Of the many discussed topics among professing Christians recently, including the highly debated topic of female leadership within the church the most divisive, in my opinion, has been that of racial reconciliation or simply RR. I may not be able to articulate this as well as others have or will, but I feel the need to address some concerns that I have with it.
It’s not that there is one side unable to recognize that problems do exist among individual believers in various stages of sanctification while still under the curse of fallen flesh. It’s not that there is one side who doesn’t agree that Christians must love neighbor as self, and care for those around us who are indeed in need. However, it IS one side making sweeping claims targeting one entire group of people with hateful rhetoric that is a major cause of divisiveness. To be specific, those from the ‘woke’ camp or those advocates pushing for RR is targeting one group to launch accusations against.
There are many of our fellow brothers who make bold and damning claims against ALL white Christian people (often referred as simply ‘evangelical’) on Twitter such as Thabiti Anyabwil, Eric Mason, and Anthony Bradley to name only a few. However, one of most concerning (IMPO) is a man named Kyle J. Howard, a racial trauma counselor, who repeatedly makes this type of harsh statements about an entire group.
In the image above, Brother Pickowicz quotes a statement by Owen Strachan that says all believers are unified in Christ alone and the diverse body of Christ can be reconciled (despite any ‘beef’ between people) in that allegiance. Brother Howard’s response is that this must mean white people have to overcome his ethnicity, rather than embrace it, in order to accomplish this. Many of his statements regarding whites, like this one, are aimed to cut and belittle rather than contribute to unity in reconciliation. He’s not the only one using this method, but some of his tweets are the most concerning.
When reading these kind of broad and often opinionated statements, I feel as if they are intentionally hostile against white brothers and sisters, and yet vague in their substance. Rather than addressing individual sins by specific people, as the Bible demands that we do*, a whole race is accused of sins, or urged to be burdened by the sins of their ancestors. Does anyone challenge this hostile, hurtful, and often racist commentary? Not often enough and it is understandable why they do not, because if they try to engage against this racist rhetoric, they are attacked and labeled accordingly. I’m afraid that this avenue of approach by the RR advocates will do the exact opposite of achieving any kind of reconciliation between Christians.
Not all of the rhetoric is full of attacks. There have been a few ‘solutions’ offered by the RR advocates. One suggestion is that all whites apologize and repent for ALL race related sins of the past. Another suggestion is that the ‘White Church’ financially support black saints and support their ministries. If these are the true end goals of the RR advocates, then the methods being employed by them might be successful. As a result of their efforts, especially by drudging up the horrors of the past, many fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are dealing with issues of guilt over real or imagined sins. Instead of helping build unity, I believe these ‘solutions’ are only building up the individual and the movement, while causing strife and division among Christians.
If folks, on both sides, are serious about having a significant conversation regarding the issues being brought up by the RR side, there has to be a change in direction. First and foremost is to realize that we are dealing with Christians, and therefore those that are in Christ are united in a way unique to those who are outside of the visible Church. We must be careful not blend issues in culture with issues within the church, and be wary of the wolves within. We must also remember that we are all still sinners, and are prone to fail each other, regularly. However, we should be able to address any problems between Christians since we have a guide to follow. We are commanded by God to forgive sins and to repent of sins*. We HAVE to forgive and we HAVE to repent, God holds each of us accountable.
Next step forward is to cease the attacks being slung, from both sides. No more broad brush attacks, with vague assertions, as they are absolutely no help. To say, for example, ALL or MOST of X treat Y poorly today will cause X to become defensive. Despite what the history between X and Y may have been, one cannot assume it is the same today. A major component of the RR argument is to drudge up the past sins of slavery or Jim crow laws, and to apply the sins of individuals to the whole. Those being defensive tend to then brush aside any truth that may be expressed, because the claim has assumed too much about them. This often results in attacks in kind, and gets us no where! Specific issues must be specifically addressed and dealt with*. No Bible believing follower of Christ can stand for the mistreatment of their brothers and sisters in Christ on either side of the movement.
The next step is to weed out the non-issues and to address specific issues. One of the issues that has been brought up by RR advocates is majority white churches as a problem. If majority black churches are not a problem, then I believe this is a non-issue. The efforts and methods to create more multi-cultural churches will only restrict who may and may not attend (or lead) a particular church based on their skin color, which becomes an issue. However, if there a specific churches not allowing whites or people of color into (or lead) their church then this issue MUST be addressed as a problem.
Finally we have the issue of governing accountability. Since the Reformation, we no longer have a unified oversight over the universal church. Not all denominations have a hierarchical government like, for example, the PCA. Any issues within the PCA can be address with the group of Elders called the Session, and if not addressed properly can be taken to the Presbytery which presides over the local church. The unified oversight over all of the PCA is the General Assembly. How do we hold accountable the independent churches who are outside of such oversight? Better men than I may need to consider this.
As my previous post concerning this was largely ignored, I am certain this will be as well. I am a white ‘privileged’ nobody with no platform to have any impact on this conversation. I pray that those better men will stand up against this tidal wave of sin being masked under the guise of ‘reconciliation’, and properly address any issues found in the visible Church. The current form of the RR movement will only continue to divide and cause strife among the brethren, and I pray that this would not be so. If we cannot have a civil two-sided discussion about actual race issues within the church, we’ll just push each other apart and cause more problems. To God alone be the Glory.
* Matthew 18:21-35, Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 18:15-20, Colossians 3:13