Friday, August 29, 2008

An Amazing Twenty-Four Hours!

An Amazing Twenty-Four Hours!

By any stretch of the imagination, the United States has witnessed one of its most amazing twenty-four-hour periods in its long, and sometimes torturous history.

Last night, just 155 years after the Emancipation of slaves, and just 45 years to the day after Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his great I Have a Dream Speech, Senator Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for President.

And then today, almost exactly 88 years after the August 26, 1920 passing of the Nineteenth Amendment which gave women the right to vote, Senator McCain nominated Alaskan governor Sarah Palin to be his Vice Presidential running mate.


As the author of one book on the legacy of African American soul care (Beyond the Suffering), and another on the legacy of women’s soul care (Sacred Friendships), my passion is to listen to the voice to the voiceless.

Well, the previously voiceless, disenfranchised, and powerless among us now have risen to the highest places of power. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, so I would say today. One need not be pro-Obama to be pro-advancement of minorities. And one need not be pro-Palin to be pro-advancement of women.

Governor Palin will be the darling of the social conservatives with her committed Christian background, her pro-life focus, and her family values. But even beyond that, she will be a shining light once more reminding us that in Christ there is neither slave nor free, male nor female, but all are equal, all are bearers of God’s image.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pursuing the House Built on the Backs of Slaves

Pursuing the House Built on the Backs of Slaves

As Senator Barack Obama officially accepted the nomination as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States, at least two ironies struck me.

First, the house he seeks to govern from—the White House—was built on the backs of Black slaves. While Senator Obama noted in his speech that this election is not about himself, but about you—all Americans—his humility perhaps overshadows the historical uniqueness of the moment. Here we see an African American who ten short weeks from now could govern the very nation that only 150 years ago enslaved African Americans.

The second irony relates to more recent history—it was just forty-five years ago today that Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his historic I Have a Dream speech. Dr. King’s dream has become a reality. As Dr. King said, and as Senator Obama echoed, in America together our dreams can be one. We cannot walk alone. We shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

One need not be a Democrat, one need not plan to vote for Senator Obama, to at least celebrate the reality that 150 years after the end of slavery, Senator Obama is the Democratic candidate for President of the United States. And to celebrate the fact that 45 years after Dr. King’s speech, Senator Obama is the embodiment and fulfillment of that very dream.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Every Nation, Tribe, People, and Language

Every Nation, Tribe, People and Language

Stephen Ohlemacher of the AP wrote from Washington yesterday that “white people will no longer make up a majority of Americans by 2042, according to new government projections. That’s eight years sooner than previous estimates, made in 2004.”

America has been growing more diverse for decades, but the process has sped up through immigration and higher birth rates among minority residents, especially Hispanics.

According to William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, “the white population is older and very much centered around the aging baby boomers who are well past their high fertility years. The future of America is epitomized by the young people today. They are basically the melting pot we are going to see in the future.”

According to the studies, by 2050, whites will make up 46% of the population, blacks 15%, Hispanics 30% (double today’s rate), and Asians 9% (nearly double today’s rate), and all others will make up another 4%.

What are the implications for Christian multi-culturalism? Of course, that depends on who you ask.

Some believe that race is only socially constructed and veritably a useless concept for today’s world. While I understand that idea, I fail to believe that American society is ready to dismiss the notion of race, especially given the long history of horrific racism and prejudice. While I do think we need to educate society about our oneness in Christ through our common nature as image bearers, I do not believe that being “color blind” or denying issues of “race” is the answer.

So, given my beliefs, I think the implications are many. Foremost, the Church has chance to give the world a taste today of what eternity will be like. According to the Apostle John, for all eternity a great multitude that no one can count from every nation, tribe, people, and language will unite together in worship and fellowship (Revelation 7:9).

You say, “It can’t happen today. Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America.” Sadly, that is true.

Yet, I see multi-cultural worship and fellowship everyday at Capital Bible Seminary. For years now we have experienced the demographics that America will experience in 2050. Capital Bible Seminary has no majority culture. Our student body last year was approximately 40% African American, 40% Caucasian, and 20% Asian, Hispanic, and International. Anyone who is involved in higher education in Evangelical circles knows how rare and how beautiful this is.

In particular I love our counseling/discipleship lab classes. We limit those equipping classes to twelve students and develop a great deal of openness as we learn how to relate well cross-culturally. Truly those labs are a little taste of heaven as we have men and women, young and old, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and International. We learn together how to speak God’s truth in love with cross-cultural excellence.

So, if America is to adjust to these changing demographics, then the Church should lead the way. And we should do so by example by purposefully worshipping and fellowshipping together as every nation, tribe, people, and language.