Thabiti has written a kind-hearted piece about how to deal with the “crazy Confederate uncles” of the extended Reformed family. Having dealt with some of the crazies that are out there, I believe that in some respects Thabiti is being too kind, while in other respects he is not being kind enough. And that is because an additional distinction must be made.
In pressing for this distinction to be made, I will be asking (again) for a question to be addressed, one that was not addressed in my earlier and otherwise fruitful exchange with Thabiti. But for that, you will have to read on.
I would like to work my way to that point by citing the centerpiece of Thabiti’s post, a point I wholeheartedly agree with. I do this because I like agreeing with Thabiti, and because it is actually the hinge of the whole matter. The only thing I would want to do with his point is strengthen it a smidge, and I believe that Thabiti would agree with that strengthening. Here it is:
“So, in this view, one could study systematic, historical or biblical theology and give very little reflection to ethics—what to do with all that theology besides write more theology. Theology became something for the head and occasionally the heart but very seldom the hands—especially if those hands were going to be lifted to help the poor, marginalized, and oppressed.”
I would want to modify this by adding the phrase “including public square ethics” after his phrase “very little reflection to ethics, including public square ethics.” Theology must engage with all of life, and if it does not engage, then to Hell with it because that’s where it is going anyway.
“If the narrative is to be trusted (and for evangelicals, it must be), then the star of Bethlehem identified a particular house in Bethlehem, singling it out from the others, in order that the magi would know what door to knock on. Now Bethlehem was only about six miles away from Jerusalem. Imagine trying to follow a star over to a town that far away from yours, and having it pick out a house for you. Now either the magi were doing some serious astrological math on the back of their camels (in the dark), or a star came down into our sky and stopped over a particular house, which is what the text explicitly says (Mt. 2:9)” (God Rest Ye Merry, p. 39).
“The preacher, of all men, should study the common mind, and seek fully to understand, not only its forms of expression, but, what is still more important, its ways of thinking” (Broadus, Preparation and Delivery, p. 210).
Christianity Today just announced the winners of their 2014 Book Awards. We are very grateful to God for the fact that Nate’s recent book Death By Living won the award in their Spirituality category. Just fun all around. We are grateful to God, knowing that all such things are a gift from Him, and at the same time, we are really proud of Nate, just not in a sinful way. That would be bad.
Since you, upon receipt of this datum, are going to want to rush out and get multiple copies, let me tell you a bit more about your options. You can, of course, buy the book. But this is old school — although it is, however, still done. But Canon also has the book in audiobook format (read by Nate), and you can also download the book if you wish. Those are activities that can be pursued here and here.
Although it is not the same book, it is the same idea — Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl is also in audio form now, read by the author, and can be obtained here or here.
“God’s grace is a tsunami that will carry us all away, and deposit us in places we would not have anticipated — and all of them good. We analyze all this carefully, and say that we want our grace to be genuine water, just like the tsunami, but we want it to be a placid pond on a summer day that we can inch across gingerly, always keeping one pointed to on what we think is the sure bottom of own do-gooding morality” (God Rest Ye Merry, p. 36).
I won’t go into it now, but as a result of a series of odd events, I decided that at some point I needed to read a book by Rick Warren. I had picked up a copy of his Purpose Driven Life at a used bookstore, and despite the fact that California evangelical megachurch land is not my home territory, I decided to venture in.
And, I have to say, I was really surprised at how good it was. This thing has had monster sales in the evangelical world — and here my bigotries come out to play, like a box full of three-week-old puppies let loose in the garage — and as everyone knows, monster book sales in the evangelical world mean that the object that is selling briskly must be a eighteen-wheeled shipment of shinola.
Well, not this book. This book deserves to have sold every copy that sold. And if it was read and did no good, it was simply that the reader wasn’t paying attention, or took a dim view of obedience. Warren begins by laying down the foundation of God-centeredness. On that bedrock, he builds out the five purposes of each person’s life. They are to be worship, ministry, evangelism, fellowship, and discipleship. The book has forty chapters total, each one of manageable size, developing each one of those five categories. Speaking as a pastor, I have to say that I know a lot of Reformed types who think they are past all this when they actually are not, and who would really be edified by what Warren has to say here.
It should go without saying that in reviewing this book, I am not signing off on anything Rick Warren may have said or done elsewhere. I am not as well-versed as I should be on the hate blogs, so I don’t want to praise anything on the index prohibitorum . . .
“Grace is not something we do. Grace is not something we can control. Grace is not something we can manage. And this means that we in the Church, particularly in the sola gratia wing of the Reformed church, need to recognize that curators of grace are frequently the most dangerous enemies of grace. Grace is God’s declared intention for the whole world, whether we like it or not” (God Rest Ye Merry, pp. 35-36).
For a bit of balance on the issues raised on the passing of Nelson Mandela, I would send you here and here.
If you sow the wind, sometimes you reap the whirlwind. Apartheid, a system of injustice established by Reformed Christians, was the wind. A significant part of the whirlwind is that we are beyond the ability even to identify that the whirlwind is upon us.
Although Mandela was a thug and a bad man, he was plainly a shrewd thug. Upon his election to the presidency, he did not go the route of Mugabe to the north and become a permanent fixture. And after he assumed power, his willingness to fore-go immediate and global retaliation on the white population (on the scale that could have happened) was a small mercy. He opted for a slow motion destruction of the country instead.
But my point this morning is a bit different. I want to point out — because it always needs pointing out — that progressives are profoundly racist. They insist on treating the political history of South Africa in terms of skin pigmentation, white and black, instead of looking at the basis of the true divisions — two white tribes, and three major black ones. Whether we are talking about the English or Dutch, Zulu or Xhosa, for the liberal, what color you are trumps everything.