Phillip Holmes moderated a panel with Carl Ellis and Walter Strickland at TGC’s 2021 National Conference titled “Free at Last: The Gospel and the African American Experience 25 Years Later.” From the framework developed in Carl Ellis’s Free At Last, the panel addressed questions regarding the African American experience over the last 400 years, including history, cultural contexts, and cultural biases—and how that has affected African Americans and their faith.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Phillip Holmes: Guys, Welcome to free at last the gospel and the African American Experience 25 years later, featuring Dr. Carl Ellis and Dr. Walter Strickland. My name is Philip Holmes and I will be moderating this panel. So fasten your seat belts. go have some fun. All right. Before I get started, I want to thank reformed Theological Seminary for sponsoring this panel. Any RTS graduate Salaam in the room, make some noise? There we go, there’s enough. Please, please see some more in the back. Please thank reformed Theological Seminary. by stopping by the booth and saying hello to our admissions counselors, asking for any information.
There’s some books, there’s some other stuff, he should just need some minutes. Just Just say what’s up. There’s not a whole lot of people at the conference as a result of COVID-19 in the current pandemic, so they’re probably bored a little bit due to the lack of traffic. So make sure you go by and say what’s up to my brother passed? Well, and I think there might be someone else who’s at the booth with them. Alright, so let’s set the stage for this conversation. And Dr. Ellis’s book, Free at last he said this, he says a survey of African American History reveals that like the children of Israel, we have had a 400 year collective trauma from which we have yet to fully recover. And like the children of Israel, we have sojourn in a philosophical wilderness as our thinking has developed.
There’s another quote that I want to read because I think there’s going to put this particular talk or this particular panel in context, is by a Christian counselor by the name of Diane Lindbergh. She says this, we have participated in the rejection and contempt of others based on race, the dignity, humanity and value of one created in the image of God had to be denied or minimized in order for slavery to survive for more than two centuries in America. Get this, it does not take much thought to realize that damage was also done to slaveholders, and to those silently complicit, as well. So what we’re going to do here in this in this particular panel is we’re going to take the framework and the questions that Dr. Ellis asked about the African American experience. And we’re going to apply some of those questions to the broader church. How’s the sound, guys?
Alright, Dr. Bradley, Bradley. Yeah, we all look alike. Yeah. You’re gossiping about that. Alright, so Dr. Ellis, said, we can learn something from what God taught the Israelites. First through Moses, God restored the resort to Israel, a correct view of their history. Many of God’s dealings with the, with the family of Abraham had likely been forgotten or distorted, in the 400 year old ordeal of Egyptian slavery, African Americans to need to get back in touch with their history. But how? What is the meaning of African American history, history can never account for all of the events of the past is instead an account of the events that have have sifted and evaluated or shifted and evaluated to determine their significance. History might be called a collection of significant events. But what makes an event significant? To some extent, an event is significant if it changed the course of history. So Dr. Ellis I want to ask you this based on that quote, why is knowing our history important? And how can we understand what it is? What is and what is not significant? In our past? Okay, history,
Carl Ellis: our history is a part of who we are. I used to wonder why the Bible would introduce a say and so on. So came along who was the son of song so who was the son of salsa was the son of someone so sometimes the Bible gives us a person’s genealogy. I never really made paid much attention to that until one day I went to my family reunion and and I found I found that I could trace my my genealogy back eight generations, but after that, it all gets it all gets blown away. Anybody African American understands what I mean by that. But the fact that I can go back a generation I was the son of songs, little grandson of songs, oh, great grandson, and all of a sudden, I began to realize this is me.
This is who I am. Okay, that’s the first thing. The second thing is that when we talk about who we are There are two aspects, there’s the proposition about who we are, you know, I am this, I teach there, I do this, I do that. But then there’s also the narrative. This is where I come from. So when we come to understand things, we had to look at the, the, the propositions, and the narratives. And I think too many of us in the Western world have neglected the narratives, we are stuck with the proposition. So it’s good to understand where we came from.
And of course, the the African American experience is tied up in the whole biblical narrative. Anyway, the biblical narrative gives us the wisdom to understand the African American experience in terms of the narrative, okay. And then if we if we don’t, if we don’t use the biblical narrative as the basis by which we evaluate our own narrative, then we’re off track, just like if we don’t use the biblical propositions to to evaluate what we believe, then we’re off track.
Phillip Holmes: That’s helpful. Now, I want to follow up on that a little bit. So I want to talk about I want to broaden out a bit, you just address the African American history. Walter?
Walter Strickland: Dr. Ellis, even if you want to chime in again, let’s talk about why is it important for the American church to understand its history. Here, which is which is so important, because oftentimes, if you read the history books, you aren’t getting a full telling of the history. So oftentimes, if you read the books, it’s written, because it’s, it’s basically written in somebody’s own image. It’s, we do many things, self interestedly. And so even with, you know, the telling of a history, so you know, we’ve been in preaching classes, the, you know, American history of American preaching, and we talked about Billy Sunday, we talked about Billy Graham, we talk about Jonathan Edwards, and so on, and so forth, who should all be in that conversation.
But then we forget john Jasper, but then we forget Absalom Jones, but then we forget, you know, and the list goes on a faithful preachers that are not listed. And it seems as if because, you know, people of that particular hue are not seen as spiritual authorities, they’re not included in the telling of our history. So for some folks who might be listening, it might seem like Oh, so what we’re gonna do is try to like, you know, eliminate these voices from the telling of history and sort of add these sort of in their place. That’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to have a more robust, telling other story, a fuller telling of history. And then that is a better picture of what God has done in the history of the church than simply seeing it through the lens of one.
And so and what I think is going on there, as we have a robust telling of the history, we’re actually going to see iron sharpening iron, in the sense that there are certain emphases of the faith that were necessary for a certain people to engage. And then others had other emphases that were particularly pertinent for their experience. And then, but together, it’s a more robust sort of lived out faith. And so you know, just for example, if you get the idea of deliverance, the African American Christian experience, deliverance was a very important theme, you know, Exodus as a biblical motif, was a very important theme applied to the contemporary moment, because the God, then is the same God now, therefore, you know, that’s a very important parsh a portion of what God is doing in the church at large. But if you’re not, if you’re not looking more broadly, at what God is doing in the church at large, you’ll miss that God is working in that similar way, even, you know, in our own American history. And so that’s, that’s a little bit scattered, but at the same time, there you go.
Phillip Holmes: That’s great. All right. Talk to LSU talk about a distorted Christianity. In your book, you say, black thinkers showed us that when people grow up in a particular cultural context, they fail to see the cultural biases, they have inherited. They think their own value system as neutral, they think of their own value system is neutral, the standard for all people, but black leaders of the 60s showed us the folly in this. They pointed out that why the American system of values for claimed that black was not beautiful, that the system perpetuated to daily degrade, degrade degradation, degradation. Thank you, Doc Ellis, African Americans. The system was not neutral. When it came to us. Black militants rejected American culture, and it’s biased toward everything. Everything white along with white American culture, they rejected Christianity. To them Christianity was the white man’s religion and biblical and the biblical worldview was the white worldview. So you call this in your book white Christianity Christianity is there we go what what is that
Carl Ellis: okay what what’s why Christianity Islam Well, this time you say what Christianity ism? Well, let me say before I say that, let’s say what quick Christianity is. Okay? Are you with me on that? Christianity is an accurate application of the gospel of Jesus Christ in a particular cultural context. You’re with me on that. Okay. Christianity ism is consist of false beliefs, false doctrine and whatnot, or the heresies of a culture expressed in the language of Christianity. You got it. So it sounds like they say, Jesus and all that, but they don’t they don’t mean that. Okay. And all of us. Can we talk?
All of us have a tendency to drift from Christianity, the Christianity, Islam, just like Israel, Israel, you look at Israel, Israel is supposed to be an international body of people who are covenant keepers. But Israel slipped into being a Hebrew holy huddle. And, and God had to deal with them on that note that brings the poor to church. Here’s an international group of people what’s happened we made the church Western. Okay, so so so not only is Christianity ism pagan beliefs, wrong beliefs expressed in the language of Christianity, but it goes even further than that. Christianity ism has as its God and idol. Okay, so we talked about white Christianity ism, it is a Christianity ism, who has a white idol as its God? No, no, no, no, let me say, white folks on the only ones who slip slip under idolatry, everybody everybody does.
We all have a tendency. It’s like, I share with some brothers just a couple of minutes ago. Everybody else who speaks English speaks with an accent, except me. And I remember the first time I went to South Africa, and I began to speak, and I found out that I had an accent. That’s Oh, well, okay. Okay, then I, okay, I got an accent. So the problem is, it goes all the way back to the fact that we as human beings all the way back to the garden, when we attempted human supremacy over God, that’s the Tree of Life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was who was going to decide what is good and evil? Is it going to be the Word of God?
Do we judge it on that basis? Or we did? Do we judge it on our own opinion? And so of course, you know, what we did we judge it on our own opinion, you know, you do this all the time, every moment of every day, we reenact the original sin, you know, we decide, oh, this is wrong, but I’m gonna make it right, because I decided it is right. Okay. So what happens is that we we become human centered centric or creature centric. And therefore, everything that comes out of us, we become the standard of judgment for everybody else. And that’s the paganism and that’s that’s the problem that we have to this very day, and everybody does it. Now people with more power are able to affect more people with their with their creature centrism.
So in whoever has the most power in a particular society, in America, it happens to be whites who have more power than Yes, you have white supremacy. But in a society where most people were Asian, you’re gonna, you’re going to end up with, you know, with the agents have the most power, you’re going to have Asian supremacy and you’re going to have all that because we all have a tendency to go back to that very same thing. So Christianity then becomes the servant of the, the, the the creature centric notions of a particular group of people. I hope that makes sense.
Phillip Holmes: Yes, that’s helpful.Dr. Ellis, you mentioned the word white supremacy. I’m kind of going off script here. But that word is used quite often. How would either of you decide the word white supremacy?
Carl Ellis: It’s just creature creature supremacy expressed by white folks. That’s all. Black supremacy would be creature supremacy expressed by black folks. You know, I’m saying you got in some, if you go to Africa, you know, you find the people they’re complaining not against white folks. But but but against the dominant tribe? Is that tribal supremacy? You know, I’m saying it’s the it’s a tendency that we all have when we have power. And we are sinners. simplest power, you know, equals that kind of it equals oppression. And it also it comes out in the fact that we see ourselves as a standard of judgment or ours is called I have another term I call us ism. us is the standard of judgment for everybody else, no matter how you define that us.
Phillip Holmes: Okay, that’s interesting. So I was reading a article on the Christian post the other day, and I thought it was quite fascinating what the op ed was admitting what acknowledged, it essentially said that there was an assault on white America, how many you guys like saw that article in the Christian posts? Raise your hand. All right. And then she goes on to say, she said, I use the word white America, sort of ironically, because there are people from all nations tongues and tribes who share the values of Christianity and tradition and, and American values, and so on and so forth. So what it seemed to me is that she was pointing out and i and i agree with her, is that when we talk about whiteness, perhaps we’re talking about the culture, not necessarily the color of someone’s skin. Yeah, what would you say to that?
Carl Ellis: Yeah, it is a culture. Um, you know, when Anglo Saxons almost made up the entire European American population, when the Irish came, they wouldn’t, they wouldn’t say, you know, get rid of those people get rid of those people, they weren’t. But eventually the Irish figured out, they can give it to the O’s and the Macs in front of the name, loser accent, eventually, they would blend in. And so the Anglo Saxons and the Irish became white. Then the Italians came, same thing, get them out here, get them out here, the Italians figured out how to assimilate and they became white. So it’s like, whiteness became a standard. Now when African Americans try that it didn’t work too well, because we had this visibility problem, you know.
But, but, yeah, it’s a culture, it is a culture and is a culture based on a perception. If you go back the very first time in the American colonies, the very first time the term White was applied to a person of a particular race, was in 1671. This is a long time after, you know, Americans, Europeans started arriving here. And of course, that was due to some, some some events that happened in Virginia that that gave rise to American slavery, you know, American slavery didn’t start off in a, you know, in America, okay. I mean, it didn’t. When America first and when the colonies first came, they didn’t have slavery, like we think of it, you know, in the 19th century. So, yeah, it is a culture. And we have to recognize that culture plays a much bigger role in things that go on even today than those race, I would say today. Yes, there’s racism.
So who, who? Where isn’t there racism, right. But I think I think today’s crisis is more of a cultural clash than it is a racial class. If you come inside the black community, you come inside the black community, and anybody would know this. There’s a civil coral cold war going on between two groups. One group I call the achievers and the other group I call the non achievers. And now when I say achievers analogy is on top on a value system. If you live by achiever values, you will succeed in this society, even though even though things aren’t all equal. If you live by analogy, revise, chances are you won’t succeed. Okay? Now, there are exceptions, okay. But there’s a cold Civil War Within the African American community going on between these two groups. And they have all kinds of crazy manifestations. Now, people from the outside may not recognize that, or if you get in the white community, you see the same thing. It’s has a slightly different manifestation. So but that’s a cultural clash. It’s a cultural clash.
I heard somebody, an African American the other day, say, they tried to do some section eight housing in my neighborhood, and I thought, I’m not gonna have those people live here. This is one African American talking about other African Americans. What if the person said that was white? We charged him with racism, wouldn’t we? But again, it’s that is that conflict on on this as a cultural conflict going on? And I think that explains more of what we are seeing today in this country, then. Then Then race, I mean, look, if if America was okay, yes, yes, we have racism in this country. Okay. We even have systemic racism. Yes, yes, yes, yes. But if it was all that bad, as people said, that I still can’t figure out how Obama got elected twice. And it wasn’t black folks who put them in in put them over the top it was it was those folks, those white folks out in Iowa? Okay, you understand what I’m saying? So, yes, there is racism and all the rest of that, but I think I think we if we focus on that, and not also include the cultural clash, then we end up straining out the net wealth swallowing the camel. I hope that makes sense to you.
Phillip Holmes Okay. Yeah, yeah. All right. Well, is he ready? Is it possible if we consider that whiteness is a culture, right? And when we talk about white supremacy, we’re talking about the supremacy of a culture at least for our purposes. I think that’s a more helpful way. Is it possible for a black person to be a white supremacists? And if so, why? Thank you. I love you. You know, I love you, brother. He’s more on you than you can bear. So we tested it Holy Spirit now now, you know, I spoke earlier.
Walter Strickland: Yeah, I get the follow up stuff that just came to your mind? Well, I mean, if we do understand this as a cultural reality, then I think, yes, that’s true. And again, we have to think about if we’re saying white supremacy is not a biological ethnicity, right, but sort of coming or a being a way in which we are in the world, that sort of cultural reality, then, you know, then yes, someone can assert themself over others. I mean, and but the thing is, this is this is what I would say. So, yeah. So it’s really that that creature supremacy more so. And so theologically, we can see that yes, one person is, you know, always going to try to assert themselves over another if they’re not working that out before the Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. And so we might put the nomenclature white in front of it because of this looking back at this particular history, but I you know, I was, so I kind of bristle, but at the same time, I understand what you’re saying. And so
I didn’t say anything I just asked question, bro. Yeah, you said, you’re starting fights on the stage, bro. And so I love Philip. I’ll give a personal illustration. So I’m a Associate Vice President, for Kenan diversity initiatives at southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and it is theology as well. But there was a day when I when I had to really ask myself, okay, Walter, right now, they really need you. Because there’s not many of you here. So, do I leverage all the, the opportunities and the the, you know, in the ability to shape the culture at the organization at the institution to help us get here? Or to kind of help us get here yet tripping us up along the way?
Because then I devalue myself. Yeah, you see, I’m saying. So at that point, I was making a choice. Do I, you know, use this opportunity that my institution has given me to prop myself up is saying, Yeah, you really need Walter Strickland, you know? Or do I really leverage it to bring others in, whereby I might be just working myself out of a job. or there might be one as one who comes in who’s more qualified, or more well spoken than I am. And so and that’s, and that’s the kind of thing, if I was going to have that sort of like, Hey, I am so focused, I’m Supreme, I’m trying to live into a culture that wants to prop Walter up, then I would have done just enough. So that a couple of people who look like to the non traditional South Eastern or would get into the, into the Guild, but not enough to where I am, yeah, there’s, there’s actually real change going on on campus. Does that make sense?
And so if I was to live into a cultural reality that wanted to prop me up, then that would be living into a sort of supremacist reality. But at the same time, I mean, I had to say, I mean, really, this was a moment of, of decision for me. We all have to make these decisions. You know, we all have to be people who are trying to live our lives under the authority of Christ welcoming our brothers and sisters in, even if it might sort of devalue ourselves in our value to the organization, because I’m not as unique anymore, right. And so this, that’s, that’s one of those moments that I can even point to my own life, where I had to pick if I was going to live as Christ, or if I was going to push others away.
Phillip Holmes: That’s helpful. So help me understand this only because I’m a little confused. Walter and Dr. Ellis. There’s no perfect culture, right? That’s right. That’s right. Right. But but some cultures, no, perhaps culture on earth on Earth, right. Some cultures perhaps are better than others in certain ways in different ways, right. What are we saying? When we value one particular culture over another? What are the implications of that?
Carl Ellis: There are some cultures that are more self sabotaging than others. I’ll just put it that way. There are some cultures that are that that empower people more than others. And we just have to be honest about that. I mean, there are and of course, in today’s world, it is politically incorrect. To evaluate the strengths or weaknesses of cultures, you know, today’s politically correct atmosphere all cultures are of equal validity. But that is simply a lie. Not all cultures are equally valid. a culture that’s based on the word of the true and living God is more, shall I say, more authentic than a culture that is based on? superstition is that makes sense. A culture does based on the Word of God is stronger than a culture does based on a false worldview. And now, don’t don’t don’t don’t get it twisted now. Because that doesn’t mean that Western culture is better than others. But it’s just that it’s just that because I have my doubts as to how much Western culture is really based on the Word of God.
Phillip Holmes: That’s, that’s what I was about to ask. You know, that’s my white lady that wrote that up if a Christian Post said that the white news that she was referring to as being that’s being assaulted, is is is a biblical culture it––
Carl Ellis: No, no, there’s no culture that’s perfectly biblical. You know? It may have appropriated some things in the Scripture, but it doesn’t mean that it is scriptural. But I, you know, okay. Let’s let me put something in here. slavery, for example, slavery, every civilization on the face of this earth for all of history has practiced some form of slavery. Okay? Anybody who studies history would know that. Western civilization is the only civilization that I know of that at some point rejected slavery. Okay, now, that’s a positive I could say about Western civilization, but that doesn’t mean that Western civilization is all that innocent. Does that make sense? Okay, so what we have to do is we have to take when you salt it, okay, I got me I got vegetables on my plate, and, and they, they need salt, and I put the salt on the meat from the salt shaker, but I don’t take the meat to try to salt my vegetables. I should take the salt shaker to salt the vegetables. So the problem that has happened in the past is that what has happened is that Western civilization has had some applied biblical truth to it, yes.
But then a lot. In too many cases, people took that biblical truth to other places, in that Western and Anglo Saxon, whatever cultural package. And when the people rejected the cultural package, the people who brought it thought that they were rejecting Christianity. And so having rejected Christianity, they said, well, then we’re justified in exploiting them. Does that make sense? So the thing you have to do you have to separate the the, the, the biblical truth, from the cultural package that comes in. Now that reminds me, you know, of Acts chapter 15, as a classic example, you know, when when Gentile started coming to believe, a bunch of scribes and Pharisees and others who had, who had become Christians, went on up to Antioch said, Unless you follow the traditions of Moses and all that you can’t be saved.
And they had a big brouhaha about that. So they had this big General Assembly in I remember this and x 15. And they boil it down to just a couple of things. Okay, here’s the deal. Here are the bare minimums don’t eat meat, what strangled animals have strangled animals don’t eat blood. Stay away from sexual immorality, you will do well to build things, forget about all those new moons and Sabbaths. And all the rest of that. Take that cultural, cultural package that it came in a way just take the truth itself. And so we must learn how to do the same thing separate the biblical truth that we have, in our culture, if we have it, or just a bit, we’ll choose separate it from the cultural package that comes in.
Walter Strickland: And that’s that’s what Western Christian Christianity has been one of the greatest failures of Western Christianity, because the father that is extreme, or is significant. Those who are not a part of the cultural standard in which Christianity is purported to be, you know, given out, all you can do is either assimilate to that, and then begin to become frustrated with the the culture from which you’ve come, making you sort of give you an animosity towards it, thinking of it as childish, even a Christian even like a good Christian expression. You know, in many of our seminaries that are that are Bible believing seminaries. It’s almost like we have to become embarrassed of our own sort of church heritage in order to become more educated.
And so we have to push some of those cultural even ways in which we adore God in order to be you know, a true Christian, a mature Christian, or you can be somebody that says, you know, I’m gonna double down and I’m not gonna lose who I am but In your teens rebellious, not not not in the form of which godliness is most likely to come. And so so then it’s really a difficult situation that you’re left with. But, you know, this this is this is the hopeful piece. I think it is possible for people to disciple others who are from different cultural backgrounds, it is possible to teach them as well. And so, so this is a challenge, yes. But there’s hope for sure. But we have to agree to address this issue. I mean, because what so if we have Jesus here, and then I’m here, and then somebody who is like, you know, let’s say, there’s a professor of mine, who when I was in seminary, he took me under his wing. He was he was, his angle is white. And so what this was very, very intentional by him, he says, you know, I’m here, you’re here, I’m not trying to make you like me to get to Jesus, I want to encourage you from here to get to Jesus, and we’re gonna get closer together as we walk to Jesus.
And so one of the lies that our culture tells us, and, and it comes in many, in many ways, is that somebody from a different culture. So if we respect each other’s home culture, that we then therefore don’t have any way to admonish each other to help sharpen each other, to be more faithful to Christ. And that’s crazy. Because we are here to help each other become, you know, more like Jesus. And so I use this, this illustration of the coffee bean. So a coffee bean looks like a coffee bean, no matter where you see it in the world. But when you plant the coffee bean plant, or whatever it is, Vine is a plant, right? Okay. When you when you plant it, it takes up the flavor of the soil that is planted in.
And so you know, if you’re drinking, you know, something that’s from Hawaii, Brazil, you know, and wherever else it is from the world, but it’s unmistakably coffee. Yeah. And so we have to allow each other to understand, you know, while the faith only ever manifests in culture, it’s never captive to it. Because there’s no one culture that has a corner on faithfulness to Jesus. Right? That’s right. So what we have to do is continue. Thanks. We have to, we have to continue to understand that I can be be helped by my white brother. And I can help my white brother to grow and faithfulness to Christ without having to become more aligned to any each each other’s cultures and that way. And so I think that’s one of the things that we have to be able to understand. And I think this would this, this author of this piece did not understand because I think she was assuming that her cultural expression of the faith was the faith itself.
Phillip Holmes: That’s good. I want $1 tree by the way, that’s $1 tree. Now I like where this is going to set my next question up really well. How much credit can because we’re most of us in here are probably Calvinistic reform, there’s probably a range right? You know, you got those people who Yeah, before point cabinets, whatever that is. And you know, you got the confessional people all the way. On the other hand, sorry, I’m rambling. Yeah. All right. But here’s the thing though. Herman bobbing, one of my favorite theologians, came to America for the first time. And when he went back, he tell the students don’t go to America, or else you’ll become a Methodist. That was his assessment.
He came back the second time. And he said that the greatest problem in America was the problem of racism. And the any animosity that existed between blacks and whites now, I subscribe to the subscribe to the Westminster confession of faith. Westminster is is not in America. It’s a confession that was exploited right to America. And, and we have a version that is adapted from the original version, kind of like the 1689 came from the Westminster confession of faith. Just okay. Yeah, I just you should compare the documents. I mean, the plagiarism is real. I love my Baptist brothers, though. I love my Baptist brothers and sisters. Don’t I love you, right. But it’s interesting to me that that was his observation. Because oftentimes, it seems that we assume that that theology that we have was birthed here in America. In what ways do you think it’s possible? Also, let me let me make sure I point this out. Herman bobbing because we’re gonna want to make sure we get to the hope part.
Herman Bavinck also said that, unless the American church underwent a profound transformation. He didn’t think that it was equipped to deal with the problem of racism because it was so complex. So he basically said, a lot needs to change in the American church, because their Christianity does not have the answer. This was the early 1900s, when he said this, this is Herman bothering a white Dutch theologian. And this was his assessment of America. thoughts, implications film?
Carl Ellis: Yeah. That’s always a problem, isn’t it? You know, some people will say, yeah, it again, what happens is that the Bible tells us in the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, right. And, you know, there’s two ways you disciple there you can disciple an individual hoping that they will also impact the culture, or you can disciple the culture hoping that it will impact the individual. And the Bible tells us to do both. We have not done very well on that second one, okay. And so, but in order to disciple a culture, the Bible is very clear that says, engage the culture. And its points and affirm it, and when it agrees with Scripture and critique it when it disagrees with Scripture, okay?
You engage the culture, but you do not fall into cultural captivity. That’s the problem that we, we we engage the culture, we fall into cultural captivity. And when you’re in a cultural captivity, then you participate, not only in the right things that the culture does, but you also participate in the cultural sin. And the cultural sin of America was racism, okay, we have to recognize that that was one of the cultural sins. And so the church found in the cultural captivity, and therefore participated in the cultural sin. And you know, what, if you participate in cultural, cultural sin long enough, you will forget that it sin. I think of the Israelites, the nobility, the best and the brightest, the high achievers that were brought over to Babylon, in that first deportation included Daniel Hannan, I am a shell and as RIAA. And of course you can see the difference between Daniel and his friends and the rest of the novels, the rest of the novels went along with the meal ticket at New Bab, okay.
And, but Daniel and the friends did not, but you see that they are but two chapters later. You see, all those other nobles have had succumb to cultural sin. And they were bowing down to that big image that Nebuchadnezzar set up, but Hannah and I, and Michelle and his RIAA did not, and they were willing to pay the consequences for that they did a nonviolent demonstration. Okay. That’s kind of interesting. But But the problem with all of us, again, the church, the people of God, we have a tendency to fall into cultural captivity. And that’s what happened to the American church. And that’s what bobbing saw. But now, if let’s say the Dutch had imported African slaves and all the rest of that, then I think Holland would have had a similar problem to America the same way. So another example I can use this tulip, you know, everybody knows about tulip. Okay? Right? tulip. And I’m gonna give you my pet, oh, by the way, I subscribed to the Westminster Confession and all the rest of that.
But I think tulip is one of the worst cases of theological communication that’s ever come down the pike, from an American point of view, because tulip was originally a Dutch across stick, right? They tried to translate the across, stick over and it just distorts things like the one that used to give me a whole lot of trouble is limited atonement. What the heck does that mean? Does that mean that God is stingy? You know, I’m saying he doesn’t mean that I mean, if you get behind the the doctrines behind all that, then you begin to realize it’s okay. But, but at first I thought, you know, it looks it looks terrible. And it’s it comes across very, very bad to most people that I’ve talked to, you know, but So, yes, I mean, the fact is that, that, you know, the point the Bible says, engage the culture, but don’t fall capital to the culture is saying, basically, use the words be in the world, but not have it. That’s it.
And, and so what we have to do is constantly critique our Christianity with the Word of God, to make sure that we do not fall into cultural captivity. And it’s a temptation to fall in the cultural captivity because we all like to seek what I call the sweet spot in the society. And the sweet spot is a piece of lease difficulty. If I was a white Christian, and I just and I refuse to participate in racism in the south, you know what I’d be called An N word lover, right? You got me. And of course, I don’t want that I you know, so I’ll kind of go along with the the stay in the sweet spot. But the heck of the seat spot, Hannah and I, Michelle and as Ryan didn’t care about the sweet spot. And so I think what we need today are saints who are willing to say, I will stand with a word of God, no matter what it means for me. And if we start doing that, I think we’ll see the church really bring the church.
Phillip Holmes: So there you go, now, thank you for that talk. I was. So let’s wrap this up. We got about five more minutes. What does the promised land look like? For not just African Americans, but for the entire church? from multiple from all nations? All tongs? What does that look like? And then how do we get there from here, because there’s a lot of division, there’s a lot of fighting. There’s a lot of animosity, there’s a lot of aches, I think one of the reasons why many are streaming and in one listening to this conversation is because this is kind of the topic of the day. And there are those who are ready and willing to peddle their version of the gospel in order to make money off of that anchor on both sides, because by the way, I just want to make this clear, I think that there is a version of white supremacy that exists on the progressive side, just as much as the conservative side.
Think about the later years of, of Dr. Martin Luther King, when he was going for the poor people’s campaign. He was abandoned on all sides, The New York Times The Washington Post, to fret, everybody hated Dr. King for what he was attempting to pursue. And, and I found that was I found it interesting. So so as we move forward, Walter, I’m going to start with you. And I want to end with Dr. Ellis. What is the promised land look like? And how do we actually get here get there as a body as one body as a united Body of Christ?
Walter Strickland: And I think the beginning of the answer is really easy. It’s the perfections of God marking all of our existence and being together. Again, it’s the perfections of God, marking our existence and our being together. I mean, it’s the the, the the justice of God, the righteousness of God, the love of gods, all those things marking this, this kingdom reality, really, I mean, and so we’re, we’re aiming towards that, like that, that’s that’s the thing that is going to actually anchor us. And so if we don’t understand this eschatological picture, this kingdom reality, they will have no idea where we’re even setting our sights for the future. And so people will have this, you know, dictum that, you know, those who are most heavenly minded are no earthly good.
Actually, if you’re not heavenly minded, then you can be no good on this earth. Because you have no idea where we’re going. You don’t know how to you don’t know how, okay, so change these to happen? Well, to what end towards the kingdom? And so, then the question is, this is a hard one, how do we get there? Well, I do think that and i’m not i’m like Dr. Ellis answered the question that question, but I’m gonna try to set you up a little bit. Okay, so he says, This is the Gary Payton. Shawn camp. Oh, school? about one minute, okay, well, come on, ready to go.
Okay, here we go. So needless to say, I just lost my train of thought. So one thing I think we’ve lost is that if we’re looking at secular sort of theoretical approaches to understanding how to move towards change, what they don’t have is a doctrine of the kingdom. And all that they can imagine is the reverse of what happened to them. Right. And so if you have a, you know, a theory that doesn’t have a kingdom anchor on it, that’s orienting it, that allows people to be together characterized by love as demonstrated, you know, to us by Christ, then all you’re going to do is reimagine what happened, but then you’re going to flip who’s on the top of the equation, you know, and then those who are on the top, we’re gonna be in the bottom and then that’s your vision of Paradise, because you don’t have a way of getting out of what has been to get to something else. We have to have a kingdom vision.
Phillip Holmes: That was one minute.
Carl Ellis: All right. What is the promised land revelations revelations? seven, nine. There it is. Look it up. You’ll you know, okay, google it in the Bible. Okay. I think I think I think the thing and I’m gonna pick up on what Walt said is that you What these people out here are clamoring for all these activists and everything. They’re really clamoring for cosmic justice. Okay. But the problem is, when cosmic justice comes and it will come, it’s going to be if you’re going to see the fruit of cosmic justice, you’d have to be perfect. Or else you are going to be struck down by cosmic justice. So the only people who are going to benefit from cosmic justice are the people for whom the cosmic justice have been totally satisfied.
And we know who satisfied that for us. Right? You got it. And the second thing too, is that I think, here’s one of my favorite verses, is what I use is the Great Commission, in a way, said, Habakkuk, chapter two, verse 12, through 14, worldly him who builds a city with bloodshed, and establishes a town by injustice, has not the Lord Almighty determined that the people, labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea. And so the promised land is to realize that, that our ultimate fulfillment is not in the kingdoms of this world or the world system, but it is in the kingdom of God.
And we’re not talking about pie in the sky, by and by, we’re talking about cosmic justice. And finally, I’ll say this. Today’s activists, all the social justice warriors, and everybody, the only way that they’re going to be satisfied with those they take aim at is for those people to be perfect. Does that make sense? But if we ever got some money, perfect, they’ll figure out a way to do them in any way. We did have somebody who lived a perfect life and you know what we did with him? So, so human nature is what it is, it’s fallen. And we and there’s many ways we can we can illustrate that, but the only hope is in the kingdom of God under the Lordship of Jesus Christ who, who who who is universal and not culture bound. But at the same time fulfills this the longing of all cultures the the desire to the nation shall come in said hag AI to set seven. And so that’s, that’s the fulfillment right there.
Phillip Holmes: If you enjoyed the session, give these gentlemen a hand. Guys, thank you so much for joining us. I hope this was helpful. I think Dr. Ellison and Dr. Strickland are willing to probably feel some crap questions. If you have any. You can just meet them down at the end of the stage. Go in peace. Amen. Thank you.