Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Trojan Horse of Racial Reconciliation

On Monday, I wrote about the situation in evangelicalism with T. D. Jakes.  In reading the transcript of the meeting between MacDonald, Driscoll, and Jakes, the first two licked the boots of the latter.  Sycophantic soft balls were tossed with the infield backing away from routine ground balls.  Is that the way it really has to be?  Driscoll brags about his communications degree with his vast knowledge of journalism of which there was little evidence in the Jakes interview.   A theme of racial reconciliation has become an absolute and massive trend in evangelicalism that has also spread to part of fundamentalism.  Two white pastors slobbering all over themselves in the presence of a black religious figure.   Is this the key to racial reconciliation?

We're a multi-racial church with a multi-racial school, so I, ahem, have room to talk.  And if you are not the former, then you've got to sit and read quietly.  No comments please.  You, my friend, can't say anything unless you've got the proper balance in your congregational demographic.  You want a congregation that looks like America.  And America aint all caucasian last I checked, amigo.

Listen closely (and I am joking when I say that).  The way that we got multi-racial was by not trying to get there.  We didn't do anything with our music and we didn't do anything with our outreach.  We didn't contextualize.  I didn't revert to an urban dialect like you'll hear with certain politicians.   We just knocked on every door and treated everyone the same.  We did what the Bible says and it turned into what it turned into.  No strategy.  No techniques.  I don't see it as any unique success that we are multi-racial.  It wasn't a goal.  We didn't customize the message for anyone.  We preached it the same to everyone.  If people wanted it, they did, and if they didn't, they didn't.  We didn't assume that we needed racial reconciliation.  Parallel with the former paragraph, I wrote this some time ago:

I’m guessing that, per capita, our church is as or more racially diverse than most churches in the United States. I would like to point out, however, that living and ministering in an urban area, I have found that there many forms of racism. We don’t cater at all to race. The Scriptural standard is the same for everyone; catering to it, I believe, is also racism, and I believe equally as evil as any other kind of racism. No one should be getting a different version of the ministry because they have a different skin color. That itself is pragmatism. People should be treated equally—no respect of persons either way. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation and salvation is a miracle that does not depend on fashioning the message to fit a focus group.

John Piper has thrown fuel on the racial reconciliation flame in two recent ways.  First, he promoted black rappers in his church.  I don't believe they got to rap to the main congregation, the one that Piper preaches to, but he was used for a special gathering there (read Peter Masters' essay).  Second, Piper wrote a book recently in which he said he was once a racist, but now he's not, even though in the book he saw the need for a kind of apology for his church being all white.

I am not a good example of an urban pastor. Because of the way I believe God calls me to use my time, I don't have significant relationships with most of my neighbors. Nor does our church reflect the diversity of this neighborhood.

He had time to write the book, but still no time to do what it takes to preach to his neighbors.  Do we really love them if we don't take the time to preach to them?  We should spend less time thinking about racial reconciliation and more time preaching the love of Christ to everyone.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Tim Keller's mention of Martin Luther King, Jr..  It seems to me that "racial reconciliation" is code language for using pandering to race as a method for church growth.  Biblical truth takes a back to seat to political correctness.

If you google "racial reconciliation" and evangelicalism, you'll get 112,000 results.  Numerous articles have been written about it, as if it is an important topic for churches.  In 1 Corinthians 7, the theme of the chapter is that no particular social condition is necessary to live the Christian life.  You can be a slave and live for Christ, free, single, married, Gentile, Jew---add to that black, white, red, yellow, and brown.  None of these conditions matter to your success as a Christian.

The major problem that I see with this racial reconciliation movement is the ignorance of biblical orthodoxy and truth for the sake of the non-biblical cause of racial reconciliation.  The example of MacDonald and Driscoll with Jakes is a prime example, but it is all over the place today.

I like the metaphor of trojan horse.  Not bad for a blind poet (Homer).  I don't see racial reconciliation as anything but a trap.  No true reconciliation occurs without the grace of God in the gospel.   That's good enough.


d4v34x said...

Bro B.

Always delightful to hear how God uses His Word in the hands and mouths of faithful preachers to bring in those of every tribe, tongue, and nation. Worthy is the Lamb!

Jonathan Speer said...

A few years ago I was talking to a friend who worked with a mission board. I had noticed that they had embraced a "cross-cultural" mission philosophy. I was voicing my concern that it seemed to make culture a sacred cow in churches. It seemed that under that philosophy, as long as any given idea, activity, or theology was tied to a person's culture, then it was off-limits to be dealt with according to scripture.

I explained to him as best as I could that biblical Christianity transcended all culture, race, and nationality and should reject any portion of a given culture that is unscriptural, especially those portions which God's word clearly teaches against.

The church should strive to have one culture-- that of Biblical Christianity-- and let the world keep all of theirs instead of trying to integrate the cultures of the world into the church in order to be more politically correct.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks D4.

I agree Jonathan. Very good.

Everyone, I had thought about writing this racial reconciliation post on Monday, but I decided to write the post about Frank Turk's comments first.

Gary Webb said...

A few years ago I was invited as one of the local "clergy" to address the subject of racism in our community on a live radio broadcast with other "clergy" and leaders in our town (Carrboro). When the moderator involved me in the conversation I told how that, several years ago, when I was visiting a black couple, the man asked me if I tried to get black folks into our church. I said, "No. We try to reach sinners, & we don't care whether they are black, white, or any other color. All races need to know about redemption in Jesus Christ." When the moderator on the radio broadcast (a black man) heard that, it really made an impression on him. I pointed out that our small congregation had whites, Orientals, Africans, etc. There was a white, lesbian, Methodist pastor there too. What I said infuriated her. Of course, her congregation was all old, white people, so it was hard for her to criticize me as a white, male, racist. Right now we have a few Africans (not Afro-Americans) in our congregation. Some are members (from Liberia & Ghana), & some who regularly attend are from Malawi, & we have had recent visitors from Kenya.

Unknown said...

They say talk is cheap, but the folks in the Elephant Room don't think so. It's $89.95 (for both "rounds"). Why don't they discuss the elephant in the room? Bec. that is a sacred cow. That's it! They need to move on to "Sacred Cows" - have people in like you, Pastor B. though that may not market well. Can you imagine the "conversation?" I actually think people would pay to listen to that, even without an elaborate, worldly, rock infused, market driven, 3:02 advertisement effect.
The Elephant Room, what a mess.