“Why Aren’t More Blacks Interested In Reformed Theology?”

 

That’s a question I get from a lot of “non-blacks” when I mention that I’m studying reformed theology. Martin Luther (the man pictured above) essentially lit the match of the Protestant Reformation Movement when he penned his “95 Theses” and shined the light of truth on the wicked Roman Catholic Church. I became interested in reformed theology when I fled my former plantation (and my pimp) and returned to the Word of God instead of the heresies I held dear in my past.

Since I don’t speak for my entire race (a notion I’ve had to argue against many times in my professional career, particularly since I’m usually the only black man in my company), I can only speculate that they don’t find it as riveting as the traditional black church – the mega church, specifically. As I’ve said on many occassions, expository preaching isn’t as glamorous as the motivational speeches and “sing/talk” sermons that you hear in churches across the country (no matter the race), but it is the sorely-needed foundational method of properly exegeting the Word of God to keep the focus on God through Jesus Christ and OFF of self-centered man.

One of the people on the front-line in exposing more blacks to reformed theology is Anthony Carter. Carter is an assistant speaking elder at Southwest Christian Fellowship Church in Atlanta (a reformed assembly I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a few times recently),  – where Robert Benson is the speaking elder. From what I’ve seen and heard during my few visits to SWCF, the assembly is built on firm biblical doctrine, and the speaking elders preach expositorily with no shame.

Carter is also the author of 2 books: “On Being Black And Reformed” and his newest work “Experiencing The Truth: Bringing The Reformation to the African-American Church” (two books that have been added to my ever growing “must read” list). Carter was recently interviewed by By Faith Magazine about his newest book and he answered the question posed in the title of this post succinctly:

Bringing the Reformation to the African-American Church: An Interview With Anthony Carter

Q. Why are African-Americans attracted to mega-churches preaching the prosperity gospel?

A. That type of preaching is experiential—it has a very practical element to it, and it draws upon the experiences of both the preacher and the congregant. This message tells them that they can have what they desire, what they see around them. Many are socially and economically outcast, and this teaching allows them to rejoin the economic stream. It says, This is what God wants you to have. And that’s very appealing. African-Americans have a high view of church, the preacher, Scriptures. When you couple that with the prosperity message, it’s very appealing.

Click the title to read the article in it’s entirety. I also encourage you to take a closer look at reformed theology – and it’s adherence to the infallible Word of God and not the “get rich” schemes and “live your best life now” fallacies of modern “theology”.

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46 Responses to ““Why Aren’t More Blacks Interested In Reformed Theology?””


  1. 1 Douglas K. Adu-Boahen July 18, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    While I can’t speak for the African-American situation in particular, I can speak for my people, the Africans, and why, on the whole, we don’t care for Reformation theology.

    For one thing, it takes work. I remember last summer getting up at 7 am, burying my head in the text until around 2 pm, then going to look up books. To those who knew me, it seemed like an monumental waste of time, even though I was studying the Bible.

    Another thing, which Pastor Carter brings out in the interview, is that it isn’t the style of worship and preaching we’re used to. I can still remember setting foot inside Spurgeon’s Tabernacle and noting the difference immediately. I recently watched a TV show where a woman said (and I’m paraphrasing – it was a long distribe), “I don’t care what they say, quite frankly white folks can’t worship!” Now with an atttitude like that, Reformed theology, with its plethora of predominantly white thinkers spesking to a white context, doesn’t should appealing when you can be in a church with whoop sermons and shout music.

    Two books I’d recommend on this are The Decline of African-Americam Theology and The Faithful Preacher, both by Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman.

  2. 2 speaking truth July 18, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Great insight Doug. I also appreciate the article you wrote on the topic as well…

  3. 3 gcmwatch July 18, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    I am! I am!

    I am trying to merge the best of my pentecostal passion with the soundness of reformed theology. Would that make me a reformed pentecostal? I have to admit I have a ways to go, but thanks to you IST and others the bridge is not so long.

  4. 4 EnochWalked July 18, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    I believe we as black church folks put too much emphasis on being “spiritual/spirit-filled/anointed/the anointing” versus being “scriptural/good bereans/study to show thyself approved/rightly dividing the word of truth”. I heard a minister friend say to me, if you get more scriptural you will become spiritual, too many people do it backwards. Just my take, great post!

  5. 5 speaking truth July 18, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    gcmwatch – I hear you pastor. I consider myself “non-denominational reformed/reformed baptist/reformed”. I was just so taken by it once I cleared my head from all of the WOF junk I used to swim in. And it’s so simple that you could really miss it, yet it is the literal foundation of the faith that we all hold so dear. It’s ok to be spirited in your reverenced worship (just don’t get all Ricky Dillard or the reformers will run you out of town on a rail 😆 ).

    Also, Enochwalked and gcmwatch, when you remove the title of “reformed”, you really already have what ANY true Christian (no matter their color) should want anyway – a non-negotiable allegiance to God through Jesus Christ. Also, I was thinking of an older Fred Hammond song that you might be able to sneak into a reformed “praise and worship” service gcmwatch:

    Our God is high and lifted up and you should know
    That’s just the way it is – that’s just the way it is!

    How’s that for God-centered, reverent worship? 😆

  6. 6 djenk23 July 18, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Im working through my issues with Reformed Theology…but I recognize that it is Bibically sound…my wife and i were talking the other day about churches we would direct our friends to if they accepted Christ…I told her that I would send them to Reformed congregations because I believe that they would get the Word there…which is funny because we still belong to a COGIC church,lol

  7. 7 speaking truth July 18, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    COGIC djenk23? And still embracing the basics of reformed theology? That is both funny AND ironic.

    If Blake ever heard that, he’ll have the old church mothers over at your house faster than you could say Sola Fide

  8. 8 djenk23 July 18, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    lol…what is Bishop Blake going to tell me?…He’s one of the speakers at the Fred Price’s “ordination” and he counts Robert “power of positive thinking” Schuller as a mentor,lol…i thank God that ive been exposed to Reformed theology, the 5 solas, church history, etc…i’ve been passing along this information to the congregation during bible study…there are people who are genuinely interested in it and others not so much,lol…

  9. 9 Job July 18, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    Personally, I think that the reasons are historical. The denominations that tended more towards Reformed and Calvinist doctrines: Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, etc. were also the most segregated. Case in point: Bob Jones University did not even admit blacks until well into the 1970s, refusing to do so even after the federal courts made Clemson University – also in South Carolina – desegregate AND withdrew federal financial aid from its students. (Yes, getting federal funds going back to BJU was one of the early battles of the religious right, which back then included not only Republicans, but Democrats like Al Gore.) Yes, BJU did produce A TON of pastors and and leaders of Reformed churches and denominations.

    The Arminian churches, meanwhile, were far more open to integration, especially in the north. Even the ones in the south that supported segregation did things like allow blacks to worship with whites so long as we sat in our own sections, and more importantly started black “auxiliary” organizations that they gave significant support to: financial, blessings, and otherwise. Some of them even gave blacks money to start their own churches, and further still when these blacks split off to form their own denominations continued to work with and support them.

    But I guess that I should say that the biggest single historical reason was the critical decision of Richard Allen. Allen studied the various Christian traditions, and decided that WESLEYAN METHODISM best fit the need of blacks subjected to the mental and cultural brutality of slavery. From what I have read about that decision – and it is not exhaustive – Allen did not make it for doctrinal or theological reasons, but rather he felt that it was the best way to take a person with the slave mentality and teach him personal and cultural responsibility, and also to learn how to run institutions (the latter was why Allen chose the Episcopal denominational governance model … basically Arminian doctrine and ritualist/legalist Wesleyan piety combined with the Anglican’s “Roman Catholic lite” form of governance). Had Allen chose to create a Reformed or Calvinist church based on the loosely – affiliated congregational model as opposed to a free will hierarchical denomination, the religious landscape of black America would have been totally different. As a matter of fact, American history would have been completely different.

  10. 10 speaking truth July 19, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Very good historical perspective Job – and it’s about time you made it over here to leave a comment 🙂

  11. 11 Douglas K. Adu-Boahen July 19, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Sorry to be off-topic, but I’ve given you An Award in Excellence down on my blog. You can read all about here: http://blackreformingkid.wordpress.com/2008/07/19/thank-you-alland-some-awards/

    Be sure to pass by and pick it up!

  12. 12 speaking truth July 19, 2008 at 9:14 am

    You’ve earned the right to jump off topic if you need to around here Doug – particularly when you’re handing out goodies 😀

    Thank you for recognizing God’s work on this little corner of cyberspace. Glory to God alone!

    May God continue to strenghthen you for His service over there “across the pond” as well!

  13. 13 young1lookin4thetruth July 19, 2008 at 10:21 am

    It’s like I’m embracing reformed theology but like some have stated, the music and all is totally different. We as black people have to get out of our minds that whole worship experience where it’s all about did I get my shout in, did I fall out on the floor, etc. etc. Since I’m just starting out, I’m still doing a whole lot of studying and pointing out things that are wrong at my church (comparing what’s going on there to the things I have read and studied). In doing all of that, I don’t have time to be worried with songs that glorify me and the things God can do for me instead of what I can do for him. Continue to pray for me y’all because it’s hard sitting in service and not being able to agree any more with what the preacher says to say Amen to and what they tell us to tell our neighbors. And it’s even harder to go home having my parents think I’ve gone off the deep end….

    Douglas, I read your blog and I know exactly how you feel about your parents and gcmwatch, I’m in the same boat 🙂

  14. 14 Caught Thinking July 19, 2008 at 10:51 am

    When you start studying and asking question people do look at you as a trouble maker.

    I think we have become a lazy church. Many of us don’t even ask questions, don’t do any more than read the bible if that. You may be amazed how many colored folk don’t even know who Luther is.

    Ask “what do you think about Calvinism and you get blank looks!” I think it’s left over from the time when our people couldn’t study and the preacher only had to be able to read or have a reader.

    Man, I find myself so frustrated because of this. Preachers can say peanut butter and jelly and folk go to shouting. True enough the people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. It pains me…

    Congratulations on your award! You deserve it.

  15. 15 gcmwatch July 19, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Now see, IST you wrong for tying me to RD. 🙂
    Be it far from me…. lol

  16. 16 gcmwatch July 19, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    caughtthinking, youre right, being a real berean in practice and spirit is to be labeled a troublemaker in today’s church.

    Ignorance is bliss, is destruction…is just plain crazy.

  17. 17 speaking truth July 19, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    young1lookin4thetruth – one of the biggest fallacies in the “pentecostal charismatic” movement is that they’ve cornered the market on “praising God”. I too came from a background where the “praise” determined the level of “anointing” that “flowed” during the service. Conversely, there was no bible teaching, and you came off of your “high” with withdrawal symptons – waiting for the next “fix”.

    I’m learning to appreciate reverent praise and worship – especially since the focus is on God (and the actual words of songs) instead of the vocalist and choirs who are tripping all over themselves to impress us with their vocal gymnastics. When you really take a moment to listen to the words of “Amazing Grace”, you’ll really appreciate God’s sovereign love for us all. Just like I told djenk23 (and I had to come to this realization myself) – reformed theology is historical Christian theology. If you believe in the bible, then you’re a reformer 😀

    You’re right Caught Thinking – we are some lazy folks when it comes to our “relationship” with God (or our relationship with our pimp because he speaks to God on our behalf and vice versa). I remember when I was still at my old plantation. My former pimp actually mentioned Martin Luther once (BREIFLY in passing when he explained that we were all Prostestants because we weren’t RCC…I know, he had to break it down to 101). He got through to the end of the “sermon” before folks realized that he WASN’T talking about MLK!

    I pray that you and Pastor Foster over at gcmwatch remain the kinds of pastors that I wished I had…teachers who don’t compromise the truth.

    Oh, and thanks for the thanks – the only award I deserve is eternal hellfire apart from the Blood of Jesus, so anything else is gravy…and God STILL get’s all of the glory!

  18. 18 Romans 11:33-36 July 20, 2008 at 4:45 am

    While I am a white boy from Dallas, Texas I do love any brothers in Christ. However I do feel that, at lest in Texas, there is a resurgence of reformed theology amoung the black community. Some of my favorite musicians are black rappers, 116 Clique which includes Trip Lee, Lecrea and Shai Linne. These guys have some of the most theologically literate lryics I have ever heard. They are great and I recommend them to everybody.

    Soli Deo Gloria

  19. 19 speaking truth July 20, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Thanks for stopping by Romans 11:33-36 and weighing in on the conversation. I didn’t know that there was a reformed resurgence in the black community in the Bid “D”. Maybe this movement will blunt the trauma of the false teachings of TD Jakes and other hucksters in the Metroplex 😀

    I’ve never listed to the reformed Christian rappers, but my brothers Alan and Doug from the UK seem to really enjoy their music (Doug is another 17 year old reformer).

    I gotta commend you for such a committment to Christ at such a young age. Keep up the fight, young brother!

    BTW – great blog you’ve got over there

  20. 20 Douglas K. Adu-Boahen July 20, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    I was thinking about this post earlier on, and something else came to mind. Pentecostal theology, from its inception, is rooted in Wesleyan-Arminian thought. Charles F. Parham, credited with being the theological father of Pentecostalism, was a Methodist preacher. William J. Seymour was a Methodist preacher as well.

    If you go to any consistent, traditional Pentecostal church today, you will find basically a continuationist form of Methodism. The doctrine of entire sanctification, a staple of Pentecostal doctine is essentially a classic Methodist teaching. The rigid legalism dates back to the teaching of the Methodist fathers regarding holiness. Even the methods of evangelism used date back to the old Methodist tent revivals, as well as the idiot Charles Finney.

    Now when the root is so inherently poisoned against Calvinism and Reformed theology, should it be any surprised that our people are not interested?…

  21. 21 ready4change July 21, 2008 at 2:41 am

    ST,

    I could talk all day and night about this subject, but I won’t do that, because so many on this blog and others have written and posted extensively on the subject. I will, however, touch on some things, because this topic happens to be near and dear to my heart. I’ll just hit some specifics of the overall statemtents made, give some links for further study and then humbly offer my view on this. My prayer is that love for true, biblical reformed theology will spread like wildfire!!!

    Doug,

    Great mention of Thabiti’s work as a resource. He gives great clarity to the subject, and has served as a godly example in the Black Reformed community. In addition to his books, he has preached at T4G on the issue of race in the kingdom, and also has a discussion available on the subject that may prove helpful.

    http://t4g.org/#

    [audio src="http://www.sbts.edu/MP3/totl/2008/AMP_01_21_2008.mp3" /]

    Pastor Foster and djenk23,

    Let me first say that I admire the both of you for accepting the call to “reform from within”. I did not choose that route for my family and I, as we left our previous church to partner with a sound, biblical reformed assembly. What I’ve found interesting is that there is much to be “reformed” within “reformed” circles as well(particularly in regards to race relations, cultural understanding and certain areas of evangelism). Besides our reformed brethren of darker hue (Anyabwile, Carter, Redmond, etc.,) some of the more prominent reformed speakers, pastors and authors have aggressively pursued the call of diversity as well (Piper, Mahaney, Dever, Eliff, etc.,). Regarding the style of preaching, I sincerely believe that it is possible to preach with passion and maintain a great deal of biblical content and gospel truth. For a collection of some exuberant black reformed preachers exegeting the scriptures, check out these links. One is the Council for Reforming Churches, which features not only media resources, but has very helpful articles and informs its readers of upcoming conferences that speak to the very issues we are discussing on this post.

    http://www.reformingchurches.org/

    The other site highlights one of my personal favorites, Ken Jones of Greater Union Baptist Church in—yep, I bet you would have never guessed it—Compton California!!! (Who said God couldn’t reform the hood’!!! LOL!!!)

    http://gubc.tripod.com/

    Now, you won’t hear the whooping and quartet-like chant and response, but you will hear much exuberance and plenty of scriptural focus…

    (BTW Pastor F, I currently answer to the handle of “Reformed Charismatic” if that makes any sense!!! 🙂 )

    Last but certainly not least, I probably should express a bit (just a bit) about my view of the integration with reformed congregations that don’t look like us. Let me first say that it is my humble belief and persuasion that a high view of scripture, sound doctrine and expository biblical teaching within a fellowship always trumps race and familiar, comfortable worship styles. On the flip side of that, I will also say that I believe one of the reasons God has me in a predominately caucasian (there are some other black families) fellowship is to aid in their diversification as well. Instead of taking the attitude that it is so different from my culture, I’ve looked at it in a sense that it has added to the unique experiences, rich cultural tradition, fiery passion, desire for truth and great zeal that I share with many other black men. You would also be surprised to know how many white pastors desire to interact with different ethnicities but simply don’t know how. Many times their negligence is not so much attributed to a lack of concern, but rather a deficit of knowledge as it relates to contextualizing the gospel for those within the Black community. Brethren, who better to humbly, biblically and patiently alert them of the urgency to reach our people and educate them on the particulars than us??? Certainly I attribute no glory for myself in this matter, and I will gladly recieve correction with joy from any of you if it is detected in the tone and tenor of this post. But my belief is that as a part of Christ’s body and His divinely designed and uniquely constructed church, I have something to add to the mix, and this is precisely the reason why I believe God has so sovereignly placed us in our current assembly. I have plenty more to say on that, but I’ll stop here so as not to belabor the point. My brothers Lionel and Tyris over at blackandreformedministries.com have written extensively on this subject.

    http://blackandreformedministries.com/2007/11/27/the-black-and-reformed-christian%e2%80%99s-dilemma/

    http://blackandreformedministries.com/2008/01/30/integration-or-separation/

    http://blackandreformedministries.com/2008/01/28/diverstiy-part-2-a-challenge-to-blacks-or-african-americans-if-you-prefer/

    http://blackandreformedministries.com/2008/05/29/multi-cultural-glory-in-the-church-should-we-have-black-churches-and-white-churches-or-cowboy-churches/

    http://blackandreformedministries.com/2008/01/25/so-you-want-a-diverse-church-be-a-catalyst-then/

    Much can be learned from RBA’s website as well:

    http://www.reformedblacksofamerica.org/index.php

    Some tidbits…

    Job, I enjoyed your remarks. Much of what you said was dealt with in Pastor Carter’s book (On Being Black and Reformed) and is certainly food for thought as we seek to become theologically grounded in grace and truth…

    P.S. ST, do you mind if I make an appeal and throw in my idea of some Christ centered lyrics from Fred Hammond into the fray that would make good worship music in a reformed gathering???

    He lives
    He lives
    Christ is risen just like He said
    The Lord and Savior’s no longer dead
    Rejoice and celebrate
    He lives, He lives Jesus is alive!!!!

    4give the long post,

    Solus Christus,

    R4C

  22. 22 Brian Foulks July 21, 2008 at 8:08 am

    I believe that this article summs up the reason for the resistance of reform theology.

    http://www.professionalserve.com/doublespeak/diapraxC.htm

    It is very intense and descriptive look at the diaprax as it has been called. I have only been reformed black for about a year and i can honestly say that it is a constant place of growth. Living in the South does not help the cause at all if you ask me. You have triumphantalism at its fines here and pastors who have cared the flock into submission or hell.

  23. 23 speaking truth July 21, 2008 at 9:51 am

    RFC – man, I thought you were kidnapped! Welcome back to the discussion, bruh. I certainly don’t mind if/when you “expound on your thoughts”, particularly because you bring up good points. EXCELLENT resources above, thanks for sharing them with everyone. You’re right, there are some passionate black reformed preachers here in the ATL. Another assembly I’ve had the pleasure of visiting is All Saints Redeemer Church in Decatur. Our brother Keith over at the blog In Submission To Sovereignty worships there, and Michael Leach (the speaking elder and a theologian at a reformed bible school here) stands on a sound biblical foundation AND speaks/preaches from the heart. In fact, there is a Reformers Convention here this weekend (that I will unfortunately miss).

    Regarding music and reformed theology, that requires some debunking as well. I was talking with my wife yesterday about how the words in most gospel/contemporary Christian songs are reverent…it’s the delivery of those lyrics that can creep over into man worship. In fact, I’m working on a post using the lyrics of a song by Men of Standard. We’ve got to get folks to see that it’s not about quietly singing hymns to glorify God…

    Anywway, great stuff as usual, bruh.

    GO SOX!!! 😆

  24. 24 speaking truth July 21, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Brian – thanks so much for stopping by, and providing the link to that thesis. I’ve started pouring over it.

    You’re right – being black and reformed in the South is tough, which is why you get such a huge response when you find another black reformer (it’s almost like a culture within the culture). But, as I said, reformed theology is simply historically Christian theology, so I pray that all of us embrace it in some way.

    BTW – I visited your site, and I pray that God continue to grant you grace as you launch out in His name.

  25. 25 Brian Foulks July 21, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Well if you now any in South Carolina tell them to hit me up.

  26. 26 rascoe1 July 21, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Very, very interesring. I have nothing to add, but have learnt a lot. Thanks brothers.

  27. 27 joyfulfreedom1 July 22, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Actually John Piper has an article on his website, in the library articles sections.

    How to Teach and Preach “Calvinism” I believe it deserves a look if you ain’t seen it. If you’re black baptist or COGIC, I guarantee if you “hoop” it, they will come around. Now that’s just my opinion. A little levity on the situation yall.

  28. 28 speaking truth July 23, 2008 at 12:16 am

    If you’re black baptist or COGIC, I guarantee if you “hoop” it, they will come around.

    Thank goodness you mentioned that you were kidding joyfulfreedom1 🙂 – especially since the point of the post was to steer people away from “hooping” and towards sound (even passionate) expository preaching.

    Maybe you do have a point – if we can learn to “hoop” sound biblical theology (sort of like hiding the dog’s pill in a spoonfulof peanut butter), then maybe we could pack the reformed assemblies as well 😆

  29. 29 Brian Foulks July 23, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    It is mad funny(actually sad) how people believe that you didn’t preach unless 43% of the congregation stood up during the last five minutes of the sermon.

    This is the myth that is promulgated through many of out churches.

  30. 30 joyfulfreedom1 July 23, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    We need more myth busters brother Brian. If we can continue to expose our people to others in the “black and reformed community” by way of books, conferences, inviting those speakers to churches, it would help. If we are not the senior pastor, try to get him over and expose him to some of the expositors out there, and trust in God’s sovereignty to do the rest.

    But it might take speaking our people’s language, until with the help of the Holy Spirit, get our people to see the light.

    I’m willing to believe that there’s a good number of folk, that realize that feeding the heart (emotion as inspiration) is leaving them hungry for more, their minds need to be fed so to speak.

    I was defintely joking about “hooping”, but we need to reach our people like Speaking Truth said, by putting that pill in the peanut butter.

  31. 31 naturalsystah September 4, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Wow I can’t believe I just found this post! I agree with so much here, and thank you all for sharing truth on the Internet – it has been the vehicle God has used for my husband and I to leave pentecostalism. I have a very rudimentary understanding on the doctrines of grace.

    To add to what Douglas has said, with regard to the UK:

    1. In my experience most churches – at least in my corner of London – are pentecostal/charismatic (of varying ethnicities), Anglican, RC, Methodist… the only reformed church I had ever heard of was the United Reformed Church denomination which seems rather ecumenical. May of the mainline denominations, especially the Church of England, are rightly perceived to be lacking in Biblical integrity…in all my years growing up in the C of E I never saw anyone crack a Bible in the Sunday liturgy.

    2. As a black woman of African-Caribbean descent, I’d say that historically the situation here is as Job so eloquently described… many people emigrated from Jamaica for example, from mainline denominations only to be told in no uncertain terms that they were not welcome here, so the “black majority churches” were born, the largest denominations being pentecostal (New Testament Church of God and Church of God of Prophecy).

    Every day I realise that I have so much to learn… I do feel a burden to let my pentecostal brothers and sisters know the precious truths that I am finding. It’s like, now that I know about the doctrines of grace, I cannot let them remain in the dark!

    Thanks for letting me drone on… but once again ST and all of you who’ve posted on this topic, it’s good to see others who have been there 🙂

    Grace and Peace
    NS

    • 32 Sonia December 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm

      I have to agree with your comments here. I too am a woman of West Indian parentage and attend a reformed church where the congregation is well over 95% white. The church teaches and preaches Christ and Him crucified and the emphasis is on biblical preaching. I live in a large town and there are very many black churches and I am sad to say that I am unable to attend them because the preaching of the gospel and good bible expository is sidelined in favour of “worship and praise” which invariably means much chorus singing and praising God. Nothing wrong of course with singing and praising God but when this becomes the main focus then one has to wonder how those who do not know the message of the cross will come to a real saving fith in Jesus Christ. I fear too that much of the exhorting I hear from black preachers is to encourage people to have high aspriations in terms of their finances, careers and education. Again, nothing wrong with that but it is not the message which Christ sent them to preach. Those who are lost and perishing need to know there is a God who loves them and can forgive sin. Those who are already His need to hear teaching which will help them to grow into mature christians and able to teach others.I agree that historically churches in this country did not welcome black people, leading them to start their own, but I still think there was more biblical teaching in black pentecostal churches then than there is now.

  32. 33 Glenda December 5, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Hello… I have to use a very strong word and I hope that no one is offended. I have to say that I HATE, and I do mean that, the way that most of you have depicted the Black church; either as a Mega church, a shoutin’ church, or a non-scripturally-founded church. Please do not limit your view of the black church under these categories. The first post also gives the connotation that black churches or it’s members do not want to, enjoy, nor see the need for intense study. Maybe you all mean to say “some churches” do this or “my old church” used to do that. I hope so. I don’t even think you can rightly make a summation according to the mega churches you see on TV. Most people I know do not go to a maga church. They are members of some unknown local church. And even to make the assumption that because a church has notoriety and is a large church that it is not a studying church and doesn’t do expository sermons (in the reformed format) is not fair either. I think that what sets any preacher/teacher apart is their own way of presenting a text. I did not say eisegeting the text, I just mean, what if one wants to do a first-person sermon, or what if the Spirit’s intention is to inspire today as well as instruct? I don’t believe there is any one right way to present a text, that’s why the Spirit gives us all severally the gifts he desires for us to have. Also, the Reformed tradition may be a theology, but it’s also a denomination. When are we ever going to see that God never intended for us to be separated like this? Each one thinks their right when the Bible clearly states that thinking everyone else is wrong except for the one’s in their own group is not walking in the Spirit.
    Can I say this? I am black, and I can no longer stand for a preacher to “hoop” (I was raised Baptist, and now consider myself just a Christ-follower) Most black people can’t. Honestly it’s annoying, and unnecessary. But to say that if you are black baptist or COGIC, then people will come around. Again, that’t old school stuff, and it came from a time of slavery. There is a cultural reason for it. It’s tied to the songs they used to sing in the fields. (There was a documentary on the History Channel a few years ago)
    Lastly, emotion is part of worship. We see in the bible where God was pleased, or angry, remorseful, sorry…etc. The emotions we have, he gave us. Emotionalism to get a selfishly-desired result is a different topic. But along with Logos, (the Word) you must have Ethos (character) and Pathos (passion)Otherwise, how can you tell others effectively what Christ has done for us? Alright, I’m sure that’s enough. Thanks for “listening!”
    Glenda

    • 34 naturalsystah June 20, 2009 at 3:39 pm

      Hi Glenda – Maybe I should have included that I’ve been to majority White churches with equally flaky theology… my beef is with Pentecostalism more than the Black majority churches. In my corner of the world they are flourishing and the ones with sound doctrine of any stripe are pretty hard to find!

      I’m glad to say now that the church assembly that I go to now has sound theology, lively worship and is fairly diverse ethnically 🙂

  33. 35 speaking truth December 5, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Glenda,

    I will let the others who have posted here chime back in to defend and clarify their statements, but I will make a broad statement in reply to your post. I have a biased perspective because of my past experience as a member (and leader) within charismatic megachurches. I know first hand how rigourous study (while espoused from the pulpit) was disdained because it took the focus off of the pastors “supreme knowledge of scripture”. I have a fundamental bias towards expository preaching (or sound biblical teaching of any other “formal classification”) as opposed to pure entertainment (or “Word-lite”) – from black churches, white churches, etc.

    I contend that we as blacks must broaden our embrace of God’s Word, and seek His truth where it is – even if it is being soberly taught in a church that is less “entertaining”, where the pastor is not a celebrity. There is nothing wrong with emotion (per se) but emotion cannot replace the Word of God.

  34. 36 Brian Foulks December 6, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Glenda,

    I too have ponder the question like St. There is a problem that has plagued the black community as a whole when it comes to perfecting(maturing) the gift that God has given. every one has written on it From Carter G. Woodson (Miseducation of the Negro, Juwanzaa Kunjufu (To be popular or Smart) as well as Tony Carter along with a host of others.

    The point that I am trying to make is that we have used emotionalism as a replacement for sound doctrine. Not saying that everyone has to do expository preaching but be sound it whatever form you choose. The thing about expository teaching is that it closes all the loop holes that some pastors and preachers jump through with bad untheological doctrines.

  35. 37 William April 1, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Hello everyone, your posts are very informative. I would like to add my reflections on why blacks are not interested in reformed theology. One reason is exposure, most blacks are not exposed to reformed theology. My own interest came about when I read an article in Christianity today, where Hank Hanergreff was critizing Fred Price, Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin, all men who I followed as well as my church. That article linked me to R C Sproul and after that, there was no turning back. Presbyterian churches are white and it seems to me that racial mixed worship is still uncomfortable, even for folks who have been exposed to biblically sound (reformed) theology for years.
    If anyone knows of a welcoming reformed church in the Richmond Virginia area – please let me know – Keep up the good work here.

  36. 38 Brian Foulks April 3, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    William,

    All Saints Reformed Presbyterian Church.
    3000 Grove Ave.
    Richmond, VA 23221

  37. 39 William April 5, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks Brian – I will Check out All Saints!!

  38. 40 Zi April 30, 2009 at 8:56 am

    You are right my brother. We must remeber the Afrikan blood line has “done the most” since Genesis. It seems a vast majority of us rather look good to people first; when it actually be Praising the name of Jesus with our Hearts. I also think that because the Bible does not tell the whole truth; meaning a lot of our Kings and Queens were not spoken for in today’s Bible. Telling lies just builds upon more lies; and so on… The Bible existed and was translated among Black people long before it was translated into any European language, first in Aramaic then later in Coptic and Syriac, which are languages of the people of colour. Then: from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to English. Basically, if their were truth in the begining? Our world of understanging would BLOOM!

    *YAHWEH*

  39. 41 JC June 15, 2009 at 1:27 am

    I grew up in a Black Baptist Church and when my parents split my mother attended a mainly White Chruch and I can say that I learned a great deal from the White church in 3 years than I did being in a Black chruch all my life. Now am I saying white chruches are better than blacks, no, but there is a line you have to draw and that is the apparent lack of biblical teaching in Black churches. So many chruches are more concerned with “Annointings” “Prosperity” “Spritual Gifts” and “Tradition” that they don’t realize the need for Evangelism, Discipleship, Missions, and the need to know how to rightly divide the Word of God. Black people have failed to learn how to rightly divide the Word, and most of the Hersey and crazy teachings you hear out here, you can find being taught in the local Black church. I just wish more Black pastors would take a look and see that something is not right with their chruches. Many don’t care to change, some have too much pride becasue they don’t want to be taught by a White Man about the Bible, and most don’t want to change things up because the congregation will either vote them out or quit coming to church. We are in a sad state in the chruch right now, and I’m praying that many will see the err of their ways and get back to being a bible teaching, bible believing church.

  40. 42 quack October 11, 2009 at 11:10 am

    What is the difference between martin luther at first to at the end? Thank you! xxxx

  41. 43 Norman Dowe March 31, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Theology articulates how God relates to man. By its nature it should express Biblical answers to questions that people are asking. Reformed theology at its core answered questions that Europeans had in the face of Catholic heresy and social change brought on by the enlightenment. Reformed theology thus doesn’t scratch where most Black folk itch. If it is absolutely correct in its formulations it is more out of touch with current day life and its questions than the KJV is with modern forms of English expression.

    As others have noted Reformed theology also suffers from its association with people of dubious Christian character. If Luther was so right about theology how could be simultaneously so wrong in his antisemitism? If most of the slave masters were Calvinists, is there potentially something defective in their theology?

    There is another aspect of Reformed theology that is often overlooked. Most of its practitioners are functionally deists. That heresy that sees God as the creator of our reality but not actively participating in it describes fairly accurately those who while acknowledging the supernatural character of revelation expect nothing today except assurance of heaven when we die. For many of my reformed brethren Christian life has been reduced to assent to the best most orthodox statement of belief left us by the Westminister apostles.

    Of the major theological movements that are extant I believe that Reformed theology is probably the most accurate. However I can’t get with some of its additional baggage. e.g., cessationism, restrictions of women in ministry and focus of knowing correct things about God more than knowing God.

    I don’t believe I am alone in this position.

    • 44 speaking truth April 2, 2010 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks for your comment Norman – very reasoned and measured. Reformed Theology certainly isn’t the “only game in town” (and God knows Luther, Calvin, et al were as flawed as any human can be). Further, I would argue that most Reformed followers see Christ as both Savior and Lord – sovereign and actively participating in all matters today.

      That said, (as you pointed out), Reformed Theolgy is about as close to biblical and historical Christianity as we can get these days.

  42. 45 Marcus April 11, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I stumbled on this site while researching for a paper. I’m studying reformed theology within the context of the African American community for a class that I’m taking, and must admit that many of your comments are very interesting to me. My background is somewhat “Bapti-costal” in nature (i.e. doctrinally conservative, expressive/passionate in worship). I have always struggled greatly with the Prosperity/Word oriented church movements because of how dangerous I feel that they are. They paint, in my view, an innacurate/incomplete picture of God that places Christians (usually very young/unrooted Christians) on shaky ground that will not hold them when the trials of life test their faith. Accordingly, I can respect the heart of what many of you are saying. In the same right, I perceive on this board the same doctrinal arrogance that has turned me off to reformed individuals in the past. The assumption that reformed theology is so superior to other biblically based strands of understanding is annoying. The truth of the matter is that some areas within reformed theology create just as many problems for earnest believers as do other schools of thought. For example, of all the so called reformed theologians who have told me that I’m not truly saved because I’m not a hyper-calvanist (and there have been several), not one has ever been able to explain to me how God, the creator and lover of humanity, would choose to create some for heaven and some for the express purpose of sending them to hell, especially in light of the fact that the word said that God create hell for the enemy and his angels. Additionally, if this is the case, and we are unconditionally elected to salvation, what is then the purpose of evangelism other than for obedience sake? These are real questions that I believe deserve substantive answers before reformed folks dogmatically accuse others of “spiritual laziness” because of their reluctance to endorse the reformed point of view.
    I can and do respect the pursuit of doctinal soundness that most reformed folks display, but I’ve found that it usually turns into pride under the assumption that no one else is truly pursuing God unless they agree with them. God bless you all.

    • 46 speaking truth April 12, 2010 at 9:13 am

      Marcus,

      Thanks for your comments – and I must agree I admit with much of what you’re saying. There is an air of arrogance within reformed theology – specifically Calvinism (and I’m not a Calvinist, at least not by name) – and I wrote about that last year as well. I certainly disagree with hyper-Calvinist who claim you’re not saved (although our actions align with our character, only God through His Word can affirm your salvation). I can’t explain the breadth and depth of God’s sovereign will, but according to His Word, He has preordained who will accept and who will reject His love. Perhaps the question could be since none of us truly deserve Him, why doesn’t He just kill us all now? I do believe in predestination, but I don’t know who He has called to Him, so I prefer to evangelize to everyone instead of resting on the fact that only the elect will accept Him. It’s not my place (nor should it be of any believer) to pick and choose who to share the Gospel with – we should just share the Gospel, period.

      You’ve laid out clear objections – and again, I agree with you. I think the common thread is that we should all study to show ourselves approved.


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