My New Article Published Online: “Jean Price-Mars and Contemporary Scholarship on African Traditional Religion”

My second new article is also published online:

“Jean Price-Mars and Contemporary Scholarship on African Traditional Religion,” Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol 11, no 5 ( April 2018):9-55

http://www.jpanafrican.org/vol11no5.htm

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“Becoming a (Christian) People of Action, Compassion, Unity, and Love” (Ephesians 4:7-16)

“Becoming a (Christian) People of Action, Compassion, Unity, and Love” (Ephesians 4:7-16)

An Excerpt of my Sunday Morning Sermon (to be preached on Sunday, April 8, 2018)

Jesus Center Community Church

“If you’re a Christian or an Evangelical Christian and you were taught that to become a Christian, you must embrace a set of distinctive theological truths, your Christianity is probably inadequate and not biblical. Below is an example of the probable things you were taught in the church you grew up in:

Historic Christianity is the belief in a body of theological doctrines and truths such as the categorical confession that (1) God is one and Trinity, (2) the virgin birth and deity of Jesus Christ, (3) the Bible as the inspired and infallible Word of God, (4) (5) the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, (6) the second coming of Jesus Christ, (7) salvation is by grace alone, and (7) salvation is in Christ alone. Many Christians and Evangelical Christians in America embrace these theological beliefs and substitute biblical ethical demands with cultural values and political ideologies. Consequently, these individuals serve God only with their intellect, but betray him in their action.

The separation between the biblical call to theological belief and biblical call to a Christ-centered life is a serious problem in many contemporary Christian circles, Evangelical churches, and schools and institutions in America that train men and women for the ministry. To express this another way, your pastor or youth minister probably taught you something like this: “If you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you will go to heaven and escape hell. That’s all you need to be saved and become a Christian.” Friends: this is a convenient faith, a microwave Christianity. This form of Christianity that emphasizes “orthodox beliefs” concurrently undermines the “ethical virtues and practical demands” of biblical Christianity. This is not healthy for the spiritual life of the believer nor is it constructive to the life of faith of the people of God. This “soft Christianity” does not transform culture, but it is transformed by the culture (See Ephesians 4:14). This form of Christianity is subservient to the culture, and it is not a faith that believes in service, civic participation, and self-sacrifice toward the common good and human flourishing.

Moreover, this “soft Christianity” is not an optimistic faith one can count on when facing existential troubles and the harsh life in this world at risk, nor is it meaningful for the believer’s uneasy interactions with others. No wonder American Evangelical Christianity is in deep trouble today because of its failure to understand the correlation between theological confession and biblical ethics. (My assumption is that contemporary (some) American Evangelicals are too busy honoring cultural heroes and political superstars to live in the way of Christ and to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15)). Theology and ethics are not divorced in the biblical understanding of religion and the practical life and experience of the people of God; the people of God cannot have one and neglect the other; in other words, faith and works are inseparable in the biblical notion of the living (Christian) faith. Biblical Christianity is not mere “intellectual assent,” it is a way of life (See Ephesians 4:15-6).

Biblical Christianity, that is a “thick faith,” establishes a set of demands, values, and imperatives that govern the life and interactions of the people of God and followers of Christ; they include the following: to intentionally pursue justice (i.e. legal, racial, economic, environmental) and truth (“speaking the truth in love”: Eph. 4:15), to be ministers of reconciliation, agents of peace and unity, to hate injustice and evil, to care for the poor, the orphan, and the widow, to visit the prisoner, the feed the hunger, to heal the sick, to welcome the stranger and the immigrant, to show compassion and kindness to sojourner, to love your enemy, and to imitate the life of Christ. These are non-negotiable moral virtues of biblical Christianity. The underlying aim of the Christian life, according to Paul, is to “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

The people of God must embody the ethical values of biblical religion and pattern their life after the biblical God who gives and forgives unconditionally, shows grace and compassion without restraint, and loves indiscriminately. This biblical God is against empires, the capital exploitation of the poor and the workers, and unjust treatment of the vulnerable. The people of God in the twenty-first century culture is called to love justice and make Christian ethics as a practical witness in a world at risk. As Paul urges the Jewish and Gentile Christians at Ephesus:

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

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You are cordially invited to come worship with us this Sunday, April 8. Worship service at Jesus Center Community Church starts at 10:00 AM. Come 15 minutes early to have breakfast with us as well as to socialize and fellowship.

If you’re looking for a good, friendly, and relational church, and a Christ-centered and teaching congregation, with other believers, you will grow socially, intellectually, and spiritually, and be encouraged in serving, loving, and connecting with Jesus and one another.”

http://www.jesuscentercc.com

My new article: “Towards a Caribbean Political Theology of Emancipation and Decolonization: A Comparative Analysis of Four Caribbean Theologians”

My new article with “Black Theology: An International Journal” is now published online.

“Towards a Caribbean Political Theology of Emancipation and Decolonization: A Comparative Analysis of Four Caribbean Theologians”

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14769948.2018.1460553

ABSTRACT
“This essay examines the contributions of four Caribbean theologians to the disciplines of theology and anthropology, and human rights conversations. Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti), Idris Hamid (Trinidad), Noel Leo Erskine (Jamaica), and D.H. Kortright Davis (Antigua and Barbuda) articulate a common vision of a Caribbean theology of emancipation and decolonization. Arguably, their political theological discourse is an attempt to engage the Caribbean experience within the framework of the postcolonial life and anti-imperial reason. There exist substantial convergences and confluences, as well as ideological parallels and connections in the political theology and contextual theology of freedom and hope in the work of these four thinkers who emerged from four different geographical corners of the Caribbean. Finally, we will make some connections to the revolutionary ideas and political theology of Fidel Castro. Caribbean theology of emancipation, decolonization, and hope emerges out of the labyrinth of European slavery and colonialism, American imperialism, White supremacy, and globalization.

KEYWORDS: Caribbean theology, postcolonial theology, contextual theology, political theology, emancipation”

“To live by Faith”

“To live by faith”

On one hand, Biblical Christianity is a “reasonable faith” about God’s active involvement in human history and his plan of human liberation in Jesus Christ to all who will trust in him for the forgiveness of their sins and salvation.

On the other hand, Biblical religion does not call followers of Jesus Christ to walk by reasonable faith, but to “live by (their) faith” in God. This is a call to think and live in the manner of Christ and to embody in the believer’s experience the patterns and character of his life.

The call to live by faith in God is a call to trust and a necessity for the believer’s daily decision and action to be grounded solely on God’s wisdom, guidance, and counsel. It is against the arrogance of this world and a human-centered life and ethics. To live by faith is to bodly affirm that God is the priority in all things.

Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight”

“On Being Followed in Your Own Community by the City Authority”

“On Being Followed  in Your Own Community by the City Authority”

I live in a nice and gated community in West of Fort Pierce, Florida. When asked where they live, people who live in this area of Fort Pierce would clarify that they live in “West of Fort Pierce,” in Portofino Shores, near Vero Beach. In fact, they would even say that we live in “Lakewood Park,” not really a part of the traditional Fort Pierce. If you insist, they would tell you a long story with substantially descriptive detailed information why their community is different from the traditional city of Fort Pierce.  Most of the individuals and families who live in this middle class Portofino Shores are professionals; some of us are College professors, lawyers, doctors, nurses, police officers, high school teachers and principals, retired professionals, etc.

About five months ago, I was stopped by the Police as I was walking in my own community. Habitually, I wake up at 5:30 am to walk or jog (depending on how I feel that morning); this is a physical exercise I repeat three times a week. I love walking in the morning, especially early in the morning at 5:30 am to walk, to exercise, and to pray, simultaneously.

The morning hour provides me with an enormous opportunity to spend quality time in prayer with the Lord, both in personal and intercessory prayers. Because of my busy schedule (I’m a father of four children, husband of one wife, serve as the lead Pastor of a church-plant in Fort Pierce, and am a Professor of English and Literature at a local college in Fort Pierce.), the early morning is such a refreshing moment to spend time with the Lord in prayer. I do not like to walk with anyone because I do not want to be interrupted or distracted in my prayer-walk. I began this routine because I wanted to improve my prayer life, not really to exercise 😊

In addition, every morning I take my daughter Abby to school; she must be at school by 8:20 am. So, the timing works well for me and for her, as I wake her up five days a week, at 7:00 am to eat, shower, and get her ready for her morning class (My wife, who is a teacher, must be at work at 7:15 am). This is a weekly routine.  Nonetheless, no one else in (my) Portofino Shores community gets up that early to walk at 5:30 am. I am the only resident who does so since I rarely see anyone else walking at that hour. However, a historic incident or series of incidents would change everything!

One early morning, I believe it was close to 6:00 am; as a routine, I make several rounds and walk through every street in the community. For example, I would walk in my own street and pass by my home two to three times in my walking routine. As I passed by my home around that time, there were three police vehicles stationed in my street, about 100 to 150 feet from my house. (Again, it was not 6:00 am yet, if I remember correctly.) I thought I have left my school backpack in my office at work; hence, I went to the trunk of my truck to make sure it was there. My vehicle was parked at in my driveway, at the house. Suddenly, a female officer, with a very bright flashlight, was advancing towards me, flashing the flashlight towards my face and my vehicle, and asking me: “Do you live here?”  With great amazement, I did not know what to tell her and how to answer her question. I couldn’t believe she would ask me that strange question when she saw me in my driveway, held my car/home key in my right hand, and just opened my own vehicle with my own key.  I took a long pause before I responded to her. Kindly, have I replied to her: “Yes, I live here, and why you even asked me that question?”

She stated to me “we’re looking for someone in the community. If you happen to see him, please let us know.” I replied, “Sure,” and immediately entered in my house and never came back outside to complete my walk that morning.

Two days after, as previously mentioned, I woke up at 5:30 am to walk and pray in my community. As I was walking, I noticed a bright light behind me; as I turned, it was a Police car monitoring me or monitoring the community? I did not know exactly what its purpose or objective was. Evidently, the officer in the vehicle was following me. A week later, I was being followed once again by another Police car.

Interestingly, two to three more times in the same month, as I was coming from teaching (work) at the College to home, there was a Police vehicle stationed at the entrance of the Community, seemingly waiting for me to arrive. As I was about to enter the entrance gate, the vehicle followed me all the way to the Gate. I entered the side of the gate reserved for residents; the officer entered the parallel entrance reserved for guests, businesses, and authorities. As I turned right at the stop sign to go to my street leading toward my home, my ultimate destination, he made a U-turn and exited the gate.  Another time, it was my wife who noticed another police vehicle was following me to the entrance gate. Finally, another time, as I was coming from work, I noticed another officer driving behind my vehicle following me for about 3 to 4 miles all the way to the entrance gate of the Portofino Shores.

I never stopped to ask any question or voice any concerns to any of these officers who have routinely followed me closely. I reported all these incidents to my wife; she cautioned me not to wake up at 5:30 am to walk and pray; rather, she advised that I should walk in the community when everyone else is awake. She reminded me that “You are a black male.” (In my heart, I whispered, “I’m a pastor and professor. I am a good citizen, a good man, and not a criminal.”)

Since the last incident occurred, I stopped walking in the community; nonetheless, I would like to go back to my weekly routine. Confessedly, I am also fearful for my life—especially when one is being followed, directly and indirectly, by someone in authority and power who could easily misuse that power to take up your life, unwarrantedly. You will never know what the outcome will be and could be.

Have a great and blessed weekend, friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Love one another and Be like Jesus”

“Love one another and Be like Jesus”

Do not be quick to dismiss the pain & suffering of another individual or a family that has just lost a loved one or loved ones.

Do not defend the choice of those in authority who have abused their power to dehumanize individuals or take another person’s life.

Do not be an apologist for those individuals in the dominant class who may use their power and resources, and seat of authority to silence the poor and the victim, and undermine their pain.

Mourn with those who mourn!

Bear one another’s burdens!

Be on the side of justice and love, that is the side of God who defends the innocent and the weak, and punishes the wicked and evildoer.

If you’re going to be a Christian, be a good one.

If you call yourself a follower of Christ, act like Him, and think like Him.

Love what Christ loves and despise what he despises like sin, immorality, injustice, oppression, abuse, etc.