I’ve been following some of the work parts of the church have been doing on racism and racial reconciliation, which led to reading Pastors Thabiti and Wilson and I so wanted to write a lovely review of the exchange and debate from a theological perspective. That was the plan anyway, when suddenly God said, “Can you explain to me why you would try to find value in what either of these guys are trying to say?”
It’s quite an impertinent question and rather galling to the pride, both to mine and to the pride of these two should they ever catch wind of this post, but you know God said, so I had to go with it.
“Can you explain to me why you would try to find value in what either of these guys are trying to say?”
I could not. Not a single valid reason presented itself. Both of these guys are not particularly wise, nor self-aware, and they are very reformed. I’m rather fond of reformed theology, but with one very important caveat, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” -1 John 4:8. Without the love part people just start to sound like “wrath, sin, unclean,” wash, rinse, repeat, until there is no good news to be found anywhere among their gospel. Ironically the gospel is actually called the good news, so this is not a small matter to get all wrong.
So I tried desperately to spin a good tale, to answer that rather pressing question from God, “Can you explain to me why you would try to find value in what either of these guys are trying to say?” But alas, my hands were just empty. I had nothing, absolutely nothing beyond “celebrity?” They are among some of the movers and shakers within churchianity and everybody else is reading them, so they must be saying something important.
That is always a red flag for me, a weak plea, a pathetic excuse really, well everybody else is doing it… And of course if everybody else decides to jump off a bridge, does that mean you should?
So have either of these men be particularly edifying? Kind to you? Well, no. Not at all. In fact, I find them rather disturbing because they are actually teaching and preaching and I’ve seen the fruits of such things and I don’t like it one bit. In fact, my whole soul just wails in despair sometimes because they have been elevated to a status where their words carry some weight. They have “celebrity.”
I have to tell you “celebrity” is one of the worse measures of value, worth, wisdom, the world has ever seen. That’s not just true of Hollywood, however. The same thing goes on in churchian culture, too. Celebrity skews our judgment. It leads us to build idols, to give importance to what people say based on their status, rather than their wisdom, knowledge, or ability to edify anything. It’s not what you know, it’s who you are.
I don’t wish to sound as if I am being pointlessly unkind to Pastors Thabiti and Wilson personally. This post is not really about them at all, it is about us and the way we place people on celebrity pedestals and how dangerous that can be in faith.
I’ve highlighted the word “love” here, for the biblical literalists among us who somehow seem to always miss that word, who often accuse me of being unbiblical, heretical, too spiritual, or perhaps even gnostic. Yes, love, crazy, irrational, abundant, reckless love, a concept so important the Apostle Paul actually said that without it, you are nothing more than clanging symbol or a resounding gong. Meaningless noise.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” – 1 John 4:7-12
That’s a whole lot oflove! God is love. That’s not me speaking, that’s in the bible.
A gospel not centered on love is simply bloodless, lifeless, and loveless, and offers no answers to the things that puzzle us. It is like trying to solve an equation with no numbers at all, which some are actually fond of doing, but at the end of the day all you have is an assortment of symbols that cannot actually be applied to the real world we all live in, without adding some actual substance. AB being equal to DC is not actually going to put bread on the table, nor is it going to feed our souls, nor is it going to solve our issues as human beings.