Multiply Justice

Archive for the tag “racial reconciliation”

Review: ‘White Awake’ by Daniel White

White Awake: An honest look at what it means to be white
Daniel Hill (Intervarsity Press, September 2017)

I’ll admit to a certain degree of resistance to this book. One can reasonably be weary of self-righteous pronouncements about “white privilege” from quarters of our society where people don’t seem to understand the difference between justice and revenge. It makes sense to discount critiques from people whose ideology is based on a faulty worldview.

At the same time, you can’t ignore the reluctance of many “whites” to acknowledge – much less discuss – the systemic aspects of injustice in this country. It’s hard to take seriously complaints about “reverse racism” from people who are ignorant of the atrocities that created today’s circumstances of poverty and inequality. People who aren’t struggling every day with poverty and injustice let themselves off the hook too easily when the question “What should I do?” arises.

Both “white folks” and “people of color” can benefit from this book. Daniel Hill takes a stand between the strident voices complaining about “white guilt” and the complacent yawns or (worse) angry condemnations of those who think they bear no personal responsibility for either past atrocities or current injustices.

The heart of the book for me is when Hill quotes Mark Charles quoting Georges Erasmus: “Where common memory is lacking, where people do not share in the same past, there can be no real community. Where community is to be formed, common memory must be created.” Once you get past the book’s opening personal testimony and the necessary lecture about cultural identity, Hill journeys through an insightful and helpful discussion about cross-cultural friendship, denial of injustice, the disorientation that comes with awakening, dealing with shame, the problem of self-righteousness in regard to “bad” people, seven markers of racial awakening, and practical suggestions for changing the status quo.

The cause of Kingdom justice is being harmed by both strident voices and complacent yawns. But we don’t have to buy into someone else’s ideology or political agenda to acknowledge that the status quo in our communities doesn’t begin to approach God’s Kingdom design. We ignore at our own peril the fact that God requires his people to open their ears to the cries of the poor and oppressed, love compassion, and do justice. Let Daniel Hill talk with you about serious issues with which we need to come to terms.

* I apologize for the quotation marks. So much of the conversation on the subject deals in stereotypes that oversimplify the complexities of these issues.

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Why pursue racial integration in our churches?

black-white-handsJ.D Greear has posted at Between The Times the first installment of a multi-part series on racial integration in the church:

With this series, I would like to take as my starting point the assumption that racism is absolutely foolish, that we are ashamed of any racism in our past, that we repudiate every form of racism wherever we find it. There is only one race: the human race. There is one common problem: sin. And for all of us, there is one common solution: the blood of Jesus.

Some might say, perhaps, that I should not assume that as a starting point. And sadly, a case could be made that many Christians are not fully there yet. Still, I think we need to move the discussion beyond shame over our past and toward integration in our future

Many of us have not given the amount of thought that we should to the biblical basis for racial reconciliation. But this is precisely where the discussion should begin. One of the primary plotlines of the Bible is bringing glory to God by bringing back together various races in one common salvation. The redemption that Jesus purchased for us was not merely an individual salvation; it was also an interpersonal, intercultural, interracial reconciliation.

From Genesis 12 to Revelation 7, God brings back together what sin has driven apart. The Pentecost event of Acts 2 is intentionally multicultural. Mark recounts Jesus’ vision of the church as distinctly multicultural: “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:18). Paul calls the racial integration of the church evidence of the “manifest wisdom of God” (Eph 3:10).

In Acts 13:1–2, Luke takes special care to point out that the leadership of the Antioch church was multi-cultural. …

Read the rest of this post by clicking here.

Have you read J.D. Greear’s most recent book, Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart?

Will Southern Baptists take this argument to New Orleans?

I am deeply distressed that, just as the Southern Baptist Convention is poised to take a big step forward in New Orleans by electing our first African-American president, another of our long-simmering disagreements is erupting into a full-blown argument. Instead of a badly needed witness to racial reconciliation, the world may watch us in New Orleans as we do what they think we do best — argue about doctrine.

This time the issue is how salvation works. One side insists our founders were convictional Calvinists: lost souls are incapable of responding to God’s grace on their own. The other side argues Southern Baptists have traditionally believed individuals must make a personal and free response to the Gospel. That the argument is coming to a head in the run-up to the annual meeting in New Orleans cannot be a coincidence.

We spent the better part of the past century disassociating ourselves from doctrinal error. When we finally purged our ranks of those who had drunk too deeply at the well of theological liberalism, we turned our sights on each other. Had we become so accustomed to focusing on how “they” differed from “us” that we no longer knew how brothers dwell together in unity? Have we been fighting civil wars so long that we cannot credibly take a message of peace to a lost world?

That lost world doubts any of us still authentically represents the Kingdom of Peace.

Jude exhorts us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” and that we certainly ought to do. But Jude was warning about false teachers who had wormed their way into the churches, preaching a heresy that because of God’s grace, believers could live in immorality. Is that kind of heresy being taught in our midst today? Of course not! We are going to divide the house over which theory of salvation represents “what Southern Baptists have always believed,” as if that were possible.

Does anyone think a 1,600-year-old disagreement is suddenly going to be resolved by another argument?

Go ahead. Lock and load. Mount up. Do battle. Don’t stop to wonder whether the war you wage against your brother has anything to do with the fact that so many of our churches have dropped out of the denominational scene. It’s probably just a coincidence that while we have been arguing a younger generation has decided it wants nothing to do with the church. Why would our bickering make people think we can’t offer any solutions for the problems destroying their lives?

If only you would lay aside your heavy books for a moment and get involved with the hurting people huddled in the alleyways and under the overpasses of your city. If only you would consider that the “sheep” Jesus will welcome into the kingdom will be those who personally helped “the least of these,” not those who scored the most points in a debate, or racked up the most page views on their blog, or got the most votes at the annual meeting.

I’m brought close to tears by the irony of Jude’s letter. You believe you are earnestly contending for the true faith, as he exhorted, but Jude’s real desire, he said, was to write about the great salvation we share in Christ. How ironic — how sad, how pathetic — that salvation is what you now feel compelled to argue about with each other.

Stop, brothers, I beg you. Don’t be drawn into controversial questions and disputes about words. Return to your first love and do the deeds you did at first. Rediscover the kingdom. Focus your best energies on loving God and your neighbor. Take good news to the poor and proclaim release for the captives, sight for the blind, and freedom for the oppressed.

I’m not as much worried about embarrassing our good brother, Fred Luter, in what should be a moment of celebration for our great convention of churches — though that embarrassment is bad enough. I’m more concerned that we are in danger of the Lord removing our candlestick from among the churches. I am concerned he will finally grow weary of our arguing and cast us aside in disgust, like salt that has lost its saltiness. I am concerned he will decide to take the talents entrusted to us and give them to servants who will multiply them.

Will we take this argument to New Orleans? I hope not. Lord willing, that gathering might get us so passionate about the Kingdom that we completely forget we were arguing at all.

— Mark Kelly

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