Whiteness And Godliness
Lisa Robinson, a black Evangelical Christians, offers “Some Questions I’m Asking While Off To My White Evangelical Church.” She says that yes, it’s true that white Christians have historically been complicit with injustice against black Christians, and though things have gotten better, there’s still a ways to go with racial reconciliation. But these days, she says, church circles are buzzing with talk of overthrowing “white supremacy” in the church. And this has Robinson wondering:
What exactly do people want to see with respect to this dismantling of white supremacy in the church? Is it simply wanting for non-whites to have a seat at the table, invited to have a voice and valuable contribution? I think that’s an admirable and goal and in line with Scripture if we truly are regarding others as more important than ourselves (Phil 2:3). Or is it ensuring that white leaders are removed from power over the church and transplanted with people of color? Do we want to remove their presence altogether?
Is this a power struggle? Because it’s one thing to actually want reconciliation. It’s quite another to want to subjugate a group to an inferior status in the interest of dismantling white supremacy. Is the goal for our white brothers and sisters to suffer the same plight of marginalization that minorities suffered? Is our goal to silence their voices unless they capitulate to every sociological demand, including support of groups like Black Lives Matter who have no foundation or roots in Christian orthodoxy and prescribe anti-Christian sentiments? Because it is possible in the course of dismantling this domination to turn the tables. I was struck by this article from a few days ago from a self-professed social justice activist regarding concerns about present day activism; social justice activism;
Postcolonialist black Caribbean philosopher Frantz Fanon in his 1961 book Wretched of the Earth writes about the volatile relationship between the colonizer and the colonized, and the conditions of decolonization. In it, he sharply warns the colonized against reproducing and maintaining the oppressive systems of colonization by replacing those at top by those previously at the bottom after a successful revolution . . . The experiences of oppression do not grant supremacy, in the same way that being a powerful colonizer does not. Justice will never look like supremacy.
He speaks from a non-Christian perspective, but there is a warning there, I think.
Robinson goes on to say that the jargon of this movement — whiteness, white supremacy, oppression, marginalization, colonization — is designed to put you into a hostile mindset, to teach you to start seeing your white fellow churchgoers with suspicion. And if you try to question any of this language, “you will be branded as endorsing whiteness and maybe even treated like an enemy…like them.” She asks what it does to her to start seeing the white people in her church as potential threats instead of fellow believers.
Read the whole thing. Talking across racial lines about issues of race and racial conflict will never, ever be easy, but if the church isn’t a place we can do this productively, where is? To do it productively requires humility on all sides. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If you want people to change, you have to show them mercy and grace. A white Evangelical friend of mine dropped out of a racial reconciliation group in his city — a group he joined because he’s serious about it — because it turned into a weekly ritual denunciation of Whiteness™.
If that’s what the encounter in church between blacks and whites comes down to, then there will never, ever be racial reconciliation. If facing the legacy of racism in the church in a healing way can only be done by whites hating themselves for being white, then all you will get is bitterness and defensiveness.
Christians ought to find this easier than most, given the faith’s teachings about humility and mercy. But we don’t. This is our failing, but this is also our challenge. To bring in the SJW rhetoric and categories into the church, though, is pure poison. Lisa Robinson recognizes that, bless her.