The approach of leaders in both denominations is turning them into serial repenters; the PCA has been repenting for almost 20 years. They simply can’t stop confessing how racist they are and repenting of sins past and present. This fails to witness the gospel to the unbelieving culture in two ways. First, serial repentance brushes aside the truth that Christ died one time for all of our sins… Second, serial repentance fails to communicate to unbelievers the necessity of forgiveness.
In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the claims about race and racism from some of the protesters in Minneapolis, noting how some recent pronouncements on racism from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the Presbyterian Church in America sound quite similar.
The predominant reason behind the Presbyterian Church in America’s (PCA) and Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) susceptibility to worldly influence on the issue of race appears to be white guilt. Yet, it is not real guilt, the kind that comes from sins that anyone actually committed against a particular person.
Rather, the guilt of many white evangelicals appears to be guilt that comes from looking at the condition of many minorities in this country, their poverty, the recent police killings, etc., and simply assuming that whites are responsible. Responsible because of real sins committed 50, 150, or 250 years ago that we just can’t escape the consequences of, which includes today’s white privilege and institutional white racism.
Here is how the PCA General Assembly put it in the PCA Pastoral Letter on the Gospel and Race (2004):
We [address the issue of racism] not because it is politically correct, or out of any pressure from outward society, but simply because it is our desire that the convicting and restoring power of God’s grace in the Gospel be applied to the manifestations of racial sin of which we ourselves are guilty, and that those who experience the negative effects of these sins might know the healing power of God’s grace. (emphasis added)
These predominately white PCA elders have seen the very real sufferings of many minorities in America and simply decided the situation is because of their sins and those of other white people in the PCA and America.
Of what sins are they and we guilty? That is where things get pretty fuzzy.
The PCA’s 44th General Assembly did identify some specific types of fairly distant racial sins in its response to Overture 43 (2016):
- the segregation of worshipers by race;
- the exclusion of persons from Church membership on the basis of race;
- the exclusion of churches, or elders, from membership in the Presbyteries on the basis of race;
- the teaching that the Bible sanctions racial segregation and discourages inter-racial marriage;
There is no doubt that these sins have previously been committed. Yet though the General Assembly, on behalf on the denomination, confessed and repented of these sins, nowhere did it identify who committed these sins, when they were committed, or whom they were committed against.
A bit more specific, and likely more recent, were the sin types identified in this confession from the pastoral letter contained in Overture 55, which was commended by the General Assembly in Overture 43:
During our long discussions [at General Assembly], there were moving testimonies of hearts changed, confessions of and repentances for racist language, attitudes and actions, expressions of brotherly forgiveness, and admissions by some that they are reticent to even talk about the issue of racism in the church for fear of the controversy that might ensue.
While I do not doubt the sincerity of the men who made these confessions, I do question their clarity, wondering if such confessions are driven by the white guilt that comes from believing in the false narratives of intrinsic white racism and white privilege that is being pushed upon Christians by the progressive left. Again, what they publicly confess are not their own specific sins, but the generic sins of white people.
Emory University Professor George Yancy articulated this perspective in his “Dear White America” letter in the The New York Times: “If you are white, and you are reading this letter, I ask that you don’t run to seek shelter from your own racism. Don’t hide from your responsibility. Rather, begin, right now, to practice being vulnerable.”
Further, today’s white racism, we are told, stems from yesterday’s white racism. “Whites start out with an advantage: They tend to get more and larger inheritances. Also, generations of discrimination—including redlining, mass incarceration and predatory finance—have prevented blacks from building up wealth,” wrote Mark Whitehouse for Bloomberg.
This is the same narrative that the Minneapolis protesters were expressing.
Read Part 1