THE KINGDOM FAMILY GATHERING, 2014; A Gathering for a New Millennium

BY WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

Waiting in the baggage claim area at the Washington, DC, Airport, I made eye contact with a gentleman who paused, looked at me, then looked at a picture that he was holding in his hand, looked at me again, and then he continued to walk pass me. He made his way around to me again and repeated the previous actions; only this time before proceeding without speaking, he paused to ask—“Are you Rev. Dwight McKissic?” I said, “Yes!” He then said, “You don’t look like your picture.” My assistant had mailed Pastor T.L. Rogers an outdated picture. Therefore, he was having a difficult time recognizing me based on the differences between my then current look and the outdated picture.

When the world visits today’s church and pause to compare today’s church with the church in the Bible, the world could easily say, “the church today does not look like her biblical picture.” In this post I want to examine three angles of one picture of the early church and compare and contrast it with today’s church. I also want to notify and invite Kingdom citizens from throughout America to come and spend 3-4 days at the Cornerstone Church, Arlington, TX, March 13-16, 2014, for a Kingdom Family Gathering, co-hosted and co-sponsored by Jack Taylor Ministries and the Cornerstone Church, Arlington, TX. During these four days we believe that we will experience a picture of the church as she was during the day of Scripture.

Today’s church is divided denominationally. The biblical picture of the church is a church that’s unified as “one body” (Ephesian 4:3).

Today’s church is divided over the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The biblical picture of the church is a church unified by “one Spirit” (Ephesian 4:4).

Today’s church is divided into various theological camps and affinity groups. The biblical picture of the church is unified around, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:5-6).

Today’s church is divided by race. The biblical picture of the church consisted of people gathered from every nation (Acts 2:5; 13:1).

Today’s church battles and debates over the Holy Spirit. The biblical picture of the church shows people worshipping, praying, guided by, preaching, serving and giving in the Spirit (Acts 2, Acts 4:31-35, Acts 13:2).

Today’s church is often under the illusion and impression that God has ceased operating in all the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in the Bible. The biblical picture of the church shows that the Kingdom of God has come upon His church when we see the power, manifestation, and activity of God among His people (Matthew 12:27; Mark 9:1; I Corinthians 1:7, I Corinthians 12-14).

Today’s church has conferences to announce and boldly proclaim that the activity of God in the operation of the gifts of the Spirit have ceased among His people. The picture of the biblical church was to gather and pray to God on one accord, at one time and to ask God to:

29 “…grant to Your [His] servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:29-31)

Jack Taylor, an 80-year-old Spirit-filled Southern Baptist Preacher; Bill Johnson, a non-denominational Redding, CA, pastor; Dwight Mckissic, a Kingdom-centered Baptist pastor; and Wayne Chaney, a younger generation, African American, Southern Baptist who pastors a dynamic church in Southern California, are coming together to host, “The Kingdom Family Gathering” in a few days. We are praying that the auditorium with a seating capacity of 1600 to be filled with people of every kindred, tribe, tongue, and nation. We are also praying that the people will be filled with the Spirit of the Living God.

When the Kingdom Family gathers we expect a vital unity that’s empowered by God’s Spirit as it was on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). We expect the life and vitality of God in our midst to be the hallmark of this gathering.

When the Kingdom Family gathers, we expect a visual unity of God’s people. If no other miracle takes place, if we can gather for our evening services a healthy inter-racial mix and balance of Whites, Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics, surely the Kingdom of God has come in our midst. We expect as was on the day of Pentecost a visual unity that’s Holy Spirit orchestrated in our midst (Acts 2:2-3).

When the Kingdom Family gathers, we expect a verbal unity that’s Holy-Spirit anointed to be manifest in our midst. We expect glorious praise, powerful preaching, words of exhortation, wisdom and knowledge and the glory of the Lord in our midst. We are believing God to show up in our midst as He promised He would, and join us in our sacrifice of praise to Him.

God called out a people, later named Israel, so that He could introduce His people to His Kingdom. The theme of the Bible is about a King, His Kingdom, and His royal offspring. God called out His Kingdom Family, in order to bestow blessings of abundant and eternal life, on His people, through the gift of His Son. God wanted a family that He might receive worship in Spirit and Truth, from all the people of the earth. God wanted a family, that’s why He told us to call Him, Father.

God is not color blind. He made the colors, because He loved them. God even made His people different colors, because He loves them, and considers all of His people beautiful. God is pleased when people of all colors come together and worship Him. There is a special dynamic in the atmosphere when worship crosses all color lines. This will be a taste of Heaven on earth.

At the beginning of the first millennium, God gathered His Family in Noah’s Ark, in order to preserve the human family, so that He might bless them.  “And God blessed Noah and his sons” (Genesis 9: 1). Genesis 9: 19, says that all mankind—regardless of color—emanated from the sons of Noah. In the loins of Noah’s sons, and their wives, was every race known to man. “And God blessed Noah and his sons.”  God blessed His family gathered. He even wanted to bless them in unity scattered.

After disembarking from the ark, God told His Kingdom family—Noah and Mrs. Noah, their sons and wives—that He wanted them to scatter, multiply, and fill the earth (Genesis 9: 1, 7). They indeed multiplied, but they didn’t scatter and they did not fill the earth.

Instead they gathered at the Tower of Babel, against the will of God, and God then, sovereignly chose to scatter them (Genesis 11: 1-9). But even then, God kept the family theme intact. They gathered at the Tower as one people, speaking one language (Genesis 11: 1).

They scattered from the tower, speaking different languages, and divided into three different human families, and settling and separating themselves from each other in three different lands, based on how they  traced their family blood lines or lineage, back to one of Noah’s three sons(Genesis 10: 5, 20, 31, 32).

Rather than scattering across the world interracially,  cross culturally, cross pollinated, and fill the earth, as God had instructed them (Genesis 9), they scattered exclusively based on family blood lines traced back to Noah’s three sons. The world has been divided by race and language ever since.

Chronologically speaking, we know that the historical event in Genesis 11 (the Tower of Babel incident) occurred before the census bureau-cataloging event of Genesis 10, the Table of the Nations.

In Genesis 12, God told Abraham that He wanted to bless the families of the earth through him. The theme of Genesis 9, 10, 11, and 12 is family and family blessing.  God wanted to bless the families of the earth so that they would bless Him back, and bless His Kingdom.

After thousands of years of living scattered and separated from each other, God brought His Kingdom Family from all over the earth together again at Pentecost (Acts 2: 5). They came from every nation under the sun. They came from Africa, Asia, and Europe.

They gathered at Babel in pride; they gathered at Pentecost in humility. They gathered at Babel prayer-less; they gathered at Pentecost prayerful. They gathered at Babel and God confused their language; they gathered at Pentecost and they understood each other’s language. They scattered from Babel in disunity; they gathered at Pentecost with all on one accord, and they left on one accord (Acts 2: 1). They gathered at Babel in a building made by man’s hands,   against the will of God. They gathered at Pentecost in a building orchestrated by the hand of God.

Will you please come and join us in these days of seeking God’s face. If the world ever needed to see the church in vital unity, visual unity, and verbal unity, it is right now. Please visit www.kingdomfamilygathering.org for more information concerning registration for the conference, schedule, and speakers:

  1. BILL JOHNSON, pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California.
  2. LEIF HETLAND, founder and president of Global Mission Awareness.
  3. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, TX.
  4. WAYNE CHANEY, the senior pastor of Antioch Church in Los Angeles, California.
  5. BOB PHILLIPS, the father to many spiritual sons and God’s Kingdom emissary to the Body of Christ
  6. PAUL YADAO, the lead pastor of Destiny Ministries International in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.
  7. DENNIS JERNIGAN, an inspiring worship leader and gifted songwriter whose focus in ministry has been to help the spiritually captive get set free.
  8. TOM DAVIS,  a gifted worship leader and founder of Amber Rose Ministries through which he produces live worship recordings and worship albums that bring healing and life.
  9. KEITH LUKER, and his wife, Sanna, are prophetic psalmist revivalists and the founders of FreeWind, a prophetic worship ministry dedicated to seeing the tabernacle of David restored in this generation.

THE FORGOTTEN “N” WORD IN THE BIBLE

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

The NFL is currently discussing penalizing players who use the “N” word during a game. Two White NFL players, Riley Cooper and Incognito, have been recorded using the “N” word as a slur directed toward African American males. Black NFL players reportedly commonly use the term during games in a myriad of context, some affirmative and some pejorative. Recently, an Anglo female student at the high school in Texas where my daughter teaches—at a school-wide sanctioned event, across a microphone—made reference to all the “high yellow ‘N’s,’” in the audience. The mixed-race audience, predominately Black, screamed with laughter and approval at her remark.

The word “Christian” was originated by non-Christians, and used initially as a term of derision. However, Christians adopted the term and transformed it into a term of identification with our Lord, and as a testimony.

The “N” word had a similar transformative history. This word was originally used by White persons as a term of derision and disrespect toward Blacks. Blacks adopted the term and transformed it into a term of endearment; a term of respect; and a term of brotherhood. One of the highest compliments one Black Male can give to another Black Male is to call him a “Big N.”  The “N” word was and is also used toward Blacks as a term of derision and disrespect. Context determines meaning. It is seldom, if ever, misunderstood when talking Black to Black. But, until recently, it was always a closeted term, never used in mixed company.

The hip-hop rap generation over the past 20-25 years have radically, and perhaps, irreversibly, changed the use of the “N” word, from private use to public use. They started using the term on public air waves 25 or so years ago.  They sold records by the millions; yes, to White persons as well, where the “N” word was used prominently. The lyrics of their songs, including and featuring the “N” word were printed in the record label jackets. This, in a sense, gave permission to Whites and others to use the term. How could Whites attend the same rap concert; listen to the same rap lyrics; buy the same rap music; read the same rap lyrics; and not be allowed to say, read, sing, etc., the same “N” word? It is unfortunate that the church has not had this kind of inter-racial and inter-cultural impact on the fusion of Black and White culture as the rappers have had.

The public use and cross racial use of the “N” word has caused a generational divide in the Black community. Ray Lewis disapproves of Incognito’s use of the “N” word. I attended and spoke at a Men’s conference in Maryland last year where Lewis said, that would not have been tolerated in his locker room. Yet, Mike Pouncey, an African-American Center for the Dolphins, approves of Incognito’s use of the “N” word. The difference between how Ray Lewis and Mike Pouncey, both African Americans, view this differently has everything to do with their ages—about a 15-year difference.

I am 57 years old. There were two times you were expected to physically fight when I was a boy. (1) If someone talked about your mother. It was called for some reason—“playing the dozens.” If that took place, a fight was on. (2) If a White person called you the “N” word. If you didn’t fight in those two instances, you lost any and all respect among your peers. You may have even lost your parents respect, if you didn’t fight in this scenario. Most parents did not approve of fighting for “playing the dozen,” but, they were quietly supportive or understanding if you fought a White person for calling you the “N” word.

Fast forward to today and we have a generation that’s allowing White persons to call them by some derivative of the “N” word, or the “N” word itself. This is quite disgusting.

The changing use and acceptance of the “N” word documents the fact that the “N” word has a complex, convoluted, controversial and ever-changing history.

We will discover that because the “N” word has historically been misconstrued and mis-associated with other words that begin with the letter “N,” it has caused us to overlook, under emphasize or downright ignore another “N” word, that’s actually recorded in the Bible—the word “Niger” (Acts 13:1).

The word “Niger” has absolutely no etymological or social relationship to the “N” word that’s commonly used today. Yet, in a Bible study class that I was conducting recently, I discovered that several persons viewed the biblical Acts 13:1 “N” word, as synonymous with the controversial “N” word. They even pronounced it the same.

Therefore, I felt inspired to write this article on the “N” word in the Bible, and to clarify and distinguish between these two unrelated terms. Furthermore, I want to discuss the word “Negro,” a derivative of the word “Niger” and its non-association with the controversial “N” word. The “N” word in the Bible is a positive and affirming word that connects descendants of Africa with prominence, productivity, and a place at the welcome table in the Father’s Kingdom.

The Biblical “N” word Provides, Proof Positive that God loves persons of African Descent and He included us in His plan of redemption. Acts 13:1 reads:

“Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”

“Simeon who was called Niger” was a prophet, teacher, and leader in the church at Antioch. The church at Antioch was the first Gentile congregation in history. The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26). Luke found it necessary to place it in the inerrant, infallible, and eternal word of God that two men of African descent were leaders in the early church. “Lucius of Cyrene” was also mentioned by name and country of origin. Cyrene was located in North Africa. According to David Adamo, Ph.D. in OT, Baylor University, in his book Africa and Africans in the New Testament (P.52), “The city of Cyrene was in the area where Libya is today and was originally populated by black people in history before the advent and the domination of European people.”

“The word Niger occurs only once in the New Testament, namely in Acts 13:1. Adamo argues that Niger is a Latin word, which means ‘black.’ In the New Testament, the words Ethiopia and Niger were used as the equivalent of the Old Testament word Cush. The Hebrew word, Cush, in the Old Testament means black, and in the Septuagint it was translated Ethiopia, and that also means black. Roman literature described swarthy, or dark-skinned people as Niger among the various terms employed. The people in this category are Africans, including the Egyptians, Libyans, Moors, some Indians and certain persons of mixed parentage with black and white. In Latin, the adjective most frequently used for the Ethiopians who are of black skinned is Niger as equivalence of Ethiopia,” according to Adamo (p. 32) .

“The legendary Ethiopian king called Memnon (600 BCE) who fought in the Trojan War of Troy was referred to sometimes as Memnon aethiops, and other times as Memnon Niger” (Adamo, p. 33).

“In the New Testament, the Greek word Niger was transliterated “Niger” respectively by The King James Version. The Revised Standard Version, The American Standard Version, the New International, and Jerusalem Bible Versions also translated it “Niger.” The Good News Bible, The New American Standard Version, The Living Bible and the New Living Translation, translated it “the black person.” This is highly commendable” (Adamo, p. 33).

According to J.A. Rogers, a distinguished Black scholar, the term “Negro” is a derivative of the word “Niger,” and simply means “black.” Rogers further maintains that contrary to popular scholarly opinion, the word Niger was not originally a Latin or European term, but an African term originating from a native African language. There is a Niger River in Africa and countries called Niger and Nigeria. Adewunni Williams, a native Nigerian that I’m acquainted with reports that in his native Nigerian tongue, the word “Inago” is somewhat similar in spelling and sound to the word “Negro,” and is identical in meaning—“Black Man.” According to Rogers, there was nothing inherently negative with reference to Black people within the etymology or original usage of the words “Niger” or “Negro.” The Europeans borrowed these terms from Africans. The terms “Niger,” “Negro,” “Black,” and “African,” are etymologically the same—originating from African language and meaning “Black” or “dark.”

There is absolutely no etymological connection between the African words “Niger” and “Negro” and the English words “niggard” or “nigger.” Unfortunately, these words have been misconstrued and mis-pronounced. The Ethiopians and the Egyptians used the word “Negus” to refer to kings and royalty. The English words “niggard” and “nigger” have absolutely nothing to do with race. These words described a stingy person regardless of their race.

So what is the proper name designation for persons of African descent here in America? In the final analysis, each person must decide for him­self or herself. One must choose the term that is least offensive to his or her sensibilities. There is a context in which I proudly answer to all of these terms (African-American, Black and Negro). Psychologically and emotionally, I am extremely proud of my African descent. Nationally and culturally, I am proud to be an American. The word “Black” etymo­logically and ethnically connects me with the ancient Cushites (Ethiopi­ans), Sumerians (Blackheads) and Hamites (Egyptians), who were the prominent people of ancient history. My complexion is literally “black”, of which I’m also proud.

I also proudly answer to the term “Negro.” Why? Because I under­stand the historicity and etymology of the term. The appellation Negro (Niger) encompasses my African roots and biblical roots (Acts 13:1) and ethnologically links me with dark-skinned persons throughout the globe who do not necessarily trace their roots back to Africa. Finally, if the word Negro was good enough for Dr. WE.B. Du Bois, the first Black to graduate with a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University; and the word Negro was good enough for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who used the term often and proudly; and if the word Niger or Negro was good enough for the pages of Scripture (Acts 13:1), then the word Negro is good enough for me. Historically and ethnically, I am proud to be a Negro. However, I repeat: There is a context in which I proudly answer to all of these terms. An older Negro preacher in Arkansas was known for saying that Black is an adjective and Negro is a noun; and he would rather be a noun than an adjective.

The biblical “N” word provides positive proof that persons of African descent were committed to the triune God, before Mohammed and Islam had come into existence. The “N” word in history was an English term that originally had absolutely nothing to do with one’s race, but with one’s attitude and disposition—regardless of race. This word was transformed into a racial insult directed toward Black people. It is now time that all people, including, Blacks of all ages, in all context consider the disallowance and non-use of this word. Now that society is integrated in ways that it was not when this word was a popular closeted term, we must accept the fact that there cannot be a word that is off limits to one set of people, but can be used by another and they are all together at the same place. The time has come to have a funeral and bury the English “N” word while maintaining the Biblical “N” word. The pronunciation, spelling and the definition of those two words are different and should not be confused. Our young people should immediately stop affirming the abuse and misuse of the English “N” word.

WHEN SAINTS LIVE IN SODOM

BY WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

How Should Kingdom Citizens Relate to Gay and A New Gay-Friendly America?

“My truth is that I am a gay American,” are the words that Gov. Jim McGreevey spoke as he was resigning from the governorship of New Jersey on August 13, 2004 because circumstances forced him to disclose the fact that he was a homosexual.

“I am an openly, proud gay man,” are the words of Mr. Michael Sam, who was an excellent football player at the University of Missouri this past season and is expected by some to go as high as the 3rd round in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Between the years of Gov. McGreevey’s resignation, and Mr. Sam’s pre-NFL Draft aspirations and “I am…gay” announcement, America has witnessed a major public policy and attitudinal shift in support of homosexuality.

Fifty years ago, James Brown released a song that became a great source of inspiration, pride, and self-esteem for Black Americans—“Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.” I remember it so well. All the kids in my neighborhood sang it with great joy. It became a rallying cry. Bursting out of obscurity into the National Spotlight recently hails Michael Sam saying it loud, “I am gay and I’m proud.”

Will Michael Sam become the face of the “gay rights” movement that takes us down the road to Sodom and Gomorrah at a record setting pace? Mr. Sam has received words of affirmation from President and Mrs. Obama, Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, and a host of others, simply for announcing to the world that he prefers to engage in sexual activity with another male, rather than a female.

The world that I was born into in 1956 did not officially and affirmatively recognize a “gay” person as a sociological category that merited celebration, congratulations, affirmation, special rights in addition to civil rights, minority status, entitlements, or any of the like. Heretofore, identity and recognition as a human being, American citizen, male or female, a member of a people group, religious affiliation, or your Daddy’s name, was sufficient. Within the past decade, the U.S. military, pulpits, POTUS, SCOTUS, Halls of Congress, popular votes in certain states, the public school systems, and the NFL, have all upheld policies and affirmed same-sex relationships and homosexuality. We are all having to accept the fact that in the New America, there is a new demographic called “Gay American,” that are recognized as a legitimate, official, respected people group by all major American Institutions—including many church leaders and some (mainly liberal) denominations. The social acceptance of homosexuality has occurred in America primarily within the past ten years—from the fall of Gov. McGreevey to the rise of Mr. Michael Sam.

For all practical purposes, the decisions by the above named entities to affirm same-sex relationships and homosexuality have created a third category of human being, commonly known as a “gay American.” It is common for job applications to have an entry blank labeled “Sex: Male____ Female ____.” We now need to add a third option under this entry blank: “Gay ____.” American Society has radically and irreversibly changed as it relates to public policy approval, and public acceptance of homosexuality.

However, there is one major personality and three-dimensional system of government that has not yet signed off on the sociological people group in America—“Gay Americans.” The one major personality who has not signed off on, or endorsed Michael Sam’s admitted sexual proclivities, is the One who created him—God Almighty. The three-dimensional form of government that has not approved of same-sex relationships and homosexuality is The Trinitarian Enterprise. Until God Almighty and The Trinitarian Enterprise change their position on this issue, there is a remnant of us who refuse to change also.

We are commanded to “earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.” God said that His Word is forever settled in Heaven. Therefore, His Word on this subject is not going to change, neither will Kingdom-citizens.

So, how do Kingdom citizens relate to gay and a new gay-friendly America? What are saints to do now that we recognize that we live in Sodom? I’ll tell you what we must do. We must love the homosexual unconditionally, while we preach and practice grace, love, and truth uncompromisingly.

I. First, we must acknowledge that at least three Scriptures indicate, or suggest that homosexual relationships would be widely accepted and approved of before Christ returns. Jesus Himself said:

“26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” (Luke 17:26-30)

Jesus makes it clear here that sordid, sinful, sexual behaviors, similar to the type of sexual behaviors that were occurring during the day of Lot in Sodom would also be occurring when He is revealed (Luke 17:30). Incidentally, “sodomy” is a legal term that is commonly used today in courts of law, as a reference to anal sex. For those who argue that Jesus never addressed homosexuality; that is simply untrue. He used the same words that prosecutors, Judges, and lawyers use today to label homosexual activity, “Sodom” (Luke 17:29).

John the Apostle was given a telescopic view of end time events. God removed the panorama that separates the known from the unknown and showed John a spiritual battle taking place just before the seventh trumpet sound saying, “The Kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15). Just prior to the seventh angel, blowing the seventh trumpet, the sixth angel, blows the sixth trumpet, and among the many things John envisioned before the sounding of the seventh and final trumpet, signifying the end of the world as we know it today: John saw two witnesses dead bodies “lying in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt” (Revelation 11:8). The spiritual condition of our great cities of the world when the Lord return can spiritually be labeled as “Sodom” (Revelation 11:8). Today we call “Sodom,” “same-sex marriage” and homosexuality.

John and Paul indicate that the spirit of the Anti-Christ would be unleashed upon the world in the last days (I John 2:18; I Timothy 4:1). Daniel 11:37 tells two interesting, and relevant to this subject matter, characteristics regarding the Anti-Christ:

1. “He shall regard neither the God of his fathers.” In order to embrace same-sex relationships and homosexuality, one has to disregard the God of our fathers. Know that anybody who preaches that homosexuality is acceptable to God is not preaching the God of the Bible. They are disrespecting the God of the Bible and representing the anti-Christ. The notion that gay rights and civil rights are compatible is from the pit of hell. Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, deep down in her sanctified soul, she knows that her dad did not die for same-sex marriage rights. Martin Luther King did not sacrifice his life for two football players to get married. The thought of such is a desecration to his legacy.

2. Daniel also reveals that the Anti-Christ would not desire women. A male who does not desire a woman is considered suspect where I came from. I believe that Daniel was telling us that the Anti-Christ would have no desire for women, which may be a subtle way of suggesting that the Anti-Christ would be a homosexual, or certainly unmarried.

According to DL Foster, “The Daniel reference to the sexual nature of the anti-Christ as envisioned by Daniel is telling considering the world’s end time affirmation of homosexual perversion. The word ‘desire’ is drawn from the Hebrew chamad, which points to lust and desire associated with male/female sexuality. Thus, we can make a broad assumption that the anti-Christ will have no sexual desire for women.”

As the saints learn how to live in Sodom, we must take solace in the fact that the Bible accurately predicts that the spirit of Sodom would be prevalent and prominent in the end time. Jesus, John, Paul, and Daniel predicted what we are now seeing.

II. Not only are saints to accept the fact that living in Sodom is an inevitable biblical reality or prophesy coming true, we must also be like the two witnesses in Revelation and speak the truth in love to all who ask about our faith, or our belief in the Judeo-Christian concept of marriage between one man and one woman. I Peter 3:15 suggests that we must be gentle and respectful when giving answers about our faith to outsiders. We must be gracious, gentle, loving and respectful as we address these matters as a part of a now remnant faith community.

III. Finally, the best offense is a good defense. Seattle just proved that in the Super Bowl. Therefore, the remnant faith community needs to strengthen the bonds of our marriages. If people saw healthier and happier hetero-sexual marriages among the saints, it would reinforce the biblical concept of marriage as articulated by Jesus.

“ And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Model a genuine marriage, so that people will reject a counterfeit. Live a morally clean life so that we won’t contribute to the spirit of Sodom that’s overtaking the land. These are a few important things to know and do as Kingdom-citizens learn to live in the new reality of an officially accepted sociological category or people—“gay Americans.”

AN OPEN RESPONSE TO REV. AL SHARPTON’S OP-ED SUPPORTING MICHAEL SAM

BY WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

Fighting for morality is not an easy thing to do. Fighting for the soul of a nation, a people, and a culture that’s historically been rooted in a Judeo-Christian value system, but is rapidly moving at a record breaking speed toward secularism and humanism as its core value system, is also not easy. To stand for truth, righteousness, and the wisdom of God in an age where God’s published thoughts on a subject are rejected even by His preachers, is increasingly becoming a difficult thing to do. We are living in the days that the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he said:

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

Martin Luther King, Sr., Martin Luther King, Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., nine major Black Church denominations, and more importantly, neither God the Father or God the Son would have stood side-by-side with Michael Sam on this issue. Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. wrote a paper predicting that this day would come—the open embracing of homosexuality in the Black Community—because of Black preachers like you, who compromise biblical truth.

Rev. Sharpton, we have truly arrived when we not only stand for “justice rolling down like water,” but also when we stand for “righteousness as a mighty stream.” In your pseudo attempt to stand for “justice” in the Michael Sam episode, you are trampling over biblical righteousness. Where so-called justice conflicts with righteousness, we must let righteousness triumph over, what would obviously be a misrepresentation and false view of justice. Where there is true justice, it does not conflict with righteousness. And where there is true righteousness, it does not conflict with justice. Righteousness exalts a nation. Same sex relationships destroyed a nation (Genesis 19).

Whereas, you applaud Michael Sam announcing that he is gay, I deplore the fact that you are removing the ancient landmarks that the fathers have set. Shame on you for denouncing biblical truth; Shame on you for not calling sin—sin; Shame on you for telling people what they want to hear, rather than, what thus saith the Lord; Shame on you for being an “ear-scratching prophet.”

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. “(II Timothy 4:3-4)

Rev. Sharpton, to this extent I support Michael Sam and your argument:  I do not believe that Michael Sam should be denied an opportunity to play pro football—if he otherwise qualifies—solely because he is a homosexual. Unless a “morals clause” is going to cover all sexual sin, and disqualify the eligibility of all NFL players who engage in sexual sin, I agree:  Michael Sam should not be disqualified from playing in the NFL solely based on his sexual preferences. The fact that Michael Sam is announcing his sexual preferences and practices before the NFL Draft is admirable in the sense that he is being open, honest, and courageous on this subject. I respect a person who is honest and forthright, even if I disagree with their position and practice.

But just as Rev. Sharpton stands by Michael Sam, Bible-believing Christians and custodians of the American Judeo-Christian cultural heritage must also be prepared to stand by any NFL team owner, coach, player, general manager, etc., who prefers not to have to deal with the distractions associated with an open homosexual player. The potential of having two players on the same team romantically involved with each other; or Michael Sam in romantic pursuit of Emmitt, Cam, Eric, Nate, or Larry against their objections must also be safeguarded by team management.

A straight female basketball coach in my congregation says that trying to coach a team where the players are sexually involved with each other is extremely problematic. I pity the coach who has to manage players treating each other differently on the same team due to sexual interest or involvement.

A Brooklyn Dodgers coach was fired during the Jackie Robinson Era because the Catholic Church was unified to refuse to buy season tickets to support a team where the head coach was openly and unashamedly promiscuous. Look how far we have fallen morally that a player can announce that he is gay, and a Baptist preacher comes to his side to support his gay lifestyle! I support his right to play football, but I do not support his gay lifestyle. I support the teams’ and players’ rights not to want him on their teams.

If I were on a NFL team that drafted an openly gay player, I would literally quit the team. I would be disappointed that team management expects me to share the locker room with someone attracted to the same sex. My rejection and disappointment would be toward the team management who made the decision—not Michael Sam.

Michael Sam is a man that God loves, and so do I. He is a man who has made some unwise choices—so have I. He is a man whose draft stock is falling because of his choices. I’ve also had to pay a price for some unwise choices. I would welcome Michael Sam as a member of my congregation if he confesses faith in Jesus Christ as Lord even while he works through his beliefs and practices of homosexuality. Rev. Sharpton, the lesson to be learned from this for our young people is that if you make unwise choices in life, the hour of accountability or reckoning is inevitable. And you have only yourself to blame for choices that you have made.

All Bible-believing Christians should do like the Catholic Church and simply refuse to buy tickets to a game, or support a team who drafts homosexuals. It’s a team’s right to draft them. It’s a believer’s right to boycott them. If the National and Southern Baptist churches were in unity as they should be on this issue, an NFL Team would think long and hard before making such a decision.

Rev. Sharpton, you may ask, “What about all of the fornicators and adulterous on NFL teams?” You are right: Fornicators and adulterers are equally as wrong. But in the words of the late Dr. E.V. Hill—“at least that’s natural.” We all have sinned. And I say of myself as Paul said of himself, “I am the chief of all sinners.” Yes, every NFL roster is comprised of sinners. Every church and pulpit in America is comprised of sinners. But must we go down the slippery slope and affirm those who engage in unnatural, deviant, and team dis-unifying behavior?

Rev. Sharpton, how can you call supporting homosexuality “justice,” when Dr. King called it a “problem” and one that could be overcome? Rev. Sharpton, please reconsider expending your enormous influence and communication effectiveness toward leading this nation down the path toward Sodom and Gomorrah? For the sake of our children, won’t you reconsider this?

WHERE BLACK HISTORY AND ISRAEL’S HISTORY INTERSECT:

“OH MARY DON’T YOU WEEP”

Celebrating the Commonality of Black American History and Israel’s History

The two most persecuted people-groups in the history of mankind are the Jews and Blacks. This has been a major point of identity and bonding between these two groups. Jewish Americans strongly supported the Civil Rights Movement more so than any other ethnic group. They often marched with Civil Rights Leaders to provide a shield of protection and support.

The most celebrated African-American preacher besides Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the Civil-Rights Era was Aretha Franklin’s late father, Rev. C.L. Franklin. Rev. Franklin pastored the New Bethel Baptist Church, Detroit Michigan, from 1946-1979. He was also a co-laborer with Dr. King in the Civil Rights Movement and worked to end discriminatory practices against Black United Auto Workers members in Detroit. Dr. King was the premier Civil Rights leader of that Era. Rev. Franklin was the premier revivalist-evangelist in Black churches. These two men cooperated with each other for the common good of God’s people and the advancement of His Kingdom.

After attending the Baptist World Alliance in London in 1955, Rev. Franklin journeyed to Israel to visit the biblical cities and sites. In 1959 on a return trip from India, Dr. and Mrs. King stopped in Jerusalem, rented a car and took the meandering road down to Jericho, “where the walls came tumbling down.”

Did you know that iconic African American pastors now in the arms of Jesus often traveled to the Old Jerusalem, before taking the journey to the New Jerusalem? Dr. E.V.Hill, Dr. Manuel Scott, Sr., Dr. J.H. Jackson, Drs. Martin Luther King, Sr. and Jr., Dr. J.C. Wade, Dr. A. Edward Davis, Dr. Sandy Ray, C.L. Franklin, and Bishop G.E. Patterson would be listed in that number.

Many of the most prominent Black gospel singers have also toured Israel, including Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward, James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar and Andre Crouch. They often sang and preached about the geography, the glory, the story and the God of Israel. These preachers and singers are not just satisfied having a spiritual and musical connection with Israel; they also wanted a physical connection. Thus, they made the journey.

It is my belief that Christians, particularly those of us who preach, teach and sing, ought to love Israel and make a pilgrimage to Israel. Just as Muslims love Mecca; and devout ones want to make at least one visit there, Christians ought to more so love Jerusalem. It was the story and Scriptures of the Israelites that God used to provide the salvation and inspiration for our spiritual and physical deliverance.

Think about it:  Jerusalem, Israel is the only city in the world that the Bible indicates that peace and prosperity may be granted to those who love the city of the Great King (Psalm 122:6-9; Matthew 5:35). Jerusalem is the only city on earth that can claim to be the geographical center of the world. Israel is the only nation that can claim to be the fountain of vocal and instrumental music (Ezekiel 5:5, 38:12 and Psalm 87:7).

A popular Negro spiritual of yester years is named, “I Want to Walk in Jerusalem Just like John.” Walking in Jerusalem, just like John, has become a physical and historical reality for many. African-American Christians love Jerusalem spiritually and historically. She has loved us back physically; there is a street in the modern day country of Israel named in honor of Martin Luther King. Those of us who love the Kingdom of God today ought to travel to Israel, so that we can walk in Jerusalem just like John. Where does Black History and Israel’s History intersect? My thesis is Black History and Israel’s History intersect in our songs, sermons, scripture readings, names of our churches, names of our sons and daughters, and the common legacy of slavery. Nothing illustrates this thesis better than a historical and biblical analysis of the African American gospel song, “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep.”

“Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” was one of the most popular gospel songs during the Civil Rights Era. It addressed the hopes, aspirations, fears and courage of the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King and Rev. Franklin understood the significance of this song to African American people. Dr. King preached a sermon called “The Death of Evil on the Seashore,” that captures the biblical message of the song. His text was Exodus 14:30, “And Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore.“ The Exodus event was the biblical basis of the song. The historical basis and inspiration for this song was worship event in a Southern church during the slavery era involving an elderly slave woman named Mary. Rev. Franklin preached about the roots and relevance of the song. Rev. Franklin explained why Mary was weeping.

“Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” was first recorded by the Fisk Jubilee Male Quartet in 1915. The original version and various revisions of this song throughout its one hundred plus year’s history, encompasses the themes of dilemma, deliverance, heritage and hope, and comfort and care.

Various versions of “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” has transcended the African American community and has been recorded by soloist and groups as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, the Swan Silvertones, Peter Seeger, Burl Ives, Inez Andrews, the Caravans and Yolanda Adams.

It was the lead song featured on the bestselling gospel album in history, “Amazing Grace” by Aretha Franklin, recorded in 1972. This song was a guaranteed “house wrecker,” which means it simply went over extremely well with Black congregations and gospel music lovers. It remains a favorite and often requested song among older African Americans. Dr. Wallace Best, a current Princeton Religion Professor, selected this classic as one of the “Ten Best Gospel Songs” in a Huttington Post February 2012 blog.

In a biography entitled Give me This Mountain; Life History and Selected Sermons of Rev. C.L. Franklin, edited by Jeff Todd Titon, Aretha’s father provides us with the history of this simple, Scripture based, celebrated, and enduring song. While preaching from the text Psalm 137:1-4 that reveals the reluctance of Israel to sing songs of Zion in a strange land; Rev. Franklin argues the point that it is important for oppressed people to have a song to sing and the benefits thereof. Here is how the song “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” originated, according to Rev. Franklin:

“The story is told by Dr. Miles Mark Fisher about an old woman, either in the Carolinas or in Georgia, in those days when a great English preacher, the brother of John Wesley, came over to preach. Many of the Negroes wanted to see this great preacher. Frequently they could sit in the church, at least in the balcony, if the balcony was not crowded, if most of the regular members were on the main floor. But on this particular occasion the place was packed, and they stood on the outside, looking through the window, listening at this English preacher preach the gospel. And when the sermon was over and the invitation was extended, one old lady walked in the front door, and walked down the aisle, and took the seat to join the church. Pastor came up and said, “Lady, you can’t join this church.” She said, “But sir, I got ‘eligion. I’ve been converted. I felt the power of God here today while the man preached, and I want to jine the church.” He said, “But you can’t join this church. Go and join some other church, some of your own churches.” And when he insisted that she could not join, she went on down the aisle, mumbling to herself, saying, “I’m going to tell God one of these days how you treat me,” as tears rolled down her cheeks.

“It is said that those who were looking in the window began to sing a song. As the old lady’s name was Mary, they sang: ‘Oh Mary, don’t weep, don’t mourn; Pharaoh’s army got drownded; Mary, don’t weep, and then don’t mourn.’

“Think of the message that is wrapped up in that song. I think that everybody ought to have a song. I think that Israel should have sung down in Babylon.”

Although rejected for church membership and fellowship by a Southern White Pastor during slavery, Mary the slave was comforted, encouraged, and given hope by fellow slaves when they put to melody the story of Exodus 15:4-5:

“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea;
His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.
The depths have covered them;
They sank to the bottom like a stone.”

The Hebrew Scriptures have inspired the songs, sermons, success, salvation, and aspirations of African Americans throughout her sojourn in America. However, the relationship between Africans and the God of Israel did not start in America, but actually can be traced back to the biblical period, as we will examine in the next chapter.

Just as God used the Exodus experience to provide inspiration for physical deliverance, Israel can also inspire deliverance from spiritual bondage. The relationship between Israel and Africa should be strengthened, studied, and celebrated; so that future generations may be inspired, enlightened, and encouraged as previous generations were. The two most persecuted people groups in the history of mankind are the Jews and Blacks. This has been a major point of identity and bonding historically, between the two people groups.

The Bible commands that one generation should praise the Lord’s works to another (Psalm 145:4). The Bible commands that fathers should teach the history of Israel and the wonderful works of God to their children, so that future generations would know God’s acts in history, and “set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God” (Psalm 78:1-7). The Bible commands believers to “Remember the days of old” and what took place in previous generations, so that it might inform our current realities (Deuteronomy 32:7). The Jewish prophet Isaiah informs us that God established Israel and promised to keep her in order to be a “light” to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6). Holding the baby Jesus in His arms (Luke 2:28), Simeon declared that He would be “A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:32).

The Divine purpose of the nation of Israel is to be a “light” to the Gentiles. The purpose of the Incarnation of Christ was to be a “light to bring revelation to the Gentiles.” John said that Jesus was the “true Light which gives light to every man that come into the world” (John 1:9). Jesus came to bring us light and life.

This elderly slave woman named Mary needed light and life in her dejected, downtrodden and discouraging situation. Where did she find that light? Her fellow slaves sang to her to look to Israel for that light.

If ever there was a time in the history of America and Black America that we need a light, it is right now. Mary was weeping not only because of her condition, but the condition of her people.

We ought to be weeping today over the destruction of the family. We ought to be weeping over the divorce rate. We ought to be weeping over the teen-age pregnancy rate. We ought to be weeping over criminal acts, violent senseless acts, and the incarceration rates of our people. We ought to be weeping over the gang and gun violence racking our inner cities. We ought to be weeping over the school shootings in the suburbs. We ought to be weeping over Black on Black crime as well; not just when a White man kills a Black man. We ought to be weeping over the senseless acts of violence and death in Chicago, Dallas, Detroit and Little Rock. We ought to be weeping over the high dropout rates in our high schools. We ought to be weeping over the drug and alcohol addiction and abuse that affect many of our families. We ought to be weeping over the hundreds of people lined up in the streets to legally buy recreational marijuana in Colorado. We ought to be weeping over the proliferation of strip clubs, pornography addictions, adultery, fornication, child abuse, and homosexuality that’s sweeping the land. We ought to be weeping over the approval of same-sex marriage in the United States. Modern Israel remains steadfast opposed to it. We need to ask ourselves, why is it that modern Israel is not experiencing gang violence and school shootings? We ought to be weeping over the high unemployment among our people. We ought to be weeping over the hopelessness, despair, discouragement and depression that have many of our people in a vice-grip. We ought to be weeping over motherless and fatherless children. We ought to weep over the spiritual condition of our nation.

However, because of the God of Israel, we still have hope; the same hope the slaves found effective and fruitful. “Mary, Don’t You Weep” because we serve a God that drowned Pharaoh’s army. We serve a God who gives light in the midst of darkness. We serve a God who leads us in the path of righteousness for His Name sake. We serve a mighty God who is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before His glory with exceeding great joy. God has given us the “light” of Israel and the light of Christ to guide us out of the current darkness we face.

C.L. Franklin is right: “Everybody ought to have a song.” Our problem may be that we are simply without a song. Don’t under estimate the power of a song. The Bible commands us “to be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spirituals songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18,19). A song can be a sermon put to music (Colossians 3:16). The Book of Psalms was used as a hymnbook in Solomon’s Temple.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16)

This generation and future generations need to understand what God has done in previous generations to deliver His people from darkness and bring them into the light. We need to take the word of God and put it to song again.

God gave Moses a song when He delivered His people from Pharaoh’s army. It is recorded in Exodus 15. He gave Miriam and the women a dance. Whenever God sends deliverance, it’s time to dance. God gave the slaves a song, when essentially, that’s all they had. There was a time when Black people put sermons to song.

When faced with the brutal realities of slavery, and the seemingly, insurmountable, impossibility of freedom and deliverance; they sang, a sermon in a song:

“Go Down Moses, Way down in Egypt Land and Tell Old Pharaoh, to let my people go.”

They sang about the mysteries and majesty of Christ in the midst of a miserable, demeaning, and maniacal situation. They sang:

“Ezekiel saw the wheel
Way up in the middle of the air
Ezekiel saw the wheel
Way up in the middle of the air
And the little wheel run by faith
And the big wheel run by the grace of God
A wheel in a wheel
Way up in the middle of the air”

The old preacher would then say, “Jesus is a Wheel, in the middle of the wheel”! They sang a sermon in a song.

They sang, “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep.” They later added another line, “Tell Martha not to moan.” Why? “Because Pharaoh’s army got drowned in the Red Sea, Oh Mary Don’t You Weep, Tell Martha,  not to moan.” They sang a sermon in a song.

They sang the songs of Zion (Israel) in a foreign land. They sang the “Samson” story in “Witness for my Lord.” They sang the drama and the deliverance in “Daniel in the Lion’s Den,” “Hebrew Children in the Fiery Furnace,” and “David and Goliath.” They sang, “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel.” They sang the victory when they sang: “Walk in Jerusalem Just Like John.” They sang “Joshua Fought the Battle At Jericho.” They sang “We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.” They sang “Twelve Gates to the City.” They sang about the “New Jerusalem.” They sang a sermon in a song.

First Baptist Church Charleston, SC, a predominately White church, was the first large prominent Baptist Church in the South during the days of slavery. They were of a high church tradition—what we call a “silk stocking” church. They sang hymns. The hymn, “All Hail the Power of Jesus,” was written in 1779 during the days of slavery. No doubt the slaves at First Baptist who worshipped in the back pews (section where slaves sat) sang this great Hymn that was born in that Era. I visited this church facility a few years ago and saw where the slaves sat. This song not only exalts Jesus, but also the Israel that produced Jesus. The slaves and the slave masters sang together:

“All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall; bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all. Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.

Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race, ye ransomed from the Fall, hail Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all. Hail Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.

Let every kindred, every tribe on this terrestrial ball, to Him all majesty ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all. To Him all majesty ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all. ”

The Christian slaves understood that they were grafted into the family of Abraham and they made Israel’s story, their story. How did the slaves endure, overcome, and find hope while being in physical bondage for over 200 years? I’ll tell you how!!! They learned the story of Israel having been delivered from Egyptian slavery. They heard sermons based on the story. They originated songs based on the story. The most succinct, simplest, inspiring and empowering song sang by the slaves that provided hope, encouragement, and care, in the midst of despair was the song-”Oh, Mary Don’t You Weep.” But they also sang based on the story of Israel: “Deep River,” “Didn’t It Rain Children,” “Twelve Gates to the City…”

We are no longer in the bondage of physical slavery, but we are in slavery to debt, drugs, family feuding, fatherlessness, and spiritual bondage. May the Lord continue to bless His people with a song!

There are three things that we should remember that can deliver us from our dilemmas:

  1. God gave us the Scriptures that He gave to Israel. God promised us that if we would read, study and apply the Scriptures to our lives, we would be successful (Joshua 1:8).
  2. God gives us songs inspired by His land and people, Israel. Speaking of Israel and her ability to inspire singing, the Psalmist wrote, “Both the singers and the players on instruments say, All my springs are in you.” Israel is the home, the foundation and “springs” of all true Kingdom-centered God-glorifying instrumental and vocal music (Psalm 87:7). God wants you to sing to Him a song everyday throughout the years. He said the origin of that song would “spring” from Israel.
  3. God gave us a Savior who was born in Bethlehem (Israel), hid in Egypt (Africa), raised in Nazareth, baptized in the Jordan, tempted in the wilderness, performed miracles along the roadside, raised Lazarus from the dead at Bethany, walked on the water in Galilee, brought salvation to Zaccheus house in Jericho, prayed all night long in Gethsemane, was crucified on Calvary, raised from the dead in Jerusalem, and will one day return to the Mount of Olives.

You ought to sing about Him. You ought to shout His praises. You ought to say “Blessed is He who has come in the name of the Lord.” You ought to sing “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep, Oh Mary Don’t You Weep, Pharaoh’s army got drowned in the sea. Oh Mary don’t you weep, tell Martha not to moan.”

You ought to go to Jerusalem and see the place where they crucified Him, because, “Surely He Died on Calvary.” You ought to go to Jerusalem and see the garden where He prayed. Then sing, “I Come to the Garden Alone.”  You ought to stand in the dungeon where they kept Him all night long before they crucified Him, and then sing “Were You There?”! You ought to sit in the Upper Room in Jerusalem and sing with Mahalia Jackson, “In the Upper Room.” A trip to Israel will physically connect us to what we are already spiritually connected to.

Notes:

  1. Later versions of the song inter-mix Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus into the song, without noting the distinctions within the song between Mary the African slave and Mary the sister of Lazarus. When it’s understood that Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, are added to embellish the deliverance—dilemma motif, then this song is not theologically problematic.
  2. Some have criticized and others have rejected this song, because of the seeming inaccurate participation of Mary the sister of Lazarus into the Exodus story. If the historicity of the song is properly understood, then it does not pose any doctrinal accurate questions.
  3. Dr. Martin Luther King did not reference this song in his sermon, “The Death of Evil on the Seashore.” I made mention of his sermon because it documents the popularity of the Exodus event in the Black Christian community. Secondly, the song was at its zenith of popularity during Dr. King’s lifetime. Therefore, it was inevitable that he was familiar with it.

GOD’S VISION FOR HIS KINGDOM

Revisiting the Meaning of The Gospel of The Kingdom

God established the gospel in order to establish families, in order to establish His Kingdom in every nation. The purpose of the family is to pass down a godly heritage. The family is God’s evangelism plan and small group discipleship program. The Church’s job is to disciple families so that they can continue the process at home.

God’s business is His Kingdom, and the Kingdom business is the family enterprise. God wants to bless the families of the earth. If families are not blessed, the land is cursed (Malachi 4:4-6). If the land is cursed, the Kingdom will not be enlarged. Therefore, God wants to bless families in order to advance His Kingdom. The Trinitarian enterprise represents a Kingdom Family on a forward advance. God had only one Son, and He made Him a preacher; and the only message that God gave to His Son was the gospel of the Kingdom. The Son was anointed by God’s Spirit. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit function as a family.

The theme of Jesus’ preaching was the Kingdom of God. Jesus told the crowd at Galilee, “I must preach the Kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43). Mark reported, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14). It is of utmost important that we understand that Jesus didn’t just preach the gospel, He preached “the gospel of the Kingdom of God. A condition that Jesus said must be met before He returned would be that the whole church would have to preach the whole gospel to the whole world.

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)

I do not believe that we have any need to fear Jesus’ coming back being imminent or immediate because the church has not yet preached the gospel of the Kingdom to all nations. Christ is not going to come back until the church gets the gospel straight. The truth of the matter is we have not begun to preach the gospel of the Kingdom in America yet, let alone around the world. Jesus will not return until we get the gospel straight and preach it straight. We preach the gospel of Salvation; rarely do we preach the gospel of the Kingdom.

The Apostle Paul taught that the gospel is not a doctrine we believe, but a revelation we receive.

11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12)

Paul told the church at Corinth, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received “(I Cor. 15:3a). The only gospel that we are authorized to preach is the gospel that we have received “through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We must preach the same gospel that Jesus preached. Paul testified to the Galatians,

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9)

The Apostle Paul taught that the gospel is a revelation from God, not a construct of man.

We need not wrestle or struggle with the meaning of the “gospel of the Kingdom,” because according to Paul, God Himself preached the gospel to Abraham.

“And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8)

Wow! That’s an eye-opener for me. God preached the gospel to Abraham. If we are to understand and rightly proclaim the gospel, we must understand and proclaim the gospel that God preached to Abraham. One thing is for certain:  If Jesus and God preached the gospel before the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:14-15; Galatians 3:8), then although the gospel does inevitably include the message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and the implications thereof (I Corinthians 15:3), the gospel is not limited to those facts, because that is not the entire “revelation.” We must understand and proclaim the “revelation” if we are to understand the gospel. And if we are to understand the revelation, we must understand the gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached and the gospel that God preached to Abraham. They are the same gospel, and the same gospel that Paul preached. Yet, it is a gospel that is not commonly preached today. So what is the gospel that God preached to Abraham?

I. The Gospel that God Preached to Abraham was the Gospel of the Kingdom

Paul summed up the gospel that God preached to Abraham in eight words:  “In you all the nations shall be blessed” (Galatians 3:8b). God told Abraham, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3c). God Himself preached the gospel to Abraham in order to produce a Kingdom family of nations (Galatians 3:6-8; Genesis 12:1-3):

“Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country,
From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

(Genesis 12:1-3)

Whatever else the gospel includes, it cannot exclude “family,” “nations” and “blessings.” The gospel that God preached to Abraham is simply:  The good news that God the King is calling His Kingdom family, to proclaim Kingdom blessings, to the nations’ families. The Kingdom blessing is the gift of God’s Son, crucified, resurrected, reigning and ruling, giving abundant life and eternal life to all who receive and believe.

Heaven is a by-product of the gospel that God preached to Abraham. The blessing was to benefit families on earth, so that they could in turn be a blessing to others (Genesis 12:2). The Kingdom enterprise is the family-blessing business. When God preached the gospel to Abraham, He promised five blessings:

Genesis 12:2b:  “I will bless you.”

Genesis 12:2c:  “And you shall be a blessing.”

Genesis 12:3a:  “I will bless those who bless you.”

Genesis 12:3b:  “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The Hebrew word for bless is “Barak.” It means to benefit you abundantly. The Hebrew word for blessing in Genesis 12:2c means, “prosperity, blessing, liberal, pool, present.”

The gospel that God preached to Abraham was a promise to bless the families to Abraham was a promise to bless the families of the earth who responded in faith and obedience to His gospel. Abundant life now, not just eternal life in the sweet bye and bye, was the gospel that God preached to Abraham.

Absolutely essential to Kingdom advancement is family advancement. So goes the family…So goes the Kingdom. God has called His church to the family-blessing business. Families are blessed when families are walking in the abundant life and have received eternal life. God created the Hebrew people and the nation of Israel in order to bless the families of the earth. That’s why it is so vitally important that we fight for the preservation and development of our families.

II. The Gospel that Jesus Preached and Modeled Was the Gospel of the Kingdom

The first recorded Word from the lips of Jesus was a word to His family about priorities. Jesus said to His mother and father after He’d been missing for three days:

“And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)

“I must be about my Father’s business” reminds us that God is King, and His Kingdom rules over all the earth; and His Kingdom business is a family enterprise. The business of the Father is to build and bless the family. After Jesus spoke these words, Luke records:

“Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. (Luke 2:51)

Jesus modeled the Kingdom family concept by functioning in submission to His parents and to His Father.

The book ends of the Old and New Testaments make it clear that at the center of God’s agenda is the family. The genealogies that are scattered throughout the Old and New Testaments indicate the family roots, shoots, and relationships are vitally important to God.

In Genesis 1, we read about the creation of the family (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25). In Malachi 4:5-6, we read about the significance and centrality of fathers to family life. In Matthew 1 we read about the family tree of Jesus. In Revelation 1:6, 9, we read about Christ’s Kingdom family. In Revelation 22:16, 20 among the last recorded words of Jesus, He expresses His family lineage to King David and the promise of His return for His family—the families of the earth who have received Him (Revelation 5:9; 7:9). Jesus took the time to entrust the care of His mother to John before He cried out, “It is Finished” (John 19:25, 27, 30). Jesus declared that family is defined by faith connections more so than physical or blood connections (Mark 3:31-34). The book ends of the Bible addresses the family, because families are the object of the gospel.

If God wanted something other than a family, He would have commanded us to call Him something other than a “Father” (Matthew 6:9-11). God relates to His people based on a Father-family concept, constructor model. Jesus makes it clear that in order to become a part of God’s family, one must be born-again into God’s Kingdom (John 3:3, 5). In a way that my head can’t explain it, but my heart believes it, “the blessing of Abraham…comes upon Gentiles in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:14). Abraham becomes the father of us all when we submit to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, by the conviction and conversion of God’s Spirit. The Gentile who is a born-again believer can also claim Abraham as his father (Romans 4:1, 16-18). God has us to call Him Father; He also has us to call Abraham father, for one simple reason:  God wants a family. Yet, Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I Am.”

Satan works overtime in an effort to destroy the family. Satan recognizes that if he can destroy the family, he literally can destroy the Kingdom of God. Why do you think that Satan is unleashing a confused definition of the family on earth at this hour?

God did not preserve pre-flood nations or select individuals; He only preserved one family—Noah’s. And the one family consisted of four couples. Why did God preserve families as opposed to select individuals? He preserved the family because families are extremely important to the Kingdom enterprise and the spreading of the gospel. God has sovereignly chosen to construct His Kingdom in the concept of family. Satan has chosen to construct his kingdom on the concept of destroying the family. At the heart of the gospel is “fathers,” “family” “nations” and “blessings” (Genesis 12:3). The gospel that Jesus preached was about the Father and “fathers,” “family,” “nations” and “blessings.”

III. The Apostle Paul Preached and Modeled the Gospel of the Kingdom

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’” (Acts 14:21-22)

“And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. (Acts 19:8)

“And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.” (Acts 20:25)

“So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.” (Acts 28:23)

30 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” (Acts 28:30-31)

“So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.” (Acts 16:31-32)

“Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.” (Romans 16:13)

God’s vision for His Kingdom is simply that every person in every nation would belong to a kingdom family.

“In you all the nations shall be blessed” (Galatians 3:8b).

“In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3c).

31 Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. 32 And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.”

“33 But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” 34 And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)

The gospel of the Kingdom is the good news that God, The King, is calling His Kingdom family to proclaim Kingdom blessings, to the nations’ families. The Kingdom blessing is the gift of God’s Son, crucified, resurrected, reigning, and ruling in our family affairs. The disciples preached—“there is another King—Jesus” (Acts 17:7).

The gospel of the Kingdom focuses on the present reality, rule, reign, and realm of authority of Christ, particularly in the family—not just the hereafter or future hope and rule of Christ. Jesus told His disciples, “And as you go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7), Go and preach the Kingdom of God. God preached and modeled Kingdom family life. Jesus preached and modeled Kingdom family life. Paul preached and modeled Kingdom family life. What are you preaching and modeling? God’s business is His Kingdom, and the Kingdom business is family enterprise.

The gospel is the good news that the families of the earth can enter into God’s Kingdom through the blessing of God’s Son, and receive abundant life and eternal life, now, by the power of God’s Spirit.

THE WONDER OF ISRAEL AND HER RELATIONSHIP TO AFRICA

THE AFRICAN-ISRAELI CONNECTION

“Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things.” (Psalm 72:18)

“To Him who alone does great wonders, For His mercy endures forever;” (Psalm 136:4)

“Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.” (Psalm 68:31)

“From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, The daughter of My dispersed ones, Shall bring My offering.” (Zephaniah 3:10)

Israel is a wonder of God’s creation. Jerusalem is the only city, and Israel is the only country that God said He created for the sake of His Name. Jerusalem is called “the city of our God,” “the joy of the whole earth,” and “the city of the great king” (Psalm 48:1-2). Israel is the place God sovereignly chose to house His Scripture, His Synagogue, His Son, and the first congregation of His saints. Jerusalem is the place where God’s Spirit first manifests Himself on planet earth. God called Israel “the glory of all lands” (Ezekiel 20:6, 15). The spiritual and physical appeal of the land of Israel makes it glorious. The name of God is associated with Israel more so than any other land or nation on the face of the earth.

Jerusalem is the capitol city of Israel and the central city of the whole earth (Ezekiel 5:5). There is no city on the face of the earth more precious to citizens of the Kingdom of God than Jerusalem.

The Psalmist valued Jerusalem above his skill, occupation, and life. He said:

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.” (Psalm 137:5-6, NKJV)

Daniel even prayed facing Jerusalem:

“And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.” (Daniel 6:10b)

Why was Jerusalem so precious and prominent to Daniel and David? Because it was the place where God chose to dwell, it is the place where God chose to meet His people. The ancient Hebrews considered Jerusalem the throne room of God, the place where God rested.

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His dwelling place:
14 “This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.” (Psalm 132:13, 14)

The Jews in Babylonian exile mourned the isolation from Jerusalem (Psalm 137:1-4). Three times a year all Hebrew males were expected to “appear before the Lord your God in the place where the Lord chooses” (Deuteronomy 16:16). The place that the Lord chose was Jerusalem:  “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place.” This is why Jerusalem and Israel was and is a special place for the people of God.

Israel is the only place on the face of the earth where documented miracles occurred for many, many years of various and sundry kind. May I say one more time: Israel is a wonder of God’s creation? God planted Israel in the center of the world to be a witness to His kingdom to all nations.

In the sovereignty of God He afforded the blessing to be a neighbor to Israel to the continent of Africa. God planted Africa as a neighbor to Israel in order for Africa to be a witness and participant in her story, and to worship His glory. Israel’s story is about Christ and His Kingdom. Africa’s story was to “Go tell it on the mountains, over the fields and everywhere, go tell it on the mountains, that Jesus Christ is born.”

Although born in Bethlehem, Jesus was hid in Africa (Egypt), because of her proximity to Israel. What A blessing to have the honor of hosting the Savior, who is now seated at the right hand of the Father, preparing to host men of “every kindred, tongue, tribe and nation” (Revelation 5:8-9; 7:9)!

The purpose of the following chapters is to highlight the relationship between Israel and Africa in the Bible and to point out the significance and relevance of understanding their shared stories. My thesis is:  God sovereignly connected Israel and Africa and their descendants from the beginning of time for their mutual benefit and His praise. Israel shared geographic, geological, historical, physical, and spiritual connectedness with Africa and Africans that was providentially arranged and orchestrated.

The magnitude, depth, and uniqueness of this relationship have not been given the attention that it deserves in the Academy, or in pulpits. There are various reasons why the relationship between Israel and Africa has been ignored, and why the presence and contributions of Africa and Africans in the Bible has largely been ignored in the Academy. However, it is high time that we highlight the meaningful and significant relationships between these two biblical people groups.

The Kingdom of God is on a forceful advance on the African Continent. Among the distribution of the world’s Christian population, the ten countries with the largest number of Christians include three African Countries: Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia. Approximately one in every four Christians lives in Sub-Saharan Africa (24%). Perhaps we are seeing the fulfillment of the Davidic prophecy: “Ethiopia will quickly stretch out her hands to God.” (Psalm 68:31b).

Ethiopia is mentioned significantly in the Bible and is geographically located only 1557 miles from Israel. The distance from Dallas, TX, to New York, NY, is 1546 miles. Ethiopia is a strong Christian nation today, in part, because of her proximity to Israel. The roots of the biblical faith of Ethiopians can be traced back to Bible days. The word “Rome” and its derivations are mentioned only twenty times in the Bible and not once in the Old Testament. The word “Greece” and its derivations are mentioned only twenty-six times in the Bible and four times in the Old Testament. Ethiopia is mentioned over fifty times, and there are more than one thousand references to Hamitic cities, countries, or people in Scripture. Historically, Africa has been referred to as the Land of Ham.

Dr. J. Daniel Hays laments and documents the fact that the presence and significant contributions of Africans in the Bible has been largely ignored. Dr. Hays is Chair of the Department of Biblical Studies and Theology at Ouachita Baptist University, Arkansas. He also happens to be an Anglo American. The name of his book is From Every People and Nation, A Biblical Theology of Race, published by Intervarsity Press. Dr. Hays speaks persuasively, powerfully, prophetically and from the perspective of a professor, as he addresses the issue of race and the Bible. Allow me to quote him liberally in support of my thesis:

“…clear portrayals of Black Africans in the Bible are all but ignored. This marginalization of Black African presence is perpetrated, consciously or subconsciously, not only by the popularizers of Christianity, but also by serious scholars. ‘Cultural pre-understanding’ apparently influences many of us in the academic guild even though we often piously claim to be historically objective. (Hays, Page 26)

“A good example of this subtle—and probably subconscious—bias can be found in scholarly discussions about the people of the biblical world. For example, the kingdom of Cush, discussed below was a Black African kingdom along the Nile River just south of Egypt. The terms Cush or Cushite appear 54 times in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, indicating that the Cushites, an African people, played a fairly significant role in the Old Testament story.” (Hays, Page 26)

“Many European and American scholars of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were blatantly racist. This is particularly true concerning early European Egyptologists, who attempted to appropriate Egyptian culture as ‘Western’ and to distance the Egyptian cultural advances as far as possible from any African connections…” (Hays, Page 26)

“Therefore the perception conveyed to the Church, both through the popular media and through serious scholarly work, is that there was a significant Caucasian involvement in the biblical story but no Black African involvement. This perception is erroneous, and it has fostered disastrous theology within today’s White Church that has contributed to the continued, almost total division of the North American Church into Black and White.” (Hays, Page 27)

Dr. Hays argues that translating the Hebrew word “kus” by three different terms—Ethiopia, Cush, and Nubia, it minimizes the significance that the Cushites play in the Scriptures:

“Likewise the use of several different English terms to translate the one Hebrew term “kus” tends to diffuse the significance that the Cushites play in the Scriptures. This phenomenon may also reflect an attitude of indifference on the part of the White translation editors toward the significance of this term.

“Of course the terminology is not the critical issue. What is critical is to recognize that these different terms refer to the same continuous civilization: a civilization that stood as one of the major powers in the Ancient Near East for over 2,000 years; a civilization that appears again and again in the biblical text.

“The Cushites are particularly important to this study because they were clearly Black African people with classic ‘Negroid’ features.” (Hays, Page 36)

Dr. Hay’s insight documents that Ethiopians were prominent in the biblical era:

“The Cushite warriors are not merely dark-skinned or tanned; they are clearly black.” (Hays, Page 37)

Hays also noted that:

“…most books on Egyptian art reveal portrayals of people, usually Cushites, who have very black skin color…a good picture of a sculptured granite sphinx with the head of Taharqa, the Cushite king who ruled Egypt as Pharaoh during the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. Taharqa is not depicted in the same art style as Egyptian pharaohs, for his features are Negroid—thick lips, broad nose, and tight curly hair…” (Hays, Page 37)

“The colour of the Cushites’ skin even became proverbial: in Jerusalem Jeremiah wrote, ‘Can the Cushite change his skin?’ (Jer. 13:23). The Greeks and Romans used a similar proverb: `to wash an Ethiopian white’ became a common expression used to convey the futility of trying to change nature…” (Hays, Page 39)

Dr. Hays does not make the Egyptians White as some scholars have done, nor does he make them pure Black as others have done. He suggests that they were African and Asiatic:

“However, a fairly strong consensus is emerging among scholars today that the early Egyptians were probably a mixture of both Black African elements and Asiatic elements… (Hays, Page 40)

“The people in the Old Testament reflected a wide range of ethnic diversity. However, contrary to popular perceptions, few of these characters, if any, looked like modern northern Europeans or mid-western Americans…”

“…Also playing a role in the Old Testament are the Cushites (Black Africans), the Egyptians (probably a mix of Asiatic and Black Africans), and the Indo-Europeans (Philistines and Hittites). Thus the Old Testament world was completely multi-ethnic.” (Hays, Page 45)

Israeli and African roots and relationships run all the way back to Genesis and the history of these two people-groups often intertwines.

Geographically, the continent of Africa and the nation of Israel share a common border—the Gaza Strip (Acts 8:26-27). Gaza was the last settlement before the desert wasteland stretching to Egypt. This was the road most travelers took to Africa.

Geologically, Israel and Africa share a contiguous connection with the Great Rift Valley that runs from Israel through Kenya littering the landscape in both regions with beauty, fruits, vegetables, flowers, rivers, streams and other natural resources.

Physiologically, Israel was birth in the Middle East, but she bred in Egypt, in Africa—the land of Ham (Psalm 105:23, 27; 106:22, Amos 9:7). Israel departed Egypt a mixed multitude (Exodus 12:38).

Historically, the Hebrew Bible contains the earliest recorded history of Africa and her involvement with Israel. The Bible places the Garden of Eden somewhere near Ethiopia, which is in Africa (Genesis 2:13); which suggest, according to one scholar, that the country of Ethiopia existed before the flood and after the flood. To Ethiopians, the Blue Nile river is the Gihon of Genesis 2:13 (“The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that goes around the whole land of Cush [Ethiopia]”). To this day the Nile Springs are called Giyon, Ethiopic for Gihon.

Diodorus of Sicily wrote:

“The Ethiopians call themselves the first of all men and cite proofs they consider evident. It is generally agreed that, born in a country and not having come from elsewhere, they must be judged indig­enous. It is likely that located directly under the course of the sun, they sprang from the earth before other men. For if the heat of the sun, combining with the humidity of the soil, produces life, those sites nearest the Equator must have produced living beings earlier than others… ” (Salvatore Cherubini, La Nubie, Passage from Diodorus of Sicily, Collection l’Univers, Paris, 1847, pp. 2-3, quoted by Cheikh Anta Diop, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality. Translated from French by Mercer Cook, Lawrence Hill & Company, Westport, pp. 281-282.)

The prophet Isaiah said concerning Ethiopia in Isaiah 18:1-2:

“Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia:

That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!”

The Revised Standard Version declares this African Nation to be “a people feared near and far, a nation mighty and conquering…” (Isaiah 18:2). The Holman Study Bible refers to this “Cushite” nation as “a powerful nation with a strange language.” The New King James refers to “Ethiopia” as a nation “terrible” from their beginning onward. The Hebrew word for “terrible” is “yare”; it means to fear, to revere, and to dread. The prophet painted a picture of the biblical Cushite/Ethiopians as a nation that was great from their beginning and highly respected by Israel. At one point in biblical history the Ethiopians had an army of a million men and three hundred chariots (II Chronicles 14:9). Psalm 87:4 indicates that Ethiopia was a nation with a sizeable Jewish population. Isaiah 11:11 also reference a Jewish population in Cush. This may explain the origin of the Ethiopian Falasha Jews who have migrated to Jerusalem over the past twenty years.

The theme of the Bible is the story about a King, His Kingdom and His royal offspring (I Peter 2:9). The first time the word “kingdom” is mentioned in the bible it is in association with a descendant of Cush named Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-10). Nimrod was the world’s first king. In modern day Iraq, a city is named in his honor, “Nimrud, Calah” (“that is the principal city” (Genesis 10:12). Nimrod was a Cushite and grandson of Noah’s son, Ham. Because his name appears in the Hebrew Bible, there is a church named “Nimrod Baptist Church” in Cisco, Texas, which is a predominately Anglo church. According to Scripture, Nimrod was a king, a warrior, a hunter and a builder (Gen. 10:8-12). He protected all of the people on the face of the earth, at a time when the people spoke one language, and traveled as one people (Genesis 11:1, 2). There is a historical site in the Golan Heights part of Israel called “Nimrod’s Fortress” named in his honor.

The name “Israel” means—“he will rule as God.” Isra means—“he will rule.” El means God. Clearly, the destiny and purpose of the nation of Israel is indicated in her name. Israel is a miracle nation. Jerusalem is the city of God, the city of the great king (Psalm 48:1-2; Matthew 5:35). Israel was ordained of God to be the launching pad for God’s Kingdom, and Jerusalem was to be its capitol.

There was a unique relationship between Israel and Ethiopia. Israeli men were not forbidden from marrying Ethiopian-Cushite women (Exodus 34:11, 16). Consequently, Moses married an Ethiopian-Cushite woman (Numbers 12:1). They bore two sons that were truly Israeli/African whose names were Gershom and Eleazar (Exodus 18:2-3). Eleazar bore a son named Phineas by one of the daughters of Putiel. The daughters of Putiel are believed to have descended from Ham’s son Put (Genesis 10:6). The son Eleazar had by “one of the daughters of Putiel” named Phineas is quite revealing regarding an African admixture among the Jewish people.

The late Martin Bernal, a White Jewish scholar, in his book, Black Anthena, Vol. II, published by Rutgers University Press reveals an interesting insight about Phineas and the meaning of his name:

“The name Pinhas [Phinehas] also cast an interesting light on the racial make-up of this population [Exodus population] with its indication that there were people with pigmentation darker than the Mediterranean norm, but that this feature was uncommon enough to be remarkable.

The name Phinehas means “the Nubian” or “the Negro” according to the International Standard Bible encyclopedia. William F. Albright wrote, “The name Phineas…is interesting as providing an independent (and absolutely reliable) confirmation of the tradition that there was a Nubian element in the family of Moses” (Num. 12:1). As a matter of fact Moses himself testifies concerning the ethnicity of the people who departed Egypt on the Exodus journey to Canaan land: “And a mixed multitude went up also with them.” (Ex. 12:38). This “mixed multitude” would include native born Egyptians from the land of Ham and descendants of 400 years of miscegenation between the Egyptians and Israelites.

Psalm 72:18 says, “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things!” Psalm 136:4 says, “To Him who alone does Great wonders.” The Hebrew word for wonder, wondrous, or wonderful is “pala” pronounced paw-law. This word means “separate.” In order to be wonderful, you have to separate yourself from the pack. One of the wonders mentioned by the Psalmist is the nation of Israel (Psalm 136:10-24). The other two wonders mentioned was creation (Psalm 136:4-9) and food (Psalm 136:25).

Israel is a wonder. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a nation in the history of the world who is separate and distinct from all other nations, as Israel. Who could argue against the fact that Israel is unique among the nations of the earth? Who could argue that the nation of Israel is identified with God in a manner that is incomparable to any other nation? What other country on earth can open the Bible and see God’s name associated with their nation? The Psalmist called the Lord, the God of Israel. What other nation can boast that God called their nation His “treasure,” His “holy nation,” His “peculiar people,” His “chosen seed,” and the “apple of His eye”? What other nation can say that the biblical narratives actually occurred on their land? What other nation can say that God birth His Scriptures, His Son, His Sanctuary and His Kingdom on their land? What other nation can say that the Messiah was born there? What other nation can say that the Messiah promised to return there? What other nation can say that God birth their nation to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth? (Genesis 12:3). What other nation can make the legitimate claim that their nation is the geographical and theological center of the world?  The Psalmist identified the nation of Israel with the name of God because of their unique and undeniable historic and continuing relationship.

The histories of Israel and Africa correlate at certain points in the Bible and modern history. This is worthy of celebrating, communicating, and educating descendants of Africa and Israel concerning the truth and facts regarding our shared histories.

There are three things that I want you to remember about Israel and her relationship to Africa:

1.  God birth Israel to spread His Name and Fame to the ends of the earth. God Himself preached the gospel to Abraham, because He needed to establish a nation by which all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Galatians 3:8). The nation that He established as the anchor nation from which He would bless other nations was Israel. The Queen of Sheba who is believed to have been African, and ruled over southern Arabia and East Africa declared after visiting Jerusalem and seeing the wonder of Israel, and the wisdom of Solomon—“blessed be the Lord your God…Because your God has loved Israel to establish them forever” (II Chronicles 9:8). Solomon said to the assembly at the dedication of the Temple,

“And he said: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has fulfilled with His hands what He spoke with His mouth to my father David, saying, ‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’”

God sovereignly chose Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Israel for the sake of His Name. The praise, preservation, and proclamations of the Lord’s Name are why Israel, Jerusalem and Bethlehem still exist (II Chronicles 6:4-7).

a. Bethlehem means “house of bread” and it would only be befitting that the “Bread of Life” would be born in the “house of bread.”

b. Jerusalem – Jeru-Foundation/Salem-Peace. It would only be befitting that the Prince of Peace would rule in the city of the great King, and the message of “peace on earth” would emanate from Jerusalem.

c. “Israel” – “He will rule as God “There would only be one nation that God could launch His kingdom on earth from and that would be the nation of Israel – “He will rule as God.

2.  God sovereignly and strategically placed Africa next door to Israel ultimately for the worship of His name (Zephaniah 3:10). God called the Ethiopians “My Worshippers” (Zephaniah 3:10). Zephaniah who is also a descendant of Cushi (Zephaniah 1:1), reveals the fact that God sings (Zephaniah 3:17). Psalm 68:31 says, “Ethiopia will soon stretch out her hand to God.” The last time we read about an Ethiopian by name in the Scripture, the Bible tells us that this man “had come to Jerusalem to worship” (Acts 8:27).

Apollos, an Egyptian-African renown for oratorical preaching was named as an outstanding leader in the early church (Acts 18:24; I Cor. 1:12). The last time we read about an African by name, “Simeon called Niger,” he is serving as a leader in a church that is engaged in worship (Acts 13:1-3). Proselytes Jews from Africa worshipped the Lord at Pentecost (Acts 2:9-11).

3. Israel was wonderful in her birth (Galatians 3:6-8). Israel was wonderful in her rebirth in 1948 (Isaiah 11:11, 66:8, Ezekiel 11:17). Israel was wonderful in her relationship to Africa (Amos 9:7).

Both the Africans and Israeli’s are fond of demonstrative praise and worship. The Israeli and the Africans are fond of singing. The Israelis and the Africans are fond of worship. “O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.” (Psalm 117:1-2). God gave the African a love for singing, dancing, and worshipping. Israel gave the African the Scripture, the Son, and the synagogue (a prototype of the church), so that we could bless the God of Israel in song. Much of the Christian music that we enjoy today has been a result of the combination of the singing talent of African descendants and the business acumen of Jews who provided the treasure, record labels and radio stations for Christian music to reach urban communities. May the God of Israel be praised!

While listening to and enjoying Black gospel over the radio or on a CD, we seldom pause to consider that Jewish-owned radio stations and record labels have made it possible for us to enjoy this music. Salem Broadcasting and Savoy records are classic examples.

God strategically placed Africa next door to the nation that He chose as the headquarters of His Kingdom on earth, in order to bring Him worship and an offering (Zephaniah 3:10, Psalm 72:10, 15).  May Ethiopians and her descendants give wonderful worship and praise to the God of Israel!

In Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday January 20, 2014

FROM KING TO OBAMA; A FULFILLMENT OF JEWISH PROPHECY?

Psalm 68:31: “Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.”

Does the Hebrew Scripture predict descendants of Africa occupying seats of worldwide political influence and power before the Lord returns? Was the election of Barack Hussein Obama a fulfillment of biblical prophecy? Does a study of Noah’s descendants throughout the Bible demonstrate a pattern of how God has operated in the history of mankind? Did Martin Luther King, Jr. have a unique sense or intuitive knowledge of the special role of Israel in world history? The answers to these questions from my vantage point are, Yes! Yes! Yes! And Yes!

My thesis is:  A study of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament regarding Noah’s sons and their descendants will indicate that the children of Ham would experience political and spiritual empowerment and renewal before the coming of the Lord within a Judeo-Christian context. Are we in the midst of witnessing, “Princes coming out of Egypt, and the Ethiopian stretching out their hand to God”? Could President Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Pastor Fred Luter, Justice Clarence Thomas, Ms. Condoleezza Rice, Lecrae and Kofi Annan be partially fulfilling this verse (to name just a few)?

The day after Barack Obama won the election, an Anglo Texas Southern Baptist Convention Pastor sent the following email to a close friend of mine who also happened to be an Anglo Southern Baptist Convention pastor:

“If our ancestors had known that the country would come to this they might have picked their own [_____] cotton.” [You can probably guess correctly what word was originally in the place of the blank, that I chose to leave blank.]

Africans were brought to the United States to pick cotton, not to pick Presidents, and certainly not to be elected President. If the slave masters realized that Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Richard Allen, Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King and many of the men and women who voted for Senator Obama were in those slave ships, the ships would not have been allowed to leave the docks of West Africa.

Dr. King understood the commonality of suffering and being victimized by discrimination shared by the Negro and the Jew. As the guest speaker at the first American Jewish Congress convention held in a Southern state, Florida, King noted:

“My people were brought to America in chains. Your people were driven here to escape the chains fashioned for them in Europe. Our unity is born of our common struggle for centuries, not only to rid ourselves of bondage, but to make oppression of any people by others an impossibility.” (Rabbi Marc Schneier, Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King, Jr. & The Jewish Community, Jewish Lights Publishing, Woodstock, VT, P. 34)

Rabbi March Schneier, author of this insightful and engaging book, Shared Dreams, also acknowledged and affirm the roots of the relationship between Jews and Africans go all the way back to the Bible:

“The relationship between Jews and blacks dates back to the days of the Hebrews. The forefathers of Abraham were the dark-skinned Cushites. Moses had no difficulty passing himself off as olive-skinned Egyptian, and his wife, Tzipporah was a woman of color. The line between Jews and darker-skinned people was pliable and porous—and often it completely disappeared.” (Schneier, Shared Dreams, P. 20)

The late Radio Bible Preacher, J. Vernon McGhee provides an interesting, arresting, and I believe accurate understanding of the identity and historical development of the races of mankind recorded in Genesis 10:

“The first great civilization, therefore, came out from the sons of Ham. We need to recognize that. It is so easy today to fall into the old patterns that we were taught in school a few years ago. Now the black man is wanting more study of his race. I don’t blame him. He hasn’t been given an opportunity in the past several hundred years. The story of the beginning of the black man is that he headed up the first two great civilizations that appeared on this earth. They were from the sons of Ham. Nimrod was a son of Ham. I’m not going to attempt to develop that line any further.” (J. Vernon McGhee, Through the Bible-Genesis, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN, 1981, p. 51)

McGhee further elaborates on Genesis 10:

“In chapter 10, seventy nations are listed. Fourteen of them are from Japheth. Thirty of them come from Ham. Don’t forget that. It will give you a different conception of the Black man at his beginning. And twenty-six nations come from Shem….

Why has the white man in our day been so prominent? Well, I tell you why. Because at the beginning it was the Black man, the colored races, that were prominent.

Apparently, we are currently in the period in which the white man has come to the front. It seems to me that all three are demonstrating that regardless of whether they are a son of Ham or a son of Shem or a son of Japheth, they are incapable of ruling this world.” (McGhee, pp. 33-34)

The sons of Japheth were remote in the Old Testament and very little is said about them there. Recorded history for the Japhetic races does not begin until about 1000 B.C.

Rome was founded in 750 B.C. City-states in Greece did not begin until 800 B.C. The sons of Shem did not emerge as a racial or cultural group until the time of Abraham (1800-1600 B.C.). However, the sons of Ham ruled Shinar (Sumer) as early as 4000 B.C. Hamites ruled Ethiopia from 3500 B.C. to this present day. Hamites ruled Egypt from 3500 B.C. to the Persian conquest of Egypt in 525 B.C. Hamites ruled Canaan from 4000 B.C. to 1200 B.C. and Mesopotamia from 4000 B.C. to 2350 B.C. The ancient Egyptian and Sumerian people enslaved Japhetic, Semitic and even other Hamitic people. Seemingly the dominant group always rules the minority people. Hamites ruled India from 3000 B.C. until conquest of the Persians in 500 B.C. In every instance, these peo­ple led extremely advanced civilizations and cultures. Dr. T.B. Matson, a former professor of Christian Ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theologi­cal Seminars); had this to say about the early descendants of Ham:

“Those who emphasize the curse of Ham need to remember that some of the descendants of Ham, even some of the chil­dren of Canaan, were quite prosperous. They built great cities, such as Ninevah and Babylon. They were rearing palaces, dig­ging canals, organizing governments and founding empires at a time when descendants of Japheth were wandering over Europe with no better weapons than implements of flint and bone.” (Dr. T.B. Matson, The Bible and Race, Nashville, TN, Broadman Press, 1959)

Observation: History can be divided into three dimensions. Generally speaking, each race has been given 2000 years to reign: the Reign of Ham – 4000 B.C. to 2000 B.C.; the Reign of Shem 2000 B.C. to 300 B.C.; the Reign of Japheth – 300 B.C. to the present. What will happen when Japheth’s reign is over? Could it be that we then enter into a period that I call the Reign of Jesus? John the Apostle envisioned the time when all the redeemed “of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” would stand before the throne and worship Jesus (Revelation 5:9). “He which testifieth these things saith, surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)

As the election of Senator Obama to the presidency of the U.S. began to look like a possibility in the fall of 2008, it prompted me to reflect on McGhee’s view of racial history. Understanding that the sons of Ham ruled 2000 years, the sons of Shem ruled two thousand years, and for the past two thousand years the sons of Japheth were ruling—it triggered the question in my mind, what would happen at the end of two thousand years of European/Japhetic Rule? I thought of only two possibilities: (1) The return of Jesus; or (2) The return of a son of Ham to political leadership.

President Obama is undeniably a son of Ham, or Africa. The President of the National Baptist Convention in 1973 began his address with these words:  “The sons of Ham have gathered.” The Bible calls Egypt the land of Ham (Psalm 105:23, 27; 106:22). The Yoruba Tribe in Nigeria traces their roots back to “Ham.” The unusualness of a direct African descendant being elected President of the U.S. is staggering and astounding to many. Many of us disagree vehemently with his abortion and same-sex marriage policies, but we must admit he was God’s sovereign choice for this position. He certainly provides poetic justice for America’s racist past.

Many Americans of all colors and political persuasions thought that they would never live to see the day that the son or daughter of Africa would become President of the United States of America. I was no different. Yet, in the back of my mind I was cognizant of McGhee’s view of racial history, and I was also aware of Psalm 68:31; therefore, it was not totally out of the realm of possibility from my perspective. The original King James Version reads:

“Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.”

The word “Princes” in Hebrew can mean bronze. The root word for “Princes” means political figures, nobles, kings, envoys or ambassadors. Princes, kings, and/or envoys shall come out of Egypt according to the Hebrew Bible. The Ethiopian will soon stretch out their hands to God.

When the Bible speaks of Ethiopia, Egypt, and the land of Ham, it is talking about the entire continent of Africa. On the earliest maps, the entire continent would be labeled by one of those three names.

In this obscure verse, God was showing David something. I’m not saying this with certainty, but, it appears that David was saying that descendants of Africa would have a political impact beyond Africa. David said Princes shall “come out of” Egypt or Africa. Africa would be their roots, but their “shoots” would be elsewhere.

Perhaps this is the reason that Barack Obama’s dad is not from Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, or Tennessee. Who would have ever thought that America would have a President named with a Hebrew and African name: “Barack Obama”? President Obama’s name and his dad are directly out of Kenya. Kenya is just below Egypt and at one time Egypt engulfed that whole area. Princes, political leaders, kings, nobles and dignitaries will emanate from, or come directly out of Africa. They will have a political impact according to the Psalmist.

Dr. King in an interview with BBC in 1960 stated that America could have a Negro President in forty years. He missed it by eight years. If Dr. King could see it, I believe the Hebrew writer of Psalm could also see it. We have seen a proliferation of African descendants in political leadership at every level in America over the past fifty years. Canada and Europe have also seen African descendants occupy political seats in their domain. This was out of the question in the first half of the last century, with few exceptions.

If I asked you who pastored the largest church in Europe, would you not assume that it would be a European? No! The largest church in Europe is pastored by an African from Nigeria named Sunday Adelaja, in Kiev, Ukraine. How does a Nigerian get 26,000 Europeans to join his church? Could it be because “Princes shall come out of Egypt, and the African will stretch out their hands to God—meaning that they will come to God and influence the world for God?

In Psalm 72:10, 15, it is predicted that gifts would be brought to the Messiah from Tarshish (Gen. 10:4, Japheth), Seba and Sheba (Gen. 10:7, Ham) and Sheba (Gen. 10:28, Shem). Isaiah 18:2, 7 says that gifts would be brought from Cush or Ethiopia. Perhaps this Scripture was fulfilled when the Wise Men came with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Descendants of Ham, Shem and Japheth brought gifts to Jesus. Descendants of Ham, Shem, and Japheth have been political rulers at different points in world history.

At the cross, Shem (Jesus) hung on the cross, Ham helped Jesus carry the cross-Simon of Cyrene—an African country, and the Romans (Japheth) hung Him on the cross. The Roman soldier who pierced Him cried out, “Surely, this must be the Son of God.”

In Acts 8:26-39, an African (son of Ham) gave his life to Christ. In Acts, 9:1-19, Saul (son of Shem) was converted to Christ and his name was changed to Paul. In Acts 10:1-33, Cornelius (an Italian 10:1, son of Japheth) was converted to Christ.

In Acts 13, leaders of the first Gentile congregation are Barnabas from Cyprus, a European country, “Simeon who was called Niger” (Niger is a term denoting an African), Manaen, “brought up with Herod” a Roman (son of Japheth), and Saul (Paul, a son of Shem).

It appears that at critical points in history, God tended to work through the various sons of Noah and their descendants.

Dr. King seemingly understood a very special and unique role of Israel and the Jews in World History. During Israel’s 1956 war with Egypt, he wrote:  “There is something in the very nature of the universe which is on the side of Israel in its struggle with every Egypt.” (Schneier, Shared Dreams, pp. 160-161)

In his very last sermon preached in Memphis, TN, Dr. King spoke about his trip to Jerusalem and Jericho in Israel in 1959. “Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead” (Luke 10:30). That trip provided Dr. King with critical insight into the Parable of the Good Samaritan, having observed the peculiarities of the road between Jerusalem and Jericho (Luke 10:30-51):

“You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles — or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.”

Dr. King’s visit to Israel enhanced his knowledge of the Bible and informed his preaching.

Dr. King cultivated a mutual reciprocal relationship with the Jewish Community. He spoke against anti-Semitism whether it was regarding Jews in the Soviet Union or New York. Dr. King’s powerful and positive working and personal relationship with Jews is perhaps the most neglected aspect of his legacy. The Jews in Israel have named a street in his honor. African Americans ought to visibly and tangibly document and demonstrate appreciation and affection toward the legacy of Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

Many African Americans fifty years of age or older would recognize names like Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, Hosea Williams, Fannie Lou Hamer, Daisy Bates, A.G. Gaston, Thurgood Marshall, Wyatt Walker and Benjamin Hooks. All of these men and women played significant roles in the Civil Rights Movement.

Oliver Brown was the plaintiff named in the Brown vs. the board of Education case that led to the desegregation of the public schools. But it was a Jewish woman who hired the attorney and raised the funds for his fees. Her motivation was simply that she resented the fact that her Black housekeeper’s children were being educated in a “separate but equal” dilapidated shack that passed as the Black school house. The Jewish woman’s name who led this effort was Esther Brown. Esther Brown’s name ought to be remembered in African American History.

There were many who stood with Dr. King and some lost their lives in an effort to bring liberty and justice for all. Who could forget Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, whose bodies were found not far from Philadelphia, MS? These Jewish men died while on a pursuit to investigate church burnings and the beating of church members by the Ku Klux Klan in Longdale, MS. We need to remember those brave Jewish Rabbis in the South who fought against discrimination:  Perry Nussbaun, Charles Mantinband, and Alfred Goodman.

We need to remember the cadre of Jewish lawyers who greatly aided the cause: Morris Abram, Stanley Levison, and Jack Greenberg, who worked as second in command of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, under Thurgood Marshall.

Time and space will not permit the naming of all persons worthy; but suffice it to say that Blacks and Jews have a storied history, even with tensions and strained relationships along the way.

Rabbi Friedlander, a participant in the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 shared personal reflections and a biblical perspective of Jews and Africans marching together. The Rabbi reported:

 “Some images stand out in my mind: Professor Abraham Heschel marching in front of me, firm and erect, the wind catching his white beard and hair…. A Negro lady (Mrs. Foster), walking next to me, pointed out the exact spot on that highway where Alabama troopers had beaten her to the ground. ‘Going all the way this time,’ she smiled, and waved to some friends along the road….

But the heart of the march was the group of Negro marchers from Alabama who wanted the vote, each with a red band on his arm, still in mourning for Jimmy Lee Jackson and their other, unknown, martyrs. It was their march; and perhaps our main reason for being with them was the fact that our white skins gave them some protec­tion from the rifles ready in the swampland surrounding us…

If nothing else, we had finally felt the living essence of the words of Amos: ‘Are ye not as the children of the Ethiopians unto Me, Oh children of Israel?’”

What a powerful, scriptural quote from Rabbi Friedlander (Amos 9:7), recognizing that the roots of the relationship between the African American and the American Jew was rooted in Scripture. The presence of the Jew among the Civil Rights Marches probably saved the lives of many. Thank God for our Jewish brethren!

I want to conclude with a couple of powerful quotes that sum up Dr. King’s position on the important of understanding the Jewish Heritage of the Christian Faith:

“Jesus was a Jew… [And] it is impossible to understand Jesus outside the race in which he was born. The Christian Church has tended to overlook its Judaic origins, but the fact is that Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew of Palestine. He shared the experiences of his fellow-countryman. So as we study Jesus we are wholly in a Jewish atmosphere.”

“I draw not from Marxism or any other secular philosophy but from the prophets of Israel; from their passion for justice and cry for righteousness. The ethic of Judaism is integral to my Christian faith.” (Schneier, Shared Dreams, p. 32)

May God use this writing to whet our appetites to grow in the Jewish understanding of our Christian Faith! Dr. King is right:  “It is impossible to understand Jesus outside the race in which he was born.” If I may take a flight off of Dr. King’s runway, I might add: It is impossible to understand our Christian faith without understanding her Jewish roots.  May God grant us all the grace to stretch out our hands to the God of Israel, and His Son, Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:21)!

Truly, Israel and Africa historically, spiritually, biblically, emotionally, physiologically, geographically, geologically and cooperatively—are connected. God Himself affirmed and testified to the connection:  “Are ye not like the people of Ethiopia to Me, O Children of Israel?” (Amos 9:7)

CHALLENGING JESSE JACKSON AND MICHAEL ERIC DYSON TO DEBATE THE PHIL ROBERTSON’S REMARKS FOR THE SAKE OF KINGDOM TRUTH

TEN REASONS WHY PHIL ROBERTSON HAS BECOME THE NEW ROSA PARKS

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

In an attempt to discredit and defame the unabashed and uncompromising Kingdom citizen—Phillip Robertson— Jesse Jackson has credited “white privilege” for providing the platform, context and cover for Robertson’s controversial remarks regarding homosexuality and race. (Read more:  http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-12-25/news/chi-jesse-jackson-duck-dynasty-20131224_1_duck-dynasty-jesse-jackson-sr-anti-gay-comments)

Michael Eric Dyson stated that when men express love for Jesus, above love for women, they sound “interestingly homoerotic to people who are outside of religious traditions” (Read more: http://hotair.com/archives/2013/12/26/msnbc-wonders-christian-love-for-jesus-is-kind-of-homoerotic-huh/comment-page-7/). People outside of religious traditions generally understand that Kingdom citizens believe that Jesus is Lord, King, Sovereign and Ruler. Consequently, they would also understand that there is nothing “homoerotic” about loving and worshiping Jesus if He is Lord.

What would trigger Jackson and Dyson to lodge such loaded rhetorical bombshells into an already explosive discussion regarding homosexuality and race? Jesse Jackson and Michael Dyson affirm homosexual relationships and same-sex marriage. Phil Robertson does not. The root cause of this division is not race, but different beliefs regarding homosexuality. Jackson, Dyson and Al Sharpton are passionate, militant promoters of the homosexual agenda. These three men have abandoned their Black Baptist Biblical roots on this issue. Interestingly, Dr. Martin Luther King and Phil Robertson would be in agreement regarding homosexuality.

Should a person be charged with speaking from a platform of “white privilege” and should those of us who love Jesus more than we love our female wives, be labeled “interestingly homoerotic,” because of our love for Jesus, and our common bond with Phil Robertson on the belief that homosexuality is a sin?

I would really love to debate these extreme positions adopted and articulated by these two Baptist preachers. The “white privilege” and “interestingly homoerotic” response adopted and articulated by Jackson and Dyson are far out of the mainstream thinking of African American Kingdom Citizens. Holding to the view that homosexuality is sin and marriage is between a man and a woman, should not subject one to the baseless ridicule, rejection and accusations of ignorance, bigotry, and racism experienced by Phil Robertson.

Jackson and Dyson are misrepresenting the Bible and Black America by articulating these extreme and unsubstantiated points of view. Disagree with Robertson if you must—that’s your constitutional right and freedom. But please don’t label his traditional view of homosexuality and his love for Jesus as “homoerotic” and “white privilege.”  President Obama ran for President in 2008 holding to a traditional view of marriage based on Christian beliefs. We all know in 2012 he changed his mind. Phil Robertson and the National Baptist Convention share the same view on the biblical definition of marriage. The majority of African Americans share Robertson’s view of marriage. How can Jesse Jackson then logically label his view, “white privilege”?

Perhaps Jackson and Dyson are responding equally to Robertson’s comments about race in the Pre-Civil-Rights-Era. Unfortunately, the exact question that Robertson was asked regarding race is not recorded in the GQ Interview that ignited this controversy.  Only a caption and his response are recorded.

Phil On Growing Up in Pre-Civil-Rights-Era Louisiana

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Was Robertson asked,

1. “What are your thoughts on how Blacks were treated in the South during the Jim Crow era?” If that was the question, Robertson certainly was aware of the fact that in Northwest Louisiana, where he grew up, there were lynching, murders, segregation, economic exploitation, unequal pay, an unjust criminal justice system, police brutality and the like. I am willing to give Robertson the benefit of the doubt. Had he been asked a question regarding how Blacks were generally treated in the South I believe that he would have given an honest answer, according to his trademark.

But, what if he was asked,

2. “What did you see growing up in the South during the Jim Crow era?” A question of that nature limits itself to what he actually saw. Inasmuch as his remarks are in line with this question, why would we assume he is addressing a broader question? Most of Robertson’s critics are responding to what he didn’t say rather than to what he said. We don’t know what he was asked; therefore it is patently¸ unfair and unreasonable, to judge the man on his answer to a question that we are unaware of.

While channel surfing I have caught portions of Duck Dynasty twice. I must admit that I like nature scenes, family scenes, and Southern culture in general. Therefore, the show did arrest my attention once I landed there. Until this controversy I was unaware of Robertson’s name or the name of the show. My point is—to use Southern parlance—I have no dog in this fight. However, I do hate to see any man or woman regardless of color being mistreated, castigated, and humiliated without any evidence to support their baseless accusations against them.

For those who argue that Robertson was responding to the first question; they must prove this. For those who believe that Robertson was responding to the second question, then you would have to conclude that he was lying when he said he had not personally witnessed any mistreatment of Blacks in the area where he lived. On what grounds can we say for certain that he is not being truthful?

Robertson said, “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person, not once.” Which one of us can say with absolute certainty and with evidence to back it up that Phil Robertson is not telling the truth about what he did not see “with my [Robertson’s] eyes”? Unless we can disprove his claim, it is un-Christ like for us to address him as if he is lying. Although blatant discrimination and racism certainly existed and was prevalent in the South during Robertson’s upbringing and still exist today, it is possible that in his “neck of the woods,” he literally did not witness it with his own eyes. He did not say it did not exist, He said, he never saw it. That is a huge difference. His critics are responding to him as if he said, it did not exist. Again, it is inappropriate to respond to a remark that he never made. Which one of us would like to respond to or defend a statement that we’ve never uttered?

Phil Robertson characterized Black persons that he knows during this time frame as “farmers,” “godly,” “singing,” “happy,” and non-complaining. Which one of those adjectives would be untrue, based on one’s personal observations? No one would debate that agricultural endeavors were the primary economic engine of the South in that time frame. Most historical Black Colleges in the South offered majors in Agriculture, and the official name of many colleges included the word “Agriculture” or the letter “A”; or as In Prairie View A&M University, Arkansas A, M, and N , and now UAPB and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Alabama  A&M, etc.

George Washington Carver was renowned for his farming and scientific exploits. He was also a “godly” man who taught Sunday School on Sundays at Tuskegee Institute, founded by Booker T. Washington, and agriculture and science during the week. He clearly viewed Genesis 19 as an illustration of the judgment of God on a nation that embraces homosexuality. While discussing Sodom and Gomorrah, Dr. Carver asked his class, “And what happened to these wicked cities?” He viewed the desire and activity of same-sex involvement as “wicked.” He then used his scientific talents to cause a sudden burst of flames and fumes to shoot up from the table, and the Bible students fled. He sure knew how to make Sunday School interesting and to illustrate his point. George Washington Carver taught against the practice of homosexuality. (George Washington Carver; An American Biography, by Rackham Holt, 1943, Doubleday, Doran and Company, Inc., Garden City, NY, p. 198). I wonder what Jackson and Dyson would say about him. If Carver did the same illustration today, it would create a firestorm of controversy.

Robertson labeled Black persons as “godly” that he grew up around. In 1960, 80% of all Black families were intact. Today over 70% of Black children are being born out of wedlock. Bill Cosby’s book documents a higher percentage of White inmates during the Pre-Civil-Rights-Era than today.  Blacks are committing and being convicted of crimes at a higher rate than in the Pre-Civil-Rights-Era. School dropout rates are higher today than then. What exactly did Robertson say that was racist or untrue? I wish his critics would quote his exact words that could be viewed as “racist”!

A Black preacher, Charles Price Jones, wrote the popular hymn sung in Black churches during the Pre-Civil-Rights-Era, “I’m Happy with Jesus Alone.” A traditional favorite hymn that Kirk Franklin later did a remix of had a popular refrain: “I Sing Because I’m Happy, I Sing Because I’m Free. His Eye is on the Sparrow and I know He Watches me.” There was another fairly well known song of that time: “I am so happy, happy as can be, because I have a Savior, who is walking daily with me.” We learned in childhood back then:  “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” A popular solo that has stood the test of time over the past 30 years in the Black church is named, “I Won’t Complain.” Because Phil Robertson did not hear Black people complaining did not mean they didn’t complain. We were simply taught to take our burdens to the Lord and leave them there. We dealt with injustice and racism within the confines of immediate and extended family and our churches. We looked to our Pastors to voice our complaints because at times they were the only individuals whose paycheck was solely derived from Black employment.

My point is: I recall the Blacks in my childhood as happy. I was happy.  Those that I observed were basically happy also; and that was because of our faith. And although we failed miserably at times, Robertson is right…there was a pursuit of godliness that existed among our families and leaders. I fail to understand why some find that point of view offensive.

I am ten years younger than Robertson. Certainly, I am not denying or turning a blind eye to the reality of racism. It was cruel and unusual; and unlike Robertson, I did see it, feel it and experience it. Yet, that did not keep us from experiencing the joy of the Lord. I refuse to let my past limit my present pursuit to maximize my potential.And it was the godly people Robertson was referring to. Exactly what qualifies his remarks to be “white privilege” and “homoerotic”? Please explain!

Perhaps it is the Rosa Parks and Phil Robertson analogy that has Jackson and Dyson upset. However, there are ten similarities between Rosa Parks and Phil Robertson:

  1. They both took principled stands.
  2. The positions that they took were rooted in biblical righteousness.
  3. Their positions were counter-culture at the time they took them.
  4. There was a huge backlash and criticism for their positions that they took.
  5. They both ignited public debate that captured the nation’s attention.
  6. Their positions polarized the nation.
  7. Their positions triggered boycotts.
  8. They both were on the right side of history.
  9. Their positions unveiled the weakness of the church; for Rosa Parks—the weakness of the White church. Jackson and Dyson are exposing one of the weaknesses of the Black church.
  10. They both became a cultural heroine and a cultural hero.

Yes!!! Phil Robertson is the new Rosa Parks!!!!

THE NAACP AND THE MEDIA OUGHT TO BE ASHAMED FOR ATTEMPTING TO EXPLOIT AND MISREPRESENT PHIL ROBERTSON’S REMARKS REGARDING HOMOSEXUALITY AND RACE

WHY BELIEVERS SHOULD SUPPORT DUCK DYNASTY STAR, PHIL ROBERTSON

By William Dwight Mckissic, Sr.

UNBELIEVABLE!!! Duck Dynasty star, Phil Robertson, has been suspended indefinitely from the most popular show in the history of cable television for simply expressing a biblical worldview regarding homosexuality.

The A&E Television Network has determined that silencing and punishing Phil Robertson was/is more important than respecting his right of free speech and alienating millions of kingdom-minded Bible believing Christians just like him. If A&E does not withdraw their decision to suspend Phil Robertson, the believers who share his views need to boycott A&E and her sponsors.

If no one else will, I will submit a resolution at the SBC Annual Meeting in Baltimore encouraging all believers to boycott watching the A&E Network and to boycott their sponsors if they don’t retract their position. Why? An attack on Phil Robertson’s views and free speech on this matter is also an attack on the millions of other believers who share his view.

Furthermore, I am deeply disappointed in the NAACP for taking Robertson’s innocent racial remarks regarding relationship that he had with Blacks on the bayou’s of Louisiana during his earlier years and spinning it into some kind of racial animus or insensitivity toward Blacks during the Jim Crow Era. Shame on the NAACP for this exploitation of such a sensitive and volatile topic!

Robertson was simply expressing his personal observations and relationships with Blacks that he knew in the Louisiana swamps and farmland. He stated:

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field …. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word! … Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

This is simply an account of one man’s experience with a people group that he interacted with. He described them as “happy” and “godly.” If you asked me to describe Black people in my sphere of observation during my childhood in the late 50’s and 60’s, I would make a similar observation. We were “farmers,” “hoeing cotton,” “godly,” going to church, “singing” and “happy.” That was the general disposition of Black people in the South in my childhood.”

Did racism exist? Was it a reality? Absolutely! Did Black people discuss it and address it primarily among themselves? Absolutely! Did the Black Preacher take on the role and responsibility of addressing racism because quite often he was the only Black in a given community self-employed? Absolutely! In many ways morally, spiritually, family oriented and self-reliant were Blacks better off in the “pre-entitlement, pre-welfare” era? Absolutely! The facts would support such a conclusion. Are Robertson’s remarks racists, wrong, or insensitive or untrue? Absolutely Not!!! Robertson was not addressing the over-all obvious racism that existed in the South during that era. He was simply commenting on the general daily disposition of Blacks in his circle of acquaintances and relationships. It is tragic that the media, NAACP and others are unfairly using race in a twisted and shameful manner, because they simply disagree with his righteous and biblical stand on homosexuality.

The Civil Rights Community ought to be in the streets marching and protecting the free speech rights of Phil Robertson. The egregious act of suspending him for his statement should be aggressively repudiated and marched and protested against as if he were a Black man fired for making a similar remark. There is not a Black man in America who grew up in the South, who would have made a similar remark, and it would have been viewed as controversial or racist. Therefore, Robertson’s racial comment should be a non-issue.

May the Lord bless Phil Robertson! He is being persecuted for righteousness sake. His persecution is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Jesus said that believers would be hated because of His name’s sake. The prophet Isaiah said that the day would come when wrong would be called right and right would be called wrong. Phil Robertson is a classic example of both prophecies being fulfilled.

Believers of every kind throughout America ought to support Phil Robertson simply because his comments were/are scriptural, racially innocent, sincere, sensitive, supportive and true. Therefore, the negative and unwarranted response to his comments is simply orchestrated by “the prince of the power of the air.”

AFRICANS IN THE BABY JESUS’ BLOODLINE

A Biblical Response to Megyn Kelly’s Claim That Santa Claus and Jesus are White

By William Dwight Mckissic, Sr.

In response to Aisha Harris’ article “Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore,” Fox News Commentator, Megyn Kelly gave the following response:

“By the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa is white but this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. Santa is what he is and just so you know, we are debating this because someone wrote about it, kids. Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change. Jesus was a white man, too. He was a historical figure. That’s a verifiable fact — as is Santa. I just want the kids watching to know that.” (http://ishouldbelaughing.blogspot.com/search?q=megyn+kelly)

Kelly offered no supporting evidence for Santa or Jesus being White. She was simply echoing the thinking of the culture that surrounded and produced her. In the case of Jesus, Kelly was ethnicizing Deity, and in the case of Santa Claus she was ethnicizing mythology.

By declaring Jesus and Santa White, Kelly consciously or sub-consciously empowered any person who is also White with a sense of high self-esteem and racial supremacy based on her perception of the ethnicity of the historical Jesus and Santa Claus. If Jesus is God’s Son and He is White, what color would that make His Father? If God, Jesus, and Santa are White, what are the inherent implications of those notions?

The implications of Kelly’s remarks are dangerous and deceptive. Inadvertently, perhaps, but Kelly’s remarks were rooted in a racial and racist DNA that America was constructed on; and the residual effect still exists.

There are two reasons that I never taught my four children the Santa Claus myth: (1) Once they discovered that Santa Claus was a myth, I didn’t want to run the risk of them also thinking of Jesus in the same manner. (2) Rather than giving the credit to an overweight Anglo man from the North Pole who brought gifts once a year to place around the Christmas tree, my wife and I decided to give the credit to their overweight African-American father and loving mother who maintained a relationship with them all year long.

Even if one argues as Bill O’Reilly does that the Santa Claus myth is based on a historical person that lived in Turkey in the 4th Century; one has to also admit that the vast majority of people in Asia Minor or modern day Turkey, then and now, don’t fit the description of most blond-haired blue-eyed Europeans. Although O’Reilly joins Kelly in proclaiming Santa Claus as White, the vast majority of people in Turkey and the Middle East simply don’t look like the popular depictions of the American White Santa Claus. As most Middle Eastern people, the people are olive or tannish in complexion with black hair. Megan Kelly and Bill O’Reilly are simply wrong. The color of Santa is the color of the parents who provide the Christmas gifts.

In all fairness to Kelly, after receiving much criticism for her ethnocentrism, unfounded claims, she later said that her claims regarding Santa Claus being White were tongue-in-check, and the color of Jesus was not a settled matter. Nevertheless, because her earlier expressed viewpoints regarding Jesus’ ethnicity is a common view in America, and in contradiction of the Bible, I feel compelled to address her claim related to Jesus being White.

If Jesus is White, that would have huge implications and impact on evangelism, apologetics, Christian Education and the study of biblical backgrounds.

Was Megyn Kelly right? Was Jesus a White Man when He walked this earth? We must look to the Bible for an answer to this question. According to the Bible, Jesus was a person of mixed ancestry with physical features that would reflect a composite of the three basic races of mankind. Jesus can be claimed by Asians because He was born in an Asian country. Israel is on the Continent of Asia, located in Southwest Asia; Jesus can be claimed by Africans because there are four African-Hamitic ladies mentioned by name in the bloodline or genealogy of Jesus. None of the Jewish wives are mentioned—only the African-Hamitic wives (Matthew 1:1-16). Jesus can be claimed by Caucasians because His dominant people-group category was Semitic (Luke 3:36-38). He was a descendant of Noah’s son, Shem. Semitic people, although they range in skin complexion from chocolate to chalk, are anthropologically and academically classified as Anglo or Caucasian. Therefore, Jesus can be classified as a mestizo—a person of missed ancestry. He can be legitimately claimed by all people groups. It is simply dishonest and historically inaccurate for any one people group to exclusively claim Him. My thesis is:  We often overlook the fact that Jesus was a Jew—who loved Israel—and four African women were in His bloodline, and was born into a Greek and Roman social and political culture.

The Jewish people are a people of mixed ancestry according to Exodus 12:38. They comprise a mixture of African-Egyptian-Hamitic blood and Semitic blood. They later mingled with Europeans. The Sephardic Jews of North Africa and the Mediterranean carry the sickle cell anemia trait, which is commonly carried by African descendants.

According to John MacArthur, all racial-people groups existed before the flood and after the flood:

“The fact of the matter is that all human beings came from Adam, through Noah. Which means that all there is in the genetic code for all human races was in Adam and Eve, and all that there is of genetic coding that is in all the races that exist today was in the family of Noah. That has all kinds of interesting implications. Because in the world you have so much diversity; a very dark-skinned people, very light-skinned people, you have various features of certain kinds of people that are identifiable; Caucasoid, Negroid, astrolid, etc. Mongoloid. Particular descriptions of physical features, and yet all these differences in skin color and all these differences in facial look and body design and the question is often asked, where did this diversity come from and the answer is the genetic code for all of that was in Adam and Eve. And the genetic code for all of the humanity in all of its diversity today was in the family of Noah. Everyone from pigmies and dwarfs and aborigines to seven foot two Zulus, and basketball players, came from Noah and his wife. All physical features, all skin colors, all physical characteristics, all eye shapes, noses, eye colors, hair colors, etc. All of the necessary genetic coding was in Adam and Eve, and all of it was in those eight people. In fact, all of it was in those three couples, the combinations multiplied by each new union almost without limit.”

“Further along the line thinking this through, for a few centuries after the flood, everybody was one big family. One language, one family, one culture. And so everybody intermarried. No barriers to marriage. And many believe that that tended to keep the skin color and the physical features generally away from extremes. Right? You have the whole of humanity all sort of living together. There are no barriers. There’s one culture. And so it tends to keep features and skin color away from extremes because all are exposed constantly to the full gene pool.

Very light skin sometimes appears, very dark skin sometimes appears, features vary, but because the people intermarry, the average stays generally similar. And biologists will tell you that to obtain distinct separation of color and distinct separation of features, it is necessary to break a large breeding group into smaller groups and keep them completely separated so they don’t interbreed. So you have to pull people off and isolate them, and then they would begin to be dominated by the genetic features that are within that people group. That’s exactly what happened at the Tower of Babel.”

To express it in “hood language,” the people of the biblical world were not “lily white.” Therefore, the bloodline of Jesus could not have been “lily white.” The Bible testifies to the fact that the original occupants of the land of Israel/Canaan were the people of Ham (I Chronicles 4:40), and four of them show up in the bloodline of Jesus. Again, Ham was the progenitor or ancestral father of the African and some of the Asiatic people.

The biblical world consisted of people of all colors. The largest people group in the biblical world was people of Hamitic-African descent (Gen. 10:6-20). Ham had thirty descendants. Shem had twenty-six descendants (10:21-31). And Japheth had fourteen descendants (Gen. 10:2-5). That is the reason that there are more dark and dusky skinned people in the world than fairer complexioned people. Although disputed, the etymology of the word Ham means “dark or black.” The etymology of the word Shem means “dusky or olive colored.” The etymology of the word Japheth means “bright or fair.” Japheth is considered the father or progenitor of the European people. Shem is considered to have been the progenitor or ancestral father of the Semitic people; the Jewish, Arabic and other Middle Eastern People. The entire African Continent was named at one point: “the Land of Ham.” Again, although Jesus was primarily of Semitic lineage, there were people of African-Hamitic descent in His bloodline. Four of the five ladies mentioned in the bloodline of Jesus descended from Ham.

Before I name persons of African-Hamitic descent in the bloodline of Jesus, I want to share with you biblical descriptions of physical features of Jesus:

“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isaiah 53:2)

This verse suggests that Jesus would not make the world’s ten most beautiful person’s list. Physically, Jesus was not a “beautiful” person. The attraction to Jesus would not be based on physical appearance. The implication is that His physical features might repel one, rather than attract one. In his Genesis Commentary, Martin Luther said that Noah’s son, Ham, had a “foul” complexion. Interestingly, Jesus and Ham were not considered “beautiful.”

The Apostle John was exiled to the isle of Patmos for the Word of God (Revelation 1:9). While at Patmos, John was granted a glimpse of the glorified Savior (Revelation 1:10-17). In Revelation 1:14-15, John gives us a description of the glorified Son of God.

“His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.” (Revelation 1:14, 15 KJV)

John used the word “white” twice in these two verses to describe the physical features of Jesus Christ. Permit me to define this word “white” based on the original Greek word “Leukon(s)” translated “white” twice in this verse. In Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, pages 212 and 213, we discover that “Leukos” is an adjective describing a color that can be compared to “ripened grain.” This same word “Leukos” is also found in John 4:35 as a reference to ripened grain. The Greek word “Lampros” is translated “white” in Revelation 15:6 to describe “white linen.” A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testa­ment, page 472, by Arndt, Giugrich and Bauer, explains that the word “Leukon(s),” Greek for white, included for the Greek many shades of that color and gives as an illustration our “white” wine. John tells us his feet were like unto brass. Brass, ripened grain and white wine are all similar in color. This apparently was the color of the glorified Christ, which is consistent with the meaning and complexion of Shem and Semitic people, “dusky” and “olive-colored.” Caucasian Christians usu­ally portray Jesus in their paintings as a man with Caucasian features. Hamitic Christians in recent years usually portray Jesus in their paint­ings as a man with Negroid features. It will do Black and White Chris­tians well who have strong feelings about this issue to hear the words of Tom Skinner.

“One thing is certain; whatever contemporary man decides about the “color” of religion, Christ stands outside the debate. He was God in the form of man—neither Black nor White.”

The historical Jesus is the Holy Son of God. He came to reveal God, redeem man and reign over our hearts. Regardless of his complexion and physical features, I’m glad that through Jesus Christ God demon­strated his love for all mankind in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8), the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18) that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). I’m glad that I’ve met the Holy and historical Jesus by faith. Have you?

The four Hamitic-African ladies in the bloodline of Jesus were Rahab, Tamar, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Rahab, Tamar, and Ruth were descendants of the Canaanites. The Canaanites were descendants of Noah’s son, Ham. Africa and Egypt have been referred to as “The Land of Ham” in the Bible and ancient history. Bathsheba can also be traced through the lineage of Ham (Gen. 10:7). Prominent biblical characters such as David and Solomon who are listed in the lineage of Jesus also descended from these four non-Jewish ladies. Biblical descriptions of David and Solomon are described as “ruddy” (I Samuel 17:42; Song of Solomon 5:10, 11).

Solomon’s complexion and hair features are described in Solomon 5:10-11. This description is apparently given by the woman who described herself as “Black but beautiful” (Song of Solomon 1:5). (David Adamo, Ph.D. in Old Testament from Baylor University, states that this phrase could just as easily have been translated “Black and beautiful” and still remained true to the Hebrew text.) This dark-complexioned lady described Solomon’s features as follows:

My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thou­sand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as raven (Song of Solomon 5:10, 11)

The Living Bible reads:

My beloved one is tanned and handsome, better than ten thousand others! His head is purest gold and he has wavy raven hair (Son of Solomon 5:10, 11).

The Hebrew word for “white” in the King James Version is “tsach” (5:10). The definition given is “dazzling” or “sunny” or “bright.” The Hebrew word translated “ruddy” in the King James version is “Adom” from the root word “Adam,” which means taken out of red earth.” I believe from these two verses we can deduce two facts regarding Solomon’s physical features: (1) his head was as gold — mean­ing tan, dazzling, sunny, or bright and (2) his hair was black, bushy and wavy.

In the South one was considered Black if one could trace “one drop” of Black blood in one’s heritage. It was often said, the blood of a Negro is like the blood of Jesus—one drop makes you whole. However, it would be unfair to impose the “one-drop” Southern rule on Jesus born in Bethlehem of Judea. Therefore, I do not claim that Jesus was Black. Nor do I claim that He was White. Jesus was Jewish, Semitic. But having been born in brown Asia, hidden in Black Africa, and categorized by anthropologist and scholars as Caucasian based on His Jewish roots—Jesus can be legitimately claimed racially by all. Red and yellow, Black and White, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves all the people of the world.

If Megyn Kelly is searching for Jesus’ racial roots, if she promises not to go back to Europe, I will promise not to go back to Africa, and we will meet up somewhere on Noah’s Ark. Ultimately we will end up at Nazareth and Bethlehem where Asians, Africans, Europeans, and Middle Eastern people meet and celebrate historically (Psalm 87).

Color is inconsequential in the New Jerusalem. And when it comes to the color of Jesus, it would be better if we all would probably make it an inconsequential matter.

The two preachers who have impacted the kingdom the most in the past fifty years were Billy Graham and Martin Luther King, Jr. They both made interesting comments about the color of Jesus.

Alan Blum reported:

“Even Martin Luther King Jr. claimed that Jesus was white, after being asked why God created Jesus as a white man.

King responded that the color of Christ’s skin didn’t matter. Jesus would have been just as important ‘if His skin had been black.’ He ‘is no less significant because His skin was white.’”

Billy Graham stated, according to Blum:

“Famed evangelist Billy Graham preached in the 1950s, and then wrote emphatically in his autobiography ‘Just As I Am,’ that, ‘Jesus was not a white man.’”

The truth of this matter lies between King’s statement and Graham’s statement. Jesus was probably the color of white wine, which reflects His interracial ancestry.

Christmas is a time not to fight about His color, but worship His majesty. JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD IS COME, LET EARTH RECEIVE HER KING.

A SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION PASTOR’S PRESENCE AMONG PREACHERS OF LA
One Size Does Not Fit All

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

Materialistic; Immoral; Egotistical; Prosperity Preachers; Pulpit Pimps, Soft on Homosexuality; and Celebrity Seekers; are among some of the nicer descriptions tossed about relative to the “Preachers of LA.”

The debut telecast had one million viewers—the second highest ranked cable TV show that aired on that Wednesday evening—which is historically a church mid-week worship night. With an audience of that magnitude, church goers and non-churchgoers were watching.

Many are asking the question: “Will this show be a boom or bust for the Church?” It is generally believed that this show will do a lot more harm than good for the Church universally and locally. But God has been known to flip the script (Gen. 50:20).

The family life, financial life, and spiritual fitness readiness of pastors at mega-churches are under the scope in this TV reality show. The mere fact that this show exists says something about the influence of the Black Church in the Black Community. The Black Church has often been called the most important social institution in the Black Community. Because the plethora of Black mega churches that exists today is unprecedented and is a phenomenon of modern history (the past 30-40 years)—this show is a wake-up call to the fact that today’s church is not our grandfather’s church. The state of the Black Church is a matter of concern for many of us who love it. This show is simply revealing some of our challenges, weaknesses, failures, and strengths. Hopefully, as this show forces us to evaluate today’s church, it will also lead to reform and renewal in today’s church.

There are six preachers featured in this “reality” show that primarily centers around Black preachers and the Black Church. I’ve never met Noel Jones, Ron Gibson, Deitrick Haddon, and Jay Haizlip —the only Anglo preacher featured. I briefly met Clarence McClendon twenty plus years ago. We simply exchanged names, greetings, and well wishes. There has been no follow-up communication between the two of us.

There is one of the six LA Preachers that I know quite well and consider him a close friend. He gets the least attention among the six—which is good. God is keeping him covered, so that really soon, he will be discovered.

Although, Pastor Wayne Chaney is getting the least amount of attention at the moment, he will emerge from the pack as a leader of monumental significance that will impact our nation and this world for God’s Kingdom in a mighty way. He will also constructively and redemptively address the pathos in the Black community and will be a major force in the revitalization and renewal of the African American Church.

My purpose for writing this post is not to condone or condemn the other five preachers. As I’ve already stated, I don’t know them. But I am here to write in support and defense of Pastor Wayne Chaney of the Antioch Church—a Southern Baptist Convention affiliated church in Long Beach, California. I know for certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Pastor Chaney does not fit any of the adjectives that introduced this Post. Thankfully, thus far, he has not been portrayed or depicted in the trailers or first episode as being materialistic, immoral, egotistical, or in any compromising manner. Pastor Chaney simply does not fit the negative and ungodly descriptions that many are labeling the “LA6” with—ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.

Here is what I know for certain about Pastor Chaney. I met him on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2006, in a meeting with fellow Black Southern Baptist Pastors. Black SBC denominational employees had spoken highly of Pastor Chaney as a young man with great moral character and pastoring a fast growing dynamic SBC Church in the LA area. Upon meeting him I discovered that he was the grandson of two well-known highly regarded Black Pastors. His paternal and maternal grandfathers are highly acclaimed figures in the Black Baptist preaching community. I had recently been involved in a theological controversy on the campus of SWBTS and consequently I anticipated some level of aloofness from some of the pastors in attendance; but not Pastor Chaney. He affirmed and embraced me and expressed a heartfelt identification with my controversial theological viewpoint; at that moment, a friendship was born.

At the time I met Pastor Chaney, I was praying about whom to invite to preach a revival meeting on the subject of tabernacle worship at our church. Specifically, that was to be the focus of the revival preaching at this meeting. Very few preachers are equipped to address that subject. As I sat at lunch visiting with Pastor Chaney, I felt prompted to ask him if he’d ever studied and preached on Tabernacle Worship. Not only did he respond with a “Yes”! I could tell from the ensuing conversation that he was well versed on that subject. Therefore, I invited him to preach our New Year’s Revival in 2007. His preaching on tabernacle worship was classic. He has become one of the favorite guest preachers at Cornerstone. He has preached at our church approximately 12-15 times. Every message has been solid, scriptural and relevant. Not once have I heard him preach a “prosperity gospel message.”

Pastor Chaney and twelve other Black preachers spent a week with twelve White preachers in a week-long meeting on a mountain resort in Asheville, North Carolina, with the well-known SBC preacher and best-selling Broadman Press author—Jack Taylor. We were mentored by Jack Taylor concerning the Kingdom of God. I had five days of uninterrupted fellowship with Pastor Chaney. I can truly testify that he is a genuine man who is hungry for God and one who leads a life of integrity.

Pastor Chaney’s doctrine is sound. His life is unspotted. His family is intact; He is madly in love with his talented, gifted, and precious wife who has also ministered in song at our church; his church is exploding with growth—qualitatively and quantitatively. His spiritual maturity is evident in his preaching and living.

Given the magnitude of his ministry, visitors to his home have been impressed with the modesty of his house. It is not uncommon for pastors, who pastor much larger than average churches, to live in much larger than average homes; but not Pastor Chaney—at least not at this point. Therefore, it is shameful that Pastor Chaney is being judged because of the portrayal and descriptions that are being pinned on others. Regarding Pastor Chaney—One Size Does Not Fit All.

Pastor Chaney is the only Baptist pastor among these six pastors. He needs to be celebrated, not condemned, because thus far, and I believe it will continue—he is being depicted in a positive light. Wayne Chaney probably pastors the second largest SBC California church behind Rick Warren’s Saddleback.

Finally, I don’t bemoan or begrudge the kind of house, car, clothes, or any other material item that any believer or pastor has acquired through honest means. I have been privileged to be the guest for lunch at the President’s home at SEBTS and SWBTS while Dr. Patterson was/is President. I have watched Dr. Patterson being chauffeured in a luxury car that he owns. I’m told that Dr. Mohler’s current house was once the Music Building at Southern that was retrofitted/renovated to be the President’s home. Seminary Presidents and SBC pastors of large churches generally receive generous salaries and I know for certain SBC seminary presidents live in large palatial homes. I really don’t understand why Hollywood is placing the spotlight on the material attainments of those pastors of LA. This could as easily be said or shown of prominent SBC personalities. I celebrate the huge, palatial home and the luxury vehicle driven by Dr. Patterson; but none of that qualifies him to be a prosperity preacher. Neither does that make Pastor Wayne Chaney a prosperity preacher because he may drive a nice car and wear nice clothes.

If I had a regret, it would be that the pastors are allowing themselves to be exploited by the focus being placed on their material attainments. But, thank God, this has not been shown to be the case with Pastor Chaney. He simply does not fit the labels that the critics of this show have hurled.

Pastor Wayne Chaney is not materialistic, immoral, egotistical, a prosperity preacher, a celebrity seeker, or soft on homosexuality. One must be careful about generalizing regarding either one of those six preachers. That tactic is called guilt by association. Christians should avoid engaging in that activity. These scandalous accusations should not be hurled against Pastor Chaney unless you know for certain that they are true.

Pastor Chaney expressed a passion to take the gospel outside of the four walls of the church when I first met him seven years ago. God has answered his prayer and has created an opportunity for him to impact Hollywood and the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let the critics—criticize. But I believe that this will truly be a case when all things working together for the good of them that love the Lord, because Wayne Chaney really, really, loves the Lord!!!!

I believe God is using and will continue to use Wayne Chaney inside and outside of Hollywood to impact His Kingdom for the Glory of God! And, therefore, I appreciatively applaud Pastor Wayne Chaney’s presence among the LA preachers. He will be a voice of righteousness, reason and Kingdom influence.

A RESPONSE TO BART BARBER’S QUESTIONS REGARDING THE RELATIONSHIP OF TONGUES IN ACTS AND I CORINTHIANS 12-14

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

SBC Voices published a post in early September authored by Bart Barber entitled, “The Nature of the Biblical Gift of Tongues:  Consideration of Relevant Narrative New Testament Passages.”  In the comment section of Barber’s post he addressed the following remark to yours truly:

Dwight,

I appreciate the thoughtful work that you’ve put toward an exegesis of 1 Corinthians 12-14 from your theological vantage-point. If you would like to offer your understanding of the narrative passages in Acts, to refute the points that I have tried to make, then I would be interested in reading that, whether it should come by comment here or by separate post.

It seems to me that the most difficult work to be done is to coordinate Corinthians and Acts. I will freely confess that, when I come to 1 Corinthians, I do so with Acts in the back of my mind, and vice-versa. I think it amounts to a responsible way of reading the Bible to have, at least to some degree, a full canonical context in mind as we approach difficult passages. Acts and 1 Corinthians do not contradict one another—I take that not only as a cardinal doctrine of the faith but also as a personal observation that not all understandings of these passages lead to conflict. And yet the two passages do exhibit noteworthy differences.

Perhaps some of our differences arise out of those differences in the canon, taking them further than we ought? Certainly it might be more charitable to think so than to conclude that some spirit-less rationalism lies at the root.

- See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/the-nature-of-the-biblical-gift-of-tongues-consideration-of-relevant-narrative-new-testament-passages/#sthash.v7m0jUj8.dpuf

I responded to Barber’s request by offering a reprint/posting of my sermon, “The Baptism and Filling of The Holy Spirit.”  It was my hope that my sermon would adequately answer Barber’s concerns.

As evidenced by Barber’s response to my reprint/posting of my sermon (printed below), I fell woefully short of providing Barber with a satisfactory response to his early September post.

Dwight,

Thank you for reprinting your sermon—one in which we could find and discuss many points of commonality between us.

The focus of my series has been upon discovering the nature of “speaking in tongues” in the New Testament. Is the gift of speaking in tongues in the New Testament a gift generally designed for the hearing of men or for private use and self-edification? Is it a gift generally associated more with a function more like prayer or a function more like prophecy? Is it a gift generally associated with an outcome in human language or an outcome in other-than-human language?

This sermon—interesting as it is (and it is interesting), historically significant as it is (and you have pointed out the historical significance of it), and important as it is (certainly the subject of the reception of the Holy Spirit is of paramount importance)—seems to focus on subject matters other than the questions that I have been exploring in my posts. I appreciate your work on this subject matter and your passion for it, but I do not walk away from this post with a sense that I understand entirely the reasons why you have concluded that the Corinthian material, saying as little as it says about the nature of glossolalia, completely overturns the much fuller descriptions of the gift of tongues in the Book of Acts.

- See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/the-baptism-and-filling-of-the-holy-spirit-by-wm-dwight-mckissic-sr/#sthash.497KMI0r.dpuf

Therefore, I will attempt in this post to clearly and specifically address the pointed and fair questions that Barber raised in the above quoted comments.

I.    A Brief Summary of Barber’s Position As I Understand It

Barber views the tongues in Acts and the tongues in Corinthians as analogous. Both refer to “the act of miraculously speaking in human languages that one has not studied.” His final answers regarding the tongues in Acts and Corinthians:

“Conclusion

Considering the relevant narrative passages in the New Testament, we conclude the following:

  1. None of them was private.
  2. None of them was identified as being in the form of prayer.
  3. None of them was identified as having employed other-than-human languages.
  4. None of them involved the expression of personal burdens or matters difficult to articulate in human language.
  5. None of them states that the tongues-speaking was not understood by those who heard it.
  6. Some of them plainly state that the tongues involved were human languages theretofore unknown to the speaker.
  7. Most of them connect tongues-speaking with prophecy.
  8. Most of them connect tongues-speaking with the exaltation of God.
  9. All of them tie tongues-speaking with the initial reception of the Holy Spirit.
  10. All of them regard tongues-speaking as a miraculous action of the Holy Spirit.
  11. All of them consider tongues-speaking to be ipso facto evidence of conversion. That is, all of them plainly regard tongues-speaking as something that no unbeliever could possibly accomplish.

- See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/the-nature-of-the-biblical-gift-of-tongues-consideration-of-relevant-narrative-new-testament-passages/#sthash.v7m0jUj8.dpuf

Barber sees no distinction between the tongues in Acts and the tongues in Corinthians. Barber does not believe that tongues was spoken in private as an act of prayer in Acts or Corinthians. Barber believes that whenever tongues was spoken in Acts and I Corinthians in both cases they were speaking a language that was known and would have been understood by someone present who was familiar with that language.

Barber believes that one cannot interpret and apply the Pauline teaching on tongues in I Corinthians without relating or viewing the Corinthians text through the lenses of the Acts text. He explains it, thusly.

“I will freely confess that, when I come to 1 Corinthians, I do so with Acts in the back of my mind, and vice-versa. I think it amounts to a responsible way of reading the Bible to have, at least to some degree, a full canonical context in mind as we approach difficult passages. Acts and 1 Corinthians do not contradict one another—I take that not only as a cardinal doctrine of the faith but also as a personal observation that not all understandings of these passages lead to conflict. And yet the two passages do exhibit noteworthy differences.” (Comment section under Barber’s post)

In explaining the differences between how Barber and I view the Acts narrative and the I Corinthians passage differently, he concludes:

“Perhaps some of our differences arise out of those differences in the canon, taking them further than we ought? Certainly it might be more charitable to think so than to conclude that some spirit-less rationalism lies at the root.” (Comment section under Barber’s post)

II.   Points of Agreement With Barber

  1. Barber prefaced his comments with this statement that I wholeheartedly agree with:  “It seems that the most difficult work to be done is to coordinate Corinthians and Acts.” To that I render a hearty, AMEN!!!
  2. Bart Barber is a scholar and a gentleman in the truest and fullest sense of the term. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for him as a person, pastor, professor, pensman, pulpiteer, Vice-President of the SBC and co-laborer in the gospel ministry. He also has a genuine heart for racial healing and reconciliation that I also greatly respect. As genuinely humble as Barber is, deep down—he agrees with everything I just stated in this point :-).
  3. Barber and I would wholeheartedly agree that Acts and I Corinthians do not contradict one another. (See Comment Section in Barber’s post).
  4. Barber and I would agree that Acts and I Corinthians “exhibit noteworthy differences” specifically with regard to what they reveal about the gift of tongues. (See Comment Section in Barber’s post).
  5. Barber is also right that the fundamental difference between his belief system and mine on this issue lies in “differences [that] arise out of those differences in the canon.” (See Comment Section in Barber’s post).
  6. Barber and I would agree that a simple reading of the New Testament, with no additional information, would lead one to believe that the biblical gift of tongues still exists today. (A paraphrase of what Barber said in the comment thread of my post on, “The Baptism and Filling of the Holy Spirit”.)
  7. Barber and I would agree that the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs simultaneously with salvation (I Cor. 12:13).
  8. Barber and I would agree that tongues is not the evidence of the baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-21).
  9. Barber and I would agree that all believers are not gifted to speak in tongues (I Cor. 12:28-30).

III.   Points of Disagreement with Barber

  1. Barber relies heavily on Acts for his understanding and application of the biblical gift of tongues. I rely heavily on I Corinthians 12-14 for my understanding and application/practice of this gift. Therein, is probably where the base and root of our disagreement lies.
  2. I believe that when the Bible speaks of the sovereign Holy Spirit distributing gifts of the Holy spirit as “He wills” (I Cor. 12:7, 11); and included in those gifts are “different kinds of tongues” (12:10) that simply means that tongues manifest themselves at the unction and gifting of the Holy Spirit in more than one “manifestation” (12:7) and with “different kinds of tongues” (12:10). Barber only sees one manifestation of the gift of tongues!
  3. I am not sure how Barber would explain “different kinds of tongues” (12:10), but he certainly does not believe that one of the ways that the Holy Spirit manifest Himself is by gifting some believers to pray, praise and give thanks in tongues at the Spirit’s prompting (I Cor. 14:2, 4 14, 15, 16).

Barber in his summary statement regarding tongues in Acts and Corinthians makes the bold, declarative, and startling statement that “None of them was identified as being in the form of prayer.” I beg to differ. Paul is very clear in declaring:

“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” (I Cor. 14:2)

I find it quite amazing that persons, who argue passionately for biblical authority, reject the most basic reading and common sense understanding of this verse; and that is:  One manifestation of the gift of tongues is, “not speaking to men but to God.” Speaking to God is a basic definition of prayer biblically-based and universally recognized; yet Barber and the IMB argues that tongues speaking referenced here is not a “form of prayer.” Paul went a step further and specifically confirmed this manifestation of the gift of “different kinds of tongues” as prayer:

“For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” (I Cor. 14:14)

For believers exercising this gift, Paul taught that while the gifted believer is praying in tongues they are “blessing” [praising] (14:16), “giving thanks” (14:17) and even “singing” (14:15) in tongues—as gifted by the Holy Spirit (14:14).

4.  Barber believes that speaking to men in tongues, is the only legitimate form of speaking in tongues. I believe that speaking to God in tongues is also a biblically valid, legitimate gift of tongues represented in Scripture.

5.  I agree with Barber that we don’t see a private prayer manifestation of tongues in Acts, but we do see that in I Corinthians 14:2, 4, 18, and 19. Paul clearly affirmed praying, praising, giving thanks and singing in tongues in private and personally within in the following verses:

“ I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (I Cor. 12:18, 19).”

In this verse Paul acknowledges that he “speak with tongues,” “Yet in the church” he speaks with understanding. Where then does Paul “speak with tongues”? The clear implication is that this is done in private; having already declared, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays” (I Cor. 14:14). This verse clearly affirms praying in tongues in private as one is gifted and prompted by the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, Barber argues that speaking in tongues in I Corinthians was not an act of prayer or done privately. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only did Paul testify that he prayed in tongues in private, but he also taught that believers who are gifted to pray in tongues could do so personally within, even during a public worship setting:

“If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God (I Cor. 14:27-28, emphasis mine).

When one reads these verses (I Cor. 14:2, 4, 14-19, 27, 28) it baffles me as to how they could reach the conclusion that “considering relevant passages, in the New Testament” with regard to speaking in tongues, “None of them was private” and “none of them was identified as being in the form of prayer.” Those statements directly contradict the testimony and teaching of the Apostle Paul.

6.  The late Dr. Jack Gray of SWBTS taught his class to learn history from Acts and doctrine from Corinthians. Dr. Gray was certainly not saying that Acts’ only value was historical, and Corinthians’ only value was doctrinal. But he was saying as it relates to the gift of tongues, Paul was giving instructions as to how the Holy Spirit manifest Himself in the life of believers so gifted with tongues. Dr. Gray primarily viewed the tongues in Acts as prophecy fulfilled. Just as we would not expect the literal mighty rushing wind, and the cloven tongues of fire, to appear again, we don’t necessarily look for tongues being manifest among people groups as it was in the book of Acts. God is sovereign. And certainly, He can repeat everything in the book of Acts as He so chooses, but this is not the norm today. Tongues as explained and exemplified in Corinthians based on Paul’s guidelines, I believe, is the norm for today. This has also occurred throughout church history as it is in I Corinthians.

7.  Jimmy Draper delineated the distinctions between the tongues in Acts and the tongues in I Corinthians far better than I ever could in his book, The Church Christ Approves, Pages 50-52:

“There is, however, a great difference in the tongues on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 10 and 19, and those at Corinth. At Pentecost all the believers spoke in tongues (Acts 2:4). Not everyone spoke in tongues at Corinth (1 Cor. 12:30). The languages spoken at Pentecost were understood by all (Acts 2:11). At Corinth they were understood by none (1 Cor. 14:2). At Pentecost they spoke to men (Acts 2:11). At Corinth they spoke to God (1 Cor. 14:2). No interpreter was needed at Pentecost (Acts 2:7-8). Tongues were forbidden at Corinth if no interpreter was present (! Cor. 14:28). Pentecostal tongues filled strangers with awe and amazement (Acts 2:7). At Corinth, Paul warned them that strangers would say they were mad (! Cor. 14:23). There was perfect harmony at Pentecost (Acts 2:1, 42-46). Corinth was filled with contention, division, and confusion (1 Cor. 1:10-11). At Pentecost the disciples went out into the streets preaching in tongues (Acts 2:6-8). At Corinth, it was done within the church group (1 Cor. 14).

Because of the tremendous difference in these two “languages,” it would be false interpretation to build a doctrine on the assumption that they were the same. The tongues in Acts 2 were used to proclaim the gospel in another language, and as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel and Isaiah concerning the day of the Messiah. In Acts 10 the gift of languages was made necessary because the Jews refused to include the Gentiles in the new movement. In order to show Peter and the other Jews that the Gentiles were included in God’s grace, he repeated the miracle of tongues. This taught the bigoted Jews that God had poured out his spirit on all men who would accept him. This was a Gentile Pentecost as shown by Peter’s words, “The Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15). It was identical to Pentecost.

In Acts 19 we see Ephesian Jews who were disciples of John who had not heard of the great things which took place in Jerusalem or the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They had not been saved for they had not been told about the need of committing themselves to Jesus Christ. This case is unique because here is a group of people who were alive when Christ was ministering and sacrificing himself for our sins. They accepted John’s preaching about his coming, and now they accepted Christ upon hearing the whole gospel and were baptized as believers. Tongues in both Acts 2 and 10 meant languages understood by men. It is not likely that such a precise grammarian as Dr. Luke would use the same word to mean something else here. Apparently these people spoke in unlearned languages as at Pentecost. There is no evidence that this miracle was ever repeated with the same group twice. This experience in Acts 19 with Ephesian believers must have been an extension of the witness of Pentecost.

When we come to Corinth, we are faced with a vastly different expression on tongues. Here it is not a language others could understand. It was basically an ecstatic utterance directed to God and not man. It was of no value to the congregation unless there was an interpreter. Paul said that speaking in public in a tongue is useless without an interpreter, “for ye shall speak into the air” (I Cor. 14:9). Here at Corinth the gift of tongues was a private and personal gift which edified the individual. Paul declared, “Seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church” (! Cor. 14:12). The uncontrolled use of tongues did not then and does not now edify the church. The restrictions upon the use of this gift will be discussed later. The point here is the difference between the “languages” of Acts and Corinth. Do not build a system of theology that equates the two.” (Emphasis Mine)

Barber has done what Draper advised not to do; and that is to build a system of theology that equates the “languages” of Acts and Corinth. Barber is probably not driven by Spirit-less rationalism in his approach, but rather by a sincere belief that the Corinthians text must be interpreted and applied/practiced based on the Acts text. The problem that I find with Barber’s approach is that there is no biblical, exegetical, or theological basis that requires one to take such approach. As Draper points out that approach leads to a gross misunderstanding of I Corinthians. Again, perhaps not in Barber’s case, but generally speaking, this is a Western rationalistic isogetical approach to interpretation. An exegetical approach would allow the Corinthian text to speak for itself.

Acts and I Corinthians do not contradict each other. They simply address “different kinds of tongues” that are both biblically sanctioned. Just as Romans and James highlight a different emphasis and focus on the doctrine of salvation without contradicting each other; Acts and Corinthians shed light on different aspects of the gift of tongues without contradicting each other. Barber finds it necessary to coordinate the gift of tongues as recorded in Acts with the gift of tongues as recorded in Corinthians. Not only do I find that unnecessary, apparently Paul didn’t find it necessary either; inasmuch as he made no attempt to do so.

IV.  Specific Answers to Barber’s Specific Questions

“Is the gift of speaking in tongues in the New Testament a gift generally designed for the hearing of men or for private use and self-edification? Is it a gift generally associated more with a function more like prayer or a function more like prophecy? Is it a gift generally associated with an outcome in human language or an outcome in other-than-human language?”

Great questions…I want to answer brief and to the point with the addition of a few scholarly opinions that I partially embrace their viewpoints.

Again, there are “different kinds of tongues” so it is not a matter of either/or but both/and. It is designed for the “hearing of men” and for “private use and self-edification.” It is a gift clearly associated with a “function more like prayer,” but it also encompasses “a function more like prophecy.” The human language vs. other-than-human language question is a question that has proponents who would argue on either side. I will simply share my belief and give you a couple of interesting scholarly opinions.

The word “glossa” not only means “language,” it also can mean “utterance.” “Utterance” leaves room for unintelligible speech being spoken. As it relates to prayer, praise and thanksgiving in tongues, I believe that what is being spoken is cognitive content understood by God, because He is the one being spoken to. I find it unnecessary to take a strong position on whether or not what is being spoken is “human language” or “other-than-human language” because it makes no practical or functional difference, as long as God understands and the believer is being edified (I Cor. 14:4).

For Barber and the IMB this is a sticking point and a must know answer—whether or not the person speaking in tongues is speaking a “human language” or an “other-than-human language.” For me, it is a moot question that has no practical or relevant meaning. When Jerry Rankin and other IMB missionaries were/are praying in tongues in private—why would it matter to anyone if it was a “human language” or “other-than-human language”? Who is actually going to listen to their private prayers and make such a determination? Why should anyone inspect and evaluate one’s private prayers? Inasmuch as I don’t see much significance associated with the language question, I will close by simply showing the views of Dr. J.W. MacGorman and Dr. Jack Gray on the language question

In his book, The Gifts of the Spirit; An Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14, Dr. MacGorman states:

“Because of the extreme value placed upon this charismatic gift in Corinth and its increased prevalence in our own day, we need to understand it well. The following references in chapter 14 will help us:

(1)    It is addressed to God rather than to men. Those listening to the glossolalist cannot understand him, because “he utters mysteries in the Spirit” (v. 2).

(2)    The glossolalist himself does not understand what he is saying; thus he is urged to “pray for the power to interpret” (v. 13).

(3)    While speaking in tongues, one’s mind and utterance are not coordinated as in ordinary speech: “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful” (V. 14; cf. NEB: “If I use such language in my prayer, the Spirit in me prays, but my intellect lies fallow.”) Evidently in glossolalia there is a disengagement between rational processes and utterance.

(4)    Glossolalia is a medium through which one may express praise or thanksgiving to God (vv. 16-17).

(5)    The glossolalist is able to control the exercise of his gift. Otherwise Paul would not have commanded him to remain silent in church in the absence of an interpreter (v. 28). The exercise of this gift is not a seizure.

Upon the basis of these evidences we may conclude that glossolalia is Holy Spirit-inspired utterance that is unintelligible apart from interpretation, which itself is an attendant gift. It is a form of ecstatic utterance, a valid charismatic gift. (NEB: “ecstatic utterance;” TEV: “speak in strange tongues;” KJV: “he that speaketh in an unknown tongue.” Note that the translators put the word “unknown” in italics, indicating that it is not present in the Greek text. It tends to be misleading.)

Glossolalia is not speaking in foreign languages that one has never learned. The phenomenon of which Paul spoke had no vocabulary, recognizable grammar, and syntax through which thoughts were being communicated elsewhere in the world. In 1 Corinthians 14:2 the reason why no one understood what the glossolalist was saying was because he uttered “mysteries in the Spirit,” not because no Tibetan was present!” (Pages 42-43)

On page 90, Dr. MacGorman states:

“Glossolalia is good for praise, but not for proclamation. Such speaking goes unheard by human hearers; its content remains a mystery.”

Page 91:

“In ordinary speech there is a coordination between mental process and utterance. Because it is the product and articulate expression of one mind, its signals can be picked up and understood by another. However, in glossolalia the spirit alone is active; the mind is not. There is a disengagement of the gears of rational process and verbalization. The clutch of the mind, so to speak, has been thrown in.

“This is why no one else can make any sense out of the utterance. It is irrational; that is, it is mindless. While speaking in tongues, the intellect lies fallow, like land that is not under cultivation and so will produce no crop.”

Pages 118-120:

“There is a value to glossolalia, as one rightly expects of any gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit. Men do violence to the plain teaching of 1 Corinthians 12-14 when they deny either its validity or worth. They may do this severely, even blasphemously, by alleging: “It’s of the devil!” They may do it smugly, by relegating it to the neurotic fringe of Christian discipleship. Yet Paul spoke in tongues, and he was not rationally irresponsible or emotionally unstable. Or they may do it summarily by decreeing that though glossolalia was a legitimate gift in the Corinthian church of the first century, the Holy Spirit has not bestowed it since the apostolic age. One wonders what chapter and verse in the New Testament provide the basis for assigning so specific a locus and terminus. This seems to be a presumptuous encroachment upon the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit (12:11). He alone determines the whom, what, when, and where of all the spiritual gifts.

Many of us whose cultural rootage is in the West are uncomfortable in the presence of religious ecstasy. Not being at home For instance, I was guest in a home in Texas one time when the phone rang announcing the discovery of oil. Now there was a form of ecstasy that could be trusted! Nobody in the local chamber of commerce or Rotary Club was agitating for the removal of these enthusiasts from their rolls.

Nor do we feel out of place in a football stadium when the home crowd goes wild as a desperation pass in the final seconds wins the conference championship against a traditional rival. Ecstasy—because of one’s alma mater is safe; it’s ecstasy because of our heavenly Father that is suspect!

Would that we were as impatient with excessive death as we are with excessive life! No matter how dead a church is—how devoid of the presence of the Holy spirit or how long since anyone in its services experienced the life-transforming power of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord—it is thoroughly respectable. Death is exceedingly well-behaved. Yet many of us will agree with Baird’s verdict: ‘Although it is bad when an outsider comes in and says you are mad, it is worse when a visitor comes in and says you are dead.’”

Interestingly, ecstasy was the word that the Baptist historian Morgan Edwards used to describe worship sounds emanating from Sandy Creek.

MacGorman comments underscore what I have argued before and that is:  The rejection of speaking in tongues is based on emotional prejudice as opposed to exegetical precision and it is driven by Spirit-less Western rationalism and not the Word of God. To insist that the tongues of Corinthians must mirror the tongues of Acts is not a text driven conclusion, but rather an imposition on the Corinthians text to attempt to fit comfortably with a Western mindset.

Dr. Jack Gray offers the following relevant comments on our subject matter:

“Learn the STORY of the Holy Spirit for from the Gospels and Acts; learn doctrines of the Holy Spirit from the Epistles.” (Studies of the Holy Spirit, By: L Jack Gray, Page 6)

This statement points out a key distinction between Barber’s understanding of tongues and mine.

On Page 16 of Studies of the Holy Spirit, Dr. Gray defines Tongues:

“TONGUES—(I Cor. 12:10, 14:2, 13-16) This is the Spirit’s gift to speak to God in ecstatic languages, other than human language. It is the gift of a special language for communication with God. It is a special instrument for praise, singing and praying. It is not for communica­tion with people. There is no biblical record of God sending a message to be delivered by people in ecstatic utterances. It seems also to be the liberation of the spirit of a believer for praise and adoration of God, commun­ion with Him, and exalted worship of Him.”

From Dr. Gray’s Book, Pages 20-21:

“The gift of tongues used in the Corinthian Church was the gift of speaking in ecstatic utterances. I believe this because:

(1)  Careful reading of I Cor. 12 and 14 convinces me of this. (Read I Cor. 14 and substitute the word “language” where the word “tongue” is used. See how illogical it appears.)

(2)  Reputable recent translations of the New Testament translate the gift to be ecstatic utterances. (This does not settle the question but it does give logical support to the idea that this gift is ecstatic speech.)

(3)  Some New Testament professors at Southwestern Seminary are of the conviction that the Corinthian gift is ecstatic utterances. (See Dr. J.W. MacGorman’s book, The Gifts of the Spirit, pp. 42-44). Again, this does not settle the question, but it does give strong support to my interpretation.

(4)  That a Spirit-endowed interpreter was required leads one to the conclusion that the Corinthians with this gift spoke other than languages. A listening native could translate a statement made in a mother tongue. Moreover, Paul speaks of interpretations of tongues, not translations of languages.

(5)  That the use of this gift caused trouble in the church implies it was other than languages. The use of mul­tiple languages in one congregation has never been a source of trouble—to my knowledge. At least it is not a doctrinal issue.

Illustration: Gambrell Street Church sometimes has a worship service in which four languages are used: English, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese. No confusion or question has resulted. Numerous languages are used at the Baptist World Alliance without conflict or objection.

(6)  That Satan continues successfully to counterfeit this gift with a spurious gift of tongues implies that it was ecstatic utterances. A counterfeit implies a genuine. No counterfeiter counterfeits a three dollar bill, he copies the genuine.”

I hope that I have provided complete, conclusive, and satisfactory answers here. I have reached the conclusion that debating this matter has only limited value. Practicing praying in the Spirit—whether done with words understood, words not understood, or even without words is what is most important. The recent prayer gathering in Southlake appears to have been a Spirit-empowered gathering. And at the end of the day, that’s what’s desperately needed. I commend Barber for his leadership and participation in that gathering. May we all build ourselves up in the most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost (Jude 20)!

V.   Settled Convictions Regarding the Biblical Gift of Tongues

  • Speaking in tongues is a valid, vital gift of the Holy Spirit to the body of Christ.
  • Speaking in tongues is the least of all gifts.
  • Speaking in tongues as recorded in the book of Acts was primarily given in the presence of specific people groups as a fulfillment of prophecy. Its value today is more historical than doctrinal.
  • God is sovereign and at His discretion, He can and sometime does move upon one person to communicate Divine truth to another person or persons through the biblical gift of tongues. This can and has/does happen in church settings. In church settings an interpretation is required when tongues are spoken publically.
  • When the Bible refers to “diversities of tongues (I Cor. 12:10), I believe it includes the type of tongue speaking recorded in the book of Acts and the type(s) of tongue speaking recorded in the Corinthian Church.
  • Speaking in tongues as recorded in I Corinthians primarily addressed tongues as a private act of devotion in the form of prayer, praise, thanksgiving and singing.
  • Speaking in tongues in public worship is restricted without interpretation to “speaking to himself and to God” (I Cor. 14:28).
  • Speaking in tongues in I Corinthians is primarily for private devotions and not public display.
  • Speaking in tongues in I Corinthians was for the edification of the believer so that he/she could in turn edify the body and advance the kingdom (I Cor. 14:4).
  • Speaking in tongues in I Corinthians was a language understood by God—cognitive content—and it is of no relevance as to whether or not man would understand what is being said (I Cor. 14:2).
  • The vast majority of evangelical world Christendom embraces tongues as a valid gift because it comports with the plain reading of Scripture. This gift is viewed as an act of private worship and as a gift to convey a Divine message to others as the Spirit gives utterance.
  • Evangelical believers who are cessationist of whatever stripe—must conclude that the millions of evangelical believers who believe in and practice speaking in tongues are delusional, deceived, or demonically inspired.
  • Because of the intellectual bent of the Western rational mind, tongues is rejected based on superfluous and rationalistic reasons, and sincere faulty exegesis.
  • The cessationist believer and the continuationist believer must love and cooperate with each other for the kingdom‘s sake and the advancement

THE BAPTISM AND FILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

By Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

This message is offered as a response to Bart Barber’s request that I offer my “…understanding of the narrative passages in Acts, to refute points that I have tried to make…” Barber made this statement in the comment stream under his post, “The Nature of the Biblical Gift of Tongues:  Consideration of Relevant Narrative New Testament Passages This is also the message that I preached in Chapel at SWBTS in August 2006 that, in many ways, defined or redefined my relationship with Southern Baptists. I hope this message answers Bart’s questions about my view of the Acts narrative passages as they relate to I Corinthians 12-14. In the comment stream I will be glad to further elaborate if Bart’s question is not sufficiently answered. Succinctly stated I believe we are to learn history from Acts and Doctrine from Corinthians. I believe that Acts is descriptive and I Corinthians 12-14 is prescriptive. I believe Acts is primarily prophesy fulfilled and I Corinthians is pneumatology revealed and functioning in the life of the church. I believe speaking in tongues in Acts is the exception to the rule today—though it occasionally occurs under the sovereignty of God. I believe speaking in tongues in I Corinthians is the standard rule for today. The primary difference in the tongues speaking in Acts is that people spoke in tongues to men the wonderful works of God; in I Corinthians 14:2, 14, 16, 27, and 28, tongues speaking was directed to God. When the Bible speaks of the diversity of tongues in I Corinthians 12:10, this encompasses the tongues of Acts and I Corinthians. In the book of Acts we read about what God did. In I Corinthians we read about what God is doing.

I.             WHAT IS THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?

There are seven passages in the New Testament which speak specifically of the baptism with the Spirit.  Five of these passages refer to the baptism with the Spirit as a future event; four were spoken by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:7, 8; Luke 3:16, and John 1:33) and one was spoken by Jesus after His resurrection (Acts 1:4, 5).  In Acts 1:5 the expression, “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” means that this action was to take place at one particular time.  The King James Version tells us that this event was to take place, “Not many days hence.”  John the Baptist and Jesus referred to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a future historical event.  The sixth time we see the term “Baptized with the Holy Spirit” is in Acts 11:16 referring to the baptism in the Spirit as a fulfilled promise.  In Acts 11:16 Peter uses the term in reference to Cornelius and his household who had also received the Holy Spirit.  Peter viewed the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit comparable with the Jews receiving the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost thus fulfilling the promises spoken by John the Baptist and Jesus.  The seventh and last time we see the term “baptized by one Spirit” specifically mentioned is in I Corinthians 12:13.  This passage speaks about the wider experience of all believers.

We can conclude from these passages of Scripture that the baptism with the Holy Spirit was first of all a prophetic event fulfilled (Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:1-41), a promised gift received (Acts 1:4, 2:38; Ephesians 1:13) and a purposeful experience (I Corinthians 12:13).  THE BAPTIST OF THE SPIRIT MAY BE PROPERLY DEFINED AS THAT ACTIVITY OF GOD WHEREBY THROUGH HIS SPIRIT HE BRINGS THE BELIEVER AT SALVATION INTO A RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST AND SIMULTANEOUSLY INTO A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BODY OF CHRIST, THE CHURCH (I Corinthians 12:13).

II.            DOES THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT OCCUR SIMULTANEOUS WITH SALVATION OR SUBSEQUENT TO SALVATION?

In the book of Acts we find four occasions, for sure, and possibly five where the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred.  No one occasion is identical to the other, although there were some commonalities.

(1)       In Acts 2:1-4 the 120 believers experienced the Baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit simultaneously accompanied with tongues speaking at Pentecost.  Also at Pentecost there were three thousand who received the gift of the Holy Spirit and salvation under the preaching of Peter, no mention is made of them speaking in tongues.  The 120 were saved and received the baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation.  The fact that the experience of the 120 was in two distinct stages was due simply to historical circumstances.  They could not have received the Pentecostal gift before Pentecost.

(2)       In Acts 8:12-17, we see where the Holy Spirit was received by the converts in Samaria after their water baptism.  Phillip “preached the good news of the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women” (Acts 8:12).  When Phillip preached in Samaria, it was the first time the gospel had been proclaimed outside Jerusalem, evidently because Samaritans and Jews had always been bitter enemies.  Acts 8:16 explains although they were believers and had been baptized, “the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon them.”  I believe in this instance God sovereignly withheld the Holy Spirit from them until Peter and John arrived so they might see for themselves that God received even despised Samaritans who believed in Christ.  There could be no question of it.  Also in Acts 8:26-40, we see the Holy Spirit directing Phillip to go to Gaza to witness to an Ethiopian man.  This Ethiopian man like the 3000 on the day of Pentecost received the Word of God and was baptized, but there is no mention of tongues, a second baptism or the laying on of hands.

Acts 2 is often referred to as the Jewish Pentecost.  Acts 8:12-17 is often referred to as the Samaritan Pentecost.  If in Acts 8:26-40 this Ethiopian man received the “gift” or “baptism” of the Spirit, as I believe he did, in the same manner that the 3000 did on the day of Pentecost this could be referred to as the Ethiopian Pentecost.

(3)       In Acts 10:44-48 while Peter was preaching to Cornelius the Italian (Gentiles) and his family and friends the baptism and gift of the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentile Pentecost.  Unlike at Samaria when the Holy Spirit was given after water baptism, these Gentiles were baptized with the Holy Spirit while Peter was yet preaching.

(4)       In Acts 19:1-7 we find an encounter of Paul with the disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus.  Paul asked them in verse 3, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  Behind the question is the assumption that this was when it usually happened.  They pled ignorance of the Holy Spirit, stating they had been baptized into John’s baptism.  Paul related John’s baptism to the ministry of Jesus, and they were baptized in water a second time and received the gift of baptism of the Holy Spirit.

To summarize, it is my belief that you cannot look to Acts for a fixed formula or definite pattern as to how one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit.  No one has the Spirit of God in a box.  It is my belief that Pentecost instituted the Church.  Then all that remained was for Samaritans, Gentiles, Ethiopians and Jews who were unaware of the gospel to be brought into the Church representatively.  This occurred in Acts 8 for Samaritans and Ethiopians, Acts 10 for Gentiles (according to Acts 11:15) and Acts 19 for belated believers from John’s baptism.  Once this representative baptism with the Spirit had occurred, the normal pattern applied – baptism with the Spirit at the time each person (of whatever background) believed on Jesus Christ. Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the initial experience of every believer at conversion (John 3:5-6; Acts 2:38; Romans 8:9 and I Corinthians 12:13).

III.           IS SPEAKING IN TONGUES THE EVIDENCE OF BEING BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT?

The answer is no.  I speak in tongues as the Spirit of God gives utterance; so I have no prejudice or bias against tongues.  However, I must stand on biblical truth and not popular opinion.  I do believe that all the spiritual gifts listed in Scripture are operative today, and by the grace of God some Christians will experience the gift of tongues when filled with the Holy Spirit.  Although the teaching that all Christians should experience speaking in tongues as evidence of being baptized in the Holy Ghost is unscriptural, the Scripture does not preclude speaking in tongues for some when they are filled with the Holy Spirit.  As the Spirit rushes in the corners of their lives, awakening new desires for prayer and praise, speaking in tongues will naturally flow forward in some.  Paul makes it clear in I Corinthians 12:13 that all believers are baptized by the Spirit, but all do not speak with tongues (I Corinthians 12:30).  Since all Christians do not speak with tongues, it cannot be proof of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  There is only one baptism in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:5).  Being baptized is equated with being a child of God (Galatians 3:26-27).  Believers are never commanded in Scripture to be baptized but to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-21).  There is the ongoing “filling” ministry of the Spirit for power.  There is only one baptism in the Holy Ghost, but many fillings.  All born again believers are baptized in the Holy Ghost (I Corinthians 12:13; John 3:5; Romans 8:9, Ephesians1:3).

The purpose of the baptism of the Holy Ghost is to place believers in the body of Christ.  Even carnal Christians are seen as having been baptized by the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13, I Corinthians 3:1-3).

The filling of the Holy Spirit means the full control of the Spirit—the enthronement of Jesus as Lord.  When a person receives salvation, baptism with the Spirit or the gift of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is resident.  When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit becomes “president” in the believer’s life.  The filling with the Holy Spirit makes one experience Jesus as complete Lord.  It is God-intoxication: “…not drunk with wine…but…filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).  Paul wrote of bringing every thought captive of Jesus Christ to acknowledge His authority (II Corinthians 10:5).  The fullness of the Spirit is for specific service.  The promise in Acts 1:8 was power and the service was witnessing.  The report in Acts 2:4 and 11 was that they “were filled” and unbelievers heard “them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”  In Acts 4:31 believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and “spoke the word of God boldly.”  Ephesians 5:18-21 states the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit.  The fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 7:20; Galatians 5:22, 23).  In conclusion, where does the Bible teach that all Christians are to speak in tongues as the evidence of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit?  I also believe that non Pentecostal evangelicals must recognize that the gift of tongues is a legitimate spiritual gift that has been and always will be a part of the church until Jesus returns (I Corinthians 13:8).  Some believers will experience the gift of tongues and some will not.  Pentecostals need to recognize that tongues is not a sign of spiritual power, although it does edify the one who is speaking (I Corinthians 14:4).  Baptists and other evangelicals need to recognize the Spirit-filled life and the fact that the Holy Spirit desires to have intimate fellowship with us daily for empowerment, fellowship, service, comfort and guidance (Acts 1; II Corinthians 13:14; John 14:26, 16:13; Romans 8:16).  What most Pentecostals refer to as the “Baptism of the Holy Ghost,” I refer to as the filling of the Holy Spirit.  However, regardless to what terminology we use, we both agree that we need the fullness of the Holy Spirit to render effective service for Christ, our families and even on our jobs (Ephesians 5:18-33, 6:1-9).

IV.          HOW TO BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.

A.  Some things to remember when you seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit:

    1. The Holy Spirit lives in you now (Acts 2:38; John 1:12; Romans 8:9, 5:5; I Corinthians 6:19; Galatians 4:6-7).
    2. He will never leave you (John 14:16-18, 23; Ephesians 1:13-14; Hebrews 13:5).  Get down on your knees before God and thank Him that He lives in your heart now.  Rejoice in Him and in this fact.
    3. There is no complex formula given in the Bible or certain order as to what you do first, second, and third in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  “Ask and ye shall receive” is God’s simple word to His children.
    4. There is nothing to fear in being filled with the Spirit.  God blesses, not blasts; helps, not hurts.  To be filled with the Spirit is good and will result in your good and God’s glory (Ephesians 5:18-20).

B.  It is as simple as this:  Ask the Spirit to fill you, believe in Him to do it, obey His counsel.

    1. Hungry?  Eat.  Be filled. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst….filled” (Matthew 5:6).
    2. Thirsty?  Drink.  Be satisfied (never thirst) (Matthew 5:6; John 7:37-38).
    3. Heavy laden?  Come to me. Give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

HOW TO HANDLE A TRAYVON-ZIMMERMAN MOMENT

BY WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

No one disputes that George Zimmerman initiated the communication with Trayvon Martin. No one disputes that Neighborhood Watch Volunteers are trained not to carry a weapon. No one disputes that Neighborhood Watch Volunteers are trained not to personally intervene if they observe a suspicious person or activity, but rather notify law enforcement. No one disputes that the 911 dispatcher counseled Zimmerman not to pursue Trayvon. No one disputes that Trayvon had just as much right to be on those premises in Samford, Florida, as Zimmerman. Yet, Trayvon was the one viewed with suspicion and being pursued by Zimmerman. No one disputes that Zimmerman was the aggressor in the encounter.

The truth of the matter is young people, and not so young people, will inevitably face a Trayvon-Zimmerman-like encounter. A sudden, unanticipated, confrontational situation—with the potential to escalate to a violent encounter—could happen to any one of us—even in close proximity to our homes.

Someone can deem you as suspicious. Someone can approach you without identifying themselves and ask you questions that you deem are inappropriate. Someone can engage you with the wrong attitude. Someone can encroach upon your personal space and cross your comfort zone. Someone can form wrong and premature conclusions about you. Someone can report you to authority figures based on their false assumptions. Someone can approach and address you with a superior, judgmental, authoritarian and condescending attitude and disposition. This is what Trayvon Martin encountered at the hands of George Zimmerman on that dreadful evening in Samford, Florida.

Without the benefit of any prior knowledge, Zimmerman concluded that Trayvon Martin was an “a …hole, suspicious, and a f…ing punk.” He also categorized him as belonging to a group called “they” who always get away. Either Zimmerman had a mysterious, inexplicable discernment regarding Trayvon, or he profiled him. Those are serious and sordid assessments to make upon sight regarding a total stranger.

How do you reach such strong conclusions about a person that you’ve never met? It is impossible to harbor those kinds of feelings toward a person and it not be reflected in your actions, attitude, body language and speech when you approach and address that person.

People sense when these are your feelings toward them. Trayvon sensed Zimmerman’s unjustifiable disposition and attitude toward him. Zimmerman’s profile of Trayvon was based solely on externals and perception. Trayvon’s externals were:  race, clothes, age, gender, skittles, tea, and a cell phone. Armed with only that knowledge, Zimmerman concluded that Trayvon is again, an a…hole, f…ing punk, suspicious and a member of a group called “they.”

It is my belief that we all engage in selective racial profiling at times. I certainly am no exception and neither was Zimmerman. To that extent I can identify with Zimmerman. The problem, however, is when we act on our “suspicions” or profiling. That is totally unacceptable and can easily ignite a dispute, fight and racial unrest—that can escalate to a national crisis—as we now all see.

Let me be clear. Had I been on the Zimmerman jury, I would have found him, guilty. If Zimmerman had been a 34-year old Black Man behaving in this manner toward a 17-year old White, Asian, or Hispanic child, I would also have voted—guilty.

President Obama is correct in stating the outcome would have been different if Trayvon had been the one left standing. We all know that if Trayvon would have been the one remaining alive that night, he would have been immediately arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. And that is why the vast majority of Black America are enraged by the verdict. Not having an African American on the jury exacerbates the outrage. The racial composition of the jury and the verdict reminded African Americans of an era that we’d hoped was past and gone.

As painful, disappointing and unjust as the Zimmerman verdict was, I found a sense of hope and healing from a surprising source—the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC—Dr. Russell Moore. Reading what Dr. Moore said on this matter in the Washington Post produced a therapeutic and euphoric moment for me. Moore’s words represent the fact that the SBC may truly be on the verge of systemic and substantive change with regard to race. The fact that Moore is Anglo makes his words in this instance more impactful and helpful toward healing the wounds Blacks have felt over Trayvon’s tragic death. In our mid-week service last Wednesday, we put Moore’s quote on the stage screen and read his quote verbatim. These words were like apples of gold on plates of silver:

“Regardless of what Trayvon Martin was doing or not doing that night, you have someone who was taking upon himself some sort of vigilante justice, even by getting out of the car. Regardless of what the legal verdict was, this was wrong,” said Russell Moore…”

“And when you add this to the larger context of racial profiling and a legal system that does seem to have systemic injustices as it relates to African-Americans with arrests and sentencing, I think that makes for a huge crisis.”

“Most white evangelicals, white Americans, are seeing [the Martin case] microscopically, in terms of this verdict, and most African-Americans are seeing it macroscopically. It’s Trayvon Martin, it’s Emmitt Till, it’s Medger Evers, it’s my son, my neighbor’s son, my situation that I had,” Moore said. “Most white Americans say we don’t know what happened that night and they are missing the point.”

For a White Southern Baptists to truly understand the depth of our pain and to be willing to articulate and identify with our perspective without needlessly trampling on Trayvon’s grave is truly extraordinary.

When faced with a Trayvon-Zimmerman moment, there are only three possible responses one can make.  Jesus in Scripture was also profiled based on His background. Therefore, He could identify with Trayvon. Jesus faced unwarranted and unanticipated opposition, as did Trayvon on the night of the Zimmerman encounter. By example and teaching, Jesus shows believers how to handle a Trayvon-Zimmerman encounter.

All believers of all colors will inevitably face an adversarial person that could be any race or color. Before we encounter that person(s) we need to make sure that we are armed and equipped with the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). Lessons from Jesus and Trayvon’s legacy can guide believers through an unanticipated moment of potential conflict.

The three options available when faced with a Trayvon-Zimmerman moment are to (1) fight; (2) finesse; or (3) flee. Jesus addressed all three.

1.  The option to fight should only be employed when there is absolutely no other possible way to remedy the situation. And even then one can take the option of not fighting back and hoping that the aggressor will relent. Jesus taught that you should turn the other cheek. I know that sounds archaic and unrealistic in today’s culture; but this was the method employed by Jesus and Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a matter of fact, Jesus told Peter to put up his sword, because he who lives by the sword will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52). Jesus taught that responding to aggression with aggression is not wise. Trayvon responded to aggression with aggression, and that proved to be fatal and tragic for him. We all need to learn a lesson from that. The option to fight, according to Jesus, is not the best option to take.

2.  The option to finesse when faced with a Trayvon Martin situation is also available. By finesse I mean to respond with conciliatory, constructive, non-threating dialogue. Jesus said in Matthew 5:25:

“Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.”

To finesse when faced with a Trayvon-Zimmerman encounter, simply means to seek common ground in the dialogue—not battle ground. Jesus makes it clear that the consequences are weighty if the two parties don’t find—common ground. Jesus also makes it clear that the right kind of dialogue can lead to a peaceful resolution.

3.  The third option available when faced with a Trayvon-Zimmerman encounter is to flee. This is probably the best option. Especially in the kind of situation Trayvon faced on that dreadful night.

Jesus said if peace don‘t abide, flee (Matthew 10:14). Jesus fled when he faced an aggressive group that was prejudiced against Him for false reasons. If Jesus fled in this situation, you and I can flee (John 10:39).

My mother warned her children that we would face a Zimmerman encounter in life. And again, we all have. Her advice was “It is better to be a live coward, than a dead hero.” And I believe mother was right and so was Jesus.

There comes a time, when you don’t allow someone else to take your life. By fleeing and finessing, you freely lay your life down.

You are to fight only if this is the only option that you believe is available to you.

Zimmerman was wrong. But to respond to the jury verdict with violence would be equally wrong. Two wrongs will never make a right. Innocent Hispanics and Whites who have been verbally and violently assaulted in the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict—have been racially profiled, and we need to cry out against that kind of senseless violence as well. The media should publicize the names of the victims and perpetrators in these instances as they have done Trayvon and Zimmerman.

Ironically, the SBC may be the only ecclesiastical body that can bring our nation together for prayer and dialogue surrounding this issue across racial lines. The SBC sanctioned the segregation of American society from her inception through the first century of her existence. Perhaps, now the SBC can lead the way to the healing of racism and racial distrust in American society in the 21st Century. Zimmerman may have gotten by, but he is not going to get away. Remember O.J.? Maybe out of Trayvon’s death will evolve a resurrection of constructive racial dialogue and healing that could lead to the prevention of unnecessary racially motivated deaths in the future.

A BIBLICAL BASIS FOR SPEAKING IN TONGUES IN PRIVATE

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

The primary purpose for addressing this topic is to answer the question: Is there a biblical basis for a Kingdom citizen to pray in tongues in private?

The late Dr. Manuel L. Scott, Sr., said, “There is an orthodoxy within him that would not permit the sermonic broadcasting of an idea that the Bible would not back.” Not only do I share Dr. Scott’s orthodoxy regarding sermons, but I believe that this orthodoxy extends to worship practices—including tongues—publicly or privately. If the Bible does not back the practice of speaking in tongues, then no believer—period—should speak in tongues at any place or at any time.

It is not my purpose, desire, or place to attempt to persuade all Baptists or all believers to speak in tongues. I do not believe that it is God’s will based on His Word for all believers to speak in tongues (1 Cor. 12:30). Although it is debated among those of us who speak in tongues, neither do I believe that every believer is capable of speaking in tongues—even if they desire to. God sovereignly determines which believer gets which gifts (1 Cor. 12:7-12).

There are those who would argue strongly against my viewpoint that all believers are not capable of speaking in tongues. Again, God sovereignly bestows and distributes spiritual gifts according to His will. And there is no one gift that is given to every believer. When Paul raised the rhetorical question, “Do all speak with tongues?” (1 Cor. 12:30), it is obvious that the answer is, No! The implication is that it is not the will or intent of God for all believers to speak in tongues.

A few years ago I read in Newsweek Magazine that 20% of all Christians worldwide speak in tongues. If my memory serves me correctly that was based on a Pew Poll. Furthermore, only 50% of the persons who are faithful attendees and members of Pentecostal/Charismatic churches speak in tongues. They all are open, desirous, and believe in speaking in tongues, yet only 50% or less have experienced speaking in tongues. Those figures are consistent to me with what the Bible teaches—all do not speak in tongues.

Please don’t misconstrue anything that I say here as meaning that I am on a campaign to get Southern Baptists to affirm, embrace, and practice—speaking in tongues. That is not my goal or intent. Nor is it my calling. If I am on a campaign it would be to simply, respectfully and humbly ask the IMB trustees to simply return to the pre-2005 policy on tongues; that would resolve this issue. Because the SBC in session has not addressed this issue, I believe that IMB, NAMB, and SWBTS have usurped the will of the convention.  It is only because the aforementioned entities have established these anti-tongues policies, without one iota of SBC sanctioning, that I have also asked the SBC in session to weigh-in on these matters. I would be very pleased if the SBC policy was one of neutrality, which had served the SBC well prior to the adoption of the cessationist policies.

I want to address the question regarding the biblical basis for praying in tongues in private from a biblical and biographical perspective.

I.  Jesus affirmed speaking in tongues. He told the eleven that they could expect as one of the signs that would be visible or audible among those who believe is that  “they will speak with new tongues” (Mark 16:17). No matter how one etymologically and theologically parses this statement by Jesus, they would have to conclude that Jesus’ statement here is an affirmation of speaking in tongues. He did not elaborate, give details, qualify his statement, define tongues, or distinguish between public or private tongues here. He did not say if it would be a one-time occurrence among certain people groups or an ongoing experience among certain believers. But what He did say is this:  Counted among those who name His name should be those who speak with “new tongues.”

I will leave it to those much smarter than I am to figure out exactly what Jesus meant by this statement. I simply take His Word at face value.

It is disheartening to me that so many otherwise wonderful and Spirit-filled SBC institutions and individuals would discount and devalue here the words of Jesus.

To categorically deny IMB missionaries the freedom to receive and experience what Jesus said here is to trample on the words of Jesus or to define and qualify Jesus’ words here in a way that He chose not to define and qualify His words. That is a bold, presumptive move, from my perspective, for the IMB to take.

Based on the context of Jesus’ statement, coupled with Paul’s statement on the subject (1 Cor. 12:30), Jesus clearly did not teach that all believers everywhere, would speak in tongues—but He certainly was saying some believers, somewhere would speak in tongues. How can the IMB disqualify, what Jesus qualified? And that is speaking in tongues. Neither did Jesus preclude or promote the notion that his reference to “new tongues” would be limited to public forums—to the exclusion of private worship and devotion. What is clear, again, is that our Savior, Lord and King of His Kingdom affirmed speaking in tongues.

II.  The eleven disciples (Acts 1:13) and presumably the 120 (Acts 1:15) all spoke in tongues on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1, 4).  The content of their tongues speaking, or what was heard by the Jews assembled from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5) was—“the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11).

If what the devout Jews from different language groups heard on the day of Pentecost, when the 120 spoke in tongues was “the wonderful works of God,” it does not seem unreasonable to me that in a time of private devotional prayer and praise one could also speak—“the wonderful works of God” to God, about God.

You may ask, why would God allow this? God requested, allowed and required many things in scripture from our perspective that does not compute to the modern rational mind—nevertheless, He’s done so. Neither did He ask our permission to do so, nor is He interested in our opinion about what He’s done. The point here is simply this:  If the early believers could speak in tongues “the wonderful works of God,” it is not a stretch from my perspective they could also speak in prayer to God these same “wonderful works.” Why? The answer is:  For God’s own sovereign purposes.

Having experienced tongues as they did on the day of Pentecost, I can assure you that their speaking in tongues was not limited to that occasion only. Those of us who speak in tongues often during times of intense worship, devotion, prayer, and praise spontaneously often speak in tongues as the Sprit gives utterance (Acts 2:4). It is my opinion, but, I don’t believe their tongues speaking was limited to Pentecost only. I believe it carried over to their private devotions.

It is not an insignificant factor here that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 involved exclusively Jews and Jewish proselytes (Acts 2:5, 10).

In Acts 8 we see where another people group was introduced to Christ and received the Holy Spirit—the Samaritans (Acts 8:4-8; 14-17). Some scholars have referred to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Samaritans as—the Samaritan Pentecost—although there is no mention of tongues specifically being heard at Samaria.

Likewise, scholars have referred to the conversion the Ethiopian Eunuch as the Ethiopian Pentecost (Acts 8:26-39). There is no mention of tongues in the Ethiopian Eunuch narrative, but clearly the Holy Spirit was at work in his conversion. God used a Greek-speaking man—Phillip—to share the gospel with an African man—who was reading from a Jewish Bible while riding in a Roman Province. Truly the Holy Spirit was at work.

There is no record of the Ethiopian Eunuch, Phillip, or the Samaritans speaking in tongues. In Acts 2:4, the 120 were filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues. In Acts 4:31 the 3000 that were converted on the day of Pentecost were “all filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the Word of God with boldness.” There is no indication or record here of the 3000 speaking in tongues, although they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

One of the errors of Pentecostalism—or at least among many of them—has been to insist that all who are filled with the Holy Spirit are to also speak in tongues. That was not true in the Book of Acts, neither is it true today. I am convinced though that the private devotional lives of the Samaritans who were filled with joy (Acts 8:5), Phillip and the Ethiopian were all invigorated by the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus prophesied that tongues speaking would be an occurrence among His followers. Indeed His disciples spoke in tongues declaring the wonderful works of God.

III.  Paul affirmed speaking in tongues as an act of private devotion.  We find the strongest support for praying in tongues in private in Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians 14.

“Different kinds of tongues” (1 Cor. 12:10) are mentioned as being manifest by the Holy Spirit and “given to each one for the profit of all” 1 Cor. 12:7). Paul then lists several gifts (12:8-10) and includes “different kinds of tongues.”

In Chapter 14 Paul admonishes the church at Corinth to, “pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” Although Paul does spend the remainder of the Chapter contrasting the gift of prophecy with the gift of tongues, Paul does not forbid speaking in tongues—publically or privately (1 Cor. 14:39). He does place guidelines around its use in public worship.

In 1 Cor. 14:2 I believe Paul addresses the primary way tongues was practiced by Christians at Corinth; this is also the primary practice of those who speak in tongues today.

In Acts 2, although they were speaking the “wonderful works of God,” men heard it and were pricked in their hearts. In 1 Corinthians 14:2, Paul is clear and specific in spite of scholars and commentators desperate attempts to explain this verse away.

“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him, however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.”

No one would read that verse without the aid of any other explanation and conclude that speaking in tongues as practiced among believers at Corinth included—“not speaking to men but to God.” Speaking to God is the most basic, simple definition of prayer. Paul further explains while the believer’s speaking to God—not man—in prayer—“no one understands him.” The reason that no one understands him Paul explains is because, “In the spirit he speaks mysteries.”

The prayer that Paul described in 1 Cor. 14:2 had to be done privately because he later forbids this type of prayer without interpretation in a public assembly (1 Cor. 14:27-28).

Paul taught that one who speaks in tongues in the 1 Cor. 14:2 manner “edifies himself.” The fact that he “edifies himself” is another indication that the 1 Cor. 14:2 type of praying in tongues was private. Prophecy by its nature is public or at least directed to one other person. Prayer as in 1 Cor. 14:2 by its nature is private and is directed to God. The nature of private prayer is self-edification, that results in God’s glorification, and spirit-filled ministry to God’s people.

Jude taught that when believers “pray in the Spirit” that they build themselves up (Jude 20). No one views that verse as a negative. It amazes me that when Paul says that when one prays in a 1 Cor. 14:2 manner that they “edifies himself”—then it is viewed by some Southern Baptists as negative. That defies all logic, rationale and consistency.

When a believer builds himself up praying in a 1 Cor. 14:2 manner, or Jude 20 manner, they are then better equipped to “fight the good fight of faith” and “earnestly contend for the faith.” Built-up believers can then go, strengthen and encourage other believers to be a better witness to the world. Private prayer, be it I Cor. 14:2 or Jude 20, builds up the believer. And a built-up believer is better suited for Kingdom work. A built-up believer can build up the church.

“I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all:

Yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (I Cor. 14:18-19)

Here Paul makes it clear that he speaks in tongues more so than anyone reading his letter (1 Cor. 14:18). He follows his admission of being the #1 tongues speaker with a contrast statement: “yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Cor. 14:19).

Question: If Paul preferred understood language in the church, where was he speaking the language not understood (1 Cor. 14:2)? The implication is that this was being done in private, where he was building himself up, but it was not being heard in the presence of those who didn’t understand. To those whom it might matter, Dr. Jimmy Draper also in his book, The Church Christ Approves, interpreted these verses as Paul expressing a preference for private devotion tongues speaking, and publicly spoken understood speech.

“But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God.” (1 Cor. 14:28)

Those of us who speak in tongues can certainly relate to this verse. It is not uncommon for unintelligible speech to flow to your mouth if you are in a time of praise, prayer or even preaching in a public worship service. Although it flows to your mouth, according to Paul, and I know from experience that you have control over it until it comes out of your mouth. If no interpreter is present, Paul said—don’t cease praising, praying or giving thanks—simply do it within—“speaking to himself and to God.” This is another indication that a believer so gifted by the Holy Spirit to pray, praise, and give thanks in tongues can also pray even in tongues under his breath, or in a manner where it is not publicly heard, but yet it is occurring. Surely if one can do that while at church, they certainly could do it while not in the presence of others. These verses affirm praying in tongues in private.

I begin by quoting the words of Jesus: “they shall speak with new tongues.” I want to close by looking at the example of Jesus.

In Hebrews 5:7 we get an unusual glimpse into the prayer room of Jesus. Jesus is often depicted by the gospel writers as going away to pray alone. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus placed some distance between Himself and His disciples as He prayed. Commenting on the prayer life of Jesus, the Hebrew writer says,

“who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him, who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear.”

I am in no wise suggesting that Jesus prayed in tongues. I am suggesting that this verse probably describes His prayers in the Garden, perhaps at the cross and at other times when the disciples were not with Him. We learn at least three things about Jesus’ prayers in this verse:

  1. They were high volume [“vehement cries”].
  2. They were tear-filled.
  3. They were emotional.

My point is that private prayers often take on a different style and nature then public prayers. Jesus told us to go and pray in our secret closets.  And in that closet, prayers are often prayed with words understood, words not understood and even without words.

REFLECTIONS AND RUMINATIONS ON THE SBC AND HER FUTURE

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

PART II (PART I)

WHAT THE SBC IS DOING RIGHT AND HER SINGLE GREATEST NEED?

Nathan Finn referred to the vital statistics health decline of the SBC as a “Free-fall.” Because Dr. Finn is not just a casual observer, but a critical thinker, historian, and seminary professor regarding SBC life and history—I found his description, “Free-fall,” fascinating. When I prodded him to give an analysis and antidote of the “free-fall,” he gently pushed back and said that the critique and construct relative to the free-fall from him would come at a later time.

I have been a casual observer of SBC life, and a participant—at varying levels of intensity and engagement—for at least forty years. By the grace of God, I successfully planted a SBC church, thirty years ago that I am privileged to currently serve as Pastor. The SBC has invested a lot in my ministry; and until recent years, our church invested a lot in the SBC. While anxiously awaiting the scholarly and critical analysis and antidotes of the free-fall that Dr. Finn will eventually give, in the interim, I feel burdened to share reviews and remedies for the free-fall from my neck of the woods.

It has been reported that Ed Stetzer will also address the SBC statistical concerns in the not-to-distant future. The Stetzer analysis needs to be read widely and carefully and taken very seriously. I’m convinced that he has his hand on the pulse beat of American Evangelicalism. Our convention would be wise to pay careful attention to what Finn and Stetzer will have to say on this subject.

In the name of full disclosure, much of what I say here was inspired by a message that was recently preached by a guest preacher at our church, Dr. Julius Malone of Milwaukee, WI. He is an independent evangelical. He was not addressing the SBC and her issues in the slightest way. He was teaching an adult VBS class when he gave these remarks. But certainly they were applicable to our church and to the SBC.

The truth of the matter is that the SBC is in decline because many, if not most, of our churches are in decline. The church that I pastor is no exception to this decline. Pastor Malone’s message was very encouraging to our church; and I trust that what the Lord has laid on my heart here will be encouraging to the SBC.

I.                    WHAT THE SBC IS DOING RIGHT

  • I give God praise that there are still thousands of souls being won to Christ through SBC churches, even if we aren’t reaching as many as we once did. SBC churches minister the word of salvation to God’s people faithfully and consistently, year after year (I Cor. 1:2; 6:9-11). KFC often advertise, “We do chicken right.” The SBC could as easily say, “We do salvation right.” There will be multiple thousands of saints from throughout the world in heaven—some already there—because the SBC has ministered the gospel of salvation all over the globe.
  • I give God praise for the multiple thousands of souls that have been water baptized through the ministries of SBC churches (1 Cor. 1:13-16). The Great Commission specifies that those who receive the gospel ought to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Multiple thousands are still being baptized in SBC churches, although we are not baptizing nearly as many as we once did. But praise God for those who were won to Christ and baptized just this past year. Cornerstone has baptized about 2500 souls in our thirty-year history. But until 30 souls (primarily children and a few adults) recently came for salvation and baptism at our VBS, it was appearing to become the lowest baptismal year in the history of our church.
  • The SBC does Spirit Baptism well (I Cor. 12:13). One of the reasons that the Lord continue to bless the SBC and her churches is because we make it clear that “by one Spirit, have we all been baptized into one body.” We believe that there is, “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism” (Ephesians 4:6). And we believe that “one baptism” occurs simultaneously with salvation. The SBC believes that there is one baptism in the Holy Spirit—again, that occurs at salvation—but many fillings. Multiple thousands have been baptized by one Spirit into the Body of Christ, and have united with SBC churches. For that, we give God praise.
  • Multiple thousands in SBC churches have discovered at least one gift given to them by the Holy Spirit. It can be said of the SBC as Paul said of the church at Corinth, “…you come short in no gift” (1 Cor. 1:7; 12-14). The SBC is second to none when it comes to gifted persons in our congregations. I believe that the apostolic gift is a missionary gift (Eph. 4:12). I believe that our Disaster Relief Program is an example of the “helps” gift on display (Mt. 5:16). Every spiritual gift that’s listed in Scripture, we find in large measure in SBC churches. Even to the dismay of some, most SBC churches have members and some leaders who regularly pray, praise and give thanks in their private devotions in tongues (I Cor. 14). The IMB was led by a person who openly acknowledged his practice and belief regarding tongues. Current and past IMB missionaries regularly exercise the gift of tongues in their private devotions. There is not one gift listed that we don’t have represented in most SBC churches. For that, I give God praise.
  • The indwelling of the Holy Spirit means when I have Christ, I have all of Him. The filling of the Holy Spirit means that, he has all of me. The SBC is comprised of multiple thousands who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, some are even filled with the Holy Spirit (II Tim. 1:16, Rom. 8:9).
  • Good preaching, sound doctrine, and exposition of Scripture are what SBC preachers are known for (I Cor. 1:11-12; 3:21-22). The decline in the SBC is not because of a lack of good, solid, scriptural preaching.

The church at Corinth had every characteristic that I’ve mentioned thus far. Like the SBC, they were saved, baptized in water, Spirit baptized, spiritually gifted, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and they had good preachers—Paul, Peter and Apollos (I Cor. 1:11-12).

So what was missing from the church at Corinth? The answer to that question may identify the problem and the solution that our convention and many of our churches are missing.

II.                  THE REASON(S) AND REMEDY FOR OUR DECLINE

The main missing element from the church at Corinth is addressed in that great love Chapter, I Corinthians 13. The reason love (agape) was missing from the church at Corinth is because the filing of the Spirit was missing. We know that the filling was missing because the fruit was missing. The filling of the Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit; and the first fruit is love—agape (Gal. 5:2). The fruit of the Spirit was missing from the church at Corinth because the filling was missing. The key to everything is the Spirit-filled life; and the key to the Spirit-filled life is obedience.

Although there are many biblical, positive, spiritual and wonderful things going on in the SBC, what is missing across the length and breadth of our convention—and I certainly include myself and congregation in this—is the filling of the Holy Spirit. That’s it. We can dissect, dialogue, or deploy a research team to determine our malady. We can organize, administrate, mobilize and pontificate until the cows come home. But, until we become desperate for God and seek a moment by moment, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, filling of the Holy Spirit—and then start over every new year—walking in the Spirit and walking in obedience, we will not be filled; and we will continue the decline.

When the filling is missing, we become known for something else other than for our love for Christ and His Kingdom. Jesus said, by your fruit you shall know them. Jesus said, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, by your love.

The SBC is not known by her fruit or her love. She is known for many things that has caused her branding to need a rebranding—a Kingdom branding.

The SBC is known for battling over the Bible. As important as this battle was and is, it is not the battle that the Lord told us to be known for. We are to be known for our fruit and the filling of the Holy Spirit. The SBC is known for neither.

We are known to have been formed for the propagation of the gospel and slavery. The SBC still has not overcome this branding. Until at least one African American, Asian, and Hispanic occupy entity head positions in SBC life—as exemplified in Acts 13:1-2—then we will not be known by outsiders for what the church at Antioch was known for:  “Christians,“ Christ-like behavior consistently. We are known for our racial animus. Significant progress has been made. Ken Weathersby and the EC, Gary Frost at the NAMB, and Dr. Fred Luter, our illustrious President—represent quantum steps in the right direction. But we still fall short of the Kingdom inclusion at all levels—particularly at the entity head level.

We are known for hyper-complementarianism. We should be known for holy complementarianism. We are known for telling women what they can’t do. When will we be known for telling women what they can do? God promised to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Acts 2:17). God promised to equip and empower sons and daughters. When will the SBC equip and empower a Lydia to play a key role in church planting. Lydia was the first person to plant a church on European soil. When will we empower a Phoebe to serve in a highly visible capacity under the leadership and authority of God’s Word and God’s male servant (Roman 16:2)? When will we empower a woman to prophesy with her head covered as Paul did in I Corinthians 11? When will the SBC become known for releasing women, not restricting women?

We are known for “spiritual gift(s) profiling”—singling out certain gifts of the Spirit to enact an emotional prejudice against. This defies all logic, rationality and the plain simple reading and understanding of Scripture. When will we appreciate and affirm all the gifts of the Spirit?

The SBC brand is suffering greatly from many years of battling over these issues. We are bruised and battle-scarred. We abandoned the bold mission thrust for the inerrancy battle. Now that this battle is over, can we return to the bold mission thrust and become known for what Jesus said we would do when we are filled: “Be witnesses” (Acts 1:8)? We are still fighting battles and causing our brand to be tarnished. We need to focus on spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom.

The key to the renewal of the SBC is one thing and one thing only:  And that is, the filling of the Holy Spirit. Every pulpit, every choir member, every Sunday School teacher, every state member, every deacon, every elder, every usher, committee member—we all need to understand the Spirit-filled life and daily seek and surrender to His filling. And that my friend is the reason(s) and the remedy for the SBC decline.

A moment by moment filling of the Holy Spirit is the key to spiritual victory in the believers’ life, congregational life and the SBC. That, my friend, is the only hope for our declining churches and convention. If the SBC can answer the question, “How to be filled and keep on being filled?” our setback was only a set-up for a great spiritual comeback—that will take us to heights that we’ve not known before. May it come to pass, Lord, according to your will, way and your Word! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT:  DEEP CALLING UNTO DEEP

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

The multiple posts and comment threads on the continuationism vs. cessationism discussions here at SBC voices have been primarily academic and didactic in nature.  However, there is a devotional and inspirational component to this discussion that we have allowed to get lost in the weeds along the roadside.

While we are volleying our divergent views across the median at each other; while we are all claiming biblical authority for our point of view and practice—or lack thereof; we are also overlooking or under emphasizing a major point of agreement between the cessationists and the continuationists.

The place of agreement between all Baptists and evangelicals on the subject of the role and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the realm of prayer is this:

All believers, in all places, at all times, with all prayer, and all perseverance, for all the saints, are to always—pray in the Spirit.

In Ephesians 6:18a, Paul admonished believers to practice:

 “praying always with all prayer and supplications in the Spirit” [emphasis mine].

Praying in the Spirit for the believer is not up for debate, dispute or indecision. It is absolutely essential for the edification of every believer, of every race, of every denomination; of every theological camp, of every political persuasion. Cessationists and continuationists must take seriously the biblical command to “pray in the Spirit.”

Jude taught that if believers were to be edified, it was essential that they pray in the Spirit.

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,” [emphasis mine] (Jude 1:20).

Believers will either pray in the flesh, or in the Spirit. The only prayer that God will hear will be a prayer that’s prayed in the Spirit of the living God.

Interestingly, it is somewhat uncommon to hear among Baptists—preaching and teaching that encourages and instructs believers to pray in the Spirit of God. Yet, all Baptist would say that praying in the Spirit is a biblical mandate, and it is absolutely necessary for effective praying.

I.                    “Deep Calling Unto Deep”: Defining Praying in the Spirit.

There are three spirits that exists in the world. And they are:

  1. The Holy Spirit
  2. The human spirit
  3. The unholy spirit or the demonic spirit.

It is important for us to understand that there is a battle for the control of our minds by each of these three spirits. Depending on which one of these three spirits controls our minds, that spirit will also control our prayer life.

Praying with our human spirit (or mind) will only say to God what the flesh wants said, and it will only result in what the mind can achieve. James 4:2 indicates that we can pray in the flesh.

The unholy or demonic spirit will work overtime to distract, detour, disinterest and to defeat the believer from spending time in prayer with God. The demonic spirit has even been known to interfere with the believers prayer and to actually resists the believers prayer (Daniel 10:12-14). The human mind or spirit and the unholy or demonic spirits constantly seek to control the prayer life of a believer—the cessationists and the continuationists.

In order to pray in the Spirit we have to overcome the temptations, resistance, and unholy influences of our human spirit (mind), and the unholy spirits (demons). At the point that our prayers are not influenced or controlled by our human spirit, or unholy spirit(s), then we are ready to pray in the Spirit.

TOWARD A DEFINITION

What, then, is praying in the Spirit? Praying in the Spirit is when my human spirit is submitted to and controlled by God’s Holy Spirit, who then comes along beside me to help me commune and communicate with God the Father, spirit to Spirit, and enables me to resist the unholy spirit, by the power that’s working in me—which is the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:20).

Praying in the Spirit allows us to communicate with God at a deeper level than my mind could be capable of communicating with Him, apart from His Spirit. Praying in the Spirit allows us to communicate with God in a spiritual dimension that transcends the type of conversation with a mere human being. Praying in the Spirit allows us to communicate with God at a spiritual depth that triumphs over the distractions, resistance, delays, defeat and deception that the unholy and demonic spirits—seek to sabotage our prayer lives with.

In Psalm 42:1-2; 6-11 we read the prayer of a desperate, despondent, discouraged and depressed soul, who was thirsty for God. He said,

“As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2a)

“O my God, my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan,” (Psalm 42:6)

“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.” (Psalm 42:7)

In this passage of Scripture, we hear the prayer of a man who was desperate for God. He longed for God. He recognized that, as the life of a deer depends upon water, so our lives depend upon God.

In an effort to define “praying in the Spirit,” I want to borrow a phrase the Psalmist used in this passage that described the depth of his search for God, and I believe it described his prayers, in the midst of his desperation and despondency. The Psalmist said, “Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls” (Psalm 42:7).

I love the language he used:  “Deep calls unto deep.” I believe that is the essence of “praying in the Spirit”—“Deep calling unto deep.” When from the depth of my human spirit, I am communing and crying out to the depth of God’s Holy Spirit—then I am praying in the Spirit. When my human spirit is connected to and submitted to the rule of God’s Holy Spirit, I can then communicate with God—spirit to Spirit. Praying in the Spirit is communicating with God spirit to Spirit as opposed to flesh to Spirit. When the depth of my spirit connects and communicates with the depth of His Spirit, I am then praying in the Spirit—“Deep calling unto deep.”

Praying in the Spirit is effective and fervent praying, from the heart of a man who has right standing before God. Perhaps the greatest need of Southern Baptists is that we all in one accord begin to pray in the Spirit and watch God change things. We would all agree that we cannot pray in the Spirit, unless we are in the Spirit (I Cor. 2:9-15).

Praying in the Spirit occurs when we and the Spirit of God are participating, taking both sides of the prayer banner and lifting it up together. It is praying in the Holy Spirit rather than praying on our own. I’ve prayed on my own and in the Spirit. Praying in the Spirit is far better. Praying in the Spirit is a delight. Praying in the flesh is a duty.

Michael Green defines praying in the Spirit thusly:

“It is a deep, free, intensive time of prayer, when the Spirit takes over and controls and leads the prayers…It means allowing the Spirit of Christ to pray in us…The Spirit grasps the situation for us and with us. He frames the petition on our lips; and he prays within us to the Father, with signs too deep for words.”

Praying in the Spirit is “Deep calling unto deep.” (Psalm 42:7).

II.                  “Praying Always with All Prayer”: The Deployment of Praying In the Spirit.

We understand the command to pray in the Spirit. But how do we actually do it? Continuationist and cessationist are in agreement that we can pray in the Spirit in three ways:

  1. With words understood
  2. With words not understood
  3. Without words

PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT WITH WORDS UNDERSTOOD

 In I Corinthians 14:15a Paul raises the question:

“What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding.”

As we are open to the Spirit of God, and not the flesh, God will flood our minds with thoughts of His nature and presence, and with our normal speech we will begin to speak back to Him.

There are many prayers recorded in Scriptures that was spoken in the native tongue of the prayer. I disagree with the Pentecostal teachings that the way (or only way) to pray in the Spirit, is to pray in tongues. If that were the case the wonderful prayers in Scripture that we find recorded, simply would not be there. We have all heard, received, or offered prayers to God in our native English language that have moved us to adoration, thanksgiving, lifted hands and hearts, mountain moving faith, a sense of call, a change of heart or direction, discernment of the will of God, etc. Who would dare argue that these prayers were not prayed in the Spirit—although they were prayed in the native language of the hearer? One of the ways to pray in the Spirit with words understood, is to pray the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 5:17)

 PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT WITH WORDS NOT UNDERSTOOD 

Before you tune me out at this point, here me out. When I say that we can pray in the Spirit with words not understood, I am first looking at the prayer life of Jesus.

In Mark 7:31-37, when Jesus healed the deaf-mute, it says he “looked up to heaven…and with a deep sigh” (Mark 7:34). The Holy Spirit, the author of Scripture, found it necessary to leave us a record that Jesus—while looking up to heaven (a form of prayer)—“sighed.” Sighing is a form of communication. It denotes intensity, burden, release, emoting and expression of current disposition and attitude. Jesus sighed. A “sigh” is an expression that cannot be translated to another language; but nevertheless, it is a communication expression that transcends all languages. It certainly is not speaking in tongues. But it is communicated to the Father without words. Yet, I am certain that God felt and understood the sigh of Jesus.

Which one of us has not sighed in prayer, as we brought a weighty matter before the Lord? Which one of us have not been moved by the sigh of a spouse, parent, child, or close friend? Which one of us would argue against the notion that some form of communication was taking place even during the sigh? Surely, the cessationists and the continuationists would agree that if it was permissible for Jesus to sigh in prayer, and He is our example, we too can sigh in prayer under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus not only sighed in relationship to prayer, but He groaned. John 11:33 said, speaking of Jesus, “He groaned in the Spirit.” John 11:38 says, “again groaning in Himself.” If anyone modeled praying without ceasing, it was Jesus. If anyone modeled an unbroken and unfettered fellowship and communion with the Father, it was Jesus. If Jesus “groaned in the spirit,” communicating without words understood, but nevertheless communicating, can’t the believer follow the example of our Lord? Who would argue that Jesus “groaning in the Spirit” was not in the will of God? Who would argue that because of Jesus’ constant fellowship with God, his “groaning in the spirit” was not a form of prayer with words not understood? Jesus “groaning in the spirit” is an example of “Deep calling unto deep.”

Once reason that we as believers sometimes sigh, moan and groan in prayer is because, “we often don’t know how to pray as we ought” (Romans 8:26b). In these moments, Paul said that the “Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Certainly, if it is permissible for Jesus and the Holy Spirit to groan in the ministry of prayer, so can I. Again, sighing and groaning are not words understood, but certainly we see in Scripture where they were unintelligible sounds that communicated to the Father. God understood the sighs and groans of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit also understands our sighs, moans and groans—although, we ourselves don’t understand them.

Quite simply, we sometimes just don’t have the words, or know the words, or how to frame the words that will convey to God the sentiments of our hearts. That’s why the Holy Spirit is our prayer partner, and He comes to help us in this process.  And that is a part of what it means to pray in the Spirit. We are talking to a Spirit being (John 4:23-24). And the only way to communicate with Him is through spiritual language; words and sounds understood and not understood. This can, should be and often is done without speaking in tongues.

The cessationist and the continuationist disagree that under the influence of the Holy Spirit that for God’s own sovereign purposes, He enables some believers to pray to Him with words not understood by man, but by God (I Cor. 14:2). It is clear to me that Paul testified that he prayed with words understood and words not understood.

Nevertheless, even without tongues being spoken, we are in agreement that we can pray in the Spirit with words or sounds not understood. The Bible is clear that all believers are not gifted to pray in tongues (I Cor. 12:30). If praying in tongues were required to pray in the Spirit, God would contradict Himself. He commanded all believers to pray in the Spirit, but He did not command all believers to speak in tongues.

When my four children were small babies, it would amaze me that my wife could listen to their sighs, moans, groans and cries and almost with one hundred percent accuracy; she could interpret their unintelligible speech. She could distinguish a hunger cry from a pick-me-up cry. She could distinguish a change-my-diaper cry from an I’m-hurting or sick cry. She could distinguish between an I’m-thirsty cry and I-want-my-daddy-to-hold-me cry. If an earthly mother can discern and distinguish the cry, moans, groans and sighs of her children, I am convinced that the heavenly Father can understand the cries, moans, groans and sighs of His children.

PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT WITHOUT WORDS

The Psalmist said, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Prayer in the Spirit is not only the words of my mouth under the influence of the Holy Spirit, it is also the meditation of my heart. Even without words, the believer can pray in the Spirit as he or she meditates and worships in the presence of God. Paul is clear that believers can pray without words or sounds being heard (I Cor. 14:27, 28). Certainly, the cessationist and continuationist can pray in the Spirit with words understood, words not understood, and even without words.

Finally, when my kids were quite young, I wrote a book that enjoyed about 5-7 years of popularity that resulted in me having a demanding travel/speaking schedule. When I would return from trips, the four of them would run to the door and jump up and down, screaming and hollering—“Daddy’s home,” “Daddy’s home.” I didn’t say—“get away from me, you little charismatics.” I was simply happy that they wanted to celebrate their daddy returning home. After the initial greeting, my kids would then sit in Daddy’s arms and lap and “ooooh,” “aaah” and giggle. I enjoyed every second of it.

I am not as sure that God is as meticulous and put aside about our manner of praying as we are with each other. He simply wants us to pray in the Spirit; and no matter how we do it, I believe that we please the Father. 

God wants us to pray to Him in the Spirit with words understood, with words not understood, and even without words—whether or not we are cessationist or continuationist.

REFLECTIONS AND RUIMINATIONS ON THE SBC AND HER FUTURE

BY WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

PART I

Revisiting the IMB Tongues Policies: A Response to a Reasonable and Respectful Request

The SBC is a branch of the Kingdom of God that He has used mightily in days past and gone, and is still using, to advance His Kingdom and to bring Him glory. It is quite apparent though, to anyone remotely observing, that the SBC light is not shining quite as bright as it once did. If the SBC is to return to her former glory and surpass it, there must be some major shifts and adjustments made, and commitments to follow through on initiatives already in progress.

There are three SBC related issues that I will address in three separate posts under the above topic:

PART I:      Revisiting the IMB Tongues Policies: A Response to a Reasonable and Respectful Request.

PART II:     Reasons and Remedies Regarding the SBC “Free-Fall.”

PART III:    Race and the Return of the SBC to Her Former Glory.

My thesis is, if the SBC remains a predominately Southern, Anglo, Republican, “conservative” and a cessationist-oriented institution—nothing substantially will change, and the free-fall decline will continue. But if the SBC becomes a Kingdom-focused, multi-ethnic, biblio-centric, Spirit-empowered and “orthodox,” as opposed to “conservative,” expression of the Kingdom of God—the SBC’s future light will shine greater than ever before.

My purpose for addressing these issues is toward the end that the Lord might sovereignly choose to lay His hands upon what’s written here, and touch the hearts and minds of those who read this. Necessary tweaks and adjustments need to be made to aright the SBC ship toward kingdom advancement. It is my prayer that these three posts will offer some value to the conversations regarding renewal in the SBC.

I.                    A Reasonable Request From Jerry Corbaley

Jerry Corbaley—a former IMB Trustee who served during the development and deployment of the “policy on tongues and prayer language” (link) at the IMB—made the following request to me in the comment thread at SBC Voices:

“Dear Brother Dwight,

It is my opinion that you are an influential Christian brother who is more committed to Christian integrity than the American cultural rationalization of “spinning the truth” to win political decisions.

Several times in the last month or so you have referred to IMB Policies as “cessationist”. I would request that you personally get a copy of the policies you refer to and review them. Your assertion that the policies are cessationist has potential for “spin” but little accuracy.

SBC Voices is influential among Southern Baptists. What is repeated often here can be accepted as fact.

I am glad that you write and comment here. I look forward to learning more from you.”

It is in response to Jerry’s request that I offer the following comments:

  • When persons disagree, or want to challenge an opposing viewpoint in the blogosphere, it is sometimes done in a less than civil and respectful tone. I must first applaud and express appreciation to Jerry for registering his objection and stating his request in a fair, reasonable and Christian manner. The Apostle Peter commanded believers to approach others with gentleness when a addressing matters of the faith (I Peter 3:15). Jerry has certainly modeled this in his approach.
  • Is it accurate, honest, reasonable, or fair to refer to the IMB “policy on tongues and prayer language as a ‘cessationist policy’”? This is the essence of Jerry’s question.
  • Let me first of all thank Jerry for asking the question. It forced me to review the IMB Tongues Policy and to read for the first time the “Position Paper concerning the IMB Policy on Glossolalia” that appears on the IMB website. I want to respond to Jerry’s question and to interact with the IMB policy and position paper on “Glossolalia.” I want to be as courteous, cordial, fair, and respectful to Jerry and the IMB trustees as he was to me in asking the question.
  • Jerry, I will stipulate that the IMB policy never references the word “cessationism” or any derivative of that term.
  • I will also stipulate that there is not one line, phrase, sentence, paragraph or word in the policy that I could honestly summarize or characterize as “cessationist,” in the technical sense of the term.
  • I will also stipulate that the IMB Position Paper acknowledges that “not all of the trustees who voted for this policy are strict cessationists.” However, that statement seems to me to also be a tacit admission that some of the trustees who voted for the policy were “strict cessationist.” Therefore, cessationism influenced this policy, just as continuationism influenced me and a minority of trustees who opposed this policy.
  • The IMB Position Paper defines cessationism as “(those who believe the revelation producing gifts ended with the death of the Apostles.)”
  • The IMB Position Paper explicitly state, “We would not forbid to speak in ‘languages” in a supernatural fashion (I Cor. 14:39). If such is permitted, then the experience must match all the guidelines in the passages. Thus, we included an exception statement for any possible use that can be clearly understood as being in harmony with Paul’s guidelines, as stated above.”
  • Jerry, based on the above bullet points, and a technical definition of cessationism, you are correct:  It is probably inaccurate and unfair to characterize or summarize the IMB policies as cessationist—if by cessationism you are using the term in a technical sense.

Dr. Bart Barber coined the term “a Posteriori Cessationism” and gives it this definition:

“An a posteriori cessationist (which I am) I am defining as someone who, if he were to encounter something resembling the biblical gift of tongues, would acknowledge it as such, but who sees no evidence of that gift in operation in present-day Christianity. “

Barber summarizes or characterizes his position by saying to believers who speak in tongues today:

“There may be a gift of tongues in operation today, but you certainly aren’t exercising it.”

Barber and the IMB trustees hold to identical positions, definitions and explanations of speaking in tongues. Barber is honest and forthcoming enough to label his position “a Posteriori Cessationism,” because practically and functionally, he ends up at the same position as the cessationist. He simply takes a different route to get there.

What is the difference between classical cessationism and “a Posteriori Cessationism”? Barber answers the question. Jerry, it can be said of the IMB policy as it relates to cessationism, as Bart Barber said of his “a Posteriori Cessationism” position:

“The difference between myself and standard cessationists lies not, as far as I can tell, in where we wind up, but in how we get there.”

Paul Chitwood of Kentucky who served as Mission Personnel Committee chairman during the adoption of the IMB tongues policy admitted that:

“…ad hoc committees found that field-related data and consultation with regional leaders have ‘not indicated a systemic problem with charismatic practices among field personnel.’”

According to Chitwood this policy was not developed because of abuses or violations of speaking in tongues by missionaries on the field in public or private. Chitwood added that this possibly was adopted because of:

“the rapid spread of neo-Pentecostalism and its pressure exacted on new churches in various regions of the world warrants a concern for the clear Baptist identity of our missionary candidates.”

Jerry, I will admit that the IMB tongues guidelines do not reflect classical cessationism. But based on Chitwood’s stated reasons for adopting the IMB tongues policy, you must admit he confessed to “charisphobic cessationism.”

Charisphobic cessationism is a term I coined based on two polar opposite terms on the subject that I learned from the late SWBTS Missions Professor, Dr. Jack Gray. Dr. Gray admonished his students to avoid two extremes as it relates to the charismatic gifts: “Charismania and Charisphobia.” The IMB has opted, by their own admission, for Charisphobia.

SWBTS has adopted, by their own admission, Charisphobic Cessationism. In response to my admission that I pray in tongues in private, SWBTS released a statement saying that my message was “harmful to the churches.” While at the same time Dr. Patterson maintains that he is not a cessationist; I agree; he is not a classical cessationist, but a charisphobic cessationist, or to use Barber’s term, “a Posteriori  Cessationist.”

Therefore, what Barber calls “a Posteriori Cessationism and what I call “Charisphobic Cessationism,” I admit is not classic cessationism. Nevertheless, functionally and practically, —as does Bart Barber—I see no difference between the two. Thus, respectfully, I will continue to refer to these policies as cessationist, or if you prefer as, “a Posteriori cessationism,” or charisphobic cessationism—as opposed to classic cessationism.

II.                  Points of Respectful Disagreement with the IMB Policy, Position Paper and “a Posteriori” Cessationism

In response to specific statements contained in the IMB Policy, Position Paper and the Barber “a Posteriori Cessationism” Post, I offer the following responses:

  • Baptists don’t build doctrines on assumptions, assertions, arguments, majority opinion or phobias. Baptists build doctrine on the authority of the inerrant and infallible Word of God. The IMB Policy, Position Paper and “a Posteriori” cessationism fails at this point.
  • The IMB Tongues Policy states:

“The New Testament speaks of a gift of glossolalia that generally is considered to be a legitimate language of some people group “(IMB Policy on tongues and prayer language) 3/6/2006.

Where does the Bible say that tongues is “generally considered to be a legitimate language of some people group”? The Bible is clear in I Corinthians 12:7, 10 that the Holy Spirit gives to certain believers based on His sovereign will (I Corinthians 12:11) “different kinds of tongues” (I Corinthians 12:10d). Clearly among the “different kinds of tongues” that Paul referenced—all did not meet the IMB standard of being a “legitimate language of some people group,” based on Paul’s teaching on the subject.

Paul said in I Corinthians 13:1, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels.” If Paul described one of the “different kinds of tongues” as “the tongues of men and of angels,” how can the IMB announce so boldly that glossolalia is considered to be a legitimate language of some people group when Paul refers to “different kinds of tongues” and “tongues of angels”?

What verse says that tongues are always a language that existed on earth? The Bible does not restrict or limit tongues to “a legitimate language of some people group.” Paul is very clear in recognizing human languages or angelic languages (I Corinthians 13:1). No one at the IMB could interpret or translate the Apostle Paul when he spoke with the “tongues of angels” (I Corinthians 13:1). Angelic language may sound like ecstatic utterance or gibberish if you are not an angel. Any language of any people group in the world can sound like gibberish or ecstatic utterance if you don’t know that language. Who knows the language of the angels?

The late Dr. L. Jack Gray, in his booklet, Studies of the Holy Spirit, on Page 16, provided this definition of “tongues” that is totally and absolutely opposite from the IMB trustees’ and Barber’s definition:

“TONGUES—(I Cor. 12:10, 14:2, 13-16) This is the Spirit’s gift to speak to God in ecstatic languages, other than human language. It is the gift of a special language for communication with God. It is a special instrument for praise, singing and praying. It is not for communication with people. There is no biblical record of God sending a message to be delivered by people in ecstatic utterances. It seems also to be the liberation of the spirit of a believer for praise and adoration of God, communion with Him, and exalted worship of Him.”

Dr. Gray, a former professor at SWBTS, unfortunately would not be allowed to teach his students this definition in today’s SBC. How tragic!

  • The Apostle Paul stated in I Corinthians 14:2:

“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.”

It almost appears that Paul wrote that verse in anticipation of the IMB tongues policy. Again, how can the IMB assert that “glossolalia is considered to be a legitimate language of some people group” exclusively when Paul emphatically states when one speaks in tongue they are not speaking “to men but to God, for no one understands him.” If “no one understands him” how could tongues always in every instance in the Bible have been a “legitimate language of some people group”? The word “mystery” in the original language means “a hidden or secret thing not obvious to the understanding.” The meaning of the word mystery here contradicts the “legitimate language of some people group” based on which the IMB policy is founded. Paul said “…in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” Paul referred to tongues here as a spiritual language—not a human language—as the IMB and Barber asserts.

Not all tongues require interpretation (I Cor. 14:2). If the IMB policy is true, it directly contradicts the Apostle Paul. I’d rather trust Paul and place a greater stake in what he says, rather than what the IMB says. Tongues as spoken in private devotions are cognitive content spoken to God and understood by god, but not understood by man. This is the clear teaching of I Cor. 14:2 that the IMB trustees reject.

The IMB statement(s) and Bart Barber’s “a Posteriori Cessationist” statement makes no distinction between the tongues of Acts and the tongues of I Corinthians. However, Dr. Jimmy Draper see’s great distinction between the two. His writing certainly contradicts the IMB position that the general assumption is that all tongues recorded in Scripture is a “legitimate language of some people group.” Certainly in some instances, they were, but not all, as Dr. Draper so ably points out.

  • In his book, The Church Christ Approves in Chapter 5, entitled “Tongues, Yes or No?,” Dr. Draper addresses pertinent issues on this subject that interface with the IMB and a Posteriori Cessationism. Draper’s book was published in 1974, so clearly he was not speaking regarding the IMB policy, but the subject matter in general. Dr. Draper strikes the right balance and biblical accuracy on this subject because he approached it with no agenda or “preconceived ideas.”

In the introduction of his “Tongues” Chapter (5), Draper writes:

“I come to you with only the Word of God for my basis. I am confident that this Word is sufficient because it is the inerrant, infallible revelation of God to man. I have endeavored to approach this subject objectively with no preconceived ideas. I have not spoken in tongues, but I do not have to condemn those who say they have in order to justify myself.”

I endorse, embrace and agree with almost every single word that Dr. Draper wrote in his “tongues” Chapter with a few minor exceptions. In fact, I could have written the chapter myself. The only major difference would have been this: He says that he has not spoken in tongues, and I have. Other than that, if the IMB had adopted Draper’s position on tongues as recorded in his book, we would have avoided the entire IMB “tongues” fiasco, that I believe resulted in our inability to fund six hundred IMB missionaries. How tragic!!! What a price to pay for the adoption of “a Posteriori Cessationism”!

The following quotes are from Draper’s book that clearly contradicts the IMB’s and Barber’s position on this subject:

“There is…a great difference in the tongues on the day of Pentecost…and those at Corinth. At Pentecost all the believers spoke in tongues (Acts 2:4). Not everyone spoke in tongues at Corinth (I Corinthians 12:30). The languages spoken at Pentecost were understood by all (Acts 2:11). At Corinth they were understood by none (I Cor. 14:2). At Pentecost they spoke to men (Acts 2:11). At Corinth they spoke to God (I Cor. 14:2). No interpreter was needed at Pentecost (Acts 2:7, 8). Tongues were forbidden at Corinth if no interpreter was present (I Cor. 14:28). Pentecostal tongues filled strangers with awe and amazement (Acts 2:7). At Corinth, Paul warned them that strangers would say they were mad (I Cor. 14:23). There was perfect harmony at Pentecost (Acts 2:1, 42-46). Corinth was filled with contention, division and confusion (I Cor. 1:10-11). At Pentecost the disciples went out into the streets preaching in tongues (Acts 2:6-8). At Corinth, it was done within the church group (I Cor. 14).

“Because of the tremendous difference in these two languages, it would be false interpretation to build a doctrine on the assumption that they were the same.” [Emphasis mine] This is exactly what the IMB and Barber have done.

“Tongues in both Acts 2 and 10 meant languages understood by men…Apparently these people spoke in unlearned languages at Pentecost.”

“When we come to Corinth, we are faced with a vastly different expression on tongues. Here it is not a language others could understand. [Emphasis mine] It was basically an ecstatic utterance directed to God and not man.”

“Here at Corinth the gift of tongues was a private and personal gift which edified the individual.”

“The point here is the difference between the “languages” of Acts and Corinth. Do not build a system of theology that equates the two.”

Draper affirms the Apostle Paul and modern day believers who speak in tongues in private:

“The restrictions on the public use of this gift are such that the primary use has to be private. Paul said, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue” (I Cor. 14:18-19). He apparently spoke in tongues in private, but in public he preferred to speak his natural language.”

“Tongues were now primarily valuable as, a private and personal gift for devotions.”

Draper affirmatively quotes, Luther B. Dyer who wrote a book entitled Tongues. On Page 145 of Dyer’s book, Draper lifts the following quote:

“As a doctrine, then, tongue speaking without interpretation is strictly confined to the Christian’s private devotion before God. When the Christian engages in this activity before God alone, he knows the source of the gift, there is no temptation to impress his fellow-man, and he is not liable to fall into sin. Neither is he likely to try and make converts among other Christians since he cannot very well share his experience and promote a following without breaking God’s command. Perhaps this is why Paul, though a tongue speaker himself (1 Cor. 14:18), never featured it in any of the churches.”

I found it necessary to quote Draper extensively because so much of what he says, again, is in direct contradiction to the IMB Policy that they claim reflects general Southern Baptist thought. The IMB trustees are far out of line with the SBC man and woman in the pew and the majority of Southern Baptists in pulpits with regard to restricting people from praying in tongues in their private devotions.

  • The IMB Position Paper (in the section, “The Historic Baptist Understanding”) states the following:

“The policy purposely stays within the historical practice of Southern Baptist churches.”

Southern Baptist roots can be traced back to Sandy Creek Baptists who were also known as Separate Baptists.

Dr. H. Leon McBeth in his book The Baptist Heritage describes the Separate Baptists most distinctive feature was their emotional style preaching and worship. Outcries, epilepsies, and ecstasies attended their meetings. [Emphasis mine] Shouting, weeping, and falling down in a faint were not uncommon. They often danced in the spirit during worship. The historian Walter B. Shurden referred to the Sandy Creek worshippers as “semi-Pentecostal.”

Furthermore, many Anglo Southern Baptist pastors have told me that they have members of their churches, even among their leadership who speak in tongues in private. The above quoted statement from the IMB is simply not true. Nor does it reflect the Lifeway Poll that documented fifty-one percent of Southern Baptists believe in the legitimacy of speaking in tongues in private as a valid gift of the Holy Spirit. And a percentage of those who believe in speaking in tongues in private is a valid gift, actually practice it on a regular basis. The official SBC policy on “tongues” is neutrality, not “a posteriori cessationism.” The IMB statement quoted above is misleading and inaccurate at best. It is functionally and practically a false statement, based on the Lifeway Poll.

  • Another IMB Position Paper statement that I take exception to is:

“The modern practice of speaking in tongues began with Charles Parham in Topeka, Kansas, and the so-called [emphasis mine] Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, CA, in 1901 and 1906. Prior to this, the subject raised little concern among Christians.”

It would require a separate post to point how false and historically inaccurate this statement is. This statement represents shoddy scholarship. There is an unbroken historical stream of believers speaking in tongues from Bible days through the present hour. Prior to 1906 there are accounts of believers in America speaking in tongues among all evangelical groups. The Azusa Street Revival certainly flamed the fire, and perhaps popularized the thinking that “tongues” is the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence; but that is not where it began.

The IMB Position Statement’s reference to the Azusa Revival as “so-called” is at best, an expression of emotional prejudice toward Pentecostals. At worst, it is a statement of racial prejudice toward William J. Seymour, the Black preacher who was the catalyst for the Azusa Revival. I am going to opt for emotional prejudice being the best way to understand the “so-called” statement; and I certainly will forgive the IMB for making this statement, without them asking. The “so-called” statement delegitimizes the entire Pentecostal movement and church. Does IMB really want to be known for this position?

Prior to Azusa, how do you explain the emotional worship—including the “ecstasies” spoken by Sandy Creek Baptists? The basis, on which the IMB Position Paper refers to the Azusa Revival as a “so-called” revival, could also be stated about the Sandy Creek Revival. Descriptions of both revivals by historians are almost identical with regard to emotional expressions including “ecstasies.”

  • IMB Position statement:

“Because of the divisiveness of the practice of tongues, the vast majority of Southern Baptist churches do not endorse speaking in tongues, especially in its ministry leaders.”

Where is the evidence to support this statement? Broadman Press published at least 3-4 books affirming the validity of praying in tongues in private—including Draper’s book. The Lifeway Poll certainly does not support that statement. Where is the proof?

  • “This policy was not retroactive to missionaries on the field or to stateside staff.”

Jerry, if this policy is biblical, why wouldn’t it be retroactive? Why would the IMB tolerate unbiblical practices within their organization?

  • “We would not forbid to speak in ‘languages’ in a supernatural fashion (I Cor. 14:39).

Jerry, the IMB has adopted a very narrow and unusual interpretation of “languages” in I Corinthians that is not supported by the Bible (I Cor. 14:2), Jimmy Draper’s book, or common sense. Why would you first ask this invasive question of a missionary? And exactly what would the process be to determine the “legitimacy” of their private tongues?

I find the IMB Policy and Practice on this matter most offensive and egregious. Churches are being asked to fund these far out theological conclusions of the IMB. This is tragic. I certainly understand churches that with a good conscience cannot support these policies. The previous policy was working fine. It not only did not contradict Scripture, it didn’t cause a controversy. Why not go back to the prior policy, inasmuch as the trustees admit that there were no personnel violations that triggered the current policy? The tragedy of the IMB Policy is that all Southern Baptists are subjected to the interpretation of a minority of Southern Baptists. The adoption of these cessationist policies, I know for certain, is partly responsible for declining enrollment in some of our seminaries and the reduced funding and lethargic attitude that some SBC churches hold toward the Convention.

III.                A Response to Bart Barber’s “A Posteriori Cessationism” Post

Perhaps the only statement that I agree with Dr. Barber is this:

“Although I do see a New Testament statement that tongues will cease (1 Corinthians 13:8), I tie this event with the occasion when we no longer ‘see through a mirror darkly, but then face to face.’ I connect it with that time when ‘I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.’ In other words, I think that this prophecy is connected to our eternity in heaven. I remain unconvinced by a prioriarguments in favor of cessationism, although I love and respect greatly many who seem to hold this view.”

I don’t know Jerry Corbaley personally. I do know Bart Barber. And I can say concerning him as he said of the “a priori cessationist,” “I love and respect greatly” Dr. Bart Barber. If he ever runs for President of the SBC, I would be inclined to vote for him as I supported his election as 1st Vice President.

I fully understand why Jerry Corbaley objects to the labeling of the IMB policy as a “cessationist” policy, given the fact that Barber, Corbaley and I would probably all agree with Bart’s statement quoted above. The three of us are not classical cessationists.

I deeply appreciate Barber labeling his position as “a posteriori cessationist” that he, again, defines as “someone who, if he were to encounter something resembling the biblical gift of tongues, would acknowledge it as such, but who sees no evidence of that gift in operation in present-day Christianity.” As best I can tell, this is Corbaley’s and the IMB’s position on speaking in tongues, which again, is technically not a classical or a “priori cessationist” position, but it is as Barber admits, but not Corbaley “a posteriori cessationist” position.

The basic assumption of “a posteriori cessationism” is that any exercise of speaking in tongues today is to be evaluated or tested to determine whether or not it is authentic or a language spoken somewhere on the face of the earth.

I give Barber credit for arguing his position from a biblical perspective. In my opinion, Barber articulates the IMB position far better than the IMB articulated their position. The biblical basis that Barber gives for requiring an evaluation or test to determine the genuineness of tongues spoken-even in private—today are proof texts found in I John 4:1, “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” and I Corinthians 14:32, where Paul instructs the Corinthian congregation to apply a test to the highest gift. Therefore, Barber concludes, “I think it is safe to say that we are authorized to apply it to all of the gifts.” Barber presents much more of a challenging scriptural and almost convincing argument than the IMB.

Barber argues that “the basic assumption of “a posteriori cessationism” is that such evaluations can and ought to be performed. Barber’s “assumptions” and “evaluations” and “tests” regarding the legitimacy or authenticity of tongues are based on three premises:

“First, tongues-speaking in the bible involved communication. A tongue is a language, not the utterance of random sounds. Somebody somewhere will understand it.”

“Second, all genuine tongues-speaking in the bible was capable of interpretation. …It assumes that the sounds given are coherent, but further assumes that there is such a thing as the gift of interpretation.

“Third, in every sanctioned glossolalia event in the New Testament, somebody did indeed understand or interpret what was said.”

Barber then raises the question, “…do the modern cases that people claim for speaking in tongues measure up to the biblical definition?”

The problem with Barber’s question is that he has not given us the biblical definition, but rather Bart’s definition of tongues. His definition certainly contradicts the explanation of tongues presented by Dr. Draper and Dr. Jack Gray. Bart further argues that, “as the bible clearly demonstrates speaking in tongues (in the genuine spiritual gift) is linguistic and capable of being interpreted.” If Bart’s three premises are correct, then his conclusions are correct. I will demonstrate later why his premises contradict Scripture.

Three more phenomenal quotes form Barber and I will respond:

“Every sanctioned occasion of speaking in tongues in the New Testament had a human audience present.”

“Biblical speaking in tongues, whether in proclamation or in prayer, requires a human audience in order to be effectual, to accomplish the stated goals given for this phenomenon in the New Testament.”

WOW!!! These are startling claims by Bart. But unlike the IMB, I’m grateful that he didn’t label his position the historical Baptists understanding, or what Southern Baptists generally believe. Dr. Malcolm Yarnell in his position paper on “Tongues” mentioned in the introduction, “This essay is written in an effort to set out what this Southern Baptist believes is the orthodox doctrine of Scripture regarding glossolalia, or speaking in tongues.” [Emphasis mine] I deeply appreciate Barber and Yarnell—who holds similar views—for not purporting to speak for all Southern Baptists, as the IMB Position purports to do repeatedly.

Billy Graham, Ken Hemphill, Jimmy Draper, Jack Taylor, Joyce Rodgers, David Rodgers, Jack Gray, Dr. Jack McGorman and other Southern Baptists all have published writings or made statements that are in contradiction to what Barber and the IMB have published on the subject of tongues. Barber is a man of great conviction. He made this startling statement which communicates how confident he is in “A Posteriori Cessationism”:

“Listen to me, I do not make that claim lightly. If the present-day practice of speaking in tongues were a genuine occurance of the biblical gift, then I would be guilty of a serious offront against the Holy Spirit to decry it as false. Yet knowing the stakes here I am willing to make the claim anyway. That is how strong the evidence is, in my opinion.”

  • Bart insists that tongue speaking in the Bible was always a language that somebody somewhere will understand. Paul specifically stated that there is a legitimate tongue spoken that “no one understands” (I Corinthians 14:2). He further stated that if one is speaking in tongues in a public assembly where there is no interpretation, they were simply to do it within as opposed to cease doing it at all. Those of us who speak in tongues certainly understand Paul’s instruction here. “But if there is no interpreter let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and God” (I Cor. 14:28). [Emphasis mine] The IMB Policy does not allow the gifted believer to “speak to himself and God” in tongues within.
  • Bart argues that all genuine tongues speaking in the Bible was capable of interpretation. Again, that statement is a direct contradiction of I Corinthians 14:2. Paul makes it clear in I Corinthians 14:2 that the tongues spoken in prayer to God is a “mystery” understood by no one but God. Again, this verse specifically and clearly refutes Bart’s assertions. There was no audience present in I Corinthians 14:2 as Bart asserts. It was a conversation in prayer between God and the believer. When Paul prayed in tongues in private, there was not human audience present (beyond Paul). Why Bart insists that it is biblically necessary to have an audience present is beyond me, if he takes I Cor. 14:2 at face value, and Paul’s testimony of his own private prayers.
  • It is interesting that the IMB and Bart limit their “a posteriori cessationist” theory to the gift of tongues. If tongues could be disqualified based on these spurious claims, you could also as easily concoct spurious reasons to disqualify the other gifts—which we know that some have done.

Paul never instructed persons praying in tongues in private as in I Corinthians 14:2, to submit or subject their private prayer lives to the scrutiny, evaluation, or testing of other believers, to weigh the authenticity of their private prayers. Paul gave instructions as Bart points out, to certainly subject prophecy to a test. If Paul found it necessary or valuable to subject private tongues to an evaluation or tests, it appears that the guidelines he thought were necessary related to private tongues and the gifts, he delineated them clearly and understandably. Paul would have instructed the Corinthian Church to evaluate or test private speaking in tongues if he thought that was necessary as Bart, Corbaley, and the IMB thinks. Why the IMB and Bart would impose an evaluation, examination, or test on believers’ private prayers that Paul did not insist on, is a mystery to me.

Again, I trust Paul as a greater authority on this subject than Barber or the IMB. Either we have to trust the way Bart and the IMB connect the dots, or trust what Paul said. I’d rather trust Paul.

If Bart’s and the IMB’s assertion is true, that tongues in every instance spoken in Scripture, is a legitimate language of a people group spoken, then, I don’t know that I would disagree with Bart or the IMB policy. The Bible never states that tongues is always a legitimate language of a people group. Why then would we build a doctrine and alienate believers over an assertion, argument, or assumption that cannot be backed by Scripture? If Barber’s assertions are true, many other Southern Baptists are flat wrong. But why build a doctrine or policy on an issue where we as a Convention lack a unity of understanding and practice?

  • I agree with Bart on another statement. The “a Posteriori Cessationism” position is borderline blasphemy. I also believe that we are seeing and experiencing the displeasures of God with these policies with the inability to fund missionaries. It is almost unfathomable that the SBC would have qualified missionaries ready to go on the mission field, but cannot go because of a lack of funds. Prior to the adoption of the IMB Policy, I never heard tell of the SBC laying off missionaries and not funding others, due to a lack of funds.

The IMB brand of cessationism is a blatant act of discrimination against those SBC believers who desire to be missionaries but who are gifted by the Holy Spirit to pray in tongues in private. Thank God, it is not a discrimination based on skin color; it is based on charismata—“charis”- grace, “mata”- gifts. This discrimination is based on gifts of grace. The SBC requires no other gift to stand up to this type of test and scrutiny. Why tongues?

It reminds me of the poll tax, literacy tests and questionnaires that many of American Citizens were subjected to for the privilege of voting.

Why does the SBC engage in this kind of discrimination toward persons who speak in tongues? If the SBC took church planters through these kinds of evaluations or tests to see if they were gifted evangelist, the church planters’ failure rate would not be so unusually high.

The SBC reserves this level of test and evaluation only for people who pray in tongues in private on the basis of I Cor. 14:2. God cannot be pleased with this.

  • Bart’s argument that prophecy requires testing and evaluation is scriptural. Bart’s argument for testing and evaluation of tongues is not scriptural.

Prophecy was done publicly, and it could have a binding effect on the lives of fellow believers and the Church. Praying in tongues in private is not public nor does anything said in private prayer hold a binding effect on others or the Church. Therefore, you cannot compare the two with regard to test and evaluation. This is simply a case of emotional prejudice toward tongues that is now IMB Policy.

  • Finally, Jerry, Bart, and/or whoever cares to answer:  Men who are highly regarded and loved in evangelicalism have openly admitted to speaking in tongues. Men such as Jack Taylor, Peter Lord, Jim Cymbala, Jack Hayford, Sam Storms, Ken Ulmer, Jerry Rankin, E.V. Hill, Jr. (who followed his father as pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in LA) and multiple thousands of believers.  Do you believe that these men should submit themselves to the assumptions, evaluations, and test that are required by your brand of cessationism? And, what do you attribute their tongues speaking to:  (1) The Holy Spirit, (2) Their natural mind, (3) The Devil, (4) or some other source.

Thanks again Jerry, for asking the question. I hope that I answered you adequately and respectfully. My bottom line is this:  Either we believe the assumptions, arguments, and assertions of the IMB Position Paper and Bart Barber, or we are going to trust the Word of God. I choose to trust God’s Word.

Image

Is There A Nathan In The Land?

Are We Going To Allow One Man To Redefine The Family For Black America?

A Response To President Obama’s Speech At Morehouse College

By

William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

May 21, 2013

President Obama spoke with heartfelt identification regarding the plight, promise and responsibilities of young educated Black men; at the all-male Morehouse College 2013 graduation ceremony. He challenged them to:

  • Utilize their training and talents to serve underserved communities and people.
  • Not just be concerned about the good they can buy, but the good they can do.
  • Follow the examples and be inspired by the legacies of other great Morehouse men who worked for the betterment of all of society – not just African Americans.

He hailed Martin Luther King, Jr. as an example of a Morehouse Man who was mentored, equipped, and challenged to serve humanity with excellence while a student at Morehouse.

The overall speech was a masterpiece. It was motivational and memorable. Highlighting historical figures was a most effective and heart tugging aspect of his speech.

Barack Obama’s life story embodies and exemplifies the very words he used to challenge and encourage the graduates. That’s what made the speech so compelling and effective.

There were two startling statements in an otherwise masterful speech, perhaps his best ever – that were probably unprecedented in a college graduation speech. His written speech, which was presented to the media in advance, differed from the oral presentation at a critical point.

(1). In encouraging the male graduates to be responsible family men, he

challenged them in his prepared text to,

                  “Be the best husband to your wife, or boyfriend to your partner, or father to your children that you can be.”

In the actual oral presentation he told them,

                  “Be the best husband to your wife, or your boyfriend, or your partner.”

The way the audience responded to this statement makes it clear that they were surprised by this comment, and interpreted it for what he meant: an affirmation of same-sex relationships.

Affirming homosexuality in a public setting to a predominately Black audience is virtually unprecedented. If the President had been White, I believe there would have been a huge backlash behind his gay friendly remarks. Many of the parents would have objected.

Encouraging young Black males to “be the best husband…to your boyfriend, or your partner” is a very serious matter. Here we have the first African-American President of the United States, encouraging young Black men to be homosexuals. Who would have ever imagined this would happen?

President Obama was given the opportunity by the media to clarify the difference between his prepared statement and actual words that came out of his mouth and he refused to do so.

President Obama’s statements supporting homosexuality at Morehouse was a moral injustice and an assault on the biblical model of the family as taught by Jesus (Matthew 19:4-6). Furthermore, it was an assault on Christian values and convictions held by the vast majority of Black Christians.

Just as President Clinton’s widely publicized engagement in oral sex with a nineteen year old intern unleashed an epidemic of similar behavior on the youth of our nation; President Obama’s repeated promotion and affirmation of homosexuality will likely have an exponential influential impact on homosexuality in the Nation at large, and even more so on the Black Community. What a travesty!!!

I’m grateful that Morehouse’s best known alumnus, Dr. Martin Luther King, left a written document opposed to the notion of same-sex relationships. Hopefully, as they were admonished to do, on this subject matter the graduates should take their advice from Dr. King, not President Obama.

(2) Later in this speech, President Obama stated,

                        “Gay and lesbian Americans feel it when a stranger passes judgment on their parenting skills or the love they share.”

I’m also grateful that Oprah Winfrey is on record disputing that two people of the same-sex can successfully raise a male child. In addressing the subject and the negative impact of fatherlessness and the land, Oprah said,

                          “Your mother can’t be your father” – Oprah Winfrey: OWN Network – May 5, 2013

The converse would also be true,

                          “Your father can’t be your mother” ~ Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

Yet our President encouraged these unbiblical views of family life.

President Obama was encouraging Morehouse men to partner together and parent children. This should have set off an earthquake or avalanche in the Black Christian community. According to Oprah, this cannot be effectively done.

Mr. President, plainly and simply put; YOU ARE WRONG. WE LOVE YOU. The polls indicate the vast majority of America even likes you. Black America absolutely loves, admire, appreciate and deeply respect you, even as you trample on one of our core values.

Mr. President, in your heart of hearts you know you would not have been elected in 2008, if you had told America this is where you were headed.

Please honor the official positions of the nine major Black denominations, whose memberships largely supported you. All nine strongly support the biblical view of the family and hold that homosexuality is a sin. Please Mr. President! Stop this campaign. Do you really want your legacy to be, “America’s First Gay President” as you were labeled by Newsweek Magazine?

Nathan was the Prophet in Scripture who went to another political leader, King David, and rebuked him for his sexual sins. May our beloved President receive a visit from a Nathan, so that our sons and daughters might be delivered from his promotion of what the Black church historically has viewed as sinful and shameful. Are we going to sit idly by and allow this one man to redefine homosexuality for the entire Black race?

The Bible commands us to honor you (I Peter 2:17). But Mr. President, please, for the sake of our families, our children, the future of this great nation, and in memory of the very father that you often speak of not having in your life, please reconsider your public position and statements.

Mr. President, STOP THE ADVOCACY. STOP THIS PUBLIC CAMPAIGN TO REDEFINE FAMILIES AND TO TAKE FATHERS AWAY FROM THEIR SONS TO PURSUE RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER MEN. PLEASE STOP IT.

Lord, please raise up a Nathan who can touch the heart of our President, so that our families and nation will not be destroyed as you destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Touch our President’s heart. Turn his heart toward You. Please Lord, move on the President to honor the Christ and the Bible that he says he believes in. We thank You for withholding your judgment and holding us with your mercy. Please God, send us a Nathan who can touch the heart and mind of our President with truth and love, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

JACKIE ROBINSON, JASON COLLINS AND JESUS: LEGACY LESSONS

A JOURNEY THROUGH A JUNGLE

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

Life is filled with twist and turns, choices and consequences, difficulties and sometimes even demonic opposition. For many, life is like a journey in a jungle, where there is danger and darkness lurking around the corner; the unknown and unimaginable; temptation and potential torment. Test, temptations, obstacles, hurdles, demons, distractions, disappointment and difficulties will inevitably cross our path.

Jason Collins is not alone in terms of struggling with inner conflict or living with a secret. Our secret may not be his secret. But many of us deal daily with “many a conflict, many doubts.” Battles within and fears without. Bursting on the scene of world history last week was a relatively obscure professional basketball player, unknown to the public at large. He is now internationally famous and will forever be recorded in history as the first professional male athlete of a major sport to step up to the plate and say:  “I am gay.”

We now know Jason’s secret and struggle based on his own admission from his teenage years through today. We now know how Jason dealt with his secret.

Let me ask you two questions:  (1) What is the secret, challenge, test or demonic opposition that you face?  (2) How will you ultimately resolve or make peace with the challenge and test that’s in your path? How you deal with your demon will determine your destiny. It will also impact the destiny of others. Our ability to defeat our demons and to conquer our distractions will result in our legacy.

Jackie Robinson, Jason Collins and Jesus each faced demonic opposition and responded in different ways. We can learn lessons from each of them. Again, how you handle your demon will determine your destiny. Let’s examine these men; the demons they faced, and the legacies they left. What lessons can we learn from their demonic encounters?

I. THE DIFFICULTY AND DEMON THAT JACKIE ROBINSON FACED WAS RACISM.

The Bible is clear that God gives every man ever born gifts and talents. Jackie Robinson was a product of a broken home. His dad abandoned the family at an early age. Yet, he did not let that become a distraction and a detour from him developing and maximizing his athletic gifts.  Robinson was graced with tremendous athletic talents. He earned an athletic scholarship to UCLA after having a two-year successful stint at Pasadena Junior College. Robinson became the first athlete at UCLA to win varsity letters in four sports:  Baseball, basketball, football and track.

However, while at Pasadena Junior College, he was arrested for vocally disputing the detention of a Black friend by the police. He faced the demon of racism in the military. He served in a segregated Army in 1942 and was initially denied admission to Officers Candidate School in spite of a race-neutral policy change for the school adopted in July 1941.  On July 6, 1944 Robinson was ordered to the back of the bus on an Army-commissioned unsegregated bus line. He refused. He was then charged with public drunkenness (although he did not drink) and was court martialed. He was later exonerated. He faced repeated acts of racism throughout his major league baseball career.

How did he overcome this demon? John the writer reported that brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God (Revelation 1:9) can overcome demonic assaults by “the blood of the Lamb…by the word of their testimony…and by not loving “their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11).

Jackie Robinson was a man who had faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jackie Robinson was a man who often used his weekends in the military to visit Rev. Karl Downs, President of Sam Huston College—now Huston-Tillotson University—in Austin, TX, while stationed in Ft. Hood in Killeen, TX. Jackie read his Bible and would allow the Bible to read him. The “word of their testimony” means to apply Scripture to the demon you are facing. “The Blood of the Lamb” means to plead the blood, praise God for the blood and to declare victory over a situation because of the blood. Jackie attended church regularly and participated in the Lord’s Supper service. That is one way to defeat demons that are attacking you. Jackie sang the great hymns of the church about the blood of Jesus. That is another way to go on offense against the demons that are out to destroy you. Jackie based his salvation and his right standing with God on the blood of Jesus.

If you want power over the enemy and to defeat demons that seek to destroy you, I dare you to plead the blood, praise God for the blood, sing about the blood, and apply the blood over your heart, home and health by faith. The Bible says that you can overcome by the blood. Throughout his career Jackie had to restrain himself from not responding to racism with racism; and he was able to do so, because of the character of Christ in his life, because of his faith in the blood. I Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Robinson had a reputation at Pasadena Junior College and the military for combativeness in the face of racial antagonism. By the time he got to the Brooklyn dodgers, though tempted, he’d learned to defeat this demon by not fighting back and trusting the Lord for victory.

Jackie met Rev. Karl Downs when his family moved to Pasadena. Rev. Downs was serving as pastor at the Scott United Methodist Church. Rev. Downs served as a life-long mentor to Jackie Robinson. Jackie’s father was not at his wedding, but Rev. Downs was there. Jackie overcame the demon of racism and developed into manhood and maturity by looking to Jesus as an example and receiving mentorship from Rev. Downs. Rev. Downs and—to a lesser extent—Branch Rickey, perhaps, are two unsung heroes of the Jackie Robinson story.

The legacy of Jackie Robinson teaches us how to combat the demon of racism by looking to Jesus as our example and exercising our gifts with excellence.

II. THE DIFFICULTY AND DEMON THAT JASON COLLINS FACE(D) IS HOMOSEXUALITY.

Jason Collins is a man I respect for being a law-abiding citizen, a great son to his parents and brother to his twin. Collins has been an excellent role model as a citizen, student and athlete. Earning a degree from Stanford is no small feat. I sincerely celebrate and appreciate his life successes. Jason has been blessed to play 12 consecutive years in the NBA. Collins says he is a Christian; he grew up in a Christian home and taught Sunday School alongside his parents. I believe a person can be a Christian and struggle with the sin of homosexuality. Completely yielding to it and accepting homosexuality as a lifestyle is another question, though.

I want to address Jason directly for a second. Jason, God loves you. We love you. We admire your family. But Jason, you are no Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson fought and conquered the demon that tried to overtake him. You have succumbed or surrendered to the demon that was after you. Jackie Robinson didn’t wait until he was 34 to tell us that he was Black. Jason, you waited until you were 34 to tell us that you are gay. There is no biblical, biological or scientific evidence to support that anyone is born gay. Romans 1:26-27 clearly indicates that homosexuality is a choice.

The real hero of the Jason Collins story is Chris Broussard. The following is what he had to say about this matter, and that sums it up:

“When asked if he believes that Jason Collins is a Christian, he said this: ‘Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be — not just homosexuality, [but] adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be — I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”

Just like Satan filled Ananias’ heart to lie, although he was saved (Acts 5:3), and Ananias yielded his heart to Satan, I believe that Jason has yielded his heart to Satan and the temptation of homosexuality. If he comes to the point of repentance, he can be forgiven and restored, and I pray that he does. Because the blood of Jesus covers all sin, including homosexuality.

The heart of the problem as it relates to homosexuality and other sexual sins—is the problem of the heart. When our love for God is stronger than our lust for sin, we will be able to conquer our flesh.  Yielding to our flesh and not fighting back is a cop out.

The legacy of Jason Collins is to teach Christians how not to deal with the demon of homosexuality by yielding to it and openly accepting and affirming it.  There is nothing Christian about yielding to homosexuality and affirming it.

III. THE DEMONS THAT JESUS FACED WERE DEMONS OF DISTRACTION. MOST OF US FACE DEMONS OF DISTRACTION.

Satan was constantly trying to get Jesus off His game. In the wilderness the devil tempted Jesus while on a forty day fast with the lust of the flesh (bread), the pride of life (athletic prowess) (Matthew 4:6-7), and the lust of the eyes (Matthew 4:8-11). Satan used Peter to try and distract Jesus from the cross (Matthew 16:21-23). Jesus overcame the distractions of the enemy by focusing on prayer (Matthew 26:36-46). We too can conquer the demons that we face through the Word of God, the Blood of the Lamb, self-denial, and the power of prayer. Jesus faced demons attempting to distract him from the will of God and dying on the cross.

The legacy of Jesus teaches us how to maintain our focus on the will of God and not to be distracted or detoured from God’s plan for our lives. Jackie, Jason and Jesus all faced demons. Their responses determined their destinies.

WHY BORN-AGAIN BELIEVERS SHOULD BOYCOTT THE JAMIE FOXX MOVIE “DJANGO UNCHAINED”

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

November 27, 2012

While watching the Dallas Cowboys versus the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving Day, I was excited to see the advertisement of the Christmas Day release of a movie featuring Jamie Foxx entitled, “Django Unchained.”

I am not a movie-goer. I am a man in love with my wife, and she loves to go to movies. Therefore, from three to six times a year, we make our way to the movies together.  One of our favorite times to go together is during the Christmas Holidays. This Christmas, I decided on Thanksgiving Day, that we were going to see “Django Unchained,” because I was so impressed with the trailer.

Family movies, historical documentaries, biographies and Black oriented movies are usually my preference in movie selections if I must go. The internet descriptions of “DJANGO UNCHAINED” captured all of my motivations for going to see a movie. Django was a freed slave in the 1850’s who set out to reclaim his family that he’d been separated from.

My wife and I plan to go to New York in February to see the Broadway Play entitled, “Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson.” Against the backdrop of William Joseph Seymour (May 2, 1870 – September 28, 1922)—the Patriarch of the Azusa Street Revival and the Pentecostal church emerges Aimee Semple McPherson.  Her play is a biographical church history documentary that, again, captures most of my motivation for seeing a movie or play.

However, as of today, I’ve decided to personally boycott the “Django Unchained” movie for one reason, and one reason only:  THE BLASPHEMOUS REMARKS OF JAMIE FOXX referring to President Barack Obama as “our Lord and Savior.”

During the Soul Train Music Awards this past Sunday evening, Jamie Foxx made the following comment:

“It’s like church over here. It’s like church over here. First of all, giving honor to God and our Lord and Savior Barack Obama.”

It’s highly possible that Foxx, being a comedian, was simply joking by his paraphrasing of a highly familiar greeting or preface statement often spoken in many African-American churches where the words “Barack Obama” appear in the above quote, the greeting would normally say, Jesus Christ.

But that begs the questions: Is this acceptable comedy to those of us who believe that Jesus is simply off limits to joke about in this manner? Is the Foxx comment a violation of the third commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7)? Is the Foxx comment an example of what Jesus meant when He said, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh…every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:34b, 36b)? Was Foxx attributing praise and descriptions to President Obama that biblically only can be said of Jesus, thereby committing some form of blasphemy (Matthew 12:24, 31, 32; 1 Timothy 1:12, 13)? Jesus’ comments about blasphemy were in response to the Pharisees attributing to the power of the devil, the credit for what should have been attributes to the power of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12:28). Did Foxx, by invoking the name Barack Obama in a place where only the name the Lord Jesus Christ belongs, commit a violation similar to what the Pharisees committed in Matthew 12:24?

I don’t watch Jamie Foxx often, but the few times I’ve caught him on TV, I immediately recognized that he has an affinity to and an intimate knowledge of the Black church. The reason his audience laughed immediately at his “joke,” was because they also readily picked up that this was a familiar expression in the Black church. Therefore, I am going to give Jamie Foxx the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was joking.

Nevertheless, I will personally boycott “Django Unchained”; and I believe all believers should as well, so that we can send a message to Hollywood that using our Lord’s name in vain, and—in a serious or comical blasphemous manner—is simply unacceptable.

If Foxx was joking, it was a very bad and inappropriate joke; if he was not joking it is an assault on the Christian faith. At either rate, unless Foxx repents, those of us who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ—including President Obama—ought to boycott “Django Unchained”; and the President should correct and repudiate Foxx’s blasphemous comments.  There is one Lord, and his name is not Barack Obama! His Name is Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; and He shall reign forever and ever. There is none like Him; not even the highly beloved, respected, appreciated and iconic historical figure, President Barack Obama!

AN OPEN APOLOGY TO DR. LAND FOR UNINTENTIONALLY MISREPRESENTING HIS VIEWS ON MORMONISM

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

OCTOBER 25, 2012

I offer the following email exchange that will clarify Dr. Richard Land’s views on Mormonism and my response:

First message from Sam Dahl:

Dr. McKissic, just wanted to send you a quick FYI about Dr. Land’s position on Mormonism. Here are a few quotes from the article linked below that he wrote for The Christian Post that might give some clarity.

When the theologically uninitiated hear this answer (that Mormonism is a cult) they immediately think “Branch Davidians” or “Jim Jones,” and there is a cognitive disconnect. When most people hear Mormonism described as a “cult” they think, “No, that can’t be right. A Mormon is president of my Rotary Club or coaches my children’s soccer teams.”

The problem is that while Mormonism may technically be a cult theologically, in that it has moved well beyond the parameters of orthodox, apostle’s creed Trinitarian Christianity, it does not behave as a cult culturally or socially.

For nearly two millennia the basic Trinitarian formulation of the Christian faith has been accepted by Catholics and Protestants alike and it is not open to self-definition or reformulation. Christianity has objective, theologically defined parameters which Mormonism has clearly moved well beyond.

Mormons, Christianity and Presidential Elections

This quote from another Christian Post article, Mormonism Debate: What Is a Cult?, may also shed further light on his position.

Due to the misunderstanding that could result from the two different definitions of cult, Land explained, he does not use the word “cult” to describe the LDS Church, “even though it’s theologically accurate.””

Please let us know if we can serve you in the future.

Thanks,

Sam Dahl

Office of the President

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

615-782-8405

sdahl@erlc.com

My response:

Bro. Dahl,

Thanks for the “Richard Land on Mormonism” email. This is a more complete expression of Dr. Land’s stand on Mormonism.

While I believe that the timing is inappropriate to come forth with the distinctions on Mormonism (leaves one open to the charge of pushing a political agenda) and the designation of Mormonism as a “fourth great Abrahamic faith” is historically, theologically and biblically inaccurate, I do see now where, clearly, Dr. Land views Mormonism as a cult, but simply prefers not to use the term for the reasons stated in the email.

To the extent that my comments on this matter at SBC Voices and my blog have misrepresented Dr. Land (not being heretofore apprised of the information contained in the aforementioned email), I sincerely offer an apology for stating emphatically that Dr. Land was denying that Mormonism is a cult.

Finally, I would like to post this email I’m sending you and the one you sent to me on my blog and submit it to SBC Voices (both unedited) requesting they publish it also. Without your approval, I will not post it. But with or without approval, again, please accept my apology.

Dwight McKissic

Final Response from Sam Dahl:

Dr. McKissic, thank you for your email; Dr. Land appreciates your response and apology. You certainly have his and my permission to publish those emails in the aforementioned places. As another FYI, when it comes to the question of timing, the first time we can ascertain that Dr. Land suggested that perhaps the most charitable way to view Mormonism is as the 4th Abrahamic religion was at the end of 2007 when he was interviewed on December 26 for a documentary titled Article VI that was released in 2008.  We appreciate your gracious humility and certainly have no hard feelings or ill will toward you. As always, we stand ready to serve you if there is any way we can. Thanks,

Sam Dahl

Office of the President

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

615-782-8405

sdahl@erlc.com

CLARIFYING THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN STETZER AND LAND ON MORMONISM

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

OCTOBER 22, 2012

I recently published a Blog Post that inaccurately and unfairly conflated the published positions of Ed Stetzer and Richard Land as it relates to how these Southern Baptist Convention leading figures view Mormonism. The purpose of this writing is to briefly and accurately make the distinction between their beliefs crystal clear and to publically apologize to Ed for having done so.

Here is my quote unfairly conflating and equating Stetzer’s and Lands’ positions on Mormonism:

“Even Ed Stetzer and Richard Land have taken a softer view on labeling Mormonism as a cult. Why? Stetzer and Land want to label Mormonism a fourth great world religion. Why? Unbelievable! Are Southern Baptists that desperate to elect Mitt Romney?”

Now to set the record straight, Stetzer makes it undeniably clear that he maintains that Mormonism is a cult, although he makes a case for distinguishing between Mormons being viewed as a theological cult as opposed to a sociological cult. Stetzer then goes on to argue for Mormonism to be viewed as another world religion without denying that Mormonism is a cult. Here are Stetzer’s exact unedited words as they appeared in a Christianity Today article:

“Mormonism fits the traditional evangelical definition of a ‘theological cult,’ but that is not what most Americans think of when they think of a cult; they think of a compound in Waco. I think it is more helpful to call it a different religion, like Islam and Judaism, and to share the gospel of Jesus with them accordingly.”
Ed Stetzer, president, LifeWay Research

Based on the above quote, I labeled Stetzer’s position as taking a “softer view on labeling Mormonism as a cult.” He objects to that characterization of his position, and I agree with him. He does think it is “helpful to call it [Mormonism] a different religion, like Islam and Judaism, and to share the gospel of Jesus with them accordingly.” I hope this clarifies Stetzer’s position and underscores the point that he never denied that Mormonism is a cult.

Richard Land unequivocally refers to Mormonism as a “fourth Abrahamic faith,” without labeling Mormonism a cult. Here are Land’s exact words unedited from http://apprising.org/2010/08/31/sbcs-richard-land-says-mormonism-fourth-abrahamic-faith:

“I think perhaps the most charitable way for an evangelical Christian to look at Mormonism is to look at Mormonism as the fourth Abrahamic faith.” …“Not a Christian faith.”

By referring Mormonism as “the fourth Abrahamic faith” and not labeling it a cult, it appears that Land is trying to dignify and legitimize Mormonism to make it more palatable to the SBC and the masses. Land’s view of Mormonism is equally as damaging to me as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s view. They have essentially adopted the same position. I hope this clarifies this matter.

THE JEFFRESS-GRAHAM SWITCH AND THE BLACK VOTE

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

October 20, 2012

While touring the Dead Sea Scroll Exhibit recently, at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with President Paige Patterson, Governor Rick Perry, and twenty other Dallas-Ft. Worth pastors and Christian leaders, I was privileged to meet for the first time the pastor of the First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX, Pastor Robert Jeffress. Recognizing who he was from television appearances and public photos—upon seeing Dr. Jeffress, I immediately extended my hand and said to him, without introducing myself, “I appreciate your voice of righteousness to our nation.” He also recognized me upon sight and almost simultaneously said to me, “Pastor McKissic, I’ve quoted you across this country, ‘Don’t equate my skin with your sin.’” I then told Pastor Jeffress, I’d heard he was using my quote, and I was thankful that he confirmed that. That’s basically the sum total of our brief chance meeting.

Dr. Jeffress was indeed a voice for righteousness when he described Governor Romney’s Mormon faith as a “cult.” In October 2011, while endorsing Governor Perry for President, Jeffress told reporters, “Every true, born again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian.” Jeffress referred to Romney then as a “conservative out of convenience” who “does not have a consistent track record on the subject of marriage, on the sanctity of life.” He further stated, “I just do not believe that we as conservative Christians can expect him to stand strong for the issues that are important to us.”

Fast forward to today and Dr. Jeffress is still a voice of righteousness believing that Mormonism is still a cult, and that civil rights and gay rights are not proper parallels.

However, Jeffress has made a major switch regarding his initial theology/politics, inasmuch as he now embraces Romney for President-even as a “non-Christian” member of a “cult” over President Barack Obama who is a Christian, but does not hold a biblical worldview with regard to same-sex marriage and abortion. Perhaps, therein lays Jeffress dilemma—an ultimate decision to support Romney.

I can appreciate Pastor Jeffress not compromising his conviction—and one that I share—that Mormonism is a cult. However, my conscience and conviction will not allow me to vote for an individual who on more than one occasion has expressed a certain antipathy toward the poor and who, when given an opportunity to distance himself from the racist history and teaching in Mormon documents in a 2008 Tim Russert interview, Governor Romney refused to do so. Mormon “sacred text” refers to “dark skinned” people as “cursed,” “unattractive,” “filthy,” “despised” and “loathsome.” Voting for Mitt Romney given these viewpoints, expressed in his “Bible,” is a switch and compromise that I simply cannot make. I would rather fight than switch.

I applaud and appreciate Dr. Jeffress being a voice of righteousness on pro-life issues, gay-marriage issues and the civil rights vs. gay rights issue. However, I would be less than honest if I didn’t acknowledge that Pastor Jeffress’ switch is seen by many in the Black Community as inconsistent at best.

Evangelist Billy Graham historically has been a highly respected figure in the Black Community. Long before it was popular, he insisted on his meetings being racially inclusive, befriended Black preachers (including Dr. King) and singers and publically disagreed with Dr. W.A. Criswell’s segregation views, prior to his “open door” conversion. Billy Graham was highly regarded in the home I grew up in and viewed as a man whose heart was in the right place regarding issues of race.

However, Billy Graham’s recent departure from his lifelong practice of not engaging in partisan politics, and his removing the Mormon Religion from his website as a cult has generated a lot of discussion among Black pastors. The impression Graham’s decision leaves is that for the sake of electing Mitt Romney as President, he is willing to declassify Mormonism as a cult and engage in partisan politics for the first time in 94 years of living.

The question many are asking is, “why”? And, why now? If nominal Southern Baptists as Bill Clinton and Al Gore occupied the White House at the current moment, the question is would Billy Graham have made the same decision? Even Ed Stetzer and Richard Land have taken a softer view on labeling Mormonism as a cult. Why? Stetzer and Land want to label Mormonism a fourth great world religion. Why? Unbelievable! Are Southern Baptists that desperate to elect Mitt Romney?

The Southern Baptist Convention unanimously approved a resolution condemning President Obama’s position on gay marriage and his view of equating gay rights with civil rights—but refused to even bring to the floor for a vote a resolution condemning racism in Mormon documents. The question is why would Southern Baptists approve of one, while rejecting the other? Could it be that on both sides of the racial divide, that our theology is driven more by race, culture and economics than it is by theology, righteousness and the common good? The SBC’s refusal to condemn Mormon racist text aligns itself with the BGEA declassification of Mormonism being a cult. Both decisions were driven by placing partisan politics above theological integrity and accuracy.

This election will leave the country and Christians racially polarized and divided even more so than the 2008 Election. The tacit evangelical endorsement of Mormonism will pay long term negative consequences on evangelicalism and politics. The Graham announcements affirm Black Christians, who vote for President Obama because it demonstrates that political, cultural and economic expediency, sometimes trumps theological and moral considerations in voting decisions. We see this on both sides of the racial divide.

I’ve been asked the question several times, why is it that Black Christians vote for Democratic candidates overwhelmingly in light of the Democrats position on gay rights and abortion? Black Christians tend to prioritize social and economic justice issues (which are also life issues) and they consider those moral issues as well. Black Christians tend to compromise their faith on pro-life and gay rights issues in order to vote for the party that they perceive will best deliver social and economic justice. The White evangelical church in this election is willing to compromise their beliefs on Mormonism and racial and gender accountability in order to support Mitt Romney. Black and White Christians vote for the party and the president that they perceive will best empower them. They simply view empowerment and priorities differently.

For those who ask, how can President Obama be a Christian and hold non-Christian views on abortion and gay marriage?: The answer is the same way Anglo Baptists/Evangelical slaveholders were Christians but wrong about slavery and denying women the right to vote. Make no mistake about it:  President Obama and the Democrats are wrong on the issues of gay marriage and abortion. But just as Billy Graham is willing to declassify Mormonism as a cult in order to promote Romney, Blacks have prioritized economic and justice issues in order to elevate poor and historically oppressed people. I have burdens in my bosom concerning both parties. Therefore, I will be content to cast a write-in vote for Jesus Christ, and live with the results of who God sovereignly allows to become the next President.

If President Obama wins, I will take solace in the fact that Republicans will not be rewarded for their blatant disrespect of President Obama. Such as shouting “you lie” to him from the hall of Congress; the Governor of Arizona shaking her finger in his face; Laura Ingram referring to the President as, “you fool”; and I could cite many more disrespectful and racial attitudes and actions displayed toward President Obama, including declassifying Mormonism as a cult.

If Mitt Romney wins, I would hope that he would honor his commitment (though his history does not give me full hope) to stop same-sex marriage in its tracks and actually lead the Congress to adopt a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. If that happens, I will be eternally grateful and give God praise that my grandchildren will not grow up in a world where same-sex marriage is considered legal, sane and normal.

Although I’m not a Calvinist, I am perfectly content to trust the sovereignty of God in this election and praise His Name regardless to the outcome. I simply pray as a nation and as a church that we can come together in unity when the election is over.

 Bart Barber, Dave Miller and Howell Scott need to be taken seriously regarding this matter of sounding a clarion call concerning the declassification of Mormonism as a cult sooner, rather than later. Is a cult only a cult until one of its members wins a major party presidential nomination and their opponent is a Black Christian who believes in gay marriage and abortion?

Pastor Jeffress and Evangelist Graham have a right to endorse and vote for Mitt Romney for President, just as Pastor Otis Moss and Pastor Frederick Haynes have a right to support President Obama for reelection.

What Billy Graham does not have the right to do is to declassify Mormonism as a cult without the larger evangelical community throwing the “red flag.” If evangelicalism does not throw the “red flag” before the election, that is even a greater sign of our political and racial divide. We ought to be able to come together in unity and make it clear that Mormonism is a cult even if Black Christians and White Christians vote for different candidates. The unity of the faith is at stake here (John 17:21)!

THE MOSS “EPISTLE” vs. THE TREASURE BOX

EQUIPPING BLACK CHRISTIANS TO RESPOND TO PRO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE PASTORS

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

October 4, 2012

In the aftermath of President Obama’s public affirmation of same-sex marriage, a high profile Black pastor not only supported the President’s position, but also gave a robust defense of the government sanctioning of same-sex marriage. Pastor Otis Moss III serves as Senior Pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, formerly pastored by Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Pastor Moss is making a mark and stamp on the social order, contemporary culture and the Black church at large as did his predecessor and his beloved father, Rev. Otis Moss Jr., a retired Baptist pastor and iconic Civil Rights leader during the King era.

Pastor Moss is affable, articulate, and academically credentialed, and has a winsome personality. His position on same-sex marriage and his rationale for supporting the President’s position is gaining traction in some Black pulpits and churches. There are Black pastors being swayed by Moss’ rhetoric and reasoning, and some congregants are giving a hearty Amen, to what heretofore would have been blasphemous in most Black pulpits and churches; the approval of same-sex relationships. Indeed, Moss was one of eleven Black pastors who recently held a press conference in Washington, D.C., encouraging Blacks to approve of legalizing same-sex marriages in an upcoming Maryland election, and again providing a rationale for his position that’s beginning to catch fire in the Black Community. That press conference was a sight that I thought I’d never see in my lifetime—Black pastors endorsing homosexuality.

Bob Ray Sanders, a highly respected Fort Worth Star Telegram news columnist refers to Moss’ published statement in support of same-sex marriage as, “Chicago black preacher’s epistle on gay marriage is a must-read.” Sanders appreciatively applauds Moss’ position.

I may be the lonely voice of one, crying in the wilderness; but I feel compelled by the Spirit of God and the Word of God to say to Black Christians that the Moss “Epistle” is diametrically opposed to and contradicts: The Bible; Jesus’ teaching on marriage; Martin Luther King’s published viewpoint on homosexuality; the landmarks of the fathers; the official position of the nine major Black denominations; and the early church fathers, neither is his view supported by the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, while respecting and loving our President and Pastor Moss, we must love our God and our Bible—more.

When the President or a Pastor makes bold declarations contrary to the Word of God, Christians must demonstrate love, loyalty and allegiance to their faith, above their race, and above what any man might say, “…let God be true but every man a liar… (Romans 3:4)” The church should not be moved by Moss’ Bible-less and baseless rhetoric from the “landmarks”—the Bible, prominent Black historical figures and the current Black denominations have set. I want to leave a record for future generations that the “Moss epistle” was way outside of mainstream thinking and theology in the Black church community. What does the Moss “epistle” actually say about this subject matter?

PASTOR MOSS’ “EPISTLE” REGARDING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

  1. Moss supports the notion that same-sex marriage should become the law of the land based on his belief that it is somehow permitted in the Constitution. Moss believes that same-sex marriage is a civil right. He and President Obama refer to marriage between two people of the same sex as marriage equality. Moss believes that to deny “same gender loving couples” the right to marry is comparable to denying the slaves freedom.
  2. Moss believes that since President Obama is the President of the United States and not the pastor or “Bishop of the Christ Holiness Sanctified Church,” he is President of all the people—including homosexuals who want to marry. Therefore, the President is not bound by the church’s beliefs regarding homosexuality. He is bound by the Constitution to provide equal protection and equal/civil rights to all persons, regardless of sexual preferences; thus, the term used by proponents of same-sex marriage—“marriage equality.”
  3. Moss believes that rights governing marriage in secular society and civil government don’t have to comply with or march in lockstep with rites for marriage in the church. In all fairness to Moss, neither does he believe that the government should force the church to perform same-sex marriages.
  4. Pastor Frederick Haynes provides logic and arguments similar to Pastor Moss, but adds Jesus never addressed homosexuality. The implication being, if Christ never mentioned homosexuality why should Black preachers be as up-in-arms about it. Moss and Haynes refer to homosexuals as “same gender loving couples.”

This summarizes the “epistle on gay marriage” by Pastor Moss. Some of the language and logic articulated by Pastor Moss are things “new and old” (Matthew 13:52). Many of the arguments he and Pastor Haynes espouses are something “new” to the Black church. Some of their arguments are old.

THE “TREASURE’ BOX ANSWERS THE MOSS “EPISTLE”

“Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matthew 13:52)

Thank God that the story on “same-gender loving couples and marriage equality” does not begin nor end with the Moss “epistle.”

Jesus referenced the knowledge that’s retained by students (disciples) in the Kingdom of God as a “treasure.” Jesus identified his disciples as “scribes,” “disciples,” or students of the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:52). And as a disciple (student) of the Kingdom of heaven, one becomes a “householder” possessing a “treasure.” The “treasure” is knowledge, and according to Jesus the treasure contains “things new and old.” The knowledge of the Kingdom will never be outdated.

When persons raise new questions or present new arguments that contradict the Bible and our faith, Jesus taught that we could find the answers to those who raise the opposing questions and present opposing arguments, in the “treasure” that’s in our household. The “treasure” contains His words, the Word, and a timely word—“things new and old.” I want to respond to the Moss “epistle” by reaching in the “treasure” box and seeing if there are answers to the Moss “epistle.” After all, he raised new issues to support “same-gender loving couples” and referenced old issues—slavery and the civil rights struggle in America.

The “treasure” box that Jesus referred to and Moss’ “epistle” are in total disagreement with each other.

I.  In response to Moss’ belief that the same-sex marriage is a civil and constitutional right, in the “treasure” box that Jesus said would be in my house, I’ve found the following answers:

A.  Even if the Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is authorized by the Constitution and is a civil right that must be granted, the “treasure” is clear; when man’s law contradicts God’s law the citizens of the Kingdom of heaven (Philippians 3:20) are to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29).

B.  The request for two persons of the same sex to marry is asking for a special right, not a civil right.

C.  If any two people who “love” each other are authorized by the Constitution to marry, that opens the door for a man to marry his sister; his daughter; his mother or grandmother; his fifteen year old stepdaughter; or two wives. Why not, if the issues is simply “marrying who you love” or “marriage equality”? I’m curious if Moss would approve of a man marrying his sister, or his biological or step daughter in the name of “marriage equality” and civil and constitutional rights? And if not, why not? Wouldn’t we be denying those people “marriage equality” and their civil rights?

II.  In Response to those who compare civil rights to gay rights, I’ve found the following answer in the “treasure” box in my house:

 A.     CIVIL RIGHTS ARE ROOTED IN MORAL AUTHORITY; GAY RIGHTS ARE ROOTED IN A LACK OF MORAL RESTRAINT.

Moral authority was on the side of the abolitionists and slaves.  Moral authority was on the side of women and those who supported the suffrage movement.  Gay rights are not rooted in moral authority.  Gay rights are rooted in what the Bible calls the “lust of the flesh” (I John 2:16). 

Clarence James, a Temple University professor who has written books about the Black church and homosexuality stated, “The homosexual movement has nothing to do with civil rights.  The civil rights movement was about positive freedom, which is freedom to rise to the highest levels of capabilities.  The homosexual movement is part of the sexual revolution.  It is about negative freedom and the freedom from moral restraint.”

I’ve often read and heard homosexuals say that they discovered that they were homosexual at 18 years of age, 25, 33, etc.  I don’t know of any Black people who didn’t discover their Blackness until they were 25.

I’ve met former homosexuals.  I’ve never met a former Black.  You cannot compare civil rights with gay rights because my Blackness is a result of my birth.  Homosexuality is a result of wrong decisions.  My Blackness is a skin issue; homosexuality is a sin issue.  Therefore, you cannot compare to two.

If I could be a homosexual by nature, I could also be a polygamist, adulterer, or pedophile by nature.  Should we pass laws to approve of these behaviors?  Again, at the roots of the Civil Rights movement is skin; at the roots of the gay rights movement is sin–Big Difference!

B.      CIVIL RIGHTS ARE ROOTED IN CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY; GAY RIGHTS ARE ROOTED IN CIVIL ANARCHY, LIBERAL COURT DECISIONS AND RENEGADE CIVIL AUTHORITIES THAT DEFY THE LAW.

The goal of the Massachusetts court (the first court to approve same-sex marriage) decision in their own language was to limit the influence of historical, cultural, and religious reasons for preserving traditional marriage. This was a judicial fiat.

The 14th and 15th Amendments secured citizens’ rights for people of all shades of skin, including the right to vote.  There are no constitutional guarantees to people based on their unnatural, unwise, unhealthy, unholy and unbiblical desire to marry people of the same sex.

The civil rights movement was birthed in the church.  The gay rights movement was birthed in the closet.  At the root of the civil rights movement is constitutional authority.  At the root of the gay rights movement is constitutional anarchy and carnal antinomianism—lawlessness.

 C.      THE SUFFERING OF THE HOMOSEXUAL DOES NOT COMPARE TO THE SUFFERING OF THE BLACK MAN IN AMERICA.

When homosexuals have spent 200 years in slavery, then we can begin discussion of parallels.  When homosexuals have been legally defined as 3/5 human, then we can begin the discussion of parallels.  When homosexuals have been denied the right to vote and own property because they are homosexuals then we’ll begin the discussions of parallels.  No White lesbian has ever been murdered for whistling at another White girl.  Black men have been murdered for perceived interest in White women.  Ask members of the family of Emmet Till. The comparison of civil rights to gay rights is extremely offensive because of the disproportionate suffering issue, and the comparison of race to sexual preference.

D.     THE GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT WAS BIRTHED IN THE CLOSET; THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT WAS BIRTH BY THE HOLY SPIRIT (II Cor. 3:7).

The Apostle Paul stated in Romans 1:27, 32, “Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful …”  In Romans 1:32, Continuing to speak of these men who engage in these same shameful homosexual acts the Apostle concludes that these men, “who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”  God’s Word not only disapproves of homosexuality, His Word also disapproves of those who approve of homosexuality.

III.  Self-identified homosexuals are American citizens and should be entitled to all the rights, privileges and protections of any American citizen. Their constitutional and civil rights are based on their citizenship, not their sexuality. President Obama is President of all the people. But when he and Moss emphasize that he is the President of “same-gender” loving people that is an attempt to dignify, legitimize and affirm homosexuality, in a way that it has never been affirmed historically in America. Homosexuals are to be valued and respected as human beings and citizens. There is no legal, moral, historical or constitutional basis to respect them on the basis of their bedroom antics. 

Martin Luther King led a march on Washington to demand that the United States make good on a check-guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing civil rights for all her citizens. Dr. King said the American check for equality and justice issued to her Negro citizens had come back marked “insufficient funds.” The homosexual community is trying to cash check on the constitution that has never been written to them. Their account was never constitutionally opened.

For Moss to argue that President Obama is President of everyone—including homosexuals—is a true statement; but the statement in and of itself does not grant legal status to homosexuals. The President is also the criminals’ (child molesters, murderers, thieves, bigamists) President. This statement about the President being the President and not Bishop of the Sanctified Church is a nonsensical, meaningless, empty statement. That statement by Moss only appeal to the most gullible, and non-critical thinkers.

At the root of Moss’ statement and the President’s, as both being professing Christians, is the notion that homosexuality is not a sin.  It is no small matter that a high profile pastor and a President who professes to be a Christian—and I don’t question or doubt Moss’ or President Obama’s Christianity—but I do question whether or not they believe—and the eleven pastors at the D.C. Press conference—whether or not a homosexual act between “same-gender loving persons” is a sin. I wish Pastor Moss would answer that question. I wish President Obama would answer that question. I wish the pastors at the press conference would answer that question:  Is a sexual act between a “same-gender loving couple” a sin?

IV.  I agree with Pastor Moss that the government can’t and shouldn’t dictate to the church that they must perform same-sex marriages. However, I disagree with Pastor Moss that Christians should not vote their values, views and convictions regarding this matter. To not vote your convictions regarding this matter is like not voting your convictions on civil rights. Everywhere where there has been a state constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, Black people have voted overwhelmingly in favor of disapproving of same-sex marriage. Romans 1:32 is clear that believers should not approve of homosexuality or give approval to those who approve of homosexuality.

W.E.B. Dubois makes it very clear that moral matters can and should affect voting matters and decisions. As a matter of fact, Dubois chose to not vote in the 1956 presidential election because of both parties being morally corrupt. However, I am advocating that people vote in the election—vote their conscious and vote their conviction, even if that means having to vote for a third party candidate or write in a candidate. Vote for President Obama if that’s your choice. Vote for Mitt Romney if that’s your choice. Vote for a third party candidate if that’s your choice. Write in a vote if you must, but by all means–vote!

I essentially agree with Pastor Moss’ distinction between “rights” and “rites” when it comes to the marriage law. There is a difference between an ecclesiastical ceremony and a secular ceremony. The marriage “right” is secular and granted by law, but there is no Federal law at this point authorizing this “rite.” There is no federal law that supports a “sacred” or “secular” “rite” or “right” same-sex marriage. Therefore, it is illegitimate.

 V.  To pastors who say that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, I have found the following answers in my “treasure” box:  Jesus addressed homosexual marriage when He addressed authentic marriage in Matthew 19:4-6. There He makes it clear marriage is between one man and one woman. Jesus also pointed out that when He returns, marriage will be an issue, (Luke 17:27) “they were given in marriage,” and He specifically mentioned, “As it was also in the day of Lot” (Luke 17:28)…on the day that Lot went out of Sodom” (Luke 17:29). We all know that homosexuality was an issue at Sodom. Indeed, the root word of sodomy is Sodom, which is a legal reference to homosexuality, derived directly from the Bible. Revelation 11:8 is clear that the spirit of Sodom would be prevalent just before Christ declares the consummation of the Kingdom of God (Revelation 11:15). When Jesus sanctioned the Old Testament when He often said, “It is written,” that would also be an affirmation of OT passages disapproving of homosexuality. In Mark 7:21, Jesus mentions “fornication” as a derivative of “evil thoughts” out of the heart of men. The Greek word translated fornication would include all types of sexual sins including homosexuality. Therefore, it is simply not true to say that Jesus never spoke about homosexuality. This is a desperate attempt to give approval to what Jesus clearly disapprove of. Jesus never mentioned pirates or pedophiles; shall we then approve of those behaviors?

THE VOICES OF THE DEAD SPEAK OUT OF THE “TREASURE” BOX

 1.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was not supportive of homosexual relationships. In response to a boy who wrote Dr. King admitting to having an attraction to other boys, just as he also was attracted to girls; Dr. King had this to say:

 “Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was writing an advice column in 1958 for Ebony Magazine when he received an unusual letter.  ‘I am a boy,’ an anonymous writer told King. ‘But I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do?’ In calm, pastoral tones, King told the boy that his problem wasn’t uncommon, but required ‘careful attention.’  ‘The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired,’ King wrote. ‘You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.’”  (religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/16/what-did-mlk-think-about-gay-people) (Emphasis mine).

2.  George Washington Carver was a strong Bible-believing Christian in addition to being an agricultural and science professor at Tuskegee Institute. He taught Sunday school weekly on the campus of Tuskegee Institute. He clearly viewed Genesis 19 as an illustration of the judgment of God on a nation that embraces homosexuality. While discussing Sodom and Gomorrah, Dr. Carver asked his class, “And what happened to these wicked cities?” He viewed the desire and activity of same-sex involvement as “wicked.” He then used his scientific talents to cause a sudden burst of flames and fumes to shoot up from the table, and the Bible students fled. He sure knew how to make Sunday School interesting and to illustrate his point. George Washington Carver taught against the practice of homosexuality. (George Washington Carver; An American Biography, by Rackham Holt, 1943, Doubleday, Doran and Company, Inc., Garden City, NY, p. 198)

3.  In September 1929 Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., published a series of sermons on sexual perversion, (as per an article written by John McWhorter entitled, “What the Harlem Renaissance Teaches about Gay Rights”). Powell stated that homosexuality was one of the powers that debased a race of people and could destroy the Black family.

“Powell considered this ‘perversion’ to be ‘one of the most horrible, debasing, alarming and damning vices of present-day civilization.’ He decried ‘contact and association’ with gay people, considered them a threat to the ‘Negro family.’ He hated homosexuality for ‘causing men to leave their wives for other men, wives to leave their husbands for other women and girls to mate with girls instead of marrying.’”(http://www.theroot.com/views/what-harlem-renaissance-teaches-us-about-gay-rights

4.  Augustine  said:

“Those shameful acts against nature, such as were committed in Sodom, ought everywhere and always be detested and punished. If all nations were to do such things, they would be held guilty of the same crime by the law of God, which has not made men so that they should use one another in this way (Confessions 3:8:15 [A.D.400]).” (http://www.gcmwatch.com/97/an-unbroken-witness-against-sexual-sin)

I give God thanks for Pastor Moss and his gifts and leadership. However, on this issue he has chosen to stand on the wrong side of the Bible, the wrong side of history—the fathers, and the wrong side of God’s will for future generations. May the Lord use this writing to speak to future generations His will regarding same-sex relationships (Psalm 145:4)!

Pastor Moss is attempting to remove the “ancient landmarks” that the fathers have set. This could prove to be very dangerous and dastardly to the Black community and a death blow to the Black family. I hope that he will reconsider his position.

“Do not remove the ancient landmark Which your fathers have set.” (Proverbs 22:28)

PASTOR DID NOT SAY, DON’T VOTE

By Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

September 20, 2012

Under the caption, “Preachers telling Blacks not to vote is sinful,” Bob Ray Sanders published an article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, September 18, 2012, that led persons who could identify me by description—not by name—to  believe that I instructed my congregation not to vote. That is absolutely and unequivocally not true. I’ve never and will never tell my congregation, how to vote or not to vote. As a matter of fact, for the upcoming election, I have encouraged the congregation to study the issues and vote their conviction.

To vote for President Obama in the upcoming election will advance the same-sex marriage agenda and affirm the Democratic Party Platform endorsing the same. To vote for Governor Mitt Romney is to not hold him accountable for the racist teachings in the Mormon “Bible” that “black skinned” people are “cursed,” “loathsome,” “unattractive,” “despised” and “filthy.”

When faced with the choice of two evils, my philosophy is to choose neither. Same-sex marriage is evil, and as it did with Rome, it will lead to the destruction of this great nation. Racism, and even more so, religious racism, is evil. I cannot with a clear conscience vote for a man, when given an opportunity by Tim Russert in a 2008 interview, to distance himself from the racist history and teaching of the Mormon Church—not only refused to do so, but stated, he stands by the faith of his fathers.

I cannot stand by President Obama and his beliefs on same-sex marriage. I cannot stand by Mitt Romney and his refusal to repudiate the racist text and history of Mormonism. Therefore, I choose to vote for neither. I am seriously considering writing in the Name, “Jesus Christ,” as my candidate.

Bob Ray Sanders ‘article was based on an erroneous story by the Associated Press that stated African American Pastors are encouraging their congregants not to vote. As Mr. Sanders accurately pointed out, no one was quoted with that viewpoint because none of us hold that viewpoint.

My statement to the Associated Press was that I would be voting in the early election down line, but would not be casting a vote for the Office of President. On Election Day, I plan to go fishing. That line was spun into, African American pastors suggesting to parishioners not to vote. Recently my oldest sister informed me that my parents paid a $2.00 poll tax for the right to vote; therefore, for me, not voting is not an option.

Finally, it is not my goal to help or hurt either candidate. It is my goal to advance the Kingdom of God. When one chooses the lesser of two evils, they still choose evil. “God help me. Here I stand.”

A RIGHT TO VOTE IS NOT A REQUIREMENT TO VOTE

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

September 17, 2012

“The Lord has established His throne in Heaven and His kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19

The good news is, on November 7, 2012, God will still be God and His kingdom will still rule over all.  The bad news is…come November 7, this country will have either reelected a man and in effect endorsed a platform that affirms same-sex marriage or will have elected a President who for the first time in American history ascribes to a “Bible” that teaches that “blackness of skin” is a curse. Consequently, I find both candidates totally unacceptable. Whoever wins on November 6, I will accept as the appointment of the Sovereign God, pray for that individual, hold in high regard the office that they hold and consequently deeply respect the man in the office—no matter which candidate it is (Romans 13:1).

To set the record straight, I have never told the congregation, that I’m privileged to pastor, not to vote. I never reported that to Rachel Zoll, the Associated Press reporter, who interviewed me on this subject. I did say to Rachel Zoll (Associated Press) that I do not plan to vote for the Office of the President. I will vote down line. But I cannot with a clear conscience cast a ballot for President Obama or Governor Romney given their beliefs that are diametrically in opposition to the inerrant and infallible Word of God. I will vote down line in the early voting and literally plan to go fishing on Election Day. I told the Cornerstone congregation that I would respect whatever decision they made regarding voting. But as for me and my house, to vote in favor of President Obama is to violate Romans 1:32, that declares you cannot approve of those who approve of homosexuality. In my personal opinion, to vote for Mitt Romney, given the unrepentant, unapologetic racist views of the Mormon “Bibles”—as a Black man—would be like a chicken voting for Col. Sanders. Therefore, I choose to vote for neither. But if either publically changed their minds before November 6, I will change my mind and vote for one of them.

There will be those who will consider me a one-issue voter to which I will plead guilty. Major decisions are often made on major matters based on one-issue. People are hired and fired sometimes based on one-issue. People have surgeries based on one-issue. People marry and divorce over one-issue. People were enslaved based on one-issue.

President Obama has endorsed changing five-thousand years of marital history in every civilized country of the world based on—one issue:  “Marriage equality” as he labels it. Same-sex marriage is not marriage equality, it is moral insanity. Governor Mitt Romney was given an opportunity by Tim Russert in 2008 to distance himself from the history and teaching of the Mormon Church over one issue:  The Mormon “Bible” verses that teach Black people are “loathsome,” “despised” and “cursed.” The Mormon Church would not allow my sister to enter into certain parts of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah, several years ago, while allowing her Anglo colleagues to enter part of the Tabernacle she was forbidden to enter, over one issue:  Her “Black” skin color. Pleeeze, don’t tell me I cannot vote over—one issue. The Mormons have never recanted of the racist teachings in their Bibles—“The Pearl of Great Price,” The Book of Mormons, Doctrines and Covenants.

At the end of the day my hope is not in Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus Name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

America went to war with Afghanistan over one issue. Appellant judges have overturned lower court judges over—one issue. To vote for Romney, I would have to violate my race and my right mind. To vote for Obama, I would have to violate my conscience, convictions and faith. I can do neither. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. To violate conscience is neither right nor safe. “God help me, here I stand.” Thus said Martin Luther, and I agree.

A RESPONSE TO DENNY BURK’S POST ON THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPLEMENTARIANISM TO THE GOSPEL

BY

WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

AUGUST 30, 2012

Denny Burk recently posted an interesting and provocative piece regarding the relationship and importance of complementarianism and inerrancy to the Gospel.

I have two responses to Denny Burk’s post which is summed up in the following quote:

“The gymnastics required to get from ‘I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man,’ in the Bible, to ‘I do allow a woman to teach and to exercise authority over a man’ in the actual practice of the local church, are devastating to the functional authority of the Scripture in the life of the people of God.”

1.  To practically equate complementarianism—as The Gospel Coalition defines it—with an accurate definition of the Gospel and inerrancy, I find to be borderline idolatry and heresy, and a position that cannot be defended or argued from Scripture. This argument coming from the same people who will not equate social and economic justice with a wholistic definition of the Gospel (and certainly not inerrancy) simply proves that much of what we call biblical Christianity is simply cultural Christianity, and the passing on of someone’s biases, prejudices and preferences, in the name of or under the ruse of—orthodoxy.

By the way, I am a complementarian, if believing that the Bible teaches that a female cannot be a senior pastor because of God’s design, makes one a complementarian. I fully believe what the 2000 BFM states, and it does not preclude a woman from teaching a man in a public setting. If that’s what it teaches, certainly FBC Dallas under Dr. Criswell was in violation each week with his wife regularly teaching men.

2.  How do you get from, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all, for to one is given…different kinds of tongues…And God has appointed these in the church…varieties of tongues…For he who speaks in tongue does not speak to men but to God…in the spirit he speaks mysteries…He who speaks in tongues edifies himself…I wish you all spoke in tongues…for if I pray in tongue, my spirit prays…I thank my God that I speak in tongues more than you all…If anyone speaks in tongue [and there is no interpreter]…let him speak to himself and to God…do not forbid to speak in tongues (I Cor. 12:7, 10, 28; 14:2, 4, 5, 14, 18, 27, 39)—to—“I forbid you to speak in tongues privately or publicly, with or without interpretation, and if you do so, you can’t serve as an IMB missionary, and you have psychological, emotional or demonic issues and influences effecting your private devotions”? I don’t know for certain, but it would not surprise me if Burk and Duncan can do the “gymnastics” required to get there. And if they can get there and consider themselves inerrantists, so can the egalitarian get from I Timothy 2:12 to egalitarianism and yet be an inerrantist and hold a proper view of the Gospel.

The way we got there is by employing the same thinking, hermeneutic, rationale and personal and cultural preferences and biases on the text as Lig Duncan has done here, and Burk affirmatively quotes him here.

If evangelicals can ignore the clear teaching of Scripture and arbitrarily decide to “forbid speaking in tongues,” why can’t the egalitarian do the same thing with the 1 Timothy 2:12 passage? I know you would say, “Not so”! Evangelicals arrived at their position on forbidding tongues based on careful and critical exegesis. “This is what my egalitarian friends say as well. I’m sure you are aware that those who conclude that same-sex marriage and monogamous homosexual relationships are not sinful also claim they reached those conclusions through careful and critical exegesis.

Therefore, I conclude where I started: To equate complementarianism and inerrancy (of which I wholeheartedly believe in) with an accurate understanding or definition of the Gospel is idolizing the doctrines of inerrancy and complementarianism to a height that the Bible does not elevate their doctrines and consequently distorts the true Gospel. It further removes our focus on the Gospel from where Jesus placed it; and that is on the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14, 15). An accurate view of gender roles in Scripture is not a “gospel” essential, nor does it threaten one’s belief regarding inerrancy. That is a cultural Christian perspective, not a biblical Christian perspective.

I have no problem with Burk and Duncan advocating a robust complementarianism as it relates to the office of the Senior Pastor. My disagreement with them lies in the fact that they appear to argue that their positions are inextricably combined with the Gospel. Not only do I find this position without biblical merit, but an unjustified indictment against all of the churches that I’m aware of (predominately African American) that at a very minimum allow a female annually on Sunday morning to address the congregation at the regular preaching hour on “Women’s Day” and many who allow women to speak/preach intermittingly throughout the year. What Burk and Duncan are advocating is robust Fundamentalism masquerading as the Gospel.

If I understand Burk and Duncan correctly, those of us who allow this do not have a proper understanding of the Gospel, and we threaten belief in inerrancy. Pleeeeeezze! These are the very reasons we allow these practices, because we believe they are biblical.

A MOTION ON MORMON RACIST DOCUMENTS

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

June 18, 2012

Whereas the awareness, acceptance and influence of the Mormon Religion is spreading throughout the island countries, particularly the South Pacific, in Africa, and among some African Americans,

Whereas Mormon promotional material often features African American professionals affirming the Mormon religion,

Whereas it’s growing acceptance and visibility will cause some to study or accept the Mormon Religion as valid,

Whereas in 1978, the Mormon Church agreed to permit Blacks into the priesthood, but they are yet to denounce the racist teachings,

Whereas people of color throughout the globe will be less likely to embrace Mormonism when they are made aware of their racist source documents,

Whereas Mormons recognize three books in addition to the King James Holy Bible as authoritative spiritual instructions,

I so move that the Southern Baptist Convention repudiate and reject the Mormon books:  The Pearl  of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants and The Book of Mormon as inspired, authoritative or canonical; and furthermore, we repudiate the racist teachings recorded in The Book of Mormon and The Pearl of Great Price that described “skin of blackness” people as being filthy (because of their filthiness”), “cursed,” “loathsome,” “despised” justifiably and derived the “blackness” of their skin color as a result of a Divine curse.

References:

The Book of Mormon, The Second Book of Nephi, 5:21, 25, and The Book of Jacob 3:5, 9

The Pearl of Great Price, The Book of Abraham 1:24, and The Book of Moses 7:8-12

DID SPENCER KIMBALL REPUDIATE MORMON RACIST TEXT?

WHY THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION SHOULD ADDRESS THIS

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

June 18, 2012

Which is more important:  The souls that are at stake or the possible controversy that could accompany this issue?

Did Spencer Kimball disavow the curse and other negative statements about Blacks? His complete statement on admitting Blacks into the priesthood is printed below. It is a mystery to me why people use this statement to say Kimball renounced or repudiated earlier statements calling Blacks filthy (“because of their filthiness”), “cursed,” “loathsome,” “despised” justifiably and derived the “blackness” of their skin color as a result of a Divine curse. None of this is addressed in the Kimball statement:

Official Declaration—2

To Whom It May Concern:

 On 30 September 1978, at the 148th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the following was presented by President N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church:

 In early June of this year, the First Presidency announced that a revelation had been received by President Spencer W. Kimball extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church. President Kimball has asked that I advise the conference that after he had received this revelation, which came to him after extended meditation and prayer in the sacred rooms of the holy temple, he presented it to his counselors, who accepted it and approved it. It was then presented to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who unanimously approved it, and was subsequently presented to all other General Authorities, who likewise approved it unanimously.

 President Kimball has asked that I now read this letter:

June 8, 1978
To all general and local priesthood officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world:
Dear Brethren:

 As we have witnessed the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth, we have been grateful that people of many nations have responded to the message of the restored gospel, and have joined the Church in ever-increasing numbers. This, in turn, has inspired us with a desire to extend to every worthy member of the Church all of the privileges and blessings which the gospel affords.

 Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.

 He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.

 We declare with soberness that the Lord has now made known his will for the blessing of all his children throughout the earth who will hearken to the voice of his authorized servants, and prepare themselves to receive every blessing of the gospel.

 

Sincerely yours,
Spencer W. Kimball
N. Eldon Tanner
Marion G. Romney
The First Presidency

 Recognizing Spencer W. Kimball as the prophet, seer, and revelator, and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is proposed that we as a constituent assembly accept this revelation as the word and will of the Lord. All in favor please signify by raising your right hand. Any opposed by the same sign.

 The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous in the affirmative.

 

Salt Lake City, Utah, September 30, 1978

MORMON RACIST DOCUMENTS AND A SBC RESOLUTION

By Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

June 12, 2012

When did Spencer Kimball, LDS President, state that curses against Black people are no longer in effect? Baptist Press cites Tal Davis, a former interfaith witness consultant with the North American Mission Board and now Executive Vice President of MarketFaith Ministries of Tallahassee, FL, making such a claim. Can Davis or anyone else document this claim?

 According to Joanna Brooks, a Mormon author:

 “To my knowledge, no Church leader has ever stood at the pulpit and formally renounced the idea that Cain or Ham are the source of racial Blackness and the priesthood ban.  Perceptive observers note that the LDS Church leadership prefers to let old doctrines fade away quietly rather than address them directly.  On race issues especially, I think this leads to missed opportunities.  While younger generations of Mormons may rarely think about and may not even know about the Church’s history with African-Americans, older Mormons continue to quietly harbor outmoded ideas, and many non-Mormons, especially African-Americans, are aware of the Church’s past teachings but without a formal renunciation do not know whether such doctrines continue.  In 2006, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley did state over the pulpit at General Conference that racism is unequivocally wrong and totally unacceptable among Church members.  His comments were welcomed by African-American Mormons and their allies.

Still, I’m looking forward to the day when more Mormons will say out loud:  We were wrong.  We were wrong about Cain.  Wrong about Ham.  And wrong to deny the priesthood to people of African descent.  For in this regard, the curse has been ours to bear.”

There is a growing awareness and acceptance of Mormonism—particularly among Blacks—in Africa and America. In the Baptist Press article, Tal Davis mentioned evangelizing Mormon Church members with the true gospel as a reason to not affirm this Resolution. Wouldn’t equipping African and African American Christians from being influenced by Mormon good deeds to accept Mormonism be a good reason to affirm this Resolution? I Peter 3:15 commands that believers be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about our faith. When a Mormon knocks on an African or African American door, wouldn’t this resolution equip the African/African Americans to defend the Christian faith?

Persons might take the Mormon documents at face value unless the SBC warns them.

I’ve never known Southern Baptists to be squeamish or timid about denouncing Mormonism. Why now?

I have forwarded the following three resolutions to the Resolution Committee for their consideration to present to the Southern Baptist Convention 2012 Annual Meeting in New Orleans:

  1. Resolution on Same-Sex Marriage and Civil Rights
  2. Resolution on Racist Statements in Mormon Source Documents
  3. Resolution on the Recognition of Baptist Minister, George Liele, as America’s First Missionary

The first Resolution deals with same-sex marriage and civil rights; and it was primarily authored by Pastor Eric C. Redmond with minimal contribution, but full affirmation, from me. We are submitting it as a joint resolution.

I am solely responsible for the second Resolution.  This issue must be dealt with if Southern Baptists are to be consistent with what they have historically taught about Mormonism; and if they are to be viewed by Black Baptists as simply finding Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and the racist views of his Bible more tolerable than President Obama’s skin color; this is how this discussion is being played out in Black barber shops, Black beauty salons and Black churches. If Southern Baptists support this resolution, it will say to the Black Community that they find Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and the racist views of his Bible abhorrent; but if they vote for him, it will be strictly because of philosophical and policy issues and positions, and not a vote against President Obama’s complexion.

The third Resolution is to simply acknowledge a historical fact that has never been acknowledged officially by the Southern Baptist Convention; and that is, the first American to travel to foreign soil to preach the gospel and plant a church was a man named George Liele who happened to have been a former slave. This will correct the view that Adoniram and Ann Judson were the first American missionaries. I think this is noteworthy in light of the election of Fred Luter and the Convention’s initiative towards reaching and empowering minorities as mission partners.

I. Resolution on Same-Sex Marriage and Civil Rights

Whereas the Bible teaches that God is the author of marriage, and that he established marriage as an act between a male and female (Mt. 19:4-6),

Whereas the Apostle Paul affirmed that marriage of a man to a woman is patterned after that relationship of Christ to his church (Eph. 5:22-27),

Whereas marriage is an institution established by God rather than simply a human social construction,

Whereas the Scriptures indicate that all sexual behavior outside of marriage is sinful,

Whereas homosexual behavior is sinful, including what tis current age calls “same-sex civil unions” and “same-sex marriage,”

Whereas the Southern Baptist Convention has a long history of affirming marriage between one man and one woman,

Whereas, the Southern Baptist Convention previously recognized, “Redefining the concept and legality of marriage to mean anything other than the union between one man and one woman would fundamentally undermine the historic and biblical foundation of a healthy society (Genesis 1:28; 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6),” and “equating same-sex relationships with heterosexual marriage would create a host of religious liberty and freedom of conscience conflicts; now, therefore, be it” (SBC Resolution “On Protecting The Defense Of Marriage Act (doma),” June 2011),

Whereas the sitting President of the United States previously formally certified a repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, allowing for public recognition of homosexual persons in the military, instead of honoring Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice which precludes homosexual behavior among active service personnel,

Whereas the President now has publically voiced his personal support of same-sex civil unions, and that the legal approval of such unions is a matter for each individual state of our country to decide,

Whereas support of same-sex civil unions has been portrayed as a Civil Rights issue akin to the overturning of slavery and security of equal treatment under the law of African Americans,

Be it resolved that the messengers reaffirm our historic and consistent support of the biblical definition of marriage as the exclusive union of a man and a woman; and be it further,

Resolved, that we encourage individual churches to engage the culture with redemptive acts that will portray Christ’ love toward all members of society, and be it further,

Resolved, that we stand against any form of gay-bashing, hateful rhetoric, or hate-incited actions toward persons who engage in acts of homosexuality; and be it further,

Resolved, that we urge the individual governors of each of the states not yet legally supporting same-sex civil unions to refrain from signing into law any bill that would affirm such unions and/or define such unions as “marriage;” and be it further,

Resolved, that we oppose any attempt to frame same-sex union as a civil rights issue; and be it further,

Resolved, that we reject the notion that race, as a by-product of birth given by the Creator’s design, and gender-orientation, as a behavioral choice made by individual persons, are to be compared as equal social issues, or that acceptance of the equality of races necessitates the equality of sexual preferences, and be it further,

Resolved that we encourage Southern Baptists everywhere to fight for the civil rights and human rights of all people where such rights are consistent with the righteousness of God, and be it further,

Resolved that we affirm that pastors should preach the truth of God’s word on marriage, homosexual behavior, purity, and love with all boldness and without fear of reprisal, and be it further,

Resolved that we proclaim that Christ offers forgiveness for homosexual behavior for those who turn from their homosexuality and believe on Christ for the forgiveness of sin.

II.  Resolution on Racist Statements in Mormon Source Documents

Whereas the Mormon Religion has a growing awareness, acceptance and influence in contemporary American culture,

Whereas it’s growing acceptance will cause some to study or accept the Mormon Religion as valid,

Whereas in 1978, the Mormon Church has denied and denounced racism and agreed to permit Blacks to the priesthood, they are yet to denounce the racist teachings,

Whereas Mormons recognize three books in addition to the King James Holy Bible as authoritative spiritual instructions,

Be it resolved that the Southern Baptist Convention repudiates and rejects the Mormon books:  The Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants and The Book of Mormon as inspired authoritative or canonical; and furthermore, we repudiate the racist teachings recorded in The Book of Mormon and The Pearl of Great Price that described “skin of blackness” people as being  filthy (“because of their filthiness”), “cursed,” “loathsome,” “despised” justifiably and derived the “blackness” of their skin color as a result of a Divine curse.

References:  The Book of Mormon, The Second Book of Nephi, 5:21, 25, and The Book of Jacob 3:5, 9. The Pearl of Great Price, The Book of Abraham 1:24, and The Book of Moses 7:8-12

III.  Resolution on the Recognition of Baptist Minister, George Liele, as America’s First Missionary

Whereas, Dr. Danny Akin, President of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has affirmed George Liele as the first American Missionary in a message preached in Chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary,

Whereas, Adoniram and Ann Judson, who were sent out in 1812, are usually considered the first missionaries from America; George Liele chose to leave America in 1782 to start a church in Kingston, Jamaica, which was 20 years before Adoniram Judson left America to be a missionary in Burma,

Whereas, George Liele came to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior in 1773, was baptized and discovered his compassion for evangelizing other Black slaves and encouraged them to sing hymns and learn the meaning of the hymns,

Whereas, Buckhead Creek Baptist Church, convinced of George Liele’s ministerial gifting and interest in God’s Word, licensed him to preach; and his owner granted George Liele his freedom from slavery which encouraged and empowered him to use his gift more freely,

Whereas, George Liele was the first appointed elder and preacher of the first Black church in America (Silver Bluff, SC…later moved to Savannah, GA),

Be it resolved that the Southern Baptist Convention recognizes George Liele as America’s first missionary, and be it further,

Resolved, that:

“George Liele, born a slave, ordained in a white church in Georgia, gathered the first black congregation, and became the first Black Baptist in America.  Liele, while not being supported by a church or mission agency, also became the first Protestant missionary to go out from America to establish a foreign mission.  This unknown hero without formal education, who learned to read the Bible and became a preacher and missionary shared the gospel with thousands, baptized hundreds and discipled many who became preachers, missionaries, and world leaders.  One of those disciples was David George, who left Savannah for the Canadian Province of Nova Scotia, and then later to Sierra Leone in Africa, where he started Baptist Churches in both countries.  Andrew Bryan also one of his disciples was one of only three Black Baptist preachers to stay in Savannah after the British left during the Revolutionary War to lead the First African Baptist Church. This man of mission raised up many courageous servants of the Lord who through their legacy of influence continue to bring freedom to the world.”

Reference: http://www.thetravelingteam.org/missionarybiographies/georgeliele

A KINGDOM VIEW OF RACE AND MARRIAGE

What Mitt Romney and President Obama Believe

By Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

A Message to be delivered at the Cornerstone Baptist Church, Arlington, Texas, May 20, 2012

“And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,” (Matthew 19:4)

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth,” (Acts 17:26a)

God’s universe centers around His Kingdom. At the heart of His Kingdom is His Dear Son. His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom. His Kingdom is to rule over all the earth. The Bible is the constitution of His Kingdom. Love is the language of His Kingdom. Faith is the currency in His Kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the governor and guide of His Kingdom. Citizens in His Kingdom are often called Christians, and their allegiance and loyalty are first and foremost—to God who sits on the throne; and His Son seated at His right hand; and His Spirit that is our intercessor on earth (Romans 8:26). The Kingdom of God is God’s total answer for man’s total needs. Righteousness is the precious commodity in His Kingdom and is to be sought after (Matthew 6:33). The first and foremost responsibility of a Kingdom citizen is to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

The Bible says in Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” If righteousness will exalt a nation, what will unrighteousness, disobedience and rebellion do? Unrighteousness will abase or devalue a nation.

The purpose of this message is to speak prophetically to our nation and to President Obama and Mitt Romney on the subjects of race, family and the Kingdom of God. The very foundation, fabric, future and the definition of the family—as we know it today—is at stake. Redefining the family and expanding the definition of a family is a very serious matter that should not be redefined or expanded without sound, solid, scientific, sane, scriptural or even common sense reasons to do so. America needs to understand and weigh the full ramifications and gravity of this situation.

I am equally as concerned about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith and what the Mormon “Bible” teaches about race. If Mitt Romney is elected President of the United States of America, for the first time in American history, we will have elected a President that ascribes to a “Bible” that teaches that “blackness of skin” is a curse. That is a huge obstacle that he will have to overcome, if he expects “blackness” of skin people to take him serious as a Presidential candidate. The media made a big-to-do out of Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s views on race, while they completely ignore Mitt Romney’s “Bible” view on race. This is the height of duplicity and hypocrisy.

As it relates to the racial views of Mitt Romney’s Bible and the same-sex marriage views of President Obama, my thesis is simple. History, Natural Law and the Bible are all in disagreement with President Obama and Joe Biden’s view of same-sex marriage. The Bible, the Constitution of the United States and majority evangelical thought are in disagreement with Mitt Romney’s “Bible” regarding its belief on race and other topics too numerous to deal with within the allotted time. My goal in this message is to advance the Kingdom of God as opposed to advancing any political party, personality, or people group. What does the Bible teach on the subject of marriage and race? God made a male and female and joined them together for the purposes of procreation, recreation, unification and evangelization of their offspring; and from one blood, He made all nations of men (Matthew 19:4-6; Acts 17:26). Therefore, I want to articulate a Kingdom response to (1) Mitt Romney’s “Bible” views on race (2) President Obama’s views or same-sex marriage (3) and to discuss, how should Kingdom-citizens vote given these realities?

I.  Mitt Romney’s Mormon “Bible” View of Race vs. The Kingdom of God

1.  The Word of God—the constitution of the Kingdom—teaches, “God is no respecter of Person” (Acts 10:34); He has taken “one blood” and made all nations of men (Acts 17:26); and all men should be respected and treated equally (Malachi 2:10).

2.  In the Mormon religion, The Book of Mormon is equally as authoritative as the King James Version of the Bible. Recorded in The Book of Mormon in The Second Book of Nephi, 5:21 & 25, are revealing thoughts about the Mormon view of the origin of darker complexion people and their attitude toward them:

 “5:21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

5:22 And thus saith the Lord God; I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.”

3.  We get a deeper insight into the Mormon view of race as recorded in one of their four “Bibles,” namely, The Pearl of Great Price, also written by Joseph Smith (A Selection from the Revelations, Translations and Narrations of Joseph Smith, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A., 1968, The Book of Moses (7:8-12), page 20):

 “8. For behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat, and the barrenness thereof shall go forth forever; and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people.”

4.  Also recorded in The Pearl of Great Price in The Book of Abraham, 1:24, (page 31), is a summary thought related to darker complexioned people:

 “24. When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.”

Clearly these Mormon “Bible” verses teach that Black people are “cursed,” “loathsome,” “despised” justifiably and derived the “blackness” of their skin color as a result of a Divine curse. The view of Mitt Romney’s Bible on race leaves me most uncomfortable with him occupying the Office of President of the United States. I question how the evangelical White community can support a man whose “Bible” contains these racist, wrong and unbiblical views.

II.  The Obama/Biden View of Same-Sex Marriage vs. The Kingdom of God

1.  Marriage has everything to do with The Kingdom of God. Jesus compared the Kingdom of heaven to a king who arranged a marriage for his son (Matthew 22:2). When a husband and wife come together and produce a child, the three reflect the trinity of the Trinitarian God who made them. God established marriage to populate His Kingdom and spread His name to the generations (Psalm 145:4) that would be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1:27-28).

In Malachi 2:15-16, God makes it clear that a primary purpose of marriage was to produce “godly offspring”. That’s why the Lord hates divorce—but not divorced people.

 “15But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one?
He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

16 “For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.”

How can a same-sex couple produce a “godly offspring”? They can’t! It is biologically impossible, because God never intended for two person of the same sex to marry! Adultery and fornication are also sin in the Kingdom of God. The Bible also calls adultery an abomination (Hebrews 13:4).

2.  In the Kingdom of God Jesus declared that marriage was God’s idea—not Sasha and Malia Obama’s. God set the parameters on marriage. In Matthew 19:4, in response to a question by the Pharisees regarding marriage and divorce, Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female”? Marriage 101 is that marriage is comprised of a male and female. The Word of God should not take a backseat to contemporary culture. Contemporary culture must take a back seat to the Word of God. Kingdom citizens/Christians should not compromise on this issue.

3.  The testimony of history supports marriage between a man and a woman, and same-sex marriage violates the constitution in the Kingdom of God.

4.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was not supportive of homosexual relationships. In response to a boy who wrote Dr. King admitting to having an attraction to other boys, just as he also was attracted to girls; Dr. King had this to say:

 “Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was writing an advice column in 1958 for Ebony Magazine when he received an unusual letter.  “I am a boy,” an anonymous writer told King. “But I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do?”

In calm, pastoral tones, King told the boy that his problem wasn’t uncommon, but required “careful attention.”

“The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired,” King wrote. “You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.”  (religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/16/what-did-mlk-think-about-gay-people) (Emphasis mine)

Dr. King’s view on this subject trumps all of the current so-call Black leaders, who unfortunately have abandoned the biblical position and bowed at the culture of political expediency and correctness. My posture will remain true to the word of God! In the words of the old Negro spiritual when it comes to approving of same-sex marriages—“I shall not, I shall not be moved; I shall not, I shall not be moved. Just like a tree planted by the waters, I shall not be moved.” God has called the church to be the moral guardians of society, to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

The church cannot be seduced by the government, but rather, speak truth to the government. Jesse Jackson, Otis Moss, Jr., Al Sharpton, Michael Dyson and Julian Bond all need to be placed in an intellectually dishonest debtors’ prison for comparing slavery to the practice of homosexuality. This is an insult to the slaves and the entire African American community. The suffering of the slaves is so far greater than anything that so called “same-gender loving” people have experienced; how can these men compare people who prefer their primary identification to be their libido, in the same sentence with persons who were enslaved because of their racial classification that they had absolutely no control over. Most homosexuals claim that they discovered that they were homosexuals when they were 10, 15, or 25 years of age. Black people did not have to wait 20 or 30 years to discover they were Black. I dare you compare the plight of the slaves to the plight of the homosexuals. This is insulting, offensive and demeaning to compare the slave’s skin to their sin. This is not an issue of marriage equality, but an issue of moral sanity.

George Washington Carver was a strong Bible-believing Christian in addition to being an agricultural and science professor at Tuskegee Institute. He taught Sunday School weekly on the campus of Tuskegee Institute. He clearly viewed Genesis 19 as an illustration of the judgment of God on a nation that embraces homosexuality. While discussing Sodom and Gomorrah, Dr. Carver asked his class, “And what happened to these wicked cities?” He viewed the desire and activity of same-sex involvement as “wicked.” He then used his scientific talents to cause a sudden burst of flames and fumes to shoot up from the table, and the Bible students fled. He sure knew how to make Sunday School interesting and to illustrate his point. George Washington Carver taught against the practice of homosexuality. (George Washington Carver; An American Biography, by Rackham Holt, 1943, Doubleday, Doran and Company, Inc., Garden City, NY, p. 198)

In September 1929 Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., published a series of sermons on sexual perversion, (as per an article written by John McWhorter entitled, “What the Harlem Renaissance Teaches about Gay Rights”). Powell stated that homosexuality was one of the powers that debased a race of people and could destroy the Black family.

“Powell considered this “perversion” to be “one of the most horrible, debasing, alarming and damning vices of present-day civilization.” He decried “contact and association” with gay people, considered them a threat to the “Negro family.” He hated homosexuality for “causing men to leave their wives for other men, wives to leave their husbands for other women and girls to mate with girls instead of marrying.”(http://www.theroot.com/views/what-harlem-renaissance-teaches-us-about-gay-rights)

It appears that politicians and preacher/politicians are teaming together to destroy the Black church’s strong opposition to homosexuality. This is also an attack on the Black family; and it is a vicious and violent assault of the kingdom of darkness against the Kingdom of God.

Augustine said:

 “Those shameful acts against nature, such as were committed in Sodom, ought everywhere and always be detested and punished. If all nations were to do such things, they would be held guilty of the same crime by the law of God, which has not made men so that they should use one another in this way (Confessions 3:8:15 [A.D.400]).” (http://www.gcmwatch.com/97/an-unbroken-witness-against-sexual-sin)

The truth of the matter is that the act of homosexuality is unnatural. A female biologically uniquely responds to a male in a manner that is biologically impossible for a male to respond to another male; thus proving that homosexual sex is unnatural. I agree with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Same-sex attractions are not innate or natural; they are produced from cultural or environmental factors.”

I agree with Rev. James Meeks:  “I love my President, but I love my Bible even more.”

It is my conviction that Romans 1:32 forbids me from supporting anyone who supports homosexuality.

Y-Love (a Black, male, Jewish rapper) illustrates this problem in his statement:

 “‘I’m ready to find a husband,’ Jordan continued. ‘I’m ready to live without fear of being outed or the stress of keeping my whole self from people. And I’ve waited too long to do that.” (http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/15/jewish-rapper-y-love-comes-out-publicly-as-gay)

That is not marriage equality—that is moral insanity! Our President is now asking us to approve of this insanity. Same-sex marriage destroys the natural argument analogy that Jesus used to explain Christ as the groom and the Body of Christ as the bride. Marriage between a man and woman is not discrimination against same-sex marriage, but is simply a standard.

III.  HOW SHOULD A KINGDOM CITIZEN/CHRISTIAN VOTE?

There are persons that say, no one should be a one-issue voter. I disagree. It depends on what that one issue is. If one candidate was advocating placing people of color back into slavery if he or she were elected, we would all become one-issue voters. If one candidate advocated paying females workers systematically less than male workers, those of us with females in our families would become one-issue voters. If a presidential candidate ran on a platform requiring all eighteen year-olds—male and female—to be drafted and to spend a minimum of two years in the military, there would be many one-issue voters, voting against this. There are certain single issues that rise to a degree of importance and impact, or violate one’s conscience and convictions to the extent that one would make a voting decision based on that single issue.

There is at least a single issue—the Mormon “Bible” race issue—that leaves Mitt Romney extremely askance as I look through Kingdom eyes. The same-sex marriage issue leaves President Obama extremely askance as I look through Kingdom eyes. It is my prayer that both men would have a change of heart so that I could have an option in voting. But if there is no change by Election Day, I will vote for other persons on the ballot, but I will not cast a vote for President.

Some people say, vote for the lesser of “two evils.” That I will not do. I don’t have to settle for lessor, because I serve a God who is greater, and He’s my King. At the end of the day, I agree with the Apostles; “…there is another king”—Jesus (Acts 17:7). Thank God that I belong to another Kingdom—the Kingdom of God. In His Kingdom, the definition of marriage is clear. In His Kingdom, every kindred, tongue tribe and nation are equally loved and accepted. In His Kingdom, the wicked shall cease from troubling and the weary shall be at rest. In His Kingdom, the gospel is preached to the poor. In His Kingdom, the hungry are fed; the naked are clothed; the sick and in prison are visited. In His Kingdom, He sits on the throne, high and lifted up. It is a scandal-free Kingdom.

If I’m allowed to write in a candidate for President, I will write in JESUS…Because that’s my King. He is a righteous King. He is judicious in His justice. He’s matchless in His mercy. He’s bountiful in His blessings. He’s merciful in His compassion. He’s majestic in His splendor. He’s holy, as none other. He’s awesome, in His acceptance of whosoever will—let Him come. He’s the Lord of life. He’s the Rock of Ages. He’s the fairest among ten thousand. He is a great Shepherd. He is a great Physician. He is a great Savior. He is a burden bearer. He feeds the hungry. He heals the sick. He governs, and He guides. If I have to, on Election Day, I will vote for Jesus. There is another King. His name is Jesus. Martin Luther said, “My conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me…here I stand!”

All hail the power of Jesus’ name
Let angels prostrate fall
Bring forth the royal diadem
And crown Him Lord of all
Bring forth the royal diadem
And crown Him Lord of all

A MUST READ FOR EVERY BLACK KINGDOM-MINDED VOTER

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

May 15, 2012

Pastor Eric Redmond has penned an eloquent, educated, ethnocentric sensitive, brief, balanced and fair response regarding President Obama’s affirmation of same-sex marriages. His assessment and analysis is prophetic, powerful and persuasive.

Every Black, Bible-believing Christian should read this before November’s election. I heartily recommend and agree with every single word. May the Lord grant wisdom and knowledge to His people as we all attempt to come to grips with this moral crisis! You may access Redmond’s article, “A Man From Issachar,” at ericredmond.wordpress.com.

Please forward this to everyone who you know that is seeking answers for this voting dilemma that many African American evangelicals are facing. May the Lord bless and keep you and make His face shine upon you is our prayer. Amen.

PASTOR MCKISSIC’S RESPONSE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA’S DECISION TO ENDORSE SAME-SEX MARRIAGES

By Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

May 9, 2012

President Obama has betrayed the Bible and the Black Church with his endorsement of same-sex marriage. The Bible is crystal clear on this subject, and the Black Church strongly opposes same-sex marriage. His endorsement is an inadvertent attack on the Christian Faith. America is now a candidate for the same judgment received by Sodom and Gomorrah. This was a sad, sad day and a very bad decision, by our beloved President. The moral impact of this day and decision is equal to the military impact of AL-Queda when they attacked the Twin Towers on 911. Today’s announcement is a moral earthquake equivalent to a tsunami or hurricane that will have far more devastating results than Katrina.

This means that parents are now going to have an extremely difficult time teaching their children that marriage biblically and traditionally is between a man and a woman, when the President that many love and admire is now on record endorsing sodomy. This is painful and shameful. The Black Church should galvanize, mobilize and address this matter with the same (if not greater) intensity, velocity and resolve as we did the Civil Rights Movement. If we don’t, our children and grandchildren will pay a far greater price in suffering from a governmental sanction of same-sex marriage than we would have under segregation.

I will not be addressing this matter this coming Sunday—Mother’s Day; my wife will be preaching. But I will develop a sermon on this subject for the following Sunday entitled:  “A Kingdom/Biblical View of Marriage” based on Matthew 19:4-6. I will be submitting a Resolution to the Southern Baptist Convention at the June Meeting in New Orleans to go on record disavowing and repudiating the position of our beloved President Barack Obama as it relates to his position on affirming same-sex marriages.

HEALING THE “LAND”:  AN APOLOGY I CAN FULLY ACCEPT

II CHRONICLES 7:14

By Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

May 9, 2012

God said, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

It was my contention that Dr. Richard Land needed to publicly apologize—own and disown his words –as it relates to the controversial racial remarks he made regarding the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman saga. If Dr. Land refused to own and disown his words prior to the SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, in June of this year, I had planned to offer to the Convention a resolution requesting that the Convention own, and then disown Dr. Land’s words and repudiate the racial comments he made concerning the Martin/Zimmerman case. Furthermore, it was my contention that Dr. Land needed to resign or be fired if he did not disown his own words before the June convention. Dr. Land has now taken responsibility for his words and has rejected them.

With a joyful heart and a renewed spirit, I’m happy to report that Dr. James Dixon, President of the African American Fellowship of the SBC, has released a statement from Dr. Land which reveals that Dr. Land has indeed owned and then disowned his words regarding the Trayvon Martin/Zimmerman case. I want to thank Dr. Dixon for providing me a copy of the Land apology and authorizing me to release it.

Be it known that in keeping with my word, and in light of Dr. Land’s statement, I no longer am calling for his resignation, nor do I plan to submit a resolution to the June convention regarding Dr. Land. I fully accept his apology—without hesitation, or reservation—and appeal to all Christians, regardless of color, who were offended by his remarks to accept his apology and forgive him. My confidence in Dr. Land, in light of his apology, has been restored.  As much as our land needs healing, Dr. Land and his family also need healing. Let’s remember to pray for the Land family.

Dr. Land’s apology is as follows:

PRESS RELEASE

COMMENTS BY RICHARD D. LAND

PRESIDENT OF THE ETHICS & RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION OF

THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

I am here today to offer my genuine and heartfelt apology for the harm my words of March 31, 2012, have caused to specific individuals, the cause of racial reconciliation, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the ministry of The Reverend James Dixon, Jr. the president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, and a group of brethren who met with me earlier this month, I have come to understand in sharper relief how damaging my words were.

I admit that my comments were expressed in anger at what I thought was one injustice—the tragic death of Trayvon Martin—being followed by another injustice—the media trial of George Zimmerman, without appeal to due judicial process and vigilante justice promulgated by the New Black Panthers.  Like my brothers in the Lord, I want true justice to prevail and must await the revelation of the facts of the case in a court of law. Nevertheless, I was guilty of making injudicious comments.

First, I want to confess my insensitivity to the Trayvon Martin family for my imbalanced characterization of their son which was based on news reports, not personal knowledge. My heart truly goes out to a family whose lives have been turned upside down by the shocking death of a beloved child. I can only imagine their sense of loss and deeply regret any way in which my language may have contributed to their pain.

Second, I am here to confess that I impugned the motives of President Obama and the reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. It was unchristian and unwise for me to have done so. God alone is the searcher of men’s hearts. I cannot know what motivated them in their comments in this case. I have sent personal letters of apology to each of them asking for them to forgive me. I continue to pray for them regularly, and for our president daily.

Third, I do not believe that crime statistics should in any way justify viewing a person of another race as a threat. I own my earlier words about statistics; and I regret that they may suggest that racial profiling is justifiable. I have been an outspoken opponent of profiling and was grief-stricken to learn that comments I had made were taken as a defense of what I believe is both unchristian and unconstitutional. I share the dream of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that all men, women, boys, and girls would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. Racial profiling is a heinous injustice. I should have been more careful in my choice of words.

Fourth, I must clarify another poor choice of words. I most assuredly do not believe American racism is a “myth” in the sense that it is imaginary or fictitious. It is all too real and all too insidious. My reference to myth in this case was to a story used to push a political agenda. Because I believe racism is such a grievous sin, I stand firmly against it politicization. Racial justice is a non-partisan ideal and should be embraced by both sides of the political aisle.

Finally, I want to express my deep gratitude to Reverend Dixon and the other men who met with me recently for their Christ-like witness, brotherly kindness, and undaunting courage.  We are brethren who have been knit together by the love of Jesus Christ and the passion to reach the world with the message of that love. I pledge to them—and to all who are within the sound of my voice—that I will continue to my dying breath to seek racial justice and that I will work harder than ever to be self-disciplined in my speech.  I am grateful to them for holding me accountable.

I am also delighted to announce that as a result of our meeting, the ERLC, in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, will initiate regular meetings to discuss our common calling to heal our nation’s racial brokenness, work for meaningful reconciliation, and strategize for racial justice.

WALKING THROUGH LAND MINE(S)

A WAY OUT:  A FOLLOW-UP TO THE LAND “REPUDIATION” POST

By

William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

April 23, 2012

 

There are three questions that have surfaced to the top in response to my Richard Land “Repudiation” Post that I want to address in this article:  (1) Do I believe Richard Land is a racist? (2) Should Richard Land’s entire career be judged by fifteen minutes of commentary? (3) How do we resolve the “Land-mine” and the racial divide surrounding this issue?

How the SBC responds to the Land racial comments–not the election of Dr. Luter—may determine whether or not Blacks are attracted to the SBC, remain coy, or even be repelled by the SBC. Whatever gains that may grow out of the rightful election of Dr. Fred Luter as president—not on the basis of race, but on the basis of qualification—have already been neutralized, if not nullified, by the Land racial comments.

In recent years the SBC has been discussing and sometimes debating a name change; a Great Commission resurgence; and the renewal/revitalization of a declining denomination. The answers or solutions to these discussion/debates may all be wrapped up in the SBC’s response to the Land controversy.

I.  Do I Believe Richard Land Is a Racist?

No! I have absolutely no reason to believe that. Do I believe Richard Land is racial in his outlook and interpretation of matters? Yes! And so am I. If Richard Land is a racist, so am I and the vast majority of America, Black, Hispanic, Asian and White.

I make a distinction between being racist and racial. A racist is intentional, unashamedly and foundationally, comfortable viewing persons of other races as being fundamentally and inherently flawed or less than.  A racist prejudge or relate to other persons based on their foundational outlook. A person who is racial in their outlook—and most of us are—are simply products of the fact that we were born into a racial construct and society, and we observed or were taught certain things about race that shapes or form our world view. We sometimes think, write, talk and act out of the racial world view from which we basically inherited. This sometimes conflicts with a kingdom or biblical view of race. I do not believe Richard Land or most Southern Baptists are racist—but racial. The National Baptist Convention—of which I’m also a member—likewise is not racist, but clearly racial. As a matter of fact, the Southern Baptist Convention in many regards, are doing a better job than the National Baptists Convention to reach across the racial divide and bridge the gap. National Baptists generally view the SBC with suspicion and distrust because of comments like the ones Dr. Land made, the belief he reflects and the belief that his comments reflect majority Southern Baptist thought. Given that suspicion National Baptists rarely reach out to bridge the racial divide. When the moderates were in charge of the SBC race relations were actually far better between Southern Baptists and National Baptists then and now. The Conservatives who are now in charge really need to do some soul searching on that question.

Most Blacks who are a part of the SBC are members because someone in the SBC reached out and made us feel wanted and welcome as pastors, parishioners and participants; but the jury is still out as to whether or not we are welcome to occupy seats of power. In many instances the SBC entities provided resources and support that we could not or didn’t receive from the National Baptists. For that I applaud and appreciate the SBC. The issue before the SBC now is, will the Convention accept Blacks not just as members and participants, but will you accept Blacks as partners and share equal power? The ERLC that Land leads has twenty-one full-time employees and not one Black. There are about thirty persons on my staff at present and only one part-time White. Neither Dr. Land nor I are racist, but our hiring has been racial.

The Land racial remarks threaten the reservoir of goodwill in our convention regarding race that Dr. Land helped to establish, I’m told. Please read the Baptist Twenty One blog post where this young African American named Walter Strickland, whose spiritual DNA is SBC as opposed to NBC, clearly articulated the pressure and problem the Land remarks poses for us who are dually aligned or singularly aligned with the SBC. Ed Stetzer posted the best response to date by an Anglo SBC leader to the Land problem. Land’s racial statements, unchallenged, cause those of us who remain in the SBC be looked upon by other African Americans as “Uncle Toms.”  I appreciate Walter Strickland for expressing the huge problem Dr. Land has caused us. By far, this is the best African American response to the Land controversy. He expresses his viewpoint in a much more gentle tone than I do, which is good. We are addressing the same pain and crying for help from the SBC to heal the wounds and repair the breach.

The racist in the SBC are those churches that don’t allow non-Anglo members, refuse to baptize African Americans, officially or unofficially will not employ African American staff members (except custodians), reject African Americans as guest preachers (this happen to Dr. Luter in Louisiana in the 90’s) reject inter-racial marriages (currently know of an Anglo SBC church where this is an issue) and I could go on. Dr. Land would not support any of these practices; therefore, I don’t believe he is a racist. Succinctly stated, racism–I believe–is intentional. Being racial is accidental and unintentional. I do not believe Dr. Land’s remarks were intended to hurt or do harm. I don’t think he would have spoken these words had he known it would create a racial fire storm and deepen the racial divide in the SBC. To that extent, he has apologized; and I accept it. However, we are still waiting on him and the SBC to own and then disown his words.

As a matter of fact, seven to nine years ago, I recall reading in a Baptist publication, the fact that Dr. Land had a burden against modern day slavery in Sudan. He was addressing that issue with words and work, as I recall. I was impressed with what he was saying and doing based on what I read. I invited him to our church to preach on that issue. He accepted my invitation and he did a very fine job. Subsequently, our church responded to his message with prayer for the Sudan situation; and, as best I recall, we raised funds and supported a ministry that was addressing the situation.

I was experiencing personal pain over a personal situation that I was dealing with when Dr. Land came to preach. I shared with him my pain. He listened and ministered to me mightily, for which I will always be grateful. No! I do not believe Richard Land is racist. I do believe his word-view and words are sometimes racial and reflect a Euro-centric or secular, conservative, political, sociological outlook—as opposed to a biblio-centric, Christo-centric, and Kingdom of God oriented outlook. His Trayvon Martin comments reflected the racial construct in which he was born, not a biblio-centric outlook that says, “for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”  (1 Samuel 16:7). By most accounts, Dr. Land has a history of racial reconciliation work that is positive and long-standing.

II.    Should the SBC Repudiate a Man’s Life-long Work Over Fifteen Minutes of Commentary?

Dr. Bart Barber, echoed by David Brumbelow, raised this valid and compassionate question. First of all, I do not suggest that we repudiate his life-long work; only the controversial Trayvon Martin comments and particularly, the racial profiling justification commentary. I agree with Dr. Barber and David Brumbelow:  It would be non-Christian to repudiate a man’s life-time work over those fifteen minutes. Therefore, I am not, would not, and never have proposed that.

In The Tennessean article, dated April 14, 2012, Travis Loller reports:  

Land, who is white, said in an interview that he has no regrets. And he defended the idea that people are justified in seeing young black men as threatening: A black man is ‘statistically more likely to do you harm than a white man.’”

I appeal to Brother Bart and Brother David, to please try and understand that if the profile quote goes unchallenged, un-repented of, and not repudiated by the SBC or Dr. Land, then it forever becomes the official position and attitude of the SBC regarding racial profiling. Do we really want that statement to go unchallenged? If so, that statement would be far worse unchallenged than the curse of Ham teaching, that was taught by Dr. Criswell and most SBC preachers before him. That’s where he learned in from. And no one would deny that W.A. Criswell was the single most influential pastor/preacher in the past fifty years in SBC life; Although, Dr. Adrian Rogers would be an honorable mention in the same sentence with Criswell, when it comes to influence and impact upon the SBC over the past fifty years.

The reason that Dr. Land’s profile statement must be recanted is because, it approves of viewing Black men with suspicion, sanctioned by the SBC. Land’s profile statement places my freedom, job opportunities, goodwill with all men, life and ultimately my destiny at risk—to those who with SBC approval believe it is permissible to profile me based on statistics and skin color. Why in heaven’s name would the SBC place God’s kingdom agenda, the Great Commission, race relations and the future growth of our convention at stake—to uphold a secular worldview racial profiling posture. I can assure you, if this comment stands, it will greatly hinder the conventions outreach to African Americans. Why would I want to be a part of a convention that the chief ethics officer says that it is justifiable and understandable to view me as a suspect? This is a serious matter that must be addressed. YES! This portion of the fifteen-minute commentary at the very least must be resolved, because of the influence and impact it has over so many.

III.  How do we resolve the Land Mine and the racial divide surrounding this issue?

There are three ways to view the Martin/Zimmerman matter: (1) The White view; (2) The Black View (3) The Kingdom View. If the SBC embraces and adopt the Kingdom View, I believe that at least internally, we can resolve the crisis within our convention, so that we can celebrate the election of Dr. Luter, without any racial baggage associated with this case hindering it.

A. The White view of the Martin/Zimmerman case is basically:

  1. Let’s not rush to judgment.
  2. Zimmerman had a right to defend himself in a fight, even to the point of shooting and killing Martin.
  3. President Obama should not have commented on this case (although other presidents have commented on other national issue cases)
  4. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton should not have responded to the request of Martin’s family to get involved.
  5. There should not have been rallies and protests in the streets.
  6. The forty-five days it took to arrest Zimmerman was perfectly fine.
  7. The Black Panthers who put out the bounty should have been immediately arrested.

 B.  The Black view of this case is:

  1. Zimmerman should have been arrested that very night; in part because of the evidence and the recommendation of the investigator on the scene that night that Zimmerman be arrested. There is also a knowledge in the Black community that immediately that night, had it been a Black on Black shooting, or a Black on a mixed-race shooting, the Black man would have been—without question—arrested that very night, particularly with the investigating officer recommending arrests.
  2. Zimmerman was the aggressor and the profiler. He disobeyed the instruction of the 911 dispatcher regarding following Trayvon. Had Zimmerman stayed in the car, there would not have been a murder that night. Trayvon was not breaking any laws or posing a danger to anyone—had he been left alone. Therefore, Zimmerman is the guilty party here.
  3. If Zimmerman had been arrested that night—again, like a Black man surely would have been—the Black panthers nor Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or President Obama would not have been involved.
  4. The Black Panthers were absolutely and unequivocally wrong biblically and morally to offer a bounty for Zimmerman. I simply don’t know enough about the law on this matter, to know whether or not they violated the law. Vigilante justice is wrong whether practiced by Zimmerman or the Black Panthers.
  5. It is very common and expected from parishioners and the community for Black ministers to get involved, when requested by the family or community leaders. This is a historic role black preachers have played. Community organizers may be frowned upon in the White community, but they are highly respected in the Black community. Parenthetically, that’s why it was a tactical error by the Republicans to make light of candidate Obama being a “community organizer.” The disparaging of Mr. Obama as a community organizer, enraged Black people. After all, Martin Luther King in addition to being a pastor was viewed as a community organizer as leader of the S.C.L.C. the attacks and criticisms of Sharpton and Jackson after supporting Trayvon’s family are simply coming from person who don’t understand this has been an always I suspect will be the case that Black ministers got involved in these type of situations. They would face for more criticism, if they didn’t get involve. The criticism against Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for their involvement is viewed identical to the criticism that Southern Baptists and White evangelicals leveled toward Martin Luther King. He was called a trouble maker and in effect a race hustler. Therefore Black people by and large dismiss these criticisms.

 C.  The Kingdom View:  As a Kingdom citizen (Philippians 3:20), with a Kingdom world view, I don’t know if we can or should fully embrace the White view or the Black view, we must embrace a Kingdom view of this matter. This was modeled well in my judgment by the Sanford pastors, Jack Hayford and John Piper. Unfortunately, no major SBC pastor that I’m aware of stepped up and spoke a Kingdom view. Where is the Kingdom view, Southern Baptist voice on the Martin/Zimmerman case? Southern Baptist may drop Southern from their name as a way of distancing themselves from their racist past. But when they remain silent on this issue or speak from Richard Land’s perspective which is largely viewed as anti-Black and pro-Zimmerman, it doesn’t matter what the SBC name themselves—trust has been lost. The question now is how trust can be regained. Again, the only ray of Southern Baptist hope that I’ve seen on this matter is the Ed Stetzer brilliant and gutsy piece entitled, “Southern Baptist, Stats, and Race: Reflections on Some Unhelpful Remarks.”

What is the Kingdom view? Based on Amos 5:24, Genesis 9:6, Proverbs 18:17, we should have come together across racial lines as pastors and cried out immediately for justice for Trayvon Martin and his family and due process for Zimmerman and his family. We want patience, peace and respect for law and order to prevail while we trust God and the authorities to adjudicate this matter. Had Dr. Land taken this position, we wouldn’t have the plagiarism investigation and the deepening racial divide between the SBC and the Black community.

So, what is our way out? How do we resolve this crisis within the SBC? If Dr. Land, President Bryant Wright and two-three African American preachers agree and release a statement similar to the following, I believe it will immediately reduce tension, consternation and frustration among Black SBC pastors and parishioners:

“Racial profiling is not a biblical concept. As a matter of fact, Scripture cautions against racial profiling (1 Samuel 16:7). We reject the notion of viewing persons of other races with suspicion based on statistics or racial classifications. The SBC does not believe in, support or practice racial profiling. Dr. Richard Land regrets that he made statements in support of racial profiling. Furthermore, he regrets the damage, offense and hurt that these statements caused. And he asks your forgiveness.”

If a statement similar to this is made, it would be widely and readily accepted by all of good will and kingdom-minded. We could then put this crisis behind us and go on to NOLA to elect Fred Luter as president, which could be the dawning of a new day is the life of the SBC. Could it be we are where we are, at this point, because this is a Divine test? Our convention could be hanging on the balance, based on our response.

  • WHY THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION NEEDS TO GO ON RECORD REPUDIATING THE LAND RACIAL REMARKS

By

William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

April 18, 2012

Richard Land’s racial remarks against the backdrop of the Trayvon Martin tragedy are the most damaging, alienating, and offensive words about race that I’ve read or heard, rendered by a SBC personality, in the twenty-eight years that I’ve served as a SBC church planter/pastor.

The pain that Richard Land inflicted upon Blacks in the SBC is a pain that would be only felt greater by the pain inflicted upon Trayvon Martin’s family by George Zimmerman. In his non apology—apology, he blames those of us who responded to his racial views, for the pain we felt. The opening line in his letter of apology, dated April 16, 2012, says, “I am writing to express my deep regret for any hurt or misunderstanding my comments about the Trayvon Martin case have generated.” He then blames his readers and listeners for not being “progressive” enough to be on the same page with him racially:

“Clearly, I overestimated the progress that has been made in slaying the ugly racist ghosts of the past in our history. I also clearly underestimated the extent to which we must go out of our way not to be misunderstood when we speak to issues where race is a factor…Please know that I apologize to any and all who were hurt or offended by my comments.”

 Note carefully that he never acknowledges that the problem was caused by the substance of his words but rather by the misunderstanding of his words. He begins and ends by telling us that the problem was the response to his words and the lack of progress in the public square as it relates to understanding or accepting his words. This is a huge problem for the President of the Ethics Division of the SBC to attempt to pass this on as a genuine apology. However, I accept his apology simply because he asked; and therefore, feel biblically constrained to do so (Ephesians 4:32; Matthew 5:23-25).

 I remain appalled at his unrepentant words. And since Dr. Land will not repent of his words, I feel compelled to ask the SBC by way of resolution to repudiate and renounce the racially offensive, biblically unjustifiable and factually incorrect words of Dr. Richard Land. He spoke these words as an official of the SBC; therefore, the SBC must take ownership and responsibility for Dr. Land’s words. I could not with a good conscience attend a SBC meeting in the post Luter years, or increase giving to the Cooperative Program as long as Land’s words remain un-repented of. To do so would be to engage in self-hatred; the exercise and practice of low self-esteem; to support Land’s view of racial profiling and his flawed racial reasoning.

What was even more troubling to me than Land’s remarks, was his assertion that the vast majority of Southern Baptists agree with his racial views. If he is accurate in his assessment, it confirms the suspicion that many Black Baptists have held for years regarding Southern Baptists; and that is many Southern Baptists, if not the majority, inherently and instinctively don’t honestly respect, relate to or view Blacks with a mindset of mutual respect, equality and understanding. Blacks are primarily viewed as mission projects, not as mission partners. Inadvertently, Dr. Land opened to us the window of his heart and showed us this painful reality (Mark 7:20-23). The question now is, did Richard Land show us the heart of the entirety of the SBC?

To read Land’s initial comments and his apology is painful, shameful and heartbreaking for many of us. Now the SBC must take ownership of Dr. Land’s words, because according to Dr. Land, his words reflect the views of his constituency. There are three reasons why I believe the SBC must repudiate Dr. Land’s remarks; or I, for one, will remove myself from SBC gatherings.

I.                    Dr. Land’s Racial Comments Are Factually Incorrect

Land owes President Obama an apology for assigning a racial motive to the POTUS Trayvon Martin remarks without any factual evidence to support his claim. President Obama said, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin.” President Obama was expressing Christian compassion, parental affirmation and support, and heartfelt identification with the grief and pain the family was suffering. For Dr. Land or anyone else to read anything else into the POTUS statement, they would have to do what theologians call “isogete” (reading into), rather than “exegeting” (taking out of). Land Says President Obama was “pouring gasoline on racialist fires” when he made the above statement. Dr. Land is simply factually incorrect.

 Dr. Land falsely accused President Obama again, “It was Mr. Obama who turned this tragedy into a national issue.” Again, that’s simply not true. When the Samford Police Department took forty plus days to arrest George Zimmerman and the national media began to report this fairly early on, that’s what turned this story into a national issue. Again, Dr. Land owes the President an apology.

 Dr. Land referred to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as “race hustlers” and “ambulance chasers” with respect to their role in the Trayvon Martin case. I happened to hear an interview where Trayvon’s mom and dad said that they called and asked Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton—both Baptist Ministers—to come and support them in the aftermath of Trayvon’s death. It is simply factually inaccurate and unkind to say to ministers who have been requested by a family to support them that they are “race hustlers” and “ambulance chasers” for fulfilling a ministry responsibility. Dr. Land owes these two men an apology. I know for a fact they were simply responding to the requests of Trayvon’s family. This is an unethical accusation coming from the chief ethics officers of the SBC. Shameful!

Dr. Land, speaking of Rev. Jackson, Rev. Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan says, “In their eyes segregation has never been truly repealed; it has just become invisible…They need Trayvon Martin’s to continue perpetuating their central myth:  America is a racist and an evil nation. For them, is always Selma Alabama, circa 1965.” Dr. Land would be surprised to learn that if he has accurately summarized the beliefs of Jackson, Sharpton and Farrakhan with regard to “segregation,” this may be the only true statement he made; the vast majority of African Americans would agree with the “In their eyes…” statement. Land has to look no further than the Annual SBC meeting, the SBC Executive Offices and Sunday morning in most SBC churches to see the kind of segregation he described. Dr. Land’s comments are not only factually incorrect, they are biblically unjustifiable.

II.                  Land’s Comments Are Biblically Unjustifiable

As I’ve listened to Black Baptists discuss Land’s comments, I believe his most offensive remark related to his belief in justified racial profiling. The SBC must repudiate the profiling comment, if nothing else. According to the prosecutor and investigators in Florida, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed because of Zimmerman’s profiling. Land’s comments gives ecclesiastical license from the SBC for this kind of profiling. Land’s racial profiling comments are analogous to what the major SBC pastors and theologians said about Black people for many years—for which they have never repented of—and that is, Black people were cursed by God. Land’s “justifiable profiling” doctrine is virtually identical and analogous to the SBC “curse of Ham” doctrine. Land just presented the 21st Century version of the “curse of Ham” doctrine, financed with Cooperative Program dollars. This is an egregious offense. Black SBC churches only give 1% to the Cooperative Program. Nevertheless, our churches helped to finance Richard Land’s communicating to all of America that racial profiling is justifiable.  It was the justifiable profiling doctrine that led the SBC to conclude that slavery and segregation were biblically permissible. Land has revived that doctrine. According to Dr. Land, persons like me are worthy of being profiled.

Dr. Land’s position on racial profiling is contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Bible. In Malachi 2:10, the prophet said:

“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers?”

In Acts 10:34, “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.”

 In Acts 17:26, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,”

 In Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

 Dr. Land’s most serious racially offensive statement was the “profiling” remark. This is the statement that would make me a suspect if a crime occurred at the annual SBC meeting while I’m in attendance. Now that I know how Dr. Land feels about profiling, I no longer feel welcome at a SBC gathering, especially if the majority of the SBC agrees with Dr. Land.

 Why would Dr. Land speak out on the Trayvon Martin case, while he remained silent about a litany of racial atrocities in SBC life? (http://dwightmckissic.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/attitudes-toward-race-in-sbc-life/) (http://dwightmckissic.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/lessons-from-the-animal-kingdom/)  Why does Dr. Land remain silent about the fact that the majority of persons incarcerated are Caucasian? Why does Dr. Land remain silent about approximately 70% of all arrests in 2008 were Whites being arrested according to Royce West, Jr., a criminal justice professor and practicing attorney at the University of Texas at Arlington? (For more information and statistics concerning the U.S. Prison System, please see Marty Duren’s articles—“Our Comfortable Injustice, Part 1: Christians, Race and the U. S. Legal System” and Our Comfortable Injustice, Part2: Incarceration for Profit—at martyduren.com.)  If Dr. Land were balanced or fair, he would have to also look at statistics and argue for the justifiable criminal profiling of Whites. I don’t think we need to profile anyone and neither do I appreciate the Chief Ethics Officer of the SBC advocating profiling. Racial profiling resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin. It is no small matter that the SBC is now embracing racial profiling.

 III.                Land’s Comments Are Racially Offensive and Balanced in Favor of Zimmerman

 Dr. Land said:

 “It turns out that alleged shooter George Zimmerman is hardly some kind of white supremacist. He’s Hispanic on his mother’s side. His mother is Peruvian. He has black family members. He has mentored black children and is a registered Democrat.

And Martin isn’t exactly a saint.  He’d been suspended three times for vandalism, truancy and carrying a baggie with pot residue.”

Dr. Land owes Trayvon’s parents an apology for this unfair and unbalanced assault on the character of a dead man, whose life was cut short by a man who shares Land’s profiling doctrine. George Zimmerman has been arrested for assaulting a police officer, domestic battery arrests and alcohol related arrests. Dr. Land mentions none of Zimmerman’s “unsaintly” history, but yet he attempts to paint Trayvon as a person worthy of profiling and, consequently, death. The SBC owes Trayvon’s parents an apology for helping to finance this unfair and unbalanced assault on a dead man paid for by the Southern Baptist Convention. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of our actions in this regard.

Richard Land has about as much business being in charge of the ethics of the SBC as I have being in charge of the physically-fit society or George Zimmerman being in charge of a battered women’s shelter and the temperance society. I trust and pray that Dr. Land will repent of his racially and attitudinally flawed words. If he doesn’t, I pray that the SBC will have the courage and character to hold him accountable by repudiating his remarks and dismissing him from an office that he no longer has the credibility to hold.

The real test of the SBC racial progress is not electing a man of color to a two-year position, but rather demonstrating respect and equality toward people of color eternally. There is not a person of color in the SBC today who serves as an entity head and manages a budget. Unfortunately, that will remain true even after Dr. Luter is elected president. Why would Dr. Land address the Trayvon Martin matter, when he has not addressed the current lack of racial inclusion and empowerment in SBC life? The SBC casts the wrong votes about slavery and segregation in the past. The question now is will the SBC cast the right votes regarding the repudiation of the Land racial remarks?

Peter Lumpkins posted a provocative piece concerning the SBC/GCB name change proposal that prompted me to opine and pontificate with regard to my posture on this proposition.

I’m in favor of a name change because of regional, racial and public relational baggage/issues associated with the current name. However, I agree with you: if the original stated reasons for the name change proposal were valid-and I believe they were-then money is an invalid reason not to change the name. To not change the name for monetary reasons is a borderline insult.

Given the convictions, courage, strength of personalities and character of the persons on the name-change committee, I’m surprised and disappointed that they didn’t recommend a name change. As far as I’m concerned the descriptor leaves us with an identity crisis: “The SBC-the Regional, Racial & Public Relations Baggage/Issues Convention” vs. “The GCB-the Inclusive, International and Kingdom-Driven Into All The World Convention.” The committee attempted to “split the baby.” The problem we’re left with though is, one baby-with dueling identities. Who is she; The SBC? Or The GCB?

If there is any redeeming value to this descriptor proposal, it lies in the fact that the driving force behind this compromising “win-win” decision was unity. Unity obviously is important, particularly with regard to a Kingdom enterprise. It’s the question of unity that gives me pause about voting against this proposal. Nevertheless, I have until June to settle on this matter. In my judgment the name change committee needs to ask those of us who agree with the reason for the proposed name in the first place to accept this for financial, legal, practical and unity reasons. If we are specifically requested to accept not changing the name for those reasons it would make it more palatable. I think our Convention is in good hands with Dr. Frank Page. He preached at our church this past Sunday, February 26, 2012,  on race relations; and he connected very well with our people. They fell in love with Frank Page.

Electing Fred Luter as president will be a very positive impact on gaining the attention and some level of respect from Black churches that are not SBC, but would embrace the 2000 BF&M Statement. But I don’t believe you will see any serious additions of Black churches joining the SBC until we see at least two-three minority entity heads.
At the moment I have not decided for sure how I will vote on the descriptor proposal. Although it is a step in the right direction, I’m inclined to vote against it. Why? To vote for the proposal is a vote to retain the name SBC. And a vote to retain the name SBC, is a vote to retain the baggage that comes with the name. Therefore, Peter, you, Howell, and I, may vote the same way for different reasons.

Peter thanks for an interesting and provocative post.

Posted by: Dwight McKissic | Feb 27, 2012 at 10:17 PM

FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH
BY
WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.
A KINGDOM RESPONSE TO THE ELEPHANT ROOM II
Featuring Pastor James MacDonald and Bishop T.D. Jakes

The late Rev. Vernon Johns made a lighthearted, yet loaded comment regarding engaging in ecclesiastical and civic controversy that I believe is applicable to The Elephant Room II controversy. The Johns comment: “If you see a good fight, get in it.” There are significant, substantive, and scriptural issues yet being debated in the aftermath of The Elephant Room that I feel compelled to address in light of Rev. Johns’ admonition and more importantly Kingdom implications.

Parenthetically, Rev. Johns was the predecessor to Dr. Martin Luther, Jr., as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama and as his quote sort of indicates, he was an eccentric and bombastic personality. God used him in the context of the Civil Rights Movement to pave the way for Dr. King, just as He used another eccentric and bombastic personality—John the Baptist—two millenniums earlier in the context of the Kingdom movement, to pave the way for Jesus. Rev. Johns is highly regarded and remembered for his idiosyncrasy, courage, candor, and character, much like John the Baptist. Some would argue that without the preparatory and foundational work of Rev. Johns, there would not have been a Martin Luther King, Jr.

Back to The Elephant Room: At the dawn of this new millennium, there’s a man who has stepped forth in somewhat of an eccentric and bombastic move, reminiscent of Vernon Johns and John the Baptist, named James MacDonald. Pastor MacDonald has cast a vision for The Elephant Room that I believe is Kingdom driven to the core. The vision of the Elephant Room as I see it is simple, yet powerful; to provide a twenty-first century forum for ecclesiastical dialogue based on a first century model that seeks common ground rather than battleground; unity over division; love over indifference and dialogue rather than distance, without compromising truth or biblical integrity. That is a bold, grand and biblical vision unlike any I’ve seen in my fifty five years of observing church life, with the possible exception of the Promise Keepers Movement. The Kingdom of God is relational, and this is a bold kingdom vision. The biggest problem in the body of Christ today is not doctrine, but relational division. Jesus did not say they’ll know we are Christians by our doctrine, but by our love. The world is yet to see the entire body of Christ in love with each other or even willing to dialogue: James MacDonald has plowed new ground in this arena, and I celebrate him for doing so.

How can a born-again, Bible-believing, citizen of the Kingdom of God not applaud, celebrate and appreciate Pastor MacDonald’s vision? The Bible indicates that in the last days we will see an intergenerational, interracial, and in the context of modern times, interdenominational kingdom movement take place (Acts 2:17-18). Could it be that is what we’re seeing in The Elephant Room? Could it be that some of the push-back is because we have not seen a vision or a movement like this, in the history of American Christianity? People are afraid of the unknown and the untried. Yet, a Vernon Johns, John the Baptist and, yes, James MacDonald will come along and prod us to go places we’ve never been before; and prepare us for what we’ve never seen before. Why? Because the Kingdom of God is on a forward advance (Matthew 11:12). God always calls one person to get there first and then beckons for the rest of us to come (Exodus 3:10, Nehemiah 2:5-10, Matthew 1: 3:1-11, Acts 7:1-60); and, that one person usually pays a heavy-heavy price for their voice, vision and venture. I want to say to Pastor MacDonald: BE ENCOURAGED! You’re in good company. They stoned the prophets which were before you.

WHY THE OPPOSITION TO THE ELEPHANT ROOM?

Three words or one name answer that question: Thomas Dexter Jakes, commonly known as Bishop Jakes. Why is there so much opposition to The Elephant Room because of Bishop Jakes? Bishop Jakes came to know Christ and launched his ministry in a Oneness Pentecostal context; and still maintains association, fellowship and a preaching presence in Oneness Pentecostal settings. Because of this one name, one man, one personality, a vision as bold, daring, captivating and kingdom-driven as The Elephant Room, is under major attack; and the founder and architect of this vision, along with his elders, are having to make the tough decision: Do they discontinue The Elephant Room after two incredibly successful gatherings? Obviously, they are meeting a very serious need. Again, this great vision and gathering, is under serious review, because of the participation and inclusion of one man. By the way, Bishop Jakes did not preach at this meeting; he simply sat at a table and humbled himself to answer questions about his beliefs and contributed to other parts of the dialogue as a well-known churchman. But a conversation and input from Bishop Jakes in this forum was anathema to many. The opponents to James MacDonald’s inviting Bishop Jakes simply believe that Bishop Jakes was not or is not an authentic, genuine, born again, orthodox Kingdom citizen—or follower of Christ; therefore, they staunchly opposed him being there, and many still opposed even after he made his beliefs, crystal clear (James White, Voddie Baucham).

Can a person genuinely be born again in a Oneness Pentecostal setting? This question is at the heart of this controversy. In all fairness to the opponents of The Elephant Room and the presence of Bishop T.D. Jakes, I must admit, if one truly believes that anybody who claims that they were saved in a Oneness Pentecostal setting and maintain long-standing affiliation and fellowship with Oneness Pentecostals could not be genuinely saved, because of the modalistic belief system of Oneness Pentecostals, then I agree with them; If that’s your position, Bishop Jakes should not have been invited to the Elephant Room, and Pastor MacDonald, then, would be wrong for having invited him. Absolutely not! You don’t invite a non-Christian, or in my judgment an avowed committed modalist, to sit on a panel like this. Those who hold this position, I believe, are sincere. But the question is: Did Bishop Jakes sit on that panel as a non-Christian and is he a closet or avowed modalist? That, my friend, is the question and controversy surrounding The Elephant Room.

ARE ONENESS PENTECOSTALS CHRISTIANS?

I’m sure some of you are asking, what is a “modalist”? I do not claim to be an expert in modalism, Trinitarianism or theology. However, what I do know is that Oneness Pentecostals generally have a modalistic view of the Trinity; and evangelicals, generally have what is called an ontological view of the Trinity. Let me explain: Oneness Pentecostals and evangelical Christians would all say that they believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. The difference is, Oneness Pentecostals believe that, one God appeared in three modes (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) without remaining distinct personalities. In other words, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are simply designations or names of the God who is one in person. Thus they are called Oneness Pentecostals, or in the Black community they are often called the “Jesus Only” people or Apostolic.

Evangelical Christians believe that there is one God, and yet this one God exists in three distinct Persons, not just modes of the same God, but three persons: The Father, who is distinct from the Son; the Son, who is distinct from the Holy Spirit; and the Father and the Holy Spirit, who is distinct from the Father and the Son. Yet, according to Scripture, these three are one, and they comprise the Godhead (Colossians 2:9).

Some would argue that this is purely a semantical debate; yet there is clearly a distinction as to how oneness Pentecostals view the members of the Godhead and how evangelicals view members of the Godhead. Bishop Jakes admits that at one point he fully embraced modalism and passionately argued in defense of this viewpoint. Long before the Elephant Room, Bishop Jakes had given an evangelical explanation of his Trinitarian beliefs and described the members of the Godhead as persons–something a true modalist never would do; but yet his detractors and opponents, simply won’t take him at his word.

Dr. Daniel Akin addressed the question, “What is Modalism and How Should Christians respond to it?” on his “Between the Times” website on October 12, 2011, in response to the announcement that Bishop Jakes would be a guest in The Elephant Room.

In the comment section, I posed the following questions to Dr. Akin:

“Dr. Akin,
Based on your definition of the word “Christian”, and your understanding of T. D. Jakes beliefs(which I believe that you have misrepresented) do you believe that T. D. Jakes is a Christian? Another way to phrase the question is, do you believe a person can be a modalist and also be a Christian?

I have a pastor friend who heard the gospel clearly, he says in a oneness Pentecostal church and was saved. Later, he began to question their view of the trinity and made his way to a Baptist church and embraced an orthodox view of the trinity. He now pastors a Baptist church in southern California. Was his salvation experience in the oneness Pentecostal setting, legitimate? BTW, there is not a leader in SBC life that I respect and appreciate any more than you. I listened to your sermon preached last year at chapel concerning the first American missionary. Great sermon.”

Dr. Akin provided me with an answer that I wholeheartedly believe and agree with every single word:

“Dwight, thank you for writing my brother. I love and appreciate you and your passion for our Lord. A friend wrote me privately saying he believes pastor Jakes no longer affirms classic modalism. That encourages me and perhaps the “Elephant Room” conversation will allow him to clarify this once and for all. And, is it possible to be a Christian and be a modalist? I believe the answer is yes though to do so is theologically erroneous and inconsistent. In fact it is spiritually dangerous. However, Scripture does not say believe in the Trinity and you will be saved. I was saved as a boy and had very little understanding of the Trinity. However, as I grew in my understanding of biblical truth I naturally came to embrace what is clearly the plain teaching of the Bible. Ultimately, the doctrine of the Trinity is deeply embedded in Christology, something the early church understood. And a text like Isaiah 53 and all the “sending” language of the gospel of John makes little sense without a Trinitarian framework. There is so much more we could say about this but I hope this is helpful.”

If Dr. Akin’s answer is accurate (and I believe it is), then it is possible to be a modalist and a Christian. And if it is possible to be a modalist and a Christian, Pastor MacDonald was certainly right to invite Bishop Jakes to The Elephant Room to clarify his beliefs. That’s the vision and purpose of the Elephant Room; therefore, what’s the problem? All Southern Baptists would not agree with Dr. Akin’s answer. Dr. Bart Barber believes Bishop Jakes need to be baptized again and only became a Christian simultaneously with his subsequent Trinitarian profession.  (Dr. Barber stated on his website: Statement #3. This is something for all of us to celebrate. When Jakes became a Trinitarian, he became a Christian. His eternal destiny changed at that moment. Now he needs to be baptized. Again, this is something to celebrate.)

A SWBTS professor that I will leave unnamed, and a fellow pastor with a PH.D. in systematic theology that I will also leave unnamed, share Dr. Akin’s public viewpoint, that modalism is incorrect, erroneous and even heretical; but yet, one can be a modalist and a Christian.

The late Jerry Falwell considered Calvinism, heretical; but he did not consider Calvinist, non- Christians. And neither do I consider, Oneness Pentecostals as Non-Christians; Incorrect on the Trinity, yes; Heretical, by not making a distinction in the Godhead—Yes. However, because they believe Jesus is Deity, Divine, Lord and the only begotten of the Father and the only way to salvation, I believe, based on Romans 10:9, they are authentic Christians, with extremely flawed doctrine.

Dr. Bart Barber is correct on this point though: If you’re going to condemn Bishop Jakes for not disavowing modalism at The Elephant Room, you must also condemn everyone else on stage who did not disavow modalism. Asking Bishop Jakes to publicly disavow modalism is like asking a man to disavow his mother. Inherent in Bishop Jakes answers to Mark Driscoll’s questions regarding the Trinity, was a disavowing, of modalism; that’s why many of them consider him a heretic. The only purpose Bishop Jakes would serve in disavowing the modalist that won him to Christ would be attempt to satisfy or be accepted by the Calvinist, Fundamentalist, and cessationist community that reject the Bishop and the few Black Calvinist clergymen that have been heavily influenced by their Anglo associates who also reject Bishop Jakes.

I believe that Bishop Jakes is an authentic, born again Christian, who has shifted from classic modalism to an orthodox Trinitarian view. The only reason that one would believe otherwise, would be to not take Bishop Jakes at his word as articulated in The Elephant Room and even before. James White attempts to prove that Bishop Jakes is still a modalist even after his Elephant Room confession, but he falls woefully short. White simply is straining at gnats, while swallowing the camel of disunity and division.

I was extremely grateful and proud that Dr. Malcolm Yarnell, Dr. Russell Moore, and Dr. Bart Barber, fellow Southern Baptists, all now affirm Bishop Jakes as an evangelical Trinitarian. They all three made what I consider condescending, elitist, false and arrogant misrepresentations and statements about the Bishop otherwise, but for well-known respected Southern Baptist professors and pastors to affirm the evangelical-orthodox Trinitarian posture of Bishop Jakes is HUGE in my opinion. Pastor Dave Miller went a step further and apologized to Pastor Vance Pittman for railing against Bishop Jakes musician performing at the Phoenix SBC Pastor’s conference. Ironically, the musician was preparing to lead the pastors in the “Holy, Holy, Holy” which affirms “God in Three Persons”, blessed Trinity. The best Southern Baptist Convention bloggers who addressed this subject with fairness, fidelity and accuracy were Ed Stetzer and Brandon Smith.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Trevin Wax made an astute observation about the aftermath of The Elephant Room that I believe sums up the matter. He is contrasting the James MacDonald approach to enlarging the tent vs. The Gospel Coalition’s approach:

“It is good to celebrate minimal agreement on fundamental doctrines, but even better to pursue a robust affirmation of biblical teaching. I understand there are multiple issues related to the resignation of James MacDonald from The Gospel Coalition. But at the foundational level, it’s safe to assume that the philosophy of The Elephant Room proposes a different way forward for evangelicalism than The Gospel Coalition does. And the primary differences zero in on the question of minimalism. In other words, what is the minimal number of doctrines and beliefs that must be agreed upon in order for there to be close friendship and fellowship between pastors?

What we have here are two different visions: one contemporary and one confessional: 

Contemporary evangelicalism is a big tent that keeps getting bigger. A short list of doctrines must be in place in order for people to cooperate, fellowship, or share a platform together, but there is no consensus regarding how those doctrines should affect one’s ministry philosophy. That’s why contemporary evangelicalism has sometimes been described as encompassing “anyone who likes Billy Graham.”

Confessional evangelicalism seeks to renew the center of the movement by uniting likeminded believers around the gospel and promoting the centrality of the gospel in one’s teaching and preaching. A common theological vision for ministry leads these pastors to take associations very seriously, and even if there are no hard, fast rules in place, they generally refrain from sharing a platform together in a way that leads to a perceived endorsement.

The Elephant Room aligns more with the ethos of contemporary evangelicalism (public platform-sharing with anyone who confesses Christ). The Gospel Coalition aligns more with the ethos of confessional evangelicalism (public platform-sharing with those who share a common theological vision of ministry).”

I’m making a public appeal to Pastor MacDonald, to by all means to continue The Elephant Room. The concept is so powerful, groundbreaking, biblical and Kingdom-centered that I personally pledge moral and monetary support, and wait for an interesting line-up of guests to dialogue, because I want to be in the audience and bring my senior staff members. This is Pastor MacDonald’s second conference and he has broken racial barriers. Interviewing Bryan Loritts, Charles Jenkins and Eric Mason was an incredibly wonderful idea and the imagery of including and affirming the next generation was powerful. One of them needs to be on the platform next year. Bryan Loritts wrote a prophetic courageous and accurate piece about The Elephant Room. I was so, so proud of him.

The attacks on Bishop Jakes being a “prosperity preacher” are baseless and unfounded. The criticism of Bishop Jakes, in this regard, reflects a tremendous ignorance of the Black church. However, to address this issue would require a totally separate post. This one is already too long; so I’m finished.

Finally, The Elephant Room has the potential to bring the entire body of Christ together across racial, doctrinal, denominational and class lines. Pastor MacDonald, maybe God has raised you up to lead the body in answering Christ’s prayer for unity (John 17:21). Again, I urge you to GO FOR IT! The Kingdom needs you for such an hour as this (Esther 4:14b…”Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”)

Thank you Pastor MacDonald! Maybe now the Calvinist and charismatic, the Baptist and Bible church member, the Pentecostal and Presbyterian, the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the Black and the White and even proponents of the Gospel Coalition and the Elephant Room can come together on the basis of one Lord, one faith, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:6). Where else can you go and experience the type of gathering Pastor MacDonald offered at The Elephant Room?

THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS
IN DEFENSE OF HERMAN CAIN
BY
WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

The liberal media, conservative Republicans who support rival candidates and African American civil rights leaders who strongly support the Democratic Party and liberal causes, have unwittingly, formed an unholy trinity to defeat and destroy the presidential aspirations of Herman Cain. The purpose of this article is not intended to endorse Herman Cain for president; but rather to defend Mr. Cain against the scurrilous, scandalous and shameful attacks on his character.

An allegation and formal complaint is not a conviction. A settlement is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgement that the parties involved have brought the “disputed” matter to an agreed upon closure without any admission of guilt or liability. There has not been one shred of evidence made available to the public with regard to the sexual harassment allegations leveled against Mr. Cain that suggest he’s guilty. The National Restaurant Association has granted the anonymous accuser(s) and her lawyer the right to tell her story, but they declined. WHERE IS THE BEEF?

Why are these charges being brought to the public’s attention at this point? The answer is obvious. Mr. Cain has thus far done the impossible. Who would have ever thought that an American Black conservative would be leading the pack for the Republican nomination for president of the United States within a year of the election? No one. That, my friends, is why these charges are being leveled against Mr. Cain. Who has the most to lose if Mr. Cain succeeds? The liberal media, rival candidates, and the Black liberal Democratic civil rights community.

The election of Herman Cain as president of the United States of America would change the political, social and economic landscape in America like nothing we’ve seen before. Therefore, he’s a threat like none other to the established order. In Herman Cain, we find the reincarnation and fusion of three great men. His candidacy is causing such a stir and a buzz because he could be the second coming of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ronald Wilson Reagan all wrapped into one. In my lifetime, these three men impacted the political, social, racial and economic landscape like none other. Cain has the populist appeal and tax cutting philosophy of Kennedy. He has the rock-solid conservative values and principles of Reagan. And, he has the racial sensitivity and inclusion/empowerment agenda for minorities and the poor as Martin Luther King, Jr. America has never seen a presidential candidate with all these qualities in one package. Cain has the potential to bring America together like none other. Therefore, this unholy trinity is unleashing everything within their power to stop him.

I’ve never seen the media report as many as three anonymous allegations of sexual harassment, and not only fail to give us names, pictures, interviews, etc., of these accusers. They even fail to provide any specifics or details related to these charges. No other presidential candidate has been treated like this in my lifetime. Why Herman Cain? Names, pictures, and specifics, have been given with every other politician that I can recall who faced a sex scandal. I repeat: Herman Cain is the only one that I know who has to endure a mirage of news reports about sexual harassment without any supporting evidence.

Where is the NAACP in defense of Herman Cain? Where are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton in defense of Herman Cain? Where are the liberals who love to support oppressed minorities in defense of Herman Cain? These entities and individuals are losing credibility, because they are proving to be only interested in defending and advancing Black liberals, not Blacks who are independent thinkers. Is the NAACP the National Association for the Advancement of Liberal Colored People or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People–period?

I never thought I’d live to see the day when Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and other conservative commentators would defend a Black man who is being falsely accused, while the NAACP, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton remain silent or partner in the unholy trinity.

My voice is minor and marginal, compared to the voices that capture the media’s attention with regard to these matters. Nevertheless, I can’t sit idly by and watch this decent, honorable Baptist minister and businessman under attack, and I say nothing. Therefore, in the spirit of John the Baptist, I’ve decided to be a voice crying in the wilderness appealing to this unholy trinity as it relates to the sexual harassment charges—LEAVE HERMAN CAIN ALONE! STOP THE MADNESS! CEASE AND DESIST THE PRACTICE OF A DOUBLE STANDARD! Cease this media lynching. And the only Uncle Tom’s and sellouts that I’ve seen in this campaign are those who are African American that are aiding and abetting this lynching. The one candidate that the liberal media, Black liberal Democratic leaders, and even other Republican candidates fear the most at this point is Herman Cain. And that, my friends, is the basis for this attack.

Make no mistake about it; the liberal media quoting the anonymous sources is racist and wrong on this matter—specifically, Politico. If credible evidence comes forth that suggests Mr. Cain is guilty, I will immediately post an apology; and I will repent; Mr. Cain would need to do the same as well.

With regard to Sharon Bialek, the fourth accuser, I find her story less than credible for the following reasons: (1) She waited 12 years to tell her story; (2) The story she described if accurate would constitute a crime. Why didn’t she report it to the law when it occurred? She appears to be a pawn of the unholy trinity, seeking to deny this American Black Conservative from winning the nomination for president. Since the anonymous charges did not stick to Mr. Cain, she offers herself as a “sacrificial lamb” that stands to gain fame and fortune from her alleged dalliance with Mr. Cain. What we’re seeing is truly a high-tech lynching, akin to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and for the exact same reason. (3) Where is the “blue dress”? She provided no evidence to her claim to truth.

If Mr. Cain wins, the liberal Democratic stronghold on the Black vote will be broken for a long-long time. This is the reason the liberals are trying to defeat Mr. Cain.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE SBC

By

Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

Regarding a proposed name change for the SBC

 President Bryant Wright has appointed a self-funded blue ribbon advisory committee, authorized by the Executive Committee to provide counsel to him as he prayerfully weighs recommending to the SBC in her Annual Session upcoming in New Orleans, a proposed name change of our beloved convention.

I commend President Wright for his thoughtful, deliberate and considerate proposal. I wholeheartedly agree with the spirit, letter, advisory committee and methodology used by President Wright in launching this proposal.

There may be some validity to the complaint that there are no lay people on the advisory panel; and perhaps it would be wise if President Wright added two–three lay persons to this panel. If youth and young adults are not represented on this panel, consideration should be given to adding that demographic as well.

Unlike the GCR panel, this advisory committee has at least one African American on the panel as forethought, as opposed to an afterthought. This I believe is what the 21st Century SBC should reflect: The Kingdom of God (Rev. 5:7-9).

Whenever a name was changed in Scripture, it usually signified a change in character, conduct or focused concentration on the part of the person or entity whose name was changed. It was not simply a cosmetic change.

Jesus challenged and rebuked the Pharisees for representing a cosmetic change, but inwardly not committed to a character, conduct or focused concentrated Kingdom-minded change. Again, I believe the only biblical justification for the proposed name change of the SBC must be (as some have already indicated in naming possible reasons for the name change) would be a commitment to change in at least one or all three of these areas: Character, conduct and focused concentration.

If the SBC is to change her name, the name change ought to be indicative of a change in focused concentration from a regional and racial 19th and majority of the 20th Century focus, to a 21st Century and biblio-centric concentrated focus on the Kingdom of God. The 1st century church was a Kingdom of God focused church as opposed to a regional or racially focused church. Consequently, they filled all Jerusalem with their doctrine and turned the world upside down for Jesus. Their message was, as Dr. Russell Moore so appropriately points out in his book, The Kingdom of Christ—“There is another king” (Acts 17:7).  And as R. Allen Street (Professor of Evangelism at Criswell College) so rightfully echoes our evangelism as instructed and modeled by Jesus ought to be a Kingdom-focused evangelism. The major theme of Jesus’ preaching was the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ first, last and intermediate preaching/teaching and evangelistic initiatives focused on the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).

Matthew and Mark summarized and capsulized the message and ministry of Jesus as, the gospel of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15, Matt. 4:23).  Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14).

If the focused concentration of Jesus and his public ministry was not exclusively identified with or limited to a certain region or race, neither should the identity and focused concentration of the SBC be indicative of region or race. Therefore, I propose the name, KINGDOM BAPTIST CONVENTION. Who could argue with the Kingdom of God being our focused concentration and indicative of our universal assignment (Matthew 28:19-20)? Who could argue that the word “Baptist” following the word Kingdom is suggestive of the right priority and emphasis? Yet by including the word “Baptist,” it immediately identifies our heritage; and it also quickly distinguishes us by our non-negotiable doctrines, authority/inerrancy of scripture, salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, eternal security of the believer, baptism by immersion, a regenerate membership, substitutionary atonement, a physical body resurrection of Jesus as well as a physical bodily return.

Historically, the word “Baptist” preserves our identity and continuation of the legacy established by great men, women and movements of yesteryears that I admire and appreciate such as: Thomas Muenster, Charles Spurgeon, Shubal Stearns, Martha Stearns, John Jasper, Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., E. C. Morris, Henry B. Morehouse (Morehouse College named in his honor), Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr., W.A. Criswell, Paige Patterson, Adrian Rogers, Jack Taylor, Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Gardner Taylor, Frank Page, J.H. Jackson, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Lottie Moon, Ken Hemphill, George Liele, Howard Thurman and yes, Fred Luter; the Anabaptists, Sandy Creek, Charlestonian, National Baptist, Southern Baptist, Fulness and Full Gospel Baptist. These were Kingdom believers of a Baptist persuasion. In spite of the distance that some Baptist place between themselves and the word “Baptist,” and the many stripes and flavors of Baptist that exist (as indicative by the above mentioned names), I believe the word “Baptist” still has major significance and is a worthy distinguishing factor doctrinally and historically. However, the word Baptist should always be secondary to the Kingdom of God, and my proposed name for the new SBC keeps this priority in focus.

The word “convention” is simply indicative of a multitude of churches who share Baptist doctrine and historical roots who convene together to advance kingdom business; thus, the name Kingdom Baptist Convention.  I would hope the word “Baptist” is retained in this new convention name.

The conduct change that should accompany this name change it appears will happen somewhat simultaneously with the name change proposal. And that is the election of Pastor Fred Luter as president of the SBC. This is a positive and good move, solely on the basis of merit and character, without any consideration of color or political correctness. However, I trust and pray that the election of Fred Luter is an indication of a conduct change systemically with regard to racial matters. If the post-presidency-Fred Luter-SBC looks like the current SBC with regard to racial diversity represented on the Executive cabinet, then the election of Fred Luter will look like that Pharisaical cup (Matthew 23:25-27). The real litmus test of whether or not the SBC has undergone a sea change with regard to racial conduct will only be known when it is time to replace some of the current entity heads. However, the election of Fred Luter is a major symbolic step, but a substantive step remains to be seen to elect an African American as an entity head.

Until such time, the jury is still out as to whether the name change and Luter election is cosmetic or real. Again, if the post Luter SBC does not change, then there is no need to change the name. The current name represents the current practices quite well. The missions, evangelism and church planting emphasis of the SBC often overshadowed the name, and that’s why some of us were attracted to  and remain SBC; but at times it is still painful, and we are occasionally reminded that the SBC is well, just that, the SBC.

I am excited and thrilled beyond measure with regard to the recent church planting emphasis of the NAMB. Dr. Ezell and the NAMB have my wholehearted support. I was really encouraged when I read what Dr. Kevin Ezell stated that the NAMB will not prevent church planters from having relationships with historical denominational linkage that believe and practice “degrees of charismaticism.” It is my prayer that this attitude would be conveyed by Dr. Ezell and NAMB to funding church planters who practice “degrees of charismaticism.” Dr. Danny Akin, President of The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, perhaps made the most prophetic and Kingdom-minded statement regarding the controversial IMB policy concerning private prayer language which is also basically identical to NAMB policy: “’I think the IMB policy on private prayer languages is wrong,’ Akin said. ‘I’m with Jerry Rankin on that.’ Rankin is president of the IMB.” Ironically, for making a statement similar to what Dr. Akin made regarding the IMB policies, there was an attempt made to remove me as a trustee at SWBTS and my chapel sermon was censored, saying I criticized a sister SBC agency. This is also another example of a SBC double standard. WOW! I’m grateful to see positive movement in this direction.

Recently, the SBTC has in principle agreed to fund a proposed church plant/satellite sponsored by the church I pastor, knowing full well my beliefs and practices as it relates to praying in tongues in private.  (I will initially be serving as church planter while simultaneously serving as pastor of CBC.) I have not agreed to accept the funds because I am just not sure of the future direction of our convention. I did not feel right receiving funds from the SBC for church planting in light of the fact I’m aware of church planters who have been denied funding because of the policies concerning praying in tongues at NAMB and the SBTC. Our church has donated over $100,000 to church planters whose beliefs and practices are identical to mine. Offering me funding represented a Kingdom mindset by the SBTC that ought to be extended to all church planters and missionaries. But nevertheless, I am beginning to see positive movement in the right direction. I want to apologize to the SBTC for stating on more than one occasion that they would not fund someone like me as a church plant today, but apparently I was wrong.

The appointment of Ken Weathersby as Presidential Ambassador for Ethic Church Relations in the SBC is also a right and timely move by Frank Page and Kevin Ezell. Before Ken Weathersby was promoted to this position he was demoted as VP at NAMB. This sent a shock wave through the African American Southern Baptist community. However, I must admit I was sorely disappointed when I read in the Baptist Press and saw pictures that NAMB had appointed four Whites as Vice President to develop church planting throughout the United States and overlooked four highly qualified mid-level African American NAMB personnel for one of these slots. This has caused much consternation with African American Southern Baptist churches. Why would we attempt to plant churches in Urban America with four men who ethnically don’t resemble the majority of people in Urban America (Acts 13:1-3)? The name change has to represent a departure from these types of practices.

I could cite several other instances of racial and character issues currently being practiced in the SBC that need to change. However, the point of the article is to celebrate the fact it appears we are moving toward change, and I celebrate this move!

Lord, let thy Kingdom come, let thy will be done on Earth and in and through the SBC, as it is in Heaven. Amen.

LESSONS FROM THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

BY

WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

 

The largest animal the Jews knew in biblical times was a camel, as the gnat was the smallest. Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! …Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:24)

 “Straining out a gnat” describes the custom of the strictest sect of Pharisees who strained everything they drank for fear of swallowing an insect that was considered unclean. “Swallowing a camel” intentionally introduces an exaggerated figure of speech in order to demonstrate the Pharisee’s propensity to major on minors and to minor on majors. Jesus was saying to the Pharisees, you take care to strain the smallest insect out of your drink, but you are like people who swallow a camel without even knowing it. The German Common language version translates this phrase as “but you swallow a camel without seeing it.” It was characteristic of the scribes and Pharisees to strain out the gnat and yet to swallow the camel. The Southern Baptist Convention is “swallowing a camel” without seeing it.

The church where I serve as pastor joined the SBC at our inception in 1983. For the past thirty five years, as a college, seminary student and church planter/pastor, I have observed SBC life. I can honestly say that during these years the major focus, impact and effectiveness of the SBC has been where it should have been; and that is on exaltation, evangelism, edification and the elevation of society. Indeed my life, family, congregation and society as a whole are far better off because of the witness, work, word and worship of the SBC.

Whatever strength that our church enjoys, the roots of that strength can be traced back to the church planting and discipleship efforts of the SBC. For this I shall be eternally grateful.

During my thirty five year pilgrimage in SBC life, I’ve noticed periodic and intermittent intervals, where many in the SBC, and often the gatekeepers, have reminded me of the words of Jesus, “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.” In recent days, I’ve noticed that this periodic and intermittent tendency continues.

The recent flap over Jamar Jones, a pianist at The Potters House where Bishop T.D. Jakes serve as pastor, is one of many examples that I want to address of the SBC, “straining out a gnat, while swallowing a camel.”

Todd Littleton has addressed this subject in a factual, historical, scriptural and kingdom minded manner. I commend him for his great post. Todd is correct! “It seems there is nothing that T.D. Jakes can do that will answer his Southern Baptist critics.” Suffice it to say that no SBC personality has provided any evidence that Bishop Jakes is a modalist. As a matter of fact, as Todd so ably pointed out, there is evidence to the contrary. Yet, I’ve recently learned that Jamar Jones has voluntarily removed himself from the role of playing the piano at the SBC Pastors’ Conference because of his desire to be helpful to the Kingdom and Southern Baptists, rather than a hindrance. The truth of the matter is that Bishop Jakes was the target; Jamar Jones is a casualty of not so friendly fire from fellow Kingdom soldiers. It is tragic, sinful and shameful that Southern Baptist missed an opportunity to bridge an obvious racial divide and to fellowship with a Kingdom saint who is not of the SBC fold, simply because the SBC periodically and intermittingly choose to “strain out gnats and swallow camels.”

About twelve-fifteen years ago, I was asked to be a guest on TBN; and I was informed that Bishop Jakes would be the host. I initially hesitated accepting the TBN invitation because of all the hoopla about Bishop Jakes being an alleged modalist; and at the time I had not researched the matter. I consulted with a professor at SWBTS (that I will not name) and a highly respected, well known pastor with a doctorate degree in systematic theology (that I also will not name). Both informed me that they viewed Bishop Jakes’ view of the Trinity as “technically incorrect, but not cultic.” Now that more light has been shed on his views, I don’t believe either the professor or the pastor would view Bishop Jakes’ view as “technically incorrect.” They both encouraged me to accept the TBN invitation because they viewed Bishop Jakes as a genuine Christian. Upon their recommendations, I accepted the invitation and had a wonderful experience.

If Bishop Jakes is going to be rejected by Southern Baptists because he uses the word “manifestations” to describe the Trinity, if Southern Baptists are to be consistent as Todd Littleton points out—they would also have to reject Hershel Hobbs—a revered, renown SBC pastor/theologian who also used the word “manifestations” to describe the Trinity. He too probably would be labeled “technically incorrect, but not cultic” by the pastor and professor. Since that time, Bishop Jakes has used the word “persons” to describe the Trinity; but this still does not satisfy his SBC critics, because periodically and intermittingly the SBC simply chooses to “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” One would be hard pressed to find one Black SBC pastor, let alone ten, who would publicly or privately state that Jamar Jones should not play the piano at the Pastors’ Conference because he is associated with Bishop Jakes. I pray that the Father forgive the SBC for they know not what they do. The SBC views every evangelical denomination as having some views that are “incorrect but not cultic.”

I must admit that I’m not surprised by the Jamar Jones treatment, because I watched the SBC dismiss a great number of missionaries, simply because they would not sign the 2000 B, F, and M, although they signed up as missionaries under the 1963 B, F and M. If the SBC would dismiss experienced, successful missionaries for superfluous reasons under the guise of doctrinal purity, it stands to reason that they would castigate a pianist who belongs to a church that many in the SBC consider doctrinally suspect—without one iota of evidence. Here is another example of “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel.” The very reason that the SBC had to recently lay off six hundred missionaries due to a lack of funding is because of this bizarre propensity to “strain out gnats, while swallowing camels.” The SBC/IMB/NAMB policy of firing and not funding missionaries who pray in tongues in private is another example of the SBC “straining out a gnat, while swallowing a camel.”

Our church has baptized over 2000 souls since 1983. Had the SBC questioned me about my views and practice as it relates to praying in tongues in private, these 2000 souls would not be credited on SBC records, nor would I have been able to serve as President of the SBTC Pastors’ Conference or preach at SEBTS and many other places. The SBC “swallowed” me, because they did not know me.

In the 2008 presidential election, I was shocked that SBC pastors, by and large, did not rally behind Mike Huckabee. The reason Huckabee did not get SBC support is because he was reportedly sympathetic and cooperative to the “moderates” while president of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. I publicly endorsed Mike Huckabee. Had Southern Baptists wholeheartedly and enthusiastically embraced Huckabee, he perhaps would be President today. Consequently, same-sex marriages, the Mexico policy, the Health Care policy that funds abortions and bailouts would not be moving into the mainstream and becoming public policy. But because of the SBC’s propensity to “strain out a gnat and swallow a camel,” we are now faced with these policy initiatives that most SBC pastors and pew-sitters disagree with.

Southern Baptists have watched women in the SBC be denied opportunities to teach Hebrew and Church History and serve as an IMB vice president, because of this periodic and intermittingly bent toward “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel.” Female seminary graduates are denied positions as chaplains endorsed by our convention because of our pettiness and unscriptural views toward women. God forgive us. Male pastors and staff members who have violated and abused women and girls in our churches will not even be given the dignity and respect of having convicted persons’ names registered in SBC life because of the SBC’s long bent toward chauvinism. Women like Christa Brown and others who express valid and legitimate concerns about sexual abuse at the hands of clergyman in SBC life are often disrespected, disregarded and once again violated by males because they simply point out the truth and make an effort to protect females in our pews by identifying documented abusers. The SBC deny women all kinds of ministry opportunities and affirmation that is not restricted by the Scripture—yet they allow women to be abused and violated even further by not exposing abusers. I agree with the late African American Southern Baptist pastor, Dr. George McCalep, who said, “The SBC views and practices regarding women are driven by testosterone more so than by biblical doctrine.” Once again, our treatment toward women in our quest for doctrinal purity is simply “straining out a gnat, while swallowing a camel.”

A few years ago, an African American was being considered to serve as an entity head. When he was questioned about his views on women in ministry, he expressed a view in keeping with the B, F & M 2000 and remains in SBC employ; however, his view of women in ministry was still to expansive for the decision makers; therefore, he was not offered the entity head position. The good news is he was not rejected because of his race. The bad news is he was rejected because he did not express a hard-line position against women in ministry. Once again, the SBC drifted toward their tendency to “strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.”

The very reason Vance Pittman is President of the Pastors’ Conference and not Troy Gramlin is because the doctrinal purist in the SBC disliked Gramlin’s affirmation of women in ministry. His views and practices are within the boundaries of the B, F, and M 2000 Statement and the Bible, or else he would have been dis-fellowshipped by his Association, State Convention and the SBC. Nevertheless, he was rejected in favor of Vance Pittman because the SBC loves to “strain out gnats and swallow camels.” All the dissension and dissatisfaction registered in the blogosphere over the Pastors’ Conference is in my opinion—poetic justice—because of the ill, malicious treatment by many toward Troy Gramlin.

The only reason that the SBC include a statement in their constitution making it clear that they will not seat messengers from a church that affirms homosexuality, but they refuse to and artfully and hypocritically dodged voting on an amendment to the constitution to not seat churches that affirm racism, is simply because the SBC has a higher tolerance for racism than they do homosexuality. The stated reason at the Orlando Convention for not allowing a vote on the racial discrimination amendment was simply to give the lawyers a chance to vet the amendment. However, the messengers were assured that the executive committee was sympathetic to this motion and would be supporting it. The response to my motion could be a case study in dishonesty and deception.

The “camel” that the SBC has been swallowing from her inception until this very hour is racism, sexism and factionalism—“they are not one of us mentality.”

One of the objections that some have raised regarding the racism amendment is that it would be hard to prove. This simply is not true. All of the excuses used to object to the racial discrimination amendment, remind me of all the excuses that were used to deny Blacks equality, fairness and justice across the years.

In the 90’s I served on the missions funding committee of the BGCT and discovered at that time that all Black churches were required to pay 6% interest on loans and low income White, and Hispanic churches paid 0% interest. This can be documented and verified. They changed their practice after I objected to this in three consecutive meetings. The persons and churches that supported this policy should not have been seated as messengers.

In the 90’s a cemetery owned by an SBC congregation in Georgia would not bury a child of an interracial couple, because the deceased baby was half-Black. This church’s messengers should not have been seated. Interracial couples have joined many African American churches because they were made to feel unwelcome, or in some cases, the pastor refused to perform their wedding ceremony. Messengers from these churches should not be seated.

Black ministerial students at Samford University were sent out along with Anglo ministerial students to preach in SBC churches in Alabama in the late 90’s or early 2000. Some Baptist papers reported this. When some of the Anglo churches discovered Black students would be preaching, they canceled engagements. Messengers from these churches should not have been seated.

Black SBC denomination employees have expressed to me that they have been invited by virtue of their positions to speak at Anglo SBC churches. However, like the Samford students, when it was discovered that they were Black, the invitations to speak were withdrawn. The messengers from these churches should not be seated. Black SBC employees have also informed me that when Black churches or ministries rent certain SBC facilities they are charged a higher rate than Anglo churches. This reminds me of the BGCT practice; therefore, I find it believable. Churches and messengers who support this practice should not be seated.

I heard with my own ears, Mrs. Criswell teaching on the radio on a Sunday Morning embracing the view the Africans were cursed because of their descent from Ham in the mid 90’s. I purchased a copy of the tape/CD. The messengers of FBC Dallas should not have been seated at the Convention, unless Mrs. Criswell repented. The Vice President of Criswell College repented a couple of years ago of calling Hispanics “wetbacks.” Had he not repented, the messengers of FBC should not have been seated.

An SBC church in Louisiana, dis-invited an IMB Anglo missionary couple from speaking at their church within the past three years as reported by the ABP. Why? This couple adopted native African children. This church’s messengers should not be seated. As a matter of fact, it was my reading about this church that in part inspired my proposed racial discrimination amendment.

Dave Miller, a man I have tremendous respect for, talks about being denied a raise by his predominately Anglo SBC congregation. Why? He allowed Blacks to play basketball on the church parking lot. If that was the basis for the decision, this church’s messengers should not have been seated.

Tim Rogers saw a local SBC church in North Carolina, where Dr. and Mrs. Patterson were members at the time vote to fire their pastor because African Americans were baptized in the baptistery. To their credit, Dr. and Mrs. Patterson announced he would not be back because he could not support a church that would take that kind of action. Neither should the SBC seat the messengers from this church.

William Thornton of Georgia, an SBC pastor, stated, “I once supplied at a church who had in their statement of beliefs an article that they believed, ‘God has ordained the segregation of the races…’” This SBC church had this printed on the back of their weekly bulletin, right along with the deity of Christ! Certainly, the messengers from this SBC church referenced by Pastor Thornton should not be seated.

Persons from churches who hold these views and practices are eligible to and sometime serve on SBC boards and committees. Are you expecting us to believe the persons who make personnel and policy decisions from these churches for the SBC do not take race into account in their decisions? If these churches will not allow interracial marriages, people of color to be baptized in their church or play basketball on their church parking lot, are you really expecting us to believe they will objectively make a fair hiring decision about African Americans as an entity head? Could it be that people from these churches decided that we don’t need a racial discrimination policy in the SBC Constitution? This is unbelievable.

In the early 90’s two Black SBC churches including the church where I pastor traveled on a 15-day mission trip to South Africa to construct a small church edifice. The two African American churches heavily funded this trip. The trip was coordinated by a non IMB, SBC related mission’s group based in Tennessee. At lunch time, we noticed that volunteer South African Anglo workers were invited to eat lunch with the mission’s crew from America. The native Black South African volunteer workers were not invited to eat lunch with the American Mission’s team. When I questioned this, they explained to me that this was simply the custom and tradition in South Africa. I vehemently objected to this practice because it was blatantly racist. The missions group that coordinated this trip were all members of an Anglo SBC church. Messengers from an SBC church that engage in such racist mission practices should not be seated at the SBC annual session.

I’ve been told numerous stories of this kind by many Anglo SBC pastors. The EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE IS SIMPLY IN DENIAL. Bart Barber, another SBC pastor that I respect greatly but often disagree with, has acknowledged in the blogosphere the fact that racism exists in the SBC. Dr. Russell Moore at Southern Seminary has also addressed the historic racism among conservatives in the SBC, and the tentacles of that admitted racism is visible today. Ironically, moderates did not swallow racism. Unfortunately, in some instances, they would sometimes swallow liberalism.

While attending the African American Banquet at the Orlando SBC, I was stunned as I heard the newly elected president, James Dixon, state, “The pink elephant in the room at the SBC is racism, and nobody wants to deal with it.” A Baptist Press reporter was sitting there. I knew she would report this, but not one word. I regard James Dixon highly. I’m convinced that he will address these issues during his tenure as President. It is doubtful that you could find one African American pastor who could not share with you a story of racism that they have experienced in SBC life.

A guest singing group at SWBTS wanted to display a Confederate flag at their appearance. Dr. Paige Patterson rightfully stopped them. This would have been offensive to many African American and Anglo students. The University of Texas removed a picture of one of their former law professors from the wall because he was a Klansman. Several pictures hanging on the wall of former presidents at SWBTS were slave holders and Klansmen. Their pictures should be removed. We cannot let the world have a higher standard than the Church.

While serving as a trustee at SWBTS, I was going to have to cast a vote regarding investing a substantial portion of seminary funds. I asked a fellow SBC pastor to research this matter for me in order to be able to cast an intelligent vote. This pastor discovered that the investment company leadership had a jaded history. Therefore, I decided that I could not, with a clear conscience, vote to invest SWBTS funds with this company. Unfortunately, my SBC pastor friend posted this information on his blog, and the seminary then decided not to hold a vote on this matter. I was then accused by a trustee committee of breeching a non-existent confidentiality policy. Furthermore, they recommended to the SBC that I be dismissed as a trustee. They later withdrew this request after I held a heart-to-heart talk with Dr. Patterson. Lest you think I hold any ill feelings toward Southwestern, I led my congregation to donate the cost of a chair in the new chapel at the seminary, after I resigned as a trustee. The seminary was asking for $4000 per chair.

Interestingly, before Claude Thomas could assume the role of seminary chaplain, one of the trustees circulated “confidential” information that led to the seminary withdrawing the offer of the Chaplain’s position to Brother Claude. My question is, if two trustees both exposed “confidential” information, why wasn’t the other trustee recommended to the SBC for dismissal and publicly humiliated as the Seminary attempted to humiliate me?

Southern Seminary was the SBC seminary of choice for African Americans in the 60’s – 90’s. Something happened. I’m not sure what. The Black student population of Southern has significantly declined. I attended a Black Church Conference at Southern in the mid seventies. Never in my life had I witnessed twenty plus Black PhD’s in religion, assembled in one place at one time. Martin Luther King spoke at Southern in the early sixties. In talking to Black Southern graduates, I’m told that the SBC and Southern’s shift to FUNDAMENTALISM, REPUBLICANISM, CHAUVANISM, and CESSATIONISM caused the Seminary to be less popular with Blacks. All four of these “isms” are generally rejected by African American SBC churches. I’ve visited Southern’s campus twice. I can say that I was treated with the utmost respect and cordiality while there. Russell Moore and Hershel York went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I was there engaged in independent study. I was not an invited guest of the seminary, but I was treated to lunch by Dr. York; and Dr. Moore went out of his way to find me in the library and made all the resources of the library available to me. Without compromising their theological convictions, Southern need to recapture their ability that they once had to attract Blacks in major numbers. I do not know Dr. Mohler personally. I owe him royalties for teaching the men of Cornerstone, his teaching on manhood almost verbatim. I did give him credit. When he was critical of Rick Warren for praying at President Obama’s inauguration and indicated that he would not have accepted that invitation, I was disappointed. Why? The message sent to all of his students, red, yellow, black and white, is that if you are not in political/theological agreement with a politician, you shouldn’t pray at their gatherings. I attended the inauguration and happened to meet and briefly visit Rick Warren there. But how do you say to students by written word and example that you shouldn’t pray at the President’s inauguration? This defies the clear teaching of Scripture (1 Timothy 2:1-8). Rick Warren did not compromise in his prayer. I commend Rick Warren for his prayer for our nation’s new President; but, I question why Dr. Mohler would object. If invited, Dr. Mohler could have prayed at the inauguration; however, he felt led and set a good example for his students. I believe that is one among other reasons that have made Blacks less attracted to Southern.

The Life Action Revival Team based in Michigan has conducted two very successful two-week revivals at the church where I pastor. Life Action is a predominately Anglo revival team of about twenty persons who are housed with church members or live in trailers on the church parking lot. I have nothing but praise for Life Action. Perhaps the greatest spiritual impact of any revival effort in the history of our church was led by Life Action and they were all Anglo, but one singer. Life Action leaders normally attend the SBC.

The only racial or cultural question that came up during their time with us was when I heard them practicing “Dixie” during the day, preparing to sing it that night. I hurriedly informed the Life Action team leader that “Dixie” is a reviled song to Black people. “Dixie” celebrates the ante-bellum South that is a very distasteful period for Black people. I told Bro. Steve Canfield, a great preacher by the way, that if they sang that song that night, I would be fired. He graciously asked the team not to sing “Dixie” at Cornerstone and I was certainly glad. However, we were the first African American congregation that Life Action had ever conducted a revival in. They sang this horrible song in SBC churches everywhere they go—not realizing how offensive this song is to African Americans. I am not suggesting that the SBC churches where Life Action leaders are members should not be seated, but I am suggesting that this is one among several cultural issues that I could name that keep the racial divide in the SBC alive.

The SBC is experiencing numerical, morale and spiritual decline in part because they don’t know how to diversify. The gnat they keep straining out is diversity. The camel they keep swallowing is racism, sexism and factionalism. However, if this convention is to grow and move forward, we must look past the gnat that have plagued us and we must reject the camels that have hindered us and pray for and embrace an eagle that can lift us to higher heights above the gnats and camels that have thwarted us.

I’m praying for President Bryant Wright as he leads us. I’m praying and believing that in New Orleans in 2012 the SBC will make a major step in the right direction and elect an African American as president. If the Lord says the same I plan to attend the New Orleans Convention, so that I can vote for our first African American president. When the SBC appoints a Black and other minorities to one of our entity heads, then I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that racial healing and progress in the SBC will have moved forward into the new millennium. Until such time we are operating under the old paradigm that Blacks in the SBC are a mission project—not mission partners. The fact that African Americans were overlooked as members of the original GCTF underscores the point that Blacks are viewed by the SBC as mission projects—not mission partners.  This must change.

Consequently, Black SBC churches give slightly less than 1% to the Cooperative Program. Anglo SBC churches give 6%. Why is it that Black SBC churches give less than 1%? The answer is simple. They feel disenfranchised and unrepresented. Many Black SBC churches are like our Church that faithfully tithe 10% to missions, year after year, but recognize that under the current practices of the SBC racially, to give 10% to the Cooperative program would be an exercise in self-hatred and the financing of institutional and systemic racism. The camel swallowers have made it impossible to give to the cooperative program without supporting racism, chauvinism, and cessationism. Many would add to that list, Republicanism. In order for any church to give liberally to the cooperative program, they would have to overlook these issues in order to give. It is difficult to give, in our case, over $400,000 a year to an organization that has allowed Blacks to be members for over sixty years, but has never elected one African American or any minority as an entity head. Again, this is tragic, sinful and shameful. However, we swallow this camel—hook, line and sinker—while we strain out the gnat of diversity. God help us!

When Dr. W.A. Criswell, the patriarch of the conservative resurgence, spoke so eloquently and powerfully regarding, “The Curse of Liberalism,” at the San Antonio Convention in the mid 80’s, we saw, “The way of an eagle in the air.”

When Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler, the architects of the conservative resurgence led our convention back to a place where we, without hesitation or reservation, declare that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God, we saw, “The way of eagle[s] in the air.”

When Dr. Adrian Rodgers preached so powerfully and persuasively for the need of our convention to appoint to boards and committee’s persons committed to the inerrant Word of God, we saw, “The way of an eagle in the air.”

When Wade Burleson risked it all and put everything on the line in a gallant effort to protect the right of missionaries to pray in private in accordance with their conscience and biblical convictions, that led to a modification of the controversial policy and perhaps saved the job of Dr. Jerry Rankin, who admittedly prayed in tongues in private, we saw, “The way of an eagle in the air.”

When one looks at the racial divide in the SBC that is very apparent at every annual session, what we need now is an eagle who will arise that can bridge this gap. I’m convinced that Frank Page’s and Bryant Wright’s hearts are in the right place on this racial divide. James Dixon’s, the able, efficient and eloquent leader of the SBC African American Fellowship, heart is in the right place. My prayer is that God will anoint one of these men or the next president to be an eagle and help our convention to heal the racial divide, so that the SBC will begin to look like the Kingdom of God.

Vance Pittman’s commitment to diversity is excellent. He is greatly respected by Las Vegas’ Black pastors because of his commitment to diversity. Pittman’s worship leader at his church is an African American that he pays a very generous salary and encourages him to be true to himself and his heritage as he leads worship. Consequently, there are many Blacks who are attracted to Pittman’s church. The SBC can learn from him. I’m impressed with his lineup of speakers for the Pastors’ Conference. If I have one concern, it is that I don’t see an African American Southern Baptist pastor in the lineup. Pittman’s commitment to diversity is what’s causing the backlash. Diversity without doctrinal compromise is what the SBC needs. Pittman has managed to do a good job with this. I commend him. From what I’ve heard about him, he may be the eagle that can help bridge the racial divide. However, I regret that he accepted Jamar Jones’ voluntary withdrawal from the SBC Pastors Conference. I respect the fact that Jamar Jones was Kingdom minded and concerned about the unity of the SBC; therefore, he decided to withdraw. In doing so, he displayed a greater commitment to Kingdom unity and demonstrated Christian maturity at a higher level than his critics. Pittman’s commitment to diversity is the “gnat” that many in the SBC want to strain out. If the SBC continues to behave like this, they will do so to their own peril.

While Bradd Whitt, Ed Stetzer, Nathan Finn, Bart Barber, Peter Lumpkins and others celebrate or bemoan the personalities at the Pastors Conference, I wonder if they have paused to realize that last year and this year—not one African American Southern Baptist pastor preached at the Pastors’ Conference. What you all are doing is “straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel.”

If I attend the Phoenix SBC, it will be to support James Dixon and his leadership of the African American SBC Fellowship. If Dave Miller and others choose to bring the racial discrimination amendment to the floor, I would like to be there to simply vote in favor. However, at this point, I’m ready to join the hundreds, or perhaps, thousands of other African American SBC who usually do not attend the convention, even if they are in town because to do so, you have to “swallow the camel” of the very noticeable absence of Black leadership and visibility of Black and minority platform personalities. I’ve decided that this is a camel that I can no longer swallow.

The excellent Annuity Board benefits, church planting and mission endeavors, seminary training, discipleship resources and Sunday school materials are reasons why Blacks join and remain with the SBC. Admittedly, the SBC provides a higher quality of these services much stronger than the National Baptist Convention. Therefore, many of us are committed to being a part of the SBC. However, if the SBC wants greater financial support and convention attendance from Black churches and pastors, they will need to be intentional regarding the inclusion and empowerment of Blacks at every level or nothing will change.

How could the SBC not see that the platform is generally all White at the annual session? How could the SBC not see that all of her entity heads are White? How could the SBC not see the potential for a major increase in giving to the cooperative program if they were intentional in empowering minorities? How could the SBC not see that if the Pastors’ Conference went two consecutive years without an Anglo SBC preacher preaching, there would be a revolt; yet they are blind to the fact that this is what African American SBC preachers are being asked to endure. The SBC is swallowing a camel without seeing it.

IT IS ASTOUNDING TO ME THAT SBC persons would say that we cannot document racism in the SBC and we don’t need a racial discrimination amendment in the constitution. The truth of the matter is that the SBC is simply not sincerely and seriously opposed to racism to the extent that they seriously oppose homosexuality. Any other explanation is simply whitewashing a very serious issue.

The Bible says “The way of an eagle in the air” is a wonderful thing (Prov. 30:18, 19). If there is hope for the SBC, I pray that God will raise up an eagle among us who can help us soar to higher heights.

What African Americans in the SBC want is simply, Democracy. I close with this poem by the African American poet, Langston Hughes:

Democracy

Democracy will not come today,

This year nor ever through compromise and fear.

I have as much right as the other fellow has

To stand on my two feet and own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,

Let things take their course. Tomorrow is another day.

I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.

I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.

Freedom is a strong seed planted in a great need.

I live here, too. I want freedom just as you.

The following quote from Ergon Caner spoken recently to an audience that gave strong verbal affirmation to his sexist sentiments documents why we need to apologize and affirm women in SBC life for a history of sexist attitudes and actions.

“Dr. Caner, do you believe in women behind the pulpit? My answer is well, yeah, of course, how are they going to vacuum back there unless they get behind it….[laughter, and hoots and hollers]…..and that’s going to be in half of your pulpits next Sunday. FEEL FREE!!! I LOVE THAT LINE!! But you know one line like that shuts it all up, ’cause they’re not going to talk about it, and they’re not going to talk to you for a while, which is good, which is good.” 

A number of other examples could be cited.  However, SBC history also documents and demonstrates sexist sentiments much more egregious that the Caner comment.  For those who say I should not repent for the sins of others, my response to you is, SBC Corporate sins require SBC Corporate Repentance (Nehemiah 1:6).  Consequently, I will offer the following resolution in Orlando concerning women in the SBC.

 A RESOLUTION AFFIRMING THE MINISTRY ROLES OF WOMEN AND APOLOGIZING FOR DELAYS IN RECOGNITION OF THEIR MINISTRY CONTRIBUTION

Submitted by Wm Dwight McKissic, Sr.
Cornerstone Baptist Church  -  Arlington, Texas

WHEREAS, the Scripture teaches that God made male and female together in his own image as the crowning work of his creation, both possessing the sacredness of human personality and equally deserving of dignity and respect as God’s special creation; and 

WHEREAS, God also created male and female with specific and complementary characteristics (Gen 1:27), declaring them good (Gen. 1:31) so that male and female in relationship constitute a complete expression of the divine order for humanity, yet without blurring or denying the significance of gender distinctions that God designed for them; and 

WHEREAS, the equality of male and female as to dignity and worth follow from their creation in the image of God, including but not limited to their special and respective roles; and 

WHEREAS, these roles are generally defined as leader, provider and self-sacrificial protector for males (Ephesians 5:25, 1 Peter 3:7) and as helper, nurturer and life-giver for females (Genesis 2:18 and 3:20); and 

WHEREAS, these distinct roles do not justify neglect on the part of men when it comes to nurturing and caring for their families; nor do they prohibit women from serving in roles traditionally understood as exclusive to males, including service in combat (Judges 4:4-23), prophesying (Exodus 15:20; 2 Kings 22:14; Acts 21:8), evangelistic proclamation (Philippians 4:2; Romans 16:7), deacon ministry (Romans 16:3), public prayer (1 Corinthians 11:2-5) and teaching ministry (Acts 18:26); and 

WHEREAS, the Holy Spirit of God has been given in full measure to both men and women since the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17); and 

WHEREAS, women were excluded from full participation in Southern Baptist Convention life from its inception in 1845, and were refused seats as messengers in 1885 when the convention voted to seat only “the brethren;” and 

WHEREAS, due to their exclusion from voting participation in the Southern Baptist Convention, women were prohibited from serving in most roles in convention life, including service as trustees of convention entities; and 

WHEREAS, women were not officially recognized and seated as convention messengers until 1918, though it was many years later that they began serving in elected office as entity trustees; and  

WHEREAS, in recent years, Southern Baptists have recognized the equal worth and dignity of women both as homemakers and in their professional lives; and 

WHEREAS, in 1983, Southern Baptists affirmed all women who work outside the home by urging their “employers, including those Southern Baptist churches, institutions, and agencies which employ women, to seek fairness for women in compensation, benefits, and opportunities for advancement;” and 

WHEREAS, in 2000, Southern Baptists adopted the revised Baptist Faith and Message, which affirms the legitimate place of women who serve in every area of church, home, and work life, excluding only the office of pastor; and 

WHEREAS, Southern Baptist churches, institutions and agencies often employ women who serve in vital ministry equipping roles, including senior leadership positions; and 

WHEREAS, Southern Baptist seminaries currently employ many godly women in teaching, administrative, and supportive roles that serve to advance the Kingdom purpose of theological education; and 

WHEREAS, the ministry of godly women in Southern Baptist life has been an incredible spiritual asset to the Kingdom work we conduct together; and  

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT, the messengers of annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, gathered in Orlando, Florida, June 15-16, 2010, affirm without qualification the women who serve in our churches, agencies and institutions for their godly character, faithful service, and vital ministry roles; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, we recognize that some religious organizations both within and without Southern Baptist life continue to struggle to recognize, equip, and commission the women whom God has gifted and called to Kingdom service; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, we repudiate any theology, policy, or administrative practice among Southern Baptist churches, agencies and institutions that fails to safeguard fairness for women in compensation, benefits, and opportunities for advancement, and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, we apologize to all women for the delay in recognizing their full value and ministry contribution to Southern Baptist life; and we genuinely repent of the sexism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, we express our deep sorrow and remorse for any offense that has been caused to our sisters in Christ on account of unbiblical gender bias and employment restrictions that do not reflect the positive spirit and precise language of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000; and 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED THAT, we earnestly pray for the hand of God to raise up more women in our midst, to give them every available spiritual gift, and through their public ministry and service to nurture godliness, faithfulness, and obedience in the lives of all people.

The oil spill in the gulf coast, the factionalism, sexism and racism in the history of the SBC, the apathy and lethargy in our churches and the moral decline in our nation should compel us to call a solemn assembly and seek God’s face, repent of our sins and ask Him to pour our His mercy, grace, strength and power upon this SBC family, her churches, and our country, once again.  Consequently, I will offer the following resolution in Orlando.

 A RESOLUTION ON A SOUTHERN BAPTIST SOLEMN ASSEMBLY

Submitted by Wm Dwight McKissic, Sr.
Cornerstone Baptist Church
Arlington, Texas
 

WHEREAS, the Southern Baptist Convention, as a people committed to the authority of God’s Word and dependent on the power of God’s Spirit, have come to a time of profound decision concerning the future structure, ministry vision, and cooperative framework of their shared obedience to the Great Commission; and 

WHEREAS, since its founding in 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention has faced the conflicts and challenges wrought by instances of theological compromise, moral infidelity, and fiscal irresponsibility in its churches, associations, and entities; and 

WHEREAS, the Southern Baptist Convention, must remain eternally vigilant lest the errors of the past – provincialism, liberalism, racism, and the like – return to distract us from our priority commitment of reaching the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ; and 

WHEREAS, all across the Convention, churches, pastors and laypeople are awakening to the need for a resurgence of Kingdom priorities, a renaissance of gospel-centeredness, and a revival of spiritual fervor in our individual lives, our churches, and our Convention entities; and 

WHEREAS, the Scripture teaches that “unless the Lord builds the house, the builder labors in vain” (Psalm 127:1); and that “without [Christ], you can do nothing” (John 15:5); and  

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists are now engaged in a great effort to reaffirm our biblical foundation, to reinforce our Baptist witness, and to reengage the lost world around us; and 

WHEREAS, this effort, which has been appropriately called a Great Commission Resurgence, is of such monumental importance to the future vitality and guiding vision of the Southern Baptist Convention that it requires the exponential spiritual resources of all Southern Baptists to consider thoroughly, implement prudently, and pursue courageously as the Spirit leads; and 

WHEREAS, throughout Scripture God has enjoined his people to seasons of fasting, prayer, and solemn assembly when their focus had been averted from the Lord, when their obedience to God’s commands had fallen short, and when the fresh winds of God’s Spirit were needed to restore a Kingdom purpose and perspective (Joel 1:13-14); and 

WHEREAS, the Southern Baptist Convention is seeking the forgiveness, restoration, and empowerment of God’s Spirit to obey God’s call, whatever the consequences; now 

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT, the messengers of annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, gathered in Orlando, Florida, June 15-16, 2010, do proclaim a solemn assembly among all Southern Baptists, a time of intense spiritual discipline, fasting and prayer, for the purpose of seeking God’s face in the midst of the important decisions we must make about our future; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, such a solemn assembly is to occur in all Southern Baptist Churches at such time as the SBC Convention President shall proclaim, and specifically in the town of Augusta, Georgia, where the Convention was founded in 1845; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the we request all state conventions, associations, and entities of the Southern Baptist Convention to invest their full resources to plan, promote, and convene a solemn assembly for the purposes outlined herein; and 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED THAT, we earnestly pray that the spirit of cooperative missionary zeal that first marked the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention and carried it through more than 150 years of ministry will attend this renewed effort of a Great Commission Resurgence, and that those spiritual, theological, and ethical encumbrances which have heretofore weakened our cooperative efforts will be prevented by God’s Spirit and our faithful resolve from undermining the good plans that God has in store for the Southern Baptist Convention.

From my vantage point, there are three spiritual matters that the SBC Messengers need to address as we prepare to embrace a Great Commission Resurgence in the life of our convention. Consequently, I plan to offer the following resolutions and an amendment to the SBC Constitution in Orlando.

The amendment I plan to offer is as follows:

I hereby move to amend Article III, Section 1 of the SBC Constitution to read:  “1. One (1) messenger from each church which: (1) Is in friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work.  Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior or racial discrimination and bigotry in any form. And, (2) Has been a bona fide contributor to the Convention’s work during the fiscal year preceding. “

I have posted the first resolution below. My next two posts will contain the remaining two resolutions.

Dwight McKissic

RESOLUTION OF REPENTANCE FOR RACIST THEOLOGY AND AN AFFIRMATION OF ETHNIC MINORITIES IN THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

Submitted by Wm. Dwight McKissic

Cornerstone Baptist Church Arlington, TX

Whereas, the Scripture teaches that “God is no respecter of persons,” and that the gospel of Christ is the “power of God unto salvation to all who believe, the Jew first and also the Gentile,” and

Whereas, Christ commanded that his disciples preach the Gospel “to every nation,” and

Whereas, the Holy Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost to men and women of many nations, tribes, and tongues, all of whom shall appear together before the Lord at the end of the age, and

Whereas, the Book of Acts records the apostolic expansion of the Gospel to people of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth, and

Whereas, enumerated among the earliest disciples were men and women of color and racially mixed ethnic heritage, and

Whereas, the Apostle Paul instructed the churches under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that there was neither “Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free,” thereby establishing the eternal truth that the Kingdom of God recognizes no inferiority and countenances no gender bias, racial bigotry, or socio-economic disparity among the followers of Jesus Christ, and

Whereas, through generations, and because the law of sin wages war against the law of God, the people of God have fallen short of his glory, particularly in reference to the full acceptance, affirmation, and recognition of the totality of God’s Kingdom in its intrinsic, multi-racial perfection, and

Whereas, aberrant theologies and false doctrines that attempt to account for ethnic superiority of one race or the other have been allowed to fester from time to time among those who call themselves followers of Christ, whether in the form of white or black supremacy, and

Whereas, among those heresies that have challenged the churches are those that locate the origin of racial diversity in narrative texts of Scripture that in no way pronounce God’s curse upon any person or group of persons either because of the color of their skin, or resulting in the color of their skin, and

Whereas, those who have taught contrary to this truth have been tolerated from time to time to hold professorships, pastorates, and other positions of teaching and administrative authority in Southern Baptist life, and

Whereas, the residual effects of this deplorable breach of Christ’s commands within the history of the Southern Baptist Convention are not easily obliterated from our cooperative missionary efforts, inasmuch as we cannot fully estimate the degree to which latent bigotry and soft racism continues to compromise our thoughts and actions toward all members of God’s family, and

Whereas, while tremendous efforts have been made to distance Southern Baptists from an impeachable record of racial unity, we have not yet fully realized the full participation of our vast ethnic diversity in convention life and leadership, and

Whereas, careless statements regarding persons of color who hold high elected office have been allowed to go publicly unchallenged, causing tremendous disappointment and frustration for those seeking to enlist and encourage greater participation among ethnic minorities in Southern Baptist life and leadership, and

Whereas, the purposeful inclusion of ethnic minorities in Southern Baptist life and leadership is far too often an afterthought instead of a strategic vision designed to affirm and increase rather than merely accept and allow persons of color who bring a rich tradition and robust partnership to our convention work, now

Be it therefore resolved that, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, Fl, June 15-16, 2010, recognize and embrace with enthusiasm the challenge before us to more proactively include and affirm the full participation of all ethnic groups in the work, witness, life and leadership of our convention, and

Be it further resolved, that we detest any residual racism or latent bigotry in our cooperative work or among our churches, for we recognize that these cancerous theologies and perspectives are capable of spreading if tolerated, and

Be it further resolved, that we repent of the “curse of Ham” theology that has provided a theological and sociological cover for mistreatment of persons of color, and further amplify our 1995 statement on racial reconciliation to include this penitent resolve;

Be it further resolved that, we commit our full financial and spiritual resources to equip and encourage all Southern Baptists to serve in every area of convention life and leadership regardless of their ethnic heritage, and

Be it finally resolved, that we diligently pray for God to raise up pastors, professors, evangelists, teachers, missionaries, and laymen and women from all ethnic groups, for the responsibility of the Great Commission weighs heavy upon us, and we know that our ability to reach this nation — indeed the world — for Christ is inadequate and anemic without the witness and work of all God’s children: red, yellow, black and white.

UPDATE: REVISION AND EXPLANATION OF RACIST THEOLOGY RESOLUTION May 28, 2010

After a phone conversation and email exchanges with Chris Rodgers, an employee at Lifeway Christian Resources, I have removed two paragraphs of the above resolution dealing with a quote in Smith’s Bible Dictionary that was made available through Lifeway up until today.

I purchased a copy of Smith’s Bible Dictionary from Lifeway Christian Store in Arlington, Texas in the early to mid ‘90’s. This copy was published by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN., 1991. While researching Noah’s sons, I found the quote cited in the original resolution. Needless to say, I was shocked.

About a year ago I was curious to know if Smith’s Bible Dictionary was still available at Lifeway. I discovered it was and purchased another copy that was published in 2006 by Hendrickson Publishers. This copy contained the exact same quote and material. I purchased the second copy in order to document the fact that it was being made available at or through Lifeway some 10-15 years later. I can’t remember if my secretary ordered the book or not, but I know I personally went to Lifeway in Arlington and purchased it. Therefore, I assumed that Smith’s Bible Dictionary was available at all Lifeway Stores. I’ve since learned that they are only available when someone orders a copy but don’t pick it up. The store manager will then sell it from Lifeway shelves. I perhaps purchased a copy the second time that was available because someone else didn’t pick it up, or it’s possible that my secretary at the time ordered it, and then I went down to pick it up.

Nevertheless, I think that it is highly inappropriate for Lifeway to make available by special order or have on her shelves material that affirms racism. Therefore, I applaud and appreciate Lifeway for making the decision today to no longer make Smith’s Bible Dictionary available. Consequently, I have removed the reference to Lifeway and the Smith Bible Dictionary quote from my resolution.

With Chris Rodgers permission, I am publishing an email exchange between us regarding this matter.

Dear Brother Dwight,

Thank you for taking time to talk to me on the phone today.   I appreciate your gracious spirit.   LifeWay’s reputation and integrity are very precious to us and I wanted to make sure you knew firsthand our stand on this.

I apologize for the problem in our Arlington store and I assure you that is absolutely not the norm.   If you ever see anything stocked in our stores that you think is a problem please let me know.   Below is a statement per your request.    I do not have any exact dates; only what I remember.    Sorry I can’t be more specific.

A few years ago a LifeWay Christian Stores product buyer discovered the problem stated in your resolution concerning Smith’s Bible Dictionary.   We immediately removed them from our stores.   They have not been stocked in our chain for a number of years for the same reasons you pointed out.    Our goal is to carry products that are consistent with the Christian values set forth in the Bible   We will never knowingly carry any product that could be conceived to be racist or bigoted in any form.

I hope you have a great weekend and Memorial Day.    May God continue to bless your ministry in Arlington.

Sincerely,

Chris Rodgers

LifeWay Christian Stores

Dear Chris,

Thanks for your prompt response. Do I have your permission to post your email on my blog?

I also want to point out that Smith’s Bible Dictionary is still available to Lifeway Customers through special order. Would that be an accurate statement? It is my opinion that Lifeway should not make this publication available, because some readers may not be aware of the fact that the majority of Southern Baptists no longer reflect the racial view reflected in Smith’s Bible Dictionary. For the same reason that it is not available at the store, it should also not be available through special order.

I appreciate your phone call. The update and clarification is a significant one. If you grant me permission, I will place your email on my blog.

Tell Tom Rainer, hello. Thanks for the wonderful work Lifeway is doing.

Sincerely,

Wm. Dwight McKissic

Dear Dwight,

Yes, posting my statement will be fine.    It is correct that Smith’s is still available if a customer wants to place a special order although in reality customers show very little interest in ordering this product.    A great part of our ministry is to pastors and ministry staff, who may wish to order a product for critical study.   Out of the minute amount ordered annually, I would have serious doubts that someone would order Smiths because they agree with the racial statements.   I think those ordering Smiths would know what they are ordering and would be ordering if for reasons similar to yours.

However, I understand your point.   So our position is very clear, I will have our system set where Smiths will no longer be available even for special order.   The only exception would be if I find there is a revised version that has removed the objectionable content.    (Also, there is one type of special order that is rarely used where an order could possibly go through because we are using a distributors database.)

I hope this information is helpful.   Hope you have a great weekend.   Let me know if I can help you in any way.

Blessings,

Chris

Answering the Supporters and Family Members of Evangelist Jimmy Davis

The questions and comments that I will address in this post were all raised by persons whom are Anglo and share the concern, “Is there a way to challenge an African American President policies without being accused of racism?” The persons who raised this question and other President Obama related questions are all to some degree sympathetic to or totally supportive of Evangelist Jimmy Davis. Evangelist Jimmy Davis made some controversial remarks and prayer requests concerning President Obama at the Southern Baptist of Texas Evangelism Conference in February 2010 that you can find here and here. I’m specifically responding to questions generated by my post entitled, “ATTITUDES TOWARD RACE IN SBC LIFE” and a CBS Channel 11 local news story addressing current racial concerns in the SBC, that featured a quote by Bro. Davis.

Dennis Thurman and Charity Davis Melchor, the daughter of Evangelist Davis, both raised the question in my blog post, “Is Anglo Criticism of President Obama’s Policies Racist?” I’ve chosen that question as the topic of this post. This is a valid and legitimate question that was alluded to by all of Evangelist Davis’ supporters. I’m anxious to answer the question.

 Anybody who really knows me is aware of that fact that in my pulpit and other public and private settings, I make it very clear that I strongly disagree with several of President Obama’s policies. I’m in total disagreement with President Obama’s gay rights, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, same sex civil unions, and gay pride promotion policies. Does that make me a racist? I disagree with President Obama’s appointing Supreme Court and Federal Judges who support Roe vs. Wade, the federal funding of abortions in the recently passed health care legislation, and his abortion policies in general. Does that make me a racist?  I’m in disagreement with his bailout policies; stimulus package spending policies, and health care tax increase and any other tax increase policy. Does that make me a racist? Notwithstanding the current oil spill in the Gulf. My oil drilling exploration philosophy can be summed up with these words: “Drill Baby Drill!” Does that make me a racist? Because of policy differences, I did not vote for President Obama. Does that make me a racist? NO!

 Any American citizen who criticizes the Office of the President – no matter who holds that office – needs to make sure that the criticism is policy and principle driven, and not pigmentation or personality driven. This premise holds true for any American, of any color, particularly Christians, who for whatever reasons choose to criticize the President. IT IS NOT RACIST FOR AN ANGLO TO CRITICIZE PRESIDENT OBAMA’S POLICIES, nor for an African American to criticize President Obama,  President Bush, or any other President’s policies.

 Here is the problem. In his message to the Southern Baptists of Texas Evangelism Conference, Evangelist Davis argued from the premise that President Obama is not a Christian, fully aware that the President claims to be a Christian. To argue that the President is not a Christian and to ask for prayer requests for the salvation of the President is not stating a policy difference. It is pronouncing a judgment and communicating an assumption (that was not shared by all of his audience) without providing one iota of evidence to support his assumption or judgment. Brother Davis, in boldly proclaiming that President Obama was not a Christian, I repeat, was not expressing a policy difference; but rather a personal judgment difference. Bro. Davis and President Obama have a difference in judgment about the President’s Christianity. This is a major issue in our dispute over this matter. The vast majority of African American Baptists and many Anglo Baptists would not agree with Evangelist Davis’ assessment of President Obama’s Christianity. If Evangelist Davis had presented his belief and prayer request at the National Baptist Convention (Black Baptists) maintaining that President Obama is not a Christian, he would have been “booed” or ushered off the stage: Not because President Obama is African American, but because Evangelist Davis provided no evidence for his premise that President Obama is not a Christian. And no, it is not apparent to all. Admittedly, President Obama is a liberal Christian. Are we saying that liberal Christians are not Christians at all?

 Brother Davis is well within his right to call into question, doubt, or disbelieve the authenticity of the Christian testimony of President Obama. However, to do so raises a series of questions in the mind of an objective believer. Questions such as; By what standard did Brother Davis discredit the Christian testimony of President Obama? Did he apply the same standards to the Christian testimonies of Presidents Bush, Clinton, Daddy Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Kennedy and the President whom my mother named me after, President Dwight D. Eisenhower? Did Brother Davis ever ask a group of Southern Baptists to pray to God that one or more of the above named Presidents be sent by God into “exile” or be “providentially” removed from office if they didn’t repent?

 The burden of proof is on Brother Davis to explain why he believes President Obama is not a Christian. The burden of proof is on Brother Davis to explain why he considers President Obama the most wicked President in American history. The burden of proof is on Brother Davis to explain why he considers President Obama more wicked than the slavery/segregation promoting Presidents. The burden of proof is on Brother Davis to explain why he considers President Obama to be more wicked than President Clinton, President Nixon, or a host of other American Presidents. The burden of proof is on Brother Davis to explain why he believes it is exegetically accurate to compare a theocratic King-Manasseh/Israel, with a secular President – Obama/U.S.A., and hold them to the same standard and judgment.

 These are not policy questions. These are personal and spiritual questions. Consequently, this then is why the issue of race or double standards is raised.

Lonnie Massey, an Anglo brother, makes it clear and I agree with him, that Evangelist Jimmy Davis is not a racist. However, he described the “exile” quote as “intemperate and inflammatory.” Brother Davis’ statements may not have been race based. They could have been simply personal preference and personal judgment based. Nevertheless, they were clearly inappropriate and without foundation. Bro. Massey made another relevant and insightful statement; “Anyone who speaks for a living should always consider his or her audience.” I believe Bro. Jimmy failed to give full consideration to the diversity of his audience. There were Anglo persons in the audience who disagreed with Bro. Jimmy’s statements as well. To call President Obama’s Christianity into question using a different standard than what is used for Southern Baptist Pro-Choice advocates, Baptist slaveholders, Presidents Clinton, Bush I and II, and to call for prayer requests for God to send President Obama into “exile”, or “providentially” remove him from office – are personal judgments not policy differences.

The Bible teaches us to pray for those in authority so “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” (I Tim. 2:2). When Paul wrote this, Christians were under great persecution from a pagan Roman Government. However, Paul did not instruct them to pray for the Roman Emperor’s or Governors “exile” or “providential” removal from office. I agree with my friend Tim Rogers, who is certainly not a liberal by any stretch of the imagination; “I agree we should not call for the providential removal of our Nations leaders as it speaks clearly that we are asking God to kill them.” Well spoken Bro. Tim. Therefore, the prayer requests that Evangelist Jimmy Davis offered for President Obama can either be labeled, intemperate, inconsiderate, inflammatory, inconsistent, ill thought, unrighteous, unbiblical, race based, or simply wrong. Pick one. I accept the testimony of his family members that Bro. Davis is not racist nor was his prayer request race based. So that leaves one or more of the other categories to choose from. Again, pick one.

 The issue of race, not racism as it relates to Southern Baptists and Bro. Jimmy Davis, was raised on my blog post, because, quite frankly, many of us have never heard imprecatory prayers prayed toward a sitting President in our lifetime. Why now? Why President Obama?

 If anyone can prove with a recording that Brother Davis has made identical remarks or prayers toward any other President, I will immediately publicly release a statement of apology to Evangelist Davis. Until Evangelist Davis provides a biblical rationale that can be applied to all of the other Presidents and all Southern Baptists, that invalidates President Obama’s testimony, I stand by my blog post and public remarks. These are not policy questions, they are judgment questions. Therefore, the call for evidence and questions about the motivation of these unusual prayers are based on a lack of documentation that this has been done in the past.

 If President Obama’s abortion policies invalidated his salvation, we must disqualify all Southern Baptists who claim to be Christian, but are pro-choice, including the majority of the voting messengers to the 1971 SBC Annual Meeting.

 President Obama and President Bush hold the exact same position on gay marriage and civil unions. Their positions are: Gay marriage? No. Gay Civil Unions? Yes. I’m totally against both. However, if you disqualify one’s salvation based on same sex civil unions, you also have to disqualify the other. Presidents Bush and Obama are both Universalist and President Bush says he believes that there are errors in the Bible. I disagree with both Presidents on Universalism and I strongly disagree with President Bush’s beliefs that there are errors in the Bible. However, I do not question whether or not either is a genuine Christian.

 An Anglo or any other American can question President Obama’s policies without being accused of racism. However, one must stick to policy issues and not delve into imprecatory prayers and judging any President’s salvation without offering evidence. I share Bro. Jimmy’s heart for righteousness and revival. Other than the Obama portion, I agreed with the entirety of Bro. Jimmy’s message.

Sister Lori Mulkey, I share your belief that “supporting homosexuality and the murder of children is not producing Christian fruit.” My question to you is this: Since, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton held these same views do you also maintain that they were not Christians? Do you believe that the Southern Baptists were Christians who voted in 1971 in their Annual Session – to use your vernacular- support “the murder of children.”? Do you believe that President George Bush, who believed that there were errors in the Bible, believed in Universalism and same sex civil unions, is a Christian? In order for me to address your concerns about President Obama, I would have to know how you feel about these questions. Please provide definitive answers for me.

Sister Lori, you asked, “Could you tell me exactly what it is that you agree with the President on?” I agree with him that the Executive Cabinet of our Government should look like America. The SBC, CEO positions are all held by White Males. In that regard, President Obama’s practice of the Christian faith exceeds Southern Baptists (Acts 10:34). I agree with him that family life and commitment is of utmost importance. He far exceeds John McCain in the family department. I disagree, as you do, with many of his policies. But, I’ve read his Christian testimony. In spite of his policies, his testimony is clearer than most Southern Baptists. I agree with him, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and that He was buried and rose again on the third day. President Obama has expressed his faith on these matters many times. Unfortunately, many Southern Baptists don’t believe him. Consequently, the questions of a double standard and race-based criticism are inevitable. Bill Clinton and Al Gore were Southern Baptists with views identical to President Obama. I don’t recall the prayers for “exile” and “providential” removal from office when they were in office. Was Obama really more wicked than Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and a host of other Presidents?

Bro. Jake Davis, I loved my father; he is in heaven now. I can tell you loved your dad. I celebrate the loyalty and love you all have for each other. I have not called your father a racist. I’ve never met him. I’m sure he’s not a racist.  From what I’ve heard, he sounds like a great man. He must be a great father.

Please point to the written verbal statement where I called your dad a racist.

Do you believe that it is proper that prayers are prayed asking God to send into exile and providentially remove any President who believes in abortion or same sex civil unions? I don’t question whether or not your daddy is a racist. I question the appropriateness of the two types of prayers he mentioned to pray for President Obama. I question his evidence for his belief that President Obama is not a Christian and the most “wicked President in the history of America”. What is Evangelist Davis’ answer to these questions:

(1)   Were the Baptists slave owners Christians? (2) Were the SBC Messengers who voted in favor of abortion in 1971 Christians? I’m questioning whether or not your father prayed these identical prayers for other Presidents with President Obama’s views on abortion and homosexuality. If so, where’s the evidence? (3) Where is the evidence that President Obama is the most wicked President in history?

Evangelist Davis may simply be guilty of applying a different standard to President Obama or he may have made subconsciously race-based remarks. It is possible that neither is true. I will be glad to apologize if you offer me evidence to the contrary. Please provide a copy of the tape of your Dad praying “exile” and “providential” removal prayers for the other Presidents.

I applaud your support for your dad and I don’t believe your daddy is a racist. Remember, being racial is not the same as being racist in my original blog post, “Attitudes On Race In SBC Life.”

Bro. Casey Harrington, I trust I’ve answered most of your questions by answering the questions of others. I’m unaware of the report that President Obama actually “knelt and bowed down in a Muslim Mosque”. Before I could address this issue, you’ll have to point me to the source of your information on President Obama allegedly kneeling down at a Muslim Mosque.

Bro. Harrington, I would also ask you to answer the questions that I asked Bro. Jake Davis.

Bro. Harrington, your “exile” question deserves far more attention than I have space or time to answer. Suffice it to say at this point, there is no biblical precedence for “exile” prayers (I Timothy 2:1-8) and where were these prayers for other Presidents with similar views to President Obama?

Sis. Margaret Bouman, I believe that I’ve addressed your questions in my response to others. If not, ask a clear, specific question and I will give you a clear specific answer.

Sis. Darla,

Thanks for visiting. I hope I’ve addressed your concerns in my comments to others. If not, please ask a specific question and I will give you a specific answer.

Sis. Lori,

Thanks for visiting. I’m concerned about your “exile” comment but I respect your right to your belief.

Finally, please forgive the length of this post. I enjoy company. I love each of you with the love of the Lord.

Dwight

The Augusta Vision- “that the world may believe”

John 17:21d

The Southern Baptist Convention is arguably the greatest missionary, evangelistic, church planting, discipleship training and Christian Education enterprise, in the history of Christianity. Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, where I am privileged to serve as pastor, is a product of the missionary zeal and efforts of Southern Baptists, for which I am grateful.

However, in recent years the SBC is experiencing significant and measurable decline. The key questions many Southern Baptists are asking are: Why the decline and what should we do about it? The purpose of this post is to address these valid questions.

Against the backdrop of racism, sexism, and factionalism, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed in Augusta, Georgia in May of 1845. These three “isms” are no longer dominant in SBC life, but neither are they dormant. If Southern Baptists are going to win the world to Christ, we must biblically, honestly and redemptively address our history, image and current reality as it relates to these three issues. We simply cannot expect to have a Great Commission Resurgence that God anoints and blesses, until we first have a Great Repentance Resurgence specifically related to these three “isms”.

Reconciliation, healing, and a coming together in the “unity of the spirit” is vitally important if we are to move forward with the Great Commission Resurgence from our current state of affairs. What is our current state of affairs? Imploding from factionalism, rather than explosion from evangelism.

The greatest threat to the fellowship of the SBC, the funding of the Cooperative Program, and the success of the GCR initiative, is not racism or sexism in the life of our convention. Factionalism is the greatest sin and threat that our convention is currently facing. Baptist factionalism is the reason Cooperative Program giving is declining. Six hundred missionaries were not funded recently and baptismal and Sunday school growth is decreasing. The SBC vital signs are trending and tracking in the wrong direction because of factionalism. Factionalism is not inherently a sin. Pride, a party spirit and the desire for preeminence and power that often accompanies factionalism, is what makes it a sin or weight.

When one stripe of Baptist conservatism attempts to dominate, marginalize, disenfranchise or demonize another stripe of Baptist conservatism, the end result is factionalism. Jesus said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).

The Hebrew writer admonished believers to, “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us” (Hebrews 12:1b). To the extent that I’ve participated in factions in SBC life, and have contributed to the divide in our convention by actions or attitude beyond God’s perfect will for my life, I openly repent and apologize. We must come together as a convention and rally around one purpose and that is, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:27). The division and factionalism in the SBC must soon cease and be laid aside for the sake of the Great Commission. I want to set an example.

In August of 2006, I preached a sermon at Southwestern Seminary Chapel that Paige Patterson deemed “harmful to the churches.” In the aftermath of Dr. Patterson’s statement I battled with the emotions of disappointment, hurt, anger, surprise and confusion. I’m sure he experienced similar emotions in response to my message. Neither one of us intended to hurt the other. We simply didn’t fully understand each other’s theology on the subject matter that I addressed. Nevertheless, I deeply hurt Dr. Patterson and because that was not my intention, I publicly apologize to him. Not for the content of my message, but for not being more conciliatory toward him and not seeking to understand his position and response. Rather, I chose to publicly argue and defend my position. In the process, I contributed majorly to factionalism in the life of our convention. Again, to the extent that I’ve played a role toward the division and factionalism in our convention, I apologize. There was “collateral damage” to SWBTS and Conerstone that I’m responsible for as a result of my response to Dr. Patterson’s public statement. Our entire convention is suffering because of the factionalism that’s running rampant. It is extremely difficult to maintain unity in the life of our convention in light of our autonomous church structure, and the fact there are a host of issues that the B, F, M does not address.    

The 1845 Augusta SBC could not have envisioned itself, with Fred Luter as President, Dwight McKissic as a member and women having voting privileges as well as serving on entity boards. Additionally, women serving in all levels of ministry within the parameters of the 2000 B, F, and M and the autonomy of the local church would have been far beyond the mental grasp of the 1845 SBC. Korean fellowships, Hispanic fellowships, Founder’s fellowship, Baptists Convictional Association, African American fellowship, B21 fellowship, Nine Marks and a host of others would have been totally unimaginable to the 1845 SBC.  Is the SBC’s success also the cause for her slide? Is SBC evangelism in part responsible for our current factionalism? How does God want us to move forward from here?

How can we achieve unity in SBC life amid so much diversity? Has the SBC grown and gone beyond the point where unity is even desirable or achievable? Has the missionary and evangelistic success of yesteryears been our undoing, because it brought into our ranks many who are culturally, socially, racially and theologically different from the 1845 Augusta, Georgia core group?

Conservatives in the SBC are made up of a coalition of people who are inerrantist, but have great diversity beyond that. The question that the SBC has to answer is, will we affirm our diversity within the parameters of the Baptist, Faith and Message 2000 or will we continue to politically posture for control by one stripe or ilk of conservatives dominating the others? Each faction or “click” fights for controlling interests, or majority status. Those who oppose the group, who seem to be gaining ground or control, are often called dissidents or the disgruntled.

How does the SBC handle dissidents or the so-called disgruntled? Dissidents are either marginalized, disenfranchised or demonized, and this I believe is the primary cause why the SBC is in decline. Asking for increased giving from a shrinking number of local churches affiliated with the SBC will not solve the problem. Reconciling with dissidents and the various factions of the SBC who feel as if they have no voice or seat at the table will resolve the funding problem in the SBC. We must remember that Jesus not only commissioned an outreach ministry, He also commissioned an inreach ministry (Luke 15:4). Perhaps, the SBC also needs to launch A Great Inreach Resurgence. I’m absolutely convinced that if the SBC allows God to heal her “tribalism spirit”– her treasure and funding problems would heal simultaneously. How shall we proceed toward healing the tribalism, division and factionalism in SBC life?

We need to formally acknowledge that there are ideological, theological, and preferential differences among us that are not outside of the scope of the Baptist, Faith and Message 2000. We need to formally declare that our goal is unity in achieving the Great Commission, not uniformity in secondary and preferential matters.

Jesus prayed for unity among His followers, because He recognized that evangelism was hindered where there was a lack of unity (John 17:21). Jesus taught that unity was a prerequisite to world evangelism. The day of Pentecost illustrates this truth (Acts 2:1). If unity was absolutely necessary for the original Great Commission Surge – shall we attempt another without first seeking corporate union with God and unity with each other? If God did not allow the early church to succeed with the Great Commission without unity, why would we think we could succeed without unity? Even the group that met in Georgia in 1845 was unified. Unified around some ungodly social beliefs, and sound doctrine, God honored and blessed their spirit of unity with Great Commission success (Psalms 33:1). Agreement is powerful, even when there are some negative and sinful components included. Back to the question: How shall we heal the divide; factionalism and disunity in the life of the SBC? The vision is simple, scriptural and doable.

 THE AUGUSTA VISION

We need to “lay the axe at the root of the trees” (Matthew 3:10). By May 2012, the SBC needs to “go back to her future”, in Augusta, Ga., and “convene a solemn assembly” (Joel 1:14). The vision would be for our convention to come together under God, at the place where God first blessed this convention. We need to corporately repent of our sins, and ask God to restore health, unity and wholeness to our convention.

In Augusta, Ga., we need to fall on our faces before God and repent that our convention was birthed and rooted in racism, sexism and factionalism. We need to ask God to heal the current disunity and factionalism in the SBC. We need to ask God to birth within us a spirit of unity as it was on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). We need to ask God to pour our His Spirit afresh and anew upon our churches and convention. We need to ask God to allow the wind of His Spirit to blow across our land one more time as He did in the first and second great awakenings.

The party spirit in SBC life must cease (1 Corinthians 3:3-9). The unity and praise spirit in SBC life must begin (Ephesians 4:3). Certain people who are part of the SBC today would not have been welcomed in Augusta in 1845. Thank God, we can come now; red, yellow, black and white, male and female, northerners and southerners, as one body in Christ (Galatians 3:28). Quite frankly, Anglo Southern Baptists need to go to Augusta to make peace with their past as it relates to race, sexism and factionalism. People of color in the SBC need to go to Augusta to experience our SBC history and repent of any racist, sexist and factional attitudes and actions towards others that we’ve been party too. What better place to begin with a fresh start than Augusta, Ga.?

In Augusta, the Southern Baptists of the Charlestonian Tradition, would come together in the unity of the Spirit with the Southern Baptists of the Sandy Creek Tradition. The Baptist Identity Southern Baptists would come together in the unity of the spirit with the Baptist Irenic Southern Baptists. The Calvinist Southern Baptists must come together in the unity of the Spirit with the Non Calvinist Southern Baptists. The cessationist/ anti-tongues Southern Baptists must come together in the unity of the Spirit, with the continualist/ little “c” Southern Baptists charismatics, in the Jerry Rankin tradition. The minority people of color Southern Baptists must come together in the unity of the Spirit, with the majority Caucasian Southern Baptists. The complementarian Southern Baptists must come together in the unity of the Spirit, with the “complegalatarian” Southern Baptists in the Sandy Creek Tradition. The contemporary church practioner Southern Baptists must come together with the cultural warrior Southern Baptists. The Fundamentalists Southern Baptists must come together with the Orthodox Evangelical Southern Baptists including moderates who believe in inerrancy.

We must endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). We must allow for disagreements on nonessential matters and allow dissidents to fully function within the life of our convention within the parameters of the B, F, and M 2000.

This must be done for the sake of the Great Commission. I’m not asking that anyone change their belief system, but rather that we respectfully, lovingly and intentionally join together, in spite of our belief systems, for the Kingdom’s sake.

If God breathed on our solemn assembly, we could depart from Augusta, fired up and ready to go. You ask, ready to go where? Ready to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” We could depart from Augusta as “one body”; empowered by “one Spirit”; with only “one hope”; in the soon coming return of “one Lord”; committed to “one faith”; having all received “one baptism”; worshipping “one God”; serving Him with at least “one” gift He’s given us (Ephesians 4:3-7); and filled with His “one” Spirit (Ephesians 5:18); and ready to minister as one people (1 Peter 2:9-10), so “that the world may believe” in our one God and His son, Jesus Christ.

If all SBC entities policies and personnel reflected the spirit of this vision, the Cooperative Program giving and consequently Great Commission sending, would esponentially increase almost immediately. If we come together in a solemn assembly under this vision, we can do in Augusta this time, what should have been done the first time. And that is, let the world know we are Christians by our love.

Lord, let it come to pass, according to your will for the Kingdom’s sake and the Great Commission, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Southern Baptist Convention needs to call a solemn assembly and repent for passive and intentional acts of racism in SBC life since the ‘95 apology statement.

I coincidently happened to see Frank Page at the Louisville Airport in June ’09 at the close of the Annual SBC meeting. This gave me an opportunity to respectfully point out to him that not one Black person was appointed to the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force at the Louisville Convention. Dr. Page assured me that this was an unintentional oversight by President Johnny Hunt. Frank Page contacted Dr. Hunt and he quickly appointed an African American Pastor from Georgia to the GCRTF.  I applaud Johnny Hunt for immediately rectifying this situation.

Is Johnny Hunt racist? Absolutely not. His unintentional oversight is just symptomatic of the problem. Systemic, institutional and individual racism in SBC life is usually passive, not intentional. Yet, it exists. Therefore, it must be biblically addressed by our leaders if we are serious about the Great Commission. 

Dr. Danny Akin prophetically, positively, and profoundly addressed the race issue in his signature message in chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, concerning the Great Commission Resurgence. Rarely, do we hear of this type of statesmanship and leadership on this issue from anyone in SBC life. Much respect to you, Dr. Akin. I wish the GCR report to the annual meeting in Orlando would include Dr. Akin’s initial remarks on this subject.

For years I’ve asked many of my Black Baptists and evangelical Pastor friends, who would not question one word of the B, F, and M, 2000, why won’t you join the SBC? Their response would be, because it is “southern and racial”. Note: not racist, but “racial”- meaning, the DNA of the SBC is White, and geographically and culturally southern oriented. Therefore, it cannot comfortably or willingly accommodate or assimilate as equals, African American Baptists input, involvement and influence. For years I’ve disagreed with my friends’ analysis. But I’ve since reached the conclusion, they are right.

Ten years after the ’95 racial reconciliation and apology statement, there has not been one African American appointed to a position as the Chief Executive Officer of a SBC entity. There are three entity executive positions currently vacant. I pray that a qualified African American will be appointed to one of them.

If you think I’m unnecessarily fixated on race, tell me how you would you feel if you were a part of a convention that claimed to be inclusive of all people groups, yet without exception, all executive level cabinet positions are occupied by males of only one people group? Would you think that’s fair? You watch the full GCR report and none of the four presenters ethnically resemble any of the people groups that the report is challenging us to reach except for Anglo males. Do you agree with that approach?

One of the objections that I’ve often heard from minorities concerning SBC missions efforts is that the approach is paternalistic rather than a partnership approach. Viewing it from the perspective of a minority, that’s how the GCR report came across, paternalistic. Nevertheless, I plan to vote for it because I have huge respect for the GCRTF members that I’m acquainted with.

Is the GCR report racist because none of the presenters are persons of color? No! It does mean that persons of color were once again an oversight, which again is symptomatic of the problem. I trust that when the GCRTF report is made in Orlando, representatives from other ethnic groups will share in the reporting.

In February, I attended the Southern Baptists of Texas Evangelism Conference where the SBC Evangelist Jimmy Davis, preached a message comparing President Obama to the wicked King Manasseh. Davis clearly communicated that President Obama was not a Christian, being fully aware that the President claims to be a Christian. He challenged the conference to pray for the President’s salvation. As Davis sees it, if the President doesn’t repent of certain social policy positions and his spiritual condition, then he encouraged the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention to “pray that God providentially remove President Obama from office”.

On the heels of Davis’ message I called him to make sure I understood his message correctly. Not only did he make it clear that I understood his message correctly, he further added his belief that President Obama is the “most wicked President in the history of the United States”. Evangelist Davis, at the conclusion of his message, asked the audience to join him on his knees and they did. He then prayed for the President’s salvation and that he be “providentially” removed from office if he doesn’t repent.

The picture of hundreds of Anglo Southern Baptists on their knees praying that God “providentially” remove the first African American President of the United States from office is not a pretty picture to African American Southern Baptists or biblio-centric fair minded Americans of any color. It’s a horrible witness to the world and a poor testimony of Southern Baptists. The SBTC officials are very much aware of this message and have remained publicly silent. Does silence equal consent? If Evangelist Davis’ remarks and prayer that God “providentially” remove President Obama is not repudiated by SBC and SBTC officials, Wiley Drake is owed and apology (2010 Empower Evangelism Conference, Southern Baptists of Texas , February 15-17, 2010). I’m publicly asking Dr. Jim Richards and Johnny Hunt to publicly disavow and repudiate the portion of Evangelist Davis’ message that dealt with President Obama.

Read this Baptist Deacon’s comment about President Obama posted on his blog:

“In a year, two at the most, the government will collapse on itself with no outside assistance due to a shortage of taxpayers. When that happens, China will sue for possession to recoup its losses in the World Court and win. Since no one trusts a liar, the Chinese will not permit Barack, the Tragic Negro, or congress to remain in power. Few will be willing to shed their blood to protect and defend Obama’s America”.     [Bill Fortner, Tuesday, March 30, 2010, Picayune Poltroons]

 

This Anglo Baptist deacon has a right to his political opinions. However, to refer to the President of the United States as, “the Tragic Negro”, is clearly racist and beyond the pale. Our convention will never experience genuine racial reconciliation and ethnic church growth as long as Baptists harbor and air views like Evangelist Davis and Deacon Bill Fortner.

A Black Baptist Arkansas Pastor who disassociated himself from the SBC in recent years visited our church this past March. I asked him why he was no longer Southern Baptist. He reported to me that his congregation went on a missions trip to Mexico with an Anglo Southern Baptist congregation. During this trip his people heard one of the Anglo mission team members use racial slurs toward their pastor. When he confronted the Anglo who allegedly made the slurs, he didn’t deny it nor did he apologize. Consequently, he left the convention.

Ergun Caner made condescending and stereotypical remarks concerning the Black Church in a sermon preached at First Baptist of Jacksonville, FL. Caner’s observation certainly would not be true of the Black church that I pastor and the majority of Black churches that I’m aware of. Yet, his remarks were met with approving laughter. I don’t believe that he would have made those same remarks in a Black church. Caner essentially said Black churches do not put the preacher up to preach until about 1:00 p.m. That’s not true. Black churches, according to Caner, take up “twelve offerings”. That’s untrue. Caner further stated:

“… you go to a Black church gentlemen, you are not going to have on a blue suit, you are going to have blue shoes to match, and your handkerchief is going to match your tie, and your whole outfit is going to match your car. It’s BEAUTIFUL. And ladies: when we talk about black church, we’re talkin’ about hats. And I’m not just talkin’ Easter hats as some of you may wear, I’m talkin’ ’bout satellite dish hats. [laughter]. Big enough to receive a signal, with a curtain rod goin’ down the front that you can just pull the curtain across”.   [Ergun Caner, The Warrior Church, June 14, 2009]

 

By the grace of God, I’ve been privileged to preach over the past thirty six years in twenty seven states, at least seventy five cities, and in over one hundred and eighty pulpits or public venues across the length and breadth of America. The vast majority of those preaching assignments were in Black Baptist pulpits. My point is, Ergun Caner may have had a better opportunity to judge the social mores of the Black church more so than I, but it’s doubtful. I can truly say that what Ergun Caner stated is simply, generally not true. As a matter of fact, I’ve never witnessed what he described. If I stated that White preachers preached in Hawaiian shirts and encouraged married couples in their churches to have sex seven straight days, and wore toupees; that may be true in isolated cases but it would be unfair, inaccurate, and racially stereotypical, without foundation, for to me make such a claim.

This is what Caner has done and he owes FBC Jacksonville an apology. I honestly don’t believe Caner meant any harm. I think that he was simply speaking off the cuff and exaggerated grossly. Most public speakers, including myself, have made similar mistakes. However, his remarks were damaging to the reputation of the Black church in the minds and hearts of his hearers. One would expect better than this from a Seminary President. This caricature must be corrected. Jim Richards, Richard Land, Wade Burleson, Ronnie Floyd, and Tim Rogers have all preached in my pulpit. They know Caner’s description of the Black church is absolutely false. It is certainly not the norm. I know Mac Brunson personally. I have great respect for him. Mac owes it to his people to set the record straight.  

An Anglo SBC church in Louisiana refused to let Anglo missionaries whom had adopted children of color speak in their church because of the color of their children. This church should be investigated and disciplined by the SBC just as the churches that reportedly are affirming and welcoming of homosexuals. Although the SBC claims thousands of African American members, the highest ranking Black at the SBC Executive headquarters is the head custodian. This is certainly reminiscent of the Antebellum South.

All of the above incidents took place since 1995. The SBC needs to hold a Great Repentance Resurgence that precedes a Great Commission Resurgence, so that we can be cleansed of unbiblical and ungodly attitudes toward women and race. Unfortunately, my pastor friends who refuse to join the SBC are right. The SBC is “southern and racial” and this must change if God is to breathe on our Great Commission Resurgence.

I personally like changing the name of the SBC to THE INTERNATIONAL BAPTIST CONVENTION. A new name gives us an opportunity for a new start in a new millennium. It’s an idea we truly ought to consider.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37 other followers