Tag Archives: Thabiti Anyabwile

The Piety of Lemuel Haynes edited by Thabiti M. Anyabwile

Anyabwile, Thabiti M. May We Meet in the Heavenly World: The Piety of Lemuel Haynes. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2009. 132 pp. $10.00. Purchase at Westminster Books for $7.00.

Introduction

I have written before on the must read series Profiles in Reformed Spirituality. This particular volume is edited by Thabiti Anyabwile, Pastor First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands (he hates the beach!). Thabiti has written quite a bit recently regarding African-Americans in the pastorate. In his writings, he has focused primarily on Lemuel Haynes, a New England preacher who lived from 1753-1833.

Summary/Review

In this short book, Thabiti introduces this “unsung hero of the Christian Faith.” Lemuel preached in the generation following the First Great Awakening (1740-1742). He was indentured to a family at the age of five months and lived with them until he was 21 years old. He began his ministry at the age of 27 and preached until his death in 1863.

He was most known for God’s presence, providence,and power being foremost in his life and preaching. He was also known to have a sense of humor that would bring laughter to just about anyone. We finally see how his sense of God’s presence led him to lead his family in worship each night.

In the snippets of sermons selected by Anyabwile we learn about a pastor who took his charge seriously. Moreover, we learn of a man who thought much of death, not only in his own life, but in the lives of everyone he would talk with or preach to. Often times, he would challenge his listeners that many of them would not be here the next time they meet. You gather a deep sense of the weight Lemuel felt in preaching and sharing the gospel with anyone who would listen.

I have never read anything about Lemuel Haynes (I have the books by Thabiti, but have not been able to read them, yet!). This short introductory biography is a wonderful introduction to a black pastor who was deeply influenced by the “giants” as are many today. It is interesting to read his take on ministers in government or his thought on God’s judgment on congregations regarding the death of pastors.

Recommendation

If you have never heard of Lemuel Haynes, you need to pick up a copy of May We Meet in the Heavenly Places. It is a quick read but one that will have an impact on your ministry and/or walk with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are indebted to Thabiti’s research on Lemuel and making him once again accessible to the many (especially black preachers) wanting an example of pious living and preaching from America’s early history.

Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology: Together For the Gospel

Dever, Mark, J. Ligon Duncan III, R. Albert Mohler Jr., C.J. Mahaney. Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 192 pp. $21.99. Purchase from Westminster for $14.51.

Introduction

Do these men need any introduction to the evangelical community? The men who comprise the Together for the Gospel “movement” are Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, and C.J. Mahaney. Contributors include Thabiti M. Anyabwile, John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul. Every two years, since 2006, these men have gathered in Louisville, Ky to exhort and challenge pastors and Christians to stand together for the gospel. In other words, be the unity that is called for in Scripture despite denominational “walls.”

Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology was the theme for 2008. This book is an adaptation of the messages presented at that three day conference. The audio can be downloaded and listened to here for free.

Summary

Beginning with the necessity of sound doctrine, Ligon Duncan offers an apologetic for the need of biblical doctrine to be taught on a regular basis. In what I thought was the best message of the conference, Thabiti discusses what it means to bear the image of God and how we, as Christians, need to be more explicit in doing. John MacArthur discusses the inability of the sinner to repent apart from the grace of God.

Mark Dever looks at five common mistakes from the pulpit by pastors trying to “improve” the gospel. R.C. Sproul looks at a controversial subject; i.e., the curse motif of the atonement–I thought the second best message of the conference. Al Mohler takes an academic look at the rejection of substitutionary atonement in recent years. Piper looks to the book of Hebrews to discuss how Christ will create in us a radical sacrifice. C.J. Mahaney concludes with the sustaining of the pastor’s soul–yet another quality message.

Review/Recommendation

Obviously, the charge can be brought against these men that they are all Calvinists. While that may be true, that does not mean that they are arguing against non-calvinists. Rather, they are showing how these doctrines give them an urgency to sharing the gospel in thought, word, and deed. I liked C.J. Mahaney’s comment at the conference when asked about the heresy of hyper-calvinism. His response was something along the lines of I thought hyper calvinism was just someone who got really excited about the gospel!

For those who disagree with these doctrines, then MacArthur’s chapter will not be for you. However, these messages will encourage your soul and exhort you to diligent study of the Scriptures.

I would recommend this book to anyone in pastoral ministry. As I stated earlier, you can download the messages for free and listen to them. Having attended the conference (and taking notes), I have found that reading the book is better for me as it allows me to interact a bit more with my thoughts and the thoughts of the speaker.

Finally, a reading (or listening) of Mahaney’s chapter on sustaining the pastor’s soul is a must for all in the ministry as well as those who attend church on a regular basis. Pastoral care is often not mentioned and taken for granted by many. Mahaney helps to change that.

What is a Healthy Church Member? by Thabiti M. Anyabwile

Anyabwile, Thabiti M.  What is a Healthy Church Member.  Wheaton:  Crossway Books, 2008.  117 pp.  $12.99.

healthy church member book

I would consider this book to be the third book in an ongoing series about a healthy church from IX Marks ministry located in Washington, DC.  The first book was entitled 9 Marks of a Healthy Church and the second book was What is a Healthy Church. Thabiti (thu-bee-tee) Anyabwile (onya-bee-wee-l-a) seeks to answer the next logical question from these first two books in What is a Healthy Church Member.

Thabiti is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman Islands.  Before you might think that that is an awesome place to be called to pastor, I think you should know something.  I have heard from his own lips, at the Band of Bloggers Conference, that he does not like the beach!  It is amazing when God calls you to a place that you would never want to vacation at while everyone else in the known world would love to go there.  For the record, I am with Thabiti on this one…I am not fond of the beach, either!

Summary of What is a Healthy Church Member?

As I said above, this book offers insight into how a church member can best participate in the local church.  Through 10 chapters marks, Thabiti shows how the original 9 marks of the healthy church must be under-girded by the church member.  In his foreward, Mark Dever states that “living the Christian life is not something that we’re supposed to do alone.”  This would include each individual member of the church as well as the church staff and leadership.  Unfortunately, many of us build invisible walls so that no one may help us (or know when to help us) when we need it.

Mark one is expositional listening whereby the church member is encouraged to listen to God’s purpose in His word for that week.  Mark two exhorts the reader to understand biblical theology and its importance in protecting them from heretical beliefs.  The third mark is a challenge to live a life saturated with the gospel.  Marks four and five deal with evangelism and true conversion as integral to our understanding of who is and who is not a true believer in Christ.

Mark six offers an apologetic for making membership in the local church a very serious concern for all believers-especially new believers.  Corrective and formative discipline is the seventh mark while mark eight deals with the spiritual growth of all members.  Mark nine offers ways that the church member can support the staff and leadership of his or her local church.  Mark ten, as a bonus, is that every member should be prayerful.  All of these marks assume that the reader and/or church member is a born-again, regenerate believer.

Critique of What is a Healthy Church Member?

Perhaps the only negative critique of this book is that the author (as well as the series) assumes a particular church polity.  That is made somewhat obvious throughout this book.  However, that does not mean that these “marks” cannot be implemented in other churches that hold to a different church polity.  It may prove somewhat difficult in some cases, but they are all still doable.

The positives are plentiful in this book.  I would begin with the manner in which Thabiti writes the book.  You get the feeling as though you are in a church membership class or a theology of church membership class at a Bible College or seminary.  He anticipates any questions and offers answers to a few objections along the way.

He also offers quite a few suggestions for resources if you would like to read further into one of the marks.  By the way, I love that the chapters are not chapters.  Rather, they are called marks.  It helps to divide them for easier consumption.  This also aids in the studying of the book.  Thabiti included questions after the discussion of each mark entitled “Further Reflections.”  This book could easily be used for a new members class or even a youth group study to help teens understand what is to be expected from them as church members in the local church.

Conclusion

If you have read the previous two books, then this book is a must read.  If you are in the ministry at a local church, then this book is a must read.  I would have multiple copies as a pastor to give away to new members whether you have adopted the IX Marks approach or not.  If the members of the local church would even read snippets of this book and work to incorporate some of what they read, I believe the local church would look more like a body of Christ than what most of them do now.