Feb 28, 2009

Outed As a Libertarian…..

As I promised in my most recent post here on Black Trinitarian Theology, I would like to briefly explain my recent political conversion. In case you did not know, I am well read in Liberationist, Womanist, and Black theologies. It was less than two years ago that I was able with a professor at Brite to attend GoingGlobal: Interfaith Journeys on the Road to Liberation, An International Conference at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. During one particular session, one of the lecturers asked all the members of the audience to stand up if they were Marxist/and/or Socialist. There was only one person “maverick” enough to remain sitting, and that was me. In spite of all of the Marxist criticism of society I learned in high school and college, something inside of me just cannot see anything good about government coerced economic redistribution. During my undergrad days, it would seem like I would get into an argument with the small group of libertarians on campus from time to time. I had considered myself a third way, pro-life Democrat until recently, after seeing pro-life Democrat Senator Bob Casey Jr. throw his support behind then Senator Barack Obama last spring and then now hearing that supposedly moderate Bill Clinton supported the (un)Fairness Doctrine. My undergraduate days were filled with attempts to save the world, like participating in TCU Peace Action or Frogs for Fair trade. I do not regret these stances; I still believe in fair trade (free and fair) and I still oppose the concept of war. Yet, never had I given consideration to the non-interventionist case against warmongering, as the Founding Fathers preferred. I was able to listen to the audiobook of Congressman Dr. Ron Paul’s The Revolution. Although I disagree with Paul on a couple of other issues, my foundational stances (anti-abortion, anti-death penalty, anti-war) were much like his views.
Most importantly, however, I kept coming back to the stories of the Judges of the Hebrew Bible. Judges 9 has become my favorite parable in the Bible because it refers to the futility of a human monarch rule over a free nation. After the death of Moses and prior to the reign of King Saul, Israel was governed by a kritocracy, or simply, the rule of judges. Time and again in the book of Judges, bad things happen to Israel because every person does what they want due to the fact that there is no king (17:6; 21:25). Now some scholars choose to interpret these passages as implying the necessity of monarchy. However, I disagree and would argue that the author is making a theological point where YHWH, King of the universe continues to be displaced by the Israelites who prefer to live in idolatry. That would mean that I no longer have to view the anointing of King Saul as a positive event (as I once did as a Bible thumping third-grader), but rather as something that Samuel, and therefore the LORD, regrets doing (1st Samuel 10:17-19). Samuel, although ordaining Saul as Israel’s first monarch, is making some rather serious charges against Israel, the crime of apostasy. The Babylonian exile, in my understanding, is a punishment that is incurred because Israel’s constant rejection of the one true Sovereign of creation (see Ezekiel 1-2).
The message of the divine drama found in the book of Judges is unambiguous: government is necessary (hence the role of the judges) but only God has the divine right to exist as king. Many people on both sides of the aisle compare the president to Caesar; even though we may not like whoever is president of the country now, passages in Romans 12 & 13, along with 1st Peter 2:17 require that faithful Christ followers passively submit to all government authorities. I plan in an upcoming post to refute that argument by making a clear distinction between ancient Rome and 18 century early North America (after the American Revolution. For now, all I can say is that I am more committed to less intervention by any of the three branches of the federal government in favor of the Old Testament vision of universal self-governance where EVERY person will sit under her/his own fig tree and no one will be afraid, for the LORD would have spoken (Micah 4:4).

Feb 27, 2009

Updates on the past few weeks

During the past few weeks, I have been working to revamp this blog to fit my emerging theological and political preferences. The title was originally “Hope & Theology” as of a week ago until this week I decided there needed to be a change because my expanded interests that now includes Patristic & Matristic theology, libertarian politics, empire studies, racial reconciliation, and issues pertaining to sexual ethics. All of this really started when I started to re-evaluate my beliefs, (I have made it a habit to do that), as well as re-discover the God whose drama is recorded in Christian scripture. I keep asking the same question as Saint Anselm once asked, “Why Did God Become Human?,” and now I am barely scratching the surface of the political and ethical implications of the doctrine of the Incarnation and what it means. Ultimately, this is a specifically Christian, and therefore Trinitarian question. So, thus, from this day forward, this blog’s name will be surnamed, “Black Trinitarian Theology.”
I almost made this blog’s title “Black Libertarian Theology” as sort of a spin-off of Black Liberation Theology, of which I am well read. However, after reminding myself of my Anabaptist religious sensibilities against the dangers of marrying any political ideology to a religious system, I quickly decided against it. I will soon blog about my journey towards libertarianism after confronting many “evangelists” bent on converting me to libertarianism during my undergraduate years. I will say about this most recent change in my policy views is not due to some political pundit’s ridiculous rants or an encounter with Ayn Rand herself; rather by examining my favorite book in the Bible, Judges, along with contemplating on the Incarnation of God’s Word and trying to flesh out the full political implications of Yahweh, King of all creation descending onto earth to become an ordinary citizen.

Join me as we journey together to live out and continue God’s dramatic, saving action in history to rescue us from the empires of the world to become citizens in the empire of heaven (Revelation 11:15).

Feb 23, 2009

Paper Proposal accepted by the NABPR

“The Temple He Had Spoken Of Was His Body: Christian Sexual Ethics, Race, Gender Roles and the Biblical Narrative from Womanist, Liberationist, and Evangelical Perspectives”

The 2008 presidential campaigns of President-elect Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary season as well as the selection of Governor Sarah Palin as the first female Republican candidate for Vice President dominated the headlines of the mainstream media. This historic election also proved that discussions on race relations as well as sexual morals are off limits within the American Christendom. The protests after the passing of Proposition Eight in California demonstrated that American Christians are not equipped to discuss racial and gender issues. We, as the people of God located in the Unites States of America, have had a tendency to circumvent social problems such as racism and sexism in order to be accepted by the mainstream culture rather than remain faithful to the Kingdom of God. While many conservative evangelical churches refuse to have conversations on these important issues because they remain afraid of discussing cultural taboos, liberal mainline congregations are incapable of talking about any norms for racial and sexual ethics because of their interpretation of the doctrine of Original Sin.
This paper proposes a comparative study on some of the most current responses that Christian theologians and ethicist have offered pertaining to American Christian approaches to race and sexuality. The works of Kelly Brown Douglas (Black Womanist ethicist), Stanley Grenz (late Evangelical theologian), and Miguel De La Torre (Liberation theologian) will be all be examined. In particular, a comparison and contrast of each theologian’s view of theological anthropology, the Imago Dei, as well as their definition of human sinfulness will be made. By the conclusion of this paper, I hope to construct a theological proposal based on the Old Testament Trinitarian paradigm of Word, Breathe, and Body (assembly and individuals) to empower churches to establish dialogues pertaining to racial differences and human sexuality.

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Feb 21, 2009

Lenten Plans for 2009

Last year, I gave up meat: chicken, beef, and pork.

This year:

1. I am placing my sense of humor before the altar and avoiding all misogynist joke telling which includes, but is not limited to, "That's what she said!" "Your Mom!" and "Your Sister!"

2. I want to spend time with God at the beginning of each day by not only reading scripture, but also doing Greek translation in the New Testament. Paul's letter to Titus will be my starting point, beginning with one passage each morning.

Please, if you consider yourself my friend or acquaintance, please help me to stay accountable to these two commitments. I would appreciate it.

Feb 18, 2009

ThM acceptance

Today, I recieved an acceptance letter into Brite Divinity School's Masters in Theology program in Theology, History, and Ethics. My ultimate concerns have been modified slightly, but remain basically the same as three years ago, although I see my work for a higher purpose. I plan to do my thesis on the Patristic and Matristic theologians of the Early Church and how their approaches to race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender can serve as a model for the Body of Christ located in the United States of America (which is totally unable to address any of these issues).

Feb 16, 2009

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Free People?

Last fall, for Brite Divinity School's Jewish Studies Program, we hosted Rabbi Harold S. Kushner. Although I was unable to go to the Gates of Chai Lecture, I managed to go to a special session where he freely opened himself up to students and their questions. I will be honest from the outset; I believe that the basic presupposition of the question behind his well known work, Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?,is quite presumptuous. For one, whose definition of good are we going by to define the goodness of humanity? Also, what does Kushner's answers mean in the reverse situation, that is: why do good things happen to bad people? My understanding of Jesus the Messiah's message is that God alone is good (Luke 18:19), and I know this is not going to be a popular statement, but I believe that all human beings are born into a sinful reality in which God has provided Jesus the Messiah (in his death and resurrection)as the only means of liberation (i.e., the doctrine of original sin/bodily resurrection stated in post postmodern terms).

I usually do not address questions of theodicy which start with "Why, LORD, why?" because they usually wind up with answers that make God Almighty our scapegoat (that means I am opposed to both the determinist end of Christianity as well as the idea of unlimited free will of humans advocated by process theologians). Instead, I ask, WHO would God have me to be in this time of tragedy? As a Christian, I can look no further than the Cross of Jesus the Messiah, 2000 years ago, where God Godself died between two thieves. Whenever tragedy happens, we should not be quick to judge (Jesus said judge not to be judged, right?) and blame the Other, those we disagree with and can make an easy case to serve as our scapegoats. Rather, the first position of Christians who follow a Suffering God should be a position of solidarity, to join in the plight of the victims, and to pray for the Truth to be revealed in due time.

I write this in light of the tragic plane crash of Flight 3407, at a time when, only after a couple of days, the media is all too eager to blame the pilots for this disaster. I hope that one day the Truth will be reveal in all of His glory. To that end, I offer this prayer:

One True God,
We humbly come before you,
asking for forgiveness of our sins, both known and unknown,
We thank You for your Truth and goodness that You revealed to us in the form of the Light of Life, Jesus the Messiah.
Shine light into the darkness,and send your Spirit of Truth to remain in us, Your Children, and transform us to become a shining city on a hill to those who are suffering from the darkness of tragedy and death, for we approach the throne of grace through Your Son Jesus the Messiah, and it is in His name that we pray,

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Feb 13, 2009

President Bill Clinton, you are excommunicated from the Baptist fold!

I was raised a Baptist. Always been a Baptist, and always will be a Baptist. If we baptists do not agree on anything, we do agree on the doctrine of soul competency, the freedom that God has given every human being to respond freely to the Good News. This requires freedom of thought, and a free conscience to repent and believe on the LORD Jesus Christ.

Bill Clinton, a Southern Baptist nontheless, is working to silence dissent, those "conservatives-in-exile" (I wonder what homecoming looks like?). I once thought that Bill was a "third-way" Democrat. I guess I was wrong. Freedom of speech and conscience is guaranteed not only by God Godself, but also the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, President Bill Clinton, please no longer consider yourself a Baptist. We believe in freedom of thought, and apparently, you do not now.

Here is the article from World Daily.net.

Bill Clinton for Fairness Doctrine

Feb 10, 2009

Look who got published! (albeit online)

My first entry for the African American Lectionary; atleast 2 more to come! :)

Link to entry

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Prayer for the Brite Divinity School Luncheon for Ministers' Week

Let us pray:

Father God,
Whom the prophet Isaiah called the Mother of Zion,
We come to you with humble and contrite hearts,
Asking for the repentance of our sins, both known and unknown,
Forgive us for our sins as well as forgive those who sin against us.
We pray that we can experience reconciliation, truth, and peace,
in which we can only know through the death of your Son, Jesus the Messiah.
It is in His name that we pray.


Feb 5, 2009

Limited Government, part 2: Some further reflections on the Trinity

(From a submitted paper 2 years ago)


Generally, our view of authority is always interrelated with our view of a Higher Power. We experience the Triune God’s omnipotence when we encounter God’s grace; God’s almighty power revealed in the vulnerability that The Messiah felt at Golgotha. Through the use of godly notions of power, the Black church can undermine modern sinful realities of racism, classism, and sexism. The oppressive relationships reinforced by sinful social and political systems in America can be disrupted by imitating the liberating relationships Christians should have with God, each other, and the community. Ideal power relationships are best conceived by imitating the Trinity: the relationships between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas notes, “[The] Trinitarian doctrine avows a God who is internally and externally relational. God, in Godself, the Godhead, is in a relationship of mutuality and reciprocity as creator, redeemer, and sustainer.”(Kelly Brown Douglas. Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective. (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2003), 119) A Trinitarian vision of power relationships would be grounded in reciprocity, equality, and self-transcendence as well as undermine worldly and oppressive social structures dependent upon inequality and imposed unjust relationships.
Jesus The Messiah the titles of King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Prince of Peace (Revelation 19:16, Isaiah 9:6). These political images demonstrate the Christian desire to recognize the sovereignty and graciousness of the Triune God. At the crucifixion, Jesus is crowned with thorns and labeled “The King of the Jews” by the Roman authorities because he was viewed as both a religious and political threat to the dominant cultural and political system of that time, the Roman Empire. Jesus’ declaration of the coming of the Kingdom of God served as a condemnation of the prevailing religious and political principalities of his day. He began his earthly ministry declaring, “The time has come. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:15). Jesus prophesied Good News to people who suffered from human wickedness and social oppression. His declaration was a reversal of the world order; he advocated God’s reign over and against the rule of sinful humanity. Jesus rebuked the pagan definition of honor, the means of greatness and power in the 2nd century when he answered who had the right to sit at his right and left in his kingdom:
“You know the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28.)

The Messiah’s view of power is the power to serve, to freely give oneself for the sake of others. Throughout the Hebrew Bible, the prophets, judges, kings and priests recognized the Spirit of God as the source of their strength. The prophet Micah declared, “But as for me, I am filled with power, the Spirit of the Lord [.]” (Micah 3:8) True power, in godly terms, begins with the Triune God sharing Godself with humanity. Throughout Scripture, God is referred to as the Almighty because God has all power. God is omnipotent because God possesses all logically possible powers which it is logically possible for a being with the attributes of God to possess (John Bowden and Alan Richardson. The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983, 414). Therefore, God can never contradict God in se, including acting contrary to His goodness. In other words, unlike fallen human beings, God does not abuse power; God shares it.
The power of God is not an object that should be fought over, but a person to be shared, namely His Son, Jesus The Messiah. The apostle Paul confessed, “[We] preach The Messiah Crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, The Messiah the power and wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1st Corinthians 1: 23-25). The Christian concept of power is when one allows Jesus’ power to be made perfect in one’s weakness as s/he depends upon God’s grace. Holy Ghost power means embodying both God’s power and presence as one is conformed to the image of the Crucified Immanuel, God with us. Divine omnipotence and human empowerment are inextricably linked because it is the Spirit of The Messiah, the Holy Spirit, who is responsible for changing us into the image of our Risen Lord (2nd Corinthians 12:9).


Although this piece was submitted for an essay competition a couple of years ago, and despite the many ideological changes that have taken place within myself, I still hold the Trinitarian doctrine of Divine omnipotence suggested by this work. However, I would like to reflect on the political implications for a Trinitarian doctrine of Divine omnipotence. I uphold God God in se (as defined in the Christian tradition) as the standard for all human relationships, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and communal. God’s freedom to rule the world as God chooses is a key tenet for those that believe in the sovereignty of God; for Christians in particular, God intervenes in human history to redeem the world (in traditional Christianity). The Christian God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exists as three different persons, yet one divine essence. God the Father, according to the apostle Paul, delivers up the Son to die for our salvation, The Triune God does reveal Himself for his own glory; He shares himself in order to save humankind. In the same manner, human governments conformed in the image of the Imago Trinitas, should be limited in that no one single faction’s interests should not be held over other factions. This may call for shared power, which sounds INSANE in a country where corporations, the military industrial complex, and the prison industrial complex take priority when GOP holds the majority in the federal government, much like when unions and other special interest groups “win” when the Democrats are in power. Many would argue that America could not be changed constitutionally, say for instance, to a more participatory structure because of our long history as a 2 party system. I would contend, however, that maybe it is time to go back to the first days of the Republic. There was a tradition that the person (at that time, a white male who owned property), who lost the presidential election would become vice president. It was not until almost a half century later that political parties formally nominated a presidential and vice presidential candidate for the general election. We may need to consider returning to this tradition to liberate ourselves from the winner-take-all partisan politics that we continue to see in Washington, D.C. President Ronald Wilson Reagan, in his farewell address said , “But as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. And something else we learned: Once you begin a great movement, there's no telling where it will end. We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world.” Reagan's farewell
Let us remember the traditions of the first days of the Republic and strive to be the most free, just, and peaceful nation that we can be.