Religion

Church Attendance Matters—Don’t Get It Twisted

Black Women in Church

(Photo Credit: Religion and Politics)

In “20 Lessons I’ve Learned Since Leaving The Church,” Makiah Green offers 20 “lessons” she has learned about church attendance since leaving her church. Green writes, “I never imagined that I could exist outside the Church I once held so dear. But due to the routine state-sanctioned violence that is being inflicted on my people, and the inadequate response from the church (among other things), I have decided to remove myself entirely from a system that claims to value my soul, but fails to show up for my Black body.” While I have (and continue to) passionately critiqued (see 5 Reasons Why Many Black Churches Are Failing) many churches, especially many black churches, for their various failings, bible-based Christians are required to be spiritually and theologically sound in their praxis—not just with their social and political practices and ideologies.

While I agree with some of Green’s “lessons,” much of what she asserts lacks substantive grounding in biblical truths and doctrines. For the sake of time and space, I will address two statements unsubstantiated by proper biblical context and exegesis.

A Hasty, Sweeping Generalization: “These pastors ain’t loyal.” Really?

Before I address the dearth of accurate biblical context and exegesis in the selected statements, it’s vital to highlight one of the glaring fallacies, a hasty, sweeping generalization, in her article: “These pastors ain’t loyal.” Although proffering such a position allows for one to add some hip flavor to the piece, evoking Chris Brown’s “Loyal,” which is problematic for several reasons in itself, painting all pastors with a careless broad brush is toxic, faulty argumentation and unbecoming of a serious “writer” and “revolutionary,” as Makiah Green identifies herself.

Another Hasty, Sweeping Generalization: “White evangelicals (and the Black evangelicals spouting the same white, patriarchal values) are modern manifestations of neocolonialism.” Really?

When she posits that “white evangelicals (and the Black evangelicals spouting the same white, patriarchal values) are modern manifestations of neocolonialism,” the author, again, makes a hasty, sweeping generalization, abandoning the intellectual necessity of pinpointing nuances and variances in this population of believers.

Another Hasty Generalization: “I don’t need a church home in order to facilitate a relationship with God.” Really?

Green, as well as too many professing believers, unfortunately, claim the following: “I don’t need a church home in order to facilitate a relationship with God.” Hebrews 10:25 reads, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” The context of this verse is meeting in a church or synagogue—not in one’s home, not streaming live, not gathering with a group of saved friends in one’s home. In the aforementioned verse, God issues a command to attend church regularly. He wants us dependent on one another, and in his infinite wisdom, He demonstrates how essential church or synagogue is in facilitating such dependency and “exhortations.” God intends, through our interactions with fellow believers at church, to supply the encouragement and persuasion on various issues each believer needs.

Church-based Teaching and Christ-centered Fellowship

Also, Acts 2:42, penned with attending church regularly as a context, says, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” From this verse, one finds that God desires for an immense amount of one’s learning about the Word of God to come from teaching done inside of a church or synagogue, and that He mandates us to partake in the “fellowship” with one another and Him in which we were called when we first received salvation. Christ has created us as one body, for which there is no life and fellowship with Him outside of this one body: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ” (I Corinthians 12:12).

The Church in the Believer-Messiah Relationship & the Significance of the Preacher

The Apostle Paul delivers this line of rhetorical inquiry: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). Here, Paul responds to the importance of receiving from God in church and through His messenger, “a preacher.” Moreover, Romans 10:17 informs us that “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Again, in the context of church activity, “faith,” necessary for the Christian life, “cometh” by “hearing” the preached Word of God. The foundation one needs in the Word of God, therefore, emerges in the church setting—not in one’s home, not simply in one’s private bible study.

“As a Black woman, I have the power and autonomy to make my own decisions.” More biblical precision is needed, though.

Although Ms. Green is accurate in part about “As a Black woman, I have the power and autonomy to make my own decisions,” she overlooks the more vital death of self that takes place as part of the new birth in Christ. Yes, God has given us free will; however, our will is to be dominated by His will as we yield our mind, mouth, and ways to Him (Philippians 2:5; Philippians 2:13). When she contends that “I have decided to remove myself entirely from a system that claims to value my soul, but fails to show up for my Black body,” this constitutes a “falling away from grace,” a grace for which she claims to be enthused about receiving (Galatians 5:4). For Galatians 2:14 proclaims, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” A believer must remain “established in God’s righteousness” and not a righteousness based on his or her own self-effort, self-performance (Isaiah 54:14).

Conclusion

In short, in as much as I strongly agree with Makiah Green’s frustrations with how many churches aren’t mobilizing to fight “the routine state-sanctioned violence that is being inflicted on my people [black people],” she has capitulated to a flawed spirituality and troubling theology. Wouldn’t it be better for a “revolutionary” to seek the change in her local church from within—instead of simply avoiding and disengaging with it? How about joining a church where black liberation theology is employed?

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible: A Short Review

The TouchPoint Bob Santos

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

In The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible, Bob Santos offers an understanding of how a close engagement with the bible allows the Believer to experience authentic encounters with God. The author explains that a serious commitment to the Word of God will cure hardened hearts. Also, Santos gives the reader a fundamental overview of the bible. This work strives to make the bible clearer for all readers. In fact, the author devotes an entire chapter, “Understanding the Bible,” to aiding Believers in gaining deeper revelations about God’s Word.

Too many pastors and preachers lack a real knowledge of the Word of God. Instead of making strong investments in receiving proper knowledge about it, they harmfully substitute biblical truths with their own, subjective advice. Living in this evil and dangerous world, one cannot afford to miss constant encounters with God available through reading, studying, and mediating on the Word of God.

Without question, I highly recommend this book. The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible promises to buttress one’s relationship with God. Contrary to many apostolic and pentecostal churches’ teachings, a God-encounter emerges from reading, studying, and mediating on the Word of God and not from simply shouting, dancing, and speaking in tongues.

In exchange for a fair assessment, Book Crash supplied me with a copy of this book to pen this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God: A Brief Review

Union With Christ

(Photo Credit: PR Log)

In Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God, Rankin Wilbourne explains that believers have true union with Jesus Christ, and this union provides the believer with significant power to face anything Satan presents him or her with in this present world. Wilbourne desires for Christians to appreciate, understand, and enjoy their union with Christ. Unbelievers, however, are encouraged to experience the wholeness that comes from such satisfying fellowship with Jesus. For the author, receiving the Gospel of grace into one’s heart produces a oneness with the Lord, our Savior, our Messiah, Jesus Christ. The text explains that people will struggle with their identity and experiences when they fail to comprehend their union with Jesus that emerges when salvation is received.

American churches are suffering from too much religion and not even Jesus. Wilbourne’s book is an important intervention for the spiritual deficit and crisis of a largely absent Jesus in many churches. While numerous churches claim to offer and experience Jesus, too often they are more interested in offering rules, regulations, condemnation, guilt, shame, all stemming from teaching and preaching centered on the Mosaic Law, especially in pentecostal and apostolic churches. When one reads this book, he or she will learn to concentrate more on a relationship with Christ and stray from religion.

If you are exhausted with religion and want to experience a deeper relationship with Jesus, then I highly recommend that you purchase this book. Also, I recommend that this book be used in your church’s Bible Study sessions. This book is an excellent read.

In exchange for my honest review, a copy of this book was given to me by Litfuse.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: Jesus is the Answer to Poverty

Poverty

(Photo Credit: New York Daily News)

Jesus is the answer to poverty: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (II Corinthians 8:9). What Jesus accomplished at the Cross—at Calvary—provided every believer with access to experience victory over poverty in every area of his or her life—not just in the area of finance. Each day, believe that you have already received freedom from poverty in every area of your life. Mark 11:24 states, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” This verse, therefore, informs you that to possess this liberation from the bondage of poverty one has to receive it by faith. Begin each day with this confession of faith: “Jesus, I receive the victory from poverty in every area of my life that your shed blood on the Cross has made available to me. Thank you, Lord, for giving me this precious free gift.”

According to II Corinthians 8:9, Jesus loves you so much that He took upon His own body the viciousness, ugliness, heaviness, and bondage of poverty for you. The most brutal beating in human history that Christ suffered empowers you to triumph over poverty. Without the Finished Work of the Cross, you would have had to bear the tremendous burden of poverty. Christ has such a great love for you that He does not want you to be dominated by poverty, for He desires for you to enjoy everyday life (John 10:10).

True believers have an intimate knowledge and understanding about how the grace of Jesus Christ has already supplied them with everything they need for this life: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (II Peter 1:3). How does one receive this blessing of Christ? II Peter 1:4 divulges the precise answer to this query: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” One must, therefore, “partake” of this blessing that has already been made available to him or her. How does one “partake” of this blessing? Each day, declare and believe you have everything II Peter 1:3-4 reveal that you have.

When you believe something, you will open your mouth and confirm it—and keep confirming it.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: Everybody Old Ain’t Wise

Old Fool

(Photo Credit: Eucman)

When many old people, especially those who attend church regularly, approach young people, they make statements to those young folks based on their “wisdom” and “experience,” for, in their view, their experience is much more valuable than this “book knowledge” the young have. By “book knowledge,” they generally refer to learning one has obtained in school, including various levels of higher education. Without “book knowledge,” what type of informed lens do you employ to situate the insights of your experience? Without “book knowledge,” how do you really know you’re wise? Isn’t some level of “book knowledge” necessary to have wisdom? If old age automatically makes one wise, then how do we get Donald Trump? Exactly.

II Timothy 2:15 states, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Scripture, therefore, teaches that true wisdom begins and ends with “rightly dividing the word of truth” in one’s thought, talk, walk, and heart. One’s right believing will produce right living, right conduct. Authentic experience is gained through one’s consistent engagement with the word of truth and his or her applying it to daily life. One cannot have real wisdom without an accurate and comprehensive understanding of Scripture. You might want to benefit from some “book knowledge” if you desire to possess wisdom.

Don’t allow anyone, including some old church coon, to make you feel bad because you’re highly educated.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Between Pain & Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering: A Brief Review

Between Pain and Grace

(Photo Credit: Design Corps)

In Pain & Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering, Gerald W. Peterman and Andrew J. Schmutzer offer a thorough and astute assessment of Scripture’s treatment of pain and grace.  Although many readers, especially those who are not advanced bible students or theologians, will find Peterman and Schmutzer’s assertion that God experiences suffering unsettling, their argument on this topic is worthwhile to consider. For those of us who understand the realities of anger, the scholars’ view of anger as a type of suffering may be satisfying.  They discuss mental health and sexual abuse in the context of suffering. What one will discover from this text is his or her faith in what grace has made available will lead him or her to triumph over pain and suffering.

Unlike most books concentrating on pain and suffering that relate them in such generic ways, this work concatenates biblical truths and evidence with clinical research about pain and suffering. I found this book to demonstrate how powerful the grace of Christ is in helping believers to overcome the challenges and problems they experience. As Peterman and Schmutzer explain, pain and suffering are unavoidable in this life. How we elect to confront them will determine our outcomes, however. After reading this book, many readers are likely to increase their faith and trust in Christ’s ability to enable them to rise above pain and suffering.

I highly recommend this book. In a nation and world where elevating violence and hate can seem unbearable, Peterman and Schmutzer remind us that the Finished Work of the Cross has already conquered the pain and suffering we face. It is our job to partake of the grace Jesus has extended to defeat pain and suffering.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: God’s Pulpit Isn’t a Bully Pulpit

 

Black Preacher

(Photo Credit: Christianity Expert)

Before you step into the pulpit, surrender your personal agenda(s), for the pulpit isn’t a space to take spineless, milquetoast shots at folks. Ephesians 4:15 calls us, ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to “speak the truth in love”—keywords: “truth” and “love.” Ministries become ineffective when preachers and pastors use their positions as weapons of carnal warfare, ultimately leading to their own undoing (II Corinthians 10:4). Pastors are called to “feed” and not beat, not condemn (Jeremiah 3:15). Unfortunately, in numerous churches across the nation, pastors beat more than they feed, essentially functioning as tools for Satan. If you’re a pastor or preacher who has developed acrimonious relationships with individuals, then work on ameliorating those relationships in private—not from God’s hallowed pulpit.

When bitterness and discord accompany you to the pulpit, they win; the anointing fails to flow. You inevitably begin to see that God cannot employ you in the ways He once was able; you inevitably begin to see that your spiritual gifts—like the gift of healing—do not work for you any longer; you inevitably begin to see that your personal and ministry’s finances dwindle significantly—as does church attendance. Why? Because you’ve “given place” to the Devil and not concentrated solely on Jesus (Ephesians 4:27). Issues, problems and people have taken Jesus’ spot. Why? Because you’ve become self-occupied instead of Christ-occupied.

Again, settle your issues and problems out of the pulpit—in private. For I Thessalonians 4:11 says, “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before” (New Living Translation).

True Believers, we pray for a day when all pulpits are genuinely reverenced by those who frequent them.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison