One Nation Under God, Right? A Response to the Southern Baptist Convention
First off, I must say that the mere fact that this response is so warranted under the current circumstances is completely demoralizing. To my brothers and sisters in the faith, if you haven’t been following this story here is short backdrop on what has transpired. Recently the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) denied a proposal from Pastor Dwight McKissic (Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas) to reject the ideals associated with the ‘alt-right’ movement that has infiltrated many of Americas prominent political and social institutions. The ‘alt-right’ is a loose group of people with far-right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of white nationalism, in other words, white supremacist or the belief in white supremacy. Pastor McKissic beautifully articulates the cries of many African American Christians throughout the Country. Even though the SBC eventually voted unanimously to pass a proposal, special emphasis on the ‘a’, there are still some raised eyebrows and uncertainty on the issue. The proposal that was accepted was heavily vetted and revised ultimately watering down the original intent of the proposal. To many this would appear as a common a repetitive theme when it comes to addressing the idea of racism and discrimination within the Christian setting.
It’s no doubt the sting of racism and discrimination has left a deeply imbedded scar on the hearts of many individuals across the nation. It is a lingering shadow firmly attached to our identity, and no matter how hard we attempt to shake away from it, the sun shines and the silhouette reveals itself for us all to see. When metaphorically comparing racism to a shadow, one could easily deduce that I am inferring that we will never really escape racism or discrimination, but is that really the case? As Christians we must take responsibility for spearheading and attacking these issues if we really consider ourselves ‘evangelicals’ or ‘ambassadors’ for Christ. What we see happening now is a rise in Black Nationalism and culture centered religions that appear to capitalize on the wounded and fractured hearts that are seeking the truth. I understand many hold true to the doctrine of election and in many aspects so do I, but what I find is that many Christians allow their interpretation of doctrine to make an excuse for their lack of commitment to discipleship. From the rappers like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and many others who voice their beliefs in a God, but refuse to accept the true God due to the false representations and proclamations that reject them based on the color of their skin. This is why the news of the SBC’s initial rejection of the proposal and the revision of the original proposal is bone chilling.
Its crazy to think that we are more concerned about shipping supplies and taking Christ to these foreign Countries and spreading the good news to these little black African babies who are so adorable, but refuse to acknowledge the complete and utter disregard for you native brothers and sisters who are being blatantly excommunicated from society all over again. Dr. Martin Luther King was quoted saying, “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning." Is that still true? I mean really is this still true? Don’t feed me the number of black members you have in church and claim that you are truly a diverse congregation because truthfully, diversity doesn’t mean equality. Are you committed to preaching/teaching a Gospel centered message that speaks to the current plight of both white and black America? Are you committed to extending the same grace to the black/Hispanic/Asian neighborhood trouble makers as to the White? Are you willing to step out of the comfort of your perception of White Jesus/Black Jesus and bring the Jesus of the Bible to a generation that is desperately looking for answers?
Some mornings when I awake I stare at myself in the mirror for no particular reason. Other times I stare as if to encourage myself for the days ventures. Then there are times when I stare as if I’m looking for my reflection to reveal something greater about myself. But every time I walk away from that mirror with the same level of understanding, encouragement, and curiosity as I had when I approached the mirror in the first place. Could it be that the reason I would walk away from the mirror the same every time is because I wasn’t actively seeking out change, but rather anticipating change to find me. Change is a method that requires intentional action, meaning I cannot expect to see change if I’m not actively seeking out ways to bring it to fruition. So coming to the mirror and just looking for change isn’t merely enough in comparison to coming to the mirror and telling your reflection the change you want to see and then actively pursuing that change.
Since I’m not the type of guy to gripe without posing a possible solution, here Brian Davis from 9Marks mentions some biblical traits, with my personal explanation of each, that should be considered by the Church in response to racial tension in America and how we could begin to start the reconciliation process.
- Unity of Mind. This is a call to unite the body of Christ not in a commercial sense, by just agreeing that Christ is Lord, but to really walk this out in pure intention to cast down the barriers that exist between us. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:10: “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”(ESV)
- Sympathy. This a necessary companion to “unity of mind” and it is something that’s generally lacking in today’s society. This trait says that whatever affects my brother, whose skin is lighter or darker than mine, directly affects me because we are the same in the eyes of Christ.
- Brotherly love from a tender heart. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these (Mark 12:30-31).” True agape love says I will love you regardless of our differences and not just love you like a sideways Sunday hug type love, but the type of love that will not allow me to sleep at night knowing that you feel as if you are not important in the eyes of society and in the sight of God.
- A Humble Mind. In Philippians 2:1-5 Paul expresses this trait beautifully, If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)
Jarvis Williams also of 9Marks explains that racial reconciliation should not be confused with multi-Ethnicity, and that this confusion doesn’t fully address the issue of racial reconciliation. He suggest that in order to understand what biblical racial reconciliation is and what it means for the church, Christians, first of all, need a better understanding of the relationship between the gospel and racial reconciliation. He further expounds on gospel centered racial reconciliation by definition in a detailed manner,
- Gospel-grounded racial reconciliation begins with what Christ accomplished at the cross. He united one-time enemies to God and therefore to one another. He made the two one. Racial reconciliation begins, in other words, with the “indicative” of who we are in Christ. And then racial reconciliation shows itself in our love for the “other.” It flows from the Spirit-empowered obedience and demonstration of who we are in Christ. To define racial reconciliation as simply diversity, or to think that our churches are racially reconciled simply because they might be diverse, is misleading
Reconciliation acknowledges that there was once a separation between two or more parties and that there is now an effort to bring those parties back together. Ephesians 2:14-16 explains the beauty of reconciliation from a biblical aspect. It closes out by saying, “…and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which death put to death their hostility (NIV).” When it comes to race relations here in our nation we have to stop taking the ‘wake up and look in the mirror approach’ coupled with idleness. Otherwise we will walk away from the mirror the exact same as we were before. There needs to be more individuals who are willing to conduct the self-evaluation, draw their conclusions, discover where change is needed and then actively pursue that change. Is it sufficient to just voice our displeasure or disagreement with an ideal that has been associated with our faith and slowly trying to reemerge itself under those same pretenses? Should we approach this issue the same as the famous evangelicals did during the civil rights era, hidden rebuke and silence? Will we let history repeat itself and miss the opportunity to reconcile Gods people back unto him? Are you doing everything in your power to combat the narrative of racism in the SBC’s lineage or is Dinesh D’Souza right when he says that racism is not a departure of American ideal, but a true expression of them. How can it be that a nation founded on the principle of Christian based faith system true ideals be that of racism and hate? One nation under God, right? With liberty and justice for ALL, right? In God we trust, right? Or is it safe to say this is America the way it is, was, and will always be?