Pastor John MacArthur posted the fourth installment in his celebrated series on “social justice” and Racial Reconciliation (RR) Wednesday evening, “Is the Controversy over ‘Social Justice’ Really Necessary?” First, on a positive note, pastor MacArthur writes,
As Christians committed to the authority of Scripture and the truth of the gospel, we have better answers than the world could ever give to the problems of racism, injustice, human cruelty, and every other societal evil. We have the cross of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit who grows and leads us in all love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
To which I say Amen and Amen! This, I believe, every Christian in the discussion can and should agree with.
But unfortunately, like the three that had gone before, there is very little substance and no arguments provided to support the critical claims of this fourth post—Biblical or otherwise—so there is still not much to interact with. What he does mention (but not substantiate) has been handled in many other articles already. He states, e.g., that “The American attitude has changed. White supremacy and all other expressions of purposeful, willful, or ideological racism are almost universally condemned”; if anything, we have already gone too far in response. I would simply suggest reading, “What Is & Isn’t Being Said: 6. ‘Color-Blind Racism’.”
I don’t know what most white people in this country feel, I can only conclude what they feel from the state of their institutions. I don’t know if white Christians hate negros or not; but I know we have a Christian church which is white and Christian church which is black. I know, as Malcom X once put it, the most segregated hour in American life is high noon on Sunday. That says a great deal to me about a Christian nation. It means I cannot afford to trust most white Christians, and I certainly cannot trust the Christian Church. I don’t know whether the labor unions and their bosses really hate me—that doesn’t matter, but I’m not in their unions. I don’t know if the real estate lobby has anything against black people, but I know the real estate lobbies keep me in the ghetto. I don’t know if the board of education hates black people, but I know the text books they give my children to read, and the schools we have to go to. Now, this is the evidence. You want me to make an act of faith, risking myself, my wife, my woman, my sister, my children, on some idealism which you assure me exists in America, which I have never seen. (James Baldwin, on the Dick Cavett Show)
Racist Ideas, Racism, and Racists
My definition of a racist idea is a simple one: it is any concept that regards one racial group as inferior or superior to another racial group in any way. I define anti-Black racist ideas…as any idea suggesting that Black people, or any group of Black people, are inferior in any way to another racial group. (Ibram X Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning, Kindle Locations 193-200)
We can say further that to believe and confess racist ideas is racism. But to then say that those who hold to one or more racist ideas are “racists,” without any qualification, is often a very slippery slope to irrelevancy; both you and I will be caught up in this dragnet when Jesus lays bare every secret thought of our hearts.
In our LAST POST we argued that religion is not only not a bad word, but is implanted into the very nature of man, God having revealed Himself in man and all of His creation. The Scripture teaches that this leaves men without excuse before God, but also that fallen mankind is nevertheless unable by natural light alone to truly know and worship God as He truly is. True religion is revealed religions—it is the mystery of Jesus Christ as revealed in both the Old and New Testaments (see Col. 1:24-28; Acts 4:12; Jn. 1:18). All men worship; the only question is whether they worship the creature or the Creator (Rom. 1:19-25).
Here, we will briefly address whether true religion is primarily intellectual, or primarily practical, allowing us to offer a proper definition of “religion” in the Biblical sense, and also justify our claim that the proper object of this series ought to be religion, not doctrine simpliciter.
So, is religion primarily intellectual? Continue reading
It appears that Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church and the Grace to You empire has entered the fray of Racial Reconciliation (RR) discussions. In his recent blog post, “Social Justice and the Gospel,” Pastor MacArthur decries what he calls the current “social justice” movement within evangelicalism. In his words,
This recent (and surprisingly sudden) detour in quest of “social justice” is, I believe, the most subtle and dangerous threat so far.
Since there is not much substance in this particular piece, as it is only the first salvo in a series of blogs he intends to write on the subject, I don’t intend here to respond to his yet substantiated claims. (I also intend to muster enough strength to not be thoroughly annoyed by his consistent assumption that evangelical leaders are pushing “social justice”—a phrase I really only hear opponents using to align RR advocates against “Biblical justice.”) What I would like to briefly address is the claim that the movement today is fundamentally different than that of the 1960’s and 70’s, that in which he believed himself to have been a participant.
As I continue to work through my series on Racial Reconciliation, I’ve decided to keep up with some more basic theological content in the meantime. I hope to get at least one of these up per week.
“Religion” has become a bad word in much of modern evangelicalism. We are told that “religion” disrupts relationship with God, or that “religion” is man’s creation and therefore is somehow man-centered and not God-centered. On the other hand, the Reformed have always contended that religion is itself inescapable; all men are religious, whether they like it or not. That is, religion is universal. It is very much a part of being human, being made in the image of God. Further, I will argue that “pure religion and undefiled before God” (Jas. 1:27) is neither purely intellectual nor purely practical, but brings both together in one life of belief in, worship of, and love toward our Triune God. As such, “religion” is what I propose we study in this series, rather than bare doctrine. “Basic Reformed stuff” needs to be a theology in practice, especially if it’s going to accurately reflect the work of our early Reformed forebears. (I am Three Forms after all.)
Having shown in the last post that color-blindness is not in fact a Biblical ethic, we now move on to the concept of “color-blind racism.”
If one is willing and able to believe the research outlining the great racial disparities in American society today—in terms of wealth, home ownership, employment, education, health, criminalization, incarceration, etc.—as well as the persistent de facto neighborhood and church segregation, one is compelled to seek an explanation. In broad terms, Americans are either inclined to interpret this data as the modern manifestation and continuation of 450 years of slavery and oppression leading to racism, discrimination, and attempted dehumanization of the “black race” at the hands of the white, or they are inclined to look for explanations in the very nature and behavior of the victims themselves. Those who find the former explanation persuasive are likely committed to the essential and fundamental equality of the races; any explanation that regards or implies the superiority or inferiority of any racial group is in fact a false, racist, mythology.
On the other hand, those who would adopt the latter explanation, that black Americans are themselves either wholly or largely responsible for their own plight, have proven the majority throughout American history, even in the midst of antebellum slavery and Jim Crow. Continue reading