Scribblings
Category

By In Culture, Family and Children, Politics, Scribblings, Theology, Wisdom, Worship

Why I No Longer Participate in Racial Reconciliation Services

Guest post by Rev Sam Murrell of Little Rock, AR

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeupSam is an Anglican Priest in the Anglican Church in North America. He holds a Bachelors in Music from Covenant College and an MDiv from Covenant Seminary.  He is currently a Biblical Worldview Teacher at Little Rock Christian Academy. He and his wife Susan have eleven children and twenty-one grandchildren.

 

 

 

Nothing that I am about state should be construed as my advocating for people of different ethnicity to worship separately. Nothing I say here should be understood as an advocating of what is commonly referred to as ‘racism’. The Body of Christ is one, and the Church should visually reflect the reality of that ‘oneness’ to the degree that the world yearns for what they observe that we are enjoying. It is unfortunate that, for far too long, the Church has followed the lead of the world when it comes to recognizing and addressing hatred amongst the various tongues, tribes and nations.

Years ago, I participated in my first ‘racial reconciliation’ worship service. It was a well-integrated gathering of black and white folk. The service, while very moving, left me feeling very awkward as white strangers approached me to confess their racism toward me and “my kind”. It wasn’t that I had never experienced unfairness or injustices because of the tone of my skin. On the contrary, the issue was that the confessions came from people who had never done any wrong towards me in particular. So, I was left not knowing what I should do for them in response to their confessions; I was young and so chalked my discomfort up to my inexperience. Since that gathering, I recall participating in at least two other instances of worship services that were focused primarily on racial reconciliation. And I have actually worked for a church where “intentional racial reconciliation” was part of the mission statement. Over the years, I have come to a greater sense of clarity regarding my uneasiness with such event. Here, in no particular order, are the few reasons that I no longer take part in “racial reconciliation” services:

Too often, the premise of the worship service is that Whites are guilty because they are White. This is evident in the fact that the white people present at such events are expected, even pressured, to confess the sin of racism even if they cannot recall any specific instances of racist action that they have perpetrated. The assumption is that because you are white then you must have knowingly, or unknowingly, caused offense towards Blacks (and maybe other ethnic minorities too). An example of this guilt-by-association is that, although you may be unable to find any instance of slave ownership in your genealogy, you are held accountable for the history of slavery in the United States of America. The black person stands as representative of the innocent victim of so-called racism and thus serves a priestly role for the white confessor who is guilty because of a lack of melanin in the epidermis. The white person’s pigmentation carries with it a privilege, and that is enough to require repentance.

In contemporary parlance, the word ‘privilege’ is employed by the offended group as a weapon against the other. Once someone is labeled as ‘privileged’ he is supposed to realize his rightful place in the ‘race’ conversation is as the silent observer whose liberty to speak has been revoked. The accused and the accuser are no longer equals. Recently, a major Reformed Seminary hosts a conference on ‘race’ and actually advertised that they were inviting Whites to come and to listen but not to speak or interact. Such is not biblical reconciliation but rather a warped form of penance and one that cannot be paid fully, thus being reconciled, as the person of whom the penance is required can never cease to be as God created them: white or black. He can never undo the fact of slavery or systemic hatred in America and, therefore, he must embrace a life of spiritual self-flagellation as a result of the unwarranted whiteness that has allowed him to live such a life of comparative ease. What is most disturbing is not that the world would think this way but that such thought has been embraced by the Church.

Words Matter. As people of the Word, language is important and I believe it is time the Church gave up the common use of the word ‘race’ and all of its cognates. They only help to perpetuate an untruth about the nature of mankind. In the anthropology of Scripture, race is an alien concept. Scripture does not speak of ‘the races’ as subsets of humanity, but it does speak of ‘tongues (which can be translated as religions), tribes and nation’. As long as the Church concedes to the terminology of a Darwinian worldview we will never get closer to modeling the oneness of the Body of Christ for the world that is spoken of in Scripture. The Church must not capitulate to the secular world on this matter and put words into our mouths, and in doing so perpetuate a false reality. God’s Word has this right; there is one ‘race’ and many scattered tongues, tribes and nations. Many anthropologists agree that the 19th-century idea of many ‘races’ is not a biological reality but rather a myth. My point here is not to argue the science but to emphasize worldview. When discussing biblical anthropology we should insist on biblical language, and there is no Scriptural basis for diving mankind among the so-called ‘races’. The illusion of racism is not where the discussion should lie, and as long as the Church discusses issues of pre-Christian tribal and ethnic allegiances from the perspective of so-called racism then we will not see any real progress as we are led by the nose by every new social-justice group that comes along to claim their place as the new prophetic voice of a downtrodden minority.

Identity madness is a current hot topic. People question their identity as man rebels against the boundaries of a biblical anthropology they seek in vain to invent their own explanation. This radical subjectivity results in daily re-definitions. God’s people need to understand their true identity. As a Christian, what is my preeminent identity? Am I a Black Christian, or a Christian who is black? We must not give priority to tribal or ethnic loyalties in place of fidelity to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have found nothing in scripture that affirms that I am allowed to believe that old tribal devotions neither can nor should take precedence over my identity as a member of the Body of Christ, the nation of the New Israel come down from heaven. We give lip-service to this reality, but do we walk in this truth consistently? The only way is to manifest the truth of the Gospel of King Jesus. The Church cannot continue to trail along behind the world attempting to sprinkle ‘holy water’ on the latest iteration of Marxism and call it ‘social justice’.

Racial reconciliation services are founded upon a lie from Satan. The whole motivation behind them is a false anthropology. Allow me to nuance my previous point. These worship services focus on corporate confessions by the white section of the congregation. And once the service has ended it is expected that the white brother will now go forth and sin against his black brother no longer. Recall here that for many they are expected to repent of being made white which is not a sin. If the white brother does eventually cause offense against black brother, and he will and vice versa, his former repentance, based upon a false premise, will then be viewed as being disingenuous. How is that justice? The line of thought is that, had his confession been genuine, then his offense would be unrepeatable. The offended Black then may accuse the White of ‘racial insensitivity’, latent racism, ‘racial privilege’ and a host of other insults. But rarely is the individual treated as a fallen human being, struggling with a fallen nature, who is wholly incapable of living up to God’s expectation of loving his neighbor as himself. If the person were to be treated fairly, we would seek to follow Jesus’ mandate that, if you offend me, I am to forgive you. Period.

“He said to His disciples, ‘It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.’
” ‘Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive
him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I
repent,’ forgive him.’” Luke 17:1-5

The message is clear that the offended brother must forgive if so asked. This is repeated several times in the Gospels, for example, Matthew 6 wherein the Lord instructs His followers to pray to God asking that we are judged as we judge others, to be forgiven just as we forgive. We can all relate to the apostles’ response, “…increase our faith!” In own of strength, we cannot possibly hope to be the people that God has called for us to be, nor can we love the way that Jesus says to love. So, when my brother sins against me in prioritizing his ethnic, social, political and economic tribes over mine I am to forgive him. It is not my place to accuse him and therefore all who look like him of being hopelessly lost, nonredeemable and less than me because of some new ‘Mark of Cain’ in his skin that looks different than mine. I pray for him. I talk with him. I seek to help him grow beyond the limitations of his tribe, ethnic or otherwise.

In Summation

The Church of Jesus Christ should stop attempting to address the mythical issue of so-called ‘race’ as to do so would be to spend time and energy chasing after an imaginary dragon. There simply is no such thing and the Bible offers our proof. Biblically speaking, mankind is of one human race. We are all saved the same way, we will all be judged by the Christ according to the same standard of righteousness that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and not one has been tested and found in the right in His eyes.

The call of the Church is to love one another. This means that I must deal with you personally when you sin against me personally. I cannot hold you accountable for sins committed by past generations, nor can I regard you as a pariah because I perceive that God has blessed you differently than He has me.

No ethnic group has the market cornered on any particular sin. The Church does mankind a disservice when she disciplines them to believe the lie that skin color makes them immune from the accusations of hating or discriminating against others of a different tribe. Many blacks have been sold the lie that their identity as an oppressed minority renders them exempt from being found guilty of tribalism. In the Marxist worldview, such may be lauded as a foundational truth, but when life is seen from a biblical perspective that simply does not pass the smell test. Christ has commanded us to love one another. That call can only be fulfilled on His terms.

Read more

By In Culture, Humor, Scribblings, Wisdom

Wise Laughter

Author Remy Wilkins teaches at Geneva Academy
His first novel is available from Canon Press

We are made to be happy. Created to enter into the eternal joy of God, our whole being inclines to that end, but the fallen world has put forth barriers and by our own sin we bar ourselves from that endless delight, and death blinds us to that reality. Yet laughter breaks through.

This tendency for all things to bend to joy is seen in memory. Nobody in recalling an injury feels its pain again, but at the slightest invocation of a joyous event laughter spills out. Pain is forgotten yet joy soars on, achieving greater heights at each remembrance. Faith and hope join hands in laughter, for it is a bold declaration that though this world is fraught with terror, evil and ills yet we can delight in it because we know its comedic end.

Laughter is a powerful weapon. It is a divine act and a powerful contrast between Yahweh and Allah, who does not laugh. But for all that is praiseworthy in laughter there is the laughter of fools that should give us pause. What is the difference between foolish laughter and the laughter of the wise? (more…)

Read more

By In Books, Family and Children, Interviews, Scribblings, Wisdom

A Very Kuyperian Book List

Another journey around the sun is almost complete and some of our contributors have compiled a list of book recommendations just in time for Christmastide. Be sure and plunder the Egyptian’s After-Christmas sales before Twelfth Night. (more…)

Read more

By In Scribblings

RIP, R.C. Sproul

UPDATE: The Sproul family has shared the sad news with us that our founder, Dr. R.C. Sproul, went home to be with the Lord this afternoon. Please pray for the Sprouls. Further updates will be available soon.

I’ve been reflecting on Dr. R.C. Sproul’s life as he nears the end of his earthly journey.

I lived in Pennsylvania in the late 90’s. I had arrived to study a year in America. The evenings were cold in December. The only distraction I had at night was an old radio that worked half the time. One particular night, I turned on the radio to the sound of Handel’s Messiah. The lecturer was clear and poetic in his delivery. I listened intently for 20 minutes or so to a lecture on Augustine. “You’ve been listening to Renewing Your Mind with Dr. R.C. Sproul,” the voice concluded after each episode. I retired to my room early every evening to hear his talks.

Though my curiosity increased with each year, my commitments to my synergistic theology prevailed. I simply could not embrace a theology that took away my liberty to have a voice in my spiritual condition. The following winter I returned to Pennsylvania for Christmas. It was there that I read Michael Horton’s “Putting Amazing Back into Grace.” His brilliant analysis of John’s gospel pierced me and persuaded me to put down my lingering hesitations of Reformed Theology.

Returning to college after changing my convictions gave me a tremendous sense of liberty to explore and read unhindered by past traditions. I immediately read “The Holiness of God” and “Chosen by God” and experienced the closest thing to a revivalistic episode. I was awed as Isaiah was in chapter 6. I am sure I cried with the new knowledge of a God who was far more glorious and powerful than I ever believed.

Years later, I had the joy of sitting under his teaching ministry in Sanford and had the opportunity to interact with him on numerous occasions.

I am deeply grateful to R.C.’s labors. He made theology accessible to me and millions of others. He taught that Jesus is Lord over everything and his sovereignty extends to every molecule. May he die as he lived: in the comfort and faithfulness of his God. Soli Deo Gloria.

“If God is the Creator of the entire universe, then it must follow that He is the Lord of the whole universe. No part of the world is outside of His lordship. That means that no part of my life must be outside of His lordship.” -R.C. Sproul

Read more

By In Scribblings

The Importance of Scholarship

I am often amazed at the level of diversity even within my Reformed tradition. Dutch, Scottish, Continental, Puritan Augustinian, Calvinistic, Bucerian, etc.The intramural debates within intramural debates get microscopically precise. It’s a luxury of a highly Christianized society. In a society that does not have to concern itself with persecution, there should be a greater investment in translating books into the common language, delve deeper into scriptural truths, and grow in theological knowledge. We are seeing this in a revival of translations of unknown Latin texts into English, sending of American scholars to educate third-world countries, an explosion of missiological works around the world, and more. My conclusion, then, is two-fold:
 
First, good scholarship is for the sake of the people. It is needed more than ever today. We should not fall prey to old fundamentalist dogma that all scholarship is tainted by liberalism. We need good pastor/theologians in the Church. Ministers are shepherds who ought to lead well and this requires adequate preparation. Historically, the most influential leaders in the Church were also the most theologically equipped.
 
Secondly, we still suffer from a dichotomy between theology and practice. It’s a hangover of pietism which purposefully kept these two apart. But pietism needs to die and replaced with a pastoral anthropology. In other words, man is created to love God in order to love his fellow man better. This love of God is to be grounded in a deeper understanding of who He is.
 
When scholarship is uninterested in the practice of faith it will die a thousand deaths and fail to bring life to future generations. But when scholarship is conveyed clearly, as a gift of God about Himself, scholarship becomes a delicious exercise worthy of sharing with hungry souls.

Read more

By In Culture, Scribblings, Theology

a poem for advent

E. E. Cummings

 

maybe god

is a child
‘s hand)very carefully
bring
-ing
to you and to
me(and quite with
out crushing)the

papery weightless diminutive (more…)

Read more

By In Scribblings

Abortion’s Logical Insanity


The now viral five-minute segment with James Franco’s Philosophy Time took a turn for the worst when Princeton Professor Liz Harman attempted to articulate a rationale for abortion. She summarizes:a

But, what I think is actually among early fetuses there are two very different kinds of beings. So, James, when you were an early fetus, and Eliot, when you were an early fetus, all of us I think we already did have moral status then. But we had moral status in virtue of our futures. And future of fact that we were beginning stages of persons. But some early fetuses will die in early pregnancy due to abortion or miscarriage. And in my view that is a very different kind of entity. That’s something that doesn’t have a future as a person and it doesn’t have moral status.

The segment highlighted that the abortion logic is bankrupt. The argument is that morality is only endowed to a fetus if we allow the baby to have a future. The if is determined by the mother’s choice to grant the fetus life outside the womb. Over the years, pro-choice advocates have worked hard to establish the right of the woman to not choose life. Of course, the benefits of allowing the fetus to grow all 40 weeks, the benefits of life itself and by what authority a woman’s decision can determine the moral status of a fetus are not discussed. Philosophizing about such ideas would be self-defeating.

In essence, abortion’s logic is insane. For all the talk about morality and status, the abortion academia now proclaims a rationale devoid of morality to prove the morality of killing an unborn human being. This is insane! And I like to think James Franco’s befuddled reaction means he knows it also.

  1. The entire transcript is on Daily Wire  (back)

Read more