This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by William 4 months ago.
April 18, 2018 at 6:56 am #7328
Okay guys we’ll start the conversation by reviewing this article by Isaac Adams on the subject matter of race. Isaac is on staff at Capitol Hill Baptist Church (Mark Dever) and helps with T4G. Take a minute to read the article and let me know your thoughts? How should churches respond? Here’s the article.
April 25, 2018 at 4:50 pm #7376
My head hurts… the American sin of slavery runs deep… will revisit after more digestion.
April 26, 2018 at 12:28 pm #7383
Disclaimer: I am a white millennium male.
I struggle with blurring the line between culture and theology. The two-kingdom distinction tells us that while Christians can work towards the general welfare of those around us, we are not held sway by its influence (this should be a one-way street). See Dr. Horton’s comments on a “tale of two kingdoms:”
“Consequently, each city [kingdom] has its own polity, serving distinct ends through distinct means. Although some of its citizens are converted to citizenship in the city of God, the earthly city is always Babylon. Like Daniel, believers pray for the city, work in the city, contribute to the city’s general welfare, and even fight in its armies. However, they never forget that they are exiles and pilgrims. Babylon is never the promised land.”
By utilizing the two-kingdom distinction we don’t wash our hands of racism but learn how to speak the gospel into racism without compromising the gospel. I think we do this by showing and modeling that the freedom we have in Christ redeems the cultural definitions of race and elevates them into God’s kingdom where race can be used to glorified God via diversity. It is the diversity of talent that helps the church speak the gospel into the culture.
Our challenge in the church is to see what race looks like when elevated to God’s kingdom and celebrate the diversity. A few ways this is done in my church is through using hip-hop in worship services. Another way is done through vignette videos highlighting “God at Work” in a variety of people’s lives (variety in many ways: racial, socio-economical etc.). We even combined with a predominantly black church (we are predominantly white) and went to each other’s homes to eat meals together… as Christians reconciled to God. Also, diversity of Elders and Deacons. But all of these things are done, not out of a desire to redeem race but out of a desire to elevate God through race.
My pushback to all of this is the idea that the cultural issues of our day are speaking into our theology rather than our theology speaking into our cultural issues. Isaac challenges us to “consider our whiteness” and argues that it will result in deeper racial awareness that will result in an eagerness “to honor the good ways God has made us different. It ought to result in zeal to lay down the status and comforts your ethnicity gives you for the sake of the gospel.” He is drawing this revelation not from our gospel identity but from our racial identity. The road is reversed and now we have the culture speaking into our theology.
The motivation is wrong. The motivation is of the earthly kingdom in our two-kingdom approach. If we are arguing about the status of the church it must fall on gospel soil, not American soil. Paul said there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free for we are all one in Christ Jesus. Paul is calling us to one body. He is not calling us to conform to one mold, but he is calling us to one body. That should be our aim.
I submit this out of humility and a desire to be gospel centric. If I was hurtful in my words, please know it is not my intention nor desire.
April 29, 2018 at 10:25 am #7390
The distinction you made between cultural issues speaking into our theology rather than our theology speaking into our cultural issues was very helpful, thank you.
July 7, 2018 at 10:07 am #7873
Racism is real. Racism is a sin. Racism is rooted in pride. Pride is universal and deceptive. Racism is a temptation for people of all races so we all need to have our pride pointed out and repent-regardless of our “race”. However, I don’t think that one can understand the inroads that the current fixation on race has made into certain sectors of the American church without also looking at the inroads that cultural marxism and French critical theory have also made into the church, both through seminaries and other organizations. I am amazed as I see leader after leader parrot to what is effectively some form of cultural marxism/critical race theory under the auspices of of the gospel. What I have observed is that such new awareness begins not with a conviction that came from Scripture, but with an emotional appeal from a person from another racially defined tribe that triggers a sense of guilt. This particular article, while bringing up several good points, appears to also have tones of postmodern critical race theory, that is tied into a uniquely western political power structure.
Some of the items raised by Isaac appear to be circular. IE to white people: ” Further, since your Christian identity matters most, you should lay down the status your racial identity gives you for the sake of the gospel. That’s what Paul did.” Yet Isaac is making this demand from the position of his own racial identity, which he has just told his audience they should lay down.
Notice again: ” Though the Jew-Gentile divide can’t exactly be mapped to the Black-White divide, there were still racial dynamics and divisions amid Jews and Gentiles. Paul didn’t deny or ignore those dynamics; he leaned into them. And so he became like the Gentiles.” The implication appears to be that White people should be like blacks. What exactly does that mean ? And which Black people should white people become like ? I am not seeing any meaningful theological discourse here. What exactly are the biblical principles ( outside of the presupposed biblical mandate for American style social justice) that are required by this ? These generalities are not helpful to meaningful discourse. Is Isaac perhaps referring to a black vs white way of reading the bible which some hold to ? Do we need to jettison the teachings of the reformers because they were, for the most part, white privileged males who were multiculturally incompetent by contemporary American progressive standards ?
Isaac adds “And yet, I rarely hear white brothers and sisters talking about what it would look like if they submitted their whiteness to Christ.” Here again everything is assumed. What exactly is this Whiteness that is required to be submitted to Christ ? (Its interesting that in support he cites to Lecrae’s lyrics from a song that Lecrae wrote before he got “Woke” and has apparently changed his views.) Isaac speaks of ” Whiteness” as if it conveys some monolithic universally understood set of attributes that can truthfully be ascribed to all white people.
“My white brothers, have you taken time to consider whether or not you’ve let, even unwittingly, your cultural preferences become theological imperatives?” This point is well taken and should be applied to all of our traditions beyond cultural preferences. Yet this sword cuts both ways. Having been the only (or one of the few) white people in several different ethnic non-white churches over the past two decades, I can say from my own experience ( and I assume that personal experience is the authority to which Isaac appeals), there was a staunch adherence to the cultural preferences of each church over and against both white cultural preferences and the cultural preferences of other ethnicities. Framing adherence to cultural preferences of whites over and against black, with no reference to the universality of this practice among other racial or ethnic groups belies the underlying current of atheistic critical race theory in Isaac’s thinking, and also elevates his personal preferences as the standard by which these issues should be framed.
Having also briefly attended a 95% white “reformed” church plant that rapidly developed into an SJW church where the white staff regularly spoke out against racism, and intentionally sought to bring in seekers of color ( often parroting the language of atheistic progressive multiculturalist professors in liberal arts courses in American universities) and the associate pastor even preaching shame for being white, the racial mix of that church has not changed dramatically during the last couple of years. In other words, from a purely pragmatic perspective, its not working to achieve their ends. Certain people of color, including my wife, did not feel comfortable there, primarily because it seemed artificial, contrived and an attempt at some grand social experiment where one could feel justified before the cultural if not God on some nebulous racial quota of participants. The term racial reconciliation was frequently preached on and prayed for, but never broken down so we would know what it looked like. My wife felt like a number in their program, and she felt marginalized by their assumptions that as a female immigrant of color, she should agree that the experience of some described the experiences of all POC, and that she should hold to the same political positions.s
In line with critical race theory where racism is defined by presupposed access to power by only one tribe, and thus only flows one way, I see alot of finger pointing from groups of people who have not explained exactly what they are seeking. Until it is broken down into specifics of what aspects of “Whiteness” must biblically be relinquished, what aspects of “Blackness” must be assumed, and how that will effect other races who don’t share black American values and preferences (including African immigrants who are also black, Asians and Hispanics), it is difficult to see much in these kinds of writing that is practically beneficial. In fact I have never seen any articles such as these break down the specifics nor take into account the specifics of say the Asian culture in their generalization about how white churches must change. I saw nothing new in Isaac’s article, and little that meaningfully addresses the postmodern flaws and critical race theory assumptions in the current conversation.
July 7, 2018 at 12:30 pm #7875
Thank you, Louis Krelle and Mark Kass.
I have nothing to add as I’m still trying to digest what’s happening in the church at large… but the one thing that seems to come to mind when I read about this topic is that of James 2:3
and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,”
If we replace ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ with ‘white’ and ‘black’ OR ‘black’ and ‘white’, we’re in error as well. As in, it seems to my feeble mind/understanding, that certain people want the pre-eminence in the church today, under the guise of racial equality, and again, IMHO, this is grave error as well as the rich/poor distinction.
Please correct me if I’m wrong.
August 11, 2018 at 3:01 pm #8096
Alot of what he says is so vague and general, it’s up to my imagination to figure out what my “Whiteness” is that I’m supposed to figure out that is so offensive and exclusive to everyone else.
If I’m thinking of a mega church a couple hours from where I live in a predominantly white suburb outside of Sacramento CA, I would assume that the “Whiteness” of this church is manifested in the following ways:
- Hillsong top 40 (usually written and performed by Whites from Australia)
- Mostly White congregation and leaders
- Pop Rock music style (in distinction from an urban hip hop style)
- Squeeky Clean and safe campus (appealing to the White suburbanite lifestyle that drew them to that neighborhood in the first place.
So, what kind of solution is he suggesting? Mix the church’s style with more Black distinctives that I notice as predominant in Black churches? Such as…
- R&B style music
- high emotionalism
- fancy suits (men) and fancy hats (women)
- calling the pastor “Reverend” and pastors wife “first lady”
This is ridiculous. I belong to a Reformed Baptist Church in the Silicon Valley CA where 90% of the church is 2nd generation Asian American. We use a litergy like this:
Call to worship, Bible Reading, Psalm singing, children’s message, offering, announcements, hymns, doxology, sermon, prayer, benediction.
There’s nothing Asian about it. You could plug this formula into any part of the country and anyone of any race who values the gospel over racial distinctives would be “at home”. As a white guy, Yeah…I know what it feels like to look around and be in the minority at church. I feel absolutely no uneasiness at all about it. It’s a gospel loving church with people who worship in a way that emphasizes Christ above all else. I don’t even think about asking the “all Asian pastors” to diversify the leadership, and “whiten” or “blacken” the services to be more inclusive. I think we’re a good example of what a church should be and can be if it were this way in any context.
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