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Archive for the ‘Racism’ Category


I was watching part of In the Heat of the Night today.  No, not the TV show with Carroll O’Conner.  The classic movie with Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger.  I love it when Virgil responds to Gillespie’s denigrating question about his name through nearly clutched teeth, “They call me Mr. Tibbs!”

There is one important scene where Tibbs confronts Mr. Endicott.  He is the rich guy who pretty much runs the town, and was trying to stop the new factory from coming into town.  He viewed himself as a caretaker for the helpless black man.  He realizes they have come to question him about the murder of the Chicago businessman and slaps Virgil in the face.  He promptly strikes him back.

Endicott is shocked that Chief Gillespie does nothing.  Tibbs and Gillespie head to the car.  Gillespie realizes that Tibbs really ought to leave town now.  Tibbs asks for 2 more days to take that fat cat out of his house on the hill.

The light goes on for Gillespie.  “You’re just like we are, ain’t you?”  The light when on for me too, for I hadn’t noticed that exchange before.

Tibbs looked down on white people just as much as white people looked down on him.  This seems to be the big obstacle in the whole discussion of race in America.  We seem reluctant to admit that many blacks look down on whites as much as many whites look down on blacks.  This is what shocked so many people about Rev. Wright’s sermons.  This was not Chris Rock, who we expect to be outrageous.  But here was a pastor, a respected pastor in his community and denomination, speaking to a (mostly) black audience and saying many of the things white people are afraid to hear- many blacks really don’t like or trust us.  And Obama just minimized it.

The obstacles are on BOTH sides of the fence.  And we’ll never make any real progress unless we address this on both sides.  In some ways Rev. Wright’s numerous comments (reality check, it is not an isolated slip of the tongue) deflate my hopes for racial reconciliation.  On the other hands, it reminds me how necessary it us for us to proclaim, believe and live out the gospel.  Sadly Rev. Wright felt content to play the victim rather than address the sins of the people under his care (which seems more the role of a sermon than the sins of those ‘out there’.

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ABC News decided to check into some rumblings about controversial statements made by Rev. Wright in his sermons.  It is easy to see why Barak has such a dismal view of America: Wright is obsessed with what is wrong with America.  Well, selectively.  In talking about how we treat black citizens & the problem of crime, he talks about how we slaughter innocents.  I don’t think he was talking about abortion (and Obama is clearly the most pro-abortion candidate- please don’t use the ‘gospel’ to justify social programs & simultaneously reject the right to life).  It is difficult to listen to Rev. Wright and not think he’s anti-Semitic and beyond bitter to racist.

Senator Obama’s response? 

“In a campaign appearance earlier this month, Sen. Obama said, “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial.” He said Rev. Wright “is like an old uncle who says things I don’t always agree with,” telling a Jewish group that everyone has someone like that in their family. “

Senator Obama needs a reality check if he thinks mainstream America wouldn’t find the views of his now-retired pastor controversial.  This is a church he once said reflects his views (though I don’t think he meant every little jot and tittle) since he did research.  I would say that he probably supports the main agenda items of this church and pastor.  If my pastor was saying crazy stuff like this, I’d be long gone.

Yes, many of us have a crazy uncle.  But if that guy is your pastor, you can’t just brush it off to being eccentric.  As a pastor he is in a position of power and influence.  That isn’t the job for a crazy old uncle.  He was never held accountable for his anti-American rants (including blaming us for 9/11).  Or his blind eye to much of the good America does in Africa as recently discussed by Bob Geldoff in Time.  He’s no apologist for Bush, that’s for sure.  But he’s honest- I’d like Rev. Wright to find another country that has done more to help people in Africa.  Yes, not all of our actions have helped.  Some have hurt, but to focus on only one side of the ledger makes you essentially a propagandist, whether pro or con.

Senator Obama has spent the last 20 years willingly under the spiritual authority of this man.  I think that says something about Senator Obama, and his view of America.  Unfortunately for him, the media has decided to check into him more, and they are uncovering more questions about his associates.  It really has to stink to be the frontrunner.  The spotlight reveals things you wish would remain hidden.

Now we’ll see if it matters.

On a related matter.  If the DNC can’t even run their own party, why should we think they can run the nation?  The debacle over the primaries is laughable.  They put themselves in this corner, and have no one to blame but themselves.  But they come off looking rather foolish and incompetent.  But this is another reason for my sane plan to have all the primaries on the SAME day.  Stop the insanity!

Update: Obama has now ‘denounced’ his pastor’s comments on 9/11.  Only took 6 1/2 years.  Rev. Wright has also been removed from his position on the campaign staff.  There are some interesting comments over at the Institute, including connecting Identity Politics with a search for political (and more) Messiahs.

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The lawsuit against the Knicks is revealing the seedy underbelly of sports and subcultures in an interesting way.  It has, as others have noted, been buried under the Patriots cheating controversy.

But we find that an even bigger double standard exists regarding language used to describe people- at least in the mind of Isiah Thomas.  He explains his sad double standard here.  Where is the outrage that destroyed Imus (trust me, I’m no fan of his)? 

That African-American women should take abuse from African-American men, but not caucasian men, is quite ridiculous.  Where are the feminists???? 

HT: CelticsBlog

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… to care for the widows and orphans.”  So says James 1.  Yes, he also said keeping oneself undefiled from the world.  And those two go together.  Hang with me.

Anthony Bradley has a great post entitled Orphans vs. the American Dream.  He asks some great questions that we need to answer.  One of th wonders of the early church was how they cared for widows and orphans.  They incarnated the gospel by voluntarily taking care of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.  Non-Christians were amazed because it was not just their own widows and orphans, but they took in those discarded by the non-Christians.

So why are their orphans in America?  In part because the Church has been seduced by the American Dream.  We are so focused on getting or maintaining a standard of living that we refuse to open our hearts and homes to these children.  We can be caught up in image management and the fear of man, so we only adopt kids who enhance our families.  Couples can wait for years to adopt a healthy, white baby.  You can adopt a minority or bi-racial baby in less than a year.  But few Christians seem willing to practice Ephesians 2 in their own homes (God adopting Jew & Gentile into His household).

Thankfully this is not true of all American Christians.  There are churches like Bethleham Baptist (where John Piper is the pastor) and Seven Rivers PCA here in Florida that have developed cultures of adoption.  In my Presbytery, at least 6 pastors have adopted children- some more than one.  In the church I currently attend, there are 2 families pursuing adoption thru the foster care system, with another considering the same thing.  My wife and I are adopting from China, and currently considering a boy with special needs.

Adoption is more than a good deed- it is a portrait of the gospel.  And Christians are supposed to be painting lots of them (showing mercy, compassion, grace, truth & justice to a world gone wrong).  This is different than national health care (sorry Michael Moore).  Christianity is not socialism.  Such acts of love are voluntary, motivated by a delight in God that exceeds our delight in material things.  But we lack the faith- the delight in Christ- because we are so focused on the American Dream.  Too many churches are selling that as the Kingdom.  We need to repent.

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A lot has been going in the world.  Here’s a quick take on things important to my ‘tea cup mind’.

Jason Whitlock declares Imus is not the real problem.  Today we remember Jackie Robinson, and the great sacrifices he made that others may have opportunities.  Martin Luther King Jr. as well.  These men did not allow words to destroy them.  People’s words only have the power you give them.  And sadly, many hip-hop ‘artists’ like Snoop Dogg are teaching suburban white kids that black women are worthless ho’s.  And some black women reinforce this by acting like it on rap videos.  No, Imus is not the real problem.  People need to stop listening to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and following the examples of MLK, Jackie, Hank Aaron and Bill Russell.

The Greg Oden story gets stranger.  Sounds like his father is not part of the ‘inner circle’.  I guess his parents are divorced, but I don’t know for a fact.   Mike Conley Sr. says that Greg has not spoken to him and his mother yet.  I don’t know the backstory, but it sure sounds weird to me.  Almost like his former AAU coach is his real father-figure, and Greg Sr. wants to get in on his son’s fame.  Wouldn’t be the first time that happened.  Perhaps this is why Greg doesn’t go by Greg Jr.  I hope this is not a sad story in the making.

Theologian Meredith Kline has passed away.  He was one of the elite Reformed Old Testament scholars.  Like Van Til, he ‘made up words’ to convey his ideas.  His work on covenants (The Structure of Biblical Authority) is foundational, and really helped my understanding of the Old Testament.  His book, Images of the Spirit, is profound.  Sadly these books are now self-published and expensive.  But worth the extra money, particularly in an age of shallow thought.  I read his book on baptism as a water ordeal, By Oath Consigned, when I was still a credo-baptist.  It did not convince me of the infant baptism position, but there certainly was some interesting things there.  He did respond to a letter following up on my reading of the book.

If you’ve been here awhile, you notice a change in the pictures I use for book reviews.  Thanks to Justin Childers, I’ve begun using the bookstore at Westminster.  They will ship your order for a flat rate of $5 in the continental US.  Though their selection is not as good as Amazon, their prices are better whenever I have compared, including my latest order of books by Powlison, Tripp, Lane and Mack.  So, I’ve included links on each title to get you to the WTS Bookstore.  I have an incentive, they provide gift certificates for every 50 referrals from the blog.  So, if you want to know more about a book and see their great prices…

Today was one of ‘those’ days.  I had a migraine all night, and didn’t sleep well.  Medication took the edge off, but I was still suffering this morning.  I thought my sermon completely stunk.  I had to remind myself, like Tim Keller, that man is not justified by preaching.  But the sermon really connected with the congregation (The Passions of Christian Prayer).  It was probably important as we go through a time of uncertainty about our future as a congregation.  I’ll post some thoughts on ‘why churches die’ soon.  I’ve been asked this, and I’ll say that Isaiah was not the problem (second half of Isaiah 6).  It is difficult to pastor a dying congregation.  Obviously no pastor is perfect, especially me.  But I’ve tried to faithfully present the Word and love the people.  There is more going on than meets the eye, and pastors receive too much credit for ‘success’ and blame for ‘failure’.  I trust that God is accomplishing His purposes, for His glory.  That, and that His mercies are new every morning because of Jesus, are all I can hang my Red Sox cap on.  Whew, sorry ’bout that.  Long day.

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In his important work, Cur Deus Homo (Why the God-Man), Anselm corrects Boso, “You have not as yet estimated the great burden of sin.”  Many misunderstand the atonement as a result.

In a similar way, many misunderstand sanctification because they have not yet estimated the great burden of sin.  This is Ryle’s starting point as he addresses the false theologies of santification of his own day.  “Wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption.”

It is helpful to think about the penalty, power and presence of sin.  The substitutionary death removed the penalty of sin for those who (will) believe.  Jesus endured the wrath of God’s just punishment on our behalf (which Anselm argues for in his book).  We will not be free from the presence of sin until our glorification.  When we either die or Jesus returns, all who believe will be perfected in holiness, perfectly conformed to the likeness of Christ.

Those who believe live between those times.  Sanctification is the gracious process by which we are progressively freed from the power of sin and enabled to increasingly obey God.  Grace works in both directions: saying “no” to disobedience and saying “yes” to obedience.   Sadly, some underestimate the power of sin in the life of a believer and think we can become perfect in this life either thru a second blessing (Wesley, Hannah Whitall Smith etc.) or changing our bad habits (essentially the view of Neil Anderson who denies the power of indwelling sin).

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Perhaps it is because I’m preaching on the part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus tells us to love our enemies, but…

There is a problem I’ve become aware of in the last 6-8 months.  I didn’t want to blog on it because I didn’t want to draw the ire of those who are convinced I have the problem.  But, I’ve seen this issue on more blogs, but I’ll take a shot at this because I want to stand up for my brothers (out of love) and gently rebuke those who would consider me an enemy.

Confused yet?  I am alarmed by an ideology that I consider a parasite on Reformed Theology: Kinism.  Kinism has little/nothing to do with Reformed Theology, but most kinists would claim to be Reformed and utilize Southern (antebellum) Presbyterian theologians fused with theonomy to come to some very peculiar interpretations of the Scriptures that seek to justify their racism- though they claim not to be racists.  As a result, they drag other Reformed Christians under suspicion.

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I posted last week on William Wilberforce and my research on the abolitionist movement for a SS class.  I briefly touched on the continuing problems African-American and white evangelicals experience in working together (and this extends beyond the church).  Witness this quote from Anthony Bradley’s blog:

“As one who has been engaging a mostly white evangelical community for a couple of years now (3 to be precise) I am getting tired. I find myself psychologically and spiritually drained. I find myself battling unconscious racial habits, aesthetics, and narratives all the time. This stuff wears you down. I am almost at a point where I feel the desire to retreat back into a non-white Christian world. Some days I feel burnt-out with the effort.” – Post-Modern Negro

Sitting as a visitor in a Presbytery meeting on Saturday, I read an excerpt from Edward Gilbreath’s book, Reconciliation Blues found in the February 2006 issue of Christianity Today. I recommend it to people in an attempt to understand the inner workings of our African-American brothers.  We white guys are often weary of hearing about racism.  Indulge me for a second.  One of our young African-American neighbors popped by the other day.  We had not seen him in awhile.  He is not a Christian, so we don’t have that bond (but he’s certainly heard about Jesus from both of us).  It was near dinner time so we practiced gospel-hospitality and invited him to join us.  When we went to pray, my daughter seemed reluctant to hold his hand.  His comment was that it was a racial thing.  Well, my daughter has happily played with some African-American-Bermudian friends.  It was just that she didn’t know him, I’m guessing.

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Today I was working on my church history after the Reformation curriculum for Sunday School.  I was up to what I am calling the Stain of Slavery & the Church.  I talked about the “rationale” for slavery of blacks (and Indians).  I felt it necessary to devote some time to William Wilberforce.  He was the primary face of the abolitionist movement in England, driven by his faith.  Apart from his long labors, who knows what might have happened here.

I’m excited to see that Amazing Grace, a movie about his life, will be released this month.  If you want to quickly brush up on who he was, try John Piper’s The Roots of Endurance from the Swans are Not Silent series.  You will get a good picture of the man, and how his faith made more than an activist, but a family man and church man.  This short treatment of Wilberforce is expanded upon in Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce by John Piper and Jonathan Aitken which has just been released in anticipation of the movie’s release.  God changed a lazy socialite into a persevering advocate for the oppressed for His glory and their enjoyment.

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