitive inadequacy which relegates you to not being permitted a view and voice on the matter unless you reflect it in an afrocentric construct and concede the points of afrocentrism otherwise you're all or part of the above and can only speak from your narrow, "white privilege" status- swallow that if you wish.)

However, this is a watershed moment in the PEF church and for its sound theology which includes its by-products of a vibrant orthodoxy on matters of ecclesiology and other divine institutions which involve society such as family, government and so on. At this moment they are giving way to race based special interest theologies and political correctness philosophies in what I believe has been Trojan Horse efforts on one end and a slow but deliberate endeavor on the other end, to massage the social gospel and humanistic ideology, which Tim Keller and TGC heavily sympathize with and promote, into the theological, ecclesiastical, and political consciousness of the PEF (Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist) body of Christ.

Those is the PEF body who know this race based political correctness ideology, which was largely extended into the PEF church through the civil rights movement where Martin Luther King Jr., co-opted the Old Testament Hebraic enslavement by Egypt and displacement in the wilderness and turned American civil rights arguments into Biblical rights through a corrupt hermeneutic, need to rise up and abate the theological and ecclesiastical undulation which threatens the spiritual construct and integrity of the church as well as that of an orthodox theology.

What Anyabwile has claimed in his trio of motivations is simply opprobrious. How can any notable Bible teacher of any integrity stay silent while this man and this organization (TGC) (who claim to be Bible teachers/theologians of orthodoxy and confessional orientation) promote, or in the least sympathize with, the heavily violent and property destructive activities of protesters? How can anyone permit such licentiousness in claiming the protesters, “demonstrate what genuine faith looks like” or that, “they are the ones protecting the foundations”? This is simply asinine.

The Inevitable End of Anti-Authoritarianism

I do not need to nor will I document how and why Anyabwile’s rationale fails because it is prima facie. But if need be I will rebut all three in another post, a task I suspect most have already done in their minds and one which likely can be assigned to a capable eighth grader. He is being given a platform by TGC for a most outrageously irresponsible posturing that will have its consequences in the PEF body (and outside as well).

And speaking of consequences, I am brought to a great realization, today, by the *news that two police officers in New York City were assassinated. That assassination is a product of the protesting community, the one that Anyabwile describes as those who are, “the ones pursuing a just goal with a just means”. The same ones that have repeatedly destroyed millions of dollars’ worth of property, have regularly assaulted non-blacks in the name of justified retribution for a systemic racism against all non-whites which Anyabwile has alluded to himself in his distorted and race based political correctness ideology he shamefully passes off as theology.

Yes, Thabiti, those protesters are the ones who in a great protest spent much of their time, without any push-back or reasonable disassociation, called for a “dead cop”. Well, Anyabwile, your protesters got what they wanted, and shame on you.

Conclusion

There is no other reasonable conclusion that I can make about Thabiti Anyabwile (and in greater respect, TGC) other than the view that he believes the lies of the world, that America is an evil nation and that we are systemically racist. He believes the worst of law enforcement when, in fact, the statistics show a very low and rare percentage of violent occurrences  by those in blue toward those in black when contact is made between the two (violent occurrences do not, in themselves, construe something wrong, in many cases force of some sort is necessitated by LE). You and your cohorts have willingly swallowed a damnable narrative and are unwilling to deal with the facts. You by-pass or dismiss the statistics and the realities and instead have exaggerated them and now use their unwarranted amplification in exacerbating what problems may exist with these exceptional cases.

You have become, in my view and I doubt I speak alone, a race based leftist theologian and are poisoning the church with your ideas. Further, you have made good to be bad and right to be wrong in the minds of many of God’s children and are encouraging the reprehensible view that public enemy #1 is law enforcement; the men and women in blue who daily save lives, daily risk their lives, weekly are given a paycheck that can barely support a family (if that) and are tasked with the impossible by those who play armchair Monday morning quarterback, judging their every motive and imperfect performance as ostensibly systemically corrupt and notorious when it comes to dealing with blacks (as well as other nonwhites) when the statistics, the hard and unassailable statistics, show otherwise.

But more so, shame on those who have not stood up to correct and rebuke Anyabwile and TGC for their recklessness – factually, organizationally, philosophically and theologically. Your silence will have its costs and to those who have spoken the truth, may God add great blessing to the words of truth.

*Thabiti Anyabwile has posted something at his blog regarding the murder of the two police officers and has no choice, of course, but to condemn these actions but much like Al Sharpton, after offering his patronizing condemnation, refuses to understand that he is part of the disgraceful and factually impoverished narrative about law enforcement which led to the emboldening of the perpetrator who based his actions, in part, on precisely the view of systemic and de facto racism by the men and women in blue which is dismantled and rebutted by crime and law enforcement statistics as well as their interpretation and various institutional studies on the matter.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Is Racial/Ethnic/Cultural Harmony Guaranteed or Necessitated in the New Birth?

 

Recently in the discussion both nationally (if not globally) and ecclesiastically (that is, in the church or the body of Christ) race/ethnicity/culture has been a hot topic for some obvious and immediate reasons but as well, for some long-standing reasons. With respect to the body of Christ and the ongoing discussion, much of the dialog can be monitored online and my observation has been with great pain, frequently.

It is as if, for many theologians and students of the Bible, the spiritual construct of the body of Christ and all of its implications simply either do not exist or are not grasped (for understandable to reproachable reasons), thus, are by-passed in how the issue is approached in the body of Christ. Unfortunately, this includes some rather astute men.

And so, in following this discussion, I was brought to a blog by a Reformed Bible teacher and theologian, Doug Wilson. The reason I am highlighting this is because of a statement he made which I believe captures precisely the fundamental misstep of the Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist world on the matter of race and the presumed racial/ethnic/cultural harmony that somehow must follow when one becomes a Christian and then begins interacting with Christians of differing races, ethnicities and cultures.

I posted a comment at Wilson's blog (as a side note, he holds do a grave error called Federal Vision, but I am not stopping to discuss that at the moment). Whether he permits it or not is not germane. I am only glad that the statement he made exists and I can provide a response, here. Thus, you can read his post here. Following is my response to that.

Wilson's Statement
I want to go straight to the terms of my peroration first, so that there is no mistaking the direction. Outside of Jesus Christ, racial harmony is a pipe dream. Apart from Christ, racial reconciliation is not going to happen, but rather the opposite. In Christ, racial harmony is a theological necessity, a doctrinal requirement, and an eschatological hope.
My Response
You are close but still off. There is no racially (sic) harmony in Christ. You are missing the properties of the construct of being in Christ. It is a spiritual construct. Christians of all races/ethnicities/cultures do not have, as a biblically stated objective, such anthropological properties harmonized or reconciled. In fact, they are actually reduced to anecdotal properties and are not necessitated. Rather, the harmony is Christ and his doctrine. Those who share the DNA of Christ and his doctrine are harmonized outside of their race/ethnicity/culture constructs and into Christ. Racial/ethnic/cultural differences are not remedied, rather they are removed.
Our racial properties, ethnic properties and cultural properties do not suddenly all get on the same page, instead there is a new page that does not have any of this in view. Yes, we are all on the same page but it is not because our race/ethnicity/cultures have been harmonized but because in the body of Christ there is a new DNA and doctrine which is followed.

Now, outside of the body of Christ in other anthropological constructs (such as race/ethnicity/cultural/nationalism, etc...), sure, you can seek some harmonization, if possible, but the Bible does not require that. However, mainly because of their distinctiveness and particularly ones that are very foreign to one another, rarely are they able to be brought into harmony. But in Christ, in the spiritual construct of Christ, our harmony is because we identify as Christian, as those born from above and share the same doctrine, i.e., Christ's.
Being in Christ does not assume a de facto racial/ethnic/cultural harmonization or a de facto by-product. The harmony is because we are in a new and phenomenal paradigm that does not consider anthropological properties. Our harmony is spiritually based.
Concluding Comments

Above I have two illustrations, one picturing human racial harmony and the other spiritual harmony of those from different races/ethnicities/cultures. Wilson's statement represents the critical but nuanced misunderstanding by much of the church.

We, Christians, are not harmonized racially, ethnically or culturally, when we are saved. We are harmonized because we fellowship on another plane, in another construct, or based on a different paradigm. I do not embrace you because of anything you possess anthropologically, rather, because of what you possess spiritually, both in the new man who has been resurrected and the doctrine to which he holds, that of Christ's.

Does it mean that I am free to be completely ignorant of your context in life? No, but nothing in Scripture requires me to reconcile or harmonize myself to it. Rather, that our harmony as brothers and sisters in the Lord are based in our identification as a new man or new creation which identifies his/her DNA as that of God's via the spiritual rebirth in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), our new Adam and fellowships based on his doctrine, i.e., the Word of God.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ferguson and the Race Thing in a Nutshell




An abundance of issues may be (and have been) extrapolated from the Ferguson calamity, never minding the few predominant ones immediately arising from this event. And one of the topics is, of course, race and more specifically black on blue or blue on black contact (blue is Law Enforcement if you are unsure) and the various points of either conflict or potential conflict (real or imagined).

Among Christians in the Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist world, the Ferguson matter has been written about and discussed like a slow train wreck. Thabiti Anyabwile, a member of The Gospel Coalition, has lost himself, as it appears to me, to racial narcissism in transcribing a number of recent posts which are absent of any consistent objectivity.  Ultimately, as I read, he simply reduces the matter, in essence (along with the larger considerations of race, Christianity, theology and socialism), to emotionalism and racial sentimentality while formulating what arguments he does make with a very selective use of the information available. You can read about it here.

In another place you can scan a classic example of a man whose whiteness has him groping around in the dark (pun intended for those of you able to handle it, if not, pretend it doesn’t exist), flailing away at ghosts either he has invented or has received via a large body of racial political correctness always looming over such matters. It got so bad at one point he simply quit permitting comments because he attempted to set up codes for who should say what and how they must think about the issue and on and on, never minding the flood of objections to his clearly patronizing piece. He is able to be found here and is worth checking out if not just to learn how the disease of racial political correctness and false white guilt infects someone's thinking resulting in a catastrophic inability to discuss such topics objectively.

I could continue pointing to all the wrong steps but that is not necessary seeing they are quite apparent in the online world of Christendom. What is difficult to find however, is an honest and frank assessment of the relative Ferguson issues among Christians.

The Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist world of Christianity, as I see it, is so afraid of being labeled something or so busy with self-aggrandizing patronization and so fixated on crusadershipism and racial campaigns of sensitivity that nothing real may be said, that is, nothing that can possess solutions. Because in order to offer solutions the problems must be identified and as long as we tippy-toe around the problems, restricting speech either by code or by assigning to various racial groups what they may and may not say and how they must say what they do say, we are left with nothing but gusts of wind in every direction.

Nevertheless, all is not lost. I cannot recommend in any greater way that you go to The Gospel Coalition and read what Pastor Voddie Baucham wrote. His article (click on the article title and it will take you to his essay), Thoughts on Ferguson, is a tremendously conscientious and practical approach to the issue(s) of race, justice and law enforcement which have emerged. You will not regret the visit.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

John 1:13: “Not by the Will of Man” - Does God Suggest that Human Will is not involved in a Person Believing the Gospel? A Simple Exegetical Lesson



Over at SBC Tomorrow, the blog of a leading personality and Pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention, Peter Lumpkins, I interacted in the comments section under one of his recent articles, Did Jesus tell Nicodemus he must be born again so he can believe the gospel?

What it revealed was an ongoing mentality which represents Christians who have chosen a sycophantic adherence to all things Calvinistic as opposed to all things exegetical and allowing the results be as they may, to determine one’s theology. I am not going to rehash or re-post what you can read but I recommend you visit the blog and observe the sottish reasoning by one particular commenter.

I used to be a Reformed Calvinist and argued so on many occasions but my arguments were trained to be exegetical, as all theological arguments ought to be in their foundation. Fortunately, the very tools given me in order utilize exegesis were what brought me out of the boundaries of Augustinian/Reformed/Calvinist Theology.

It is important you understand what is going on here in the comments section of this particular article. It is not only Calvinists who have this problem but numerous others, believers and unbelievers, as a way of coping with facing overwhelming rebuttals to their belief system.

People often make great ego-investments early on with matters only to discover they have bought in to something they did not fully vet and which contains problematic values and properties. Unfortunately, a significant number of such people also become demonstrative in their ego-investment and when their conscience pricks them on a matter,  they are too far pronounced in their allegiance to become circumspect and retest what they believe and instead, as the Scriptures impart, they see the flaw in the mirror but as soon as they turn away, they forget about it. Why? It is simple, to save face within themselves and with others.

I have said this often and repeat it now, do not invest your ego in your theology, invest your soul in humility and the person of Christ and be ready to learn and correct your errors. You will get to a place of dogma and certitude over years and years of study but to do this too soon, before you have truly vetted and substantiated a comprehensive system, is to invite into your life the role of a theological fool.

Now, on to my treatment of the material which I am copying and posting from the comments section I shared at Peter Lumpkins’ blog. I have modified my response a bit for more general readership but have retained addressing a few personal points, so if it reads as if I am speaking to someone specifically, I was.

John 1:13: Examined

John makes a clear point. We are born again:

1. not of blood
2. not the will of the flesh
3. not the will of man
4. but of God

The expressions are understood as negatives in comparison to the real source of our regeneration.

Not of blood - (technically plural, "bloods") that is, by means of biological inheritance or lineage. This was a very critical point regarding the Jews with some misunderstanding that their blessings from God, which were based on their genetics (i.e., being a Jew), incorporated the promise of eternal salvation merely by being born a Jew. And expanded in application, this implicates any human pedigree if, being a Gentile, one imagines their human royalty is of some aid in the cause of God regenerating them.

Some suggest it could refer to the various sacrifices, pre-Christ, and if this be correct it still stands as a testament that it is only by means of Christ's righteousness and not the former sacrifices. I believe this is the weakest of the interpretations but still, I mention it just to cover the base and ultimately does not steer either of us in another direction since this is not the disputed portion.

Not of the flesh - this has been and still is, widely accepted with respect to its use in the Bible and outside of the Bible in contemporary literature of the period, a reference to life being the result of sexual intercourse. In other words, one is not born of God by means of human procreation, it is something greater and outside of that (which lays to rest the idea that babies are born regenerated and only die spiritually and gain a sin nature after they willfully sin at some point past their birth).

Included in this is the propensity among the Patriarchs to have many wives thus, increasing their seed and enlarging their covenantal benefits which our Lord is passively addressing; that while they might have succeeded in doing so via human procreation for geographical, political and agricultural blessings, the blessing of the covenant of eternal life will not and cannot come by this means.

Not by the will of man - interestingly the Greek word here for man is (ἀνδρὸς) andros and not (ἄνθρωπος) anthropos. Anthropos refers to all human kind without respect to gender (in general, though it can denote or connote a limited number of people or specific group depending on the context) which is not used here, rather, andros is the word used which is definitively for males. Why? What was our Lord referring to here?

He was addressing the view of the Jews and society which understood it was the husband or the authority who headed both the home and social structure. It was via the male authority that children were conceived, received, circumcised, given social status, and decreed what they will be with respect to their family and society. In other words, while human authority could and did decree many things, this event, regeneration, will not and cannot come by way of human authority or human decree.

Ultimately God is rebutting all human efforts which might claim the ability to regenerate one's self or claim/decree such.

Thus, this reference to the, "will of man", grammatically, is disqualified from referring to all human kind (anthropos) since its definitive/grammatical property alone limits it to only males and its contextual use further binds its meaning to being limited to males and with respect to their role as authority.

Thus, the use here by the Calvinist as arguing that the human will is eliminated as an element of the process of our being saved is invalidated since such an argument is with respect to all humankind and the exercise of their will in believing the gospel which would not only require anthropos to be used but as well, a different context and never minding what I just presented, the use of andros which is limited in its definitive/grammatical property and further, its contextual use which ultimately nullifies this particular Augustinian/Reformed/Calvinist interpretation and application which, again, would require anthropos (Yes, I am being a bit redundant in my last paragraph but it seems redundancy is necessary, at times). 

Regeneration, Itself

Regeneration is from the Greek word, palingenesias (παλινγενεσίας) which is found in Titus 3:5 (also, Matthew has a reference). Even though John 3:3 does not use palingenesias it does refer to it with the phrase, “being born from above” using γεννάω (born or to bring forth) ἄνωθεν (from heaven or from the source of origin). Regeneration, as explained in Titus, is not merely the spiritual enlivening or resurrection of the human spirit but it is also the sanctification or washing from sin (Titus 3:5) by God the Holy Spirit. And this comes, how?

From believing the gospel as Acts 16:31 says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved..."

So in one sense you are right. Our regeneration is not by our will, that is, being born again. No one is arguing with that. God, through his third person, God the Holy Spirit, washes us and enlivens us by resurrecting our spiritual state lost in Adam from which we are born congenitally dead until we believe and are born again.

However, God regenerating us and our believing are not synonyms though they are very closely related in chronology and one is the consequence of the other. Here, Christ is speaking of the regeneration process itself (that it is by the power of God and specifically via God the Holy Spirit per Titus 3:5) and not why someone believes the gospel which results in regeneration. That is another issue and not contained in what Christ addresses here and is only imposed or imported via eisegesis.

It is true that the language of Christ, here, leaves many questions but that is just the point of many things our Lord said and did, to provoke genuine and further discovery by those who wanted the truth.