Archive for the ‘Social Justice’ Category

An Update based upon some of the best shows of the ’90s.

Law and Order (Tom Skinner’s Urbana ’70 Address). I’m working on some reflections on the emergence of Black evangelicalism in the later half of the 20th century.  An excerpt from one of the most important addresses given by an African-American evangelical in an evangelical gathering.

Now, during this great upsurge in revolution and rebellion that has been going on, there have been great numbers of evangelical Christians who have joined the hoot and cry for “law and order.”

But how do you explain “law and order” to a mother who stands at the foot of her bed watching her baby lie in a blood bath, when she knows that that baby would never have been bitten by the rat in the first place, and the rat would have never been in the building, if the landlord to whom she had been paying high rent had been providing the kind of service she deserved for the kind of rent she was paying?

How do you explain law and order to her when she knows the building code inspector, who represents the city administration, who is supposed to check out violations in buildings, came by that building the day before but was met at the front door by the landlord who palmed a hundred dollars in his hand, and the building code inspector kept going? Now that is lawlessness.

But the point is, we never arrest the landlord. We never lock up the building code inspector. But I tell you who we do lock up. We lock up the frustrated, bitter, sixteen-year-old brother of that two-week-old sister who in his bitterness takes to the street and throws a brick at that building code inspector. Then we lock him up and say, “We gotta have law and order!”

Friends: It was great to see some friends when I returned to Boston to preach at Eastern Nazarene College’s Spring Revival.  I’m back in Boston on two different occasions in the spring.  Hope to catch up with others during those visits.  I’ll be speaking at the Ethnic America Conference (in April) as well as Gordon-Conwell Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME)’s Graduation Banquet.  We’ll also be swinging by Boston during the summer as I’m scheduled to speak at a family camp in New Hampshire in July.

In Living Color: Randy Woodley, author of Living in Color and a frequent contributor to this blog is on his way to Chicago.  He will be one of the participants at 4days4justice.  Got a sneak another plug for 4days in here  somewhere. 🙂

Peter Heltzel, the author of Jesus and Justice and Assistant Professor of Theology at New York Theological Seminary will be speaking on the topic of Jesus, Justice and Race at 9am on April 15th as part of 4days4justice.  I have had the privilege of working with Peter on two different book projects: (1) on the Theological Legacy of John Perkins and (2) Theologies of Freedom.

Here’s a link of an interview with Peter Heltzel about the real meaning of Christmas.

After Peter Heltzel’s session, Mimi Haddadwill be speaking at 10:45am on Thursday, April 15th.  Dr. Mimi Haddad is president of Christians for Biblical Equality. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. She holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the University of Durham, England. She has written numerous articles and has contributed to eight books, most recently as an editor and a contributing author of Global Voices on Biblical Equality: Women and Men Serving Together in the Church.

For more info: See the 4days4justice website. You can register HERE.

Terry LeBlanc is one of our featured speakers on Thursday night at 4days4justice.  Terry is Mi’kmaq /Acadian, from Listuguj First Nation.  He is the founding Chairman and current CEO of NAIITS (North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies).  He will be speaking on environmental justice from a Native American perspective.  (I’ve often said I don’t know how anyone can ever presume to talk about environmentalism without first consulting those who are the first caretakers of this land). I got to know Terry, first at Urbana ’03 and am honored to call Terry a friend and mentor.

Below is a video clip of a news report on Native – Canadian reconciliation in the church.  Terry LeBlanc is featured in this interview.

Terry will also be one of the moderators in the fishbowl discussion on scheduled for Thursday and Friday.  See the 4days4justice website for full details.  It is not too late to register.

Andrea Smith (Professor at University of California, Riverside) will be presenting on the topic of the Non-profit industrial complex.

Here’s a clip from Andy.

Andrea will also be moderating the fishbowl discussion on Thursday and Friday.

See the 4days4justice website: www.northpark.edu/4days4justice

Richard Twiss leads off our 4days4justice with a chapel service at North Park Theological Seminary on Wednesday, April 14th.

Here’s a video clip of Richard Twiss speaking at Anderson University:

Here’s an interview that I did with Richard at the Cornerstone Festival last summer: LINK

Richard Twiss will also be part of the fishbowl discussions on Thursday and Friday (April 15 and 16) on developing an Evangelical Social Ethic for the 21st Century.

TO REGISTER for 4days4justice, link HERE.

A number of evangelical leaders (myself included) have signed the covenant for civility.  (Hence, my silence on Glen Beck’s recent comments – if you can’t say anything nice . . . ) 🙂  See below for the text of the covenant.  You can also see the signers of the document at this link.

A COVENANT FOR CIVILITY: Come Let Us Reason Together

How good and pleasant it is when the people of God live together in unity.—Psalm 133:1

As Christian pastors and leaders with diverse theological and political beliefs, we have come together to make this covenant with each other, and to commend it to the church, faith-based organizations, and individuals, so that together we can contribute to a more civil national discourse. The church in the United States can offer a message of hope and reconciliation to a nation that is deeply divided by political and cultural differences. Too often, however, we have reflected the political divisions of our culture rather than the unity we have in the body of Christ. We come together to urge those who claim the name of Christ to “put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

1) We commit that our dialogue with each other will reflect the spirit of the Scriptures, where our posture toward each other is to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

2) We believe that each of us, and our fellow human beings, are created in the image of God. The respect we owe to God should be reflected in the honor and respect we show to each other in our common humanity, particularly in how we speak to each other. “With the tongue we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God …. this ought not to be so” (James 3:9, 10).

3) We pledge that when we disagree, we will do so respectfully, without impugning the other’s motives, attacking the other’s character, or questioning the other’s faith, and recognizing in humility that in our limited, human opinions, “we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12). We will therefore “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

4) We will ever be mindful of the language we use in expressing our disagreements, being neither arrogant nor boastful in our beliefs: “Before destruction one’s heart is haughty, but humility goes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).

5) We recognize that we cannot function together as citizens of the same community, whether local or national, unless we are mindful of how we treat each other in pursuit of the common good in the common life we share together. Each of us must therefore “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25).

6) We commit to pray for our political leaders—those with whom we may agree, as well as those with whom we may disagree. “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made … for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

7) We believe that it is more difficult to hate others, even our adversaries and our enemies, when we are praying for them. We commit to pray for each other, those with whom we agree and those with whom we may disagree, so that together we may strive to be faithful witnesses to our Lord, who prayed “that they may be one” (John 17:22).

We pledge to God and to each other that we will lead by example in a country where civil discourse seems to have broken down. We will work to model a better way in how we treat each other in our many faith communities, even across religious and political lines. We will strive to create in our congregations safe and sacred spaces for common prayer and community discussion as we come together to seek God’s will for our
nation and our world.

“Broken Health Care Debate Revealed An Unhealthy National Spirit”  By Randy Woodley

Randy Woodley is a frequent contributor to this blog.  He is finishing up his Ph.D. at Asbury Seminary and is currently an adjunct professor at George Fox Theological Seminary.  Randy is also the author of Living in Color available on IVP Books.  Randy will also be participating in the upcoming 4days4justice conference at North Park (April 14-17).

For the past year we have all known that the debate was much bigger than Health Care. After all, what passed was verifiably impotent compared to what is actually needed in order to take care of the real health needs of all Americans. None the less, the bill had to pass to so we could begin a better health care journey and in order to secure an effective political future for Obama and the Dems. But let’s not fool ourselves by saying that this was true “Health Care Reform.” It was simply a few good, but minor improvements to a terribly broken system. The debate also revealed to us that the Democrats now resemble the former Republican Party of years prior and the GOP (“O” for obstructionist) is left looking more like an extension of The John Birch Society. There is a definite conservative swing occurring in our country accompanied by deeply held racist roots.

The past year of debate revealed widespread racism that is still present in the heart of many Americans. It is no coincidence that the most consistent assault on the current democratic system ever launched in my lifetime was levied during the first year of the nation’s first African American President. Amazing how many people wanted Obama to fail! Even more amazing would be the conversation about WHY they really wanted him to fail. The racists faxes sent, the spitting, the racist slurs hurled at Representatives John Lewis, James Clyburn, et. al. in the halls of Congress from the “Tea Party” folks were simply an example of what was “not being said” all along. In truth, the Tea Party and the Republican obstructionist tactics revealed a desperate movement to reinstate the full benefits of White Privilege in America. There were just too may incidents of racism and impropriety over the past year for them to simply be “isolated incidents.”

In 2042 White non-Hispanics will cease to be the majority population in America. The dominant White culture in power understands what the statistics mean when they reveal “the browning of America.” As followers of Jesus we have an answer to the national angst. We can clearly see that ethnic diversity is a value that flows from the heart of God. We are called to be peacemakers. We are ministers of reconciliation. We even know how to love our enemies. We have the goods. Do we have the courage? If not, who will lead us in preventing the coming American Apartheid?

It is now time for a national conversation on racism to begin in America. Followers of Christ should be leading this conversation-not avoiding it.

So some major updates (building on a previous post which listed TV shows from the 70’s, this update uses TV shows from the 80’s):

“St. Elsewhere” and “Cheers” — The medical drama has finally come to an end. Finally, health care reform. Let’s look at the word “reform.” In essence, it is an attempt to fix what is broken.  The health care system was working for some and not working for others. All this unnecessary drama over something that was broken and needed fixing.  Let’s have some civility here and stop the name calling.  This is not socialism, Marxism, or Fascism, or whatever -ism is your favorite hate-filled word.  The best of what government can do is to look out for the well being of all people, not just the privileged few.  It won’t always get it right, but I like to see the government at least try.  Next: Comprehensive Immigration REFORM.

“CHEERS” (Some intriguing conferences and educational opportunities I hope you’ll be willing to explore because “Making a way in the world today, takes everything you’ve got.”)

4days4justice: April 14-April 17 on the North Park University campus. A smorgasbord of activities that will challenge Christians to examine the topic of Biblical Social Justice.  Despite what Glenn Beck says, Social Justice is not a code word for communism (again with the -isms).  Meet and interact with Christians from a wide spectrum of experiences and perspectives who are seeking a Biblical Social Justice.  Some great speakers and participants will be in attendance, including Carl Ellis, Noel Castellanos, Peter Cha, Richard Twiss, Jonathan Merritt, among many others. See the previous blog entry for  more information.

Reload-Chicago (also at North Park University).  Co-sponsored with the Urban Youth Workers Institute.  See the website for more details.

Micah 6:8 Conference (Coming this summer) – Stay tuned for more information.

Efrem Smith and I are teaching a course in the Fuller Doctorate of Ministry program this summer (June 21-25) called Building Multi-Ethnic Congregations.  If you are in the SoCal area, check it out.  You do not have to be a DMin Student to take the course.  You can take the course as a visiting student for a greatly reduced fee: Check out the Fuller link.

And finally, our family (“married with children”) is taking a “quantum leap” Next year, I’m on sabbatical and will be returning to school. I’ll be in a ThD program at Duke for the duration of the next academic year. Moving to Durham for a year.  Let me know if anyone is interested in renting a furnished house in Chicago for a year or if anyone has any leads on housing near Duke next year.

See the website for more details: 4days4justice web link

Four days of exploring the theme of Social Justice from an Evangelical Christian perspective.  North Park University is sponsoring a series of lectures, discussions, and workshops that will explore the theme of an evangelical social ethic for the 21st century.

The schedule:

DAY 1: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

7:00-8:30pm      in Hamming Hall (Campus Justice Lecture Series)

“The Non-profit Industrial Complex” with Andrea Smith from UC Riverside

DAY 2: Thursday, April 15, 2010

9:00am-Noon      in  Isaacson Chapel (Nyvall Lectures)

“Jesus, Justice and Race” (Peter Heltzel) and “Justice and Gender” (Mimi Haddad)

1:00pm-5:00pm:      Fishbowl Discussion in Olsson Lounge (Nyvall Hall)

TOPIC: An Evangelical Social Ethic for the 21st Century

PARTICIPANTS: Noel Castellanos, Jake Diliberto, Mimi Haddad, Carl Ellis, Jr., Jimmy McGee, Mae Cannon, Peter Cha, Jonathan Merritt, Andrea Smith, Lisa Sharon Harper, Peter Heltzel, Terry LeBlanc, Soong-Chan Rah, Richard Twiss, Sandra VanOpstal

7:00-8:30pm: Campus Justice Series Lecture in Hamming Hall

TOPIC: Environmental Justice (Terry LeBlanc and Lisa Sharon Harper)

DAY 3:  Friday, April 16, 2010

9:00am-NOON: Fishbowl Discussion in Olsson Lounge (Nyvall Hall)

TOPIC: An Evangelical Social Ethic for the 21st Century (cont.)

DAY 4 – (Saturday, April 17, 2010)

9:00am-1:00pm: Justice Workshops in Hamming Hall (Registration Required) – Click HERE to register

9:00 am – Plenary Session: a panel discussion on the topic: What does an evangelical social ethic of justice in the 21st century look like?” with Soong-Chan Rah, Richard Twiss, Mae Cannon, Lisa Sharon Harper

10:00 am – Workshop I

11:30 am – Workshop II

Workshop topics include: Contextualized Theology / From Compassion to Justice / Environmental Justice / Christians and Just War / Immigration Justice / A Theology of Justice / Justice and Race

Workshop presenters include: Richard Twiss, Terry LeBlanc, Soong-Chan Rah, Mae Cannon, Lisa Sharon Harper, Carl Ellis and others.

Be a part of this great gathering of many committed to an evangelical, biblical social justice. REGISTER today.

I am so thankful for the launch of Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite’s new website:  The People of the Second Chance.  I am very thankful that Mike and Jud’s powerful ministry will continue and in fact, will have a greater impact.  Check out their website and facebook to see how God will continue to work through them.

There is still ongoing discussion and official statements about Deadly Vipers (as well as some new discussions in a similar vein).  Some interesting insights from Bo Lim, Rudy C,  and Ed G.  I hope folks will move beyond the immediate topic to engage in a larger discussion on race, culture, and faith.  Evangelicals need a constructive dialogue on race and culture.  This whole episode has revealed a pretty major gap among evangelicals in our awareness and ability to deal with issues of race, culture and faith.  Some ongoing, big picture questions:

– Is there still a race problem in America?  Many seem to believe that racial and cultural sensitivity is only a problem for those who perceive it to be a problem.  Is that true?

– How can Asian-Americans be a strong voice in the evangelical world?  Clearly, this is a growing group, yet oftentimes without much of a voice.  This question should also encompass African-American, Latino, Native American, and bi, multi-racial Christians.

– What is the role of culture?  Are we to be culturally neutered because we are all God’s people and therefore we put aside our old culture? Or is there a place for cultural expression and celebration?  And what could a healthy expression of culture in the evangelical context look like?

In the next few months, I’ll scatter this blog with some theological reflections on the topic of race, culture, and faith.  Or you can always read my book The Next Evangelicalism.  Some random teaching videos and interviews from CCDA and Cornerstone can also be found on youtube.  All can link from the profrah.com website.