Sunday, March 19, 2017


We had visited a church hosting racial reconciliation meetings, something very close to my heart and also to Jesus’. He had prayed:

·       “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:20-23 (ESV)

I grieve to observe that it seems that we Americans are even further from this ideal than when talk of racial reconciliation started. I have, therefore, been heartened to see that the Church has taken this issue to heart. Consequently, I had been looking forward to attending this group. However, I had some preliminary exchanges with the group’s leaders, who probably perceived that I was not adhering to the party line. Therefore, one leader sent me a copy of their progressive operational definitions (WWW.RACIALEQUITYTOOLS.ORG) with a warning:

·       Should anyone have issue with these definitions, they have been given the space to voice those thoughts…While the group is designed to be an outlet for people to express their concerns and be heard, we do also ask that every person in attendance act first and foremost from a posture of learning and listening.

Another leader gave me a more explicit warning:

·       While I don't doubt your sincerity, based on how you've responded in this whole interaction I have serious serious SERIOUS doubts about your "willingness to listen." Especially when you make statements like this: "As you can see, even though we share the same goal of Christian oneness, we have different methods."

I hadn’t been aware that my words would set off alarm bells. At first, I had been assured that the group was about sharing ideas, but it quickly became apparent that only they could share ideas and that I would first have to prove that I was a listener. But could I just listen? I decided to read their nine pages of definitions to get some idea what I’d be getting into, although I already had some idea.

The first term was “ally,” and it seemed that an ally was someone who was already in agreement with their program:

·       An “ally” is defined as “Someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice…Allies commit to reducing their own complicity or collusion in oppression of those groups and invest in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression.

Well, what if I didn’t see my “collusion in oppression?” What if I didn’t see that I had benefitted from my “privileged” position? Was this a sin? Jesus had probably benefitted from Roman rule to preach for three years against the Jewish establishment. The Apostles benefitted from Pax Romana to travel an empire without borders to preach the Gospel. Did taking advantage of this cruel empire in this manner constitute a sin? It didn’t seem likely.

Paul took it one step further and privileged himself by claiming Roman citizenship, something available to only a chosen few. Clearly, this too wasn’t a sin. However, the progressive solutions indict Whites for simply having been privileged by a “racist system.”

It seemed that I wouldn’t be considered an “ally” if I couldn’t sign-on to this progressive narrative, and perhaps even an enemy. Besides, if I am not an “ally,” it seems that I would also be deemed guilty of the next term:

·       “Collusion” is “When people act to perpetuate oppression or prevent others from working to eliminate oppression.”

Since I do not see any present systemic oppression – yes, I do see racism but manifested within all classes of people – I could not honestly be “working to eliminate oppression.” I, therefore, would be guilty of collusion, even without knowing or intending it.

Could only skin colors be guilty of collusion? The next term made me think so:

·       “Cultural Racism…refers to representations, messages and stories conveying the idea that behaviors and values associated with white people or “whiteness” are automatically “better” or more “normal” than those associated with other racially defined groups. Cultural racism shows up in advertising, movies, history books, definitions of patriotism, and in policies and laws. Cultural racism is also a powerful force in maintaining systems of internalized supremacy and internalized racism. It does that by influencing collective beliefs about what constitutes appropriate behavior, what is seen as beautiful, and the value placed on various forms of expression.”

Many Whites would be surprised to learn that they are part of a “powerful force in maintaining systems of internalized supremacy and internalized racism.” Yet, it seemed that if they wished to be part of this racial reconciliation endeavor, they would first have to acknowledge their “guilt” and perform some form of obeisance before the “victims.” Of course, if they didn’t, it meant that they are a racist wanting to maintain the repressive system of “White Privilege.”

But what kind of obeisance would be adequate? Would it be enough for White Christians to merely admit, as all Christians could, that they haven’t loved as they should have and that they have a responsibility for all the oppressed. If this could bring reconciliation and put the bitterness behind us, I’d be glad to make this humble confession. Besides, it’s a confession that I always make before the Lord.

But would this bring reconciliation and forgiveness? It doesn’t seem likely. Instead, it seems that this approach will continue to hold the feet of Whites to the punishing fire for even their alleged “hidden biases”:

·       “Implicit Bias” is “Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves.”

While it is true that we are vulnerable to many sinful thoughts including “hidden bias,” we pray that our Lord would reveal them to us rather than to entrust ourselves to a progressive analysis dictating to us the specifics of our damning hidden sins.

Instead, if anyone has committed a racist act, there are laws against this. Instead of indicting all people of certain skin tones for their alleged hidden sins, the guilty should be prosecuted. However, it seems that guilt is a matter of color and class, something that transcends what we think of as justice.

For the progressive, racism runs deeper than anything Christian confession can touch or correct:

·       “Individual Racism… refers to the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism. Individual racism can be deliberate, or the individual may act to perpetuate or support racism without knowing that is what he or she is doing. Examples:   Telling a racist joke, using a racial epithet, or believing in the inherent superiority of whites over other groups;   Avoiding people of color whom you do not know personally, but not whites whom you do not know personally (e.g., white people crossing the street to avoid a group of Latino/a young people; locking their doors when they see African American families sitting on their doorsteps in a city neighborhood; or not hiring a person of color because “something doesn’t feel right”);   Accepting things as they are (a form of collusion). 

It seems that only Whites can be guilty of racism, while non-Whites are exempt. By definition, they cannot be racist. The group leader had written me that “reverse racism…is NOT real and doesn't exist.” The good guys – the oppressed – are not capable of wrong, while the Whites must be re-educated or else.

For the Christian, such an analysis should be unacceptable. Instead, if someone does a wrong, he should be addressed, not everyone sharing his skin color. The wrongdoer, regardless of race, should confess his sin that there might be reconciliation and unity within the Body of Christ. However, from this progressive analysis, if you merely belong to a certain class, you are an oppressor and guilty.

I began to wonder if, perhaps, even the progressives have their own “hidden biases.” It is condescending to claim that people of color are not capable of racism (or reverse racism). It suggests that they are not of the status where they can be morally culpable. This is demeaning and does not reflect the equality we share in Christ.

This secular program uses racism to counteract racism. This is like using gasoline to counteract a gasoline fire.

The progressive seems to want to cast a net broad enough to indict every White with the charge of “racism.” Therefore, their glossary is racism-rich:

·       “Institutional Racism…refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.  Examples:  Government policies that explicitly restricted the ability of people to get loans to buy or improve their homes in neighborhoods with high concentrations of African Americans (also known as "red-lining").   City sanitation department policies that concentrate trash transfer stations and other environmental hazards disproportionately in communities of color.

If these policies and practices are racist, then they should be addressed in a court of law and not with incendiary allegations against a clandestine and sinister “White Establishment,” if even such a thing now exists. However, my experience over the last 30 years has shown me that, if anything, this “System” has become so desperate to show that they are not racist that people of color have actually become the privileged class. I’m not claiming that this is true of every circumstance, but it certainly has been true of my experience.

·       “Internalized Racism…is the situation that occurs in a racist system when a racial group oppressed by racism supports the supremacy and dominance of the dominating group by maintaining or participating in the set of attitudes, behaviors, social structures and ideologies that undergird the dominating group's power. It involves four essential and interconnected elements:  Decision - making - Due to racism, people of color do not have the ultimate decision-making power over the decisions that control our lives and resources.”

This secular analysis intends to bring home the “fact” that “people of color” are no more than victims of a “racist system.” In fact, they are so oppressed that they have been programmed to support “the supremacy and dominance of the dominating group.” Therefore, if you are a person of color who supports this “racist system,” you have fallen prey to its deception and are blind and pathetic.

Consequently, since people of color are blinded by the system, they are pawns and no longer responsible for their behavior. What a demeaning characterization! Only Whites are responsible and guilty.

By now RACIALEQUALITY TOOLS’ purpose should be clear. Whites are the bad guys, who need re-education, not just confession, and people-of-color are the oppressed, and anyone who disagrees with their assessment is a racist.

Does this sound like racial reconciliation or  polarization, division, and antagonism, the very increase we have observed over this past decade? More importantly, the above does not represent the wisdom of the Bible. Instead, reconciliation with an offended brother is to be achieved through confession of sin against that brother. In the case of a brother who had been excommunicated because he was unrepentant, Paul counseled:

·       For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Corinthians 2:6-8)

However, a simple repentance is not enough for the progressive. Rather, the “ally” must become a revolutionary to expose the “racist system.” Instead, from a Biblical perspective, the “system” of sin is within each of us. None of us should be given a free ride to sin because we have been deemed “oppressed.” We are all responsible moral agents.

Was Jesus an “ally” of Roman rule? After all, He never spoke against it!

Brotherhood requires equality. There no longer exists the “oppressed” and the “oppressors.” Instead, in Christ, we are all One Body and co-heirs with Christ:

·       For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:27-28)

We are required to maintain this unity:

·       I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

We are so interconnected that, instead of jealousy and bitterness over class distinctions:

·       If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Corinthians 12:26)

This is the ideal to which we must aspire. Instead of tearing one another down based on alleged racist sins, we are counseled to:

·       Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:9-10)

Our model must be taken from the example of Jesus and not secularism. Instead of attempting to overthrow the repressive Roman system, He taught us to render unto the oppressive Caesar the things that are Caesars. What did the life of Jesus look like:

·       Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)

Although we are counseled to “turn the other cheek,” this doesn’t mean that offenses within the Church are always to be overlooked. Instead, Jesus had given us a pattern for intervention:

·       “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

With repentance, there should be immediate reconciliation and healing. However, this often is not the case with failed secular models that have been adopted by many churches. These have abandoned the Bible for progressive solutions, which have merely increased alienation and hatred.

They often hold the children accountable for the “sins” of the parents. However, this should not be:

·       “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)

Instead, the one who sins should confess and be restored and forgiven. However, progressive solutions seem to want to retain the offender’s guilt in order to use it for manipulative purposes. Why? The progressive refuses to see his own sins to acknowledge the reality of reverse racism. Refusing to see the sin within himself, he is inclined to degrade others and have contempt for others.

One brother, who has graciously reviewed this essay, has appropriately added:

·       I think most white brethren have failed and continue to fail when it comes to loving their Black brethren as themselves and in loving their Black neighbors as themselves.

·       I would add that just as no believer can make up for his sins by doing good, so no white brother or sister will ever be able to do enough to pacify a Black accuser.

In light of this and our common brotherhood, we must all examine ourselves for sin (1 Cor. 11:28-32) and humble ourselves accordingly. If we do this, we will be less ready to be unforgiving and more ready to inclusively embrace the brother.

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