Charlottesville: How Should the Church Respond?

"Though the category of race is not found in the Bible, we do find clear evidence for the concept of ethnicity, an idea that is much larger than race." GARBC

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Joel Shaffer's picture

There are so many good quotes throughout this article.  Here are two of them that we who interact on Sharper Iron can think about:  

Today more Christians are willing to see racial reconciliation as a genuine gospel issue, but sadly we still disagree on how urgent the issue is and how to confront it. As Carson goes on to say, “Black Christians are far more likely to see that this is a crucial gospel issue, an issue of huge importance, one that is often ignored, while white Christians are more likely to imagine that racial issues have so largely been resolved that it is a distraction to keep bringing them up.”

and later, 

Fifth, Christian leaders must learn to listen carefully to ethnic minority voices within our church circles. Sitting down and engaging Christians of color in meaningful conversation to hear their perspectives on local and national social justice issues might be a helpful start. Hear their recommendations on how to make your church more welcoming to minorities. White Christians must be willing to share their privilege and power with other Bible-based Christian leaders and must be willing to invest in emerging minority leaders and to hear their concerns. All of us, whatever our color or culture, must be willing to sacrifice our preferences and comfort zones to build and model genuine multiethnic community for our divided neighbors to see.

TylerR's picture

Editor

My church is in the Pacific Northwest. It's a very diverse area. Our church reflects that. Here is one quote I have an honest question about:

One of the most significant ways a church can serve its city is by modeling the racial reconciliation that society is desperately looking for within its four walls. Multiethnic churches that bring people together around the gospel and demonstrate loving unity in diversity have a voice and an influence that can radically impact our communities, cities, and nation.

Let's get practical. Most churches don't do active evangelism at all. Fact. I'm leading a team of people this Saturday out to several sub-divisions within a mile of my church. We're passing out doorhangers, inviting people to send their children to our weekly bible club that begins soon. We'll also be giving the Gospel to folks we encounter along the way. The doorhangers also have the Gospel printed on the back. Here is my question:

  • How can I model "racial reconciliation" in a practical way, in real life, as I do evangelism?

I don't care who lives in the house; they're getting a doorhanger, being invited to church, hearing the Gospel, and having their kid invited to bible club.

This kind of advice (from the article) is well-meaning, but sounds divorced from practical reality. I don't care who lives in the house; I'll be speaking to them. That, by its very definition, is "multicultural." If God grants them repentance, they'll come to faith, hopefully join our church, and join us in sharing the Gospel. I have no control over whether an Asian woman comes to Christ, a Hispanic man, or a black woman. How can I? Unless I deliberately restrict my outreach to WASP, middle-class families, this advice is useless to me.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

...is whether there are some things typically done in "supermajority caucasian" churches that inadvertently creep out some minorities.  On a light note, I can imagine that if a majority Italian church were to greet everyone with the holy kiss, those of Puritan stock might run, and on a more serious note, if your church had a whole bunch of anti-Obama literature, even black Republicans might wonder what was up.

But beyond the obvious stuff, stuff where I think my church is pretty much minding their Ps & Qs, I'm needing some thoughts from people on the ground.  In the pews of churches I've been in, I see a fair number of asians, Africans, and people from the Caribbean....but not so many of Mexican descent or african-Americans.  We see their kids in AWANA, but not on Sunday morning. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

TylerR wrote:

How can I model "racial reconciliation" in a practical way, in real life, as I do evangelism?

I don't care who lives in the house; they're getting a doorhanger, being invited to church, hearing the Gospel, and having their kid invited to bible club.

This kind of advice (from the article) is well-meaning, but sounds divorced from practical reality. I don't care who lives in the house; I'll be speaking to them. That, by its very definition, is "multicultural." If God grants them repentance, they'll come to faith, hopefully join our church, and join us in sharing the Gospel. I have no control over whether an Asian woman comes to Christ, a Hispanic man, or a black woman. How can I? Unless I deliberately restrict my outreach to WASP, middle-class families, this advice is useless to me.

Hear, hear!

In my experience, when people use the terms "social justice" and "racial reconciliation," they mean something quite beyond just treating every single person around you, regardless of race, with respect, whether personally or in your church.

Dave Barnhart

Joel Shaffer's picture

TylerR wrote:

My church is in the Pacific Northwest. It's a very diverse area. Our church reflects that. Here is one quote I have an honest question about:

One of the most significant ways a church can serve its city is by modeling the racial reconciliation that society is desperately looking for within its four walls. Multiethnic churches that bring people together around the gospel and demonstrate loving unity in diversity have a voice and an influence that can radically impact our communities, cities, and nation.

Let's get practical. Most churches don't do active evangelism at all. Fact. I'm leading a team of people this Saturday out to several sub-divisions within a mile of my church. We're passing out doorhangers, inviting people to send their children to our weekly bible club that begins soon. We'll also be giving the Gospel to folks we encounter along the way. The doorhangers also have the Gospel printed on the back. Here is my question:

  • How can I model "racial reconciliation" in a practical way, in real life, as I do evangelism?

I don't care who lives in the house; they're getting a doorhanger, being invited to church, hearing the Gospel, and having their kid invited to bible club.

This kind of advice (from the article) is well-meaning, but sounds divorced from practical reality. I don't care who lives in the house; I'll be speaking to them. That, by its very definition, is "multicultural." If God grants them repentance, they'll come to faith, hopefully join our church, and join us in sharing the Gospel. I have no control over whether an Asian woman comes to Christ, a Hispanic man, or a black woman. How can I? Unless I deliberately restrict my outreach to WASP, middle-class families, this advice is useless to me.

Modeling racial reconciliation in real life is about intentionally going deep in relationship with people from different ethnicities such as African-American, Latino or Asian-American.  When the world sees Christians of different ethnicities truly loving each other and ministering together, my experience has been that many unbelievers ask why we love each other because there is so much racial division in today's culture.  I have been able to share the gospel on numerous occasions to progressive liberals that are blown away that a conservative evangelical church like ours is living out racial reconciliation centered on the gospel, but that sees racial justice as a vital implication of the gospel of Jesus.   This gives glory to Jesus and adorns the gospel.  

TylerR's picture

Editor

Joel wrote:

Modeling racial reconciliation in real life is about intentionally going deep in relationship with people from different ethnicities such as African-American, Latino or Asian-American.  When the world sees Christians of different ethnicities truly loving each other and ministering together, my experience has been that many unbelievers ask why we love each other because there is so much racial division in today's culture

That answer sounds good, and I know you mean well. But, it means nothing to me, practically speaking. We witness to everybody, and develop relationships with everybody - no matter who they are. I'm not going to buy into a "multi-cultural" lens that informs everything I do. That isn't an issue out here. Out here, we have secular manics at Evergreen State College who make Bernie Sanders look like John MacArthur.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

T Howard's picture

I, too, have often wondered what being a multi-ethnic church would look like for my church in the predominantly white, upper-class subburb where it's located. Would that mean intentionally not looking like our surrounding community? How does a church become intentional in inviting more ethnic minorities into the church, apart from demographic targeting? We have a Wednesday night evangelism team that goes out every Wednesday night (while it's still light) and is systematically visiting all the homes in our surrounding community. We run Upward basketball in the winter months. We have VBS in the summer. What else could we be doing to invite more ethnic minorities into our church?

Joel Shaffer's picture

pvawter wrote:

I think we need to be careful about the assumptions which color much of the conversation about race in today's church. This article gives some helpful thoughts in that regard.
https://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/critical-theory-a...

Let me ask you a few questions before so I understand where you are coming from.  Are you suggesting that the Davis' article falls into this trap?  Why or Why not?   Would you agree with these men that the concept of White Privilege is a secular theory that undermines the unity of the church?  

Joel Shaffer's picture

TylerR wrote:

Joel wrote:

Modeling racial reconciliation in real life is about intentionally going deep in relationship with people from different ethnicities such as African-American, Latino or Asian-American.  When the world sees Christians of different ethnicities truly loving each other and ministering together, my experience has been that many unbelievers ask why we love each other because there is so much racial division in today's culture

That answer sounds good, and I know you mean well. But, it means nothing to me, practically speaking. We witness to everybody, and develop relationships with everybody - no matter who they are. I'm not going to buy into a "multi-cultural" lens that informs everything I do. That isn't an issue out here. Out here, we have secular manics at Evergreen State College who make Bernie Sanders look like John MacArthur.

That's great that you witness and build relationships with everybody, but I do find it interesting that when we send missionaries overseas, we expect them to be intentional and develop deep cross-cultural relationships, but when it is at our doorstep we can easily dismiss it as buying into a "multi-cultural" lens.  I think it would also be wise to remember that the book of Acts goes to great lengths to show that although the church began multi-lingual, it took some time and some struggle to become multi-cultural (Acts 2, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15).  

I get it that the liberals/progressives are quite liberal and progressive, but you have them everywhere, its just more concentrated out in the Northwest.    In my early years of urban ministry, I sat on community boards and committees with real socialists. Here was one of their documents that they crafted to make Grand Rapids a more "just" city.  Their suggestions are incredibly crazy, such as disarming the police force and of course radically redistributing wealth through a radical tax progression (90% over $100,000, 99% over $1 million, 99.9% over $10 million, etc.) http://radiantjustice.tripod.com/index2.html#    

pvawter's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:

pvawter wrote:

I think we need to be careful about the assumptions which color much of the conversation about race in today's church. This article gives some helpful thoughts in that regard.
https://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/critical-theory-a...

Let me ask you a few questions before so I understand where you are coming from.  Are you suggesting that the Davis' article falls into this trap?  Why or Why not?   Would you agree with these men that the concept of White Privilege is a secular theory that undermines the unity of the church?  


I don't know if the author in the OP embraces all the categories of critical race theory. Upon a closer reading his article does seem to assume some of them, and he seems to contradict himself by arguing for "racial reconciliation" while also suggesting that the categories associated with "race" may not be entirely biblical.
As far as the idea of white privilege, I find it to be a convenient way to bludgeon an entire group based only on skin color. In general I find all types of racism to undermine the unity of the church.

Joel Shaffer's picture

pvawter wrote:

 

Joel Shaffer wrote:

 

pvawter wrote:

I think we need to be careful about the assumptions which color much of the conversation about race in today's church. This article gives some helpful thoughts in that regard.
https://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/critical-theory-a...

 

Let me ask you a few questions before so I understand where you are coming from.  Are you suggesting that the Davis' article falls into this trap?  Why or Why not?   Would you agree with these men that the concept of White Privilege is a secular theory that undermines the unity of the church?  

 

I don't know if the author in the OP embraces all the categories of critical race theory. Upon a closer reading his article does seem to assume some of them, and he seems to contradict himself by arguing for "racial reconciliation" while also suggesting that the categories associated with "race" may not be entirely biblical.
As far as the idea of white privilege, I find it to be a convenient way to bludgeon an entire group based only on skin color. In general I find all types of racism to undermine the unity of the church.

 

I think you are very naive about human nature to discount the idea of white privilege. It's hardly bludgeoning an entire group based on skin color, rather it points out you may have some blind spots when it comes to race/culture.   Let me share how my pastor has described it:  

White privilege is a measurable thing. It's far too easy to dismiss the perceived experience of a person of color so studies have demonstrated that it is an objective, measurable reality as much as it is a subjective reality. Numerous examples abound. A white man at a used car dealer will be offered a price that is an average of $200 lower than the black man who checked it out earlier that morning. White children aged 12-17 are more likely to use and sell drugs than black children 12-17, yet black children are about twice as likely to be prosecuted for it.When identical resumes are sent to businesses with the only difference being one has a stereotypically white-sounding name and the other has a stereotypically black-sounding name, the white resume is far more likely to get a call back than the black resume. A similar thing is demonstrated when calling on apartment availability. "Tammy" will be told that an apartment is still available while "Tamika"  will be told it is not, even though Tammy and Tamika are the same person and called five minutes apart. There are numerous studies that demonstrate these things.”What many white folk fail to understand is that white privilege, while an established fact, is not the problem. The problem is that people of color are not given the same privilege. If Dontae went to the same college, has the same work experience, and has the same community involvement as Donald, then if Donald is called for an interview, so should Dontae. Studies demonstrate that it does not work that way. That's a problem.Let me add that the concept of white privilege does not mean a white man was hired simply because he was white. That's a common rebuttal against the idea, but it is not a legitimate argument against white privilege for it misses what white privilege actually is. Most people are hired because they're qualified. White privilege means that a man was more likely to be interviewed for the position because he was not black. That's a problem. That is a serious problem. To demonstrate such preferential treatment—and I'll grant that it's often unbeknownst to the one demonstrating it!—is contrary to God's purposes in this world and is an attack on the image of God in man. That's a problem.” J.T. Richards

The term racial reconciliation came about in the 1960's and 1970's through a rural and then urban missionary to impoverished people of Mississippi named John M. Perkins, 20 or 30 years before the whole concept of critical race theory came into existence.  Racial Reconciliation was about creating unity among the body of Christ, not divisions. 

 

Bert Perry's picture

...is to remember that too many fundagelical churches spent the Civil Rights era trying hard not to integrate--sometimes in ways we don't even clue into today--and perhaps to reverse that, we ought to make a little extra effort to be attractive to minorities.  Make a point of greeting people--let's be honest, folks, skin color is easy to see.  Learn (see my comment above) a little about cultural "dont's".  Take a look at the decor, music, preaching style, and see if there are some things that are so stereotypically "white" that might be altered without harm.  Visit "Stuff White People Like" to get a grasp on some of this.  (OK, it's mostly urban liberals whites, but it's a start)

Even in Scandihoovian/German Minnesocold, you can find minorities.  Give it a shot.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I am quite convinced this "multi-cultural" narrative is not driven by facts. I, too, can give you anecdotes. I have participated in hiring several regulatory investigators, and have interviewed countless people for positions in state government. Nobody here cares about whether they're white, black or purple. We care about their credentials.

I believe we create more division than we solve by embracing a "multi-cultural" lens which informs everything we do. We are all equal, because we have been made in God's image - whether we're Christians or not. People need to realize it, and acknowledge that racism is a terrible sin. In our own contexts, we should press that whenever we have an opportunity to speak truth about racial issue, then pivot to the Gospel as soon as we can.

Beyond that, I see nothing to be gained by apologizing for an alleged "white privilege." I went to public high school, got married, went into the Navy, had kids, got a degree, and went to Seminary. None of this had anything to do with the color of my skin, and I refuse to apologize for being a white person. I am very concerned this "lens" will foster a self-identity of perpetual victimhood, and will create far more problems than it solves.

In some communities, particularly in the inner-city, multiculturalism and an emphasis on the equal dignity of all people is a theme that is necessary and prudent. People experience racism, and it is a problem. I am not convinced this is a legitimate issue, in my neck of the woods. We're a multi-cultural area, with people from everywhere. The Pacific Northwest isn't rural Illinois (where people can be overtly racist).

If you're in an urban ministry context, I grant you that this is likely an issue. I'm not in that context. This is a big country, with lots of different contexts for ministry. I appreciate where you're coming from, Joel. I just don''t see it.  

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Andrew K's picture

... and there are enough bad things I've done to feel guilty over things I haven't.

Besides, some of my ancestors were Latinos, native Americans, and west African slaves, even though I look white. So I never quite know where to hang my hat these kind of debates. Doesn't seem fair that I have to be with the whites because of my physical appearance. :) 

Joel Shaffer's picture

TylerR wrote:

I am quite convinced this "multi-cultural" narrative is not driven by facts. I, too, can give you anecdotes. I have participated in hiring several regulatory investigators, and have interviewed countless people for positions in state government. Nobody here cares about whether they're white, black or purple. We care about their credentials.

I believe we create more division than we solve by embracing a "multi-cultural" lens which informs everything we do. We are all equal, because we have been made in God's image - whether we're Christians or not. People need to realize it, and acknowledge that racism is a terrible sin. In our own contexts, we should press that whenever we have an opportunity to speak truth about racial issue, then pivot to the Gospel as soon as we can.

Beyond that, I see nothing to be gained by apologizing for an alleged "white privilege." I went to public high school, got married, went into the Navy, had kids, got a degree, and went to Seminary. None of this had anything to do with the color of my skin, and I refuse to apologize for being a white person. I am very concerned this "lens" will foster a self-identity of perpetual victimhood, and will create far more problems than it solves.

In some communities, particularly in the inner-city, multiculturalism and an emphasis on the equal dignity of all people is a theme that is necessary and prudent. People experience racism, and it is a problem. I am not convinced this is a legitimate issue, in my neck of the woods. We're a multi-cultural area, with people from everywhere. The Pacific Northwest isn't rural Illinois (where people can be overtly racist).

If you're in an urban ministry context, I grant you that this is likely an issue. I'm not in that context. This is a big country, with lots of different contexts for ministry. I appreciate where you're coming from, Joel. I just don''t see it.  

First of all, the stats that are quoted are not anecdotal, rather study after study has proved every single one of them as fact.  Second, who said anything about apologizing for white privilege?   I have been doing urban missionary work for 27 years mainly among African-Americans and I've never once apologized for being white.  I've never had "white-guilt."  In my experiences, the only Christians that perpetuate that type of thinking as I've traveled the country and taught workshops and met with people who are doing the same thing that I do are the progressive/liberal "Christians."  The Brian Maclaren Types.......    I am always amazed how often the slippery slope argument is brought up on Sharper Iron.  In this situation, if we accept that white privilege exists then some how this will lead to self-perpetuating victimhood.  or that it will lead to white guilt.  In our church, none of our African-Americans and Latinos have ever demonstrated some type of perpetual victimhood because they believe in such a thing as white privilege.  None of the white people in our church feel guilty for being white.  

TylerR's picture

Editor

I hear you. I just don't see the need to talk about racial injustice, unless it is a problem in my community. It isn't a problem in my context. It may be in yours.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Andrew K's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:

 

TylerR wrote:

 

I am quite convinced this "multi-cultural" narrative is not driven by facts. I, too, can give you anecdotes. I have participated in hiring several regulatory investigators, and have interviewed countless people for positions in state government. Nobody here cares about whether they're white, black or purple. We care about their credentials.

I believe we create more division than we solve by embracing a "multi-cultural" lens which informs everything we do. We are all equal, because we have been made in God's image - whether we're Christians or not. People need to realize it, and acknowledge that racism is a terrible sin. In our own contexts, we should press that whenever we have an opportunity to speak truth about racial issue, then pivot to the Gospel as soon as we can.

Beyond that, I see nothing to be gained by apologizing for an alleged "white privilege." I went to public high school, got married, went into the Navy, had kids, got a degree, and went to Seminary. None of this had anything to do with the color of my skin, and I refuse to apologize for being a white person. I am very concerned this "lens" will foster a self-identity of perpetual victimhood, and will create far more problems than it solves.

In some communities, particularly in the inner-city, multiculturalism and an emphasis on the equal dignity of all people is a theme that is necessary and prudent. People experience racism, and it is a problem. I am not convinced this is a legitimate issue, in my neck of the woods. We're a multi-cultural area, with people from everywhere. The Pacific Northwest isn't rural Illinois (where people can be overtly racist).

If you're in an urban ministry context, I grant you that this is likely an issue. I'm not in that context. This is a big country, with lots of different contexts for ministry. I appreciate where you're coming from, Joel. I just don''t see it.  

 

 

First of all, the stats that are quoted are not anecdotal, rather study after study has proved every single one of them as fact.  Second, who said anything about apologizing for white privilege?   I have been doing urban missionary work for 27 years mainly among African-Americans and I've never once apologized for being white.  I've never had "white-guilt."  In my experiences, the only Christians that perpetuate that type of thinking as I've traveled the country and taught workshops and met with people who are doing the same thing that I do are the progressive/liberal "Christians."  The Brian Maclaren Types.......    I am always amazed how often the slippery slope argument is brought up on Sharper Iron.  In this situation, if we accept that white privilege exists then some how this will lead to self-perpetuating victimhood.  or that it will lead to white guilt.  In our church, none of our African-Americans and Latinos have ever demonstrated some type of perpetual victimhood because they believe in such a thing as white privilege.  None of the white people in our church feel guilty for being white.  

Frankly, if I believe my white appearance has earned me a job or opportunities that my black friend deserved, what else should I feel but guilt? I think it's a pretty natural progression, and it's no surprise that this is the dominant narrative in universities.

Bert Perry's picture

Part of me wonders whether there are more benign reasons for the things Joel cites than outright racism, but just for argument's sake, I'm going to assume it's all true as stated.  There is a certain portion of society that does act on racist impulses, and apparently it's big enough to move the needle on things like hiring and buying cars.

The question is what one does with that knowledge.  Naming myself "D'Bert" would rightly go over like a lead balloon, and I can't fix racist thoughts by my neighbors, after all.  When I look at government efforts to level the playing field--affirmative action, AFDC/TANF, public housing, and the like--let's just say it's not working out terribly well for the beneficiaries, to put it mildly.  Never mind that you get weird things like the son of a high school principal getting a minority scholarship--one of my freshman roommates at MSU.  Great guy, but not exactly someone who had suffered horribly from discrimination or poverty.

For my part, getting to reach out to minorities, including helping them meet material and spiritual needs that may be unique or characteristic to their groups, is about what I can do, no?  I simply need to acknowledge that when a person "of color" comes into my church, they've crossed what they may see as a cultural barrier already, so I may as well do my best to make them comfortable.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

pvawter's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:

pvawter wrote:

 

Joel Shaffer wrote:

 

pvawter wrote:

I think we need to be careful about the assumptions which color much of the conversation about race in today's church. This article gives some helpful thoughts in that regard.
https://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/critical-theory-a...

 

Let me ask you a few questions before so I understand where you are coming from.  Are you suggesting that the Davis' article falls into this trap?  Why or Why not?   Would you agree with these men that the concept of White Privilege is a secular theory that undermines the unity of the church?  

 

I don't know if the author in the OP embraces all the categories of critical race theory. Upon a closer reading his article does seem to assume some of them, and he seems to contradict himself by arguing for "racial reconciliation" while also suggesting that the categories associated with "race" may not be entirely biblical.
As far as the idea of white privilege, I find it to be a convenient way to bludgeon an entire group based only on skin color. In general I find all types of racism to undermine the unity of the church.

 

I think you are very naive about human nature to discount the idea of white privilege. It's hardly bludgeoning an entire group based on skin color, rather it points out you may have some blind spots when it comes to race/culture.   Let me share how my pastor has described it:  

White privilege is a measurable thing. It's far too easy to dismiss the perceived experience of a person of color so studies have demonstrated that it is an objective, measurable reality as much as it is a subjective reality. Numerous examples abound. A white man at a used car dealer will be offered a price that is an average of $200 lower than the black man who checked it out earlier that morning. White children aged 12-17 are more likely to use and sell drugs than black children 12-17, yet black children are about twice as likely to be prosecuted for it.When identical resumes are sent to businesses with the only difference being one has a stereotypically white-sounding name and the other has a stereotypically black-sounding name, the white resume is far more likely to get a call back than the black resume. A similar thing is demonstrated when calling on apartment availability. "Tammy" will be told that an apartment is still available while "Tamika"  will be told it is not, even though Tammy and Tamika are the same person and called five minutes apart. There are numerous studies that demonstrate these things.”What many white folk fail to understand is that white privilege, while an established fact, is not the problem. The problem is that people of color are not given the same privilege. If Dontae went to the same college, has the same work experience, and has the same community involvement as Donald, then if Donald is called for an interview, so should Dontae. Studies demonstrate that it does not work that way. That's a problem.Let me add that the concept of white privilege does not mean a white man was hired simply because he was white. That's a common rebuttal against the idea, but it is not a legitimate argument against white privilege for it misses what white privilege actually is. Most people are hired because they're qualified. White privilege means that a man was more likely to be interviewed for the position because he was not black. That's a problem. That is a serious problem. To demonstrate such preferential treatment—and I'll grant that it's often unbeknownst to the one demonstrating it!—is contrary to God's purposes in this world and is an attack on the image of God in man. That's a problem.” J.T. Richards

The term racial reconciliation came about in the 1960's and 1970's through a rural and then urban missionary to impoverished people of Mississippi named John M. Perkins, 20 or 30 years before the whole concept of critical race theory came into existence.  Racial Reconciliation was about creating unity among the body of Christ, not divisions. 

 


I never said the term came from critical race theory, just that the author contradicts himself when he argues for racial reconciliation and then goes on to explain that the category of race is unbiblical.
Aside from his own inconsistency in the article, I find his call for churches to repent of our "racist past" in order to position ourselves to deal with our "racist present" to be an appeal to white guilt. In my opinion, which you may label naive if you like, such language is a club used to bludgeon an entire people group without any supporting evidence.

Steve Davis's picture

Everyone's experience will be different and there are always plenty of anecdotes. My experience in Philadelphia in the last 8 years has been mixed. I have never been stopped by the police and if I was I might be treated better as an older white male than my young black neighbor. Plus I have a police chaplain ID. When it comes to work I have experienced reverse discrimination. No need to go into the details. But I lost a job because I was white and the real offender (non-white) kept his job and I was passed over for opportunities for the sake of diversity. That's life. Life's not fair. My experience may not be systemic and is related to demographics. Still overall, I do believe that I enjoy a measure of privilege that others do not. I don't have any guilt over that. I try to love my neighbor as myself and have many rich relationships with other ethnic groups. As an example - on our leadership team we have 3 white elders (one married to an African-American), 2 black and one Hispanic elders. Whites are a minority in our church. I don't expect that of a church where the demographics are different.

 

Andrew K's picture

Yes, there's really no question that my "whiteness" gives me a form of privilege... as does my background, education, physical appearance (neatness, lack of tattoos, etc.), and so one. Nonetheless, "White Privilege" as the term is currently being bandied about, is a brand. It's a brand of resentment, like "Patriarchy" which describes a real phenomenon (or diffuse phenomena, which is more likely) but takes on a life of its own in popular discourse, where it overshadows and chokes out all competing values, such as economic ones, in a more classic Marxist scheme, and entails a binary system of moral righteousness for its "victims" and moral guilt for its "oppressors." It's a brand, and I'm not buying into it.

Jay's picture

...is whether there are some things typically done in "supermajority caucasian" churches that inadvertently creep out some minorities.  On a light note, I can imagine that if a majority Italian church were to greet everyone with the holy kiss, those of Puritan stock might run, and on a more serious note, if your church had a whole bunch of anti-Obama literature, even black Republicans might wonder what was up.

When I was a new Christian, I invited one of my closest friends, Janice, to our church.  She was the only African American in the service that night, and the pastor said something along the lines of having at least one visitor that night.  It embarrassed me, but she took it in stride.

I think (hope!) that the vast majority of churches on this thread would talk about wanting to be multicultural - it is a Biblical principle, after all - but we put land mines out like that all the time because our churches aren't aware of things that we do that unintentionally hinder those of different ethnicities.  Even walking into a church service where the majority of men are dressed in business attire (shirt, tie) could be hugely intimidating for someone who might be Latino and works as a mechanic in a car shop.  So while we say that they're welcome, the message they might receive is 'come back when you have a tie on'.  For someone who has a lip piercing or a sleeve tattoo, it could be the same thing.

The only thing that I can think of to counter that is to keep emphasizing that all are welcome, regardless of what they wear or look like, and remind them of James 2. 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Jay wrote:

The only thing that I can think of to counter that is to keep emphasizing that all are welcome, regardless of what they wear or look like, and remind them of James 2. 

I think that's really all any of us can do.  Our church is out in a mixed area (some suburbs, some farms) near a fairly large metropolitan area.  If our congregation perfectly reflected the people around us, we would have people from a number of ethnic groups, including Indians and Chinese (our area is pretty high-tech).  However, it would also include a fair number of "good old boys," as we are in the South, and a little bit into the country.  The house across the street from where we are meeting flies a confederate flag.  I don't know that we would ever be able to make everyone visiting our church comfortable, but as Jay said, we welcome all our visitors, regardless of what they are wearing, and our church usually does a great job welcoming people.  If they stick around for more than one service, they will be invited to someone's home, and people will try to get to know them and welcome them into the church.

Dave Barnhart

Joel Shaffer's picture

pvawter wrote:

 

Joel Shaffer wrote:

 

pvawter wrote:

 

Joel Shaffer wrote:

 

pvawter wrote:

I think we need to be careful about the assumptions which color much of the conversation about race in today's church. This article gives some helpful thoughts in that regard.
https://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/critical-theory-a...

 

Let me ask you a few questions before so I understand where you are coming from.  Are you suggesting that the Davis' article falls into this trap?  Why or Why not?   Would you agree with these men that the concept of White Privilege is a secular theory that undermines the unity of the church?  

 

I don't know if the author in the OP embraces all the categories of critical race theory. Upon a closer reading his article does seem to assume some of them, and he seems to contradict himself by arguing for "racial reconciliation" while also suggesting that the categories associated with "race" may not be entirely biblical.
As far as the idea of white privilege, I find it to be a convenient way to bludgeon an entire group based only on skin color. In general I find all types of racism to undermine the unity of the church.

 

 

I think you are very naive about human nature to discount the idea of white privilege. It's hardly bludgeoning an entire group based on skin color, rather it points out you may have some blind spots when it comes to race/culture.   Let me share how my pastor has described it:  

White privilege is a measurable thing. It's far too easy to dismiss the perceived experience of a person of color so studies have demonstrated that it is an objective, measurable reality as much as it is a subjective reality. Numerous examples abound. A white man at a used car dealer will be offered a price that is an average of $200 lower than the black man who checked it out earlier that morning. White children aged 12-17 are more likely to use and sell drugs than black children 12-17, yet black children are about twice as likely to be prosecuted for it.When identical resumes are sent to businesses with the only difference being one has a stereotypically white-sounding name and the other has a stereotypically black-sounding name, the white resume is far more likely to get a call back than the black resume. A similar thing is demonstrated when calling on apartment availability. "Tammy" will be told that an apartment is still available while "Tamika"  will be told it is not, even though Tammy and Tamika are the same person and called five minutes apart. There are numerous studies that demonstrate these things.”What many white folk fail to understand is that white privilege, while an established fact, is not the problem. The problem is that people of color are not given the same privilege. If Dontae went to the same college, has the same work experience, and has the same community involvement as Donald, then if Donald is called for an interview, so should Dontae. Studies demonstrate that it does not work that way. That's a problem.Let me add that the concept of white privilege does not mean a white man was hired simply because he was white. That's a common rebuttal against the idea, but it is not a legitimate argument against white privilege for it misses what white privilege actually is. Most people are hired because they're qualified. White privilege means that a man was more likely to be interviewed for the position because he was not black. That's a problem. That is a serious problem. To demonstrate such preferential treatment—and I'll grant that it's often unbeknownst to the one demonstrating it!—is contrary to God's purposes in this world and is an attack on the image of God in man. That's a problem.” J.T. Richards

The term racial reconciliation came about in the 1960's and 1970's through a rural and then urban missionary to impoverished people of Mississippi named John M. Perkins, 20 or 30 years before the whole concept of critical race theory came into existence.  Racial Reconciliation was about creating unity among the body of Christ, not divisions. 

 

 

I never said the term came from critical race theory, just that the author contradicts himself when he argues for racial reconciliation and then goes on to explain that the category of race is unbiblical.
Aside from his own inconsistency in the article, I find his call for churches to repent of our "racist past" in order to position ourselves to deal with our "racist present" to be an appeal to white guilt. In my opinion, which you may label naive if you like, such language is a club used to bludgeon an entire people group without any supporting evidence.

The reason that I suggested that this article be posted was that Dr. Davis is one of only a handful of the several thousand or so fundamentalist churches in America that has been able to have a fruitful ministry within urban/African-American and Multi-Ethnic contexts.   He helped start 3 churches in urban Indianapolis and helped start Crossroads Bible college (a multi-ethnic Bible college in Indianapolis).  He then went to Clark Summit University/Baptist Bible Seminary as a church planting professor and has helped facilitate 8 church plants, several of which are multi-ethnic.  You critique him for contradicting himself by stating that the category of race is not Biblical yet he uses the term racial reconciliation.  I think you are definitely straining gnats at this point.  I've also done the same. The reason I will sometimes use the term racial reconciliation is that it is a term that our culture is familiar with, yet at the same time I remind them that Biblically we are one race.  

As for white privilege, are you doubting all these studies that were mentioned in the definition of white privilege?  Do I have to post documentation of every single one of them to prove that white privilege exists?  I'll do that if you'd like, plus much more.  The reason that I use the term is that it brings people face-to-face with the fact that despite the years of progress that our country has made when it comes to dealing with racism since the Jim Crow era, there are still many systemic injustices that black people face in our nation today.   Perhaps I should have explained this better before I made the comment about your naiveness when it comes to human nature.  When you keep on stating that there is no supporting evidence of (white privilege) systematic racial injustices that still exist, you come across naive when it comes to how the sins of the heart affect political, social, governmental, economic, religious, judicial/law-enforcement systems that exist in our nation.  

As for calling out churches to repent of their racist past in order to deal with the present, I took that to mean that there are churches who, in their past, treated black folk badly because they were black and they need to repent of their past racism.  I saw many instances of blatant racism by fundamental churches first hand.  One of the churches that my father was a music pastor at in the 1970's refused to allow an older black couple who were strong believers to become members of their church because they weren't white (it would offend others who happened to be racist). The church that my mother grew up in Ludington Michigan (where we would visit during the summer) did the same.   I remember church members (that my dad was music pastor at in the 1980's) using the N word several times in normal conversations in the foyer of the church.  Interestingly, in the 1990's, that church did repent of their racist past and present when Dr. Charles Ware-president of Crossroads Bible College (who is black) was an interim pastor for 6 months between pastors.  He also is married to a white woman. When several people grumbled and slandered him about his inter-racial marriage and other issues, several members were confronted, a few repented and a few were put on church discipline.  Even some of the deacons repented for allowing the sin of racism to fester for years of not holding people accountable.   Dr. Davis has been in enough fundamental churches to know that there are some racial skeletons in their closets of which some churches need to repent.  So I do not see what he is saying as "white guilt."   

pvawter's picture

Joel,
Let's hope that Dr. Davis is indeed simply speaking to those churches with a history of racism and not broadbrushing an entire group based on their skin color. That would be sad indeed.
Paul