Right Church…Wrong Call…An Uncertain Sound

ichabodLeonard Lovett, Ph. D

 

Monday, October 31, 2016 has proven to be momentous in the life of the Church of God in Christ. The Chairman of the General Assembly, Bishop James Hunt transitioned to his eternal reward, an event that has left most of us numb. His unique spirit, voice and contribution will be greatly missed at a time when special leadership is urgently needed. In the meanwhile, an unrelated prayer tele-conference call scheduled by the Chairman of the Board of Bishops, John Sheard was initiated. It was reported that a strange interruption took place and the tele-conference had to be terminated. My tentative conclusion is that the call was made in the right church at a questionable moment.

  Mr. Chairman, I must ask a daunting question. Why did you call a general prayer meeting one week before the Convocation? It appears ironic that you have served three terms (12 years) and has never called a prayer meeting. Has it dawned on you that a general prayer call will not fix our situation. We need massive repentance. You are reputed to be a leader of a large number of Bishops, but guilty of making the wrong call at the right time. Should you be praying for forgiveness for committing malfeasance/misfeasance in the case of the Bishop from New Mexico who was given a pass and is bringing reproach to the name of God and His Church? God cannot be mocked. You have given an uncertain sound through your leadership style. Our church needs stability and trusted leadership.

“If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (KJV) “And if the army bugler doesn’t play the right notes, how will the soldiers know that they are being called to battle?” (LBV)

     Mr. Chairman, a call for repentance in a church where holiness has been de-railed would bring pleasure to God. Once repentance (Greek metanoia)- “change of heart, change of mind and change of direction” takes place, as leaders you will begin to demand justice. Throughout the Old Testament, the giving of sacrifices-burnt offerings was linked to the doing of justice. If you are praying without meting justice, it is possible that your prayer can become sin. Proverbs 28: 9– “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” (KJV) –“God doesn’t listen to the prayers of those who flout the law.” (LBV)  You may not like the mail carrier, but please read the mail. If you indict some people in the Board of Bishops supported by cronies, and allow people who are guilty of flagrant sins that demean and destroy people to walk free for political reasons, you will not escape the wrath of God. Your title, prestige and money means nothing in the face of almighty God. Hear God address this kind of unlawful behavior. Amos 5:21 “I hate your show and pretense…your hypocrisy of honoring me with your religious feasts and solemn assemblies…I will not look at your offerings of peace…away with your hymns of praise, they are mere noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is…I want to see a mighty flood of justice…a torrent of doing good.”  Apart from justice, you can cancel the next prayer tele-conference.

           The shelf behind the door, The shelf behind the door,
           Tear it down and throw it out, Don’t use it anymore;
           For Jesus wants His Temple clean, From ceiling to the floor;
           He even wants that little shelf, That’s hid behind the door. –Author unknown

Remember, Anyone with charges pending regardless of title, name or rank should not be seeking a national office. We must follow our Constitution.!!!

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WHEN GOD WALKS OUT

                       ichabod2   Leonard Lovett, Ph.D

November 2016

 

I Samuel 3: 21  “And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh…for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” The text implies that God had been away.

Moffatt translates this verse to read: “Once more the Eternal was to be seen at Shiloh.”

The very context of this passage pre-supposes that there had been gray days through which God had not been seen. The reality is that God was never absent. He was not seen because of the idols that blinded people from seeing the visible and invisible God. In our humanity we create so much stuff such as religiosity and symbolic inauthentic worship that God becomes to us as if He were distant or as if He were dead. The people said to Aaron, “up, make us gods which shall go before us; for as for this Moses….we know not what is become of him.” When Moses died, God withdrew because all they could see was in the personality of their great leader. Three centuries later, God returned. With the arrival of Samuel, the Lord “appeared again at Shiloh.”

  I see a parallel for COGIC. I am opposed to this divisive, Godless political system of campaigning, borrowed from other denominations that has prevented us from experiencing the fellowship with each other and the fullness of the Holy Ghost. Will the Lord appear again in COGIC?  Our feigned worship consisting of fake “praise breaks” and multiple fads will not bring God back. You can have so many meetings that you can meet yourself coming from meetings, but that will not bring God back. In fact meetings have become the perfect place to “avoid God.” Our meetings have become “fund raising and social gatherings” with little or no room to celebrate the God who created us. The text supports the premise that God walked out for three centuries after the death of Moses and gave the people what they asked for until they came to understand who they really needed.

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Why Bishop Blake Must Take His Own Medicine

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Leonard Lovett, Ph.D

Dear COGIC Family:

In 1999, a General Board Member testified under oath in Orlando Florida, on behalf of Superintendent D. Hutchins, in a case against then presiding Bishop CD Owens. “I testified that the presiding bishop was not like the Pope, because the Pope is elected for life, and the presiding bishop is elected for four years… The one responsible for upholding the Constitution of the Church is the foremost transgressor thereof. The one responsible for providing protection of the various constitutional entities of the church is the greatest threat to their existence and well being.” That General Board Member in 1999 was our present Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake. In his diatribe against Bishop Owens, Bishop Blake mentioned the Constitution sixteen (16) times.  Has Bishop Blake changed his mind in seventeen (17) years or is this a case of selective amnesia? I radically believe with conviction that it is time for Bishop Blake to “take his own medicine.”  This is about the violation of our Constitution. Bishop Blake excoriated Bishop Owens for violating the Constitution and not administering the church according to guidelines.  He opted for a church where people will feel safe. This document provoked Bishop Owens to overreact and cost him the election of 2000. It  all started because of Bishop Blake’s feigned undying loyalty to upholding the Constitution of the Church of God in Christ.  We feel the same commitment and loyalty you demonstrated and are compelled to challenge current leadership to uphold our Constitution without a double standard. (excerpt from How Long this Madness/ aka Why I Stood?) Why are we afraid to hold leadership accountable?

Bishop Blake likened the return of JD Ellis recently to a prodigal coming back home. However, a son does not return and lead the household as an advisor to the leader.  Bishop Blake is the only Presiding Bishop beside Bishop JO Patterson to receive Ellis. The presence of JD Ellis holding dual membership as head of an Apostolic Church and COGIC should be an embarrassment to every credential holder in the General Assembly. Our founding Chief Apostle Bishop C.H. Mason encountered the “Jesus Only” controversy in his day and openly challenged it. Bishop Blake appears to be accommodating this heresy. JD Ellis should have never been appointed Chief of Chaplain and Vetting Officer for the Church with access to the Pentagon without proper vetting protocol. Currently, if JD Ellis is charged with impersonation of a military officer or any other offense, our leadership will also be held accountable.

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We Do Not Belong to COGIC…COGIC SHOULD BELONG TO US

October 14, 2016
Leonard Lovett, Ph. D

man-in-bondage_edited-2-1“Be a member of this group or that denomination, but do not belong to it…belong to Christ. The group or denomination belongs to you; you do not belong to it.”  ESJ-  The Way. Brothers and Sisters in the faith the time has come to make this declaration clear without getting it twisted. We should belong to Jesus Christ, the Lord of the church as servants of a “Kingdom that not only will not be shaken, but cannot be shaken.” Hebrews 11: 28. A Bishop recently told me that a Minister from another denomination told him that “they used to look up to us for inspiration and guidance…unfortunately they are now looking at us on the internet with shame.”  The admonition quoted above are the words of the late Eli Stanley Jones, United Methodist Missionary to India for over a half century. Unfortunately, COGIC has become hostage to a leadership that has misled us  for quite sometime.  I am prepared to take the risk of exposing my own struggles and inadequacies in order to rescue us from a denomination that has become increasingly dictatorial and woefully authoritarian. Where are the so-called prophetic voices? They are either bought out, scared, silent or doing fundraisers called Revivals.

    By the way I have been warned to do an Elijah and go hide in a cave until the crisis pass over. In addition to being a child of the King I have too much of my father’s DNA with Cherokee Nation on my mother’s side. A relative told me that whatever my grandfather did to the slave-master they are still looking for him.  I buried cowardice decades ago. I learned from the best. Bishop Richard Eugene Ranger from Ft. Worth Texas was one of my mentors. I recently warned that Armageddon has come to COGIC. Some of our leaders not only have failed to protect us from scandal, but have brought “reproach” upon the name of our God who alone is holy.  Leadership is pre-occupied with getting re-elected for another term. I read somewhere that “we become whatever we worship.”  Idolatry is at the center of our Church. There have been no calls for prayer and fasting for God to intervene.  Traditional calls for prayer will not work at this time.

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IS GOD SUING COGIC?

Leonard Lovett, Ph.D

My routine begins around 5:00 AM with prayer for my family, the church and the nation.  Several months ago I was worried about the future of the church. God challenged me with a question: “what is that in your hand?”…Only a pen. God said “use it.” And to sanctify myself before writing so that no flesh would glory in His sight. When I am at the computer, I can feel the strong presence of the Lord, Bishop CH Mason, Mother Roberson, Coffey, Bishop Jones, Crouch, Clemmons Dr. Mallory, et.al. encouraging me in spirit to press on. I struggled several days for a title. Then, I heard the Lord say through Micah 6: 2, that “He had a controversy (KJV), accusation, indictment (MLV), case, complaint (LBV) against His people. And He will prosecute them to the fullest and let the mountains and hills be called to witness the complaint.”  Finally, I am liberated. I have no “axe to grind” “no enemies to punish” and “no friends to reward.” My writing is based on difficult research and I do not publish hearsay.

 I understand that in a real sense every civil court is a court of last resort because neither party would be there if there was any other way to resolve the dispute or controversy. Once a plaintiff files a suit and the defendant understands that the plaintiff is really serious, a compromise could save time and court costs. A lawyer should only be contacted when either party feels that there is no other remedy for a wrong.  Before a lawyer is retained one must prepare for the case. Documentation must be assembled, facts must be verifiable, etc. With enough evidence a complaint (or petition) describing the circumstances will be drawn up, naming the defendant.  A summons is issued, the decision is made to negotiate or proceed. The decision is made on either a jury or a sitting judge. Sworn depositions (statements relative to the case) will usually be taken by both attorneys are given under oath. Both attorneys prepare a trial memorandum stating their view of the the case citing relevant laws, precedents, statutes etc. keeping in mind the appeals court.  A subpoena is issued commanding the witness to appear at the trial in order to give testimony. The final ruling is made by the judge.

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Is Blake Nearing His Waterloo?

September 2016

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Let’s suppose it is a gorgeous “Indian Summer” day and the song of praise with an assist by the organist has just been sung at Sunday morning worship.  Without warning a group of men walk into your sanctuary displaying a letter invoking authority from Presiding Bishop Blake stating that they were sent to oust you. Based on eyewitness accounts that is precisely what happened. After listening with tears to the video tape account of Supt. Milton L. Joyner regarding the unlawful intrusion of the Pacific Mt. Olive COGIC by a goon squad of so-called ministers, I am still stunned. They indicated that they were from the (Metropolitan Jurisdiction of Southern California-Bishop J.B Hackworth) acting at the behest of Presiding Bishop C.E. Blake.  I had to shake myself to ask whether this was a scene from a Mafia movie.  They came to ransack and vandalize church property several times prior to this unfortunate event. Every card carrying credential holder in COGIC (Church of God in Christ) should either be up in arms, cautious or half scared about this kind of behavior. If left unaddressed you could be next. What about nearly forty thousand dollars ($40,000.00) of property damage incurred at Pacific Mt. Olive? After interviewing Supt. Joyner, I concluded that he is a genuine committed servant of God. I am not called to “fix the church” but to “pierce the darkness” and hold leadership accountable by communicating in compelling language what a Holiness-Pentecostal church committed to the Kingdom agenda should look like. In Pauline language, “I am put here for the defense of the Gospel.”

  (Bishop C.E. Blake –the following excerpts are from How Long this Madness/ Why I Stood -1999 in defense of Derrick Hutchins in the Orlando case versus the late Presiding Bishop CD. Owens)


“The presiding bishop has not permitted the General Board to exercise the oversight and governance of the church stipulated by the constitution.” Time and time again he makes decisions and implements without consulting with or receiving the approval of the General Board.” –C.E. Blake

“The one responsible for upholding the constitution of the church is the foremost transgressor thereof. The one responsible for providing protection of the various constitutional entities of the church is the greatest threat to their existence and well being.”

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Dr. Lovett’s Response To Dr. Wayne Grudem

 

September 15, 2016

Dear Wayne,

May I express my gratitude for your cryptic and thoughtful response to my lengthy introduction of this conversation, titled, Dear Trump’s Theologian. Here are my reflections and thoughts on your response. Is your response the Conservative response or a Trump response? Are you elaborating on what you would hope Trump should be stating as Conservatives ideals in contrast to what he is really saying? It appears to be the former.

  1. Gender Views: It is refreshing to know as a Conservative that you are not necessarily influenced by gender in your opposition to Hillary Clinton. That would be anti-biblical since in Christ race, ethnicity and gender are no longer factors in determining our vocation under His Lordship.
  2. Immigration: After citing the oppression of women and gays in several Muslim nations to support Trump’s call to temporarily ban Middle Eastern immigrants from entering the country, LGBT leaders accused him of fear mongering after a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Trump suggests that there are no gay Muslim immigrants. [Washington Post –Trump Sticking to “us vs. them” in outreach- Blacks Women Pitted Against Migrants– by Jose A. DelReal- Tue. August 30, 2016] It appears that both candidates believe in control of one’s borders. The issue is how ought such control be administered given that America is no longer a “melting pot” but rather a “salad bowl.” In our pluralistic nation one is not forced to be American in order to be accepted or to survive. Open borders with poor control will lead to chaos. Driving every conceivable illegal person out and allowing them to return via new screening criteria may reveal our notions of fairness in a nation conceived in liberty and justice for all. Will a Trump Wall deny people who truly want to improve their lot and live a qualitative life without fear or unnecessary restraints, equal access and opportunity?

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Dr Wayne Grudems Response

August 30, 2016

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters who follow the Agora web/blog:

 

I am delighted to share a response from Dr. Wayne Grudem to my brief article, titled “Dear Trump’s Theologian” a few weeks ago. Wayne is professor of theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona and holds a doctorate in New Testament. His book, Politics-According to the Bible: A comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scriptures, Zondervan, 2010 is a must read for individuals who are interested in a perspective by a well versed Conservative theologian who is at the forefront of modern thought. Our conversation was initiated when he wrote a recent article titled, “Why Donald Trump is a Morally Good Choice for the Presidency of the United States.”

     My understanding is that Grudem’s statement represents his views and not that of the Seminary where he teaches. Likewise, I do not represent my denomination, and does not endorse either candidate. My response will be posted next week to the Wayne’s statement below. Our conversation clearly demonstrates that we can have civil discourse without ranting and name-calling which is often the case in so many exchanges. I hold a doctorate in Ethics from Emory University with one of the minor core areas being Politics and Theology. For several years I taught a graduate course in Theology of Politics both at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena and Oral Roberts University School of Theology and World Missions. My primary mentor during my early training in ethics was the late Dr. Kenneth (Snuffy) Smith, Professor of Ethics, Crozer Theological Seminary (Martin Luther King, Jr. primary mentor). At the doctoral level my primary influences were , Dr. Theodore Runyon, Systematic Theology and Dr. Theodore Weber (Just War Ethical Theorist) at Emory’s Candler Graduate School of Theology. Our conversation in our limited time frame is informed though we do not claim to be experts in politics.

Read Dr. Grudems Response

DEAR TRUMP’S THEOLOGIAN

:                                                     August 16, 2016

                  Leonard Lovett, Ph. D

 

Dear Wayne (or, if you prefer, The Reverend Dr. Grudem):

    We have never met in person, though I visit Phoenix once a year to preach for a vibrant, thriving ministry. I have never formally been invited to Phoenix Seminary, I have stopped by anonymously to visit a class or two and enjoyed the experience. I am known in some circles to be a preacher and teacher of ministers over several decades. While I am somewhat in awe of your bearing the burden of breaking the news of Why Voting for Donald Trump is a Morally Good Choice (see Townhall, July 28, 2016), it is very interesting. While we bear a similar interest in ethics and theology, I would welcome the opportunity to talk theo-ethical political shop with you. Given the seriousness of this forthcoming presidential election, it appears you’ve got your hands full after your published stance.

      Wayne, you raised several valid points as to the value of voting for a flawed candidate if that person can do the most good for the nation. You state that you even spoke against Donald trump at a Pastors Conference but has gone full circle and has endorsed him as a good moral choice. You clearly reject the “Boy Scout Approach” to politics, i.e. a candidate should be morally pure in order to lead the nation. A purist may not necessarily make a good President. In the last six decades we had several presidents who were flawed morally but whose political accomplishment were profound and shaped the future of our nation. Then you come back and employ a hermeneutic of suspicion when you view Donald as the best candidate and view Hillary as evil. Are you doing this on the basis of your strong belief about gender issues? Does Donald’s misogynistic views carry weighty implications for the presidency in a pluralistic nation? Wayne, remember, you must also overlook Hillary’s flaws the same as you do Donald’s if she is just as qualified for the task.  Wayne I am a Black African-American theologian-ethicist who gets nervous when any proposed leader speaks loudly about walls to keep people out and further denigration of persons who are already here because of their religious beliefs. I have bad dreams of a 450 year sojourn in this nation of bondage and slavery where voter registration is still being tampered with. Yet Donald promises not to change because he is representative of scores of people who are stymied by the same old tactics that have been employed by Conservatives. In the last two Presidential elections it was Marriage and Abortion. This time Conservatives cannot trust a candidate who cannot keep her email server intact, Therefore! Therefore! Therefore!

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A RADICAL CALL TO UNITY

                                                                               Leonard Lovett, Ph. D

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     Uniformity is not necessarily unity…please do not get them twisted.  Wearing the same religious garb or uniform is merely uniformity. Unity evolves from within. Unity must be sought after and desired if it is to be realized within the Body of Christ and our nation. It is a totality of oneness derived from the human spirit. With such a totality there can even be unity in diversity. However, uniformity is like a forced march…one obeys because of rules, pressure and compulsion. Authentic unity takes place when we respect each other for who we are and provide an opportunity for respectful dialogue to hear what the Spirit is saying through each of us. As a denomination we are facing the end of an era. An era is a distinct period of history with a particular feature or characteristic. The new era appears to be pointing to the need for a shift in leadership. The leadership styles of the past will not fit the new emerging challenges of the present. Respectfully, no single leader will successfully lead our denomination apart from a radical shift in style. One does not pour new wine in old wineskins according to Jesus. The ferment of the new wine is too strong for old wineskins. New wineskins are needed.  Radical new models of leadership are needed for our present situation.

     Hopefully, the denomination will transition to term limits in response to a rallying cry from our COGIC base constituency for same. Several Traditional mainline Black denominations have successfully transitioned to term limits without major upheaval.  When leaders are elected indefinitely they begin to substitute their limited authority for spiritual power. Lord Acton was correct – “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”   They argue that when leaders remain in office too long they often become selfish, self-serving and greedy. They confuse their term of office as a personal possession and not a great opportunity to serve God’s people through quality leadership.  Our founding Chief Apostle Bishop CH Mason was never caught up in unnecessary power struggles, taking sides and being divisive. He was never accused of absolute power and a lustful greed for money.

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