Well it’s been about three months since I’ve written a blog so I thought this would be a good time to give some updates and random thoughts.
Since my last blog on February 6th on the BLM movement, my wife gave birth to our second daughter. Since this occurred during the middle of an academic semester, I decided that it was best to take a step away from blogging on my personal account. In the meantime, I created a Twitter account so that I can keep in touch with some fellow believers. I’ve also spent some time over the past few months blogging over at the CredoCovenant blog. I’ve written a couple of blog series over there for those who are interested:
Also my wife has written a blog series at the CredoCovenant blog on complementarianism (a term that is becoming more and more difficult to define these days).
Finally, because of our mutual interest concerning the interaction of Christian culture, Billy Leonhart (the moderator of the CredoCovenant blog) and I have partnered together to write a series on blogs on a Reformed Baptist perspective on public theology, which you can find here.
It seems like every 5-6 months a Presbyterian minister seems to be confused on what a Reformed Baptist is. The most recent came from Mortification of Spin, in which Tom Chantry responded, to which Todd Pruitt responded, to which Tom Chantry responded again. I shouldn’t be surprised how often this happens, but I’m still shocked and confused that this still happens. I’m not sure why this is so confusing to many Presbyterians, but historically, it reminds me of how 17th century Presbyterians confused Particular Baptists with the continental Anabaptists or the general Baptists or (even worst) the Socianians!
I wonder how our Reformed Presbyterian brothers would feel if we just lumped all Presbyterians together and confused their differences. After all, many people call themselves Presbyterians and there are just so many different types of Presbyterian denominations (PCA, PCUSA, RPCNA, ARP, EPC, OPC, etc.) It’s just so confusing to learn all of their differences so how could I (as a layperson) ever take the time to learn them? I mean Carl Trueman, Peter Leithart, and Donald Trump all call themselves Presbyterians; how could I ever hope to distinguish their differences? Maybe I should speak in broad generalities when the subject is so complicated as the Presbyterian family tree. Hopefully, the sarcasm is clear.
It is very sad to observe brilliant Black scholars (or scholars from other ethnic groups) with high-quality published academic research being relegated to only talk about matters of race and ethnicity when they are interviewed by the general public (one example of this is Walter Williams). However, nothing is more deplorable than when brilliant scholars choose to exploit their minority status for public celebrity and attention by only talking about race and ethnicity (one example of this is Michael Eric Dyson). This is something that I have observed in secular academia, but I’m starting to notice this trend in Reformed circles.
While it is true that there is a resurgence of Reformed theology within the African-American Christian community, there are still a variety of heresies and heterodox teachings that occur with this community (e.g. Black Hebrew Israelites, Word of Faith theology, Pentecostalism, etc.) and a number of attacks upon the faith from those outside this community (e.g. Islam, Nation of Islam, African spirituality, etc.). Instead of providing strong, Biblical argumentation against these claims from the vantage point of the African-American experience (in an effort to fill this void which is usually not discussed in detail among contemporary Reformed scholarship), many of the brilliant African-American Reformed scholars have chosen to simply ignore these issues (in literature) and to spend their blog time writing about the sins of racism within historic Reformed denominations. This is my growing concern with the contributors who write for Reformed African-American Network who have spent many articles supplying theological justification for social justice and BLM support.
In having discussions with Reformed brothers regarding race and ethnicity, I’ve noticed a lot of confusion, double standards, and conflation. For instance, it’s apparently a sign of cultural ignorance to call someone “African” since Africa is a continent, but it seems to be perfectly fine to call a person “white” regardless of where their heritage is from. Likewise, it’s apparently fine to imply that the majority culture (or “all white” people) thinks alike, but with anyone of African descent, we must never assume a monolithic train of thought. Finally, it is one thing to defend the legitimacy of long-standing African-American traditions and customs; it’s another thing to be, as one friend calls it, a “hood sympathizer”.
I’ve recently observed how parachurch organized have adopted pop sociology (or unsubstantiated sociology) to drive mission efforts within the states. For example, there has been much written on the need to plant more gospel-centered churches within urban areas due to the changing demographics of the 21st century. In these church planting efforts, what has happened to rural church planting? More specifically, are evangelical mission trends showing favoritism towards the urban poor? What are the consequences of focusing our mission efforts overwhelmingly within urban areas? Are we going to see the same social pathologies in rural areas that we are accustomed to seeing in inner cities? Furthermore, are the evangelical mission trends gentrifying the very neighbors that they are attempting to preach to?
Within the past couple of months, my twitter feed has been filled with prominent evangelical ministers who are shocked at the rise of Donald Trump. I’ve observed that the people who are most surprised in the rise of Donald Trump are those who probably don’t live or interact with blue-collar workers in general. Likewise, I’ve also heard from others that America is in no worse of a moral position now than during the Jim Crow era. At this point, it’s important to note that there is a difference between a nation not living up to its ideals and principles (e.g. slave trade and Jim Crow laws) and a nation abandoning its ideals and principle. The former is remediable while the latter is usually irreversible.