Race and the Political Divide in the Church

As the American cultural landscape change at a frantic pace, churches and denominations need to become more unified (and by consequence more diverse) to remain true to biblical Christianity.  One of the major stumbling blocks that have impeded unity in the church is the intersection of race and politics.  I’m growing more convinced that the Adversary is using the political process in America to keep the race religion and politicschurch divided and our nation is left without a clear picture of the reconciling power of the gospel.

In essence, this divide (and others) in the church are an affront to what the gospel of restoration (Eph. 2).  In the midst of his run for the presidency of the SBC, J.D. Greear invited me to raise what I thought was an important issue for the church and our denomination to work through in the days ahead. Of course course I picked the three issues that have quickly turned a conversation at dinner or a reunion with friends into a heated debate: race, religion, and politics.  I hope it is helpful, follow this link to the blog.

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Milestone (click this link)

Milestone (In the SBC)

Jamie Dean contrasts one SBC triumph, the likely appointment of the denomination’s first African-American president, with the racially oriented black-eye dealt by longtime SBC statesman Richard Land.  Dean was gracious enough to include me in the conversation.  Although my contribution was small, I am honored to be included in a dialogue of such importance.

Please note: As you reason through these matters, I would like to thank Richard Land for the humility he displayed in his 5 part apology (http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37795) he made on May 9th.  It was always my desire to speak the truth in love while giving Dr. Land the space to begin restoring broken fellowship.  Land’s recent remarks show his desire to listen to those he offended and own the consequences. Now those who were hurt by Land’s remarks must respond to our brother with humility and accept this genuine apology. With the testimony of Christ as my example, I accept Dr. Land’s apology. Let’s learn from the recent past and move forward together for the Gospel’s sake.

Richard Land, Trayvon Martin, and the SBC

As an African-American who has been spiritually nurtured by the men and women of the Southern Baptist Convention. I feel a deep sense of gratitude and indebtedness. Thankfully, more and more African-American brothers and sisters are joining the SBC ranks, locking arms for the cause of Christ.

 

I am grateful for the steps the SBC has taken toward the goal of racial reconciliation. This is a complex problem that requires leadership on multiple fronts, whether on the grass-roots level, in denominational strategies, or in SBC resolutions.  Countless Southern Baptists have helped advance these critical issues, and I am encouraged by their continued work, and our steady movement in the right direction.

 

But we haven’t arrived.

 

The recent comments by Richard Land, president of the ERLC, regarding the death of Trayvon Martin are an example of this. The media and blogs have shown us in great detail what was said by Dr. Land and the extent of his apology. Because of this, I won’t be focusing on whether or not Land plagiarized, or whether or not the statistics are correct (although there is plenty that needs to be said and done). There is quite a bit of discussion on these issues already.

 

I simply want to say that in the wake of Dr. Land’s statements, apology, and the response from the ERLC, my spirit is broken for multiple reasons.  First, my initial sorrow comes from the non-apologetic apology of Dr. Land and its acceptance by SBC leaders.  I am aware that we will all make mistakes, but the journey toward racial reconciliation will be slackened without genuine confession and apologies.  Admitting that you are sorry that others were offended is not a Christ-honoring apology.  In addition, while a genuine apology is reason for forgiveness, the unquestioned acceptance of a non-apology raises more questions than it answers.   

 

Secondly, many African-American brothers and sisters in the SBC are being pressured to leave. It’s difficult to articulate the kind of uproar these situations cause for us.  Many non-African-American Southern Baptists would be surprised at how routinely we have to defend our participation in the SBC, and our spirits have been shaken by the unfolding of these events.    

 

Lastly, I am an enthusiastic advocate of the SBC to those beyond our fellowship.  It is my joy to promote the SBC’s love for the scriptures, passion for missions, and advances toward racial reconciliation.  Occasions like this continually place asterisks by all of the good gospel-work being done in our convention and it is increasingly difficult to convince African-American brothers and sisters to stay, much less encourage others to join.

 

The process of healing this wound begins with we as a convention holding one another accountable to make real apologies for real mistakes.  Also, I’m hoping that the SBC leadership will take steps to restore the shaken confidence of African-Americans in the SBC, granting us a leg to stand on both inside and outside of its fellowship. 

 

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