The problem is that today, in 2020, many in the church are perceiving white racism and white privilege (and other faults) where there is none, while their hearts are dulled to the suffering brought about by the assault of Marxist, i.e., godless, ideology on our world. This includes American federal, state, and local governments that are going far past their biblical authority.
Christians Under Assault
Unlike the rest of his teammates, San Francisco Giant pitcher Sam Coonrod did not kneel during Major League Baseball’s season opening tribute to Black Lives Matter, or perhaps to black lives matter.
Coonrod has been vilified by many, including NBC Sports writer Monte Poole. While Poole says Coonrod “did nothing wrong,” he vilified him for saying things that were “plenty wrong,” for “offering up an explanation that slid off his tongue and went dribbling down his chest like liquid contradiction.”
What reason for not kneeling did Coonrod give that was so offensive?
I am a Christian.
I just can’t get on board with a couple things I’ve read about Black Lives Matter, how they lean towards Marxism. And … they said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can’t get on board with that.
This was too much for Poole:
When did real Christianity opt out of humanity? Give a pass to injustice and inequality? Decide that it’s disrespectful to offer support, if not shelter, to those in need? Does Coonrod not realize that pastors of all faiths are joining crowds around the world fighting for these very ideals?
One question Poole and many others today fail to ask is, when did opposition to Marxism and attacks on the family become synonymous with supporting injustice and inequality? And being racist?
And it is not just the left that fails to ask these questions. Perhaps the one thing that Poole gets right in his article is pointing out that many in the Christian church, including some in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), have joined with the crowds fighting for unbiblical views of justice and equality.
The Counsel of the Church
Throughout America today, millions of Bible-believing Christians are under assault, hunkered down in fear, or uncertain about how to deal with the ongoing and often violent assault on our culture and the church. Yet when we look at many of the pronouncements of the church, we must wonder whether the counsel offered by church leaders to these Christians seeking comfort is grounded in a Christ-centered wisdom that teaches not just biblical justice and equality, but also biblical love.
In Coonrod’s case, what if he turned to a PCA minister for counsel? After first being welcomed as a brother in Christ, he might then be told to “prayerfully confess [his] own racial sins as led by the Spirit,” joining with elders who have offered “confessions of and repentances for racist language, attitudes and actions” (pastoral letter in Overture 55).
He would need to do this because, after further reflection, he would come to see the truth of his inherent, hidden racism, just like this PCA pastor:
You see, I didn’t hate Black people, but I was still a racist. I was a racist because I looked down on African Americans. I stereotyped them. I didn’t seek to know them or understand them. I may have never called them names or raised a Confederate flag or done anything overtly racist, but I was racist nonetheless—racist in ways that I am only now coming to understand.”
Almost certainly the white PCA pastor who counseled Coonrod would seek to love Coonrod as he loved himself. However, it would quite possibly be a love based not in a biblical concept of who he is, but rather a love based in his own world-driven self -conception of being a racist.
Then there are the business owners in downtown Charleston, SC who in early June were trapped in their own buildings by rioters, fearing for their lives without any support from the police. Like the owner who was reduced to tears as she asked the 911 operator, “Why, why are they not stopping them?” What counsel might she receive from the PCA?
If she met with any of the “PCA agency presidents and permanent committee coordinators,” she might be told, “We lament that peaceful protests, offered in good faith to highlight racial injustice, have occasionally turned violent, and we mourn with the victims of that violence, and pray for its end.”
As for how to cope with not only her own distress but with the distress we are all facing from these “occasional” violent protests, she might also be counseled to join the elders as “we repent of our ongoing racial sins. We repent of past silence in the face of racial injustice. We repent of a negligent and willful failure to account for our unearned privilege or to surface the unconscious biases that move us to protect our comfort rather than risk speaking against racial injustice. We repent of hearts that are dull to the suffering of others.”
I do not know the business owner in Charleston who cried out for help. But I can easily imagine hearing her responding to this by saying, “What about my suffering? Why are you so focused on the sufferings of the people who are destroying our cities and culture but not to those of people like me who are standing up for the many good things our country has accomplished?”
Truly, dullness of heart is sinful. When Isaiah responded to God’s call to “go for us,” God gave Him these marching orders:
“Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9–10 ESV)
The problem is that today, in 2020, that many in the church are perceiving white racism and white privilege (and other faults) where there is none, while their hearts are dulled to the suffering brought about by the assault of Marxist, i.e., godless, ideology on our world. This includes American federal, state, and local governments that are going far past their biblical authority.
This overreach is on full display today in the suffering of millions of people who have lost their jobs, health, and even lives because of the government shuttering of our economy in response to COVID-19.
Yet many in the PCA struggle with seeing this, including PCA member and political commentator David French. Their counsel to those suffering because of the lockdowns would seem to be that the shutdowns are necessary responses to COVID-19, and that anything they might have heard otherwise is simply an example of the many Christian “conspiracy theories” out there, such as claims “that the lockdowns weren’t designed for public health, but rather to destroy the Trump economy.”
I can list some of the cultural and sociological reasons for the willingness to believe, well, virtually anything about our political and cultural opponents. Combine negative polarization—where partisan Americans often believe the worst about their opponents—with undeniable political and media failures, and you’ve got a recipe for suspicion and mistrust that can spiral out of control.
Yet if those “partisan Americans” (Trump supporters, it seems, are French’s target based on the list of conspiracies he presents) who “believe the worst” about the motives for the shutdowns are just pushing conspiracy theories, how do French and friends explain the refusal by just about anyone in the mainstream to engage in a debate about the efficacy of masks or lockdowns?
Or explain the virulent attacks on doctors who are trying to treat COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine or other alternative treatments? Like the Texas State Pharmacy Board’s effort to stop Dr. Ivette Lozano from using hydroxychloroquine? Or the hit piece from KHOU-11 in Houston on Dr. Richard Bartlett who is administering budesonide through a nebulizer to his COVID-19 patients? Or the censoring by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube of the press conference held on the steps of the U.S. Capitol by Dr. Stella Immanuel and other frontline COVID-19 physicians?
The answer is they do not seek to explain these things. Rather, they lecture the questioners about being “a sponge for the worst and most paranoid accusations” and their “moral and theological” failures.
Is the PCA Loving its Neighbor?
But what if the people in the PCA and other churches providing counsel as detailed above have it backwards? What if they are the ones who are sponges? In their case, sponges for the wisdom of the world that are being pushed on the church by unbelievers.
If that is the case, then we might see other examples of questionable counsel coming from the church in other areas. Like:
- Abortion: Back in 2008, some PCA members who were concerned about abortion were counseled by pastors that is was okay to vote for the rabid pro-abortion presidential candidate Barak Obama because of the need for “racial reconciliation.”
- Darwinism: PCA members who are seeking counsel about their concerns about how Darwinism is leading to the rejection of a historical Adam, to boys (and their doctors) who think that they can become girls–and vice versa, and to a general rejection of God the Creator probably have a better than even chance of running across a pastor who has rejected the Bible’s six days of creation, thus accommodating the billions of years needed for Darwin’s theory to work (not that it actually works even then).
- Homosexuality: The support–or disinterest–of many elders in the PCA of the “same sex-attracted Christian” movement, e.g., Revoice, along with the PCA’s support of its first openly gay pastor, leave many members concerned about the effects of the gay movement on families and culture with few places to seek good counsel on this issue.