April 4, 2008
From Divided by Faith
Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
By Emerson and Smith
Why Christians Should Support Slavery
Key reasons advanced by southern church leaders.
Many Southern Christians felt that slavery, in one Baptist minister’s words, “stands as an institution of God.” Here’s why:
Abraham, the “father of faith,” and all the patriarchs held slaves without God’s disapproval (Gen 21:9-10).
Canaan, Ham’s son, was made a slave to his brothers (Gen 9:24-27).
The Ten Commandments mention slavery twice, showing God’s implicit acceptance of it (Ex 20:10,17).
Slavery was widespread throughout the Roman world, and yet Jesus never spoke against it.
The apostle Paul specifically commanded slaves to obey their masters (Eph 6:5-8).
Paul returned a runaway slave, Philemon, to his master (Philemon 12).
Charitable and evangelistic reasons
Slavery removes people from a culture that “worshipped the devil, practiced witchcraft and sorcery” and other evils.
Slavery brings heathens to a Christian land where they can hear the gospel. Christian masters provide religious instruction for their slaves.
Under slavery, people are treated with kindness, as many northern visitors can attest.
It is in ‘slaveholders’ own interest to treat their slaves well.
Just as women are called to play a subordinate role (Eph 5:22; 1Tim 2:11-15), so slaves are stationed by God in their place.
Slavery is God’s means of protecting and providing for an inferior race (suffering the “curse of Ham” in Gen 9:25 or even the punishment of Cain in Gen 4:12).
Abolition would lead to slave uprisings, bloodshed, and anarchy. Consider the mob’s “rule of terror” during the French Revolution.
Christians are to obey civil authorities, and those authorities permit and protect slavery.
The church should concentrate on spiritual matters, not political ones.
Those who support abolition are, in James H. Thornwell’s words, “atheists, socialists, communist [and] red republicans.”
In many ways I hear some of the same reasons to keep women from all God has put in their hearts to do and be…
April 1, 2008
I am home now…got in late last night. My flight out of Chicago O’Hare (like tons of other American Airlines flights) was delayed about 7 hours. So much happened Wednesday to yesterday. I don’t have time to capture it all in writing but here goes some highlights:
Di Leman kicked off Wednesday night. She skillfully communicated huge concepts, women, kingdom theology…she was great
Thora Anderson taught twice…she was articulate, sharp and funny. Great stuff on leadership.
Cindy Nicholson – exceptional – what else would you get from Cindy? Cindy is a powerful leader, what a gift she is…
Grace Schmelzer’s talk was inspirational and practical. I loved her honesty and passion.
Julia Pickerill – OMGosh – what can you say about Julia – hilarious, dazzling, she knocked it out of the park…she used the “v” word…
Cheryl and Ellen told their story…their history through some tough relational waters, an unbelievable story of reconciliation…they gave women an imagination through their story to believe healing and reconciliation though a process is attainable even when it seems too broken…Cheryl and Ellen are incredible leaders
Teresa Diaz-Maldonado – what a powerhouse, the racial reconciliation that happened in the room as a result of her story could not have been planned.
Adey Wassink – brilliant, just brilliant. Adey was inspirational and more, she called out dreams and gave everyone in the room permission to go for it, no holds bar, if it’s in your heart to do, go for it.
I have not even scratched the surface on how powerfully amazing the women above through their teaching, sharing their own stories and journey and through each of their unique perspectives impacted the women at this conference.
The band and worship leaders simply rocked it…Leah Martens, Rebecca Alvarez and Sheena Hunter were incredible…gospel choir and all…
All the other women I met, Verity, Sara, Kaitlin, Esther and more…astounding young women who will make this world a better place because of their love of Jesus.
I had a great time seeing Amy again. It was so great to meet some of her team and spend some time together.
Evelyn and the gang from Texas are the best!
So much more but I will leave it here…
If you were there and have any thoughts or reflections I would love to hear them.
All in all a huge “thank you” to everyone for all their work at making the time seamless – thank you for creating such a welcoming, inspirational and warm space.
March 28, 2008
I am blown away by the number of women, young, middle age and older that I have met here in Chicago that are doing and have dreams of living their lives organized around the Kingdom of God. I feel like this has been the best kept secret in the universe…hundreds of amazing women. Since the Vineyard has shifted to officially recognize women in every level of leadership…it is like the floodgate has opened…I am sobered and awed at the women I have met here. They are from all over the United States…I have met future theologians, scholars, pastors, small group leaders, future founders of non-profits, church planters… you name it they are here and they are an unstoppable force…
March 23, 2008
He is Risen
He is Risen Indeed!
Our Easter worship gathering was great…great music, great people followed by brunch…plenty of food and good company.
March 16, 2008
Last week was International Women’s Day. In 2006, Rachelle organized a gridblog entitled, “Dismantling Patriarchy”, (I was in Thailand officiating a wedding at time) which I participated in. This year I didn’t participate because I have been too sick and too behind in my studies. If I am going to take time to write I have to write for school. I have been too sick to concentrate on my studies or much else…in fact I have spent more time in the last two weeks watching T.V. than I have in years…it doesn’t take much energy to watch T.V…
While reading through some of the posts, I found I really resonated with Julie Clawson’s post.
From her post:
There are many issues that I try to be open minded about. I respect differences of opinion in theology and politics and disdain single issue voting, but this is a deal breaking issue for me. If a church sees women as inferior and denies them their voice, I honestly could not join as a member of that community. I could not worship week after week alongside those that denied my full humanity. I don’t deny their faith or anything, but it’s not worth it to me to subject myself to such life-denying forces. Others with far more patience are attempting to bring hope to those situations, but (at least for now) I can’t be a part of that world.
I have to say I agree with her. It is a justice issue for me, I am respectful of difference, but I couldn’t attend a church week after week that denied my right to be who I am created to be.
March 14, 2008
I don’t think many people would disagree on times are changing. The question to followers of Jesus becomes, what does it mean to be faithful in our time, what does it mean for the church to navigate the waters of societal change?
“Every few hundred years in Western society there occurs a sharp transformation…within a few short decades, society rearranges itself—its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions…fifty years later, there is a new world and the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. We are currently living through such a transformation.”
Peter Drucker. Post-Capitalist Society, New York: Harper’s Business. 1993. p. 1.
March 3, 2008
Tonight I was reading through the journal I kept in 2003. I read through my entries on my trip to Mozambique, Africa and Church of the Savior in Washington D.C. Some of the entries from Africa brought tears to my eyes.
While at Church of the Savior we heard a number of amazing practitioners, one in particular jumped out at me tonight (I am re-reading some of my thoughts so I can shape my dissertation proposal), it was a talk given by a man named Bill Haley. Bill had just returned from a trip around the world visiting Christian communities that were or had been successful in bringing about personal, societal and global transformation. (Sidebar – I was struck by the fact that five years later we use similar language in our community about following Christ to serve others in three realms: personal, local and global). He talked about Wilberforce and the Clapham’s (social reformers within the Church of England.
Bill then talked about small communities of Christians committed to prayer, study and service as the most powerful tool in God’s hand for personal, societal and global transformation. Then went on to name some of the groups he studied and visited:
The Sisters of Charity
The Iona Community
Various monastic communities
Church of the Savior
The common denominators he found:
1. The Communities are Christ centered – Jesus is the reason they exist and they know him as a suffering God
2. There was some degree of life together
3. They had strong leadership – leaders that had a strong inner sense and a focus “what is not yet needs to be done” there are things God wants to do in the world
4. There was a great willingness within the community to live sacrificially
5. There was a profound reliance on prayer
6. There was an external goal – the entire community internalized an external goal, namely, they existed for other people, social justice was equated with loving God
7. There was shared discipline
8. There was a high expectation for membership (individualism was not part of their language or practice) they realized they could get more done with 10 committed people than 100 people who were not committed to the mission
9. They all had a commitment to commitment – you choose how you live
Here was Bill’s definition of Christian community:
An interdependent group of Christians whose lives are centered around Jesus and ordered by love, who share common goals and common commitments and who together intentionally seek to love God and love their neighbor.
February 13, 2008
Alex, my ten year old (who btw just made the little league majors!) plays the chipmunks CD over and over…especially – You had a bad day…I am sitting at SeaTac and that song has gone through my head…actually I’ve had a couple of bad days. Last week Alex and Rich both had a bad flu. I was feeling pretty good and happy it I didn’t get it. Monday evening in the middle of dinner, it hit…bad…stomach flu…I was up all night, hoping it was only a 24 hour bug since I had to leave at 7:00 a.m. today for South Carolina for the Vineyard National Leadership retreat. I was in bed all day yesterday, barely coherent. Was feeling a bit better this morning, weak and tired. I got to the airport a little late, somehow in my delirium I didn’t calculate the time correctly. I ran to security, line was so long…got to the gate literally the minute they shut the door. They wouldn’t let me on. Once they shut the door that’s it, done, you lose…
So, I am sitting in the airport, next flight is at noon which will get me into Charleston around 9:30 p.m. ugh…I will miss the “meet and greet” time tonight but will be there for the meetings in the morning.
If you think about it, please say a couple of prayers, I am not feeling so well and don’t want to relapse…I doubt I am contagious, just feel weak and have a bit of a headache…thanks
February 8, 2008
I have been trying to wrap my brain around this statement made by N.T. Wright in regard to resurrection. This afternoon I was studying Walter Brueggemann’s “Interpretation Genesis” for the series we are teaching on Sunday mornings. As I was reading the commentary on the text from Chapter 16 -18 Brueggemann (speaking of the promise) states:
“At the end of 18:15 there is still no resolution. The promise is still in limbo. Sarah is still without child. The whole narrative presses to the birth in chapter 21. The task of the exposition is to portray the anguish of these texts. That anguish turns out to be labor pain, but that is not known here. These texts present the creation “groaning in labor…groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as children, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved ” (Romans 8:22-24). These first parents of faith might well have made that same statement. The story of their lives is the story of hopeful but impatient groaning as they wait for the redemption of their bodies and of their history.
I wrote in the margin of my book — this is it, this is life after life after death…then I typed in my notes…how did we lose this ultimate hope in our teaching in the church…how did this core Christian tenet of faith get reduced to “going to heaven when I die”
I am thinking about this a lot as we journey with Jesus through Lent and to Easter…contemplating on Resurrection and what that means for us today – how do we re-imagine our faith around that story…
Then I read the following from Bob Hyatt’s blog and it came just a bit clearer. N.T. Wright in Time Magazine makes it pretty clear. What do you think?
February 3, 2008
We are teaching through some of the key themes of Genesis this month. When studying the narrative there are so many things we cannot explain nor should we…not an acceptable way of study for many of us that have been raised in the western rational way of thinking…the Old Testament is hard for many. God doesn’t seem like the Loving Jesus of the New Testament, at first reading God can actually seem pretty angry, cold and calculating when things don’t go the way he wants them to go. Here is a line that Todd Hunter used last year when he was with us. I think if we start with this view of God and really can get it deep into our soul we can (and I think this could be what faith is about) let the gaps be, we don’t have to have God make rational sense in every way possible.
“What lies behind the universe is TOTALLY COMPETENT LOVE – Behind the known world is totally competent love”
If this is my starting place I can let the mystery be.