'The battle for Helm's Deep is over; the battle for Middle Earth has just begun'.

The Two Towers
Thus said Gandalf in the film version of 'The Two Towers' right after the battle of Helm's Deep when the forces of evil tried to overwhelm and destroy the kingdom of Rohan. In my humble opinion 'The Two Towers' in general and the battle of Helm's Deep in particular are among my favorite film watching experiences. The Two Towers further solidified my belief that sci-fi/fantasy sequel's can be better than the first installment of a series and pretty good movies in their own right (compare Star Trek II The Wrath of Kahn, The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Terminator II Judgment Day, Star Trek VIII First Contact (second of the TNG trek movies) and even Spiderman 2. Yes, yes, forget Star Wars attack of the drones, and Matrix re-whatever, you get my point).

In my first few posts I've stated my conviction that the battle for the witness of the Black church has indeed begun. (I recognize that many would wish not to speak of a 'Black' church as opposed to the Christian church in general, but that isn't the focus of my discussions at this point). Within the next 5 to 15 years the average African-American community will feature a dominant theology that is completely different from the type of traditional Black church theology we're accustomed to. I am hopeful that God will use those who comprise the small but growing African-American Reformed movement to supply that theology.

The strategy I suggested for engaging our people for Godís glory and Christís supremacy is to begin systematically planting Biblically driven churches in our communities. These churches will feature Biblically driven, Reformed theology, Biblically driven doxology, Biblically driven ecclesiology, Biblically driven sociology and Biblically driven missiology. My last article, ĎBattle Stations Part 3í spelled out six reasons to pursue a course of Biblically driven Reformed theology, thus this one will detail what that theology is. I suppose many of us are already familiar with the major tenets of Reformed theology, but for those who arenít and in an attempt to draw our community into a theologically based working unity allow me to repeat the wisdom of the saints of old.

Weíll begin with the Ďfive solasí: Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, To God Be the Glory Alone. These were the substantive issues that framed the Reformation and pitted the theology of the reformers against the theology of the Roman Catholic Church. It is my view that these are still the salient theological issues of our time and the ones that will contrast our theology and the churches born of that theology with the new theological liberalism of the Black church. Moreover, these great theological themes along with the doctrines of grace must be the theology that forms the basis of our unity with other African-American Reformed believers whether they are Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran or Pentecostal/Charismatic.

Consequently we must meet the enemy at the point of attack by stating and reasserting the solas as the foundation of our theology. Functionally, we must plant churches that stress that Scripture and Scripture alone forms the basis of our thought, belief and practice. Scripture, not our impression or supposed visions, dreams or new revelations dictate what we believe and how we practice our beliefs. Standing on Scripture alone will mean that we reject any notion that God is communicating any kind of new, authoritative truth that is in any way binding on His people. We are not called to get a Ďnew wordí from God, but to be faithful to the word already given in Scripture. New, Biblically driven Reformed churches will stress our conviction of Scripture alone by having pastors who faithfully preach through Scripture in a systematic, expository manner. They will allow the themes and form of a particular passage determine of the theme and form of their sermons. Additionally, they will focus on preaching through books of the Bible, which will give them ample opportunity to highlight Godís character and nature even as they emphasize the centrality of the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

Emphasizing Christ Alone will enable these new churches to place the weight of our eternal salvation and our peopleís only hope on the shoulders of our sovereign, sinless Savior Jesus Christ. Preaching Christís and His cross will bring us into direct conflict with deviant, perverse neo-liberal theology. For the Christ of Scripture is the historical Jesus, the eternal Son of God who was born of a virgin, suffered under Pontius Pilate and was crucified, dead and buried. On the third day He physically rose from the dead with the same body in which He was buried. His sinless life, vicarious death and powerful resurrection has achieved and secured a salvation from sin for His people. He is the Head of the church and we are bound to follow His agenda, not co-opt Him into following ours. We categorically and vigorously reject any notion that salvation is primarily a deliverance from poverty, sickness or the pathway to a trouble free Ďvictoriousí life. Furthermore we declare emphatically and preach intentionally that Christ and Christ alone is mankindís only hope for a permanent right relationship with God the Father.

Scripture declares that Jesus saves His people by Grace Alone. Salvation is completely a work of the triune God. God the Father chose a people to save before the creation of the world. God the Son lived a perfect life and died a substitutionary death for those people and God the Spirit applies this great salvation to Godís people by giving them new life and bringing them to faith in the finished work of Christ, (see 2 Thes. 2:13-14). Preaching salvation by grace alone frees our churches to put our trust fully in the work of Godís Spirit through the proclamation of the word of God. We are thus liberated from using manmade gimmicks and techniques like altar calls to assure ourselves that God is at work in the hearts of His people. Proclaiming salvation by grace alone also liberates Godís people from captivity to manipulators who deceive them into believing that there is something they can do to assure Godís favor and grace. Our new Biblically driven Reformed churches preach that we are rescued from Godís wrath and given a permanent right standing in Him by grace alone.

This salvation by grace alone, grounded in Christ alone is obtained by faith alone. It doesnít depend on our family values or the fact that weíve been born as apart of a historically oppressed minority. Perhaps more importantly in our context faith is not a special magical or supernatural force that changes our present reality. Nor is the issue how much faith we have or the quality of our faith. Biblical faith for salvation is a conviction of certain eternal realities concerning our sin, Godís holiness, Christís perfect work and Godís response to that work. By declaring that salvation is through faith alone we are affirming that people are justified (i.e. declared to be in a permanent right relationship with God) by believing in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone. There is nothing to be added nor is our faith a manifestation of our spiritual power, but Godís gift to us.

Finally, our new Biblically driven Reformed churches will promote and proclaim that all of life and salvation is to and for Godís glory alone. Godís glory and not our selfish quest for wealth, comfort, convenience, prestige and power is the point, aim and pursuit of our lives. Our churches will highlight Godís glory alone by featuring worship services that focus on praising, adoring, reflecting on and stressing His character and nature as well as the Person, work and supremacy of Jesus Christ. Instead of appealing and catering to the interest of religious consumers these churches will look to make active followers of Jesus Christ. These are disciples who follow our Lord through passionate worship, a diligent holy walk and consistent bold witness. Moreover, they make major and minor life decisions based on how they further the witness of the gospel. Lord willing these churches will be filled with disciples whose chief desire is to see the glory of our Lord covers our communities as the waters cover the sea.

Pastor Lance Lewis