Posts Tagged 'reformed theology'

“Jesus MUST be central in the Church…”

eric mason

One of the common misconceptions about us Reformed Christians is that we abhor passionate preaching (and that expository preaching has to be “boring”). I tried to debunk that assertion a few months ago, yet many still don’t equate passionate preaching with Reformed preaching.

Even further, although I’ve written about Blacks in Reformed theology in the past as well, many still can’t fathom a Black preacher who can exposit God’s Word without “huckin’ and buckin'” and begging for money in the process.  

Thank God through Jesus Christ that my brother @RaeWhitlock tweeted about a video that should (hopefully) continue to redefine the stereotypes of Reformed theology – and Blacks in Reformed theology, specifically (as if Voddie Baucham, Anthony Carter, Michael Leach, and many other Black Reformers haven’t already proven the contrary).

The man pictured above is Dr. Eric Mason, Lead Pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia. “Pastor E” is a prolific bible teacher and pastor. His delivery is in your face and unashamedly biblical. The video below is a succinct walk-through-the bible lesson on Christoncentrism – the belief that Christ is the central theme upon which most doctrine is built. Grab your bible and follow along with the video (oh, and note Pastor E’s indignation at the hirelings of the day starting at the 31:30 mark – a disdain I also share):

OK Philly readers, I’ve just given you another fellowship to go and visit!

Related Posts:

Hungry For God’s Word Or “Divisive”?

 calvinism

I am a contender of the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). I wasn’t always able to say that, particularly when I aligned myself with false doctrines that presented a skewed view of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In 18 months, I have evolved from many things: being a subservient “yes man” in a mega-ministry, being a dutiful “son” who loved his “spiritual daddy” more than he loved God, being an ignorant Christian who consulted the Word of God only after consulting with the “mand of gawd”.

In that time, the Lord has allowed me to create this blog to not only expose false teachers and false doctrine, but to present His Gospel – unmolested, unvarnished, and true to it’s historical roots.

I have evolved into a Monergist.

I don’t really like the name “Calvinist”. I have nothing against Calvinists (some of my closest friends identify themselves as such). I just believe that the term is too misleading overall, as evidenced by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon’s defense of Calvinism:

“Why I Am A Calvinist”

[…] It is unfortunate for Calvinism that it is called Calvinism. Charles Spurgeon rightly stated that “Calvinism is nothing more than a nickname for Biblical Christianity.” He was right. The name is often a warrant for despisement though. People say because we follow a man named Calvin, we are not following God. Does not Paul say in 1 Cor. 1:12, “Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or I am of Christ.” is Christ divided?” Paul is right. We are not to follow after men. We are to follow after God for sectarianism is a sin rebuked by the 1st chapter of 1 Corinthians. But do Calvinists really follow Calvin? No. It is actually wrong to call Calvinists “Calvinist” because they are doing nothing other than using the same body of doctrine that Calvin used, who in turn copied Augustine, who in turn copied the church fathers and they, who in turn, followed Christ and the Apostles.  

I appreciate and embrace John Calvin’s tireless exploration of church doctrine (Total Depravitiy, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the Saints) as well as Martin Luther’s courageous break from the “universal” (i.e. catholic) church in 1517, sparking the Protestant Reformation.

Apparently, many others have also embraced historical biblical Christianity. According to a recent article in Time magazine, Calvinism/Monergism is “making a comeback”:

“The New Calvinism”

[…] Calvinism is back, and not just musically. John Calvin’s 16th century reply to medieval Catholicism’s buy-your-way-out-of-purgatory excesses is Evangelicalism’s latest success story, complete with an utterly sovereign and micromanaging deity, sinful and puny humanity, and the combination’s logical consequence, predestination: the belief that before time’s dawn, God decided whom he would save (or not), unaffected by any subsequent human action or decision.

Calvinism, cousin to the Reformation’s other pillar, Lutheranism, is a bit less dour than its critics claim: it offers a rock-steady deity who orchestrates absolutely everything, including illness (or home foreclosure!), by a logic we may not understand but don’t have to second-guess

[…] Neo-Calvinist ministers and authors don’t operate quite on a Rick Warren scale. But, notes Ted Olsen, a managing editor at Christianity Today,“everyone knows where the energy and the passion are in the Evangelical world” — with the pioneering new-Calvinist John Piper of Minneapolis, Seattle’s pugnacious Mark Driscoll and Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Seminary of the huge Southern Baptist Convention.

[…] “A lot of young people grew up in a culture of brokenness, divorce, drugs or sexual temptation,” says Collin Hansen, author of Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists.“They have plenty of friends: what they need is a God.” Mohler says, “The moment someone begins to define God’s [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist.” Of course, that presumption of inevitability has drawn accusations of arrogance and divisiveness since Calvin’s time. 

I also found an article on John Piper’s “Desiring God” blog (published in 2007) that also dealt with the accusation of arrogance in Calvinist circles:

“Be A Kinder Calvinist”

[…] There is a letter on Scot McKnight’s blog from a pastor who is very frustrated with certain Calvinists in his church. It would be easy enough to disregard it, pointing out that not all Calvinists are like that or that his use of the word “hyper-Calvinist” doesn’t match correct theological jargon. But that would be missing the point. And, ironically, that reaction would only lend credence to the frustration that motivated the letter in the first place.

[…] Calvinists come across as self-righteous, condescending, arrogant, unfriendly, argumentative, and even stingy. The fact that we’re not all that way is irrelevant in the same way that it didn’t matter to Molly that I had done three things to show I appreciate her—she still felt unappreciated. Her frustration was true because, whether or not I was grateful to my wife, I was perceived as an ingrate. Similarly, the frustration in the letter is true because, whether or not the Calvinists in the letter-writer’s church are good folks, they come off as proud and divisive jerks. Those Calvinists, as church members, and I, as a husband, should change based on this information, regardless of how “inaccurately” the frustration may be worded.

[…] It won’t be easy to change the pejorative stereotype that clings to Calvinism, but we can start by admitting that it is accurate far too often. Then we can make sure we are manifestly not self-righteous, condescending, arrogant, unfriendly, or argumentative.

I’m sure that many of you who absolutely abhor me and this blog will contend that I have come across as arrogant, condescending, argumentative, and more that can’t be shared in a “family-friendly zone”.

Those of you who would defend me, save your breath – I agree with the detractors on this one…sort of.

While I strive to be balanced, fair-minded, objective – I can get pretty snarky, sarcastic, and downright mean to those who taunt me. Sometimes the pain of my former allegiance to false gospels is mixed in with my love for God’s true Word, and I take the bait and “give it” as good as I “got it”.

I’ll do my part – I’ll try earnestly to defend the Word of God without being arrogant and condescending, particularly because it is only by God’s grace that I am no longer chasing false gospels and false teachers. I know where I came from, and it is my humble prayer that many more join me on the “outside” of what I consider “the cult”.

That said – can you passionately pursue the truth of the Word of God without being labeled “divisive”? Apart from semantics and an occasional flare up, is the “divisive” label liberally applied to any believer who dares offend the delicate sensibilities of others – particularly sinners – by stating what God said from His Word? 

I’m curious to read your thoughts on the matter…

A “Minstrel Free” Zone ***UPDATED***

gospel-coalition1

Chicago was a virtual “pulpit pimp/minstrel free” zone this past week (well, parts of Chicago, anyway) because The Gospel Coalition brought sound biblical teachers to the city! Men like Driscoll, Carter, Anyabwile, Carson, Dever, Piper, and many more descended on the Windy City to present the pure Gospel – devoid of fluff, “kick your neighbor in the gut and say…”, sacrificial conference offerings, and other mess:

The Gospel Coalition – The Gospel for All of Life

We are a fellowship of evangelical churches deeply committed to renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures. We have become deeply concerned about some movements within traditional evangelicalism that seem to be diminishing the church’s life and leading us away from our historic beliefs and practices.

[…] We have committed ourselves to invigorating churches with new hope and compelling joy based on the promises received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. 

The sermons are simply too plentiful to add to my Sermon RSS feed Section (on the right side of this page), so please bookmark this article so that you can return to access the sound preaching recorded at this year’s conference:

The Gospel Coalition – Conference Resources

Also, for those of you who use Twitter (and I am slowing becoming proficient in the art of “tweeting”), you can follow many of these pastors yourself (which is how I found out about the conference in the first place).

***UPDATED*** Thanks to those of you who alerted me of Mark Driscoll’s “preaching style” (i.e. His crudeness). I humbly accept your godly rebuke. Unfortunately I just learned of Driscoll’s afinity for lewd preaching last night (I read MacArthurs article “The Rape of Solomon’s Song). I have tremendous respect for Pastor John, and I will not endorse Driscoll’s preaching as pure gospel. Again, thanks for caring enough to weigh in…

“Yeah…But How Do They Worship?”

Last week, I explored an interesting article on the lack of enthusiasm for reformed theology in the black community. The comment thread to that post mirrored the conversations I’ve had with friends and family regarding my interest in reformed theology.

I usually get a concession that reformed theology isn’t a cult or a radical fringe of Christianity, but the next questions rolls off the lips of the inquiring party every time: “Yeah, they’re biblically sound, but how do they worship?”. I suppose that most folks (especially us black folks) imagine that “praise and worship” at a reformed church consists of stoic hymns sung in the King’s English to the tune of an old piano.

The reality is that reformers adhere to reverent worship – not mundane worship. The words of most songs in gospel and contemporary Christian music have reverent lyrics – it’s just that the delivery of those lyrics sometimes creep over into “man worship”. You know, the vocal gymnastics, extended LP version of the chorus (that’s a reference to wax records for all of you 17 year old reformers out there 🙂 ) and “drop it like it’s hot” body gyrations.

Our brother Pastor Anthony Carter over at the blog Non Nobis Domine penned an excellent article dispelling the notion that reformers can’t freely praise God during church services:

“Experiencing The Presence of God”

…We must remember that Christianity is a “forward remembering” faith. In other words, while we are always looking forward to what God has promised us in the grand consummation, we are always remembering what He did for us at the cross. While we are always proclaiming the glories of the returning King, we are also remembering the glories of the resurrected King. Therefore, let us not jettison the past in favor of the present, and let us not neglect the present in favor of the past. Rather let us embrace them together, even in our worship. How enhanced our worship would be if we made sure that we included such songs as Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee sung to the magnificent arrangement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, as well as Fred Hammond’s Bread of Life, with its irrepressible urban beats. How glorious and worthy of our God and reflective of heavenly realities would our worship be if we were more diligent in making sure we have something old, something new, yet always careful to maintain all things true.

Click the title to read the article in it’s entirety. And while you’re at it – break out that old Commissioned cassette and get to worshipping God!

“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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