Lecture in theology: Race and the promise of the gospel

Jonah Losh, staff writer

Courtesy of John Mark Yeats.

Courtesy of John Mark Yeats.

On March 20, 2018, the North Greenville University College of Christian Studies will be hosting its second annual Lecture in Theology and Culture at 7 p.m. in the Hayes Ministry Center. The guest speaker John Mark Yeats of Missouri will speak on “Race and the Promise of the Gospel: Why Racial Reconciliation and Diversity in our Congregations is a Gospel Mandate.”

Yeats serves as the dean of students and associate professor of church history at the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and College in Kansas City, Mo. He received his Ph.D. in church history from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, as well as earning degrees from Southern Seminary, Criswell College and Oxford University.

So “why is a white guy talking about race?” he asked.

Yeats is passionate about racial issues, especially since all four of his children are adopted. This is the family that God gave us, he said, “and it has forced us to wrestle with the challenging issues regarding race.”

Every generation we allow racism to continue, we lose hope for change.

To start with, every person identifies with a “tribe," he said. After segregating into tribes, the next logical thought is: My tribe, my people, are black—Hispanic—white—Asian—and that’s all the people I need to be worried about.

“But this builds walls,” Yeats stated. “And as Christians walls are forbidden.” We are at a “crisis moment” to speak the Gospel; Jesus came to redeem humanity—not a people group or a certain nation, but the entirety of humanity. Many of the church fathers were African; one of the first believers was Ethiopian. "And that is mind-blowing.”

This lecture will serve to break down forbidden walls, because everything changes with Christ:

“So what are we doing to reflect those changes?” Yeats questioned.

The Yeats family. Courtesy of John Mark Yeats.

The Yeats family. Courtesy of John Mark Yeats.

One of the base verses for the lecture will come from Ephesians 3:10: “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known…” (NIV)

Frankie Melton, assistant professor of Christian Studies at NGU, stated that the purpose of the theology lectures is to expose the student body to deeper theology by presenting a “healthy” atmosphere in which to tackle cultural issues. They are to offer a safe, Christian context that students can “go beyond the salvation message” and learn how to approach pressing current events with a biblical worldview.

Melton also said that the concepts presented in this lecture are especially important for people in the South to consider. Most of the time we don’t realize how great of an impact our histories still have on us.

“But we are still affected every day,” he stated.

Yeats believes that the March 20 lecture will create a context where we can understand the narrative of Scripture about race, “so that we can wrestle with the complex issues of our day.” It will build a framework for “helpful and hopeful” conversations.

“It’s hard to have a conversation today, because we are constantly shouting down the other side.” We refuse to think about the concepts of race. Often we think, I don’t see race, I see myself as ‘colorblind’. That is dangerous, because it means we don’t understand the true beauty of God’s creation, he warned.

Yeats is excited to “have a conversation and see what God can do as we look at His Word.” For more information about Yeats, check out his thought-provoking personal blog, Unfinished Works.

The event is free and open to the public, no tickets required for general admission. Yeats and Melton hope the lecture will have a large turn out, and encourage people of all ages to attend.

"But best of all," Melton added lightly, "NGU students will get cultural event credit." Students will need a ticket for credit.

For more information, contact Frankie Melton in the NGU College of Christian Studies at 864-977-7061.