Grace to you and peace from God to all who live and move and have their being in the Lord Jesus Christ. I write today to appeal to those who have chosen to actively defend the ‘social justice’ movement, and also those who vehemently oppose it. I come humbly before you as a man of no significance, of no reputation to plead with you in order that we might come to some sort of an understanding of our situation. There is utter turmoil and suffering in the minds of many over the bitter discussions that have taken place thus far, and healing words are needed. I come not to convince anyone to step off this path that we are on but to have us all consider the direction in which we might be headed.
First I want to start off by pointing out some of things we often over look when having these conversations. Each of us individually has varying opinions about certain things, and regardless of which side of the discussion we’re on, we tend to make certain clarifications or distinctions that might differ from someone on our own side. In addition to that we have many different denominations and Christian backgrounds entering into the conversation bringing in the varying theological frameworks. Also consider that each individual, including myself, has a goal or motivation to getting involved; each having various backgrounds and experiences contributing to the presuppositions that aid to formulate our opinions. Opinions that have been both helpful and hurtful to the progression of this conversation.
I believe that the statement released this week was an attempt to present a unified voice from one particular side of the conversation. A side that would consider themselves theologically conservative, reformed and/or orthodox. Of course it was met with a lot of criticism from those on the other side of the conversation, and understandably so. Many regarded it as being a mash of poorly worded statements, others claimed it held unbiblical and unjust views, and some used the character of the individual writers to render the statement ineffective for themselves. So are we better or worse off with been given this statement, and the many many many responses made to it? I believe its hard to say how all this will play out while currently in ‘it’, but maybe human history can shed some light on things.
I think that the human experience, for the perspective of the Church history, can be viewed as a sort of circle or cycle of seasons. It seems at times that certain events create shifts in the cycle and the masses are swept along with it. These events can range from wars involving a great many people down to a new way of thinking or a discovery that starts with a few people. These events affect the way people see the world around them, and for some these experiences begin to shape or alter their theological underpinnings. Depending on the scale and the particular event, this can lead to some getting closer to or further away from what is God’s truth.
We can honestly say that, despite the claims of some, that no group or individual as ever held to a perfect view about ALL things from creation, to God, or even mankind themselves. It is an inherent flaw in our character, that both the secular humanist and orthodox Christian can agree, we aren’t perfect. And as I attempted to portray in my last post, we often overreact to these shifts in cycles as we grow closer and/or further away from God’s truth. There are many of us on both sides who are having difficulty maintaining a balance as we attempt to defend the side we believe is correct. There are ideas and concepts being introduced that are both difficult and dangerous that we must be careful of. Both sides are doing it of course, but I’ll leave it to another to point out the flaws in my side’s position.
These dangerous ideas and concepts are the primary item I’d like to bring the reader’s attention to. Many individuals on the side of those opposite of me, such as Brad Mason, Anthony Bradley, and Kyle J. Howard for example, have brought into the conversation many difficult, dangerous, and damaging concepts. This is not to say that everything that they have brought up isn’t truthful, or doesn’t warrant any merit, or should be totally disregarded. However in my opinion, the absolute primary focus of the majority of such conversations is aimed at dividing the church along distinct sociological and political lines. To split the church among those who have been wronged and those who have done wrong. To pit black against white, women against men, gay against straight, etc. And this is, in my unprofessional opinion, a result of events such as the 2016 election of DJT, the #metoo and #churchtoo movements, and the subsequent conferences (MLK50, T4G, etc.). If you disagree that there is an aim to divide (whether intentional or not), please read Jemar Tisby’s post.
Now these errors that need to be addressed by both sides is over and above the discussion that needs to take place regarding our responsibilities as image bearers commanded to love both God and neighbor. Both sides agree that we are to do the things which we are commanded to do, but we often disagree with the methods. Do members of each side of the debate strive to follow God’s commandments to the best of their ability and their means? I believe so. Is it done perfectly and in a way pleasing to everyone at all times? No, absolutely not. Do some tend to give more weight to preaching the gospel or ‘soul-winning’ over and above bodily care and/or spiritual growth at times? Yes. Do some tend to aim for the leaves and neglect the root? Yes. Our methods are flawed and sometimes lack balance but that doesn’t mean nobody is trying.
Before I end this pitiful effort, I want to add one more thing. As a white man who descends from a majority culture accused of many atrocities, I have nothing to offer that will cover for the things that they have committed. Though we may differ drastically in our experiences; many, including myself, have endured suffering at the hands of others and/or by circumstance. We must all trust that, despite the intensity of the trials we endure, they are not without purpose. So if I did have anything to offer it would be sympathy, support, and attempt to point you to Christ. For it is only in the wise and just God that we have found peace through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! Amen.