11.06.2008

Come out of the Closet With Me

People, seriously. Let's reject the idea of race. Let's embrace diversity in ethnicity and finally forget about categorizing ourselves according to skin color. Here's an excerpt from today's article on Boundless from Thabiti Anyabwile:

This is not merely a problem of integration, of spiritual forced busing to churches. It's more serious than that. From Sunday to Sunday, month to month, year after year, Christians of every hue are abandoning one another in lovelessness. Because we are too often loveless, "race" overpowers us even though it is not real. Our love seeks the limits of convenience and familiarity, to be bounded by the ease that "race" offers, when Christ calls us to a largeness and breadth of love that is like His own, that assembles and gathers and loves and gives to every nation, tribe and language. And that's to be displayed in our churches. Christ has made us one and called us to unity, but we have filed a declaration of independence from one another and voluntarily enacted Jim Crow practices to reinforce it.


Wow.

Seriously, please go read the article I linked to yesterday, and today's installment too. Then if you're still interested, head over to T4G.org and listen to Thabiti's message on this very topic. You'll be blessed, and I hope you'll be motivated to erase the category of race in your heart and mind.

12 comments:

Jacob said...

For a while now, it has seen very ridiculous to assign value or honor to certain people because of something as superficial as skin color. Frankly, it is inane to think more highly or less of something on account of hair or eye color.

Radagast said...

A great pair of posts.

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

Brent said...

Thabiti writes in: http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001835.cfm
"Multiculturalism, diversity and tolerance are the reigning solutions to problems associated with race."

These are demonstrably not Christian concepts. Multiculturalism is the false notion that all cultures are equal. It's moral relativism at its core and a denial of reality. Diversity and tolerance are weasle words. In this context they don't mean what the dictionary says. Diversity is a concept used to justify racial quotas. Tolerance is concept used silence those on the wrong side of a debate. For example: Christians must show tolerance for homosexuals and allow them to redefine marriage.

Please be careful relying on Thabiti's thinking. He is clearly deceived regarding these ideas.

Laura said...

Brent, I think you are misunderstanding what Pastor Thabiti is saying here -- in fact, he's saying exactly the opposite of what you are saying he's said!

"Multiculturalism, diversity and tolerance are the reigning solutions to problems associated with race." -- "reigning" means cultural. In other words, the culture's solutions to the problems associated with race are multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance.

He goes on to explain a Biblical way of addressing this issue -- namely rejecting race as a way of categorizing people.

Please take care as you read Thabiti's writings. Again, he is contradicting the cultural view of this issue.

Brent said...

You are correct I misread that portion and I retract my statement regarding his thinking.

I confess I am suspicious of race conversations. So much of it is white guilt, race baiting and false accusation.
During my initial scan of the articles I read this:

"We acknowledge that the staggering magnitude of injustice against African-Americans in the name of the Gospel presents a special opportunity for displaying the repentance, forgiveness, and restoration promised in the Gospel."

Does staggering magnitude of injustice against African-Americans refer to slavery? I'm not disputing the injustice or its magnitude. Who should take this special opportunity to display repentance? Who should display forgiveness? Maybe it's my suspicion rearing up but this sounds like I should apologize to blacks for slavery. I'm fairly certain if I went up to a black fellow at church and apologized to him for slavery he would be insulted.

"We further affirm that evangelical Christianity in America bears a unique responsibility to demonstrate this reconciliation with our African-American brothers and sisters."

This is nothing but white guilt which promotes victim-hood in blacks and guilty resentment in whites. Its a false admission of guilt to a crime our ancestors committed. There is nothing to reconcile between myself and the man sitting next to me who happens to be black.

This is how the statement should read:

We further affirm that evangelical Christianity in America bears a unique responsibility to reach out to our needy American brothers and sisters.

I'm talking about the poverty stricken communities, that are wracked with crime, drug use, etc. regardless of skin color. This acknowledgment of skin color in the Affirmation and Denials seems to contradict what he is arguing.

I think I disagree with the notion that the voluntary segregation of the church is something that needs to be stamped out or that it means there is no love between churches of different skin colors. There are legitimate cultural, preaching, and worship style differences between all congregations regardless of skin color and this will result in voluntary segregation. Where would a blind man chose to go? Probably to a church that is culturally similar.

"Christians of every hue are abandoning one another in lovelessness. Because we are too often loveless, "race" overpowers us even though it is not real. " Is this true? Is he saying the majority of churches would reject someone of a different skin color?

Why doesn't he propose a practical solution to the "voluntarily enacted Jim Crow practices"?

Laura said...

The "staggering magnitude of injustice" refers to slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and racism.

As believers, those made new by the Gospel, do we not have a unique responsibility to demonstrate the reconciliation we've received in Christ by reconciling with other believers? There HAS been division, and Christians (of every color) have been guilty of perpetuating that division, which ought not to be in the church. He is absolutely not talking about some trite apology for slavery on an individual level.

Furthermore, I don't think he's saying that my (predominately white) congregation would reject a black member. That's silly. I think he IS saying that we simply accept and see as normal the fact that churches are too often divided along racial lines. I think you are unfairly characterizing what is actually a gracious, moderate, Gospel-driven position, and trying to turn it into "race-baiting" and "white guilt." These are very serious accusations.

I'm going to stop right there, and ask that, before you make any more comments on this topic, you listen to Pastor Thabiti's message at Together for the Gospel. If you still feel that he, as a black man, a former Muslim, and a faithful preacher of God's word, is mishandling the subject of race, come back and let me know.

Brent said...

I listened to the message, read through the four articles again and would like to make a few comments. I apologize if my tone was gruff. I don't want to aggravate you, just debate. Which I have to get better at admittedly.

First I'll address your previous comments.

"As believers, those made new by the Gospel, do we not have a unique responsibility to demonstrate the reconciliation we've received in Christ by reconciling with other believers? "

Yes. When we sin against each other.

Reconciliation in the Greek
Reconciliation (katailage, Gk. S# 2643) - to change. A change from a state of enmity to one of friendship. It is the result of the divine act of salvation, the ceasing of God's wrath.


I submit that there isn't a state of enmity between Christian Churches of different races Perhaps churches should join together more in carrying out their missions, but this is not enmity and there isn't anything to forgive or repent to each other. Perhaps it is a sin against God for churches to not work together more but lets not complicate this topic with that issue.

"There HAS been division, "

That is true. It is past tense though. Slavery was ended and Americans paid in blood for that sin. Institutionalized racism was ended and government programs were started to give blacks a hand to overcome the effects of institutional discrimination. It is illegal to discriminate based on race. Both wrongs have been reconciled.

If you don't agree that reconciliation has taken place, tell me how we will do it and how will we decide when it's finished.


"and Christians (of every color) have been guilty of perpetuating that division, which ought not to be in the church. "

response below regarding division

"He is absolutely not talking about some trite apology for slavery on an individual level."

Fair enough. I think the problem is his idea is more abstract than practical.

"Furthermore, I don't think he's saying that my (predominately white) congregation would reject a black member. That's silly. I think he IS saying that we simply accept and see as normal the fact that churches are too often divided along racial lines."

Yes it is silly. It is normal and we should accept it. Americans segregate their churches by culture and ethnicity. It just so happens that certain ethnicity's and cultures are predominately one race.

I would like to hear what you think the practical solutions are to the problems Pastor Thabiti outlines. I ask because I don't think he offered any.

Continued in next post if I may.

Brent said...

-Pastor Thabiti writes, ""Race" in the way we commonly use the term, as a proxy for explaining differences in appearances and identity, does not exist in truth."

A major thrust of Pastor Thabiti's message is that race as biology is false. If race is a false construct that we must not use, how are we to describe the general groups that comprise humanity? Skin color alone isn't enough. An East Asian Indian man and an African man both with the same skin tone can be distinguished from one another. Granted not everyone can be easily identified because of mixed parentage. The fact remains there are several large very general groups that are identifiable. Language and communication demand that differences have definitions. Race is the way we communicate our differences in appearance. Race is a loaded term because it was twisted as Pastor Thabiti mentions to justify crimes. Its only proper usage refers to physical appearance and this is the definition it carries today.

Using race as a proxy for identity is unacceptable. Identity is a byproduct of ethnicity not our biologically dictated physical appearance. Every race is comprised of many ethnicity's.

-Pastor Thabiti writes, "The moment we allow "race" into our thinking, we have everything we need combined with a fallen heart for each of us to be a racist. The difference between me and Louis Farrakhan, between my white friends and David Duke, is a matter of degree not kind. We simply haven't gone as far in our delusion and idolatry of self as Farrakhan or Duke has. But the ingredients for the same vile hatred are right there the moment we allow "race" as a category in our thinking."

I disagree. David Duke has decided that all races are not equal. I know that all races are equal. This is a binary choice, not a matter of degrees.

Since I think his primary premise is wrong, I can't agree with the rest of his assertions. Race is not the reason American churches are segregated. Nor is it a problem.

I have attended a large church that shares their unused chapel every Sunday with a small Asian congregation. The two congregations are segregated 50 yards apart in the same building, carrying on their own services. Why is this? Ethnicity and culture, not race.

Laura said...

I honestly think you are missing the point of Pastor Thabiti's message here. Before I end this conversation, I'd like to ask a few things and make a couple suggestions:

1. Who are you? I really dislike having these kinds of serious, sometimes heated discussions with strangers. It seems pretty pointless. These are the sorts of conversations that ought to take place within relationship to protect against offense.

2. I'm not accusing you of trolling or flaming (you seem like a nice guy, and you're willing to be proven wrong, which is decidedly un-troll-like), but to come to a stranger's blog and post extremely long, contentious comments can definitely read "flamer!" It's pretty widely accepted blog etiquette that you ought to introduce yourself before you start looking through archives and disagreeing with people.

3. Pastor Thabiti answers your questions in the Q&A that took place after his T4G message. I honestly think you are AGREEING, not disagreeing with his fundamental premise, which is a rejection of skin color as a category for defining people. He fully accepts ethnicity and culture. What he and I reject from that is that we as the Body of Christ must necessarily be divided because of that -- that churches with mixed ethnicities and cultures are insupportable, which seems to be your de facto position. Furthermore, the reason the "Asian" congregation in your building is separate is likely due to language, NOT ethnicity and culture (unless you believe language to be synonymous with those two things).

3. I'm uncomfortable with your implication that you are incapable of racism. The point of Pastor T's argument is to remind us of our own sinfulness, of the divisiveness that exists in each of our hearts. The difference between me and Hitler is only one of degree, for heaven's sake, but for God's grace!

4. I'm going to consider this discussion at a close, just because, with a full-time job and other current responsibilities, I don't have time to address your points individually. If you'd like more feedback, you can head over to Pastor T's blog (purechurch.blogspot.com) and ask him any other questions. He's a very gracious guy and I'm sure he'd be happy to interact with you if he has the time.

You seem like a thoughtful, intelligent person, and I welcome your input on other posts (preferably after you introduce yourself)!

Blessings, brother.

Radagast said...

The fact is that the Body of Christ is divided between Black and White, just as in the Apostle Paul's day it was divided between Jew and Greek.

This is a great wrong: when you take to a body with an axe and separate the hands from the feet, the body suffers. Paul says: "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!'"

Divisions by ethnicity, culture, and age should be overcome, and Christians should (ideally) worship together regardless of those factors. Otherwise, how can we call ourselves the Body of Christ?

Division of worship by language makes more sense, but even then Christians in the same city speaking different languages should, in my opinion, fellowship as much as possible.

Laura said...

And, as usual, Radagast says it a thousand times better than I could, with fewer words.

Thanks, friend. ;)

Brent said...

I understand if you are too busy to continue. I do hope you will atleast read this and consider what I've written. Hopefully even post it. If you'll permit, maybe Radagast will continue the debate.

1. Who are you? ...
2. I'm not accusing ...


I'm sorry I didn't introduce myself. I live in Lancaster County, PA. My name really is Brent. I'm 30 something. I enjoy following current events, politics and Christianity. I'm currently reading: http://tinyurl.com/5999f8 I highly recommend it. I love these games: http://www.miniclip.com/games/silversphere/en/ http://limao.miniclip.com/games/bloxorz/en/
That's about all I want to share over the Internet. I don't have a myspace or any of those sorts of things. I personally don't think it is wise to advertise the details of my life out in public(www). Oversharing is, I believe, the term. :-)

I did come into your house as it were... although in my defense you left a link over at Boundless in the Comments section which I took as an invitation. Sorry if I abused that. That said, I think debate is extremely important regardless of the participants relationship. Ideas matter. Alot. If we don't keep our minds sharpened we will be vulnerable to accepting emotionally appealing ideas that are in fact insidious.

These days that goes double. The amount of deception and lies that are in our faces is unbelievable. Everything is upside down.

3. Pastor Thabiti answers your questions in the Q&A that took place after his T4G message. I honestly think you are AGREEING, not disagreeing with his fundamental premise, which is a rejection of skin color as a category for defining people. He fully accepts ethnicity and culture. What he and I reject from that is that we as the Body of Christ must necessarily be divided because of that -- that churches with mixed ethnicities and cultures are insupportable, which seems to be your de facto position. Furthermore, the reason the "Asian" congregation in your building is separate is likely due to language, NOT ethnicity and culture (unless you believe language to be synonymous with those two things).

I couldn't find the Q&A in the current mp3 or streaming versions.

I do agree with many of his minor points (we are all decendants of Adam,etc). I do agree that race should NOT be a category for DEFINING people. Meaning, race doesn't determine your Identity. Race does address APPEARANCE and it is necessary for communication. We can remove the word "race" from our vocabulary but the concept is a fact of reality and we would have to find another word to represent that reality.

My disagreement with him stems from this: Pastor Thabiti writes,"""Race" in the way we commonly use the term, as a proxy for explaining differences in appearances and identity, does not exist in truth."
I say that Race as used and defined today, does not include Identity. It only refers to physical Appearance. If race includes Identity in a statement or belief, it is racist. "[insert race here] people dress like bums." is a racist statement because it attacks part of their identity.

I don't think I've suggested that churches must be divided by ethnicity or that they are insupportable. I do believe that divisions by ethnicity are natural and OK.

What about this angle?: I submit that God loves variety. We know He loves everything He created because He tells us it is good. He created a zillion types of birds. Lots of variety in Creation. I think it is safe to say that every individual Creation, be it a bird, flower, man, snowflake, rock is unique. Ok, identical twins don't count. The basic building blocks of life seem designed to ensure variety. While I don't want to put words in His mouth, I don't think it's a leap to say that he loves the variety of all the various worship services every Sunday. In Lancaster, google shows 80 churches in a just 5-7 mile radius. We've got all kinds of worship; rock style bands, orchestras, old style gospel choirs, traditional pipe organ and hymns, etc..

Can all the variety that develops from various traditions and ethnicity's of those 80 churches be wrong?

If what Pastor Thabiti suggests is true, those 80 congregations must mix all together until there is an equal percentage of each race and ethnicity represented at each church. That sounds absurd but I don't know how his idea could be practically implemented. Obviously we couldn't all worship together. Ok maybe 16,000 could worship in one building.

Even if these ridiculous scenarios aren't the method, going to the logical conclusion, how would we successfully blend all those different cultures, preferences, traditions, music? How would we decide on which music, tradition, or rituals to use?

If the above scenarios don't work, do we use assimilation to preserve the variety? Some of the young adults must leave their parents church and its culture to attend a church of different ethnicity?

I don't intend these questions to be wise-cracks. I really believe there is a problem with practical implementation.

The Asian congregation does hold part of their service in another language. I'm fairly certain that's not the only difference. Pastor Thabiti writes ""Ethnicity" is a fluid construct that includes language, nationality or citizenship, cultural patterns and perhaps religion. "

I believe we are called to unity of purpose, not race or ethnicity. All churches in a community working together to provide for the sick, the homeless, the poor, etc.

3. I'm uncomfortable with your ... for God's grace!

I don't mean to imply I am not capable of racism. Every man is fallen. The way I understand it is, there are two types of sinners, the Saved and the Unsaved. Just one sin cuts off the unsaved from God so there isn't a matter of degrees between he and another who commits 100 sins. Racism, the belief that humans with different physical appearances are inferior, is a premeditated continuing sin. One can't be saved without repenting of all sin. I understand the idea of degrees but I think that is actually the human concept of measuring evil. Maybe I'm nit-picking and I'm sorry if that's the case. I don't like to see evil men, Duke, Farrakhan, Hitler compared to decent folks because it has the unfortunate side effect of minimizing their wickedness.

4. I'm going to consider .... has the time.

Anyhow, thanks for hosting and participating.

Merry Christmas :-)