I’m a Reforming white Christian woman who loves and affirms sound doctrine, and I believe systemic racism exists. I’m not woke. I’m not Marxist. I don’t align with the BLM or critical race theory movement but I can say “Black Lives Matter” because they do.
When George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, the response was — with good reason — immediate. For the most part, the initial reaction (on both sides) was of anger and grief. And then the looting and riots happened. The conversation turned swiftly to a more comfortable defense of support for damaged and ruined businesses and respect for police (both of which I support, by the way).
But as a white conservative Christian, George Floyd’s death revealed something to me about American Evangelicalism that’s deeply troubling. And if I’m being honest, I’m not surprised by it. I want to preface this by saying that I care deeply about honoring God’s Word above all. I believe doctrine matters, and that the Gospel is the most important thing we can share with the world. But, as so many have said, the Gospel has implications.
According to many esteemed conservative theologians, speaking out against racism means you’re “Woke”. Acknowledging that white people have, as a whole, had more opportunities for economic and educational growth than black people means you don’t think that Galatians 3:28 is true. Saying Black Lives Matter automatically puts you in the social justice warrior/critical race theory/etc camp, because clearly you’re a clandestine liberal…even if you’re not. And if you acknowledge systemic racism (or even racism at all), then you clearly oppose the Acts 17:26 doctrine that God is sovereign over your location, time, and ethnicity.
I’ve been in the process of theologically “Reforming” over the past year or so, and I find it funny that many of my Reformed brothers and sisters adhere to the doctrine of Total Depravity, but apparently not when it comes to systemic racism. (Many thanks to this Tweet for that!). It seems pretty clear that these terms are appropriate only when it pertains to categories that we feel comfortable associating with. We can say, “Just preach the Gospel!” but do we just preach at an abortion clinic or do we actively fight for the lives of the unborn? For the Christian, the answer is both, but I fear that adherence to the either/or mentality is playing heavily into the contemporary church’s division.
So, in light of all of this, I have a few questions for my brethren who seem overly focused on saying that once we’re in Christ, racism doesn’t exist. The Bible is very clear that all of us are sinners in need of a Savior, and that Christians are bonded by His blood over our own. But does that mean we overlook the experiences of our black brethren because to do otherwise might mean we’re not fitting as neatly into the boundaries of our theological camps?