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Pastor, Husband, Father, Co-Author, Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance & Repair / “The function of freedom is to free someone else.” — Toni Morrison
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14 Oct
1. The “third way of the gospel” has been used as a rubric for public life. Its main point is to stress that Christ's kingdom (upper register) reveals a politics “from above” (Jn 18:36). The gospel transcends human political categories (and false binaries)—and critiques them all.
2. However, this “third way” is often presented with a rhetorical “balance” (e.g., “the gospel is neither...nor...”) that implies that kingdom faithfulness necessarily entails political-cultural centrism and an equitable critique of each side.
3. But the gospel doesn't critique each side in symmetrical fashion on every issue. At times the best public expression of a particular kingdom principle or priority may be found on one end of the spectrum. The still transcendent gospel might make us “lean left” on one issue...
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23 Jul
To all who repeatedly cite Ezekiel 18:20 as if it were the scriptural deathblow to all things reparations:

Stop it. 😉

A Christian account of reparations isn't grounded in the imputation of a predecessor's personal guilt to an innocent party.
Rather, it is grounded, in part, in an old Christian ethical tradition that reads Numbers 5:8 as requiring stolen goods to be returned to descendants of the originally injured party, i.e., heirs whose rightful possession those good would have been had they not been stolen.
See, e.g., Aquinas (1456), Robert Some (1562), John Wemyss (1632), William Fenner (1648), Watson (1668), Baxter (1673), Ezekiel Hopkins (1692), William Beveridge (1711), Randolph Ford (1711), White Kennett (1719), Thomas Boston (1773), Thomas Ridgley (1814), William Plumer (1864)
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21 Jul
1/ I’d like to offer a some responses to several of the questions raised by Rev. DeYoung in his review. Some critics are suggesting that we focused on methodological concerns in our essay b/c we—intimidated by his arguments—had no substantive response. We predicted this reaction:
2/ Again, this is false. As explained, we regularly engage these questions & study them; they warrant sustained reflection. But we also believe DeYoung's methodology shapes/distorts many of his questions. This is why we sought to expose and critique his method first and foremost.
3/ What follows, then, are brief and provisional responses to some of DeYoung’s critical assessments. Importantly, they are offered against the backdrop of our previous essay. We continue to reflect on these questions & others, and invite you to do the same with curiosity & hope.
Read 67 tweets
20 Jul
This essay is intended to be more than a response to one review. It’s also not just an essay about reparations. It is also an attempt to address one important reason why the Reformed and evangelical tradition(s) has repeatedly, across centuries, thefrontporch.org/2021/07/sancti…
found itself in collusion with the worst embodiments of white supremacy in America even while presuming its orthodoxy at each juncture. The answer, we believe, is found in its methodology—its culturally captive mode of theological reasoning/application— thefrontporch.org/2021/07/sancti…
and the implicit theology it engenders. It is one that centers white cultural concern, performs the basic impulses of white supremacy. It masquerades as sound—and mere—theological reflection. thefrontporch.org/2021/07/sancti…
Read 7 tweets
18 Jul
Deep basketball thoughts:

• Booker is very good at basketball

• Giannis is not good at free throws

• The Suns like playing at home

• The Bucks need to score more points, and stop the Suns from scoring so much, if they want to win
• When your team starts a game making all of their shots, eventually they will regress to the mean
• When a player misses all his free throws, eventually he will regress to the mean
Read 4 tweets
4 Jun
1. You have heard it said that restitution is required only if *specific* victims of theft can be identified. But I say to you, this is simply not true according to historical Protestant (and especially Reformed) ethical thought.
2. Baxter, for example, explains that "public oppressors, who injure whole nations, countries or communities" are bound to make restitution (CD). He cites as examples unjust judges, oppressing landlords, and deceitful tradesmen, who repeatedly steal from nameless multitudes.
3. Further, those who are guilty of theft but cannot locate their victims are still required to relinquish the stolen goods by returning them to God. And the best proxy for God in this scenario is THE POOR, says Watson, Ridgley, Beveridge, Baxter, et al, based on Num. 5:8.
Read 6 tweets
1 Jun
The response of local White clergymen to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre:
Rev. C. W. Kerr, First Presbyterian Church: Image
Rev. Harold Cooke, Centenary Methodist Church Image
Read 6 tweets
30 May
Appreciate @pmatzko's analysis of the "neo-fundamentalist view of America" re: racial justice. Indeed, the extent to which even avowed "apolitical" evangelical leaders go out of their way to defend the sanctity of America and its history is ... notable. s/1398744012836769793?s=20
But there is no way forward without a sober recognition of the complexity of American history and American church history — their virtues and vices, faithfulness and failures, what Mark Noll calls its mind-boggling "co-mingling of contradictions, antinomies, and paradoxes."
In light of this, I appreciated the perspective shared by @DavidAFrench this morning: "Remembering our nation’s virtues helps give us hope. Remembering our sin gives us humility. Remembering both gives us the motivation and the inspiration necessary to repair our land."
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24 May
8 lessons about the Unity of the Spirit from Ephesians 4:1-16:

1. Unity is a Christian priority. It is an essential expression of our call to Christ (v. 1). Christ himself prioritized our oneness in his prayers (Jn 17:11). Unity is not optional for followers of Christ.
2. Unity is a human impossibility. It is "of the Spirit" (v. 3)—supernaturally produced and given by the Holy Spirit. As such it is not based on natural affinity—common interests, culture, politics, personality. The church is an assembly of recovering "natural enemies" (Carson).
3. Unity is a mark of maturity. As the body is built up in unity of faith, the church becomes "mature" (v. 13), "no longer children" (v. 14). A splintered and divided church is an immature church. It is also a vulnerable church, subject to false teaching and deception (v. 14).
Read 15 tweets
26 Jan
1/ I agree with @SeanMLucas (albeit as a not-historian) that this is among the most important contributions of @kkdumez's book. ImageImage
2/ One of evangelicalism's most "significant cultural blind-spots" is found in its refusal to see itself as a culture, its stubborn insistence that it just *is* its theological commitments, unmediated and distinct from any institutional, cultural, or political embodiments.
3/ This self-understanding continually allows (and historically has allowed) evangelicals to distance themselves from the social malignancies of the movement. Those are always aberrations—"not us." Alas, there is no "us" except that which identifies with a disembodied confession.
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26 Nov 20
Gratitude isn’t easy. If it were, God wouldn’t need to command it, and we wouldn’t need the Holy Spirit to do it. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:18) 1/x
But gratitude is especially scarce in trying circumstances. The evidence pushes us in the opposite direction—toward grumbling, toward cynicism, toward despair. Giving thanks in a pandemic is hard. 2/x
Still, God invites us to practice thanksgiving for our own good. Gratitude is good for our hearts. (Our bodies, too.) It’s an invitation to remember the promises of God, to see our circumstances with new eyes, see evidence of a different kind—evidence of God’s love for you. 3/x
Read 6 tweets
18 Nov 20
1/ Some interesting data on race/religion from the 2020 IASC Survey of American Political Culture (iasculture.org/research/publi…) —
2/ “Our founding fathers were part of a racist/sexist culture that gave important roles to White men while harming minorities/women.”

AGREE:

90% African Americans
59% White Non-Evangelicals
23% White Evangelicals
3/ "How serious of a threat do you think [Racism—unequal treatment of Whites and Blacks] poses to America and America’s future?"

VERY/EXTREMELY SERIOUS THREAT:

85% African Americans
68% White Non-Evangelicals
36% White Evangelicals
Read 6 tweets
18 Sep 20
1. One poisonous byproduct of the rising outcry against Critical Race Theory/Marxism is the false, malicious, public labeling of individuals and institutions as heterodox enemies of the church. Another word for this is Slander. It is a grave sin, and it must cease.
2. Slander is a violation of the 8th commandment (the theft of one's good name, "a much dearer possession" [Aquinas] than even physical property) and the 9th commandment (bearing false witness against neighbor).
3. According to our Christian forebears, when guilty of slander, we must not only publicly confess our sin. We must also make amends for these public thefts of reputation. Alas, restitution is required for the sin of slander.
Read 8 tweets
15 Jul 20
1. In the pursuit of public justice, one challenge we typically face is an imbalance of gifts/personalities that shape the public conversation and the crucial work of transformation.
2. We are rarely short on “prophets”—those who speak truth, name the problem, call for repentance and righteousness. They serve a crucial role, but by themselves they cannot effect change. Prophets are, of course, best rewarded in our present moment.
3. But we also need “priests”—those who bring people together, build bridges with the masonry of mercy and kingdom empathy, assure others of the possibility of new beginnings. Without these there can be no healing. They promote the inner work needed for lasting transformation.
Read 5 tweets
22 Oct 19
1. Galatians 3:23–4:7 as an instance of gender-inclusive translation unwittingly neutering the radically gender-inclusive nature of the gospel:
2. Four times Paul refers to those belonging to Christ by faith as "son/s" (υἱός); in three of those instances (we'll get to the fourth), the NIV, for example, translates the word "child/ren" (3:26; 4:7).
3. Is Paul "predictably" succumbing to the patriarchal worldview and linguistic patterns of his day? Doesn't appear so, considering the close proximity of "you are all sons" (3:26) to his boldly egalitarian statement, "there is no male and female" (3:28).
Read 10 tweets
19 Jun 19
1. What is #Juneteenth? Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On JUNE nineTEENTH, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas.
2. They brought news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free—two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Today it remains as the most popular annual celebration of emancipation in the African American community.
3. On that day in Galveston (then Texas’ largest city), General Granger issued General Order Number 3 (pictured below), which began: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. ...
Read 5 tweets
12 Jun 19
1. A few quick observations from Acts 6:1-7. Some leaders might have assessed the Hellenistic Jewish complaint as a problem of food, poverty, and unfortunate circumstances alone. "Let's not make everything about race."
2. But the Apostles/disciples saw that this was a cultural problem, not just a food problem; and an institutional problem, not just a situational problem; a power (authority) problem, not just a poverty problem.
3. So, they installed a cultural-logistical-institutional solution: a new leadership role, endowed with institutional authority, filled by leaders representing and rooted in the overlooked minority group (v. 5), tasked with filling the practical need.
Read 7 tweets
30 May 19
Jonathan Edwards owned several slaves, including a woman named Leah (purchased in 1736) and Titus (a "negro boy" listed in his estate inventory in 1758). Here's his bill of sale for "a Negro Girle named Venus…age Fourteen years or thereabouts" purchased for £80 on June 7, 1731.
Edwards grew up in a slave-owning home; his father Rev. Timothy Edwards owned at least one slave, a man named Ansars. It was common in Northampton for social elites to own one or two slaves, a woman for domestic chores and a man for work in the fields.
Edwards condoned the purchase and ownership of slaves as long as they were purchased legally, treated humanely, and converted/Christianized. He upheld the popular view that a child’s condition was determined by that of its mother (slavery defined both legally and procreativity).
Read 11 tweets
14 May 19
1/ How does the Bible define “persecution”? The word most commonly translated “persecute” (διώκω) means to pursue (i.e., in a hostile manner), to make to run or flee.
2/ It can refer to various types of threats of harm, often short of murder (Mt 24:9; Lk 11:49), including ostracization (ἀφορίζω, Lk 6:22), wrongful arrest, and imprisonment (Luke 21:12; Acts 22:4).
3/ But in his Sermon on the Mount/Plain, Jesus also names less violent, non-corporeal expressions of hostility as forms of persecution: “insult,” “slander” (“rejecting your name as evil”), “exclusion,” “hate” (Mt 5:11; Lk 6:22).
Read 8 tweets
2 May 19
1. John Earnest assented to and articulated a Christian theology of personal salvation with a degree of clarity that should make us squirm. In his letter, he refers to various biblical doctrines, for example:
2. The covenant of redemption: “Beyond the scope of time the Father and the Son made a covenant in eternity—that the Son would bring a people to Him that He may be glorified through them.”
3. Doctrine of election: “I did not choose to be a Christian. The Father chose me. The Son saved me. And the Spirit keeps me. Why me? I do not know.”
Read 7 tweets
7 Apr 19
1. In my observation, many, if not most, white Christians understand the racial designation “white” as a narrow reference to skin color. Any critique of “whiteness” is therefore perceived and experienced as a condemnation of a God-given, unchangeable physical trait (Ps 139:14).
2. Add to that the unfortunate (particularly in this case) white cultural tendency to view things individualistically, it becomes difficult for such critiques not to be taken deeply personally—and offensively. Some respond with hurt, others malice, and still others with despair.
3. But what if “white” means something else? Indeed, a careful reading of history reveals that since before the founding of our nation, “white” was never simply a phenotypic label, an objective, amoral description of epidermal hue.
Read 9 tweets