Courage has always been hard. It often means persecution. But it also frees us from something far worse—fear of man, which is a prison of its own.
Pastors have many reasons to be afraid in these troubled times.
COVID has divided their congregations between those who want to reopen the churches and those who think that reopening risks lives. The race debate has pitted those who think all white churches need to confess their racism against those who think the gospel is obscured by such charges.
Pastors must also face what some sociologists have called the new cult of anti-racism. John McWhorter, the black professor of literature at Columbia University, has written that this new “anti-racism is a profoundly religious movement in everything but terminology.” Religious, but not the religion of Jesus.
This new religion claims to offer a better diversity than God’s. While St. Paul says that in the new creation he “now know[s] no man after the flesh” (2 Cor. 5:16), the new anti-racism focuses on the old creation and knows men only after the flesh. Its diversity is about skin color alone, rather than God’s infinitely more interesting diversity of Jew and gentile, man and woman from every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before the throne and the Lamb (Rev. 7:9).
All true disciples of Jesus must abhor racism, which is a sin against God and neighbor. It is a sin to look at the color of my neighbor’s skin and make a judgment about his or her character based on something so superficial. The gospel teaches us that there are only two races, the first based on the creation of every man and woman in the image of God. The second race is the new human race of all those who have been born again and are asking God to help them be continually remade in the image of Jesus. We disciples of Jesus must stand in compassion with every person who has been harmed by racism. And we must stand against anyone who harms another person because of skin color.
But the new religion of anti-racism has its own version of original sin. It holds that people with one skin color have a harmful privilege that is possessed even by those who hate racism. They will never be able to be cleansed of that original sin. This new religion of diversity has its own baptismal liturgy, in which you confess all that is associated with your skin color and your complicity in slavery and Jim Crow and continued racism—even if you have always detested slavery and Jim Crow and racism. It has its own new birth, after which you see that all the people with one skin color are racist—and therefore perpetually guilty—and people of other skin colors are always victims and therefore innocent.
This is a radical departure from the gospel of Jesus, which declares that all people, no matter their skin color, are sinners. No one is innocent. We deal with our sins through absolution and cleansing in the blood of Christ, which washes away every sin. Transformation comes not from being woke, but from the cross of Christ that crucifies the old man.
The new religion of anti-racism encourages people to practice what Jesus condemned: “Do not judge, lest you too be judged” (Matt. 7:1). It imputes bad motives to some based on skin color and good motives to others based on skin color. This is racism by another name. It is sinful judgment. And there is no absolution in this false religion.