The Gospel (Coalition) and Ferguson

There is an interesting contrast of perspectives on happenings in Ferguson over at The Gospel Coalition. I am not sure “contrast” is strong enough; nor if “interesting” is clear enough; but nonetheless…

Thabiti Anyabwile has had several posts on the death of Michael Brown and its aftermath.

Voddie Baucham contributed some thoughts published on Wednesday.

These two men have radically different views on what has been happening in Ferguson, and what should be done in the aftermath. Thabiti has already put forth a rebuttal of Voddie’s arguments.

In a moment this will sound contradictory, but I am not writing to take a “side” in the debate: even though I am in pretty much full agreement with one of them. I am not writing to take a side, but I think a side has to be taken.

I realize the ethos of TGC is that we are in agreement on the gospel, while we may disagree about “lesser” matters. Even as it is pretty much recognized that one only gets cache in said Coalition if he has a Calvinistic soteriology and non-Dispensational ecclesiology/eschatology.

Agreeing on the gospel is all well and good, but the gospel demands discrimination. Given the larger subject matter here, “discrimination” risks being incendiary; that is not my intent though.

The noun “gospel” occurs more times in the little book of Philippians more than in any other New Testament book except Romans. The “big center” of the book (1:27-4:9) is really all about living a citizen worthy of the gospel-kingdom. At both the beginning and end of the book, believers are confronted with the truth that the gospel changes our minds (1:9-11; 4:8-9). The gospel changes what we think about; how we think; how we distinguish/discern/discriminate; how we live.

It is good for brothers to come together and discuss their differences. Some differences are long-lived. Justin Martyr speaks of differing eschatological viewpoints even in his day. Some differences are going to last until the Great Day. But even in these agreeable disagreements, someone is wrong. Even if we don’t yet know who it is. Other disagreements can and should be hashed out.

The opinions of Anyabwile and Baucham are opposed to one another. I think Anyabile’s reply makes that unmistakable. I think these men understand they have different viewpoints- with little middle ground. They both might be wrong, one might be right, but both are not and cannot be right.

So I am not sure what TGC is hoping to achieve by presenting both viewpoints without further comment. The gospel indeed holds Thabiti and Voddie together in a bond that can never be broken. But that same gospel demands that their opposing views by examined in all love, knowledge, and discernment so that what is excellent may be recognized.

Are we all to just pick our side?

Or can the gospel bring us together?

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2 thoughts on “The Gospel (Coalition) and Ferguson

  1. I also wondered what TGC readers are supposed to make of the contrast between the two writers on the same site. It seems to me that Thabiti has clearly done more thinking and reading on the topic; that’s one reason I lean his direction—not that Baucham had nothing worthwhile to say.

    Perhaps Christians are indeed allowed to differ here if they’re not differing over their read of the Bible but over their read of the situation (Frame’s “situational perspective”). We’re obligated to think truly about the world as much as we can by God’s grace, but we’re limited and fallen beings who have trouble taking in all the necessary information on a complex issue like this one.

  2. Thanks Mark. Truth be told, I’m more prone to take Voddie’s side. I don’t know how much reading he has done, but anecdotally he has certainly experienced much of all of this as an insider. There may be be systemic problems, but I don’t think the solution is a better system. But I value your opinion and insight since I know you carry on an urban ministry. Everyone definitely needs to hear one another. I just think the Michael Brown case is a very poor one to put forth as an example of injustice.

    BTW, your post on the Nude Beach Principle was outstanding. A pantheon post!

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