Last week I posted the following thread on Twitter, in response to Justin Peter’s indignant request of Beth Moore:
As a result of actually naming names, I was accused countless times of slander. The fact of the matter is, I did not ever call Justin Peters, John MacArthur, James White, Phil Johnson, Doug Wilson, Jordan Hall, Josh Buice, Tom Ascol, or anyone else a White Supremacist. Nor do I believe that any I named are. But I absolutely believe that their constant attacks on those fighting racism in the Church gives defense to White Supremacists, Kinists, and Ethno-nationalists in the Church. And this is dangerous and unacceptable.
Further, I directly asked Justin Peters, Fred Butler, and Tom Buck if their claims of slander were, (1) claims that they had never said the things I listed, or (2) that they do not believe that those words have the same deleterious effect that I believe they have. None would answer; but the slander charges, nevertheless, kept coming. So, I thought it best to go phrase by phrase through the attributions, comparing my actual words with theirs—without framing or commentary. If their slander claim is based on option (1), then it should be withdrawn after this post. If it is based on option (2), there clearly is no slander, but, rather, a disagreement about the effects of their words.
(As a quick note: I did not focus on Doug Wilson or Jordan Hall. They, I believe, are known quantities. Also, I think it is fair to note that James White is by far the most incendiary of the bunch, Tom Ascol the least—in my opinion. I’d hate to put them all in the same category.)
Article quotes will precede screenshots in each section. Also, I do encourage all to be read in context. I think I’ve already quoted too much from each, so please go to the source if all is not clear. It might also be helpful to note that almost everything below that interacts with individuals is, in context, directed at either Thabiti Anyabwile, Dr. Eric Mason, Dr. Anthony Bradley, Jemar Tisby, or Kyle Howard, consistent with my claim in the thread (“those who are driving the race conversation”).
And last, this compendium is by no means complete; it is already way too long, yet still only scratches the surface.
….claiming those who are driving the race conversation are “sowing division,”
That’s why I’m deeply troubled by the recent torrent of rhetoric about “social justice” in evangelical circles. The jargon is borrowed from secular culture, and it is being employed purposely, irresponsibly in order to segment the church into competing groups—the oppressed and disenfranchised vs. the powerful and privileged.
As evangelical thought leaders experiment with intersectional theory,* the number and nature of competing categories and class divisions we hear about will no doubt increase. But for now, the focus in the evangelical realm is mainly on ethnicity. “Race”—a thoroughly unbiblical notion to begin with (cf. Acts 17:26)—became the central talking point of the evangelical conference circuit earlier this year.
People supposedly belong to the oppressed group or the sinfully privileged group not because of their real-life experiences; not necessarily because of anything they have said or done; not because of the content of their character—but solely because of the color of their skin. Furthermore, the dividing lines are frequently drawn in a way that makes the harshest possible black-and-white contrast—literally. If your ancestors were neither white Europeans nor sub-Saharan Africans, you might be wondering where you fit in the discussion. (For example, the advantages Asian-American evangelicals enjoy and the disadvantages they face are hardly ever mentioned in the discussion, because frankly those subjects don’t fit neatly into the popular narrative.) One might get the impression that American evangelicals are all either the descendants of white plantation owners or the offspring of African slaves. There seems to be no middle ground—just a middle wall of partition. […] Instead of promoting any true and meaningful reconciliation, the bitter fruit of this movement has been anger, resentment, and vengeful separation. (John MacArthur, “No Division in the Body“)
…are damaging the gospel,
Evangelicalism’s newfound obsession with the notion of “social justice” is a significant shift—and I’m convinced it’s a shift that is moving many people (including some key evangelical leaders) off message, and onto a trajectory that many other movements and denominations have taken before, always with spiritually disastrous results.
Over the years, I’ve fought a number of polemical battles against ideas that threaten the gospel. This recent (and surprisingly sudden) detour in quest of “social justice” is, I believe, the most subtle and dangerous threat so far. (John MacArthur, “Social Injustice and the Gospel”)
The message of social justice diverts attention from Christ and the cross. It turns our hearts and minds from things above to things on this earth. It obscures the promise of forgiveness for hopeless sinners by telling people they are hapless victims of other people’s misdeeds.
It therefore fosters the works of the flesh instead of cultivating the fruit of the Spirit. […] Constantly complaining that we are victims of injustice while judging other people guilty of sins we cannot even see is antithetical to the Spirit of Christ. (John MacArthur, “The Injustice of Social Justice”)
It is not that those in the ESJ movement are denying the exclusivity or deity of Christ. It is not that they are denying salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It is not that they are denying the authority of scripture – at least not directly. In other words, they (at least most of them) are not necessarily heretical in what they teach, but we do believe them to be in serious theological error; error which, left unchecked, will inexorably lead to heresy. The error we are seeing today in the ESJ movement is the error that seemed benign to Methodists a century ago. Out of love for God and concern for His sheep we are trying to sound the alarm.
We have seen this movie before. (Justin Peters, “Article 9 — Heresy: Explanation”)
This brings me to one aspect of the social justice movement that deeply grieves my heart. The message from many in this camp is that the gospel is sufficient to cleanse one’s conscience and turn one’s behavior from adultery, theft, fornication, blasphemy, etc., – but not racism! To deal with racism the big guns must be brought to bear. I do not understand such thinking. (Justin Peters, “Article 7—Salvation: Explanation”)
As I compose this commentary, there remain segments within the American evangelical church that continue to advance and propagate the principles and tenets of the “gospel” of social justice. Increasing numbers of evangelical churches, pastors, and ministries are buying into what I consider merely a new presentation of an old soteriology: salvation by social activism. […] It is my contention that the “heaven on earth” theology to which Rauschenbusch subscribed is at the heart of the contemporary evangelical social justice movement.
Though his name may not be widely known, either in ecclesial or secular circles, the soteriology of Walter Rauschenbusch, an advocate of Christian socialism and a major influence on more notable social gospel adherents such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bishop Desmond Tutu, mirrors that of increasing numbers of evangelical Christians today. (Darrell Harrison, “The Fault in Their (Social) Gospel”)
Blending the gospel with social activism has been tried many times. (Google “Walter Rauschenbusch” or “social gospel.”) It has always turned out to be a shortcut to Socinianism, carnal humanism, or some more sinister form of spiritual barrenness. The social message inevitably overwhelms and replaces the gospel message, no matter how well-intentioned proponents of the method may have been at the start. […] Preaching on “social justice” in the manner now being modeled by certain leading evangelicals subverts the duty set forth in Colossians 3:2: “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” It encourages people to see themselves as victims, not sinners. It fosters resentment rather than repentance. It is a man-centered, not Christ-centered, message. It begets blame rather than forgiveness. And it points people to the law, not the gospel. (Phil Johnson, “A Gospel Issue?”)
The gospel of Matthew records that the angel of the Lord commanded Joseph to name their child ‘Jesus’ for the “for He will save His people from their sins” (see Matt. 1:21). I mention this to suggest that social justice activists would do well to remind themselves that Jesus is a Savior, not a divine Social Worker. Christ’s larger purpose in this world is eschatological not sociological, to prepare for His elect a new world to come, not a better world here (see Jn. 18:36; 2 Pet. 3:13). (Darrell Harrison, “Divided by Sin”)
Notwithstanding the fact that there is no such thing as ‘race’, neither biblically nor scientifically, the notion of “racial reconciliation” is both nonsensical and irrational. The truth is ‘race’ cannot reconcile anyone because it has no heart so as to desire to do so nor a will so as to commit to doing so. […] Christ came into the world to save sinners, not society (Matt. 1:21; 1 Tim. 1:15). (Darrell Harrison, “The Problem Is Enmity, Not Ethnicity”)
[Christ] has already predetermined before the foundation of the world the racial mix of His church … so all I want to do is preach the gospel. (John MacArthur, “The Gospel and Black Lives Matter”)
…are “Cultural Marxists,” don’t believe in Biblical authority, are only following Critical Race theory, Liberation theology, and worldly ethics;
Any step toward the “woke” movement is to follow the footsteps of culture rather than Christ. This is true not only in terms of the witch hunt for systemic racism, but it’s likewise true regarding any movement that distracts God’s people from their mission which will always be centered on the good news of salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord.
The real question that needs to be answered is–how does the “woke” church movement and the hyper emphasis upon social justice differ from cultural Marxism? I’ve yet to hear a good clear differentiation between the two. (Josh Buice, “Article 8 — The Church: Explanation”)
Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party were a threat to Jews because social justice is a threat to human rights.
Jews in Europe were considered privileged and oppressive in their nations long before Hitler’s influence. In the 17th century, poor Europeans in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth killed between 50,000 and 100,000 Jews during the Khmelnytsky Uprising because they believed Jews were oppressive and privileged. And Hitler’s social justice activism against Jews wasn’t too dissimilar to Joseph Stalin’s propaganda against Jews in the Soviet Union. Stalin caricatured Russian Jews as “rootless cosmopolitans” and “bourgeois cosmopolitans” to describe their privilege and to incite discrimination against them.
Social justice was the basis for stripping rights away from Jews in the Khmelnytsky Uprising. Social justice was the basis for discrimination against Jews in the Soviet Union. Social justice was the basis for the holocaust in Nazi Germany. Social justice is the basis for South Africa’s initiative to strip property rights from White farmers. […] In South Africa and every part of the world today, social justice doesn’t fight racism, it fosters it. It doesn’t defend rights, it destroys it. It conflates disparities with discrimination. It suggests people are guilty before proven innocent. It believes in the rule of leftism, not the rule of law. It believes in feelings, not facts. It believes in microaggressions, not maturity. Social justice is about perceived injustice, not proved injustice. It is an unending, unhelpful, unsatisfying thirst to fill broken cisterns. It doesn’t affirm human rights. It doesn’t advance the gospel. It isn’t the gospel. It worships the critical theory, not Christ. (Samuel Sey, “Social Justice Is a Threat to Human Rights and the Gospel”)
“Then he [Ligon Duncan] made, you know, basically saying, ‘Hey, Ligon Duncan is not into Neo-Marxism.’ Well, I’m sure Ligon Duncan isn’t….BUT, once you buy Critical Race Theory, you may not consciously follow and trace the line back to where it comes from, that doesn’t change the fact that that’s where it comes from and that’s how it’s used.” (James White, (“Nearly Two Hours on Critical Race Theory, White Privilege, T4G, and More,”)
…those who write whole series on how black Americans are just playing the victim and want white people’s money;
You see, all those …You got homosexuals, women, men, racial issues, ethnic groups, all mingled together, and now the Southern Baptist convention is apologizing to all of the victims. This I think is a complete disaster for the gospel […]. (John MacArthur, “John MacArthur on Intersectionality and Social Justice”)
Sadly, many evangelicals have welcomed it back as if it were a needy friend. The enemy has seduced this current generation to follow him down the very same track, the same sinkhole all over again. […] This time it isn’t called the social gospel, it’s called social justice. […] And the victim class keeps growing larger and larger and larger. Every time I turn around there’s a new class of victims. […] Am I surprised at this? Not at all, not in the least. It is the most natural thing for sinners to designate themselves as victims. This is the default position of all fallen human beings. It’s the most natural thing for us to do, blame someone else for our condition, blame someone else for our issues, blame someone else for our troubles. […] Sinners most naturally blame someone else, and ultimately blame their circumstances. And since God is the sovereign over all of history, they blame God.
People believe that they are good, but other people mess them up. You have to be a victim, because sinners need to pass blame off, because it has a superficial way of salving their guilty conscience. So they hold tightly to the deception that they are good, but someone bad influenced them, or some bad group influenced them, or some oppressive race, or all men, or all heterosexual people, or all rich people, or whatever.
Here’s the problem with letting sinners think that way. You’re aiding and abetting their disavowal of their sinfulness. This is why it assaults the gospel, because that’s the entry point of the gospel. (John MacArthur, “Social Justice and the Gospel, Part 2”)
[…] How is your knowledge of the Word-Faith movement shaping your perspective on social justice? Are there similarities between Word-Faith and social justice?
There are similarities in that they are both man-centered and both appeal to benefits which we may want but to which we are not entitled. […] The social gospel plays on man’s fallen desire to see himself as a victim of some injustice and therefore entitled to some type of restitution or preferential treatment. Some of these injustices are real, some are perceived. But none of us is entitled to have these injustices made right here on earth. […]
All of us have been slighted in some way. I have to live with cerebral palsy and things that most people do in a few minutes almost without thinking – like getting dressed – take me nearly two hours. Would it be nice to not have to struggle with a body that does not work? Would I like to be able to go hiking in the mountains or even be able to carry a book from one room to the next? Do I wish steps and stairs did not prevent me from going into some stores and many homes? Of course! But, I am not entitled to these things and they are not part of the gospel. […] The biblical reality is that none of us is a victim. […] This movement has fomented a division and distrust between brothers and sisters in Christ of different ethnicities. (Justin Peters via Samuel Sey, “Seven Questions With Justin Peters (Part 2)”)
That our society is permeated by an entitlement mentality should be manifestly evident to all. Most people, it seems, believe themselves to be victims in one way or another and are, therefore, entitled to various benefits even if said benefits are not earned and come at the expense of others.
This entitlement mentality is both the foundation of and fuel for the social justice movement that is sweeping through evangelical churches.  The evangelical church, though, should be the one bastion in which any sense of entitlement and victimhood finds no quarter.
Upon being confronted with sin, human nature’s inclination is to blame shift. […] We all want to be innocent victims rather than morally accountable.
One of the subtlest and yet, left unchecked, deadliest dangers of the social justice movement is that it fosters in people the idea that they have been unfairly treated and are entitled to preferential treatment to compensate for this inequity. If we look hard enough, most of us could find someone or something to blame for not having what we want to have. […]
I was born with a moderate case of cerebral palsy. Through no fault of my own, many – likely most – occupations will never be options for me. I will never be able to be a server in a restaurant, police officer, firefighter, construction worker, janitor, mechanic, farmer, or pizza delivery man. Any occupation that necessitates carrying anything from one place to another while bipedal will forever be off limits for me. Daily tasks such as showering, getting dressed and the like that most people do in a few minutes take me nearly two hours. Some stores I cannot shop in because of steps leading into them.
Do I feel oppressed by society? No. Do I see myself as a victim? Not at all. By God’s grace I do the best with what He has given me.
[…] It is not that the temptation to see myself as a victim is not there; of course it is. But it is a temptation that I strive to mortify. […] Additionally, to see myself as a victim would be to complain to God about what He has providentially decreed for me. It is His will that I have cerebral palsy. To complain about my physical condition would be to question God’s good providence and to suggest that He owes me more than what He has graciously provided. Whether we are limited by a physical malady, a government, or some unjust aspect of society, it is sinful to assert that God has made a mistake in placing us where He has or that He owes us anything other than what He has given. And this leads me to what really troubles me about the social justice movement.
The Bible does not portray men as victims. […] The social justice movement engenders in people an entitlement mentality. People believe that they are owed some form of restitution or preferential treatment because of some injustice, real or perceived, that has been done to them. […] We are not victims of an unjust society, we are violators of God’s law. (Justin Peters, “Thanks for Nothing”)
It must not be understated that one of the central problems with the social justice agenda is its fascination with victimology. In many ways, the evangelical version of social justice is following in the footsteps of the secular version. Colin Kaepernick, a former quarterback in the NFL, was unsuccessful as an athlete, but eventually became the face of the National Anthem protest that was greatly controversial. Although he was unsuccessful as a professional athlete, Kaepernick has become the face of a movement and is now one of the leading faces of the Nike corporation. How did Kaepernick receive a lucrative contract from Nike? It wasn’t because of his performance on the football field, it was because of the fact that he took a knee as a victim to “systemic racism.”
There is power in victimhood, and many women have come to recognize that reality. […] There is no avoiding the issues in the social justice agenda—and it quickly becomes a slippery slope that leads to disaster. Many different voices are claiming to be oppressed and are demanding an apology for their victim status.
Social Justice claims to run to the aid of the oppressed and the victims of discrimination, racism, and other evils of society. What Christian doesn’t want to help the oppressed? What Christian wants to turn their back upon the evils of discrimination and racism? The problem with the social justice movement is that it leads to oppression rather than liberation. Social justice fuels the idea of victim status while promoting false ideas of systemic racism and systemic oppression of women within evangelicalism. (Josh Buice, “Social Justice is an Attack on the Sufficiency of Scripture”)
Melanin … has absolutely, positively, nothing to do with the commandments of God. Nothing. Nothing. Show me somewhere in the Bible—where Paul wrote to slaves, and he said, “Slaves…be obedient to your masters; this glorifies God.” There are textual variants in any manuscript that has a little asterisk down at the bottom with a little note, that said, “Well, unless your particular ethnic group has experienced this kind of mistreatment, and then you don’t have to do this.” And there’s no chart that says how bad this would have to have been, so if you’re in this ethnic group, then this ethnic group, then this ethnic group. None of that. There’s nothing in Scripture when it talks about duties of husbands to wives, our duties toward God, our duties toward government and authority, nowhere, anywhere, does race come in. It’s not a Biblical construct. It’s not a Biblical construct. The ethnic gnostic is in grave theological danger if they claim to be a Christian. (Now there are a lot of ethnic gnostics who aren’t Christians, obviously.) But when they claim to be a Christian, here’s the danger—and I saw this over and over and over and over again, Twitter, Facebook, blog posts—the great danger is when your ethnicity, your race, your culturalism, becomes the first primary lens through which you view everything else. And some people would say, “There is no way to escape that…”—Yes there is! Yes there is! The first primary lens must be the Scriptures, the gospel, your relationship to God, who you are as His creature—that must be the first lens. You must look at everything else, including race, secondarily only through the gospel. If you don’t do that, you’re not doing it as a Christian. And if you have you culturalism, your racism, as your primary lens looking at everything else, you will end up perverting the truth. And so let’s just be absolutely, positively honest here. For a certain portion of you, I could not have—I should not have written that, cause I’m “MC,” melanin challenged. I’m primarily Scottish, British, and German. That’s an interesting mixture. […] And you know what, I can look back at each one of my racial groups—man the Scotts were treated like garbage. They were enslaved. I’m not gonna demand reparations. I don’t think it has something to do with me today. Why does anyone think that? I don’t, I don’t understand that. It seems absolutely, abjectly, absurd to me … to go, “Hey, well, you know this happened 150 years ago, so I can live this way, or you owe me that.” It’s not a way to live life, and it’s not BIBLICAL. Nothing in the Bible tells you, “Well, you know, you should look back at what happened and live in light of that.” You know what it does say, to the Jewish people, “Look back to God’s faithfulness and live faithfully to His Covenant,” that’s all it says. Nothin’ about race. Nothin’ about Living as a life-long victim. In fact, if we’re new creatures in Christ, how could that be anyways? Does that make any sense? (March 22, 2016, “James White tells Black Americans to stop blaming slavery for all of their problems”)
…those who make and sign ignorant statements meant to shut down discussion and alienate;
Nearly every text quoted in this post is on the Statement website and intended to defend and clarify the same.
…those who continue to defend their racist theological heroes at all costs because they “got the gospel right” (contradictorily) and they were just men of their times; those who have no qualms quoting evil men from the pulpit because they said something theologically profound;
One of the wonderful old past generation American preachers was a man named R.L. Dabney. And reading him is always refreshing. He’s like a Puritan out of his time and out of his place. (John MacArthur, “John MacArthur on R.L. Dabney”)
On of my favorite theologians in America is R. L. Dabney. He was a Presbyterian theologian, and I firmly believe that he would be remembered as America’s greatest theologian ever, except that he got embroiled in the Civil War. He was a Southern Presbyterian during the time of the Civil War. He was the chaplain to Stonewall Jackson, so he was actually in the military and fought for the South in the war. And when the South lost, he became embittered and never really got over it, and some of his later writings also are racist. You know, just racist. So much so that when the Banner of Truth published his collected writings on essays and stuff like that—it’s called Discussions. It’s actually my favorite set of books of all the books on my shelf, that’s the one I’d least like to lose, cause there’s just some brilliant material in there. It was originally four volumes, but when Banner of Truth picked it up and published it, they made it three volumes, because they took out—there was so much racist material at the end that they had to take out. So they deleted half of volume three and most of volume four and put it in three volumes. And I look at Dabney and I think, what a shame, what a shame—I mean he was a product of his times—what a shame that he couldn’t rise above that and see beyond that, cause he understood doctrine and loved the Scriptures and loved Christ and I’m sure his level of spiritual maturity was far beyond mine, so I feel bad even criticizing him. But you have to step back and look at that and say, he like all those Reformers was a flawed man and sometimes our flaws outlive and sometimes even overshadow our good qualities. (Phil Johnson, “How to View the Flaws of the Reformers”, 0:6:10)
The idea of looking at Edwards and Whitfield IN THEIR DAY is considered reprehensible, because, “Well, you’re excusing what they did.” No, I’m understanding how you can read Whitfield, what he says, the necessity of preaching to the Black man, the condemnation he makes of the mistreatment of slaves, but without the call for the freeing of slaves. Because in HIS mind, that would result in economic chaos and possibly even starvation, loss of life. And it’s so easy for us today to say, “Oh well that, that, that wouldn’t have happened” [comical voice]. How do you know that wouldn’t happen? How do you know it wouldn’t have happened? That was their concern, you can say it was wrong, but that was their concern, you can’t just ignore it. It was the reality they dealt with. And, could those things be used as excuses? Of course they could. But that’s where they functioned. (“Nearly Two Hours on Critical Race Theory, White Privilege, T4G, and More,” 1:12:15)
…those who believe that Europeans are and have been the protectors of orthodoxy and that black churches are and have always been gospel deficient;
[L]ets face the hard truth: the white, European, Western Society Christians are truly the ones who not only preserved Christian orthodoxy for everyone, including recapturing the Bible in the original languages, they are the ones who shaped the course of Protestant Christianity throughout the world and specifically here in the United States.
I don’t mean to be dismissive of their contribution, but African-American Christians are a small portion built upon the main foundation, that just so happens to be, according to God’s providence, a white, Western European/English one. (Grace To You‘s Fred Butler, shared and defended by other GTY staff, “Who Would’ve Thought Reading the Reformers Was Racist?”)
…those who love to argue every other day that MLK was a heretical womanizer;
The MLK50 conference was incredibly worrisome because it treated Martin Luther King, Jr. as a man who embodied some perfect blend of Christianity along with social activism. We are all grateful that God, in His providence, used King to bring about some very needed and very overdue societal changes but he was not a Christian. He was a man who denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus and indeed, on his most orthodox treatment of it, said it really did not matter one way or the other. His life was one marked with sexual promiscuity up to and including the night before he was murdered. Unless he had some Damascas road conversion literally in the hours before he was shot, he died an unregenerate man. To affirm him as a Christian is to diminish the Gospel. (Justin Peters, “Seven Questions With Justin Peters (Part 2)”)
That[‘s] what concerns me about the Martin Luther King elevation. The man denied the authority of scripture, denied the trinity, denied the deity of Jesus Christ, denied the gospel, and lived an immoral life. How does he become heroic? (John MacArthur, “John MacArthur on Intersectionality and Social Justice”)
The ERLC sponsored a conference in April named after Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who according to his closest friend, Ralph Abernathy, was a known woman abuser and a serial adulterer.
When people in denominational positions commit sexual sin, they are dismissed with little to no hesitation. Their contact information is erased as if they never were part of the SBC entity no matter how effective they were in their work. In such tragic situations we rightly conclude that one has disqualified himself or herself from ministry. Perhaps, however, at fifty years beyond their death the hope of public absolution lingers. Has the ERLC given such an absolution to Dr. King, even in the face of their present cries for taking action against any form of abuse of women? Has his laudable contribution to public justice been given precedence over his personal history of infidelity and violence against women? (Tom Ascol, “The Question I Did not Get to Ask at the SBC18”)
…those who blame black Americans themselves for society wide disparities, suggesting they are (I guess) greater sinners than white people;
I have been told that, if, for example, you even dare to point to the reality of the source of so much of the problems within what’s called the “black community” in the United States today—and that is rampant immorality, sexual immorality. Women having babies by multiple fathers. Fatherless boys is THE single greatest reason why there are neighborhoods you simply don’t go into in Chicago. Why there are more people being shot in Chicago than in Afghanistan. It’s a war zone. The main reason? Sin. And that sin knows no color, it knows no boundaries, it’s a human reality. (James White, 1:20:19)
I bought a dash cam recently. Seems everyone in Russia has one (I guess you have to for insurance purposes), and I thought it would be pretty good to have to document some of the crazy things that happen while driving. So I was coming home this evening and happened to be the first car at Glendale and 35th Avenue in Phoenix. And as you will see, a young black kid, looks to be 15 years old or so, was crossing the street. Now if you watch, you will see a police SUV cross in front of me first going east. The kid then comes into the screen, and though he sort of hid it under his elbow, he plainly flips off the police vehicle. Then he is emptying the drink he is consuming as he walks out of the frame. What you can’t see is that he then simply tossed the bottle into the bush in the corner of the gas station. I happened to notice the two ladies in the car next to me had seen the same thing. We just looked at each other, put up our hands in exasperation, and shook our heads.
As I drove away I thought about that boy. There is a more than 70% chance he has never met this father. In all probabilities he has no guidance, has no example. He is filled with arrogance and disrespect for authority. He lives in a land where he is told lies every day—the lie that he cannot, through hard work and discipline, get ahead, get a good education, and succeed at life. He is lied to and told the rest of the world owes him. And the result is predictable: in his generation, that 70% number will only rise. He may well father a number of children—most of which will be murdered in the womb, padding the pockets of Planned Parenthood, and those that survive will themselves be raised without a natural family, without the God-ordained structure that is so important for teaching respect, and true manhood or womanhood.
It never crossed my mind to flip off a police car as it passed me by when I was his age. Of course, it never crossed my mind to walk around with my butt hanging out of my pants, either, as if the entire world needed to see what kind of underwear I was sporting that day. I know I would have been mighty guilty had I tossed my drink bottle into a bush—and I never would have dreamed of doing that in front of everyone like this young man did. But I had a father. And a mother. And I was taught to respect others, and myself. If I had not had those things, I still would not have acted as he, simply because times have changed, and not for the better. There was simply more restraint in my day. It surely makes me wonder what the future holds. Oh, I know—this is nothing. There are videos on line of kids like this shooting guns in the air and robbing people and doing car jackings. I know. But you need to understand: those folks didn’t get there without first finding it “fun” to strut, flip, toss, and live an attitude of disrespect.” (James White, via Black Calvinist)
Now, if that young man had been white, and I had then reflected on the changes since the 1970s amongst whites, no one would have cared. If he had been Asian, and I reflected on the changes in that community, a small number of folks might have cared, but I probably wouldn’t have heard about it. If he had been Hispanic, especially here in Phoenix, a few more people would have been tempted to say something, but in general, the Hispanics I know are not happy with the general degradation they see in society, so I could actually expect a fair amount of support (just as I got support from people in the black community as well). But the young man was black, and, well, that makes all the difference in the world when the first lens in your worldview is the racial lens, not the gospel lens. […]
I pointed to fatherlessness, and rejoiced that I had not experienced that, and how important a father figure is in a young man’s life, especially in learning to be respectful to authority. I did talk about the lies told to him by the leaders in his community, and I fully stand by the assertion that it is a lie to tell an entire group of people that they should view themselves as victims because of what happened to people a century and a half ago. The large number of successful people who have rejected those very lies comprises an irrefutable source of evidence in support of what I said. I said that there was a certain percentage chance that, without a father, without a solid family structure, the probabilities were high of his fathering children out of wedlock—and, of course, if 70% of black children are born in that state, as numerous studies have shown, well, someone is fathering those children! And simple common sense tells you it is far more likely that the kid with his pants already halfway down is more likely to be fathering children out of wedlock than the one with his pants still all the way on who isn’t so proud of his rear end that he thinks everyone else should get a gander at it, too. But, sadly, simple common sense is not always allowed into this particular conversation. Not anymore, anyway.
And then, yes, I made another common sense observation, all based upon facts and probabilities, that if he did father children, ol’ Planned Parenthood is standing by, ready to murder and mutilate for a relatively small fee! And how very, very silent my critics have been about that, which leaves me truly amazed. […]
Please note that though it is somewhat buried in the rhetoric, I am accused of racism here. But racism these days has nothing to do with prejudiced thoughts or actions—racism in this mindset is refusing to switch out the gospel lens for the racial lens as the primary interpretive grid. (James White, “Gospel Lenses and the Search for Allies (Updated with Full Response)”)
Update, May 7, 2019: Josh Buice, apparently in defense of his position, tweeted the following stunning additions just today:
…who slander their Christian bothers for addressing any other systemic sin than just abortion
If by “doing justice” Thabiti Anyabwile means that we should stand in opposition to sinful behavior, live righteously, and love our neighbor–I can agree with such a statement. If, by chance, Thabiti Anyabwile intends that we become socially and politically engaged while embracing the ideologies of white privilege, systemic racism, and the systemic oppression of women within our culture and specifically evangelicalism–I would reject his understating of worship. We can’t teach Christians to assume the gospel and to emphasize justice and expect a good outcome. (Josh Buice, “Article 6—Gospel: Explanation”)
Do some people have more advantages than others? Of course. It is inevitable and obvious. Who would deny that all people do not enjoy the same opportunities, benefits or blessings in life? Call that privilege if you will, but the reality is that such disparities are simply a part of God’s providential ordering of the world. […] The creators and promoters of “white privilege” have simply taken that reality and racialized it in an attempt to explain disparities that they observe among people of different color. Some have gone further and weaponized the concept in a misguided attempt to provide equal outcomes for different groups of people. […] Furthermore, observable disparities between people are far from always being only beneficial or detrimental. This is evident with physical disparities. Some people are tall; some short. Some are strong; some weak. Some are genetically predisposed to long life; others to early deaths. […] The problem with white privilege is that it has quickly become a worldview for those who insist on seeing everything through a racialized lens. People are divided up into groups of greater or lesser privilege based on race. This, then, provides a rationale for people thinking about themselves as either oppressed by those who have privilege or oppressing those without it.
In addition to fostering a superficial way of thinking about the world, the idea of white privilege also breeds a sense of white guilt. White people are made to feel like they must always check their privilege or else maintain an oppressive posture over those who are not white. This encourages a victim-mentality in those who are not white, sending the false message that no matter what they do, they cannot overcome the unearned privilege of those who are white.
Scripture calls us to accept responsibility for our own lives, no matter how privileged or underprivileged we may be. […] I am not to covet those who have more nor disdain or neglect those who have less. (Tom Ascol, “White Privilege”)
Now, I’m not watching much of this, but one of my, one of the nastiest critics—a man who has called me names, condemned me out of ignorance, has asked a question on Twitter. I’m gonna go ahead and answer it. “Please explain he lives in a land where he’s told lies every day. What lies are black people told and who’s telling the them?” The Black leadership! The people that are telling you you’re a victim! That you’re held down by something that happened 200 years ago. That’s who I’m talking about. The Jesse Jackson’s of the world. They’re the ones I’m talking about. And the crazed white liberals in the university. The yahoos that took over Mizzou awhile back. It’s all part and parcel of the same leftist, wacko stuff which is just repeated over and over and over again until it becomes a mantra. And I get the feeling that that young man has probably heard those lies, over and over and over again. And unless he has a father and mother in his life that can correct those things, he’s probably gonna believe it. And it may be that his father and mother believe it too. (James White, “Theologian James White Auditions For FOX NEWS…“)
And one more category I should have included: You’re the REAL racists!
Ethnic distinctions are now fostering a new and emerging class structure in the church, where those with the greatest claims to victimhood are afforded the loudest voice. Effectively, social justicians want to fight the prejudices of the past by enforcing their own inverted hierarchy of prejudice. The entire movement has foolishly committed to replicating the sins of ethnic bias that they so vehemently oppose. In effect, they’re attempting to fight partiality with more partiality. (Darrell Harrison, “The New Segregation”)
The only other statement I have received any push-back on was my reference to “Narrow Spirituality of the Church types” and “Radical 2Ker’s,” both of which I have written on extensively here:
And continued here:
[…] occasionally a new threat to the simplicity or clarity of the gospel seems to erupt with stunning force and suddenness. The current controversy over “social justice” and racism is an example of that. (John MacArthur, “Is the Controversy over ‘Social Justice’ Really Necessary?”)
The message of social justice diverts attention from Christ and the cross. It turns our hearts and minds from things above to things on this earth. It obscures the promise of forgiveness for hopeless sinners by telling people they are hapless victims of other people’s misdeeds.(John MacArthur, “The Injustice of Social Justice”)
There’s two kingdoms. There’s the earthly kingdom and the heavenly kingdom. In the heavenly kingdom the responsibility is to treat others as you’d like to be treated. In the earthly kingdom, the responsibility is to choose leaders who will do what’s best for your country. Think about it. Why have Americans been able to do more to help people in need around the world than any other country in history? It’s because of free enterprise, freedom, ingenuity, entrepreneurism and wealth. A poor person never gave anyone a job. A poor person never gave anybody charity, not of any real volume. It’s just common sense to me. (Jerry Falwell, Jr., “Jerry Falwell Jr. can’t imagine Trump ‘doing anything that’s not good for the country’”)
Read on its own terms, the teaching of the New Testament about the Kingdom of God is remarkably silent about the pressing social concerns of the day. Social issues do intrude into the visible church in the NT but none of the Apostles prescribed social or civil remedies for them. They never commented on Nero’s abuses or upon Claudius’ policies. In the NT, Christians are taught how to think about their place in the world but they are never exhorted to flee the world into monasteries nor are they instructed how to transform it. […] The church, as a visible institution, as the embassy of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven, has no social agenda for the wider civil and cultural world.(R. Scott Clark, “The Gospel is not Social”)
Christians have the freedom to participate in civil life, to seek equity, to seek protection from abuse and prejudice (especially in the public, tax-funded sphere). I doubt that the visible, institutional church has any mandate to speak to these issues. There is simply no clear or compelling evidence in the New Testament to support the claim that the visible church must campaign for social justice. (R. Scott Clark, “Racism and the Second Use of the Law”)
Christian teaching on salvation transcends the politics and economics, which likely explains why Paul had so little to say about the social injustice of the Roman Empire. Christianity is an otherworldly faith because Christians await the resurrection of the dead when Christ returns. (D. G. Hart, “Wrestling Match Over the Resurrection”)
Having shown that I lied about nothing, but simply summarized words, I am left pondering option 2 at the beginning of this post—a disagreement about effect. And honestly, if folks can’t see that constantly attacking anti-racists in the Church lends defense to white supremacists in the Church, then I have no more to say. Seems pretty simple. And I’d like to get back to my other writing projects anyway.