Don’t Erase Our History

This year is on course to be the most insane year in American history. From a pandemic exposing the indoctrination culture that is willing to give up essential liberties for an imagined degree of “safety”, to the current explosion superficially focused on “race” and #BlackLivesMatter – we as a nation have collectively lost our minds.

But a danger looming that is both destructive and ungodly is the current effort to systematically erase our national history.  Let me be clear – we as a nation do have some very dark blotches. Chattel slavery is an affront to a biblical understanding of loving our neighbors. And who in their right mind would even begin to argue that there is no such thing as bias?  I intentionally refrain from using the term “racism” because it is an invention.  There is but one race – the human race, recorded in Scripture from creation.  God created Adam and Eve – and all humanity descended from them.  Certainly there are many people groups or “ethnicities” as the modern terminology would put it. And it is on these ethnic differences that many biases are founded. But those biases, based on external qualities, is also anti-biblical (Paul wrote to the Galatian church that in Christ there are no longer “Jew or Gentile”. Even our ethnic difference are inconsequential in Christ Jesus.

But to return to the purpose of this entry – is to look at what role history should play in our nation.  We should view our history (the good and bad) like we look at our lives.  This should be particularly clear for the regenerated, born-again Christian.  We are the product of a life of experiences, mistakes, sins… and as Christians, we have been brought from that to new life. Yet as long as I dwell in this world, I will never achieve perfection.  We speak a great deal about sanctification – the progressive improvement and transformation to be MORE Christlike day-by-day. This helps form part of our life testimony. We can look back at who we WERE – even the darkest days, then give thanks that Christ has delivered us from the former darkness, bringing us into the light of His grace and glory.

I look back at my early years – and yes, I feel the pangs of shame at some of the behaviors and attitudes I held. I still feel grief over the harm and pain I caused. But I do not ever want to erase that. Some would suggest we should “forget our past”. I disagree.  Biblically, we see time and again reminders of believer’s former selves. Among my favorite examples is Paul’s words to the church at Corinth:

…Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

-1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Being brought to remembrance of what we once were, we are able to both be humbled by our past, and encouraged by where we have come today. My understanding of my current context is built, in-part, on my experiences of the past, and the LESSONS LEARNED, even in my sin and mistakes. To forget them would be to forget the lessons themselves.

Likewise, I view our  our national history with a reverence and respect, even in the wickedness that is an undeniable part of.  The USA, contrary to the modern revisionist version, is an extraordinary nation with an amazing and providential history.  This isn’t a debate over whether this has ever been a “Christian Nation” (I would propose that functionally, we have never been, though most of the world viewed this nation as such for over a century). Regardless of the social position or if they were slave owners or not, the Founding Fathers of this nation were guided to write words that came together as our foundational documents that they couldn’t really grasp themselves.

     We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

-Preamble to the Declaration of Independence

While many of the writers themselves didn’t fully practice what they wrote, it was a glimpse to the goal – the bar to seek to achieve as a people. In fact, when you look at our history as a nation with an honest, academic eye – you can see incredible progress in reaching towards this beautiful statement from the Declaration. We have moved from widespread chattel slavery, to the abolition of slavery, to the overcoming of post-Civil War Jim Crow laws and obstacles to voting for people of all ethnicities as well as women (who make up a major chunk of the electorate today).  And amazingly, this nation not only elected a man of African-American descent, but re-elected him to the highest office in the land (and arguably, the most powerful office in the world). One has to admit this is a startling accomplishment for a country that is now claimed to be crushed by overwhelming systemic racism!

The reality is, ethnic (the world improperly uses race) divisions have been on the decline over the last half-century, with overt hate shrinking. That is, until those who stand to benefit from a divided nation began pouring gasoline on the old embers of our past divisions. From that first African-American President, through political groups Hell-bent on wedging every piece of hate they could into the public square – the flames of division have grown, intentionally.

And now, the masses are calling to tear down historical monuments. It began with destroying-confederate-statuesConfederate monuments, ostensibly to fight “racism”, but the surge grew to tear down monuments of General Grant (Union General of the Civil War), Francis Scott Key (writer of the Star Spangled Banner), Abraham Lincoln, Christopher Columbus, and even ABOLITIONIST Matthias Baldwin! What is the purpose of tearing down not just Civil War/Confederate monuments, but those representing all facets of US History (including3tiZwr_0PRDw29z00 new calls to destroy Mount Rushmore!)? It isn’t to combat perceived racism and hate.  It isn’t even a rally against “colonialism”. It is an attack on history itself.

Remember my comparison to the Christian’s testimony – and how the past helps us understand the present (and future)? Remember how history helps us to learn from the past and to improve? You see, our nation’s testimony includes seeing a people group once held as slaves, once deemed by the US Supreme Court as less than the value of a human being, to becoming entrepreneurs, celebrities, innovators, educators, scholars, Supreme Court Justices, and even President of the United States. We see the former slave, Ms. Nancy Green, becoming the first Black corporate model and spokesperson, growing wealthy and well-respected for the persona of “Aunt Jemima”:

She was offered by Quaker Oats a lifetime contract to become Aunt Jemima and to promote the pancake mix. “This marked the beginning of a major promotional push by the company that included thousands of personal appearances.” There was all kinds of Aunt Jemima merchandising. Nancy Green, Aunt Jemima, helped organize the Olivet Baptist Church. “Her career allowed her the financial freedom to become an activist and engage in antipoverty programs.” She was well paid.

The systematic destruction of monuments and history itself, is not about skin color. It isn’t about slavery. It isn’t about “systemic racism”. It is an intentional attack on the very history that has made America the great success story it represents.  There is a reason that millions clamor to come to the United States, even today. Despite the internal conflicts that would say America is evil – that people are oppressed by systemic racism, much of the world only dreams of the freedoms and opportunity available in the USA. America IS a great nation.  Is it perfect? Absolutely not – but we are a nation that for almost two and quarter centuries has grown, changed, and improved on many fronts to a nation where dreams really can come true.  Where success and prosperity are still a  reward for personal effort and work ethic.  But this nation, like me, is a “work in progress”. A product of our past, as well as the lessons of the day.  We are to seek the “better”. To do what is right, not in our own eyes, but the eyes of the LORD. We should celebrate what is good and right about our nation (of which there is much), we should thank God almighty for His divine hand of protection and His providential working in our history. We should stand proudly for our Anthem, salute our flag, all while remembering the blood shed, and the hard lessons learned.  Never forget the dark times and practices, do not diminish the wrongs perpetrated, but we must move forward. Follow the example of Christ and forgive, seek reconciliation, and pursue goodness.

But we cannot learn from the past, if we erase it and rewrite it to fit an agenda. We are not seeking reconciliation if we disrespect the flag and the Constitution that so many fought and died to protect and defend.  We cannot pursue justice without remembering the true story of injustice. And we cannot chart a course forward, if we forget where we have been. To protest this nation and its history, is to reject the very Constitution that guarantees your right to protest and to speak freely. It’s a form of cutting off the nose to spite the face.

And to be really blunt – there are millions of people in nations where they have no freedoms, they have no opportunity, who know real oppression and persecution on a daily basis who would gladly change places with you if you feel this country is so awful. Maybe you should take some time to really study history. Take an honest look at how far we as a nation have come, and the opportunities that lay before you if you are willing to learn, grow, and work. Be a part of the solutions to ongoing problems, not part OF the problem. Quit trying to destroy that which you apparently do not even really understand.

And for the rest of us – those who love this land and who thank God for the opportunities and blessings we have experienced (regardless of the color of our skin), and who do appreciate how far we have come, and who see how great this nation could still be – were we to truly seek goodness, mercy, love, reconciliation, and most importantly, the God who’s sovereign hand of providence allowed this nation to be planted so long ago – and who has blessed her, even in times of darkness.

Hated Heroes

Just like many little boys, I use to dream of being a police officer. I always looked up to them. Even after I grew up a bit (some would argue it could never happen!) and no

Kid Cop
Not the author

longer dreamed of being a cop, I still looked up to them. I met way too many good men (and later even some good women) who loved their job, and who were truly following a calling to “protect and serve” – who believed their lives mattered and that they were making a positive difference in their communities.

I’ve cried with cops, I’ve stood and let some vent their frustrations. I’ve prayed with them. And I have even gotten past external-content.duckduckgoa few bad seeds who tried their best to cause me to despise them (ask me about a certain Arkansas State Police officer back in 1988, I believe it was). Yet I never grew to hate police.
And just like the way I was raised to judge people based on who THEY are – the “content of their character”, not on a representative few, I still view the statistically small number of bad officers as aberrations to the badge and uniform – as they to the majority of cops who just want to make a positive difference – who don’t care about your skin color – they simply want to make a difference.
And here we are – with a society that has decided that all police officers, of every ilk, of every department from Sheriff’s departments to local and state law enforcement – are all seasons-2evil, wicked, hunters of black men for sport. Statistics don’t matter. Reality is in the eyes of the one narrating the story by the mainstream media.
So I ask: why would anyone put on the uniform, pick up their badges, and go to work to save an ungrateful population that apparently now thinks they are worse than the antichrist? Why would the respond to a domestic disturbance knowing that there is a significant chance of being attacked or even killed? Why respond to that crying mother who’s child has disappeared? Why pull over and help that motorist with a flat tire on the side of a dangerous interstate highway?
iu-4
Because police officers have become the new hated minority in this country. Judged not by the color of their skin, but by the uniform they put on to protect YOU. Judged based on an apparently accepted narrative based on the extremely small minority of their coworkers.
Someone please again explain to me how it is morally wrong to judge an entire ethnic group based on the actions of the minority of them – which become an incorrect stereotype… But is just fine to judge all police and law enforcement by the actions of these very small minority of bad players?
102914670_10224956539406605_7394635002383699744_o
And lest we forget – a black male is exponentially more likely to be killed by another black male than any other means… other than abortion. But our society doesn’t loudly bemoan, protest, riot, or try to shut down the nation over the actual epidemic of black-on-black crime (which is glorified in the entertainment industry, including that produced by African-Americans), or the same regarding Planned Parenthood and other purveyors of literal genocide and eugenics.
No – we have to ostracize and shred the hearts and jobs of hundreds of thousands of caring, justice-minded, and hard-working men and women who willingly put their lives on the line for you and me every single day – despite the growing hate that they did absolutely nothing to deserve.
And now, even Lego toys is pulling (even if now claimed to be a temporary halt to marketing) of police sets and figures?18Clx0A
Meanwhile – while my voice can do little, I will pray for ALL law enforcement. For those who are honorable (often-times genuine heroes), that they would remain safe and not lose heart – that they get to return home to their families after each shift. And yes, for the small number who are truly wicked individuals – whether “dirty”, or hate-filled bigots – that the LORD would break their hearts to see the sin of their ways and that they might repent before they breathe their last (or harm another soul).
pray4police

Image of God, Sinners, and the Only Answer

Humanity – all of us – were created in the Image of God (Imago Dei). We all have marred that image by sin – the fundamental problem of the world. Every last one of us bears that disease. For some, it is demonstrated in fornication or other sexual immoralities, for some – covetousness and stealing. or any other many names we give to the expression of sin – including the various forms of hate.

Because we are utterly contaminated by sin, we are unable to do anything about our ugly, wicked state. In fact, left to our own nature – “there are none righteous, no not one – none seek after God”. We are spiritually dead. And guess what – spiritually dead people act like spiritually dead people and many do REALLY bad things. Indeed – the current ugliness is actually one of the oldest problems mankind has been guilty of – one that goes all the way back to Cain and Abel – HATE.Hate2

That leaves us with a conundrum – we are lost in our sin – condemned and fully deserving of the full wrath of God that will be poured out on ALL unrighteousness of man. But God…God, in His perfect, sinless Son, took on my sins, bearing the shame, and gave His life to redeem me, that I would no longer bear the shame and reproach I deserve. And in that death, Jesus broke the chains of sin that so surely bound us to our sin (including hate). But for WHO did Jesus make this incredible atonement for? ALL who would believe…of every nation, tribe, peoples, and tongues –

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” ~REVELATION 7:9 & 10

You see – our current “sin of the day” is HATE.

HATEWe’ve labeled it as the misnomer of “racism” – but there is but one race, the Human Race. But there is still ungodly, unbiblical hate based on any outward condition or appearance. Hate is the exact opposite of what Jesus came and perfectly modeled. And the answer to HATE – is to answer it with love. To confront ANYTHING people use to divide with truth – beginning with the foundation of the Gospel.

20861955_1513045045426817_8991208828585337000_oJesus didn’t come to save one particular ethnicity. He came to redeem a people from ALL people groups and ethnicities. He came to conquer sin and death. Through His own death, HE demonstrated the very same kind of love His people are commanded to show to all the rest of the Image Bearers of God – of all nations, tribes, and tongues! A love that knows no skin color or background. A love that isn’t conditioned on others believing as we do (though there is a biblical “preference” for the brethren), looking like we do – etc. The Gospel is the Answer. God’s Word gives us the details, the hows, and the whys.

The Critical Question of Race

RACE – a term that teeters on the edge of being classified as a “four-letter word” in many circles. A term that really doesn’t mean what it has been made out to mean. Just like so many other terms in human language (especially the English language) that have been adultuerated, redefined, and bent to fit political and sociological agendas, the term “race” simply is not what you may think.

And among all settings where “race”, regardless of how you define it, should matter the least – Christianity, the term is again blowing up people and churches. And yet again, it is because so many have a completely erronious udnerstanding of the term.

Se let us take a look at God’s Word. After all, as one who holds to Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone for basis of faith, doctrine, and theology).

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on 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; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 1:26-28 NASB

Let US make man in OUR image – Us being plural (the very first clear, inarguable statement of the Triune God) , yet a singular image. One image – and “make man” being a general term that actually applies to mankind – all of humanity. THE Image of God (Imago Dei). All of mankind, because the first man (and woman) were made in the image of God, is also made in the image of God. Further – how man different species of man did God make? Absurd question? Not at all – God made man and woman. Period. All of humanity in a single exemplar pair. Even modern science, with the advanced DNA sequencing and comparison ultimatley comes ot the same conclusion – all of mankind are of a single species – a single “kind”. What did Adam and Even look like? It is doubtful we will ever figure that out in this lifetime. But that is truly irrelevant – as we all come through/from that first couple (our family tree further returns to a single line through Noah as well!).

But let us return to the discussion at hand. There are several, some well-known, folks in the Christian/Evangelical circus who have begun abusing the whole “race” label. This goes beyond what the nefarious characters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton – two of the most famous race-baiting for agenda promoters of my lifetime. I’m referring to Thabiti Anyabwile (real name is Ron Burns), who formerly had my respect for writing some biblically-sound materials on church membership as well as several other encouraging and true resources. Yet Mr. Thabiti has chosen a different path – one of promoting division among races, who has attacked “multi-cultural” churches, not based necessarily on the doctrinal and theological issues often found is such churches, but for trying to make black church members into what many of his mindset refer to as “Oreos” – black on the outside, white on the inside. He has decried (along side others of similar broken and racist views), that white people have coopted Christianity and made it a “white man’s religion”. He has called out Christians to essentially throw away commentaries and theological works by White men and find Black theologians to follow and learn from. He has joined with such race-hustlers as Kyle J. Howard (a close friend of Beth Moore, who radically endorses him, by the way) who is a self-appointed Preacher, Bible Teacher, Racial Trauma Counselor, etc.. in calling for radical reparations for all of the Black race – and even saying that there can be no reconciliation between black and whites in “the church” until all White Evangelicals” take ownership of their complicity in the injustices against the black race and reparations are paid based.

David facing Goliath?

But the problem isn’t just one-sided. For FAR too long, professed Christians, including many of the “Baptist” pursuasion HAVE held race as a component of their theology and doctrins. Lest we forget, those old family Bibles with all the beautiful paintings of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed “Jesus” or the similarly European-depicted David (or most all biblical characters). These images became the building blocks of race-based thought in churches. And divides have festered like gangreen in a jungle-wound. And the problem isn’t helped when people further attempt to swing the pendulum the other direction and claim (as the Black Hebrew Israelites do) that all authentic biblical characters (other than the bad guys) are of the dark-as-the-night “black race”. (*could this be a part of why God commanded His people to NOT make graven images of anything in Heaven, in Earth, or below the earth?)

And contrary to what I believe are well-intentioned movements to racially-integrate churches (the current multi-cultural church planting efforts), I see more damage being done to theology and doctrine in the scramble. And it all goes back to a broken concept of RACE.

You see, when the Bible makes use of the Greek term γένος, it isn’t referring to races – different kinds of people. It is a reference to ethnicity, nationality, family lines. There are not different kinds of human beings – because we are all – regardless of location of birth, quantity (or lack) of melanin in our skin, or the circumstances of our birth – we are all of ONE Race – the Human Race. And we know this, not only from the ceation account found in Genesis, but more imprtantly, from the New Testament statements on the matter, with Paul referencing thsoe who are regenerated and born-again as those Christians:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28 NASB

but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.

Romans 2:10-11 NASB

God is not a discriminator based on anything but the heart, not because of some spiritual blinders, but because HE created us – all of us, in HIS image, through Adam – all unique, yet all of one Human Race. Yes, He has allowed, even brought about, differences in skin color (all amazingly adapted to the areas He sent people after the tower of Babel rebellion.

Even with different languages (many of which have yet to even be discovered, much less have Jesus named), an amazing myriad of skin colors, and other physical attributes – we all remain linked by DNA – and by Jesus’ own label of NEIGHBOR!

In setting up Jesus’ parable of the so-called “Good Samaritan”, He was asked by a lawyer what was required to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ response was to go to the Law that this lawyer was so intimately aquainted with – law briefly summarized concludes with “love your neighbor as yourself”. The Lawyer’s question then was “who is my neighbor”. The answer would have been as startling today as it would be to both sides in the evil “race” battles:

The Samaritan – a man who, by cultural standards, was expected to HATE this Jewish man. They were like cats and dogs – both viewed each other as the scum of the earth (despite the fact there was little visual difference between them). They hated each other because they saw each other as different races, not of the single Human Race. Yet this particular Samaratin saw, not a “Jewish dog”, but a human being in need of help. He looked beyond any superficial ethnic difference to the man who needed saving.

If we want genuine “racial reconciliation” – it isn’t going to come because of some kind of reparations paid for evils that others may or may not have suffered. Reconcilliation will not happen by the continued pointing out of differences between “races” – as this simply perpetuates the myth of race. Genuine unity as the Human Race will only come when we truly understand God’s perspective – from the Greator who created us all in HIS Imago Dei – and realize – regardless of the color of our skin – we are all sinners who are desperately without hope – doomed to receive the due wrath of a Holy and perfectly-righteous God – who even HE sees beyond the exterior to see the needy humanity – and reaches down to save those He will by the power of Jesus’ blood – regenerating hearts, not based on ethnicity or any perceived qaulity in us – but by His perfect love, by His perfect Grace – and all for HIS glory alone!

Evangelical #Hypocricy (Who’s a Christian?)

We live in a time of people having greater concern for what is politically-correct than what is biblically correct. At the same time, many in what is labeled “Evangelicalism” (some bloggers are now using the term #BigEva (the evangelical business, as it has become), has been shouting that Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump) is not worthy of being respected as the Presdient of the United States, and that Evangeilical Christians are blind and possibly unregenerate, Hell-bound souls for supporting him in any way – based on his history of sexual immorality and profane speach.

Many of these #BigEva figures, like Thabiti Anyabwile (@ThabitiAnyabwil) of the (social) Gospel Coalition (his real name is Ron Burns – but he changed it in college to his current radical racist Muslim name), a frequent speaker calling police the enemy, who has decried “White Evangelicalism” and who has become amon the most outspoken in favor reparations, has also issued hate towards Trump and his supporters, all while still endorsed by, and supported by The Gospel Coalition.

George Whitefield quote "I am nothing, have nothing, and can do nothing without God. What although I may, like a polished sepulcher appear a little beautiful without, yet within, I am full of pride, self-love and all manner of corruption."
George Whitefield

But this brings us to the issue at hand (that Thabiti/Ron Burns is a part of). Popular writer and TGC sweetheart Jared Wilson opined yesterday regarding George Whitefield and whether or not he was actually a Christian. For those who don’t know who George Whitefield was – Whitefield remains as one of the “greats” of Christianity and evangelical proclamation. See THIS LINK for more details.

Jared Wilson’s basis for questioning the salvation of one of the greatest of gospel preachers in American history? He was a slave owner. Wilson and others (like Thabiti), in an effort to promote their growing drift into the radical cutlural marxism of the Social Justice (false) gospel, are now adrift, taking hosts at dead preachers based on their particular sin. N=ever mind that Sacred Writ clearly states that “all have sinned”. By Wilson’s measure, even the Apostle Paul would be unworthy of being labeled a Christain – as he even recognized in himself that he was, even late in life, still a sinner – who didn’t do what he should, and did what he should not.

Whitefield was, like so many in the day, a slave holder – who had a bent view of humanity. He engaged in the (at the time, culturally-accepted) practice – despite the reality that no born-again Christian of our day would view slavery as anything but evil and sinful. Jared Wilson questions Whitefield’s salvation (this is what is meant by asking if he was a Christian) – based on a single, sinful activity.

This is no different than most in the Social Justice cesspool – who, like Thabiti Anywabe, and now SBC President JD. Greear, say it’s sinful to vote for candidate A (the Republican Cndidate) because of _________ sin, but it IS ok to vote for Candidate B and we will ignore his/her most vile of sins. Thi sis #hypocricy at its finest.

During the 2016 election, Ron Burns (aka Thabiti) endorsed Hillary Clinton while attacking Donald Trump. His hate for Donald Trump was connected to his immorality and the media’s depiction of him as a racist. His endorsement of Hillary Clinton was mostly unexplained, but he refused to even acknoledge HIllary’s joyful and loud promotiom of the most vile sin of our day – abortion. #hypocricy.

So – lets take a bit of an adventure together:

Imagine if you will, a preacher who you have heard all your life about. You have a great deal of respect for him and his history-book accomplishments. He is elevated as a “saint”, with monuments erected to his visage. He has entire college courses both in secular and “christian” colleges dedicated to studying him. Indeed, most of the nation pays homage to him.

But bits and pieces begin to emerge. First, something as “innocuous” as plagairizing a major portion of his doctoral dissertation. While those in academic circles generally view plaigarism as a major offense (degree candidates have been expelled for lesser examples of plaigarism). And then there are rumors…

Years later, evidence is released including credible records that this man you have always believed to be a man of God and great example, was a serial adulterer (over 40 confirmed and documented cases of illicit adulterous sexual relationships, with both men and women, while he was engaged in his most public of ministries). You find out through eye-witness testimony and further documented evidence, that he was actively involved in human trafficing/prostitution, and that he was recorded (audio) in the room watching the rape of women by his associates. You would at least begin to question everything else you knew about the man, right?

But hey – he was a Christian – and a Baptist preacher at that, right? So it’s all ok. He was still saved. We should still honor him and lift him up as our example. But…

…then, when you find out that his theology had dramatically shifted over the years and he had essentially adopted Universalist/Unitarian doctrines – indeed, this man is today, more revered in Unitarian Universalist congregations than nearly any other, with his sermons beign utilized regularly. Even his wife admitted that her husband had seriously contemplated joining the Unitarian Universalist church. He had, by accounts of his day, rejected the Trinity, rejected eternal Hell, rejected the inerrancy of Scripture.

This preacher and much-celebrated man: Martin Luther King Jr. I do not bring this up to tear down the very real and incredible civil rights progress that Dr. King helped to usher in. I am as inspired as anyone when I listen to his “I Have A Dream” speech. I was recently introduced to his speech “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint”, which is an increidble (though not overtly biblical) speech of encouragement.

But I ask – was Martin Luther King Jr. a Christian? He professed Jesus, though his later life refelcted a faith in a Jesus Christ that didn’t match that of the gospel. His view of God and eternity can be described as nothing short of heretical. And his ongoing and rampant sinful behavior reflect a horribly corrupt heart. But his outward works and speeches still remain as great works, worthy of respect. Yet Jared Wilson refuses to even question MLKJr., but brazenly questions the Christianity of George Whitefield – who believed in a very orthodox gospel, who believed in the inerrancy of Scirpture, and who trusted in the fully-God, sufficient savior Jesus Christ to redeem His sinful soul.

Evangelical #Hypocrisy.

Lets be honest. Let us be logical. Let us not be #hypocritical. The Southern Baptist Convention’s own ERLC, led by radical Social Gospel purveyor and Trump-hating Russell Moore, The Gospel Project, and several other modern powerhouses of the corporate evangelical machine, promote events like MLK50, and shame those who question the iodlatyry they promote, as they continue to push hate towards those who they deem worthy of attacking.

The reality is – this is all just a pile of symptoms of the underlying corruption that is American Evangelicalism. When churches have been selective regarding which sins they consider worthy of addressing and whih will be swept under the rug. Some churches have decried homosexuality while flatly ignoring adultery and divorce. Churches have wrapped themselves in the evils of alcohol while ignoring the abortion purveyor in their town. And then they wonder why they are rarely taken seriously – again #hypocricy. And it stems from a very low view of God and His Word. We have taken the functional position that what God has said is wrong and sinful is only that if it isn’t OUR sin. We have a lot of “thank God I’m not like THAT sinner, but failure to see the sinner staring back at us in the mirror. #hypocricy.

Racism, Hate, and Counterproductive Acts

Media is aflame – from network news to social media, everyone is losing their minds over Jussie Smollett’s accusations and now arrest. What we see is an example of hate, racism, and an unregenerate heart deliberately trying to further divide this nation, and it seriously pushes the envelope not just of the law, but truly even sedition.

For those who may somehow not know what is going on:

On January 29, 2019, Jussie (so-called Hip-Hop artist, and star of the TV drama Empire) Smollett’s manager called Chicago PD to report an attack that allegedly occurred at approximately 2AM. Over the course of the next two weeks, many stars and politicians began loudly beating their chests over this alleged hate crime. You see, the allegations were that two white males, wearing MAGA hats, physically and verbally assaulted Smollett, a gay black male, putting a rope noose around his neck, hurling racial and homophobic slurs at him, then pouring bleach on him while chanting “MAGA Country!”.

Certainly, if true, these allegations should be extremely troubling. Even President Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump) tweeted how egregious and horrible the alleged attack appeared to be. At the same time, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) tweeted out her feelings on the matter:

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) loudly proclaimed the attack as a “modern day lynching”.

As the story has unfolded over the last week, the Chicago PD has determined that Smollett hired these two men to help him stage the ‘attack”, including buying the rope and literally scripting the entire storyline. The brothers were released, and now, as of today, Jussie Smollett has been arrested and charged with filing a false report, though I suspect further charges are in order.

You see – Mr. Smollett was simply using “whatever means necessary” as so many who want to divide this nation have actually verbalized, to try to further drive a wedge in this already divided nation. What he did was a demonstration of his own hate – not just for this country (that actually provided a means for him to achieve fame and wealth), but against the elected President, and the nation as a whole. But even more concerning to the Christians reading this – is that he was remonstrating his corrupt and unregenerate heart that is in need of a Savior. Jussie Smollett is actually demonstrating the worst that he and the political Left accuse the President of being – a hate-filled biggot. He tried to inflame the nation over race and the new poster child for hate – homosexuality.

Wile I cannot presume to know the darkest corners of this man’s heart, what is glaringly obvious – we need to pray for him. While I pray that the legal justice system uses him as an example, I pray that God will open Jussie’s eyes to his corrupt and broken state, his destination if he remains unrepentant and unregenerate, that the LORD will give Jussie a heart transplant that he would believe and become a child of God, experiencing the genuine love that can only be found in Christ Jesus, that he would repent of his sinful lifestyle, that he would repent of his intentionally-divisive efforts, and that he would leave behind the agenda of division and hate that has become a sadly common commentary on our society.

But Smollett’s false accusations are nothing new. Over the course of the last decades, the number of false reports, hoaxes, and fabricated “racist” or “homophobic” attacks have increased.

Sadly, if we are going to truly become a great nation – it must be recognizing it is only by the Grace of God, that it must be in submission to God, and that we can NEVER achieve the unity that would be required if we continue to use deception, false accusations, and intentional divisiveness as tools.

I am reminded of the old story of the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf. I won’t retell the story here, but the gist of the story is that a little boy, out of the desire to get attention and to entertain himself, cried that a wolf was coming – over and over. Eventually, the townspeople tuned him out and low-and-behold, a real wolf showed up and ate him up. The moral of the story that I believe so clearly should be learned here – when one cries Racism/Homophobia as a weapon, over every single disagreement or issue raised, when you hurl the accusations not just blindly, but knowingly in a lie – you are actually hurting the very cause that you claim to be trying to help. You have demonstrated you are a liar, a divider, and a corrupt soul – all while numbing the general population to your cries of “wolf” – so when the real enemy – the real predator shows up – Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?

PSALM 10:1-4

  1.  Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?
  2.  In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.
  3.  For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, And the greedy man curses and spurns the LORD.
  4. The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him.All his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
  5. In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.
  6. For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, And the greedy man curses ad spurns the LORD.The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him.All his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

Presuppositions and Division

Everyone has a point of view – Fact.

And everyone filters their life experiences and observations through their point of view or perspective – and this is where the term “presupposition” comes in. A presupposition is one’s beginning point – it is an assumption or set of assumptions that may or may not be backed with evidence.  Presuppositions can be helpful, or in the case of many in our nation today – can be a major component of growing divisions, hate, and even violence.

In the world of theology, we often defend our viewpoint or even our entire faith system with what is called presuppositional apologetics, that is – defending our faith based on a pre-established and “assumed” foundation. Unfortunately, using presuppositional techniques to defend the Christian faith tends to fall a bit flat in the face of those most often being answered, as they do not hold the same presuppositions.  For example, I build my typical defense on my own absolute assurance that the Bible is the Word of God, inerrant and unchanging. For those who absolutely deny this about the Bible – it makes a very poor and unconvincing starting point indeed!

My theology is centered on the John 1:1 statement that The Word (aka – Jesus) IS God. Indeed, it is very difficult to make an argument for the efficacy of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross if He wasn’t really God in the flesh.

In the secular world (and in some churches… but this is a whole other discussion and can of worms), many people view their neighbor through a set of presuppositions (assumptions). For some, they have a racially intolerant set of presuppositions. In the history of our nation, we see entire sets of laws, regulations, and general treatment of people groups based on a flawed and unjust set of presuppositions.  Why is it that young black men were sometimes beaten or even lynched by hateful mobs based solely on a single, unverified accusation? 42831064_10156051385028823_9148553096673099776_n.jpgStories like that of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old who was lynched in 1955 after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her. No proof, no evidence. But the mob who brutally sought “justice” accepted the accusation as the truth specifically because of their erroneous presupposition that black males are criminals.

Our presuppositions are sometimes developed by our own study, growth, and experiences, while others develop from their environment – in the case of racial presuppositions – they are often the product of parents and those they choose to be around.  When you add in what has been experienced – we become pragmatic – our own experience just MUST be a universal experience – and therefore taints everything we see. I remember vividly to this day my mom being mugged by an African-American man when I was still an elementary student. And I confess, that jaded my view of black men for a time. Thankfully, my mom had a far different view – and made it clear that I could not and must not judge all black men by the actions of this one brutal criminal.

Presuppositions, fueled by those filled with hate, politics, and the media are dividing our nation along with many different lines. Those who have been brought up and/or immersed in bias and hate tend to accept as fact the narrative being pushed from every corner.  We see some who insist that White Men are the “devil” and are responsible for the world’s problems.42790180_2144218252263768_3159811803353972736_n.jpg Therefore, those who buy this presupposition then view all news with an expectation that White Males (aka – the “privileged” class)  are always to be blamed. This carries over to the accusations of racism. When your presupposition is that racism can only be perpetrated by whites and that the victims of racism can only be Black (or more broadly, non-whites) – then you turn a blind eye to a major portion of the actual racist behaviors and troubles happening in our nation. Add to this the widespread propaganda of the #BlackLivesMatter movement – that (whether intentionally or not) promote a presupposition of a single racial group to have more value than others, and we further bend the public presuppositions and actually FEED hate and divisions.

The answer is startlingly simple: View all people with this Presupposition:imago-dei-concert_blog.jpg

#ImagoDei

You see, Scripture clearly says that mankind was made in the Image of God. That is all of mankind – all nations, tribes, tongues. We all are image-bearers of the Creator. And while individuals do act contrary to their Creator and His character, we all are touched by sin, we still have value as image bearers. Judge each individual by the content of their character, not the color of their skin (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.).

More recently, we have seen a literal disgusting circus fed by other twisted presuppositions. Judge Brett Kavanaugh stands as the latest nominee for a vacant seat on the United States Supreme Court. By all measures and his record, he is imminently qualified, has lived a life and served a career with integrity. He has been honest in admitting his alcohol consumption in high school. Yet this man stands accused of ugly violent behavior against a woman when he was 17 years old.  Accusations made some 36 years after the alleged crime. And many in the public sphere have been more than willing to accept the accusations, despite vast holes and inconsistencies. Why? Because of faulty presuppositions: That a privileged white boy from a well-off family, who was a student (and apparently an outstanding student and athlete) at a prestigious private school, who liked to drink absolutely MUST have committed the alleged crime. That is just what rich, white boys do – and “always” get away with it.  We have a collision of class warfare, class jealousy, and a massive #metoo movement that presumes women are always the victim and that any doubts about the validity of a woman’s accusations against a man are nothing but #misogynistic #womanhating efforts to shame the #victim.

There is a similar issue that happened just a few years ago when the #Ferguson Missouri riots were going on as a (purported) response to the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson Police officer. The narrative followed the presupposition that police nationwide were engaged in an “open season on black men”, as originally proclaimed by US Representative Hank Johnson (D- Georgia). When you believe in such a presupposition, you will be a willing participant in the supposed response.  Closer to home here in Arkansas,  Judge Wendell Griffen of the Sixth Judicial Circuit (and infamous anti-death penalty protestor while having an active death penalty case before his bench) began issuing very aggressive support for the rioters – actually justifying their actions because of Hank Johnson’s proclamation! One would think a judge would be willing to actually see what the evidence would say as opposed to jumping on the racial and anti-police bandwagon absent any meaningful evidence. But for Judge Griffen, his racial presuppositions trump truth and evidence. And he willingly became another part of the division in this nation.

So what is the answer? I’ve already given it to you – viewing our neighbors as being image bearers of God. Quit basing our judgment on skin color, economic background, or whether one is male/female. Begin with the evidence. Be willing to withhold judgment until the fog of the event or circumstances can settle a bit.

Filter what you hear, even if it comes through your favorite media outlet or your best friend, through a presupposition of that Image-bearer lense and seek the truth, not assumed guilt simply because of race (or more recently – because of gender). Quit swallowing the vitriol being spewed from every angle.

And let us look at what the Bible says about our differences – and the “great equalizer”:

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. -Galatians 3:27-28

Only in Jesus do we really begin to see each other as God sees us. Further, when we are In Christ, as new creations – we can set aside our former selves, our previous flawed and sinful presuppositions, and begin to see our neighbor through a new lens – as a person and soul – that has value and who is, at the core, in need of the same salvation we need.

And after all – who is the author of confusion and hate? Satan.

Identity Politics, Race, and the Church

What part of Jesus Christ’s ministry, teaching, or preaching played race-identity politics?
 
What, then was the message, both of Jesus’ own words and the rest of Scripture? It’s summed up in Christ’s response to those trying to corner him:
 
The greatest command is to love God with all – your heart, body, mind, spirit, EVERYTHING – first and foremost. The second – to love your neighbor as yourself (with the “love” translated here being the same used to describe God’s love in John 3:16, and the kind of love Jesus inquired Peter about. A self-sacrificing kind of love – a love that considers others (our “neighbors”) literally above ourselves… a servant/humble attitude so perfectly and in every way modeled by our Savior.
 
The love of Christ was poured out in the form of His precious blood for the sins of not one race, not one nationality, not one “people group” – but across all of the above. God has and is redeeming a people for Himself from every tribe, every tongue, and every nation – with no racial, economic, or social distinctions. We have ZERO right to judge others worthy of the Grace of God. And we, as professing Christians, have no right or place to become purveyors of race-identity politics. 
This week, the Southern Baptist Convention, convened in Phoenix, AZ (#SBC2017) approved a non-binding resolution denouncing racism and specifically the alt-white movement.  It is my prayer that the heart behind this was to put a biblically-mandated separation between that denomination and a truly hate-filled, race-identity thriving movement. I don’t have a problem with the spirit of such a resolution – the SBC (and many Baptist denominations) have a long history of very real race issues.  My problem with this particular resolution is that it is a one-sided and fails to even go back to both the Gospel and Christ’s commands. It simply buys in to the media and political Left’s race-identity politics. It continues the white vs. other narrative (the resolution uses the term anglo and non-anglo).  It fails to genuinely recognize and affirm the “#HumanRace, and accepts the overly-broad brush the terms used have become.
And I speak from the view of having been a leader in a church early in my ministry that, while claiming to “love its neighbors”, used terminology such as “those people” and “we don’t want them taking over” in reference to people of a different race. I speak of someone who grew up in a very diverse home town, where race has been a problem for centuries, and where many of us did, indeed, look beyond skin color – something now deemed offensive itself.
I write from the view of someone who is just plain sick-and-tired of race-identity politics and divisions.  Why is it so difficult to just take Christ’s words for what they are: Love your neighbor.  Period.  Our neighbor is anyone other than ourselves.
Racism is an evil that just doesn’t seem to want to go away.  Sadly, after a few decades of attempts to move away from race-identity, it now has come rushing back from all sides.  And it is no accident that politicians from every direction play the game in one form or another: it is all to “divide and conquer”.  The sooner we begin to recognize our neighbors, regardless of what they look like, what they wear, how much money they have (or don’t have), where they are from, and what religion (or lack of) they practice as our “neighbor”, and someone who desperately needs the Gospel – the sooner racism begins to fade.  And the way to that – is the Gospel itself.  It’s pretty hard to love like Christ, when we don’t really know Him.  When we are not made a “new creation” in Christ Jesus.  If we have not received the new heart He promised (Ezekiel 36:26). Until we are born again, not of flesh and blood, but of spirit – we just cannot see and love as Jesus does.
So – to my SBC brethren.  To my BMAA brethren. To my ABA brethren – and to all who genuinely know, believe, and follow Jesus Christ – repent of your sins (including any vestige of hate and racism), distance yourself from those who cling to those divisive race-identity politics, and seek Christ’s Love – and Love your neighbor…