The Pastor's Buzz

Pastor Buzz Trexler's blog for God's people in The Meadow.

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Name: Buzz Trexler
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Journalist for 29 years; married to Donna for 28 years; parent of David, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa since 2002.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Racism a hindrance to revival

There's been a great deal of discussion recently in Blount County concerning racism.

It's about time.

In a county that is home to likely more than 300 churches (a growing number every week, it seems), you would think the county's pastors would be rallying the troops. Some have, but the majority appear to remain silent. Why is that?

I was reminded of a column that Samuel Francis penned in 1995 -- a column that reallly raised my ire. Given that I wasn't blogging in those days, I thought I would reprint my response. It was 10 years ago this month, and I'm sorry to say that not much seems to have changed ...

Headline: Racism still greatest hindrance to revival
July 1995, The (Maryville, TN) Daily Times

It was the sort of ridiculous proclamation that gives conservatives a bad name.

As free discourse would have it, the words were penned by Samuel Francis, a Washington Times columnist, and published on The Daily Times Opinion page on June 29. The column was headlined "Southern Baptists on road to liberalism?"

Not wanting to regurgitate Francis' pseudo-theological, political phlegm, suffice it to say that he viewed the Southern Baptist Convention's attempts at racial reconciliation through repentance and seeking forgiveness as unwarranted, saying, "... the self-abasement of the brethren over slavery and race ignores a good deal of Christian history, ethics and theology. In the first place, the 'repentance' of contemporaries for the sins of their fathers is ethically meaningless, since sin is committed by individual persons and not by groups, racial or religious. In the second place, what, precisely, is the 'sin' of which the Baptists think they are so repentant?"

Francis goes on to say, "If the sin is hatred or exploitation, they may be on solid ground, but neither 'slavery' nor 'racism' as an institution is a sin."

He cites Pauline references to passages where servants (read "slaves") were urged to obey their masters and notes that "Neither Jesus nor the apostles nor the early church condemned slavery, despite countless opportunities to do so ..."

Not meaning to engage in semantics, but what is slavery but the exploitation of other human beings for financial gain? What is racism but hatred targeted at a person because of skin color?

While several times in Scripture we read that each man will die for his own sin, there can be no denying that the sins of a nation have consequences. Francis appears to ignore Old Testament stories of Israel's sin (read "corporate"), punishment (again, corporate) as well as the subsequent acts of repentance (at the risk of repetitiveness, corporate).

But putting all of that aside, the greatest testament to determining that slavery, and racism, are sins is the conviction of the Holy Spirit. That conviction prompted action by many people Francis has now labeled liberals by association. People such as:

  • William Wilberforce, a Christian member of British Parliament who led a
    20-year fight against slavery.
  • Charles Finney, who was president of Oberlin College, which was once a great Bible-believing college.
  • Jonathan Blanchard, founder and president of the evangelical Wheaton College.
  • John Wesley, whose teachings led to the formation of the Methodist Church.

What often follows the acts of repentance by people such as Wilberforce, Finney and Wesley, not to mention King Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29)?


So it was that just days after Francis' column in The Daily Times, nearly 70,000 men (myself included) gathered in the GeorigaDome for a Promise Keepers rally where racial reconciliation was a key topic, resulting in tears and prayers from a largely conservative, vanilla audience.

In spite of Francis' views, racism is one of Satan's greatest tools against the church. As Tony Evans, an African-American preacher from Dallas, said at the Atlanta rally: "God will not bring revival to only a part of his church -- not black, not white, not class, nor culture. It will only be a Holy Ghost revival."

If "liberalizing" our hearts and souls to the point of repentance is what it takes to bring on revival, Mr. Francis, then start painting this conservative with your liberal brush.

For the Gospel and the Kingdom of God is far more important than any political/theological label created by man.

The situation today, 2005

I think it's time for a Holy Spirit blitz in Blount County ... and it starts with me.

I know: It's time for a Holy Spirit blitz all around the world. But I can't deal with the world right now, so I'll have to settle for me and my community.

Today, in The Meadow, I spun off of a Le0nard Sweet sermon entitled, "I Like Brussel Spouts, But ..." Sweet used the text from Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26, to point out that we Christians say we are in favor of a whole lot of stuff: peace, love, harmony, nonviolence, racial equality, just to name a few. He notes that it reminded him of the following story:

A young girl is eating dinner at a friend's house. Her friend's mother asks if she likes brussels sprouts. "Yes, of course," the girl replied. "I like brussels sprouts."

After the dinner, though, the mother notices that the brussels sprouts remain untouched. "I thought you liked brussels sprouts," the mother asked.

"I do," answered the girl. "But not enough to actually eat them."

The bottom line, Sweet says, is this: Do we like things such as peace, love, harmony, nonviolence, racial equality and such to actually do something about them?

It's a convicting thought.

Is it convicting enough to lead to personal and corporate revival?

If only it were so ...