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Keep Your Head Up

January 18, 2012

Yesterday my copies of Keep Your Head Up: America’s New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness, and the Cosby Conversation arrived.  The book is edited by my friend Dr. Anthony Bradley. Brad (as we call him) has coordinated a team of pastors, professors, and professionals to address some of the cultural and moral issues raised by Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint in the book Come On People, – but address them from a more biblical and Christian worldview. Brad asked me to write the chapter on the Black Church and Orthodoxy.  In this chapter I tried to demonstrate that the church that would faithfully address the cultural and moral concerns of this world, must be clear on the uniqueness of it message and calling. Here is an excerpt from my chapter:

[Cosby and Poussaint] speak of the church as civic organization – an institution whose primary role is social reform, thus praising the church for its utilitarian purposes. The church is useful in fostering a society where social ills are alleviated.  Thus the church is called on by Cosby and Poussaint to get more active in addressing issues of mental health, sexual promiscuity and disease (including the promotion of condom use), producing healthy food alternatives, speaking out against self-degrading music, promoting and pulling together the family, calling dead beat dads to assume their fatherhood responsibilities, and many other socially responsible agendas.

No one can argue that the church is called to be an institution of change for our society.  Taking us the cause of social injustice and seeking to bring health, education, respect, and responsibility to the world is well within the realm and calling of the church in the world. Nevertheless,while it is a calling, it is not the calling…

…Yes, the church is called to engage in the social well-being of society.  Every church needs to be doing all it can to minister to the needs of its community.  However, it must do so with the understanding that the need that is most uniquely the calling of the church is the salvation of souls from a far worse condition than poverty, hunger, or disease.  The church is called to preach salvation from sin and death through Jesus Christ alone.  This is her orthodoxy.

Jesus himself asked the all important, immediately relevant rhetorical question, “What shall it profit a man if he gained the whole world and loses his soul?” (Mark 8:36). The obvious answer is “nothing.”  Orthodoxy serves as a reminder of the mission and message of the church.  The mission is the worship of God through Jesus Christ.  The message is repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ for the redemption of body and soul from hell and unto eternal life.   The church is the only place where eternal profits are guaranteed to all who place their faith in Jesus Christ.  There are infinite ways to lose your soul. There is only one way to save it. The church has the way. It must proclaim it. This is the heart of orthodoxy.

My chapter is just a small part of this book. Men far smarter than I am have written some thoughtful and provocative chapters. Check it out. Even if you don’t agree with everything that is written, you will be better equipped to engage the Cosby conversation – especially from a more biblical perspective.

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