A prayer request...

Earlier this week I received the following email from our dear friend Blair Smith. With his permission I'm posting the email he sent verbatim. Please join us in remembering Dr. Brown in prayer.

Harold O. J. "Joe" Brown is near death. As you or Tim may know, he had cancer ten years ago which cost him an eye and affected his sinuses. It has returned now more in the throat area. He cannot speak or swallow and has a feeding tube in his stomach. They are contemplating further care in Chicago with his initial doctor but are not sure at this time if the extent of the current damage would make that wise. I have communicated a few times with him through email and have talked with his wife, Grace. Will you and your brother pray for this great man and his wife, Grace?


Praying now.

I'll never forget when, just before seminary, i went to visit RTS-C, where Dr. Brown was lecturing, to see if it was a place i wanted to attend (i ended up at Erskine, but i did take some cross-registration classes in Charlotte). As was many of the professors' practice, Dr. Brown went out to supper with us to a local restaurant in the South Park area of Charlotte. It was some German restaurant (i couldn't find it if i had to, now), and i think he and i both enjoyed it because i lived for three years in Germany, and he pastored for some time in Switzerland.

At any rate, his wife was there, and several others of us young and idealistic students. At the time, i was still a Baptist trying to be consistent with both baptistic principles and Reformed theology, so i had gone the route of New Covenant Theology (that is the consistent Baptist position on the Covenants, after all). Dr. Brown was talking about the three uses of the Law and how the Law can be used to restrain ungodliness in society. I argued with him (and his wife actually agreed with me, funny enough) that the law does nothing but condemn, and to use it with unbelievers without also presenting the Gospel is simply to make them legalists and would not, ultimately, restrain ungodliness. That is to say, i not only denied a third use of the Law (as is usual in NCT), but i also denied a first use as well, holding that the Law is pure works, nothing of grace, and only for national Israel or those whom we desire to convict of sin.

Looking back, his soft and persistent tone in presenting his case, both biblically and theologically, actually was one of the things that started me to reconsider my position and turn to a more Covenantal perspective (that or the Dinkel-Acker was more potent that night than i thought).

I'm glad to say that i fully affirm that the Law of God (the Mosaic Administration) is an administration of God's Covenant of Grace, and that any flaw in it or damnation that comes from it is owning to our own sinfulness, and not to some inherent lack in the law itself. I also believe that the Law of God can, even without its use in conjunction with the Gospel (proper) can be restraining and make people comparatively more upright in their lives, even if it is not eternally beneficial at all without from faith in Jesus Christ.

I wasn't there, but my friend who attended RTS-C full time told me of one chapel service that Dr. Brown was scheduled to preach at, but he hadn't showed up when they were supposed to start. He said that they went through all the other portions of the worship in chapel (singing, praying, &c.), and they were singing the last song before Dr. Brown was supposed to show up, and he still was not there. They were all very worried, and apparently, another staff member led in further singing until he actually showed up some half-hour later. My friend said that he was disheveled, out of breath, and rushing. He went directly up to the podium and apoligized for being late. His only explanation in his low and soft voice, "The bitch got out." (He and his wife have dogs.) I'd give money to have seen it myself, but when i heard the story, i laughed til my sides ached.

To paraphrase a comic strip, "You're a good man, O.J. Brown!" We'll be praying for him and his family.

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