Final Thoughts on Race, Social Justice & The Social Justice Statement

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Sorry for the delay in posting but I’ve been swamped. This past weekend, I preached on Biblical Justice and Social Justice. It was one of the most emotionally draining sermons I’ve ever delivered and I even had to cut it off for time’s sake. Here is the long and short of it that also reflects my current thinking on the current debate over social justice.

First of all, I appreciate the Statement on Social Justice drafted and signed by godly men like Dr. John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Dr. James White, Dr. Voddie Baucham, etc. While I have concluded that I will not sign the Statement, I am disturbed at many of the reactions I have seen on social media. I have seen many attack or impugn the motives of these men and I find that to be repugnant.

I regularly listen to The Dividing Line and Grace To You and read the many books written by these men and they have been a great blessing. I have learned much from them and will continue to do so.

Also, these men have legitimate concerns. As I raised during my sermon this past weekend, approaches to societal ills such as “critical race theory” (or CRTS) should be rejected by evangelical Christians. CRTS divides society in such a way as to instruct all minorities to distrust all Caucasians and even shun any who do not fit the theory’s originators of those who are “truly black” or “truly Hispanic,” etc.

I admire that many of these Christian leaders have boldly spoken out on defending the life of the unborn and the Biblical definition of marriage. I think it is also right for all evangelical pastors to also speak regularly on racial injustice as they do on these other important issues.

I began my sermon preaching on God’s commands as to justice. As I posted earlier, the Word of God is very clear that we are not to entertain allegations against anyone without two or three witnesses. I believe that evidence such as recordings from dash board cameras would count. Sole allegations, however, should never be considered regardless if it is in a court of law or the court of public opinion. As such, we, as Christians, should withhold judgment if and until evidence comes to light whether it concerns a Supreme Court nominee or a police officer accused of racism or a shooting victim alleged to have acted aggressively.

I then shifted to speak about race and justice. I prepared by listening to Dr. MacArthur’s sermon series, Dr. White’s remarks on his fine show as well as reading and watching various presentations by pastor Thabiti Anyabwilie, Dr. Eric Mason and Lecrae. I also sat down with several members of my congregation who are black.

I was pleased to hear that racial tensions have greatly diminished over the decades in our own little corner of the world. I was, however, disgusted to hear stories about mistreatment by police officers. I was also disturbed to learn that many minority members of my church faced a lot of criticism from their African-American friends for not attending a “black church.” Thus, Dr. White is correct that racism can in fact work both ways.

My friends expressed concern that while they understood why white evangelical pastors have preached on behalf of marriage and the unborn, they were distressed that we had not spoken as passionately about issues such as the slaughter of young black men in places like Chicago, the high rate of incarceration of minorities in America and shooting such as that of Treyvon Martin.

Of course, a number of white evangelical leaders have addressed these issues but there is a difference between acknowledging a problem and preaching on an issue with true passion. I apologized for personally being guilty of making such a mistake.

I agree with Dr. White’s exegesis of texts such as Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11 that the key to true racial reconciliation is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Critics have pointed out that the “just preach the Gospel” approach is historically problematic. For example, men like Gen. Stonewall Jackson were known for their Christian piety yet defended the evil institution of slavery during the American Civil War. What do we make of this?

I argued that, as best I could ascertain, the reason Christians could profess Christ and yet engage in such puzzling behavior is the same reason pastors can study the Word and minister to people then go home and watch inappropriate material online or a mother could pray over her children at night and then affirm an ungodly relationship among friends the next day. The problem is sin and when our inherit sinful nature is coupled with cultural acceptance the result is toxic.

So, we must preach the Gospel clearly and boldly. Yet, we must seek to establish diverse congregations so that our study, teaching and preaching are challenged by those with very different experiences from our own.

Before entering corporate defense law and then working for eight years for a Christian non-profit law firm, I served as a prosecutor in upstate New York. I worked closely with police officers. The overwhelming majority of those men and women were dedicated, under paid, fair and heroic servants. However, I knew of a handful who were racist. They had no business possessing a badge. If, tragically, such a person takes the life of a person of color AND the evidence eventually shows either a horrible mistake or malice, pastors, white or otherwise, should speak out. If the shooting, however, was justified then I beg my brothers and sisters of color to hear the Word of the Lord and wait for evidence that God Himself has stated is admissible. In sum, I pray that the segregation of Jesus’ church would end, that pastors of all colors will regularly speak out on injustice but always keep the Gospel (2 Cor. 5:21) at the core. I pray that God’s people lead the way in healing our fractured society by embracing God’s design for justice. I pray that all of those in Jesus Christ remember that we have one enemy, which is Satan and his fellow demons and that, as best I know, they do not have a skin color.