Category Archives: Ethnicity

#JohnKnox & Scotland’s Reformation: A Nation Born in a Day (Isaiah 66:8)

Some people in Scotland think too highly of John Knox; others think ill of him. A Scottish cab driver was driving an American up the hill to Edinburgh Castle: “That is the house of John Knox.” The visitor replied: “And who was John Knox?” The driver said in disgust: “Go home, man, and read your bible!” The cab driver thought too much of Knox.

An English, Neoclassical/Early Victorian eclectic style frame, 1820-1830, for a painting (NT/PET/P/87) by Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841) of John Knox preaching before the Lords of the Congregation, 10th June, 1559

John Knox was converted by the Holy Spirit as he read John 17. He was discipled by “Master” George Wishart, whom Knox wielded a two-handed claymore sword for so that Wishart could preach the Gospel without being attacked in Scotland. When Wishart was summed to die as a martyr Knox asked to accompany Wishart, but Wishart said: “Nay, return to your bairns, and God bless you. One is sufficient for a sacrifice.”

Knox was called to preach in front of a congregation of Protestant refugees in St Andrew’s castle by another preacher (Mr. Rough), and Knox burst forth into an abundance of tears. The French brigaded the castle, seized Knox as a galley slave for 19 months, and burned Rough at the stake.

The English rescued Knox from the French, and for ten year Knox was a pastor-preacher in exile from Scotland because he was a Protestant (1549-1559). He served in Berwick & Newcastle (England), Frankfurt (Germany), and Geneva (Switzerland). Looking back over the years in England Knox imagined Christ saying to him something like Christ would have said to Peter: “Yet art thou too proude to be a pastour, thou canste notstoupe, nor bowe thy backe down to take up the weake shepe;thou does not yet knowe thine own infirmitie and weakness,and therefore canst thou do nothing but despise the weak ones.” (Dawson, p. 69)

When Knox returned to Edinburgh, Scotland on May 2, 1559. The bishops assembled in the Monastery of the Black Friars to discuss improvements to the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. For example, any priest caught in adultery loses 1/3 of pay; and priests could not put their sons in their wills (not supposed to have any sons in the first place). For example, Cardinal Beaton had 8 illegitimate sons. While meeting, a messenger unannounced entered the meeting and shouted: “Knox is returned to Edinburgh!” We read: “at once they closed their meeting & arose hastily.”

The Summer of 1559 was an extraordinary time of revival. Knox preached in the major cities, and promoted reformation of the church. Knox said he was: “Churching it like a Scythian.” (There was no watering down of the wine among the Scythians of Ancient Greece.)

In the summer of 1559 when he first returned to St Andrews, warning was sent to him by the bishop that if he dared to preach the next Sunday there would be a dozen hand guns discharged in his face. His friends advised delay, but he went ahead and took for his text Christ driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple. The famous painting above is of the scene of Knox leaning out over the pulpit before the Dutchess of Arguile holding her baby by Sir David Wilkie captured something of that day, June 11, 1559, and the effect of it at the time can be seen in the 14 priests of the Roman Church, who confessed the faith.

Five Swift Reforms that Year 1559

  1. By the 1560 the French forces were defeated.
  2. Parliament adopted laws
  3. RCC was replaced with Presbyterianism
  4. A Nat’l Confession of Faith established by 6 men named “John” in five days. The closing words of the Scots Confession—a prayer: “Arise, O Lord, and let Thine enemies be confounded; let them flee from thy presence that hate thy godly name. Give thy servants strength to speak thy word with boldness, and let all nations cleave to the true knowledge of thee.”
  1. Book of Discipline

How was Scotland Reformed into Presbyterianism so Fast?

“In Scotland the whole nation was converted by lump; and within ten years after popery was discharged in Scotland, there were not ten persons of quality to be found in it who did not profess the true reformed religion, and so it was among the commons in proportion. Lo! Here a nation born in one day.’” ( Kirkton’s History)

Calvin wrote to Knox: “We wonder at success so incredible and in so short a time.”

Knox explained the success of the Reformation in Scotland in his History: (Citing Isaiah 40 in Geneva Bible) . . . “This promise has been performed for us Christians here in the realm of Scotland. For what was our force or strength? What was our number? Yea, what was our wisdom or worldly policy was to us to have brought to a good end so great an enterprise?”

Knox replied to Calvin: “God gave His Holy Spirit to simple men in great abundance.”

Three Broad Lessons from the Ministry of John Knox

  1. The Logos, Ethos, and Pathos of Reformation Preaching

Logos: “Unto me…is this grace given that I should preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Ephesians 3:8

“God is friendly minded to sinners”

“We opened more fully the fountain of God’s grace to sinners”

“Christ so tender towards those who put Him to death that He first sent unto them the ministry of reconciliation.”

Ethos: The primacy of preaching over writing (“I consider myself rather called by my God to instruct the ignorant, comfort the sorrowful, confirm the weak, and rebuke the proud, by tongue and living voice, in these corrupt days, than to compose books for the age to come.”)

“It hath pleased God of his superabundant grace to make me, most wretched of many thousands, a witness, minister and preacher.”

Used Plain speech – Puritans loved this word plain. “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” 1 Corinthians 14:8

Pathos: (“A dinging the pulpit”) – To Ding is to hit the pulpit hard and almost seem to be flying out of it.

A student there at the time was fifteen-year-old James Melville, and he would see Knox walking to church from the old priory, a staff in one hand and held under his other armpit by a friend, with furs wrapped round his neck. It was the year before his death and his strength was gone. Melville wrote in his Autobiography:

“Of all the benefits I had that year [1571] was the coming of that most notable prophet and apostle of our nation, Mr John Knox, to St Andrews . . . I heard him teach there the prophecy of Daniel that summer and winter following. I had my pen and my little book, and took away such things as I could comprehend. In the opening up of his text he was moderate the space of an half hour; but when he entered to application, he made me so grew [shudder] and tremble, that I could not hold a pen to write.”

Melville says further that Knox had to be lifted up into the pulpit “where it behoved him to lean at his first entry; but before he had done with his sermon he was so active and vigorous, that he was like to ding that pulpit in blads and fly out of it!”

English Ambassador—Knox “put life into them more than 500 trumpets.”

  1. A Love for the Church and the Courage to Reform Her

 Two days before his death—“I have been in meditation these last two nights [concerning] the troubled church of God, the spouse of Jesus Christ, despised of the world but precious in his sight. I have called to God for it, and have committed it to her head, Jesus Christ.”

 

Earl of Morton at Knox’s funeral—“Here lies one who neither feared nor flattered any flesh.”

  1. Faith in the Promises of God through Prayer

“Let us now humble ourselves in the presence of our God, and, from the bottom of our hearts, let us desire him to assist us with the power of his Holy Spirit . . . that albeit we see his Church so diminished, that it shall appear to be brought, as it were, to utter extermination, that yet we may be assured that in our God there is power and will to increase the number of his chosen, even while they be enlarged to the uttermost coasts of the earth.”

Prayer From John Knox for the Holy Spirit: “Because we have need continually to crave many things at your hands, we humbly beg you, O heavenly Father, to grant us your Holy Spirit to direct our petitions, that they may proceed from such a fervent mind as may be agreeable to your holy will. Amen.”

 

Identity: Corporate or Individualistic?

Why are many white Americans less likely to understand how many black Americans are reacting to recent treatment of blacks in Missouri and Alabama? Do the recent riots and killings of police have something to do with identity?

IMG_2057This is a monument of Henry Ward Beecher in Brooklyn where I am preaching this week. He auctioned off slave children for adoption in his congregation to protest slavery. His sister wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

“God cares about systems” (Tim Keller & Anthony Bradley). Abraham Kuyper, the Dutch Prime Minister and Christian theologian, said: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” Redemption is to be applied in all of culture.

Since our identity includes are common and corporate identity as image bearers of God with the rest of humanity, our identity is not only individualistic but also corporate. We share an ethnic identity and national identity, as Christians share a common identity in Christ. What an individual does effects others. For example, as in Adam all sinned so in Christ (a Jew) all are counted righteous by faith alone (Romans 5). When Achan sinned in Joshua 7, all the people of Joshua’s time suffered for it. In Daniel’s prayer (Daniel 9) he asked for forgiveness from God for his ancestor’s sins.

Any system that excludes or marginalizes others in any generation shares a corporate responsibility and guilt. It was not right for an Evangelical to say to a black slave in the 1800s that “God loves you and has a great plan for your life as a slave.” Germans, who knew and actively oppressed Jews, were responsible and guilty for the crimes during WWII. Yet, so were those who knew and just followed orders or remained passive in that system.

Whites, still in the majority, are less aware of their corporate identity. Blacks, however, deeply sense their corporate identity because they have been a minority in America. Unless Christians in America embrace our corporate identity, which includes our responsibility and guilt for marginalizing Native Americans and Black Americans, we will not understand the times and the issues of contemporary culture.

Repentance of systemic racism and faith in the Gospel with prayer and active restoration of the marginalized is what is required in this hour. Only as we embrace our common Christian identity, which embraces diversity of age, ethnicity, and gender, will we begin to love our neighbor well.

Ask the Father in the Name of Jesus to pour out the Holy Spirit upon our generation in revival. For, He can make all things new and heal our land, but apart from Him we can do nothing.

God ordained the government to use arms to punish evil, restrain wickedness, and protect the innocent (i.e. the unborn), but He ordained the Church to use weapons of Gospel proclamation, prayer, and reconciliation with God and all peoples.

 

I’m Going Back to My Roots

So much for this song. I exercised while it was playing and liked the tune. Actually, i haven’t analyzed it 🙂

In Luke Three there is a heap of identity concerning Jesus Christ. John the Baptist points to Him as the Christ, the Father says that He is His Beloved Son in whom He is well-pleased, and this is followed by His genealogy.

Our roots matter. Our genealogy is part of what shapes our identity. Just as knowing that we are made in His image and that we have been given gender, so Providence shapes us in a family with ancestors, ethnicity, and names.

We are not hurled by chance into the world as radical individuals, who have to choose all this. Rather, we are given names that remind us of how in God’s Providence we are part of a larger story in Redemption. God is redeeming our families for generations to come. He is faithful to our offspring; He is covenantal as He has always been; i.e. Abrahamic promise.

We are not radical individuals. We are named by our parents, and these names remind us of who we are and our roots. We are given ethnic identity. In the end every tribe and tongue shall acknowledge God’s redemption together. Do you know what your names mean? Are you secure about your ethnic identity? Can you tell about your great grandparents, grandparents, and parents enough to tell the next generation? Jesus knew what His name meant, who His ancestors were, and embraced His Jewish ethnicity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pentecostal Outpourings

You Don’t know You Have a Culture until You are in Another One

1658373_10203805851767842_3006123471894547401_oWhenever I go and teach pastors around the world on Identity in Christ, the material transcends all cultures. Embracing our glory as image-bearers, our gender glory and particular curses (Genesis 2-3), our central condemning thoughts that aim to name us, our righteousness in Christ, our adoption in Christ, and our being saints give us rest from trying to establish a righteousness of our own.

Our culture and ethnicity, however, becomes more clearly differentiated. Hearing these dear pastors from India share their genealogies and stories of tragedy and redemption taught me so much about the importance of a father both in India and the USA.

There are ethnic and cultural ways we were shaped, which Christ has redeemed with a worth that shall come to light when every tongue, tribe, and nation meet together to see Christ in glory.