Christians and Black Lives Matter

Christopher Zechariah

Since the tragic murder of George Floyd in May 2020 many Christians have shown public support for the Black Lives Matter organisation. I support the statement and the sentiment that Black Lives Matter but not the organisation. Black people have subject to the most appalling abuses including slavery, racial segregation and domestic terrorism on black churches. Thankfully in the US and the UK there are laws today against these things. Black people still suffer racist attitudes but so do white people, Jewish people, Asians and many other races. Racist attitudes and unfavourable treatment of people based upon ethnicity has no place in the body of Messiah.

8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:8 (Scripture Quotes are from the NASB).

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?

If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

James 2

He who loves his neighbour has fulfilled God’s law and this includes your black neighbour. Whilst the example in this verse is about social class the same principle applies to racial distinctions. Showing favourable or unfavourable treatment to another human being based on social class, gender or ethnicity is a violation of God’s law. We are convicted as transgressors so God does not tolerate racism in the body of Christ. The decades of racial segregation in churches was very offensive and displeasing to him. Racial discrimination in society has been illegal for a long time and many corporations have an inclusive policy that ensures compliance. When it comes to employment it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity and yet we still hearing a narrative about “systematic racism”.

I do not support the organisation called Black Lives Matter because it does not stand for justice nor does it actually care about black lives. It is a Marxist organisation which supports and promotes violence.1 The leader of this organisation expressed his belief that

it is OK to vandalize, to light things on fire and to loot businesses because the United States of America drops bombs on other countries, and because we have problems… people have grievances.”

Daily Mail 13th Feb 2020. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7998579/Black-Lives-Matter-leader-claims-rioting-vandalism-American-way.html

Their GoFundMe page is equally disturbing:

We’re guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately and systematically harm Black people in Britain and around the world.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/ukblm-fund

I am concerned with the narrative being pushed by many Christians who approve of this organisation. Out of charity I will presume they are just unaware of the true nature of this organisation (if they are aware then they are deliberately misleading people). They are bringing a dangerous wind of doctrine and false teaching into the church which could subvert the gospel and damage race relations at the same time.

Ben Lindsay “We Need To Talk About Race”

One popular Christian book on this subject is Ben Lindsay’s volume We Need to Talk About Race. I have only read one chapter of this online but I was disappointed to see that he praises BLM and that he also presents an inaccurate narrative on police brutality. I will reserve judgement about the rest of the book. I will comment on what I have read.

People sometimes make the mistake of opening up a very deep, personal and exposing debate without making an effort to get to know the person first. The last thing I need when I first meet someone is to start a conversation about racism! This should be a provocation for white members of the Church to actively get to know black people. This will mean moving from your favourite seat on a Sunday to connect with a black person. You might have to invite someone over for dinner again and again until the atmosphere becomes less awkward. White people may ask, ‘Why must I make all the effort?’ The answer is easy: you’re the majority culture and you are part of the power structure, whether you know it or not.

Chapter 8, Let’s Push Things Forward, p148 SPCK Publishing.

Ben Lindsay is looking at this issue through very narrow and subjective lenses. In many conservative churches black men have more power and privilege than white women. Most churches today would not prevent or exclude a black man from leadership or preaching but many exclude women. The debate over women priests and women elders is still going in many conservative circles because of misunderstanding about the historical context of a few Bible passages. White Jewish believers may be suffering some form of racial discrimination or prejudice similar to black people. Some white men or women may be living on a lower wage than a black person. Others may be living on their own whilst their black brothers have wives and children. In these cases who has the power and privilege? Another complaint by Lindsay and others is police brutality against black people. Police brutality is very real in both the UK and America. However the statistics show that more white people die in police custody than black people. In a recent BBC report, a white person is 25% more likely to die in police custody than a black person. Between 2010 and 2020 there been 140 white deaths compared to 13 black deaths caused by the police. The same article showed this report from the Home Office:

Should White Evangelicals Pay Restitution for Racial Sin?

The magazine Christianity Today advocates that the Church should make restitution for racial sin. In June 2020 they reminded us:

Of course, some white Christians strove at great length and great risk to abolish slavery, and many shed their blood in the war that emancipated slaves in the Southern states. Rightly interpreted, the Bible at the center of the church has been an enormous force not only for the redemption of sinners but for the advancement of justice and charity. But the exceptions were far too few. A multitude of Christian communities, including evangelical communities, were silent in the face of slavery or even complicit in it.

Justice Too Long Delayed, June 10th 2020: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/june-web-only/justice-too-long-delayed.html

Sadly I believe the writer is correct on this. Many Christian communities were silent on these atrocities just as they were during the holocaust. That was a past generation and not something that Christians today were complicit in. We should, however, learn from it and not the same mistake. The article continues:

Two biblical narratives have been on our minds. The first (from Acts 10) concerns the apostle Peter, who believes that as a Jew he should not associate with people of other nations. Jew and Gentile, he thinks, should remain divided. Yet God shows him in a vision that he should not call unclean what God has made clean.

Ibed

They are preaching to the converted. White Christians today do not believe that it is sinful to associate with black Christians nor do they regard them as unclean.

The other biblical narrative that comes to mind is the story of a tax collector in Jericho. Zacchaeus was a collaborator with the occupying Roman authority, and by adding his own extortionary fees, he plundered the wealth of his neighbors and enriched himself…Zacchaeus had not personally designed the unjust system of Roman taxation. But he had not denounced it either; he had participated in it and profited from it. So Zacchaeus did not merely repent of his ways; he made restitution.

Ibid

The writers at Christianity Today go on to advocate that “the church should lead the way in biblical restitution”. This comparison is fundamentally flawed because Zaccheus had personally defrauded his neighbours and he paid them back to the specific individuals he had wronged. That is how justice works both in the Bible and in our legal systems. If I, as a white Christian, am supposed to make restitution then it begs the question: Which individual exactly have I wronged and who I do pay the restitution to? White Christians living today have never owned slaves and black Christians in America (or Europe) have never been slaves.

When Jewish groups hunted Nazi’s they hunted down specific individuals who had taken part in the crimes of the regime. They then put them on trial to ensure that they were given a fair and objective hearing. They do not start riots in Germany today and demand that German teenagers “apologise” or “make restitution” for the cruelties of Hitler. But the twisted logic of these social justice warriors leads to this kind of absurdity.

The Narrative of White Supremacy

Some of the most bitter and twisted anti-white polemics come from the black Christian magazine Faithfully. They start by pushing the false narrative of police brutality against blacks (completely ignoring the greater number of white casualties) and then wallow in a mentality of victimhood. Charles Holmes Jr writes:

To survive, I have to live with courage and conviction. But, the emotions and feelings of fear, insecurity, and anger never leave me. They are always present with me as I live in majority culture. To be honest, I am tired of living in the shadow of white supremacy and power that dominates and suppresses the beauty of Black theology and culture. If White churches want to seriously pursue racial unity, then it’s time to let go of power.

Are White Churches Ready for Racial Reconciliation? https://faithfullymagazine.com/white-churches-racial-reconciliation/

The first thing I noticed here was the denigration of white culture by calling it “the shadow of white supremacy” and the praise of his own “beautiful black theology and culture”. I would never denigrate another culture but Charles feels free to denigrate white culture. Charles whinges about being a minority but that is just a fact of life. Minorities and majorities exist in every country and they just accept that and get on with their lives. The UK and the rest of Europe are historically white and that majority is part of their history. Even today Saudi Arabia is still Arab, Japan is still Japanese, India is still Indian and so on. In all these countries the white man is a minority and that is just that way it is. Jewish people have been minorities everywhere for nearly 2000 years except, of course, in Israel. Unlike Charles Holmes they do not whinge about “Gentile culture” and they do not demand that the majority bends to suit them. Instead they have continued their own culture and traditions in their own homes and made valuable contributions to the societies where they lived (even in the midst of persecution). Charles feelings of “fear, insecurity and anger” are certainly not fruits of the Holy Spirit. If a specific white person had done an injury against him specifically then one can empathise with his emotions towards that person. However that is not the case. He is angry, fearful and insecure because white culture exists and he is directing his anger and hostility at all white Christians generally. This a sinful attitude which he needs to repent of. He continues:

Churches who deeply care about racial reconciliation must ask, “Are we making decisions for the sake of racial unity, which means losing power, or are we making decisions for the sake of white supremacy, which means keeping and gaining power?”

Ibid

This is a false dichotomy. Churches make practical decisions based upon a number of factors. I have never known white supremacy to have been a motivating factor or even a consideration. The very idea does not even enter their minds. Racial unity, whilst important, is not the subject of every sermon or every activity. There are times to discuss racial unity between black and white. There are times to combat anti-Semitism and support the Jewish members. There are times to support believers facing LGBT issues and they are also a minority. There should be activities to support people with disabilities. All these things are good but they should not be allowed to dominate church life and conversation. The church should be Christ-centred and not ethnicity centred. When churches gather on a Sunday many different people from all backgrounds come together. There may be black, white, Chinese, Asian and Jewish members. There will be working class and middle class. Why does Charles Holmes feel that black issues should dominate the conversation?

Social Justice and Action

Another author in Faithfully Magazines asks white Christians:

What have you been doing to personally challenge the narratives in your mind and in the minds of those whom you count as “your people” (family, friends, and others upon whom you have direct influence)?

This isn’t a dismissive guilt trip aiming to paint “White people as racists.” We are all biased, and likely guilty of being motivated at some point in our lives by ethnic, racial, or gender stereotypes. The thing is, however, what has consistently been happening to Black bodies in this country since before the invention of law enforcement (when it took the form of slave patrols) is systemic. You see the disproportionate numbers in policing when it comes to Black victims, who are more likely to be stopped, frisked, and handcuffed and roughed up. And, no, Black police officers are not exempt from contributing to those numbers7

Nicola Menzie, White Christians, Here’s What a Black Christian Wants You to Do. https://faithfullymagazine.com/dear-white-christians/

She says “this is not a guilt trip” but it is exactly that. As stated earlier, the disproportionate number of black victims of police brutality is a false narrative. As said earlier, if you love your neighbour as yourself then you have fulfilled the law. But to this author, it is not enough. She demands more! The question about how much social justice you should get involved with is a matter of personal conviction between the believer and God. Anyone reading her article is entitled to ask her the same question in return: What is she doing to support justice for other minority groups? She tries to excuse herself with a disclaimer:

I don’t mean to neglect other ethnic minority groups, such as Native Americans, who remain robbed and neglected to this day, and Latinx, Asian American, and other communities. But the issue at hand today is the persecution of Black bodies in a society whose majority regularly reiterate how little they value its non-White members. 8

Ibid

This begs the question as to why her own minority group is “the issue at hand” over the Native Americans, Asian Americans and others. The author does not provide an answer. Is she aware that racism against Jewish people is still very much alive? If so, we are entitled to turn her own questions around: What is she doing to the challenge the attitudes of her friends, family and others with whom she has direct influence?

Are All White Americans Complicit in the Murder of MLK?

Thabiti Anywabwile is another anti-white polemicist. He is on the committee of the Gospel Coalition and he upset a lot of people when he implicated white Americans collectively in the murder of MLK. In an article titled “We Await Repentance for Assassinating Dr King” he said:

I’m saying the entire society killed Dr. King. This society had been slowly killing him all along..My white neighbors and Christian brethren can start by at least saying their parents and grandparents and this country are complicit in murdering a man who only preached love and justice.

The Gospel Coalition, April 4th 2018: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabiti-anyabwile/await-repentance-assassinating-dr-king/

Someone please tell Thabiti Anyabwile not to hold his breath. White people collectively do not owe him an apology for a crime they did not personally commit. As Ronald Reagan said “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” In responding to Anyabwile, James White shared this experience:

I likewise had to deal with the blatant attempt to slander and delegitimize me launched by one of the participants at the MLK50 Conference, Kyle J. Howard. In a Facebook comment Mr. Howard had indicated that he, as a black man, would not feel “safe” with me alone in a room. This kind of rhetoric has no place in the Christian church, but given the inroads that have been made in many sectors of the church by ideologies born not in the Scriptures but in the leftist schools of Europe and in the writings of Marx, many “resonated” with Howard’s unfounded accusation and came to his defense. So, if you are slandered in this fashion without foundation and without evidence, you are still “guilty” of having “micro-aggressed” someone. This kind of activity comes straight out of the play book of the political left, and is experiencing sad, but real, success within the confessing faith.

Alpha and Omega Ministries, April 9th 2018: https://www.aomin.org/aoblog/exegesis/the-racialist-lens-disrupts-true-christian-unity-a-response-to-thabiti-anyabwile/

I agree with Dr. White on this 100%. For a black Christian to say to his white brother “I would not feel safe alone with you in a room” is not acceptable in the body of Messiah. He is also correct to point out that this activity comes from the playbook of the political left. The current narrative of “white privilege”, “white power”, “white supremacy” and “white fragility” is hostile and abusive. It is racism and sadly, those who use these phrases refuse to accept that. With these people there can be no reasoning and no conversation. As a result, race relations will suffer a setback and many people will just switch off and lose sympathy for them.

Conclusion

Rather than focus primarily on race and culture we should focus on human beings. Different races and different cultures are a wonderful part of God’s creation. Variety of the spice of life and it would be a very boring world if we were all the same. When I meet another person, I see him first and foremost as a human being. If he is a believer he is also my brother in Christ. His ethnicity is a valuable part of him but it does not define him. I do not see ethnicity when relating to him and I have an obligation to treat him as I wish to be treated. Black brothers in Christ have the same obligation to the “royal law” to “love your neighbour as yourself”. Smearing white people, making broad brush statements like “all white people are racist”, showing fear and hostility towards them just because they are white is a violation of that command. Both black and white believers will stand before the Lord one day and be accountable for their actions towards one another. Racism against black people is unacceptable in the body of Messiah but so is racism against white people. Both must be stamped out. The social justice gospel of “Black Lives Matter” will not bring healing or reconciliation but true unity in Messiah will. Jesus died for sinners – black and white – and we are both saved by grace.

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