Hello everyone! I suspect I will pen more upsetting and unsettling things today, and that is okay. The patient (the Church) requires the medicine (the uncensored truth) to be well. The medicine is bitter and hard to swallow, and it will heal the Church. These things too will be hard sayings. Love is tough at times, and tough love is necessary. With our nation's birthday on coming up on Tuesday, I thought this blog, although difficult to read, would be timely for both the Church and the nation.
Let us begin with some hard-to-swallow history. Afterall, if we don't know where a sin comes from, we can't destroy the root.
Racism in the Church goes back as far as there has been a Church. If we look at the 1st century Church, Paul and the apostles were addressing it between the Jews and the Gentiles (one the few times in history it has ever been addressed appropriately). We fast forward to the Middle Ages and the Catholic Church used racism in Western Europe to justify wars (e.g., The Crusades) against “the other” - the Muslims to be exact. We move forward another 500 or so years and both the Protestant and Catholic faiths used racism (supposedly supported by scripture) to justify the Western European slave trade. Notice we had a Protestant Reformation in the area of grace, but we didn't let that change our hearts about our fellow human beings. In America, slavery existed from before the birth of the nation through the end of the American Civil War – justified by racism and quietly enabled by the Church. The Church continued to do little, at least in America, to stem the tide of racism even after the Civil War. By the mid 20th century, amid cries for freedom and civil rights in the Christian black community, the supposed Evangelical Church particularly remained complicit in speaking out against racism. If you don't believe me, read Martin Luther's King Letter from Birmingham Jail to the white pastors in the Baptist faith at the time. Their response was appalling. They valued the status quo and order above righteousness. The supposed Evangelical churches in the South allowed members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a violent, nationalist, racist group to count themselves as “brothers in Christ” even though their ideology was far from the heart of Jesus. Wolves walking among the sheep indeed, unchecked and unchallenged – a Church unrepentant.
Fast forward to America in 2023. The wolves are still walking among the sheep. The Evangelical Church in America (with the exception of a few pastors, ministers and their churches) still remains largely silent on the issue of racism. This again, translates to unrepentance. It would appear the ideals of status quo and order are still winning over righteousness. I suspect fear is also at play here as well. Fear of change - fear of having to change hearts, minds, and lifestyles. I hear more “just preach the Gospel” then I do about being the Gospel to the our friends and communities. This is, once again, complicit and enabling of evil. To be silent on an issue, is to actully say something Church. You are actually saying that the status quo doesn't bother you, and you are okay with how things are functioning. I suspect this is because said functioning is benefitting the Evangelical Church, for now, in one particular way. The Evangelical Church is benefitting from increased political power – a power they were never meant to possess. A power they are actively abusing in their attempts to regain the illusion of control over perceived persecution. They have placed said idol on full display to the secular world – their lust for power and control. Look no further than the Southern Baptist Convention's treatment of women this year, as well as their historical treatment of black pastors and the issue of racism to prove said point. Make no mistake, this lust for power and the complicity in racism go hand in hand. To maintain the status quo, power, and perceived order – there must be someone you step on or keep under foot, always.
Church, this is not the way of the King! This is not the full Gospel of Jesus Christ! These are the idols of the land! Church, have we honestly traded worship of King Jesus and the Gospel of the King for the idols of the land? What do you think will come of this? Do you honestly believe God will bless the worship of evil? I know for a fact that He will not! Look at what is happening in some Christian circles – abuse, greed, and all kind of evil are being exposed right before our eyes! Look no further than Netflix or Hulu for such documentaries as Shiny Happy People, and The Secrets of Hillsong if you don't believe me. In both cases, there are still unrepentant people in those true stories! News flash: God doesn't come to the rescue of unrepentant people. What makes the Evangelical Church think He will come to their rescue or excuse their sin of silence when it comes to racism? We don't have special brownie points with God in America, Church. Such beliefs are fantasy, myth, and outright lies that the Church has willingly swallowed to my alarm. The Church in America must repent of this silence and complicity! The Church in America must drink the bitter medicine of repentance if there is to be wholeness again. We can only have true racial reconciliation in this country when we recognize our sin of complicity, admit out sin of complicity, listen to those it has affected, and reach out to our communities to reverse the effects of said complicity. True repentance will take humility, a listening ear, hard conversations, and hard choices. This will take a laying down of power and a deference to others we have perhaps feared – something the Apostles Paul, Peter, and James reinforced often (1 Peter 2:17, Colossians 3:12, Ephesians 4:2, James 4:6). Church, we can make this right, we still have time.
I will leave you with 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV), the Church's call to repentance for the sin of racism:
”if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”