“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (Prov 12.15; NASB).
I don’t have Facebook, a decision I made a few years back and, in many ways, I think a wise one. I do however, from time-to-time, see how things progress in this social media giant’s haven. It is unfortunate that the free exchange of ideas has been censored by a Left-leaning ideology, but with the current way of things…to be expected.
I must admit that of all my family members (extended or otherwise) you have been one of my favorites. You have a loveable, sensitive disposition that draws many people. That and in some ways our shared sense of humor was always a delight to my own heart.
I say these things beforehand in the hope that you will see my critique not as mean spirited but as one guided by wisdom afforded to me through the Word of God. Surely, knowledge and wisdom in times like this ought to be coveted things. But this raises the question of being properly sourced. From where do we draw our knowledge and wisdom. From what fountainhead do we longingly drink deeply to help form our ideals?
I am reminded of a passage of Scripture that provides an astute warning to listening ears:
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1Cor 15.33; ESV).
In other words, we must be careful what influences we allow to shape our outlook on life. For it is in our nature to replicate what we surround ourselves with. With this in mind, I would like to address a dialogue you have had with another individual of whom we both care for. He has graciously allowed me a venue in which I might respond to some of the claims that you have offered in light of the current debate being held nationally since the tragic death of George Floyd.
I will offer a point-by-point critique of what you have stated. You may respond or be silent on the matter, the decision I will leave to you.
It seems very clear to me that you believe systemic racism is a genuine problem here in the United States. A belief that is unsupported by actual facts and evidences, although often referred to in anecdotal settings.
You noted that a possible solution to what you believe is a real problem institutionally is:
“…we can support communities by ‘spreading educational funds…[provide] a healthcare system that will actually take care of poorer families…demand that our government do something to help the homeless population…[provide] access to mental health care”
It would appear that you assume the civil government is responsible for doing these things. They are the “we” that you expect to support the down trodden? I only note this now since you seem to believe that religion (specifically the Christian faith) should not be viewed as a viable solution. Interesting…we’ll return to this in just a bit.
Later you admit when pressed with evidence contrary to your claims (that which “J” cites in his dialogue with you) the following points:
There is no written law that promotes systemic racism, but instead is “captured in intent and execution…”
That is to say you appear to be admitting that there are no laws on the books (“in word” as you put it) that disadvantage one group by raising another up. For example, in the past we could point to Jim Crow laws, laws enacted and upheld by members of the Democratic Party, but no such laws exist on the books today. This is unfortunate for your position, for if such laws existed then the debate over whether or not systemic racism was a real thing would be over. You would have positive evidence to support your claims.
Instead, you appeal to the motives of individuals or groups of individuals who perpetrate evil actions. Something that is extremely impossible to prove—for we cannot read people’s hearts—unless that individual or group confess that their actions (“execution,” as you put it) are indeed racially motivated.
Next you say:
“Not all peoples morals come from God and not all moral people are Christian.”
So then, “morals” come from where? Are morals the byproduct of societal consensus? Then, they are subjective, fluid and not static. If this is true, then relativism rules the day—Different strokes for different folks.
So then, why complain? If my morals, which according to you are not necessarily derived from our Maker—the God of the Bible, but myself, my community and culture, then why, or better yet, on what grounds, can you argue that my morals which may uphold “racism” and “white privilege” (tongue in cheek here) are wrong and should be changed? Are you then guilty of forcing your ideals on others?
However, if morals are absolute (e.g., wrong to murder, wrong to oppress, wrong to rob, etc.) as a reflection of the Triune God of Scripture (revealed as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; one co-eternal, co-equal Being), then they must be pressed upon the society in which we live. Starting with myself, my community and culture. I have no doubt that you believe “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a command that ought to be pressed on all people, or else why argue at all that one moral behavior is right and another wrong?
“In fact many people in the past and today use Christianity as a reason for their continued issues.”
You do not identify what those “issues” are, but I will assume that you are attempting to highlight how professing Christians use the Bible erringly (past and present) in an effort to support immoral activity.
There is no question this has been done and will continue to be the case. This is true for a variety of reasons. Either the “Christian” is one in name only. Or, the “Christian” is ignorant of what the Bible actually teaches on an issue. Or, the “Christian” has faulty presuppositions that prevent him/her from properly interpreting the biblical text(s).
Since you did not come out and say what “issue” you were referring to where Christians have evidently got it wrong in the past, then I will assume that one issue is how there were some Christians in the past who used the Bible to validate slavery in the Antebellum South. However, all three reasons I cited above provide the answer to the problem issue in question:
- Not all slave owners that identified as Christian were really Christians (cf. Matt 7.21-24).
- Not all slave owners that identified as Christian knew all of what the Bible taught on the issue of slavery.
- Not all slave owners that identified as Christian properly interpreted what they read in the Bible because they possessed underlying biases, assumptions, traditions that filtered the truth of God preventing them from doing so.
But there were those who identified as Christians that did what was right in light of biblical precepts. For in having knowledge and wisdom dispensed to them from God in His Word, they sought to make right the societal wrongs being perpetrated in their day. (We will return to this in a bit).
However, while this has been the case (there have been those that have tarnished the Christian name and maligned the teaching of the Bible) you seem to suppose that this somehow gives you the moral high ground? Again, the question that needs to be asked and answered is “whose morals are right?” Is there one standard universally true, or are there many? Only by borrowing from the Christian faith can one legitimately bring a charge against such evils of the past. For if truth is not absolute, if morals are not derived from one standard, but many, then morals in and of themselves are regulated to the personal whims of the individual or group that purports them.
“Also you can’t use God as a tool in order to change overall culture. Not in the short term or as things are trending in the long term either”
Who says? You? Others? That’s not what the Bible teaches at all. As Jesus said,
“You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt 22.29; NASB).
It is written that all of creation, including humanity, is the creation of God.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1.1). It was God who decreed, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule…over the earth…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it’” (Gen 1.26, 27-28a; NASB).
There are not many races, there is one race. Humanity is the creation of God and all have value as His creatures. For…
“from one man [one blood] God made every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation (Acts 17.26; NASB).
In short, God made human beings to represent Him in all the earth. The dominion God gave mankind was in light of bearing the image of God into all creation. God delegated authority to humanity to rule according to His holiness and righteousness (from which all morals come). This Jesus repeated to those who bear His name (i.e., Christians). He commanded His people to
“…make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in[to] the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt 28.19-20a; ESV).
You say, that we cannot use the Christian faith to alter the course of culture either in the short or the long term, but this is inaccurate. History tells us otherwise. How was slavery abolished in England? Who helped lead the charge in its removal from our kindred across the pond? William Wilberforce, a white Christian who knew, believed and understood that the Bible taught that enslaving one ethnic group was morally wrong and spent his whole life fighting against it. This is true of many from the past here in the United States that fought to free other members of the human race from tyranny.
All of life is ethical. Everything is weighed in terms of right or wrong. Therefore, all of life is religious. Culture is a reflection of a person or groups religious faith-system. This “faith” will determine culturally what is viewed as right vs. wrong behavior (i.e., moral).
The only solution to the hate we seeing spewed in our world today is the gospel. Bigotry is sin, and sin is color-blind. If we refuse to repent of our sins before Christ, adopting His way of thinking and living, then we are destined to treat others, not like ourselves, but less than ourselves. The government is not God, only God is God. The government solutions you present would do nothing to stem hate, but only shift where the hate is being perpetrated.
I love you man and hope that you see my words in light of this love for you and yours. May Christ give you ears to hear and eyes to see.