Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

Reading Reflection

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Jul• 25•12

In case you haven’t been on my blog this week, neither have I! I’m on vacation. This re-run is from back in October. I picked this one because it inspires us to disciple!

Glory Road, Edited by Anthony Carter (Crossway, 2009)

The subtitle to this book is, The Journeys of 10 African-Americans into Reformed Christianity. This is a topic that I have been interested in lately, so I bumped it up a couple of notches in my “books to read” pile. Something about the cover design is appealing to me as well: little mini, black and white computer-generated portraits of these 10 well dressed African-Americans. Softly interrupting the crisp black and white design is a gray line that looks like someone just freely marked it with a pencil, over and under the portraits, until it makes its way to the end of the subtitle—Reformed Christianity. That phrase is circled three times almost with a scribble.

As I opened the book, the dedication hit me as a little strange:

To R.C. Sproul.

When God inspired 1 Corinthians 15:58, we believe he had men like you in mind.

Huh? Here we have 10 African-Americans dedicating their testimonies to a 72-year-old white guy from Pittsburgh? I guess I expected a really cool black name that I couldn’t pronounce, like Thabiti Anyabwile (one of the book’s contributors). You know, some father figure in their life who pointed them to their African-American roots in the Reformed faith. While I wasn’t disappointed later in the book to see these men mentioning some black reformed names they discovered later in their journeys, R.C. is a thread woven through each story in the book—just like the pencil marking on the cover.

That’s when I realized that R.C. Sproul is the Kevin Bacon of Reformed theology. Except I don’t think it takes six degrees of testimony for any of us who discovered the doctrines of grace later in our Christian upbringing to make a connection to a role Sproul played in it. I knew his books were pivotal in my own theological awakening from dispensationalism to reformed, covenantal theology. But I always felt like mine was an isolated experience in which God just happened to use an older, unassuming man to teach me something amazing. Apparently, these African-American guys had some similar experiences to my own.

Now I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that this book is about R.C. Sproul. It certainly isn’t. It is about the sovereignty of God in salvation and sanctification. Through their testimonies, these men share their experiences in mainly black churches, and many of their hard decisions to either leave or try to transform them. Most of these men were viewed by the people they loved and grew up with as turning their backs on their culture and heritage. And yet, they all share a passion to glorify God in teaching their black communities the Reformed faith. But several of these guys noted something that I perceived while reading their stories: this lack of theological substance and preaching of the gospel was not just a black-thing. It is a problem in the evangelical culture as a whole.

This is where Sproul comes in. The plain-speaking, uncharismatic, yet passionate writings and talks of this man have captured all of us who were left hungry for the whole truth of God’s word. He didn’t set out to reach specifically the black community, but the whole schlew of us who grew up in the evangelical backsliding from the doctrines of grace. And so it was for Michael Leach, who stumbled upon a Tabletalk publication while he was ministering to inmates in prison. He was so captivated by its theological content that he took it home with him. Or, Anthony J. Carter, who found a vintage video tape of Sproul while cleaning outdated material from a storage room. It is simply amazing how God has used the writings and teachings of this man. And there are many more like him who these men read or heard in wonder. Maybe those of you who grew up in the Reformed faith take the doctrines of grace for granted. But those of us who hear it for the first time through these materials are so grateful for the treasure we have found. God’s grace in bringing these people to our lives leads us to want to do the same for others.

Even today, black men in the reformed church are a minority. Sometimes I feel the same way about housewife theologians. May God use us all, even if just a portion of how he has used his servant R.C. Sproul, so that others will be blessed by his overwhelming mercy and grace.

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7 Comments

  1. Aimee,

    I just blogged theologically and have referred a young housewife who wants theological friends to your wonderful blog.

    Also, we have black couples in our Reformed church. They are wonderful.

    My pastor doesn’t like us women studying Scripture in a group without an elder there, so we are studying about Puritan women when we get together. When I wrote my spiritual memoir for my seminary counseling class, I had my pastor edit the theological sections.

    Hugs,
    68 year old Carol
    Caregiver for my Alzheimer’s husband

    • Tim says:

      “My pastor doesn’t like us women studying Scripture in a group without an elder there”

      That’s an interesting pastoral position, and although not completely foreign to me it is not one I personally would adopt. Did he say why?

      • Tim, he did not say why, but most likely it is because of the authority of men in our church. However, I hunger for the Word and go through the Bible myself every year.

        Carol

        • Tim says:

          You read it in its entirety each year? Nice! I’ve read through it several times, but only a couple times tried to do it al in a year (once successfully). Usually I’m going at a much slower pace.

          Yay for growing in God’s word!

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Carol, I’m reading a book right now that I think you would find interesting: “Blame It on the Brain,” by Edward Welch. Perhaps you’ve already read it? Anyway, I will of course be writing about it next week, but Welch touches on the spiritual and physical causes and helps for chemical imbalances, brain disorders, and disobedience. He does a whole chapter on Alzheimer’s–of course we can blame that one on the brain, but I love the advice he gives in caring both physically and spiritually for the person suffering.

      • Yes, Aimee. I have read that book and others by Welch in one of my seminary counseling classes. I have written papers for my seminary course work on Alzheimer’s including the authority of an Alzheimer’s husband and the anger of an Alzheimer’s husband. I also blog about this as you see if you click on my name. but all of my writing is not on that blog.

        The LORD is so good to give me HIS peace as I go though this journey of being a caregiver/lovegiver.

        I love reading your blog.
        Hugs,
        Carol

        • Aimee Byrd says:

          Wow, there are so many issues to consider. What a blessing your blog must be to those who care for a loved one suffering with Alzheimer’s!

What do you think?