The Reformation was a good thing. But in the city of St. Louis, it is only as good as its impact on minorities in the United States as well as men and women around the world.
We must learn how to bring sound theology to bear on any culture, to show that the gospel is real and relevant in every situation. Passion for truth makes us desire wisdom, which enables us to engage with both our local contexts and with the church at large.
Why should young African Americans care about the Reformation?
Because Reformed theology addresses problems in black culture – and all cultures – in a way so steadfast, even its basic tenents cannot be challenged by the giants of legalistic and prosperity-centered doctrines prevalent in too many churches today.
When I was led into ministry, I had the calling and the passion, but I did not have the training. I desired to “study to show thyself approved” but I didn’t know what that looked like. I am able to tell people now, this can mean sitting in a room just being fed by scripture, listening to trained men and women and being mentored by them. Church leaders must know what it means to “rightly divide the word of truth”, because passion without sound Biblical training is disastrous. You know, all the great tyrants had passion!
Proverbs 19 says “Zeal without wisdom is not good”. We must partner with the people among us who have passion, but no guide. Cities and towns across the nation are full of men and women zealous for ministry. But without discipleship these leaders are left to plot their own way, a way that seems right, but often leads to danger for the people they serve (Proverbs 14.12).
I could not be who I am without contact to my culture, and to a seminary education.
Sadly, contact to seminary training is privileged. At conferences and gatherings like the LDR, we have the opportunity to make theological training widely accessibile. Augustine put it simply, “the Holy Spirit has an affinity to a trained mind”, and we have the opportunity to cooperate with and expand on his thinking. Lack of training isolates every would-be minister and lay-leader to their own small islands. If I do not know the truth, I cannot speak it to my own people, let alone across cultural lines.
We cannot reach any culture without contextualization. But we can’t just sit around telling stories to each other. We must learn to speak the truth that interprets all stories.
The sound truth of biblical theology speaks as strongly to my friends at Chesterfield Pres as it does to my family at Peace Tabernacle. When you understand the Bible and cultural context, you are doing what Jesus taught us to do.
Pastor Mike Higgins will preach on Sunday during the LDR Weekend.