Church culture Preaching Theology Worship

Religious Racism?

The well known, California based apologist, Greg Koukl said something that needed to be said a few weeks ago during his podcast/radio show, Stand to Reason. A lady had called in with a question about a situation that had arisen regarding her and her husband’s adoption of a black child. These North Westerners were both white and evidently there were those who had given them a rough time over the family that was now racially mixed.

I’m sure many of you are thinking what you’ve been conditioned to think right now, aren’t you?

I’d bet that several of you are already passing judgment on someone who you imagine is belittling this adoptive family by virtue of the mixture. “Surely we are over this idea of anti-desegregation”, you might have quaintly thought.

Well, if that’s what you thought, you’re wrong!

Actually, the lady claimed that they (the two adopting parents) were being chastised and harassed by folks who believed that the two parents had no right to adopt a black child because they wouldn’t be able to indoctrinate that child to be “black”. In other words, they weren’t black enough to help the child become truly black.

Yea, you got it.

They couldn’t teach the child to feel slighted by society. They couldn’t make the child be angry enough at the white-heavy culture. They couldn’t coerce the child into holding a grudge against all white people because her ancestors may have been slaves. That was at least what her accusers were implying.

Think about that.

Isn’t that what our culture has demanded for all of this time?

An assumedly middle-class, white, suburban couple adopts a potentially orphaned black child…and what happens? A bunch of white liberals condemn them for being colorblind!?!

Koukl answered this ladies apprehensive suggestion (she’d been so conditioned that she was afraid to ask outright) with a slight chuckle and his usual clear-thinking winsomeness.

He knew the truth of what’s going on in our culture. The racist shoe is actually on the other foot.

You see, he understands that it’s the liberal, white culture that actually wants to keep minorities, especially black folk in their place. They want them to remain chained to their ethnic “modus operandi” by making sure that they act the way they’re supposed to, and they can’t do that if they are raised in a white, middle-class family. Keeping black folk in their place insures these liberal whites a superior place at the vestibule of virtue.

Koukl told the story of a man he knew who moved to America from his native African nation.

The man was very apprehensive because he had heard of the so-called undercurrent of racism, especially in the American South, and he was moving to Atlanta.

The problem was that after several years spent living in the South, the man realized that he’d never experienced the so-called undercurrent of racism by which he was supposed to have been accosted. It wasn’t there, at least in his experience.

Wow! The South, not racist? Who’d have thunk it?

Koukl went on. He explained that he had understood that people in the South were “still fighting the Civil War”, but not because of racism (because that wasn’t what it was about to begin with), but because they held a grudge against the North.

He also said that many black folk were still fighting the equality war for the same reason, a grudge.

In both cases, he maintained that people’s memories were way too long.

Neither group has a reason to be angry, he proposed.

Koukl’s main point was this: the racial tension in this country is being perpetuated by a liberal ideology that is actually racist. Oh yea, racism exists, but it exists for the most part in the hearts of the very people who wag their fingers at the people in the South.

It’s also present in the Church, I’m afraid, but maybe not as much in the pews as in the pulpits.

Bigots are the new tax collectors and prostitutes.

Naturally segregated churches (white, black, Latino, etc.) are accused of a deep-rooted aversion to the Gospel.

Whole denominations are being reformed by extra-biblical standards.

This self-righteous ideology not only comes from secular superiorists but also originates in the obstinately ordained.

These mostly intellectual elitists, both secular and sacred, unknowingly perpetuate hatred between ethnic groups and they’d like to blame us Southerners, when in fact we get along pretty good down here regardless of our past errors.

Oh, we’re not perfect. There are some bad apples, but as a whole, our culture does it better than most. We get along and we have for a while. We’re over it!

The reaction of the city of Charleston to the shooting by a crazy racist was a shining example of that…until the liberals couldn’t stand it anymore and tried to incite violence and riots by holding up a symbol of Southerness as their holdout of hatred. Really, it still didn’t work so now they’ve moved back to Missouri or Baltimore or Chicago…

And racism in the Southern Church has been for all intents and purposes dead for some time, but there are those who want to resurrect it because they didn’t get to personally protest in Selma. And if they can, they’ll drag us from forgiveness back to unforgivness so we can reenact contrition as if it were a part of the Passion. Their resurrection of racism may have more to do with their cultural Pharisaism than it does curing any so-called church segregation.

It makes me wonder, just what is racism anyway? Is it really what the culture demands that it is?

Racism is not the idea that some people are different than others, is it? Heck, we’re all different, even ethnically. Isn’t that what’s called diversity? Isn’t that the strength of our multiplicity?

Racism can’t be the idea that some of those differences intrinsic to our diversity are often beneficial to one group or person and detrimental to another, can it? Most of that is common sense. It is in the weakness of one person that the benefit comes as another loves them enough to add to them their strength. To this point, both the giver and the receiver benefit from God’s grace and both will always find themselves in need of the other.

Racism, real racism has more to do with our idea of the value of a person. That’s not to say that the value we place on a person is the crux of the matter, although it’s a symptom of it. Real racism is the wholesale devaluing of an ethnic group’s intrinsic and transcendent worth. Real racism says that an ethnic group of people has no value because they have no God-given value.

That kind of corruption of the Imago Dei doesn’t necessarily play out in job interviews in Atlanta. It’s more likely to emanate from abortion mills in New York. It’s probably not in the naturally minimally diverse churches downtown but in the contrived congregations in suburbia. Real racism doesn’t disciple all of the nations but rather it disregards nations and disdains God’s actual creative diversity.

That’s the worse kind of racist, those who use religion to devalue the worship of God’s chosen and supplant cultural submission for the Great Commission!

Religious racists merge “them into us” rather than all into Christ.

Religious racists originate onus to overturn objectivity.

Religious racists contrive contrition to capitalize on culture.

Religious racists regurgitate repentance to reinvent revival.

The truth is that God’s in the business of saving the nations, whatever they look like and wherever they are. In the Kingdom all nations are represented, not merged to look more like you think they should, which just happens to look more like you.

The Church needs to stop dragging the culture back into its deep-rooted self-reproach about racism and instead lead people to real repentance and gospel given freedom, which by the way not only includes contrition and change but taking hold of the promise of forgiveness and the power and freedom of truth. What good is a repentance unaccompanied by forgiveness? What is forgiveness if healing does not follow it? How can there be healing if we keep dragging the skeletons of our forefathers out of the closet to worship at the altar of pretentiousness and erect a façade of humility?

Somewhere, sometime, the USA may get this race issue fixed, but it wont be before the Church does, and the Church will never be redeemed of racism until the truth about it is brought to bare from her pulpits and the fear of not being politically correct dissolves like so much filth from the minds of her congregations.

Religious racism is still alive in American churches, but in my opinion, it’s hidden behind a mask of theological narcissism by hypocrites who see themselves as religiously superior.

May God help us to see our sin as it is and give us real contrition for what we hide rather than fear of what we’re hiding from.

Donnie
I was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, born again at a very young age, married a beautiful and likeminded woman, moved to Tennessee, and raised two children in the Southern traditions of loving God and neighbor, exercising manners, and being stewards of the land and its bounty. After becoming involved in youth ministry in our local church, the need of teaching people "what they believe and why they believe it" became painfully apparent, especially in my immediate context (rural Southern churches). We began an apologetics/theology ministry there but have since moved on. After serving in church leadership and being called to faithfulness and duty to protect our congregation from a rogue pastor under church discipline of his previous church, my experiences in this biblical process shape much of what I believe about how churches in the South have become weak and why nominal Christianity is prevalent. I love the Church and Southern culture so you can expect to read about apologetics and theology as well as church and culture here, written southern style, by the grace of God. Deo Vindice
http://www.southernbyhisgrace.com

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