In Case You Missed It

At the People’s Next Door blog, Keelan Cook recently dsicussed The Discipleship Spiral: Doing to learn, and learning to do. Keelan writes:

Some of you will be familiar with Grant Osborne’s work, The Hermeneutical Spiral. For those of you who are not, hermeneutics is the fancy name for interpreting the Bible, and Osborne wrote a book where he compared the process of interpretation to a spiral. The reader spirals back and forth from the text of Scripture to the context of everyday life, examining each in light of the other and spiraling upward to clearer and clearer understanding of both.

 

Discipleship works the same way.

 

Chad Burchett posted an article at the Southeastern Literature and Arts Magazine discussing why it is important for Christians to produce art.

Every Christian should be an artist. Although many Christians maintain that art is just not for them, their world is immersed in art—some of which they contribute. Intentionally or not, we all serve as constant collaborators in a world of art. As Francis Schaeffer pens in his book Art and the Bible, “All of us are engaged daily with works of art, even if we are neither professional nor amateur artists.” Whether we produce high art or popular art or just contribute the art of a well-lived life and a well-spoken tongue, we are all functional artists. Denying the arts extinguishes a vibrant part of your identity and mission.

 

One of the primary ways believers can engage culture is through art. Households that would not open their home to a gospel presentation or a door-to-door evangelist may welcome our art onto their walls or shelves. The same people who recoil from a Bible may embrace our books, watch our films, read our poetry, and admire our photography. By our art we have the power to engage thousands of lives which we may never interact with any other way. Art is a stewardship—a powerful instrument of cultural transformation that we can either intentionally wield for the glory of God or wrongly choose to ignore or misuse.

 

Chuck Lawless recently posted nine reasons you may need to consider a Doctor of Ministry degree. Dr. Lawless writes:

This post may surprise you, but I want to defend a degree that’s received a bad rap, in my opinion. I’m a professor who has been doing this work long enough to know that some people view the D.Min. degree as a watered-down doctoral degree. I’m sure it can be (as all degrees can be), but I know institutions that have really strong degrees – including where I serve now at Southeastern Seminary. Here’s why you might want to consider this option.

 

Scott Hildreth published an article at the Center for Great Commission Studies explaining how the issue of alcohol is about the mission, not the morality.

The use of alcohol among conservative Evangelicals has been in the news lately. Famous pastor confessed to abusing it as way of handling stress. Missiologist, Ed Stetzer, has observed that this new openness might come with an increase in similar issues.  (Click Link) We were once a “full abstinence people.” But recently, younger Evangelicals are moving away from the stances held by our predecessors.

 

I am regularly asked my position on this subject. Our school has a strict policy and it is enforced across the board. When our younger students come in contact with this policy they are full of questions. Their questions generally revolve around issues of morality – is it wrong to drink alcohol? Is it a sin? Is it a matter of wisdom or conscience?

 

I could answer the question in a number of ways, but honestly, I don’t feel a need to engage in exegetical exercises about what Jesus turned water into, or what Paul told Timothy to drink for his stomach. Frankly, I find those discussions unhelpful.

 

At the Intersect Project website, Dr. Brent Aucoin wrote that if we want to fight poverty, we need to resist the sexual revolution. Dr. Aucoin writes:

The Sexual Revolution of the 1960s has swept across the entire country and into the White House, the US Supreme Court, and even public bathrooms and locker rooms. As a result, it is easy for those who have resisted the revolution to lose heart and abandon the effort.

 

Although there are numerous reasons to maintain the resistance, one that may not often come to mind is the true war on poverty. Not the so-called War on Poverty launched in the 1960s by the United States government, but rather the one which seeks to truly, effectively and permanently liberate individuals and families from poverty. Those activists and individuals who are fighting what I call the real war on poverty know that poverty is not just an economic problem. They know that morals, customs and worldviews are significant factors in determining people’s economic state.

 

Jonathan Howe posted at Thom Rainer’s blog giving four reasons to welcome smartphone use in the worship service.

Smartphones have become ubiquitous in our culture. There’s no denying the influence of the smartphone on the rise of social media, changes in commercial marketing, and even the church.

 

Rarely a week goes by without me receiving an email, message, or tweet from a pastor or church leader asking about church apps, social media strategies, or mobile website functionality. “Don’t leave home without it” applies more to our smartphones than it ever did to American Express. And it applies when people are headed into their weekly worship service as well.

More than a Flag

By: Dr. Brent Aucoin

In the wake of the Southern Baptist Convention’s recent resolution urging Christians to refrain from displaying the Confederate Battle Flag, Southern Baptists have been censured and ridiculed for taking this step by some in the broader Christian community.  In reading through many of these criticisms I have noticed that they oftentimes demonstrate a flawed understanding of American history and culture.  For instance, in Douglas Wilson’s initial attack on the SBC’s resolution, he brings his most substantive argument to a climax by asking: “If the Confederate flag ‘stands for’ slavery, in what way does the American flag not ‘stand for’ abortion?”

For the moment, let’s simply answer the question as posed.  If it can be said that the Confederate flag “stands for” slavery it is because the Confederate States of America was created primarily for the purpose of preserving the institution of racial slavery in North America.  In contrast, the American flag does NOT “stand for” abortion because the United States was NOT created primarily for the purpose of murdering the unborn.

However, the problem with the Confederate Battle Flag is not so much its association with slavery as it is with the movement to maintain white supremacy in the American South.

Wilson and other critics of the SBC’s resolution seem to ignore the fact that in the eyes of modern-day Americans, the symbolism of the Confederate Battle Flag was shaped primarily by its use after the end of the Civil War.  The Confederate Battle Flag had all but disappeared from the public scene until 1894 when the Mississippi legislature incorporated it into the state flag (where it still remains today).  It’s placement in the state flag was not mere nostalgia, it was designed to send a message.  That message was that racist white southerners were in charge of the state once again and that the state’s leaders intended to promote and protect white supremacy.  Democratic leaders had already imposed racial segregation on the state and in 1890 they had started the process of disfranchising Mississippi blacks.  They were succeeding in relegating blacks to second class citizenship, and changing the flag was one way of proclaiming that message.  But the Confederate Battle Flag did not serve merely as symbol for the Mississippi white supremacy movement, it came to symbolize that movement throughout the South.  This occurred primarily in the 1940s when white Southern Democrats who opposed President Harry S. Truman’s advocacy of black civil rights and the Democrat Party’s insertion of a civil rights plank in its party platform formed the so-called Dixiecrat Party.  This party, formed primarily in opposition to the notion of equal civil rights for blacks, adopted the Confederate Battle Flag as its primary symbol.  The Dixiecrats nominated Strom Thurmond for President and actually won the electoral votes of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina in 1948.  When the Supreme Court handed down its Brown v Board of Education decision in 1954 and the civil rights movement began the next year with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, it was Thurmond and his fellow Dixiecrats who led the opposition to the movement, and who continued to use the Confederate Battle Flag as the primary symbol of their anti-civil rights campaign.  In fact, the Dixiecrat leaders in Alabama and South Carolina ordered the Confederate Battle Flag to be flown over their state capitols.  Georgia Dixiecrats incorporated the Confederate Battle Flag into their state flag.  As with Mississippi in the 1890s, the use of the imagery of the Confederate Battle Flag was no accident.  It was the emblem of southerners and states who were hostile to the quest by blacks to obtain equal civil rights in America.

Not only did black Southerners come to see the battle flag as representing white supremacy, but so did rank-and-file white Southerners.  Photographs of whites protesting the civil rights movement are replete with images of the Confederate Battle Flag being displayed as the symbol of their effort to keep blacks relegated to a status of second class citizens.  Whatever the Confederate Battle Flag “stood for” before the 1940s, it is a historical fact that after the 1940s it came to stand for the maintenance of white supremacy in the South.  And this was not the work of some small fringe group.  This was the result of the efforts of the South’s governors, legislatures, and representatives in the US Congress.

In light of this history of the Confederate Battle Flag, is it not unreasonable for African Americans in the 21st century to sense hostility towards them as a race when they see it being displayed?

It is true that the person displaying the flag may not intend to convey the message of racial hostility.  But that does not change the fact such a message is nevertheless communicated to others.  To deny this is relativism of the worst sort.  It is an embracing of the notion that we are all free to define truth as we please: “I declare that this flag means ‘x’ while you assert it means ‘y.’ You have your truth and I have mine.”

Whether one likes it or not, symbols get loaded with meaning, and it is folly to ignore the reality of such a situation.  For instance, it would be folly on my part to proudly display a rainbow flag because I contend that the rainbow is a symbol of one of God’s promises.  The vast majority of the people who saw my rainbow flag would immediately conclude that I am showing support for the LGBT movement, not reminding people of a promise of God.  In the same way, it is folly to deny the historically-based fact that the Confederate Battle Flag shows support for the white supremacy movement – a movement that Christians have no business being associated with.

If you wish to show your Southern pride, or honor your Confederate ancestors, or demonstrate your support for states’ rights, then there are other flags for you to fly.  But if you insist on continuing to fly the Confederate Battle Flag then no matter what message you think you are communicating you are actually expressing your allegiance to the failed movement to deny blacks basic civil rights.

Dr. Brent Aucoin is a Professor of History and Associate Dean of The College at Southeastern.