June 2018


A Book Review by William Dwight Mckissic, Sr.

GOD’S AMAZING GRACE:  RECONCILING FOUR CENTURIES OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MARRIAGES AND FAMILIES

Author – PASTOR TERRY TURNER

A response to a question Blacks have been asked for years, is finally answered in this great book of epic insights by Terry Turner entitled, God’s Amazing Grace:  Reconciling Four Centuries of African American Marriages and Families. “Why don’t you just get over it,” is a question many non-Blacks often ask of African Americans, in regards to any civil rights matter. For most Blacks, the answer is not a simple reply because it is so complex. In this book, Turner does an excellent job of breaking down the issues in the Black community that have stifled growth and positive outcomes in their marriages and families. He even begins the book as an African American male addressing the question to his race, asking, “What is wrong with my people?” As I read the book, my mind began to categorize into four different sections that may be helpful to the reader. For me, the book can be broken down, to help answer these questions, into the foundation of the problems, fatherlessness being at the forefront of the issues, faith being a saving grace for what is to remain of the family structure, and remedies to build the future.

Looking at a newly constructed building, one may notice wooden planks holding a temporary structure in place that workers stand on while building the permanent edifice. These beams however, will not remain once the building is completed. They simply are put in place to help build the foundation until the building can stand on its own. This practice is called scaffolding. In African American families, scaffolding came in the form of people who did not have their best interest in mind. The Black family foundation is built on lies and deceit, and therefore is an imbalanced entity, comparably speaking. Turner addresses The Trickle Down Effect, Post-Traumatic Slavery Syndrome, mistreatment of prisoners and slaves and even sexual abuse as defects in the foundation of Black homes. His research is eye opening to its readers and will shed much light on the many many cracks in the foundation of the Black family structure.

Every child’s first hero usually lives in their house and sleeps with them each night. This idol protects them from harm, provides a place of stability and makes sure they never go to bed hungry. He can even be responsible for ensuring they are educated and a well-rounded member of society. They go by the endearing name, Daddy. A dad is born into a family as a son and is groomed to one day assume the position of the patriarch. In the Black family, this position is often left void. Whether the father has been killed at an early age, died of natural causes, or just chose not to be in the child’s life, absenteeism is a true problem that plagues the foundation of many Black homes. Turner even expresses his personal situation where his father lived in his home but was still absent emotionally and eventually physically due to medical issues. Some fathers live in the home but due to drug abuse, extra marital relationships, and other setbacks, they still do not engage with their children and wife in a positive manner. All of these hardships have made it difficult for Black families to thrive. Without being taught how to be a superhero, how exactly does one learn? Even Robin had Batman to show him the way. Often times, young boys grow up to be men raising families of their own, with not a single instruction from their Batman. The early example of masculine leadership in the Black families was slave masters beating, raping and deceiving families to follow instructions that were necessary for their survival. With this treacherous way of living as the introduction to fatherhood in the African American family, it comes as no surprise to people of color why their homes are unstable in comparison to their white counterparts.

As with any damage structure, hope remains that it can be restored. The African American family is no different. For centuries, it has been faith in Christ that has held the Black family together. This faith is well documented in how it helped slaves maintain their livelihood and even escape. This faith was an outlet to the troubles that continued into the civil rights movement. Many African American pastors have been at the forefront of social injustices, as Blacks use their faith as a pathway to freedom and rely on their spiritual advisors to lead them.

Moving through history and into the current century, marriages in the African American families have evolved and albeit a struggle, the integrity of marriage must be maintained to ensure strong families in the future. Imagine being stripped from a husband and kids and being forced into adultery, fornication and even incestuous relationships against your will. This was the plight of most African American women in slavery. While not even classified as a human, these women were defenseless and unable to protect themselves. Turner points out that contrary to the scriptures they were taught on sexual immorality, they were not given the chance to abstain. For these reasons, families were completely mutilated and scattered. Presently, some of these ill effects still haunt Black families. Sexual sins are not always viewed as such, because for years, under the law, incontinence, fornication, adultery, bigamy and other sexual crimes, were not considered as such for slaves and Blacks. Fast forward to 2018, many of these acts still exist and are rampant in Black homes. Now that marriages are legal and laws are in place to protect the sanctity of marriage, Blacks must take advantage of the opportunity and stop destroying their families due to sexual misconduct.

By God’s Amazing Grace, there is hope for the Black family in America. With excuses that can run four centuries long, it is imperative that African Americans rid their families of these cracks in their foundation. “Just get over it! What is wrong with my people? What is wrong with me?” The answer: Nothing. Our past has been reconciled and by His Grace, our families will be healed.

Terry Turner has done an excellent with this awesome work, “God’s Amazing Grace:  Reconciling Four Centuries of African American Marriages and Families.” The content of his message is relatable to the needs of the African American Community concerning the issues we face today. This book about God’s Amazing Grace engages and equips all people concerning African American families and history. Terry Turner is a compelling and persuasive teacher/preacher. I endorse and highly recommend “God’s Amazing Grace:  Reconciling Four Centuries of African American Marriages and Families.” It is a really great read! I believe you will be blessed, encouraged and greatly benefited by reading Turner’s book.

 

William Dwight McKissic, Sr.
Pastor, Cornerstone Church, Arlington, TX

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VOTING GREEAR, COULD AS EASILY VOTE HEMPHILL, TEMPTED TO NOMINATE BETH MOORE, FOR SBC PRESIDENCY

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

When Trayvon Martin was shot and killed because he simply looked “suspicious,” initiated by the fact that Zimmerman viewed him as “suspicious” and chose to pursue him against the order of the police department, it was a personal, powerful, picturesque and emotional moment for me to hear Dr. Fred Luter address this matter as President of the SBC. I never thought I would live long enough to hear a SBC President redemptively, righteously and prophetically address a matter when a young Black man was needlessly shot because the idea was stimulated by unfounded suspicion and his killer not following a police order.

If a Hispanic person was addressing immigration issues while serving as President of the SBC, it would likely have a radically different tone and project the SBC as compassionate on the immigration question.

Imagine for a moment with me, what if the person serving as SBC President at this hour was a competent, accomplished, biblically sound, orthodox female who could address the multitude of questions and issues the SBC is facing regarding women issues? The criticism and skepticism would be less dramatic if the SBC historically had demonstrated confidence and belief in the gifts and value of SBC women serving at all levels of leadership in SBC institutional life within the boundaries of the Bible.

To say this is a critical hour in the life of the SBC is an understatement. The presidency of the SBC is by design weighted more toward symbolism than governing. There is no budget, personnel, office space, and extremely limited authority that are presumptive or inherent in occupying the office of President of the SBC. Yes, the SBC President appoints the committee on committees that appoints all of the SBC committees. Yes, the SBC President presides over the Annual SBC gathering. Yes, the SBC President serves as an ex-officio trustee of all SBC entities. Yes, the SBC President serves on the committee on order of business. Yes, the SBC President serves as an official representative of the SBC to the public at large and as a representative to other parachurch or denominational gatherings. Beyond those aforementioned responsibilities, the SBC presidency has no decision-making authority. Again, the SBC presidency is largely symbolic, not authoritative. Therefore, a woman would not be usurping authority over a man by serving as SBC President.

The SBC is an entity head and trustee-driven governmental system. The SBC President is not an entity head or voting trustee of any of the entities. The President of the Executive Committee of the SBC, which is a job currently vacant and most recently held by Frank Page, has oversight of a colossal budget and staff and is appointed by the EC Trustee Board. That position, totally distinct from The Office of the President of the SBC, inherently has much more authority than the elective office of the President of the SBC. Clearly, the SBC President has a large “bully pulpit,” if they choose to use it; and a great deal of influence, but very limited constitutional authority. In NBC life the role of the EC and President of the NBC are synonymous. In the SBC, this is not so. My reason for explaining the above is because I have observed that there is widespread ignorance in SBC life regarding the role and authority of the President of the SBC, succinctly stated; The President of the SBC is not a position of inherent authority, but usually widespread name recognition and influence, based on ministry history and convention support.

I’ve never met or communicated with J.C. Greear in any context, to the best of my recollection. His ministry reputation is impeccable. His record on race is impressive. Greear’s noble act, in standing down, so that unity and the election of Steve Gaines would stand up, was so impressive to me that made up my mind then that I was going to vote for him in ’20, regardless to who his opposition might be. I tweeted my support for Greear before Dr. Ken Hemphill announced his candidacy for the presidency. I remain true to my commitment to vote for Greear.

However, Ken Hemphill is a man that I know personally. Hemphill is a man that I deeply love and respect. If he had announced first, I would have been not only supportive of his candidacy, I would have voted for him, based on my personal history with him. As many have noted, we will be in good hands as a convention with either Greear or Hemphill.

My appreciation for Hemphill lies in the fact that he was an incredible President at SWBTS. He was and is deeply loved, respected and appreciated by Black seminarians, because he was kind and fair toward us. SWBTS National Black Alumni held a once in a lifetime reunion during Hemphill’s tenure at SWBTS and honored him. A portion of that two-day reunion was held at Cornerstone Church, Arlington, where I serve as pastor. Hemphill’s record concerning women is also impeccable. Black female seminarians loved Hemphill. They were allowed to take preaching classes with males, without any professor speaking despairingly toward them. Dr. Hemphill was pressured to resign at SWBTS, because of his favorable disposition toward women in ministry. Dr. Karen Bullock taught church history during Dr. Hemphill’s tenure and preached in chapel at SWBTS. Allowing her to preach infuriated certain SWBTS trustees; and that led to his untimely departure. Sheri Klouda was hired by Dr. Hemphill to teach Hebrew, approved by the trustees. She was later fired by the same inerrantist, conservative trustees for being a woman teaching men. Her gender had to be observable when they hired her. Later, her hiring was labeled “a momentary lapse in parameters.”

Dr. Hemphill was exemplary and biblical in how he affirmed, valued and elevated women in SBC life within biblical parameters. Hemphill is a continuationist and has documented that in his book on spiritual gifts. When many were criticizing a chapel sermon, that affirmed continuationist that I preached in 2006, Hemphill released a statement to the Baptist Press affirming continuationism. He could have chosen silence. There was nothing for him to gain by affirming continuationism in the context of my chapel sermon, but he did. Much respect for Ken Hemphill. Honestly, I feel disloyal to our history, by not voting for him. Furthermore, during his tenure and Dilday’s tenure, I probably preached chapel ten times at SWBTS. Chapel preaching invitations from SWBTS ceased after my 2006 sermon affirming continuationism. I have continued to support SWBTS with generous annual contributions and funding SWBTS with tuition assistance for students who attend Cornerstone, Arlington.

Many Black female seminarians confided in me that there was an atmospheric change on campus and mainly in classrooms, after the departure of Dr. Hemphill, which in part may also explain the drop in enrollment after he left.

The two greatest institutional systemic sins that the SBC has practiced throughout her history are racism and sexism. Those twofold demons seem to inevitably and periodically raise their ugly heads in SBC life. The SBC system produced and covered the racism and sexism. This cannot be laid at the feet of any one person. None of what’s being questioned and voted as unacceptable today, would not have even been questioned in the ‘70’s, ‘80’s, ‘90’s and even 2000. The initial info that caused the recent uproar was widely publicly known in 2000, and it was met with a yawn. What have changed are the SBC people, who are no longer willing to tolerate certain behaviors as they once did. The SBC sin of sexism was passed down generationally and is only now being seriously challenged. To deny a woman from serving as a SBC president or vice president is purely sexist from my vantage point. But if this is the SBC’s position, it needs to be stipulated in the bylaws/constitution. It is fundamentally dishonest and a colossal integrity issue, to know for certain that the SBC would not elect a woman president or allow a woman to serve as a vice president of an entity, but yet not put this practice/belief in writing. We owe it to women to be honest with them regarding their mobility and potential in SBC institutional life.

If I thought Beth Moore would accept the nomination or be agreeable to being nominated, because of her qualifications and the current context the SBC finds herself in…I would nominate her for SBC President.

The SBC is a parachurch organization—not a church. Therefore, there is absolutely not one Bible verse, or SBC constitutional bylaws prohibitions, nor any BF&M 2000 prohibitions against a woman serving as SBC President. Tradition, sexism, fear and other non-biblical factors would probably prevent any woman, including Deborah, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Lydia, Junia or Priscilla, or Lottie Moon from being elected President of the SBC; but, I repeat…there is not one Bible verse or SBC constitutional prohibition.

Therefore, I could vote for a qualified woman with a clear conscience for President of the SBC. The I Timothy 2:12 passage is reference to local church leadership, not parachurch leadership. The statement on gender roles in the BF&M 2000 does not prohibit female leadership in the SBC Convention or entity life. To impose I Timothy 2:12 as a prohibition on a female SBC President would be tantamount to imposing Genesis 9:25-27, as a prohibition for a Black, Asian, or Hispanic SBC President. Neither Scripture is addressing prohibitions in parachurch offices. Historically, though, they have been used or misused to draw such erroneous conclusions.

I Timothy 2:12 is the verse that erroneously cost Karen Bullock and Sheri Klouda, their jobs at SWBTS. In 2010, I submitted a resolution that was denied that appealed to the SBC to repent for their attitude, actions and disposition toward women. Women have been denied VP roles in SBC entities because of I Timothy 2:12; that’s sinful and shameful, God’s judgment has come upon us, “shall we continue in sin?” Had the SBC repented of her proclivity toward sexism in 2010, we may not be facing our current crisis.

To elect Beth Moore would do more to heal our Convention, seal women within our convention who have lost hope and right historic patterns of wrong toward women, without compromising qualifications, integrity, competency, or Scripture. The questions are, “Are we there yet?” or do we have to wait 100 more years and experience more of God’s judgment? SEBTS recently elected a woman as chairman of their Trustee Board. Progress is being made. Serving as an ex-officio officer of SBC entity trustee boards is one of the duties of an SBC president. By already permitting women trustees and a woman chairperson, the precedence is already set.

I believe The Sovereign God of the Universe is responsible for the current happenings in the SBC. God wants the SBC to set her house in order—racially and gender wise. He is cleaning the SBC house, so that He can bless the SBC house with a mighty manifestation of His presence to equip, empower, and enlighten His people to be His salt and light on earth. We are experiencing a purging, that is a necessary prerequisite for the empowerment of His people.

The purpose of this article is simply to stimulate our thinking, so that we will begin to ponder how to empower and value the gifts of SBC women within the boundaries of Scripture, rather than majoring in how we can restrict them. Could it be that what was intended toward women as evil in the SBC, God will now turn it around and use it for good (Genesis 50:20)? There are too many cases of women prophesying to men, in Scripture, publicly to hide behind I Timothy 2:12 as an excuse to not elect a woman as president or vice president of our Convention.