Anyone who knows me at all is aware of my admiration for David Crosby, the 13-year pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Orleans. He has the sharpest mind and tenderest heart of anyone I know. Sometimes when we leave a meeting where he has been the featured speaker, I find myself thinking, “Wish I’d said that.”
David reminds me of what a critic once said of Dr. George W. Truett, the greatly-admired pastor of Dallas’ First Baptist Church throughout the first half of the 20th century. The man just couldn’t figure out why everyone admired Dr. Truett so highly and finally went to hear him preach. As he came out of the church, a friend asked, “Well, what did you think?” The critic said, “He didn’t say a thing I couldn’t have said — if I’d thought of it.”
That’s how I feel about Dr. Crosby. (My problem is, I never think of it!)
David is an excellent writer and his op-ed columns frequently appear in the Times-Picayune. Recently, he put those writing skills to good use in producing a book on the basics of the Christian faith called “First Principles.” It’s published by Pelican Printing here in New Orleans, and I recommend it highly.
First, let me emphasize this is not a book of clever stories and recycled sermons. This is just what the title implies, a book which deals with basic biblical doctrines of the Christian faith. Each chapter title begins with “I believe.” The first five chapters are “I believe that God created,” “I believe that Jesus saves,” “I believe the Holy Spirit sanctifies,” “I believe in the church,” and “I believe in prayer.”
Here are samples of his writing and the insights awaiting the reader….
Concerning creation: “That people are made in God’s image does not imply that God has a body like us. God is spirit (John 4:24), and he is alone in his deity. No other creature is divine. There is only one God in this universe. All other beings are created by God. Humans were not gods in a former life. Humans will not be gods in a coming era.” (p. 18)
Concerning Jesus: “It was necessary for Jesus to be fully human. As the early church fathers declared, ‘What he has not assumed he has not redeemed.’ He assumed full humanity in order to rescue the whole man — heart, soul, mind, and strength. The Son of God became fully human for another reason. He is the one who intercedes for us — our ‘high priest.’ He became the perfect and complete high priest for us by experiencing the nature of full humanity, including suffering and death.” (p. 23-24)
Concerning prayer: “If I am invited as a guest to a public venue controlled by other persons, I respect their right to define what happens in that venue. If I am inclined to pray publicly only in the name of Jesus, then I refuse to participate if that is prohibited by word or action in a certain venue. If no such rule is evident, then I pray in the name of Jesus. As a matter of personal ethics, I do not accept any invitation to pray and then violate the rules expressed by the host of that event.” (p. 46)
Concerning missions: “First Baptist New Orleans launched a major partnership with Habitat for Humanity to build forty homes in the summer of 2006. Hurricane Katrina intervened, and now the Baptist Crossroads Project hopes to encompass the building of three hundred homes and the rebirth of a viable community in the flood-ravaged Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans.” (p. 112)
Concerning the Second Coming of Jesus: “Jesus does not instruct us to withdraw. He tells us to lift up our heads. Jesus does not tell us to despair, to grow negative and dark. He tells us to have faith. Jesus does not instruct us to build a bomb shelter. He instructs us to love people and be salt and light in our world.” (p. 127)
The book sells for $12.95 and is available through Pelican Publishing, www.pelicanpub.com. You may order toll-free from Pelican at 1-800-843-1724 or 1-888-5-PELICAN.
David Crosby and I share the same birthday, March 28 (I was 13 the day he arrived on Earth). That’s not why I treasure him so highly, but it does put him in a very select group. Check the records–not many people were allowed to have that day as their own!