Sunday, December 17, 2006

Worth It? And Not.

Worth It?
Skimming the web tonight, I came across this rather interesting project: a new dramatized reading of the Bible featuring 250 African-American actors, entertainers, and religious personalities, including: Angela Bassett as Angel of the Lord (okay... that's interesting), Cuba Gooding Jr. as Judas Iscariot, Samuel L. Jackson as God (anybody remeber Samuel as the Scripture quoting hitman in that Tarrentino film?), Bishop T.D. Jakes as Abraham, Blair Underwood as Jesus, Forest Whitaker as Moses, Star Jone Reynolds as Jude, and Eriq La Salle as Pharisee. The Bible Experience looks like it could be worth the purchase price. The clips at the website are engaging, which was the producer's aim... to deliver an audio version of the Bible that rivets. The Charlotte Observer featured an article on the project that gives a good overview. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Not Worth It.
In other news, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Henry J. Lyons, the once-discredited and imprisoned former president of the National Baptist Convention USA, is in the news again. Some of you may recall the situation leading to his arrest and conviction:

Lyons was known as a charismatic preacher who was fond of an opulent lifestyle. His world began to unravel in 1997 when his then-wife, Deborah, set fire to a $700,000 Tierra Verde home the minister owned with another woman. Investigations by authorities uncovered a series of financial improprieties surrounding Lyons and Bernice Edwards, his alleged mistress with whom he owned the Pinellas County house. At the time, Lyons was head of the NBC and pastor of Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church in St. Petersburg.
In 1999, Lyons was convicted on grand theft and racketeering charges and found guilty of bilking the religious organization, its corporate partners and donor charities of millions. He also pleaded guilty to federal charges and was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in state prison.

Lyons is now two years into a new pastorate and a new marriage and seeking the presidency of the Florida state convention of the NBC. The most disheartening thing about the article is not Lyons' bid for the presidency; it's the response coming from some quarters of the convention stressing a shallow, sub-biblical notion of forgiveness. A sad example from an employee of the state convention: "If people know the Bible, they know that most of the people the Lord used were all tainted, but the Lord turned them around. What the devil means for bad, the Lord can turn around and make anything good. That may just be the case with Dr. Lyons."

Maybe. But then again, maybe not. "If people know the Bible," a surer test would be to compare the man to the list of qualifications for leadership in 1 Tim. 3. Let's assume that if he doesn't meet those qualifications, the Lord is not calling him to either the pastorate or convention leadership. To assume otherwise is folly.


Anonymous said...

On the other hand, the dramatized reading of the Bible uses...... the TNIV. The KJV-only crowd would throw a fit, I'm sure, but even those of us who prefer careful, faithful translation are throwing our own mini-fit.

Christopher Axtell said...

"If people know the Bible..." they will also realize that that was a direct misquote of Genesis 50:20. I just couldn't let that go:).

AJCarter said...

Having grown up in the NBC, all I can say is that this is the same ol' soup just warmed over.

The NBC saddly is a denomination where there are some good, solid, theologically sound preachers, but because of the politics of the denomination we rarely, if at all, will see them in leadership.

I continue to feel for my brothers who have to carry the baggage of that denomination. Many are still under the belief that they can change it from the inside. I have long lost hope of that happening. But, for their sakes I hope I am wrong.

What do you think? Is the NBC worth staying in at this point?

Anonymous said...


It would be helpful if you could explain why David could remain King of Israel (notwithstanding his adultery, murder, and disobedient children), but Lyons is forever unfit to be an elder in God's chuch. Thanks.

FellowElder said...


David and elders.... The simplest answer would be that David was a hand-chosen (God's hand!) king of Israel, a theocratic nation unique in the history of redemption. God knew his heart perfectly and described him as a man after his own heart, and promised that the King of kings would never cease to reign on his throne. In other words, David is an utterly unique individual in history pointing forward to Christ.

As an elder myself, I'm nothing like David. And neither is any other elder/pastor. The qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are pretty clear. These things are the "price of admission" for serving in this role... and they're God's standards, not man's. So, when someone fails to meet these standards, we would be wise to agree with God and conclude they're not called, prepared, or suitable for that office. We may forgive them, and should, but forgivness and reinstatement to the office are two entirely different things. This is what seems to be lost in some of the comments in the article re: Lyons.

FellowElder said...

"What do you think? Is the NBC worth staying in at this point?"

I think it's WORTH saving, but it'll take a move of God the likes of which I've not seen in my lifetime! Now, that's not intended as a pessimistic statement. Nothing is too hard for God.

It's possible, and it's worth it, so I suppose folks should stay in the NBC, playing a very critical and reform-minded role. After all, I'm not sure that the other predominantly African-American Baptist conventions are much healthier.

But to see reform of this magnitude, I think we would need a real ground swell of healthy churches to accompany those faithful pastors you mention. It would seem to me that the gospel, if not lost, certainly doesn't appear to be central or even prominent in most of what I see with the NBC. Recovering that would be critical. Reforming the local church would be indispensible. Revival absolutely necessary. It would be worth it, and I'm praying that God would do it even as I write this.

Anonymous said...

FellowElder and/or ajcarter,

Have either of you reached out to the faithful pastors within the NBC? If not, that would be great. If so, what has been the response?