Jim Smith at the Florida Baptist Witness has written a thoughtful editorial in response to the insanity of First Baptist Dallas’ Grinch Alert website. We want to encourage you to read the article. We also pray that Christians will embrace the true meaning of the season. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, not criticize them for acting like lost people, like sheep without a shepherd.
A Bio from his blog at Gospel Coalition -
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A Florida native, he is a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and a grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham. Tullian was the founding pastor of the former New City Church which merged with Coral Ridge in April of 2009. A graduate of Columbia International University (philosophy) and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (M.Div.), Tullian is the author of The Kingdom of God: A Primer on the Christian Life (Banner of Truth), Do I Know God? Finding Certainty in Life’s Most Important Relationship (Multnomah), Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different (Multnomah) and, most recently, Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (Crossway). Tullian is also a contributing editor to Leadership Journal. He speaks at conferences throughout the US and his sermons are broadcast daily on the radio program Godward Living. When he’s not reading, studying, preaching, or writing, he enjoys being with people and relaxing with his wife of 16 years, Kim, and their three children Gabe (15), Nate (13), and Genna (8). Tullian loves the beach, loves to exercise, and when he has time, he loves to surf.
Baptist21 is grateful for the ministry of Tullian. In a short time, he has established himself as a pastor and man who seeks to make the gospel explicit and unpack the gospel’s implications for all of life. You can see this through his twitter account and teaching ministry. B21 wants to thank Tullian for graciously giving of his time to do this interview.
When the church does tackle the OT nowadays it’s most often to do some kind of character study so that we can learn from the life of Noah, David, Samson, etc. The teaching rarely rises above the level of what our children get on Sesame Street. Be nice. Be good. Share. Be courageous. Don’t be bad. Don’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s moralism. This kind of teaching sees the OT as merely giving us examples of how to live or not live instead of a storyline that is pointing us to a rescuer who will save us. We don’t need an example first and foremost, but we do need a Savior!
This means when we preach Noah we won’t talk about being nice to pets, but will instead preach about God’s mercy to save people from the judgment to come. When we preach the blessings and cursings of Deuteronomy 28 we won’t teach prosperity for the “good” and torment for the “bad,” but instead how the covenant keeper Jesus receives the cursings in place of the covenant breakers and offers the blessings to them if they’ll repent and believe.
The OT is about Jesus (cf. Luke 24). It presents to us our sin and our need for a Savior. It promises him, anticipates him, foreshadows him, gives types of him, and prepares us for Him.
3. Misusing the text for our own purposes
Churches will often misuse the OT for their own ends. The classic example is using some story in the OT (like Nehemiah) to promote the building campaign or finance some project. Recently, churches have actually used prophecies about the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple to justify millions of dollars worth of construction projects.
This kind of misuse and abuse models a false way of reading the OT for our people. It also invites them to use whatever fanciful interpretation they can find to justify their actions. This is concerning.
We need to recover the OT as the Church’s Scripture. We need to reject the strong division that has been placed between it and the NT. We need to reject moralistic applications to be bold like David, to pray like Daniel, and to be nice to our in-laws like Ruth. We need to stop abusing the OT to confuse our people and pursue our own ends. We need to recover the Scriptures that call us to Jesus. May we heed the call of Jesus that we have Moses and the Prophets; let us hear them (Luke 16:29)!
“Well, that’s in the Old Testament” was a phrase that I kept hearing early in my ministry. It was a way for a person to dismiss a concept or a command in the Bible. Certainly there are things that need to be wrestled with when it comes to rightly interpreting and applying the OT in light of the revelation of Jesus in the NT. That task goes well beyond the scope of this post.
But, what I find disconcerting is the dismissive attitude toward the OT in the Church. The Church is neglecting and misusing its Scripture. This is because the Church is scared of and confused by the Bible of Jesus and the Apostles. But, in 2 Timothy 3 Paul tells us some very important things about the Scriptures, and this is as true for the OT as it is the NT:
This means that the Church needs the OT. We need it to lead the lost to faith in Jesus. We need it to lead believers to believe the gospel more deeply. We need it to teach us and correct us. We need it to bring us to maturity and godliness. Because of these concerns I’m deeply troubled by the neglect and abuse of the OT that I see in the church. Here are some of the things that need correction:
1. Practical Marcionism
Marcion, who lived in the 2nd century, wanted to rid the church of the OT because he felt the OT God was an angry god and not the God of the NT, the God of Jesus. So, he argued that the OT is not the church’s scripture and set up a canon without the OT.
In many ways the church today has adopted what I want to call “practical Marcionism.” We do this by assuming that God is grumpier in the OT than He is in the NT. We do this by phrases like “I’m gonna go OT on you.” Christian Football coaches will say that they want their team to be OT on Saturdays and NT on Sundays.
Many think the OT is “law” and the NT is “grace.” This is a complete mischaracterization. The God of the OT is presented as a merciful God. When Yahweh proclaims his name in Exodus 34 he says, “The Lord, The Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty…” (34:6-7). Yes, God is just and will punish sin, but He is also gracious and patient and forgiving.
The message of the OT is that God is a rescuer. He judges the world but rescues Noah’s family. He judges Sodom but rescues Lot’s family. He is consistently patient with Israel and giving them opportunity to repent.
Also, God seems “grumpy” in the NT as well. Ananias and Sapphira drop dead because they lied about what they put in the offering plate (Acts 5). Not to mention the things Jesus says about Hell and the torment that will take place there.
This practical Marcionism is sadly seen in the sermon series of some of the best expositors in evangelicalism. They often ignore the OT and preach exclusively from the NT. This needs to change.
In part 2 Jon Akin will continue to examine misues of the OT…
As the Unashamed Tour finishes up in Raleigh (more info about that at the bottom), I have been reflecting on the evolution of Christian Hip-Hop. When I was growing up, Christian Hip-Hop was to put it kindly, not the best. I couldn’t decide in the previous sentence whether to put quotations around the word “Christian” or around the words “Hip-Hop” or both. It seemed that the music genre that would have been characterized as Christian Hip-Hop as I was coming of age was most of the time neither Christian in its lyrics/message, nor was it Hip-Hop in its craft. The lyrics were usually very watered down and contained no substantive theology. The craft was even worse, as it was usually a cheap knock-off of better musical genius seen in the Hip Hop “Secular” World.
That is why this new era of Christian Hip-Hop is so remarkable. I don’t feel the need to put quotations around any of the words. The content is rich, God Glorifying, Christ Honoring, Scripture-Saturated, Theologically Driven, and Gospel-Centered. There are not enough good things to say about the lyrics (more on that later). In addition to superior content from the past generation, the craft is superior as well. Pastor Jerome Gay, of Vision Church, says of the lyrics, “it is a beautiful display of redemptive lyricism.” The talent and musical ability of this new wave of Hip-Hop is a joy to observe. I wrote a piece several months ago where I examined trends in the Evangelical World that seem to display that God is at work and a possible movement is coming (in that article entitled “A Look at a Model GCR Church,” I say clearly that I am not a pneumatologist, if that even is a word, but these are mere observations). I argue that there seems to be a movement that encompasses these major criteria: obsession for the glory of God in all things, gospel-centeredness, Local Church Primacy, and Missional living. This new generation of Hip-Hop artists in the Christian world seems to be right at the forefront of this movement. I am willing to bet that every major movement of God in history had musicians writing songs that were rich in teaching theology that accompanied the movement. I would not say it is only Hip-Hop that seems to be taking on these characteristics, but this is a major music stream that is pushing these types of conversations about Gospel-Centrality and the other characteristics mentioned above. So, if you are not familiar with these artists get familiar with them (I will look at some of them below with some samples of their work).
Several Reasons to Become Familiar with these Artists
- They rap the Gospel – in this genre there are clear expressions of the gospel that will encourage and edify the believer, but also provide an evangelistic means for the non-believer
- They teach rich theology – in these songs you will hear concepts such as the hypostatic union, expiation, and substitution just to name a few. In fact, many of my friends are using these songs in catechistic way for their children because the beats make the words so easy to remember and again the content is so rich. One example is a song on Shai Linne’s CD “The Atonement” where Stephen the Levite asks questions about important theological topics and Shai Linne raps the answers. Check it out
- They are talented – the music is very well done and has a way of sticking with you, making a great means for preaching the gospel to oneself and being edified through musical means.
A Few Songs by these Artists to Check Out:
This is not an exhaustive list, merely a sampling
Lecrae – “Don’t Waste Your Life” and “Beautiful Feet” – Purchase his music here
Trip Lee – “Hero” – Purchase his music here
Sho Baraka – “Higher Love” and “Shut Us Down” – Purchase his music here
Tedashii – “I Work” and “Make War” – Purchase his music here
Flame – “Goodness” – Also, check out an interview that Baptist21 conducted with Flame
Shai Linne – “Through My Eyes” – Purchase his music here
Also, check out a Hip-Hop Song featuring former SBC President Johnny Hunt by the group, Hazakim
Upcoming Concert in Raleigh
What: Unashamed Tour – The Movement
Where: Dorton Arena (1025 Blue Ridge Rd. Raleigh, NC 27607)
Who: Lecrae, Trip Lee, Sho Baraka, Tedashii, DJ Official, and special guest Pro
When: November 19th from 7-10pm
Tickets: If you use the promotional code “baptist21” you will receive a $5 discount for a ticket price of $10 – REGISTER HERE
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