First I want to let a few people know that this is not intended to be some sort of “Battle of the Blog” or an “Attack blog”, but rather and apology and explanation of my view. So please view it in the best construct.
I would like to start off by saying I apologize for how the conversation turned out. I missed M.R. tweet that stated the context of “a conversation between the 2 of you inquiring, why the conference was not more diverse theologically and culturally” (to paraphrase). This is a fair question to ask, but the way the tweet was constructed implied a different thought. Partially because of the view of the two other groups listed in the original.
“Groups noticeably absent from #ShepCon2015 inerrancy summit.”
And below is the list with my input on each.
o Book by JD Hall (Armenians under my bed as if they are the Boogie man)
o Quote by Spurgeon (And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here)
o Strangefire conference speaks for itself on the view of their errors)
• Black Church
After the first two categories and the views held by speakers at the event, a negative connotations could be logically concluded.
Next, I’d like to apologize to S.W., when you subtly attempted to state I was not black and you ruled that by my profile, it infuriated me. As a black man, I know you know that we view it as an insult to say a black man is not black (aka the phrase Uncle Tom sums up the thoughts that go with this assumption). I should not have let your comment, cause anger in my heart.
Now that I have covered my apology for how the conversation went yesterday; I’d like to explain my thoughts on the concept of the “Black church”.
The main problem with the term “Black Church” is that it creates division and takes the focus off of Christ. A believer should not be attending church with the mind-set of “Are other people in my racial group there” or “I’m not of that racial demographic, am I welcomed there?” These may sound trivial but are a real concern in our society. Many churches that pander to the “black church” label, typical result in the spewing of the social gospel and not the gospel of our Lord and Savior. I used to attend an A.M.E (African Methodist Episcopal) church, and I asked my white co-worker to come one Sunday. His first comment after I mentioned the name of the church was, “will I be the only white person”, followed by various questions about him sticking out and being welcomed. I can only imagine the thoughts of other people that are not consulting directly with a black person, when a topic of such arises. On the flip side of this talk are people like myself, a black Lutheran. A black Lutheran is almost as rare as the gold wrapper in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie; attending an all-white church after growing up in all-black churches. I struggle with constant wondering if I am welcomed and if I am viewed through the lens of the stereotypes from our cultural society. In reality, none of that matters. All that matters is I am hearing God’s word properly divided and being pointed to my Lord and Savior Jesus. Horizontally we all have sin and gripes with various things, but in the sanctuary my focus should not be on these fleshy things.
Historically there have been things that could be associated with a label similar to “Black church”, due to our cultures history; during the time when blacks could not worship with white people due to slavery and racism. Is there still a need for this distinction? A person will still see church signs that say Korean church or Chinese church, but these are to illustrate that sermons are held in that language and geared to be welcoming to immigrants. That is a complete different conversation than the concept of the “Black church” because ‘Black’ is not a country and ‘Black’ is not a language. When people use the phrase black church, I do not think it is meant to be offensive, but that does not change the fact that it is the residual of Jim Crow language. Normal Church is equated with white church and everything else is for the colored people. Proof of this is found in the distinction that people do not refer to John MacArthur as “a white pastor that leads white church”. There is no adjective placed in front this pastor’s church or his title. And that is exactly how it should be. Come to church and hear Christ Crucified with an audience full of sinners and beggars that are redeemed by Christ. The color, height, income bracket of the believer does not and should not matter.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:28
Where are the African American/Black People?
As I stated in the intro, this is a fair question. I think part of the answer is found in the original tweet, “The Black Church”: Black people assuming they are not welcome at pre-dominantly white congregation churches, and white congregations referring to black Christians with terms like the “Black Church”. In all sincerity, the mega church/seeker driven churchs have done a better job by far in attempting to remove this white church/black church thought process than the historic Protestant denominations. Please do not give me the line, “Christ will will build His church”, because I agree. I also know that God uses means to accomplish things, and sometimes it is people. Slavery was real, lynchings were real, Jim Crow was real, racism is real, and outreach to mend the aftermath of these events is not a bad thing. The typically thought if you were to ask a non-black person to describe what the “black church” entails would be a variation of a description on emotionalism, a pastor grunting during sermons, people yelling amen during sermon, and other stereotypical things. Majority of conferences that have a majority black audience with speakers that are as famous to the level of Mr. MacArthur (was a speaker at ShepCon2015), are usually held by leaders with extreme error like Creflo Dollar and T.D Jakes. If we truly have a concern about this trend, I believe the non-theological adjectives that we are placing in front of the word ‘church’ or ‘pastor’, has to end. All it accomplishes is division and takes the focus off of Christ. There is no distinction between Jew or Greek, poor or rich, fat or skinny, we are all one in the body of Christ.