Monday, November 10, 2008

Redemptive




















I haven't been able to write about the results of the election until now.

Frankly, the outcome is so overwhelming to me personally that I haven't been able to type a word. More on that below.

And then, it seemed to me that I needed to remain quiet and listen to my friends--black, white and brown--and their emotional, thankful and celebratory reactions.

My feelings here really have nothing to do with politics or political party or philosophy.

My response emerges from my own life, my experiences and my own journey as it relates to race, community, love and hate, division and unity.

The election of Senator Barack Obama is historic for the nation. And, it is historic for me, a white man.

It is also somehow redemptive, or so it seems and feels to me.

I grew up in a segregated community.

I lived a thoroughly segregated childhood in Jim Crow Dallas.

I enjoyed and had the benefit of virtually no exposure to African Americans as a child. Though, I do remember attending a fundraiser for some local organization when I was 9 or 10 that involved a black-face minstrel performance

I attended completely segregated public schools.

My first "real job" I worked at a Sinclair service station--8th and 9th grade summers, so much for child labor laws! My boss was the owner of the station, a former law enforcement officer and about the most racist person I've ever encountered in my life. He represented to the extreme the prevailing thought and worldview of most of the people I knew.

My first real experience of and exposure to black youth came during the summer prior to my junior year in high school when I landed a job with the school district mowing football fields and working as a custodial assistant. Two of my young workmates were black, Carl and Leotis. I have never forgotten them or that summer. They attended the Hamilton Park schools, the campus where African American students went to school, their only choice back then.

That first experience was extremely positive and, thus, very confusing to me. These young men were just like me, except they couldn't go into all the places I could enter during that summer. I remember clearly a hot summer afternoon when we were taking a break. They were asked to leave a convenience store where we had all entered to buy a cold drink. Until then, it had never occurred to me that such treatment took place in my hometown.

They were just like me, but I'd been schooled by my environment, and the people I trusted, who dominated and informed it, to believe that black people were not like me at all. This was undoubtedly the most significant and crippling lie of my childhood.

I remember playing in a football game during my junior year at Richardson High School against South Oak Cliff High School, an all black public school in Dallas. I remember how nervous we were before that game--the first time any of us had competed against black students. Frankly, we were afraid. We won the game, but I remember once again feeling confused and relieved by my experience.

To be blunt, I wasn't prepared for life in my own country--my upbringing, my education, my experiences in the church, nothing had really provided me what I needed to negotiate the American racial reality.

These experiences caused me to recall images and experiences from earlier in my life. The real nature of my community and of its unspoken, but clearly normative values were coming into focus for me. I remembered hearing classmates shouting and celebrating as they ran down the halls and out of school on that terrible day--November 22, 1963--when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated here in Dallas.

I heard children shouting, "Thank God, he's dead, the Catholic is dead!"

When I arrived at home that day, my mother was crying. But, for the first time I had encountered the amazing capacity my community possessed for terrible hatred. There was no confusion on that awful day.

I also remembered the hatred that was directed toward President Lyndon Johnson, mostly around issues related to civil rights, voting rights and segregation.

Then, I went off to Harding College (1968-1972).

During road trips as a member of the football team, I remember confronting the racism that greeted my black teammates. We staged a mass walkout in Jackson, Mississippi when black members of the team were asked to leave a restaurant. Painful, embarrassing, but not unusual at all to these African American friends.

But, it was on campus as well, and from the top.

I recall sitting in chapel one day listening to President Cliff Ganus arguing against interracial dating on campus. He said, I can hear him as if it were yesterday, "Dating across racial lines would be like my daughter bringing home a boy with a fourth grade education."

At that almost all of the black students walked out.

Why didn't I?

After college, I spent a year in Memphis, Tennessee doing graduate work. Less than four years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We moved from there to Shreveport, Louisiana where I served my first church full-time.

My church was located on a boundary line between a relatively affluent, historic area and a very low-income community. Across the street from the church, really adjacent to the parking lot was a row of slum housing, owned by an absentee slumlord. A small, struggling black community occupied the substandard housing.

Early on I met a little boy who lived in that housing. His name was Wayne. He came to church with us and we became good friends. He lived with his Granny. He was a sweet, wonderful little boy. He loved to wag Jennifer, our first child around on his hip! I can still see him at our church.

Church members took exception to my inviting Wayne and other African Americans to church services, as well as to membership. I have many stories I could tell.

I suppose the most revealing involved a meeting with one of my deacons. He called me to his office at Louisiana Bank and Trust located at the time in the tallest building in downtown Shreveport. He served as one of the Vice-Presidents of the bank, a very successful, well-placed young guy who had attended a Christian university.

"Larry, are you telling me that I could go to hell because I don't like n_________?" he asked with real aggression.

"It is something you should consider," I replied.

I tell people we were in Shreveport for two years and 45 minutes for good reason!

My experiences while living in New Orleans for five years were much better. But the segregation, the classism, the barriers remained, as they do still in Dallas and across the nation today.

I'm not wise enough to weave even my own story together with much insight. But, one thing I do know: the election of Senator Barack Obama as our 44th President is a national accomplishment, a moment of great significance.

It would be a mistake to assume now that race doesn't matter or that we now live in a post-racial nation.

But the ascendancy and success of Barack Obama represents a redemption of sorts, a crossing over, a sorting out, a clarifying experience. The pain, the suffering, and the endurance in the face of great injustice and national evil has been vindicated in a very necessary manner.

I am a white man.

I, too, have been crying since November 4. Tears of joy, even though there is much yet to do.


.

36 comments:

Dean Smith said...

Amen!

Anonymous said...

Yesterday, at the church where I preach, the Chairman of the Board at Harding, one of our elders, led a beautiful prayer for our President-elect. We have been integrated since 1962 and we enjoy a healthy diversity in our congregation. I pray that he will do well. I have been pleased that on the whole even his strongest critics, of which I have been one, are now wanting only the best for him and his family.

RC

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to pen your perspective so beautifully. What an amazing (and sometimes terrifying) time to be an American.

Politics and Culture said...

Stories like the ones you mention make me angry. I have seen such things happen, and I'm glad we're moving away from that sort of thing in this country. I'm thankful for the progress that is being made.

I wonder if there would be all this emotional outpouring over the first black president if it happened to be Condi Rice... Do you remember the criticism she received when she was appointed? But that criticism wasn't considered racist because it came from the left (and we all know the left is incapable of racism).

Somehow, I don't think this would be seen as such an overwhelming accomplishment if Obama were a conservative instead of a liberal.

R.L.Scovens said...

I really enjoyed reading this post.

Brandon Scott said...

BEAUTIFUL, moving post today, brother Larry. Thank you! You have no idea how much your life has blessed me. I have had anger over racism for many years but only within the last few have I had to admit to myself that there is still "soft" racism there. It's been very convicting. I joined you in weeping the night Obama won. I could not stop crying tears of joy and elation. I feel so excited about his presidency and still so disappointed in the many church people I hear spouting venomous remarks. It is so incredibly heart breaking to me. I wish more were like RC up there. What a great, Christ-like response!

As always, just a reminder to press on today. What you are doing is making a difference. You are one of my biggest heroes in the faith. Press on Larry James! :)

Anonymous said...

Grew up in south stereotypical church of Christ during late 60's an early 70's. I remember arguing that I'd prefer my daughter marry a black "member of the church" than a white "atheist". While I was unclear on a lot then (and not claiming "holier than thou" now), I took it for granted that Christian devotion/heart was the key issue not skin color. Other stories/experiences from my WASP background that connected with election results to prompt praise from my heart to God.

Anonymous said...

Larry, thanks for posting your reflections. I enjoy your thoughtful postings. You often help me see life from another perspective in a healthy, tactful way.

Larry James said...

Politics and Culture, I can only speak for myself, but I can assure you that the feelings behind my post today would have been very much the same regarding race and redemption had Sec. of State Rice or Gen. Powell or former Congressman Watts been elected. A better question to ask is would there still have been nooses hanging in the trees at Baylor University had one of those persons been elected?

sally said...

I came across an online community for individual seeking interracial love. It is ++++((((---Blackwhitemeet. C O M))))++++ All singles there are seeking interracial relationships. Interracial is not a problem here, but a great merit to cherish!

TD said...

Thank you Larry,

I was moved once more reading the history of our country thru the eyes of one of the best God-servants I know which is you! I am sorry so many people don't get it. Thank you also for your example. I am now in Atlanta and wondering when will we wake up and increase what we do for the inner city of Atlanta. I think you could write a book and many would read and Central Dallas Ministries could benefit even more. Something to think about.

Anonymous said...

Larry,
Thank you for doing open heart surgery without anesthesia.

I am the father of an African-American daughter and two black grand sons. They are great.

I too had many similiar experiences growing up in NE Texas in the 60's. We live in Denver CO and things are much better here. I am blessed to be a minister in a congregation that is racially diverse, but we have a long way to go.

Thanks again for shaing. When I read you blog I demanded my wife read it and we both cried.

America is growing and changing and what a blessing that we can see this amazing change.

Larry Wishard

Chris said...

Before you get too deeply emotional over Obama and cry too many tears of joy I suggest you read of his imvolvement with the numerous shady characters he has been involved with.

As CDM is so deeply involved in community development, a good place to start is Obama's involvement with convicted felon Tony Rezko. Now Tony received in nine years over $100,000,000 from city, state and national government to rehabilitate 30 apartment buildings in Chicago. In the end the money was gone and the apartments were slums, unfit for habitation. Several were in Obama's district and yet he never objected to Rezko's public housing practices. In fact he wrote letters of recommendation for him to get loans. Of course Tony repaid the favor by helping him buy his dream house.

Rezko is just one of MANY questionable associates. They are all well documented in "The Obama Nation" by Jerome Corsi.

I wish Obama the best but his track record has not been good. We will have to keep a sharp eye out. Please spare us and dry the tears of joy.

Charles said...

Chris, we'll feel your share of joy, and you take our share of pretending everyone you disagree with is in an evil conspiracy against everyone you agree with. Sadly I think we'll all be happier that way. Maybe you could start a blog of paranoia and skepticism and we'll troll in and make unconnected and unsupported comments about actual real life and issues and say positive things about people.

Larry, thanks for your wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

Again, let me suggest, if there are ANY benefits that befall the rest of the country that come from the Obama administration - please reject them all! Any tax cut, job opportunities for you (or your family), any prosperity at all. Do us all a favor and find out what they may be and reject them all.

Larry's honest revelation regarding his feelings calls for an equally honest effort on your part to avoid being a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Larry,

Thank you for your wonderful comments. I also felt great happiness and tears of joy Election night.

You stated "It would be a mistake to assume now that race doesn't matter or that we now live in a post-racial nation".

Yes it would be a mistake, I just yesterday heard about a first grader in one of the fast growing Collin County communities being told on the day after Election Day by four kids that they would no longer play or talk to her because she was black!

I just wanted to relay this as I am not capable of expressing my thoughts about the family values of the parents of these kids.

I am a Jewish white man.

MK

Anonymous said...

Larry - Did Dad really say that? I can hardly imagine it. It's very unlike anything he has ever believed or expressed. I know there were a lot of folks at Harding (and elsewhere!) in the 1960s who felt that way.

I hope all is well with you. It's good to read your post.

Cliff Ganus III

Larry James said...

Cliff, thanks for the post. I was there. And, yes, he said that in his remarks. I'm not sure that he understood how such a statement would be taken, and I'm not even sure what all he meant; but I do know how he was heard. I do know the black students who were in first chapel returned to second to stage their walk out. I have very fond and loving memories of your father; but he was and we all were caught up in the evil and the church did little or nothing to make things better, nor did the university at the time. My best to you and your family.

Chris said...

I was in chapel the morning Dr. Benson announced Harding would admit black students. (Maybe the word was negro then, can't remember) There was sustained applause. This was 1963 I believe.

Chapel was my favorite part of the day. Back then there was only one and it created a feeling of community, a word much used today. I still remember the advice Dr. Benson gave on any number of subjects, much like a parent.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Dr. Benson was also the one who said, speaking of interracial marriages, that "he had never seen red birds and black birds together." I suppose we all have our memories.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for sharing this excellent post! While I didn't vote for Obama because of his pledge to sign the Freedom of Choice Act and views on gay marriage, I am glad our nation has reached a new point where people can put race aside. I truly didn't know that racism was that bad, I'm shocked about what was said at Harding.

I think that racism, sadly, is still very alive in our churches today. I think it would be an interesting experiment to have people/families of different races visit a church with a hidden video camera. I think the differences in how the people were treated would shock us. Anyone out there want to try this? It would make a great Youtube Video Series.

Anonymous said...

Come to think of it, my idea is not a good one because it would show some churches (or Churches of Christ) in a negative matter.......

KenBandy said...

This was a moving and I believe, genuine, post. But a story very different from my own. I grew up a generation behind you Larry and I think, while your observations of the times were largely accurate, I also believe it is a mistake to make these observations universal.

Using the word "redemptive" in the context of a presidential election concerns me. What, precisely, has been redeemed by the election of Mr. Obama? Have the sins of racism truly been paid as a result of this election? Even if 100% of voters had had voted for Obama, would the word redemption apply?

There are many who consider themselves guilty over racism - and many who do not. Perhaps electing an African American to the office of president seems to be a payment, of sorts, which will remove some, if not all guilt. But biblically there is only one Redeemer. If racism is sin (and I believe it is), then the Redeemer has covered it on our behalf, if we are willing to confess and repent. I am unaware of any other form of redemption, other than in the course of common commerce (coupons, etc.).

The talk of redemption in social activism is often connected to liberation theology, which denies the singular authority of Scripture and pursues human, activistic, social justice as if it were the only way "God" can bring justice. Spiritual redemption is excised from the equation.

Noted in another post, but relevent here, is the question by a church mission committee about whether CDM attempts to address spiritual in addition to physical and emotional needs of those it serves.

Specifically, when a CDM counselor asks whether a client (for lack of a better term, nothing callous intended) knows of God's love for them and desires to save them from sin, is the difference between understanding activism as redemption and true spiritual redemption addressed?

Larry James said...

KenBandy, thanks for the post.

Of course, the term "repemptive" has many meanings when applied and used in varying contexts. The Pauline usage you cite is not the only way to use or understand the term, which I expect you know. But your response was to take exception to my comments in the way you did when you got to your real point here:

"The talk of redemption in social activism is often connected to liberation theology, which denies the singular authority of Scripture and pursues human, activistic, social justice as if it were the only way 'God' can bring justice. Spiritual redemption is excised from the equation.

"Noted in another post, but relevent here, is the question by a church mission committee about whether CDM attempts to address spiritual in addition to physical and emotional needs of those it serves.

"Specifically, when a CDM counselor asks whether a client (for lack of a better term, nothing callous intended) knows of God's love for them and desires to save them from sin, is the difference between understanding activism as redemption and true spiritual redemption addressed?"

Of course, my post had nothing whatsoever to do with "Liberation Theology." But now that you bring it up, LT doesn't deny the "singular authority of scripture" at all--certainly not any more than the typical Protestant or Restoration church denies the practical implications of the messages of the Law, Prophets, music or wisdom of the OT or the clear words of Jesus and the early church regarding justice, compassion and getting things right between and among people, esp. those who suffer. LT pays more attention to the Bible than most of us who were brought up among more classic Evangelicals. So, I take major exception to your first primise.

Regarding how we counsel and share the gospel with folks who come our way, as I have written extensively, we engage people at the point of their need and pain. In that process, and almost always at the very beginning, faith in God comes up very easily, naturally. Over 95% of those we encounter claim faith in Christ. How who don't, and they are very few, are engaged personally and not in some socio-political manner that you seem to suggest.

Why is it that the church is so defensive about its neglect of the suffering and pain of people in this nation and around the world?

Fact: Last year 2007, our poor "clients" contributed almost 5% of a budget of $8 million. The church contributed a bit over 2%. That is not LT theory. That is fact on the street.

BTW--Obama's election was redemptive relative to the unrealized promise of this nation. Again, and of course, no one here is claiming that the good Senator is a "cosmic savior," but then, I think you knew that when you wrote.

KenBandy said...

With limited context I don't think my response to you will be complete. But please indulge for a moment.

The work of James Cone popped up briefly during the election. I wanted to know more about liberation theology and began a discussion with a colleague supportive of the movement. We read and discussed, but I noticed we used similar language but left our discussions with entirely different understandings.

I then ran across a recent book, "The Decline of African American Theology" by Thabiti Anyabwile.

He writes, "Cone insisted on a view of salvation that emphasized human liberation from oppressive structures. He [Cone] argued, 'The biblical God is the God whose salvation is liberation.' The cross of Christ signaled the divine affirmation of the liberation struggle, not the the penal substituionary atonement central to western Christianity's theological system. 'The pain of the cross weas God suffering for us and with us so that our humanity can be liberated for freedom in the divine struggle against oppression.'" [author quoting Cone]

So I am concerned when I hear people speak of the outcome of the election in salvific terms and even escatological terms. I have heard both from people directly - not by hearsay.

So I think the "street theology" of some is a form of liberation theology and I wonder whether those engaged in the serious work of meeting physical needs are aware of the different uses of the same language and language structures. In other places Cone goes further, suggesting God could not "save" without oppression and it is oppression that people are saved from.

I disagree. Oppression is a result of sin and we are saved from the punishment due our sin. Salvation is primarily a spiritual work and the rest of our journeys, after salvation, is a work of God as He shapes us - even in under the administraton of ongoing oppression. This does not justify oppression, but does recognize our situation in a fallen world and the hope of eternal life free from oppression.

So, in context, I hear election related liberation language from many around me - and then it appears I am hearing it from you. I did find your post complaining of the mission committee's question about sharing the gospel a bit troubling. Churches like these may not have a firm grip on the big picture, but they are available for you to instruct and persuade. Further, I am not yet convinced that your work in the social realm communicates the gospel message as much as it communicates a social gospel.

Larry James said...

KenBandy, I haven't read the "anti-Cone" book about Cone's thought, but I did have Cone in a class in seminary. I can tell you this with assurance: Cone believes in and accepts the notion of "substitutionary atonement" classically defined by orthodoxy, as do almost every African American pastor/church leader I know.

What Cone did was open the language of Western theology to the injustice, pain and oppression of Western colonial dominance over many people, including N. American persons of color. Cone taps into the Exodus narrative to reveal the heart of Yahweh in the face of the oppressed. Evangelicals "got it" in the late 18th and through most of the 19th century. But the 20th century saw them lose their way thanks to their cultural accomodation to captialism and consumption. Concerns for eternity allowed them to escape the call to respond authentically to the poor and the oppressed to made conspicuous consumption possible, even legitimate. The theology of redemption in such a social context let us off the hook when it came to injustice. Sorry, but you and I are living in two very different worlds. The poor have a way of opening new thought possibilities.

KenBandy said...

Perhaps you are tiring of me and would like to get on with more docile readers. I will end with a quote direct from Cone in his book "God of the Oppressed" -

"I still regard the Bible as an important source of my theological reflections, but not my starting point. The black experience and the Bible together in dialectical tension serve as my point of departure today and yesterday. The order is significant. I am black first - and everything else comes after that. This means that I read the Bible through the lens of a black tradition of struggle and not as the objective Word of God. The Bible therefore is one witness to God's empowering presence in human affairs, along with other important testimonies." (emphasis his)

Like Cone, I cannot escape my humanity as I read the Bible. But I do not desire to intentionally condition my reading of the text by a commitment to my white experience. Galatians 3:28 tells us "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." If I condition my reading of the text by anything it is that I deserve wrath but have been extended grace.

Cone sees the Scripture as one of many sources of revelation, with one being the act of struggle against oppression, not because the Bible speaks of it, but because it is given that an oppressed person would naturally resist. However, the Bible really does speak about oppression and does suggest reactions like humility, turning the other cheek, and by Christ's example, not "reviling" against His oppressors. And another key reaction to oppression - forgiveness - seems beyond Cone's categories.

This is a key issue: How does God speak to us? Is there a priority of one form of revelation over another? Answers to these questions lead us to a pertinent response to the reason I responded initially to your post about describing Mr. Obama's election as "redemptive." Adherents to liberation theology see God speaking through Obama's election - as if He was not speaking (or acting) in any other president's successful bid for office. This election, for some, is a more valid message from God than Scripture.

So which is the most valid and reliable message - the recorded Gospel, or the subjective interaction of a human with the text? By extension, which is most important clearly explaining the way to salvation, or completing the whole task list of taking care of the poor and oppressed without clearly declaring the message of salvation?

Both sharing the Gospel message and meeting their needs, yes. I don't believe it is an either/or. Christ, Himself, healed with His hands and forgave sin with His Words. But primarily He came to forgive sin. We are oppressed for a season, eternal life is...eternal.

So back to the beginning. The missions committee asked you a simple question and you criticised them on your blog. They gave you money and held you accountable for it. Silly conservatives! They just don't get it. Or, maybe they get part of it.

Anonymous said...

Ken, let me get this straight now. You read the Bible from an objective point of view, right? You don't come at it from the perspective (is that a word you use?) of a Baptist or a Presbyterian or a Lutheran or an independent evangelical? You just come with a clear mind, soul and no experience that shapes your understanding or interpretation, is that right? Too bad you weren't around during the 2nd and 3rd centuries when the church got off the beam, so to speak. You could have got them back on tract with your objectivity. But, oh shoot, there was no canonical bible until mid to late 4th century. But, then you could have helped the church put the book together! Too bad you weren't there in the Middle Ages to point the way. Objectivity would have gone a long way and would surely have saved a few lives! You'd have been very useful during the second generation of the Protestant Reformation--talk about saving lives! The arguments over church polity got tough--you know, the stuff of wars. Your hold on the objective truth of things without any outside influence by your own experience, history, family, tradition or ethnic background, now that would have been something!

Come on, man. Clearly, Larry was trying to challenge the church to read the Bible and get on with reaching out to the poor. He also understands the nature of oppression that at times gets built into social and political systems--hey, sort of like Moses faced before God responded to the suffering of the people and set off the Exodus. Ever hear of Jim Crow? Where was the church and its voice then? I sure know where God was!

Leave your theory to your own contemplation or to your Sunday School class conversation. I'll and we'll (my church) stick with working with Larry and his bunch on the streets knowing that this is the gospel in real time, in real life.

Paul J.

KenBandy said...

As I note above:

"Like Cone, I cannot escape my humanity as I read the Bible. But I do not desire to intentionally condition my reading of the text by a commitment to my white experience." emphasis added

Anonymous said...

Ken, you largely ignore Paul's point. Your comments claim that you possess complete, unaffected objectivity. Your position is dangerous, not so much because it is based on an impossibility, as it is because you don't recognize your own blindness to your position.

Larry James said...

KenBandy, again, thanks for the posts. As to accountability, we are happy for it. We are held accountable for every dollar we receive and spend from all sources.

Our argument here is over what is neglected, overlooked or ignored in the very same scripture you are eager to defend, even though it needs no defense, just a serious and thorough reading--which I am sure you would agree.

Read Isa 58:1-12 and then define "worship" for me.

Read Matt 25:31-46 and then define what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

Read the entire gospel of Luke and note what is reported about poverty and how one is to "lay up treasure in heaven."

Read James 5:1ff and talk to me about the Christian and fair labor practices.

I can go on and on. And, likely, you and I won't agree. That's okay. But just understand that I am trying to awaken a resting capacity of a sleeping giant in this nation whose name is "Church" for the sake of so many who suffer in need. Engaging that capacity with the obvious need and pain would open more doors for "evangelism" than either of us can imagine. Again, thanks for your interest and opinions.

KenBandy said...

RE:

"Ken, you largely ignore Paul's point. Your comments claim that you possess complete, unaffected objectivity. Your position is dangerous, not so much because it is based on an impossibility, as it is because you don't recognize your own blindness to your position."

No, I must disagree that I ahve missed the point. I completely agree with Paul's point. Try as I might, I cannot see the Scripture through any lens, but that which was forged through my own experience over a lifetime, which includes my race, gender, age, and any oppressions and experiences of privilege granted to me. Unless... there is a way to empty myself and allow God in His Spirit to inform me and speak through me. For this to happen I must be totally dependent. My work cannot interfere with that of God. Unfortunately, I do interfere more than I want to admit.

But here again is my point. Those providing social services in the name of the Gospel sometimes forget to present the Gospel. Both a missions committe and I have inquired about how CDM connects the two (meeting immediate physical and emotional needs and the need for Salvation).

If CDM is generally discusses God's love for those it serves and does not ensure the concept of salvation being addressed is more than a socio-political arrangement, then it is not adequately sharing the Christian faith.

Perhaps more later. Things to do.

Anonymous said...

Again, Ken, you say, "Unless... there is a way to empty myself and allow God in His Spirit to inform me and speak through me. For this to happen I must be totally dependent. My work cannot interfere with that of God. Unfortunately, I do interfere more than I want to admit."

Do you mean to imply that James Cone or Larry James can't do what you suggest you are able to do?

And your understanding of "sharing the gospel," do you have a deeper, better understanding of what that means than these others who you criticize? Do you know what Cone and Larry do in this regard? I was a member of Larry's church years ago when he was in Richardson. He certainly "shared the gospel there", but then maybe I don't understand what you do.

KenBandy said...

No implications regarding Larry's ability to be submissive to the Holy Spirit. In fact, a friend invited me to Larry's church and I heard him preach, too. I don't recall the message, but I do not believe I was in any disagreement with what I heard. Further, the friend who invited me was a member of the church and was a model believer.

Mr. Cone's (deceased) position was documented above and it appears he invites his experiences to serve as a screen to interpret and act in a godly way. I acknowledge the screen, but instead want to limit it as best I can in order to facilitate God's love through me. Again, I can't do it myself.

Here is my understanding of the Gospel: Jesus paid for my sins so I can yield him control of my life and live eternally. Is this different than other versions you've heard of?

Again, I hope when the food, the rent money, the medical assistance, the learning assistance, etc., are provided that the issue off personal sin and God's sacrifice are communicated, somehow, some way. I think this is what the missions committee wanted to know.

Thomas Scarborough said...

This brought to mind my recent experience as a postgraduate student at Fuller Theological Seminary. I was bewildered to see what looked like segregation at seminary chapel. But it began to fall into place as I became more familiar with the American literature (I am in Africa). Aubrey Malphurs was required reading. He espoused the “homogeneous principle” for Churches -- that is, grouping people by ethnicity. Malphurs considered that “singles tend to prefer to meet with other singles ... The same is true of couples”. This applied, therefore, to “ethnic peoples”. The view was pioneered by Donald McGavran, who held the chair of leadership at Fuller -- a view that is still very much alive in the USA.

Anonymous said...

I write from Africa. Your post, and its title, would seem to epitomize the American tendency to idealize its leaders. The Germans have a word for it: Schwaermerei. Perhaps this is related to "swarming"? Leaders are mere humans. How can any healthy spiritual perspective regard them as anything else? Any reflections on this would be welcomed.