We recently announced that we would once again host a panel discussion at the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. This panel will take place on Tuesday, June 19th during the lunch break of the annual meeting at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. You can find the details of this event by clicking here or you can register for this event here.
One of the panelists is Dr. Albert Mohler. His influence and involvement in our convention is far reaching. We are grateful for Dr. Mohler and his involvement in this event.
As an African-American who has been spiritually nurtured by the men and women of the Southern Baptist Convention. I feel a deep sense of gratitude and indebtedness. Thankfully, more and more African-American brothers and sisters are joining the SBC ranks, locking arms for the cause of Christ.
I am grateful for the steps the SBC has taken toward the goal of racial reconciliation. This is a complex problem that requires leadership on multiple fronts, whether on the grass-roots level, in denominational strategies, or in SBC resolutions. Countless Southern Baptists have helped advance these critical issues, and I am encouraged by their continued work, and our steady movement in the right direction.
But we haven’t arrived.
The recent comments by Richard Land, president of the ERLC, regarding the death of Trayvon Martin are an example of this. The media and blogs have shown us in great detail what was said by Dr. Land and the extent of his apology. Because of this, I won’t be focusing on whether or not Land plagiarized, or whether or not the statistics are correct (although there is plenty that needs to be said and done). There is quite a bit of discussion on these issues already.
I simply want to say that in the wake of Dr. Land’s statements, apology, and the response from the ERLC, my spirit is broken for multiple reasons. First, my initial sorrow comes from the non-apologetic apology of Dr. Land and its acceptance by SBC leaders. I am aware that we will all make mistakes, but the journey toward racial reconciliation will be hindered without genuine confession and apologies. Admitting that you are sorry that others were offended is not a Christ-honoring apology. Real racial reconciliation depends upon real apologies for real mistakes.
Secondly, many African-American brothers and sisters in the SBC are being pressured to leave. It’s difficult to articulate the kind of uproar these situations cause for us. Many non-African-American Southern Baptists would be surprised at how routinely we have to defend our participation in the SBC, and our spirits have been shaken by the unfolding of these events.
Lastly, I am an enthusiastic advocate of the SBC to those beyond our fellowship. It is my joy to promote the SBC’s love for the scriptures, passion for missions, and advances toward racial reconciliation. Occasions like this continually place asterisks by all of the good gospel-work being done in our convention and it is increasingly difficult to convince African-American brothers and sisters to stay, much less encourage others to join.
The process of healing this wound begins with we as a convention holding one another accountable to make real apologies for real mistakes. Also, I’m hopeful that the SBC leadership will take steps to restore the shaken confidence of African-Americans in the SBC, granting us a leg to stand on both inside and outside of its fellowship.
Baptist21 is happy to officially announce the addition of Pastors J.D. Greear and Fred Luter to our panel discussion on the Conservative Resurgence, the Great Commission Resurgence, and the Future of the SBC. The panel will be made up of 1st generation conservative resurgents who led the movement, 2nd generation resurgents who fought for the movement, and 3rd generation resurgents who are the blessed recipients of the movement.
Where: Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom A/B on Level Two
When: Tuesday June 19th during the Lunch break of the annual meeting
Cost: $10 for General Admission (includes a lunch and books)
Tomorrow afternoon Jonathan Akin will be back on Skype with Dr. Bryant Wright asking him some of our readers questions. If you have a question you would like to ask Dr. Wright regarding the impending name change, please submit your question in the section below. We will post the video as soon as it is ready.
As I searched to find the right words, two big sets of brown eyes just stared back at mine waiting for an answer. It is difficult to imagine a more sobering and gut-wrenching conversation to have with two young boys than trying to explain to them the reality of death. My family had just endured the loss of two close relatives who both died at early ages within a short span of time. And my sons had a lot of questions. They were sad, and they were scared.
We decided early on that, unlike some other parents we knew, we were not going to try and shield our children indefinitely from the reality of death. Of course we would take age appropriateness into consideration, but as soon as our kids were able to comprehend a loved one’s consistent presence, we could not justify deceiving them regarding the cause of that loved one’s sudden absence.
After all, the Bible we teach them to read doesn’t sugarcoat such realities. In the storyline of Scripture, we make it no more than four chapters in before being confronted with the “wages of sin” in the shedding of righteous Abel’s blood (Gen 4:1-8; cf. Matt 23:35). And in the very next chapter, there begins an ominous refrain that echoes throughout the Scriptures and throughout the halls of history bearing testimony to the universal fate of our forefathers and mothers, “and he died…and he died…and he died…” (Gen 5:5-31).
The Apostle Paul tells us, “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom 5:12). As a result, every society of men has been faced with this same problem and has had its own questions to answer. And from Egyptian mummies and pyramids to Greek pantheons and underworlds, each has sought to answer these questions in ways that seemed right, but were ultimately, hopeless. My two boys were not facing a new problem. Their sadness and fear were not new, and they weren’t asking new questions.
While many in our day might seek to dodge such questions or to vaguely explain how so-and-so has “gone away to a better place”, my sons knew better. They had seen the caskets. They had seen the now-lifeless faces. They had watched the holes being filled up with dirt. And somehow they knew that all of this just wasn’t right- an enemy has done this. “Dad, are you going to die one day?” I could see tears instantly welling up in little eyes as I replied, “Yes, unless Jesus comes back, we all will.” “But I don’t want you to die.”
Instantly, I began doubting myself. Maybe it was too soon for this discussion after all. Maybe I should have just dodged the question or given some vague answer. Maybe I should have come up with some contemporary mythology to try and soften their little consciences to the sting of death. But then I thought, “Wait a second. I’m a Christian!” We are the people of the cross and the empty tomb. We are the people who understand that, in the end, death has no sting and the grave has no victory because Jesus crushed death to death through his death on the cross.
The Bible tells us that the “wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23), but that Jesus “bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet 2:24). Jesus took on himself our curse and bore our penalty, but three days later was “declared to be the Son of God in power…by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4). For just as death came by one man named Adam, so by another man named Jesus comes resurrection from the dead. “For as in Adam, all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:20-21). In light of this truth, Christians don’t grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thess 4:13). Because we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even though we may die, we will live again (John 11:25; 1 Thess 4:15-16).
So I stuttered, stammered, and searched for an answer. But I’m grateful I didn’t need to hesitate for long. Because I know the Truth. I told them about the first Adam and how “he died.” But then I told them about the Last Adam and how “he died” and “was buried,” but how “he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). I told them about the hope that they can have in Christ and how the day is coming in which there shall be no “mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” and “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes” because “death shall be no more” (Rev 21:4). I told them that this day is promised to all who believe and then I prayed for them that they would. And somehow, this answered their questions and calmed their fears in a way that no cleverly devised myth ever could, because it was honest and because it was true. It was the story of Easter
So while I hope this year’s Easter for you is not one that brings reason to be sad or scared. I also hope that at some point in the flurry of chocolate bunnies, marshmallow eggs, clip-on ties, and frilly pastel dresses, you have the opportunity to in some sense make it that way. Because I pray that you get the opportunity to tell the true story of Easter. The story that has everything to do with being scared to death…and back again.
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