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Posts Tagged ‘Douglas Wilson

Review of Douglas Wilson’s Black and Tan

The American Civil War produced many different things.  The war itself would become the map for Generals to study during World War I and II.  Over 650,000 men would lose their lives in the conflict between the United States and the Confederates States.  But the war itself was over complex issues.  It wasn’t just slavery that was the heart of the Civil War.  That often takes people by surprise.  Had you told Union soldiers in 1862 that they were fighting to free the African slaves, they would have protested.  After all, even President Lincoln had said the issue of the War was the Union and to bring the states in rebellion back under Federal control.  Further, Lincoln was a loyal Whig and he wanted to see the Federal Government increase its role in American life.  The South wanted nothing of the Feds in their business.  The South wanted to live free.

This takes us to the heart of this book, written by Douglas Wilson.  Wilson looks at race relations in the United States and he shows how much of our failures in regard to race stem from the Civil War itself.  Wilson points out that the South argued for slavery based on the Bible.  The North argued against slavery based on their emotions.  Both the North and the South were racists and even Lincoln himself believed in the superiority of the white race (as did Europeans).  What both Europe and America failed to see was that Christianity is what makes nations great and not race.  As Asia is embracing the gospel and Europe is rejecting the gospel, the gospel will produce incredible results for Asians.  This was true of “Christian” Europe and “Christian” America before they both began to reject the gospel and now both Europe and the United States are falling apart.  The Civil War, writes Wilson, was the wrath of God against sin.  The South was right to argue for biblical slavery (not based on racism) but upon biblical masters and biblical slaves.  Where the gospel is preached, slavery dies.  Yet the abolitionist movement argued that slavery itself was wrong.  Southern slavery was not wrong itself (though it was practiced wrong and was evil in some cases) but what was wrong was racism.  Since the Civil War did not address the sin of racism, we are still facing the problems from the Civil War to this day.

Furthermore, the modern anti-abortion movement must preach the Word of God to see transformation.  To merely oppose abortion while not calling for the salvation of the abortion doctors or the women involved in abortions will not result in a transformed culture.  The gospel must be the focus and not merely ending abortion.  The abolitionists wanted to end slavery but they had to set aside the gospel to do so since the Bible didn’t forbid slavery but it did forbid racism.

Contrary to some reports, Wilson is not a Neo-Confederate.  He believes that slavery (while very evil in some cases) was not the issue.  Racism was.  Further, Reconstruction of the South caused the racism of the Jim Crow era.  He points out two main facts often ignored by modern historians regarding the South.  First, over 40,000 African-Americans served the Confederacy during the Civil War.  Some died alongside their Southern rebels in war.  Even abolitionist Frederick Douglas acknowledged that African-Americans were fighting for the South during the Civil War.  Why?  Some blacks were plantation owners themselves and knew that a Northern victory would end their plantations (and it did).  Some fought to preserve their lives.  They enjoyed their situations.  Very few were forced to fight.  Secondly, Wilson points out that whites reacted to blacks taking over their lands following the Civil War (forced by the Feds) with racism.  The rise of the KKK comes from the Reconstruction era.  Even men such as General Sherman acknowledged the failure of Reconstruction in the South and viewed it as a failure.

So what is the point of this book?  Is it to defend the South?  Is it to promote slavery as a good thing?  Not at all.  Wilson is simply pointing out that racism is the heart of the issue.  The gospel alone deals with the heart of racism, our sinful hearts.  The cure for racism is not forced integration or even a Civil War in which millions were affected.  The cure for racism is the blood of Jesus that unites the saints of God (Ephesians 2:14-15).  The gospel makes us one (Galatians 3:26-29).  The gospel can cleanse our hearts from sin and make us new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The gospel, and not the Civil War, is what will transform race relations both in the United States and around the world.  In Christ, whites can appreciate blacks and blacks can appreciate Hispanics and Hispanics can appreciate Japanese.  Jesus makes us one (John 17:20-23).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/21/2013 at 9:46 PM

History and the Bible

I am convinced that history and the Bible go hand in hand.  I have been reading Doug Wilson’s excellent book, Black & Tan: A Collection of Essays and Excursions on Slavery, Culture War, and Scripture in America.  The book focuses on the history of race in the United States.  I enjoy Dr. Wilson’s writing style, humor, and honesty.

In the beginning of the book, Wilson states that all preachers should be amateur historians.  I agree.  His reason is that we learn from history.  He asks questions like, “What is a Wesleyan?” or “What makes us separate from Rome?” or “Why do some churches go down front to be saved while others do not?”  He believes the answers are found in history.  One can make a defense from the Bible but we learn from history where we come from and why we are what we are.  He also points to the fact that the Bible is a history book.  The main focus of the Bible is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ which was a historical event that transformed history forever.  Our love for Jesus begins with an event that happened in time and space.  Christianity finds its power not from the teachings of Jesus primarily but from a historical event, His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-11, 17).  Peter likewise states in 2 Peter 1:16-21 that his focus begins in history with the Lord Jesus and His fulfillment of prophetic Scripture.  This took place in history so history must be important.

I love history.  Always have.  Last week my family and I ventured down to Charleston, SC (which is only about a 2 hour drive for us).  We spent most of our time at Sullivan’s Island which is where Fort Moultrie is.  Fort Moultrie was not just the site of the famous firing on Fort Sumter that launched the American Civil War in April 1861.  Fort Moultrie saw action and use in every American war until it was officially closed by the US Army in 1947.  We visited the site and found not just information about the Civil War but also how the Fort was used during WWII to help defend the Charleston harbor from German U-boats.  History has a way of coming alive when you visit famous sites such as Fort Moultrie or Fort Sumter or Plymouth rock in Massachusetts.  I have also visited several Civil War sites including Gettysburg, First Bull Run, and Montgomery.  I have visited Washington DC, Boston, New York City, Atlanta, and several other historical cities.  I love to read history but I love to see history.

When it comes to theology, history is important.  As Wilson stated above, how can we understand many of our denominations without studying revivals or divisions from whence they came.  I have been also reading Frank Bartleman’s account of the Azusa Street revival.  His account helps one to understand where the Pentecostals came from and why they believe what they believe.  When one looks at the various types of church government in the evangelical church such as elder led in the Presbyterian church or congregational led in the Baptist church, one need only look at where these movements came from and you’ll see that they often reflect the culture that they came from.

History informs us not just about movements but also practices.  From the altar call to the seeker movement, these are found in history and reflect the cultures in which they came from.  Even movements such as the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) find their roots in history.  They came forth during a time in American history when modernity was gripping the church.  The IFB is a reactionary movement that finds its roots in the early 20th century when Darwinian evolution and prohibition were sweeping the nation.  Men such as Billy Sunday became the leaders of the IFB along with men such as J. Frank Norris and William Jennings Bryant.  Sunday reflected the early IFB rages against modernity.  All of this comes from history and when you study this time period, you begin to see why the IFB is like it is today.  Why does, for example, the IFB practice what they call “biblical separation“?  History helps you to know.

I encourage you read and study history.  You’ll learn where you came from in the process.  You’ll learn about your culture and about your own values.  You’ll learn much about the Church and why she is the way that she is.  You’ll learn that all of history ultimately belongs to God who rules over history.  As Wilson points out about race issues, in Christ we begin to see that blacks are helpful to whites and whites are helpful to blacks but this must begin with Christ and Christ must be our focus.  Wilson believes, and I do too, that race cannot be helped or healed by history because history is full of hypocrisy on both sides but in Christ, we can begin to redeem history and show the world that Jesus makes all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17) and that in Jesus Christ, we are all one (Galatians 3:26-29).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/13/2013 at 4:11 PM

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