Film screening and discussion of I Am Not Your Negro

On 1/21/18, LSPC held a screening and discussion of the film I Am Not Your Negro.

Here is a brief list of resources to continue to reflect on the film:

1. Article from Image Journal reflecting on the film.

2. Exploring the implications of the Gospel:

The gospel creates a new reconciled humanity in the one family of God (A Reading from The Whole Church taking the Whole Gospel to the Whole World by The Lausanne Theology Working Group, read Full paper

1. For Paul, as “apostle to the Gentiles”, clearly the good news about Jesus was a universal message for all the nations. And that too had deep Old Testament roots. God’s plan, announced to Abraham, had always been to bring blessing through Israel to all the nations of the world. But the nations were utterly outside and alienated from the covenantal grace of God and membership in God’s household (Eph. 2:11-12). The gospel transforms this situation. From having been alienated from God, “through the gospel” the Gentiles can enter into the same status with God as enjoyed hitherto by Old Testament Israel, so that through the blood of Christ believing Jews and Gentiles can become one new humanity in the Messiah, reconciled to one another and to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:13-18)

2. It is important to see how this “peace-making” work of the cross – reconciling Jews and Gentiles, and creating one new humanity – is not just a by-product of the gospel, but is of the essence of the gospel itself (Eph. 3:6). Paul includes it in the work of the cross. “Peace” is part of the good news – exactly as Isaiah 52:7 announced. Jesus is our peace, made peace, and preached peace. God has only one family (Rom. 3:29; 4; Gal. 3:26-29). In the Old Testament period, that had been ethnic Israel alone, “the house / family of Israel.” But from now on, because of the work of Christ, that one single family includes people from all nations – just as God had promised. And that is gospel – good news for the nations.

3. The church, as the community of those reconciled to one another and to God, is therefore the embodiment of the gospel. “Through the church”, God proclaims the divine wisdom of the gospel to the principalities and powers (Eph. 3:10). The church is not merely the delivery mechanism for the gospel, but is itself living proof of the gospel’s reconciling power.

4. Living demonstration of the gospel in the church will always be counter-cultural. It involves the refusal of ethnic division and renunciation of ethnic superiority. It calls for the practice of costly biblical hospitality, which means “love of the stranger”, as opposed to xenophobia (Rom. 12:13; 1 Pet. 4:9; Heb. 13:2), and the cultivation of Christian community as a banquet table open to all. A fighting and divided church not only has no message for a fighting and divided world; it is in fact a denial of gospel – it has no good news for it displays no good news.

Lords and Gods (from Apostle of the Crucified Lord; A Theological Introduction to Paul and His Letters by Michael J Gorman) 

Lords and Gods: Our world is hardly lacking for so-called “gods and lords” (1 Cor. 8:5) that pretend to be viable alternatives to Jesus as Lord. As N.T. Wright (among others) reminds us, our supposedly  ‘secular’ Western cultures are, in fact, quite religious; they are pagan.

This does not mean that there is a temple to Artemis or Isis on every corner -- though some ancient pagan deities actually have staged a comeback in certain circles. More often, however, our pagan deities, like many of old, are cultural values that have been idolized and thus effectively deified - as in Rome.  The contemporary competition for the Christian gospel might include the pagan deities of Lust, Pleasure, Choice; Pride, Athletic Prowess, Popularity; Power, Ambition, Greed; Violence, Hatred, Revenge; and some of the reigning ideologies or “-isms” of our day: Racism, Nationalism, Militarism. Need anyone doubt that Western society is religious, indeed polytheistic? (emphasis mine)

These deities demand people’s allegiance, their sacrifices of time and energy and money, and their singleness of purpose. They determine their adherents’ goals and the means to reach them. Ethics - the lifestyle required by the deities  - then becomes merely a means to achieve the ends demanded by the deities. These impersonations of morality de-humanize relationships, sexuality, and even life itself.

In this context, Paul’s gospel of the lordship of Jesus means that people today, no less than the Thessalonians or Corinthians of the apostle’s own day, are called to turn from idols, and from their idolatrous ethics that exchange virtue for vice, to serve the living and true God. They are urged to offer their minds and bodies as a living sacrifice to the God known most fully in the Son of God. They are invited, that is, to live lives determined by Jesus the Lord, and not by any deities seeking to displace his sovereignty.

Readings on the Protestant Reformation

This October marks the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. Remembering Martin Luther nailing 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church is a chance to reflect on the Reformation - What was it? What did Luther, Calvin and other reformers teach? Does it still matter for today?

Below are a variety of readable resources that I have found helpful...

Calvin Theological Seminary 500 Years of the Reformation Forum

Reformation Questions, Reformation Answers: 95 Key Events, People & Issues, by Donald K. McKim

Does the Reformation Still Matter? (Calvin Shorts), by Karen Maag

The Logic of Calvin's Reform, by Michelle Sanchez (Christian Century)

Walking in the Way of Grace with Martin Luther, Gospel Coalition podcast

The One Must-Read Book For Reformation 500, from the Gospel Coalition blog

John Huss, Christian History Magazine. John Huss was one of a number of reformers prior to the Reformation.

Our 95 Theses: Hispanic Perspectives on the Protestant Reformation


Article on Protestant - Roman Catholic dialogue:

Thomas Albert Howard and Mark A. Noll, “The Reformation at Five Hundred: An Outline of the Changing Ways We Remember the Reformation,” First Things (Nov. 2014).