Monday, July 6, 2020

TIM KELLER AND WHITE CORPORATE GUILT




Are all white Americans guilty of the sin of slavery? The highly gifted and popular pastor emeritus, Tim Keller, argues that, according to the Bible, sin has a corporate and systemic dimension. Therefore, all white Americans are guilty of the America’s sins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhJJcTKTVGo&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1vNY9xFO1v07hQsSQ337Lua-bPtCDaeYH2NJvuzy6bPFjdblxsyirKIcQ

In order to support his case for the ongoing guilt of our corporate sins, he cites three sets of verses – Joshua 7, Daniel 9, and Romans 5. Let’s start with Joshua 7. God had instructed Moses and Israel that they must not take any of the riches from Jericho after God had destroyed the city. However, one man disobeyed and took some of the riches that he had found in the vanquished city and buried them in his tent.

As a result of disobeying the Lord, all Israel had to suffer the consequences of Achan’s disobedience. God had withdrawn His production from Israel at the battle at Ai, and Israel fled for their lives. Not only did Israel suffer a corporate defeat because of Achan’s disobedience, but Achan and his entire family were also put to death.

Why his family? Perhaps because they were complicit in hiding the contraband, or perhaps because God wanted to teach a lesson that a family will also be held guilty for the sins of one of its members. Perhaps this would teach them to hold each other accountable? We don’t really know, but we do know that the way that God administers his justice is not the way that we are to administer our justice. Sometimes God administers His justice upon an entire people-group or several generations of the same family:

·       “You shall not bow down to them [idols] or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:5-6 ESV)

However, we aren’t to administer justice this way. Instead, it was to be administered according to the guilt of the individual:

·       “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” (Ezekiel 18:19-20)

This same justice principle is applied throughout the Bible:

·       Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:2-4)

Justice was to be administered according to the individual’s criminal behavior and not corporately. The guilty party was to be liable to punishment and not his entire family.

This principle of justice also pertains to the corporate destruction and exile of Israel by the Babylonians because of their widespread sins. Even in the midst of this, God had reassured His Prophet Habakkuk that the “righteous shall live [or survive] by his faith” (2:4; Romans 1:17).

Even in the midst of a battle, God promises that He will take care of those who belong to Him:

·       “Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:9-11)

God’s protection had been guaranteed to His faithful ones. However, it seems that Keller wants to hold the entire white population guilty for the sins of a limited number, now deceased. However, to apply his logic consistently, then the African blacks who had kidnapped members of neighboring tribes to sell them into slavery should also be held accountable.

I was surprised that Keller had appealed to Romans 5 to make the case in favor of corporate sin and the guilt of Adam’s sin. This interpretation of Adam’s guilt, as passed on to all humanity, is highly controversial. Keller understands our condemnation as a corporate phenomenon and therefore also our salvation and admonishes us to begin to see this corporate aspect of Biblical theology.

However, even if Keller is correct that all of us bear Adam’s guilt, then all humanity is guilty, not just white people. Therefore, his reasoning couldn’t possibly be applied to justify any present white responsibility for what the blacks had suffered during slavery and segregation. Nevertheless, as Christians, we all have a responsibility for our brethren in Christ. However, this is another matter, which doesn’t involve our corporate guilt but our freedom in Christ to willingly serve others.

Then Keller argues that, to varying degrees, all Germans had been guilty of the genocide of the Jewish people. Even those ordinary Germans who had heard stories about the death camps but chose to ignore them, bore guilt. In this case, Keller is correct. Scripture informs us that if we know to do what is right and ignore our responsibility, we have sinned (James 4:17).

However, this reasoning cannot easily be applied to “white guilt” and responsibility for slavery. Not only were black Africans responsible for kidnapping their fellow blacks, but there were also numerous black slave-owners in the Pre-bellum South. Besides, most whites living today hadn’t been alive during either slavery or segregation. Therefore, they couldn’t have possibly intervened.

It is therefore hard to sympathize with Keller’s charge that white Americans are self-righteous because they resist the accusation that they are guilty of black slavery by virtue of his corporate reasoning. He even accuses them of self-righteousness because they deny their guilt. However, this kind of rhetoric just increases the racial divide and decreases the possibility of any meaningful reconciliation.

Keller also mentioned the responsibility of whites to help black youth to exchange their gangster identity for something more positive. However, he never mentioned the Gospel in this regards. However, it was only through the growing assurance that my Savior loves me beyond anything that I could imagine that rescued me (Ephesians 3:16-19). I therefore cannot imagine offering black youth any other hope or identity.

Many black conservatives strenuously argue against the existence of current “systemic racism” and blame “white guilt” for the promotion of this debilitating victimization narrative. Instead, if whites are going to help their black brethren, it has to be freely and gladly and not as attempt to work off their corporate guilt.

THE RELIGION OF MAN



Secularism does not provide a neutral meeting place for all of us to gather together. Instead, it is a new and thinly veiled religion with its own belief system. Chris Cuomo, CNN, recently expressed the central hope of this alternative religion:

·       "If you believe in one another and if do the right thing for yourself and your community, things will get better in this country. You don't need help from above. It's within us." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZPRvHlBvls

Secularism places hope in humanity instead of in God. However, are we fitting objects of hope? Are there nations that have replaced the hope in God for the hope in humanity, and can we learn any lessons from them before we have gone too far?

“Fortunately,” the last century has given us many models of nations where the “religion of man” has forcefully replaced traditional forms of religion. However, these nations have also modeled the loss of freedom, speech, liberty, and even of life. Communist nations have slaughtered one hundred million of their own people. They all have served as exemplars of repression and the enslavement of thoughts, minds, and words at the threat of death. Only the Party’s word can be heard, and children have been taught to expose their parents if they are speaking a different word.

Today, in the West, their proponents tend to call themselves “democratic socialists” to not evoke images of their genocidal past. However, several groups still call themselves “Marxist” or “Communist.” They set up their tables at the yearly Brooklyn Book Fair andy still call for “revolution.” Therefore, I have asked them, “You are not calling for a violent revolution, are you.” On a number of occasions, they have answered, “Yes!”

I therefore asked, “How is it that you are willing to pay such a price in lives for an experiment, which has universally failed and proved unsustainable.” On one occasion, the Marxist answered, “That’s not true!”

I asked if he could provide just one example where it hasn’t failed and resulted in a bloodbath. I was surprised to hear him answer, “Cuba.” I knew that, economically, it had been a failure, which had required the USSR to continually prop it up. I also knew that it was highly repressive of any other religion or of speech which opposed the communist party. But had the Cuban communists also been genocidal as had all the other Marxist regimes. Perhaps it hadn’t been. After all, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara remain heroes for large segments of the West. How could genocidal tyrants be held up as heroes?

When I returned home, I immediately made a Google search and found that these “heroes” had exterminated 125,000 of their own people, even on this tiny island.

Today, most young Western idealists, rarely call themselves “Marxists” or even “communists” but “social democrats.” However, a limited number of young people are still advocating violent revolution. We encountered a very likeable group of proponents on the steps of Columbia University in NYC. They assured me that it wouldn’t be a bloodbath as it had been before. Instead, they winsomely explained that they would merely make a clean surgical strike to eliminate the top 1%. I therefore responded:

·       Usually people do not want to be eliminated, even surgically. My guess is that they will retaliate as they always have done. Won’t this just result in another wholesale genocide?

They confidently assured me that it would not, and that they had learned from past mistakes.

The religion of man is energized by idealism and not the facts of history. Instead, of looking to a God of love for meaning and identity, it has substituted the opportunity to find redemption through their social justice cause. As a result, they attempt to overthrow the present system by painting it as the pinnacle of injustice, while presenting their own cause as the  of justice.

I asked two young ladies carrying a placard, “No justice, no peace,” “How much justice will you need in order to live at peace?” They couldn’t answer and became defensive. I was trying to make the point that no system will ever be perfect, not in this world. Therefore, would they continue to agitate, even violently, for an unattainable level of justice? However, they promptly walked away.

The religion of man is a propaganda machine of clever sayings and not of clear thinking. History has shown us that there is a vast difference between the two religions. So too has the Bible:

·       Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

Secularism is a belief in the earned goodness of man through self-sacrifice for a worthy cause, rather than in the worthiness of our sacrificial Savior and the goodness He freely confers upon us. These two religions are in opposition. However, “the religion of man” has proven that it will resort to any means to win, while the religion of God is convinced that truth is on its side and will eventually, in God’s timing, prevail. Therefore, it is willing to resort to peaceful means: reason and the gentle persuasion of their God.


These two religions are opposed to one another. Consequently, I know of only one “communist” regime that, at least for now, values the contributions of its fledgling Christian community and does not oppress them.

Lacking any assurance of the truth, the religion of man demands complete submission and will oppress and denigrate any dissenters. Even now, we are witnessing secular “social democratic” oppression and silencing, a mere foretaste of what is surely to come. Jesus has warned us to not be surprised:

·       “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:18-20)

Saturday, July 4, 2020

PEACE AND HARMONY




One Facebook poster asked: “What is the one thing that can unite us all in peace and harmony?” The answers were varied. Some answered “love,” others “death,” “music,” and “globalization.”

However, the answer is really very simple. It is only the Christian who can supply a real hope:

·       If your treasures and hopes are all invested in this world, then anyone who tries to take them from you is taking everything you have. This makes them a threat. However, if your treasures and hopes are invested in the next life, and these are preserved for you by a God who loves you and has redefined you as His own beloved children, then you can accept the deprivations and persecutions of this world with a smile.

We therefore have to remind ourselves who we are and what we have been given:

·       See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. (Colossians 2:8-10)






Friday, July 3, 2020

POPE FRANCIS’ CONDEMNATIONS




Is it fair to call us “haters” if we hate sin? The pope seems to think SO. He had reserved his strongest condemnations for traditional Catholics:

·       During his general audience at the Vatican today, Pope Francis condemned Catholics who go to church every day but “go on hating” their fellow men. He said it “is better” that they not go. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-its-better-to-be-atheist-than-attend-daily-mass-as-hypocrite

·       “How many times have we witnessed the scandal of those who go to church and spend all day there or attend every day, and later go on hating others or speaking ill of people. This is a scandal,” the Argentine pontiff said.

While Francis is correct that Christians shouldn’t hate others, even those who do things regarded as repugnant, it seems that he also regards their traditional beliefs as “rigid.” To make this point, LifeSiteNews.com cites Catholic blogger Laurence English’s “The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults”:

·       These [condemnations] include: “superficial Christian,” “climbers...attached to money,” and "fomenters of coprophagia!" The pope has regularly referred to some traditionalist Catholics as "rigid."

However, it is clear that God hates sin and hypocrisy:

·       “Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.” (Isaiah 1:14)

Therefore, we too are to hate evil:

·       The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)

·       you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 97:10)

This is true even of NT teachings:

·       Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (Romans 12:9)

However, we are not to seek revenge. This is because God will avenge for us:

·       Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

·       For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:30-31)

Is this teaching troubling? It should be, and we shouldn’t hide it if we really care about the ultimate destiny of our friends and family.

While we are to love the sinner, we must hate their sins (even our own) and expose them (Ephesians 5:11). But we will be called “hypocrites” because we too are sinners.

However, Scripture makes an important distinction between those who confess and seek to turn from their sins and those who gladly continue in their sins without repentance:

·       “Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, “‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD.’” (Jeremiah 3:12-13)

Of course, if we refuse to repent of our sins, we have no right to tell others to repent. Therefore, Paul had added this condition:

·       Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)

When we sincerely confess our sins, we are restored to holiness and spirituality. Consequently, we then can correct the wayward. We have first taken the medicine, which we are to administer to others. We have removed the blinding log from our own eyes (Matthew 7:1-5).