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Black Lives Matter Style White Guilt is Not the Gospel., part I

Let's be clear: black lives matter. It is insensitive to replace the word "black" with another color to counter the point.While we recognize that black lives matter, I would propose to my African American friends that  Black Lives Matter is a dangerous and divisive movement. The organization defined by the  proper noun means something very different than the three simple words "black lives matter." Many years ago I had an experience that helped me to see that African Americans do have a different experience of American culture than do white people. That white people can benefit from  seeing our society through the lens of black experience. A black person does face challenges white's do not. I once experience a taste of what it means to be black in America

In 1975 I lived for a summer in Myrtle Beach South Carolina as part of a campus evangelistic mission to people on the beach. I befriended a fellow student from Chicago who was black. We went everywhere together, and did everything together that summer. We never saw each other after the summer and I have no pictures of us together and don't even remember his name. Not because it wasn't important, but we were two 19 year old men just living the experience and moving on, but hanging around with him just 7-years after MLK's death was a defining experience for me.  I regret that we lost touch.

While we moved into our apartment white neighbors stood on their front porches and watched us unload our things. While I was sure that in this transient community they had seen people move in and out before, I recognized that had we both been white someone would have introduced themselves and probably helped us, but their fears and prejudice made them suspicious. Had we both been black they probably would not have gawked suspiciously, but they would not have offered to help either of us. The anomaly, the curiosity, was a black man and a white man together. Something was wrong with that in their eyes, which lead to a suspicion and even accusation. Someone called the cops on us. Later that evening a Horre County Sheriff parked in front of our apartment, a patrol car would remain there for the duration of our stay. The only time it would leave would be when both us would leave together, then it would follow us, wherever we went even to church.

We alternated going to each other's church. When I would accompany my friend to his AME church I would be treated like anyone else. The African American parishioners would welcome me, shake my hand hug me, and I would join in with their participatory worship and conversational sermon. I never once felt unwelcome, and the pot lucks were wonderful. When we attend my Southern Baptist church the experience was different. From the moment we arrived in the parking lot, almost no one would make eye contact with us, and those who did starred. As we entered people kept a distance from us no one welcomed us, asked names, shook our hand or embraced us. When we sat in the pew no one sat near us, and when my friend got a little more expressive in worship peopled gawked at him. We clearly were shunned. We never attended any pot lucks. I actually was more bothered and embarrassed by these experiences than was my friend, for him it was the way blacks and white's normally interacted. For me it was a travesty of the gospel. I was embarrassed and hurt for my friend, but there was one experience that did bother my friend.

One day we went to the local buffet (They are called cafeteria's in the south). In the south there is often an attendant at the end of the buffet who seats the patron and carries their food tray to a table, and receives a tip for service. After we were seated the man who appeared to be in charge of these attendants caught my eye. He crooked his pointer finger in my direction. Walking over to him, he said, "you are welcome here anytime. If your friends comes, we have to serve him, but don't you two ever come in here together again."

Being a not so smart 19-year old I spoke my mind, "I'll come in here anytime I want with anyone I want, and you can't stop me."

"There are people who can stop you he said," pointing to the sheriff who had followed us into the building that day.

I stormed over to my seat; my friend said, "what's wrong?"

"They don't serve salt and pepper here," I said. "They said we couldn't come in here together. But I intend to finish my lunch."

"We have to go, now," he said.

I didn't argue. We got up, left our lunch, on the  table, uneaten, paid the tab and left. I think we went to the local fast food place for a burger. It was then that I realized that African Americans lived a different life than I did. There normal always included someone assuming they were doing something nefarious, because they were black. They were guilty until proven innocent, and if a white person associate with a black person they were guilty by association. The question is guilty of what, "that I never figured out."

That was 45 years ago, a generation, and much has changed. I haven't been back to Myrtle Beach since then, but I have been in South Carolina. I do not think we would have the same experience today. South  Carolina has an African American Republican Senator. They changed their state flag from the Confederate Flag to the palm tree and crescent moon. Are their racists in South Carolina, you bet? On June 17, 2015 Dylan Storm, an avowed white supremacist, walked into the Emmanuel African Methodist Episocopal church in Columbia, South Carolina and murdered 9 black people. It was a heinous crime. It would been heinous had it been a white church, but the grief of the nation was especially deep because of the sacrifice many blacks especially in the south have had to make for liberty. Racism is real and it is alive. But is  racism systemic? Does the system support the racism? 

Does anyone doubt that had my friend and I visited the cafeteria today we would have been served without reservation? Would neighbors in South Carolina stand and gawk, suspiciously as we moved in together for a summer? Would the local Southern Baptist Church have shunned us today? Would we have been followed everywhere we went by police? The likely answer to each of those questions today is no. That is not to minimize the encounters some of my black friends have, nor is it to discount the lens through which they view society, but it is to point out that the system today usually punishes racism, it does not support it. One could argue that the fact that Derek Chauvin is in jail, charged with Murder One supports the notion that the system works. Did anyone, white, black, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian say anything that implied that anything Chavin did was justified. The President condemned his action as did Senator Schumer, and Speaker Pilosi. The justice department moved quickly to support the states investigation. The system quickly began the process of bringing the four officers to justice. 

 While yes "all lives matter," some people hear that response as ignoring or minimizing and perhaps even excusing many of the tensions between black communities and white. It would be like a "love struck" suitor saying to his fiancee, "I love you," and she responding, "Well I love everyone." Although the second statement might be true it would demean the expression of love and the one who stated it. So let us white people stop saying "all lives matter." Let's acknowledge that there are racial tensions in our society that impact us all but have done particularly damage African Americans. Yes slavery and oppression of blacks was part of Western Civilization and Imperialism. Yet, from its earliest days America has been engaged in a struggle to extend liberty and justice to all.

There have all ways been racists elements and movement in our society. Yet gradually over time and after much contention our country has extended liberty rather than narrowing it's scope. From the Pilgrims eating with Indians to the Civil War to the Civil Rights movements of the 60's and now in the streets of America our county has been engaged in a struggle for liberty. That is our story. Any person of any ethnic origin has greater opportunity and more liberty here than any place on earth. Further as we look at the "systemic changes" that have been won through our history. Our government and economic system is the most liberating, most just, most inclusive system on earth. Systemic racism is very rare in the United States. The socialistic collectivist agenda of Black Lives Matter will reverse the progress that has been made rather than advancing it. 

And statistics show that there is no disparate number of blacks people shot by white police.  A National Academy of Sciences study demolishes the common narrative that police shoot a disproportionate number of African Americans. White officers are no more or less likely to shoot black or Hispanic people than are minority officers. The more frequently officers encounter suspect who have a violent record, the greater the likelihood of shooting. There is a correlation between crime among ethnic groups and police shootings of those groups:
The authors, faculty at Michigan State University and the University of Maryland at College Park, created a database of 917 officer-involved fatal shootings in 2015 from more than 650 police departments. Fifty-five percent of the victims were white, 27 percent were black, and 19 percent were Hispanic. Between 90 and 95 percent of the civilians shot by officers in 2015 were attacking police or other citizens; 90 percent were armed with a weapon. So-called threat-misperception shootings, in which an officer shoots an unarmed civilian after mistaking a cellphone, say, for a gun, were rare.
The persistent theme of Black Lives matter that police are inclined to shoot black people and that black people need to fear police is an emotional response to selective reporting by the media rather than a reasoned examination of the problems that lead to the shootings. The media consistently ignores the violence in black and hispanic communities and the amount of crime perpetrated. So while there is little doubt that blacks and hispanics live in more violent communities, one can argue that problems are social not systemic.

 Systemic racism? African Americans are fully engaged in every community and every profession in life. The wealthiest woman in Holywood is African American. Most major cities have African American mayors. While there are many African Lieutenant Governors, Duvall Patrick, Democrat of Massachusetts was the most recent African American to serve as Governor of a State, and Barak Obama served two terms as President of the United States. There are black CEO's in every economic market. Black coaches and players in every sport. The military has successfully integrated its enlisted and officer core. Each of these people achieved the height of their careers in predominantly white institutions. Each of these people were encouraged, welcomed and supported in institutions that had been predominantly white controlled.   Racism is not a systemic issue, it is an interpersonal one. 

Some of cries of systemic racism are associated with a media narrative. Actor Jesse Smollett has been convicted of hiring two African American men, posing as Trump supporters, to attack him. He did this to advance the narrative that white population  and Republican Trump supporters in particular were racist. The problem is that it was hoax. Jesse Smollett is the son of a wealthy actress and has himself been a beneficiary of the capitalism economy. He is no victim of systemic racism and his stunt minimized and diminishes those who are. 

One of the claims of BLM activists is that Black Americans routinely face threats of lynching and intimidation of violence from "white supremacist." NASCAR drive Bubba Watson recently claimed to have been threatened with "a noose" in a NASCAR garage. As soon as he made his claim NASCAR officials acted to counter "systemic racism" in their sport. Demonstrations broke out across Indianapolis where he and other drivers live. The systemically racist DOJ instantly sent 15 FBI agents to investigate the incident.  The claim of an intimidating noose being hung was false. In the last 10 years there have been nine hate crimes investigations involving black people intimidate by a noose each of these claim has been proved to be false. Whether they were insensitive actions that were misunderstood or whether they were hoaxes no one knows, but we can claim there is no systemic threat of lynching present in America today. The American political, legal and economic system is far more likely to lift African Americans out of poverty and disadvantage than it is to be racist. Yet, the racial challenges in America are profound. 

Generally speaking there is still wide spread disparity between income and opportunity of blacks and whites. There is still much to do and much to be achieved to reconcile the races in America. Black Lives Matter's premise that the culture is systemically racist is demonstrably false, then one must conclude that their conclusion that the system must be "burned down" is specious. I submit that the Black Lives Matter agenda of social transformation is no solution to the problem of economic disparity, nor is it going to help racial tensions. The solution is the transformation of live's through the gospel, rather than  the unbiblical radical social agenda of BLM. 

Socialism is antithetical to the gospel because it advocates a collective kind of justice rather than individual liberty. The gospel is no advocate for retributive justice for one class of people over another.  Christians are not culpable for the sins of their ancestors. In light of Exodus 20:5 & 6  some will argue that the Bible teaches something quite different

[5] You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, [6] but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20: 5& 6 ESV)
These verses are expansions and explanations of the Second Commandment. They are a section of the Mosaic Covenant  given to the Hebrew people on Mt. Sinai. They are part of the Old Covenant made with Abraham that was a national covenant. In Genesis 17: 1-14 God expands on the covenant he had made with Abraham earlier (Gen 12:1-3;15: 1-19). It was a covenant with a nation and with a people and had national and political implications. No one could be citizen of Israel without entering the national covenant (Ex 4: 24- 26), which required males in the family to be circumcised. When the nation disobeyed the people often came together in sacred assemblies to repent of national sin.  A person who took on the sign of the covenant and lived under it's commandment received its blessing curses that God would bring on the nation regardless of their individual participation. So the fact that some righteous God-fearing people living in Israel experienced God's judgment when the nation was conquered was because the unique relationship God established with the nation of Israel. So when the nation sinned they sinned collectively. The blessing and cursing that fell to the nation fell on every person and generation. This Old Covenant was  relegated to a new a pattern for dealing with individual sin. The Old Covenant was inferior to the New which replaced it. "[6] But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. [7] For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second." (Hebrews 8:6–7 ESV) The national covenant did neither cleanse the heart  of its participant nor brought them into an individual relationship with God (Deut 12:10-17; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:26). 

The New Covenant was  in many ways a continuation of the Old; it had major differences. One who becomes a Christian, and enters into the new covenant does not enter into a covenant relationship with a nation:
[20] But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, [21] who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20–21 ESV)
The new covenant does place one into relationship with a collective group of people who have entered into relationship with Jesus Christ (1 Cor 12:12 &13), the church. It is a spiritual community, not an ethnic or political alliance. Each believer is responsible for our own faith and actions but not for those of our nation, our ancestors or progeny. Yet, our faith clearly has social implications.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7;Lk 6: 14- 47) Jesus tells us how New Testament believers live in fulfillment of the New Covenant. The gospel unifies ethnic groups by rectifying the problem of individual sin. The gospel reconciles those differences:
[11] Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—[12] remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. [13] But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. [14] For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility [15] by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, [16] and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (Ephesians 2:11–16 ESV)
In Christ the dividing wall between the races has been paid for and Christ has made peace. 

So the first way that Black Live Matter departs from the gospel is by assigning every individual in the while race culpability for slavery. The gospel frees me from culpability for my sins and my ancestor's, because Christ died for them all. The very concept of "white privilege" is used to insist that whites need to assuage their guilt because of the races collective oppression of black people. Or to put it negatively every white person needs to at least compensate or be punished because of the legacy of slavery. Such a position denies what Christ did in establishing the New Covenant. I refuse to accept the term "white privilege" or embrace the concept of my personal culpability for sins of my white forefathers, because to do so is to deny what Chris has done. It is a denial of the truth of the gospel It is false teaching, however, it is no excuse for white apathy or oppression.

Jesus taught that the gospel clearly has a social consequence:
[16] And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. [17] And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
[18] “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, [19] to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” (Luke 4:16–19 ESV)
 So oppressed people have a special place in God's heart. When black people are treated unjustly or abused simply because they are black it matters to God, and it must matter to those of us who claim to live in accord with the gospel. So if we recognize that part of Jesus mission involved "set[ting] at liberty those who are oppressed" and that the high standards of the Sermon on the Mount "love your neighbor as yourself; do to others as you would have them do to you," then the church must be in the forefront of working for equality and reconciliation among the races. Yet, so called "economic justice" is not the fruit of the gospel 

The Black Lives Matter message is antithetical to both the Old and New Covenants. It is the the agenda of the "anti-Christ. The scripture makes it clear that no person or group of people have the capacity to compensate or alleviate the damage done by sin to another:

[5] Why should I fear in times of trouble,
when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,
[6] those who trust in their wealth
and boast of the abundance of their riches?
[7] Truly no man can ransom another,
or give to God the price of his life, (Psalm 49:5–7 ESV)

Reparations will not undo the harm that slavery has done. Oppressing one group unfairly for something they did not do will not unify, it will divide. The only solution is that someone would pay a ransom on our behalf. So if white people are to be minister's of the gospel we must assert that "black lives do matter." And we must act as servants to African Americans according to the model of Christ's service. We need to be proactive in punishing injustice, healing the broken and work to help people out of the cycle of poverty. Black people need to understand that the solution is not found in compensation the solution is found  in reconciliation, and it is in this assertion where Black Lives Matter is dangerously in error. 

Black Live Matter seeks to divide and destroy the family and society. The group website declares. "We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and 'villages' that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable. " While seeking to alleviate what they perceive as injustice, they tear down the very institutions that bring peace and justice.  On their web cite they present the deaths of Trevon Martin and Michael Brown as two men who were killed unjustly. They refuse to recognize the violent, irresponsible acts of these two men that lead to their death. While no one can question the sad killing in each case, lionizing the as innocent victims, ignores the social and institutional problems inherent in some black communities that may have made these two young men vulnerable. They seek to replace white supremacy with Black vigilantism, and violence. They destroy the communities where many of the troubled black men live. They ignore "black on black," crime and the dangerous place our inner cities have become for poor black people to live. They refuse to recognize that well-intentioned  philosophies and social engineering of the dominant political party has failed their communities. While they speak of the negative effects of slavery, they ignore the negative affect liberal social policy has had on the community. 

Black Lives Matter seeks what they call "collective freedom," rather than individual liberty. For BLM freedom is not an expressesion of the image of God revealed in each person. Freedom is the political power and privilege one group of people has over another. Black lives Matter seeks not to elevate the individual black mother, or to improve the education of the ghetto urchin; the group seeks domination of one group by another as a compensation for the supposed wrongs done to the community. They see all social problems as grievances to be compensated for by one group dominating another. They seek to have enough power as a collective to compensate for the harm done to her, rather than creating an economic and social system where through her own work she can rise above circumstance to make something better of herself. It seeks to deny individual dignity and replace it with corporate solidarity. I would argue that not only is their vision of a collective utopia, a fallacy, it is also biblical heresy. So while black lives do matter, Black Lives Matter style white guilt is not the gospel, and is antithetical to it.

This post first appeared on Samson's Jawbone, please read the originial post: here

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Black Lives Matter Style White Guilt is Not the Gospel., part I


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