Monday, October 15, 2007

Pie In The Sky


What in the world does reformed theology have to do with Jamal and TaKeisha? They’ve grown up in the hood with a single mom, poor education, few prospects, little hope and a single-minded focus on survival. They need a theology that deals with the here and now, not some pie in the sky pipe dream of the hereafter. We need a theology that will address their issues, not one that dealt with the issues of some long dead white guys in a country and time far, far away. I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. It’s an old (if misplaced and off target argument.) Central to this line of reasoning is that J and T need a theology that prioritizes their temporal needs, issues and challenges. The argument is off base because it has a mistaken view of the real nature of the hypothetical J and T.

Those who promote a ghettoized theology that concentrates on J and T’s physical/economic needs seem convinced that increased economic prosperity translates into increased godliness. This conviction fits in with the long held and trans- cultural belief that rich people are overall more moral and godly than poor people. Armed with this conviction we’re told that the message we must take to the hood isn’t the message of the cross but the gospel of the pocketbook. Once more am I advocating that the church neglects the biblical command to advocate for the poor and work to break the cycle of poverty? Absolutely not. I am saying that a ghettoized theology that focuses on the economic issues of black America while enticing and no doubt popular is not the primary message of scripture. While it may address some of the temporal physical/economic needs of Jamal and TaKeisha it won’t bring them any closer to the living God and might actually serve to drive them away from Him. Though J and T are poor, black, under-served and marginalized they are still sinners. I know that may sound harsh, out of touch, uncaring and maybe even racist but it’s the truth. Whether they or we like it or not their main problem isn’t the injustice of a racialized society but the justice of a righteous God. On the flip side their greatest blessing isn’t the trinkets offered by the American dream but a thriving relationship with the living God in whom they can pour their souls into and delight in forever.

And this is exactly the kind of theology Jesus offered to people who too were poor, oppressed, conquered and occupied. In the Sermon on the Mount He refused to push a ghettoized theology that focused on the here and now and declared that the blessed ones are blessed because of the reality of their future. And you can bet your shiny brand new Lexus that this was not a message your average first century Jew living in Palestine wanted to hear. They wanted a powerful messiah who would preach a powerful, relevant message on how they were the chosen ones destined to rid their country of the Romans and enjoy all of the blessings of the kingdom of God here and now. Yeah the meek might inherit the earth but they wanted theirs here and now.

I hate to be crass but the bottom line is this: The emerging black reformed community has a choice. We will either follow the model of Jesus or Joel Osteen. We will either lead our people to pursue the living God as and end in and of Himself or we will teach and encourage them to prostitute Him in an absurd effort to gobble up the baubles of this culture for a few short years. We will either lead Jamal and TaKeisha to the true life found in Jesus Christ or like drug pushers feed them poison, congratulate ourselves on our relevance and stand by mystified as we watch the death of blackness.

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor Lance

18 comments:

Lionel Woods said...

I think you are starting trouble sir! LOL. I agree 100% Though I think we have to put these dead white guys in a digestable format. So when I talk about Reformed Theology I may not want to discuss supralapsarianism. But the truth of the Gospel transcends, that is why I have this push for the Black Reformed Church to start to breed young minds and get them interested in Seminary. I also raised the issue that many of our Reformed Churches start training men in a seminary education within the church walls. We should be taking our man through Grudem's systematic or maybe with Lloyd-Jones or Hodge through Romans. This is what I long for. I don't want to go an additional $36K in debt, why not use the trained minds we have to spark a movment? Only my questions though. Any answers?

Pastor Lance said...

excellent thoughts brother woods. i'm not sure but I wonder if we should explore and mixture of online education and church mentorship to get brothers the training they need. for example both covenant and reformed seminaries have several courses available online.
perhaps a few of the major (or minor) reformed seminaries might be willing to put together a full online curriculum that could be administered by the local church and taken by those who need the education but just can't afford it. this could help us kill more than two birds with one stone.
1. brothers could get the education that is so valuable for 21st century ministry.
2. they could do so without having to incur the cost of tens of thousands of dollars.
3. they could obtain the education while still serving in their home church.

at least one problem: since the seminaries would be providing the courses for free would they be willing to grant degrees to those who took them? conversely would brothers be willing to complete the equivalent of a masters degree without getting the paper?

your thoughts?

peace
LL

Rodney said...

Brothers I think that online free course and sermon are the way to go (for now). I have learned much from covenant and biblicaltraining.com. I have also let many of my friends no about these site and they have benefited as well. My pastor friend in Newark NJ has just started to learn about these kinds of sites now that he is back on line. Also blogs like these are helpful. Videos, whatever are available. (BTW my friend is not reformed… yet).

Churches should write or call these seminaries. Let them know what is needed. Then let them know how they can help. It won’t hurt to ask
.
I think that many brothers do not care about the paper night now. The knowledge and understanding is primary. Because they know that brothers and sisters are perishing for lack of knowledge. I also think that if many brothers (and sisters) started taking classes online from places like RTS and Covenant Theological Seminary. The seminaries would have to take notice and be compelled to meet that need for the good of the body and the glory of God. At lease that's my prayer.

Any way just my 3 cents,

Jim Pemberton said...

Understanding our sin is the great equalizer. You can go to hell with a sizable portfolio and a false sense of security just as easily as you can on the streets.

In a mansion, luxury and comfort are often normalized. In the hood, fear and need are often normalized. What both (and anywhere in the middle) need is a new paradigm: citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven. Understanding this indeed takes good teaching and discipleship.

I would argue that this is easier among the poor. I've noticed that there are more distractions among the wealthy, and even the middle class, here in the States. Throughout the world, I've noticed that it is typically the people who have less that are more inclined to respond to the hope of the gospel and devote more time learning about Christ.

Jesse Gistand said...

I too agree with you gentlemen on the remedy for our Black peoples theological benefit .

And I affirm heartily that there is an hunger for the truth by our young men and women.

I am increasing blessed by the zeal and fervor and interest of young simenarians, and bible college men and women at GBC.

My counsel to them is to glean from where ever they can, sound reformed, Soveriegn grace theology.

And they do. And online is a great place.

I would encourage you pastor, to tone down the rhetoric against our Brethren whose labor it is, is to preserve the black culture.

The death of the black Church? As bad as it is, equally means the death of the white Church, and all others, because of a failure to fully manifest the glory of God , in Jesus Christ.

But more importantly, this vein, only demonstrates our inability to work through critical differences and show the other, that we are capable of civil, sound, gracious, discerning and passionate discourse, which leads to the truth, as we keep Christ preeminent.

Yes Christ, is another culture itself, but the tension we have been assigned to is to go to our people, and show them what great things God has done for us.As others do with theirs.

Indigenous and alien at the same time.

By Grace, Alone

Pastor Jesse

Lionel Woods said...

What do you think we can do Pastor Lance. I would definitely take those courses. I tried a couple of other sites but they were not well put together. So after a short time, I became bored with them. I actually thought about applying to Westminster Dallas, DTS or Southwest, but once again, I am still tackling my undergrad loans (along with my wifes), raising a son, and paying a mortgage. I came into this seminary thing around 2004 a year or so after I took out a mortgage. Furthermore the time with my family is important to me, but I can get up early in the morning or stay up later after they are sleep and do my coursework.

The degree isn't as important as the training. If I could get a M.Div level education for a fraction of the cost and with a flexible schedule I could care less about a degree. If you know of anything out there let me know. I will be the first student to sign up. I just don't want spend $40K doing it.

Ronjour Locke said...

Maybe you could help me out here. I've been meditating on passages like Gal. 2:1-10, where Paul went to Jerusalem and received the "right hand of fellowship" because they found his gospel to be the same one that they preached. They left with the words, "Remember the poor," which Paul was eager to do. James called such a priority "religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father" (James 1:27).

My question is this: Where does our concern for the ghettos and the lower class connect with the Gospel? We like to attack the social gospel and liberation theology, in favor of reformed theolgy, to which I say wholeheartedly, "Amen!" But how do we go into the cities and remember the poor in a distinctively God-exalting, Gospel-centered way? How does our calling out injustices in our communities connect to our message of justification by faith alone in Christ alone? Is it more than just following the example of Christ and the apostles? Or is there something in the Gospel that produces that passion for justice and mercy for those in need?

Pastor Lance said...

Hey all,

Thanks for checking in.
re: theological ed. This may be the time for me to contact some seminary officials to inquire of the possibility of offering a full M. Div. curriculum via the web, CD or DVD. It would be available to those who desire to gain the knowledge for use in ministry and could be administered through their home church.

I have no issue against those who labor to preserve black culture. Please forgive me for my insensitivity toward those who hold classic black culture in high regard and only wish to see it once more characterize the greater black community. I’m currently working on a series of posts re: the resurrection of black culture.

Re: the mandate to serve the poor, cultivate mercy and do justice. In my view the issue centers in making the proper biblical connections. We proclaim the gospel of grace that brings men and women into a right relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ and empowers all of us to then make it our business and agenda to pursue God’s kingdom of righteousness, justice and peace among those who are poor, oppressed and marginalized.
However, I do believe that it’s a mistake (a huge mistake) to proclaim a social gospel (whether liberal or conservative) as the primary message to any people.
For a more in depth understanding of my position on this please feel free to check out the following sermons:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=11160611223

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=112506124832

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=11706223223

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=12607162958

Rodney said...

Hi Ronjour
Off the top of my head I would say:

1) We should tell our brothers and sister to remember the poor as the apostle told Paul. (Remind, teach, encourage, admonish, and give them opportunities to server the widows, poor, seniors, handicap, etc).

2) We should fine those in the congregation who are passionate about these types of issue. Allow them to run with their passion. They will fine volunteers and they will be contagious. They will tech people by there actions as mention point 1.

3) Most important. Preach the Gospel. Jesus our Lord and Savor commands us to do so.

This may sound simple, but we need to share the whole Gospel story, not just portions. I have heard many sermons on James chapter 1 for example, but when some pastors get to 1:27, they sort of roll pass that part of the passage to the next chapter. I fine it interesting that many do not connect the favoritism, mention in 2 with being doers of the word in chapter 1. Paul said in 1 cor 1:16 that the gospel is the power for salvation. There is power in the Preached word. We must be concern for all there things,
And Amen to Pastor Lance comments

Lesley Hazel said...

Living in Baltimore, MD – a city filled with misguided blacks who lack self-identity, culture-identity and supremely their identity in Christ, I am really trying to figure this whole thing out. “This whole thing” being my role as a Christian woman, a Black Christian woman in spreading the gospel to my people. My neighbor. Strangers – who seem to speak a different language or live in another world other than my own. In searching for more understanding, I came upon your blog, read it, but at the end was all-the-more confused.

Until your last paragraph I did not realize that you were challenging the “Reformed” Black community. You referenced “those who promote a ghettoized theology that concentrates on J and T’s physical/economic needs.” Who are you referencing? Where is their literature? I am seeking clarity on this because I want to understand your words (and perhaps their words too) in proper context.

As I aim to stay abreast to the works of Reformed Black leaders that have a particular interest in the Black community, I have yet to find a connection of their ideologies with prosperity teaching. I have however, learned about ministers, seminary students, organizations, etc. who strive to form a Black theology that focuses on the sovereignty of God throughout challenges (e.g. poverty, illiteracy, disease, etc.) that plague Black communities. This cannot be compared to the teachings of Joel Osteen or the prosperity movement, so this is why I am utterly confused.

Pastor Lance said...

Hey sister leslie. I’m sorry I confused you that certainly wasn’t my intention. Let me do my best to help you with ‘this whole thing’. in my view your role as a black Christian woman is to connect with your community through a local church, seek to build relationships with unbelievers and share the gospel of God’s grace with them. Yes it does seem at times that our own people speak a different language and live in a different world. But the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ hasn’t lost its power. And it is that gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone that you are called to proclaim to those in your community.

I encourage you to become a member of a church (if you haven’t already please check out New Song Community Church(http://www.nsc-church.org/)Forest Park Community Church (http://www.forestparkcc.org/)or Faith Christian Church(http://www.fcfchurch.org/)

and use your God given gifts, talents and abilities to do good in the Name of Jesus, help that church address the needs of that community and then take the opportunities the Spirit gives to declare the gospel to those you serve.

Hope this helps.

Peace
Pastor lance

lesley hazel said...

Pastor Lance,

Thanks for the information. I've been in Baltimore for over 4 years now and became Reformed about 2.5 years ago - so I'm familiar with the PCA churches you listed. I fellowship with New Song Community Church weekly, a church whose mission centers on the Sandtown community - one of the poorest and most highly-crimed areas of Baltimore. This is exactly why I am seeking knowledge from brothers and sisters who (1) have an understanding of Reformed Theology, (2) understand how to apply theology to real life - for themselves and the communities in which they serve and (3) have a desire for a Reformed Black movement.

Your article brings great concern to me as you discuss "a ghettoized theology that concentrates on J and T’s physical/economic needs” by which you compare to prosperity ideologies of Joel Osteen. I am asking you to be more specific on where this theology originated or rather, what Reformed people are forming such a theology?

Pastor Lance said...

Hey leslie,

Please forgive me for not explaining the comparison I made. I wasn’t saying that the form of ghettoized theology I was referring to was equivalent to the prosperity teaching of Osteen and others. Rather that the underlying starting point is much the same. Osteen and others like him begin with the felt needs, issues, challenges etc. of those they wish to impact. They then seek to conform the message of Scripture to address those issues. It can be the same for ghettoized theology or as some have called it the ‘social gospel’. my point is simple: (and you can certainly disagree with it) any theological system that begins with or is based in the issues of a particular people runs the risk of distorting the biblical message of the gospel and molding it to fit the felt needs of that people. One of the biggest dangers in such an approach is that it rarely leads the targeted group deny themselves, take up the cross and follow our Lord daily.

Re: where such a theology originated: my first guess is in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. From there it sprang to Cain and reached a temporary high at the tower of Babel. This was the theology of Aaron and the golden calf and the Pharisees who believed that God’s will was salvation from Rome and not their own sin.

I first began wrestling with it myself about ten to twelve years ago. I had numerous discussions with friends and colleagues who held to reformed theology but wondered at its validity for black people. At one point it was suggested that we begin with the felt needs and pressing challenges of black people and craft a version of liberation theology to meet the needs of our people. There was even a meeting about this that proved very divisive.

In my view there are still voices among the black reformed community that still promote this approach to theology. For example you mentioned learning of ‘ministers, seminary students, organizations, etc. who strive to form a Black theology’ which seems to indicate that you already may have some familiarity with it.

My brother Q-dog at Truth In The Innermost has pointed out the writings of some at reformed blacks of america who also appear to be promoting a black reformed theology.

I hope this clears up where I’m coming from a bit more, but if not please feel free to continue writing back. You can also drop me an email at lance@reformingchurches.org.

lesley hazel said...

Thank you very much for responding Pastor Lance.

I believe that redemption through Jesus Christ reaches through all nations, to all of God's people and for their entire being. I believe that God is concerned with the redemption of our entire lives, (i.e. personal, family, community, church, societal, etc.). So it is difficult for me to understand how you and others do not agree that a theology which communicates God's sovereignty, immanence and will throughout the Black experience (or any other particular group for that matter) is necessary.

You explained your opposition in saying: "it runs the risk of distorting the biblical message of the gospel and molding it to fit the felt needs of that people. One of the biggest dangers in such an approach is that it rarely leads the targeted group deny themselves, take up the cross and follow our Lord daily." The implication here seems to be that since it doesn't usually work out in a biblical way (hence, the prosperity movement), then we shouldn't even bother trying. This really troubles me.

You also said, "This was the theology of Aaron and the golden calf and the Pharisees who believed that God’s will was salvation from Rome and not their own sin." I understand your concern here, but theology is about more than salvation. Sin impacted the entire world hence racism, classism, culture concerns, etc. Are we not to biblically address these issues? Pardon me, but I believe it is sinful for us not to.

Pastor Lance said...

Hey sister Lesley,

Perhaps the issue is in what order and priority. Do we prioritize the temporal felt needs of the black experience and emphasize them? And once we do what happens when those same black folks we’ve served climb from the underclass to the middle class, buy nice homes in the burbs and begin living the American dream? Do we then go back and tell them that God’s purpose for them is to first and foremost to seek His kingdom, delight in His Son, deny themselves and follow Jesus?

Unfortunately we already have living case studies of theologies that prioritize the temporal over the spiritual instead of recognizing the true biblical integration of both. The health and wealth message has spread to our people in both the suburbs and the city. Living in Baltimore I’m sure you’re familiar with Jamal Bryant and Empowerment Temple. His teaching and church has caught on like wildfire and yet I ask you is the core of his message biblical?

Has the health and wealth message impacted our people with a desire for holiness and a delight in God as an end in and of Himself? Has it moved us to pursue mission and justice for others around the world or even in Africa? I know that reformed Black theology doesn’t advocate a message of health and wealth but it does appear to begin with the same underlying assumptions that support it. I question if we can really begin with these assumptions and faithfully carry out our Lord’s command to make disciples of our people?

There’s also the reality that mo money doesn’t equal more godliness. It might be good to pick up a book by Nathan McCall entitled ‘What’s Going On’ and check out the chapter titled ‘Faking the Funk’ The Black Middle Class of PG County. In my opinion Lesley (and I could most definitely be wrong) the view of those who counsel us to embrace Black Theology assumes that the chief challenge and obstacle facing black folks is residual white racism and that as soon as we deal with that and bring the mass of black folks into the middle class our main problems will be solved. I just don’t agree with that. I’ve lived in both the suburbs and the city and still believe that our main problem is our own sin and thus the main solution is salvation through Jesus Christ that leads to a living, worshiping relationship with Him.

Ironically Jesus Himself ministered in a social context where His people were in many ways much worse off with regards to racism, classism and culture (concerning the Roman occupation) than black people are in America today and yet He didn’t appear to direct His teaching at primarily addressing the ugly realities of that occupation. And perhaps therein lies the root of the issue. Yes biblical redemption does reach all people for our entire being but when? What if the message of Christ was that you might live for 70, 80 or 90 years on this earth as an oppressed minority of a subdominant culture and might never enjoy some of the same things as the dominant culture? What if the consequences of that oppression plagued you until the end of your days and your only hope was in the age to come? Would you still follow our Lord even though it wouldn’t mean a change in your temporal circumstances? I believe you would for I think you are a sincere believer and follower of our Lord. However, would that be the message you’d be willing to take into your community?

The Lord's Peace
Pastor Lance

btw please give my greetings to my friend and your pastor brother Thurman Williams.

lesley hazel said...

Brother Lance,

My idea of a Black theology isn't about taking Pookie and Shanequa out of the suburbs and helping them live the American Dream, but is moreso about teaching her and showing her God's presense in her life right there in the hood. Encouraging her to pick up whatever her cross may be and follow Christ, as you stated. Demonstrating in my love to Shanequa who as a result of sin may have 3 babies, no husband, and an absent babies' daddy, that her family is still beautiful, as she and her children are real humans made in the image of God and under God's grace.

I would love some more bible-based reformed theology that could help me do that.

I will check out McCall's book for sure, thanks. He's one of my favorite authors - I loved "Makes me Wanna Holler". Also, I'll definitely tell Pastor Thurman you said hello! Church was awesome yesterday; he began a series on stewardship!

lesley hazel said...

Pastor Lance,

Last night I realized I did not answer all of your questions.....

Regarding "temporal felt needs" (a term that I find confusing), I see people - unbelievers and believers, with real problems, real struggles, real battles, that are battles with themselves, the world, the Devil and/or God - and at the most basic level, the Word of God. My concern is to prioritize the need for Christ's redemption and recreation of His world to reach each corner of every human heart. This is my priority - His redemption - and I pray that it is the priority of the entire Body of Christ. Again, I believe that redemption extends as far as the curse is found. And that redemptive and biblical ideal should be the basis of any theology. God is renewing this entire universe and He's doing it now, through Himself and us as
believers. A sovereign God cannot do otherwise.

You mentioned "Black Theology assumes that the chief challenge and obstacle facing Black folks is residual white racism".

In my knowledge and experience with those promoting a Black Theology, I must disagree. I have not witnessed this claim emphasized.

You asked, "Yes biblical redemption does reach all people for our entire being but when?"

We who are covenantal believe that God is recreating this world, His kingdom, through us. And He's doing it right now. Therefore, God is gradually redeeming every aspect of creation beginning with His Lordship in and through the salvation of our souls.

You asked, “Would you still follow our Lord even though it wouldn't mean a change in your temporal circumstances? I believe you would for I think you are a sincere believer and follower of our Lord. However, would that be the message you'd be willing to take into your community?"

God is renewing all things. Therefore, Scripture speaks to each and every situation in our lives and communities; we must, in discerning ways and through the Holy Spirit, come to an understanding of how we are able to take up and live out this Christian life of duty and service regardless of our circumstance. God's Word still speaks loudly and clearly today. And this is the message I'd be willing to take into my community.

You stated, "Ironically Jesus Himself ministered in a social context where His people were in many ways much worse off with regards to racism, classism and
culture (concerning the Roman occupation) than black people are in America today and yet He didn't appear to direct His teaching at primarily addressing the ugly realities of that occupation."

This analogy is akin to T.D. Jakes’ statement that because the Bible says nothing about AIDS, we shouldn't deal with it – that if the Bible doesn't literally deal with something, then we shouldn't address it. But Jesus addressed themes of hate and love throughout the Gospels. Jesus lived and ministered throughout the Gospels despite a structure of classism. He healed those of "lower class". The life and ministry of Jesus teach us much about racism, classism and culture. If Christ's life and Paul’s concept of adoption don't propel us from a
state of American Christian elitism and idealism toward a humble and contrite heart of service and devotion to the Kingdom of God, then I don't know what will.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Pastor Lance said...

Thanks for your responses Lesley. First of all, I neglected to tell you how much I really appreciate and admire you desire to serve the Lord among the poor and marginalized. I think it’s important that the church of our Lord Jesus stand with those who are too easily thrust aside by our society.

That said I suppose we’ve reached an impasse. I’m just not convinced that we need a separate distinct ethnically based theology to engage our culture and do all the things you wish to do. I am concerned (very concerned) with erecting a Black Theology that in my view can further exaggerate the divisions within the Body of Christ. I never wrote that scripture or biblical theology doesn’t or shouldn’t address the consequences of the fall nor do I believe that the church should ignore these issues. In a previous response to someone else’s questions I listed a few messages I’ve given on this and will gladly mail them to you if you wish.

You began writing by stating how utterly confused you were. Now I’m the one completely befuddled. I wonder why is it that we need to invent a Black Theology in the first place? Will a Black theology tell us things about God that we cannot already discover from scripture now? Will it add insight into the Person and work of Christ that authentic biblical theology has overlooked? Do we need a black theology to tell us of God’s care for the poor and marginalized? Are black people who live in America at the dawn of the 21st century so different from all of the rest of the people groups that live now or have existed in the past that we need a specific, ethnically based theology just for them? If that’s the case do we also need a Hispanic theology and Croatian theology? They’re also real people with real problems but have issues that are distinct from African-Americans who live in the inner cities of America. And if we have a black theology is it a ‘Good Times’ black theology or a ‘Cosby’ show black theology? It seems to me that once we start down the path of creating a theology to address the real needs of each particular people group we’ll have to reinvent our theology for each group and each subgroup within a group as well as each time period a group finds itself in.

When Jesus ministered to the Samaritan women He didn’t come with ‘Samaritan theology’. He offered her the same gift of living water that he offered to the Jews in Jerusalem. When Peter walked into Cornelius’ home he didn’t give him a theology for the Roman elite he simply preached the gospel. When Paul was distressed by the idols of Athens he didn’t run back to Antioch to figure out a theology for sophisticated Greeks. He boldly declared to them the truth about God, His nature, repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Our Lord Jesus didn’t proclaim one gospel or theology for the poor, another one for the rich, one for Jews and a separate one for Greeks nor did His apostles do so.
Jesus declared that He is the good shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. He went on to say to a Jewish crowd that He had other people who weren’t Jewish who would hear His voice, join with His existing flock and have Him as their one shepherd. What did Jesus mean when He said that they would hear His voice? The scripture declares that God calls His people by the preaching of the gospel. [In Him , you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed , you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,] Eph. 1:13.
What gospel is that? It’s the gospel that Paul wasn’t ashamed of. The one that is God’s power of salvation for all who believe. For the Jew first and then the non-Jew. What primary issue does this gospel address and thus why is it vitally important for any and everybody in the hood to know and be aware of ? It addresses our need to have a right relationship with the living God. [For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, " BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."] Rom. 1:16-17.

Why is it important that it address that real need? It’s important because all have sinned. Even those in the hood who’ve been sinned against. They’ve sinned and are therefore disqualified from enjoying the blessings of God’s favor throughout eternity. And while I certainly want to (and encourage the church I serve to) address all the needs of those who live in the poor and under-served areas of our city (if you’d like I can send you a sermon series from Genesis 2 where I preached about this) their chief real need isn’t better healthcare, improved education or access to well paying jobs. Their primary real need is the redemption that comes through faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

Why is that important? It’s important because from God’s point of view (and all of our theology must begin with God’s perspective on our condition not our own and if God cannot accurately, reliable and clearly communicate that perspective to His people then we have much, much bigger problems on our hands) the entire plan of salvation centered on Jesus being specifically and specially designated as the One who would take away God’s fierce, settled, righteous, passionate anger against sin.

Does this apply to just one group of people or to different people groups in different ways? No there is one God who will justify the Jew and non-Jew through faith in Jesus Christ.

In closing thank you for the questions and as I wrote before I’ll gladly continue this dialog via email (lance@reformingchurches.org). however it does seem to be that we are at an impasse. You appear to see a need for a distinct Black reformed theology and I do not.

The Lord’s Peace
Pastor Lance