Crossover Bible Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Issue of a Church Recommending Books to Read

Crossover Bible Church is a small EFCA church in North Tulsa that works with an area that is economically depressed and struggling with a number of issues. On their website they have a recommended reading list that has a disclaimer. The question this blog would like to pose is how responsible is a church for their recommended reading list? Are they responsible or not? 

“Keep reading. It’s one of the most marvelous adventures that anyone can have.”

Lloyd Alexander

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Philippians 2:12-13 ESV

There is something that I saw on an EFCA website within a church in the EFCA’s Texas and Oklahoma District. It stands out and I see it from time to time. So I want to use Crossover Bible Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma as a means for discussion. Before we get into the issue of a church recommending books let’s look at Crossover. 

 

Crossover Preparatory School in Tulsa. 

Philip Abode and Crossover Bible Church

The driving force behind this smaller EFCA church is Philip Abode. Phil played football at the University of Tulsa, and was a linebacker for two seasons. You can see his football states right here. He graduated in 2002 and earned a degree in Applied Mathematics. He then attended Dallas Theological Seminary and graduated in 2006. He moved back to Tulsa in 2005 and became dedicated to racial reconciliation. North Tulsa is struggling with poverty, drugs, crime and suffering economy that is depressed. As an African-American Philip felt called to go back to offset and improve the area. In 2006 Philip became associate pastor of Crossover Bible Church. He then became the senior pastor in 2009. Crossover has a program called Crossover Community Impact which is a non-profit that operates in North Tulsa. They do after school mentoring of youth and run a medical clinic. In the fall of 2018 Crossover Community Impact launched an all boys school called Crossover Prep. It appears as if the Crossover Prepatory School was featured in the Oklahoma Prayer Breakfast in February of 2020.  In addition to Philip Abode, Justin Pickard is also involved in running the program. Together both Philip and Justin are influenced by the theology of John Perkins. John Perkins was involved in the 2018 EFCA Theology Conference. To read more about that you can go to, “EFCA’s Upcoming Theological Conference: The Gospel, Compassion and Justice. A Review of the Speakers and Some Personal Thoughts” and “Resources for EFCA’s Theological Conference: The Gospel, Compassion and Justice.” In doing research about Crossover Bible Church I came across a solid article in the Tulsa World, Tulsa’s main newspaper that looked at this ministry. To read more you can go to, “While outsiders argue about north Tulsa’s problems, a church/nonprofit is working from the inside on solutions.” Philip is married and he is also involved in coaching football within the community as well.

 

How Crossover Bible Church Recommends Books

When writing about the EFCA one of the things I do is study websites to see what books are being recommended or what books exist in libraries. When the pandemic is not an issue I usually enjoy doing this in person. So I saw something on the Crossover church website that I see from time to time, but I wanted to discuss it. When you look at the list of recommended books you can see a diverse list. Some of the authors on the list include Steve Timmis, Peter Scazzero, Wayne Grudem, Francis Chan, John Perkins, Christipher Wright, C.S. Lewis, Dallas Willard, J.I. Packer, Jerry Bridges, Jen Hatmaker, Randy Frazee, Crawford Loritts, Kent Hughes and several others. A number of those authors are popular for different reasons. John Perkins for example is popular with those concerned with racism. Wayne Grudem is popular with many Neo-Calvinists because of what he teaches about doctrine. J.I Packer and Jerry Bridges are popular among Neo-Calvinists for their books about searching faith and explaining God. You can look at how many Neo-Calvinists reacted to the deaths of both Bridges and Packer to understand how both were appreciated. 

Yet in that list there are a number of evangelical scandals and problems. For example there is the authoritarianism and spiritual abuse by Steve Timmis which resulted him in leaving Acts 29. You can read about that in, “Steve Timmis is Removed as CEO of Acts 29 and Matt Chandler Allegedly Retaliated Against Individuals WhExploring the Role that Bryan and Crawford Loritts Played in Covering up Rick Trotter’s Voyeurism at Fellowship Memphis. Plus How Rick Trotter Got Off Easy Because of the Loritts Family Behavior
o Once Report Spiritual Abuse.
” Crawford Loritts as this blog revealed in telling the Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis scandal did not take action against his son-in-law who was involved in voyeurism and child pornography manufacturing in a church. You can read about that in, “Exploring the Role that Bryan and Crawford Loritts Played in Covering up Rick Trotter’s Voyeurism at Fellowship Memphis. Plus How Rick Trotter Got Off Easy Because of the Loritts Family Behavior.” And then Jen Hatmaker just filed for divorce recently. While its not a concern to me with the evangelical culture warriors many would hold that against her. How some churches overlook scandal or downplay it is quite interesting in many ways. 

Yet with Crossover there is something on the website that this blog finds interesting. At the top of the recommended book page you have the following saying. “Crossover Bible Church may not endorse or believe all that is written in these books.” Here is the question that hangs in my head. What does that saying which I see on other EFCA websites from time to time actually mean? Is a church responsible for the material they recommend? Or should that be ignored? Is that a way to get people to read certain books but then get the church off the hook? Do the pastors and others know what is being taught in some of these books? I find this topic perplexing as it leaves me scratching my head. For me as a former evangelical it leaves me baffled and it shows the problems of evangelical theology. Many churches have theology belief systems that are about a mile wide and an inch thick on substance. It amazes me when I tried out churches to find out a pastor is Wesleyan but then have a few books that are Calvinist.  I would be left baffled by that behavior. So the question I want to ask with this post is the following. How responsible is Crossover Bible Church for the reading material and commandeering reads that they encourage other people to embrace? Are they being responsible or its this another aspect to the scandal of the evangelical mind? I honestly do not know. How would you regard this issue? Feel free to dissect the statement down below in the comments. 

2 thoughts on “Crossover Bible Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Issue of a Church Recommending Books to Read

  1. I spent 47 years in an evangelical church which, at one time as I recall, had the largest church library west of the Mississippi. While the church had a confession of faith members were expected to agree with, there was no reigning theological paradigm like Calvinism or Arminianism which the church was pushing, and the library collection reflected this diversity. The pastoral staff believed that while all Christians should affirm “mere Christianity,” they realized that that is a big mansion, with may rooms and corridors. So they tried to focus on the major issues and allow members to make their own ways through the various rooms and use the corridors to move from one to another. I found this openness to theological exploration and debate refreshing. So I guess it’s a function of the ethos of the church and the personalities and agenda of the pastoral staff.

    Liked by 1 person

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