Dwight McKissic, a Southern Baptist pastor (and African-American) from Arlington, Texas has an article posted at SBC Voices that accuses me of racism for my views presented in the post entitled Fergson and the Soft Bigotry of America’s Leading Evangelicals. Taking exception with my views – and the views of Southern Baptist Pastor Randy White (from the other side of the soteriological spectrum) – McKissic makes a number of allegations, including:
- My characterization of Michael Brown as “a criminal” is unfair and an indication of racism (of course, Voddie Baucham has no trouble referring the man as a criminal, soooo….).
- Other evangelicals don’t like the term “evangelical” because they would be afraid of being guilty by association with me (believe me, it’s mutual).
- He claims that I’ve stated “racial reconciliation” is not a Gospel issue, which I’ve never said and which – to be technical – Randy White did not say either (I’ve publicly stated – numerous times – that racism is a repudiation of the Gospel).
- I make him uncomfortable as a black Southern Baptist pastor.
- He clearly feels that evangelical leaders should not be arguing about the problems in Ferguson (unless it’s an analysis of the historic root of race issues going back several hundred years), but we should be presenting “solutions” to the problem – like officers being mandated by law to wear body-cams. You know, real Gospel-centered solutions like that.
I have little desire to defend myself against charges of racism, charges that I’m part unicorn, or any other preposterous accusation. Frankly, McKissic’s accusations of racism are the very reason why people refuse to speak the painful truth on important issues. So, instead of making a big deal out of this, I’ll let the original post speak for itself and provide the comment I posted on the article at SBC Voices, which I believe addresses most of the article’s fallacies. Before that, though, I’ll leave you with one thought.
I think how McKissic ended his article is telling. Those who aren’t afraid to recognize the real problems in Ferguson are talking about the Gospel. Those who refuse to recognize the real problems in Ferguson are talking about body-cameras.
I appreciate the discussion. I think it’s helpful. In the mean time, if I could be allowed to provide some thoughts.
1. I am a Calvinist. I am not a “neo-Calvinist” as Brother Randy says in his own rejoinder on his website (I’m a 1689 Baptist and about as far from YRR as you can get). However, I’m not entirely sure how this is relevant to the discussion at hand. If somebody could enlighten me on that, that would be great.
2. I do stand by my characterization of Brown as a criminal who was shot in the act of committing a crime. While Brown was not convicted in a court of law for the robbery (because he is dead) it would be hard to imagine he wouldn’t be. At a certain point, we need to be able to make judgment calls as citizens intent of developing an informed opinion without having courts make these decisions for us. He’s on video. To rebuke someone for stating the obvious it kind of silly. In fact, it’s the type of moral neutrality on display by the evangelical elite that’s the reason for me writing the post in the first place. Furthermore…
3. Feel free to call this the “JD Hall Worldview.” But in real truth, this is the viewpoint – I believe – shared by the majority of Southern Baptists and other Americans not blinded by the same type of political correctness that has clearly plagued Stetzer and Moore. At nearly a thousand shares on Facebook, clearly people are agreeing with the infamous JD Hall (which, of course, does not validate my opinion in and of itself). And, frankly, the rest of us are tired of being lectured by highly-political evangelicals who are intent on winning the sensitivity award. To say that I “demonized” Brown for articulating what the rest of – and apparently, the Grand Jury – know, is hardly fair and indicates a bias of your own.
4. The charge of racism because I’m stating – again, what most reasonable people have ascertained from, well…reality – that many of the rioters are not productive members of society (I could argue that by DEFAULT rioters are counterproductive members of society) is over the top. The charge of “paternalism,” on the other hand, is one taken from the social progressivism handbook. Virtually all calls for repentance to some within a given ethnic community can be called “paternalistic.” Chip on your shoulder much?
5. Communist organizers like Larry Everest, for example, have been using Ferguson-area churches as staging grounds for building unrest. That IS true. And although I’d stop short of calling Sharpton a communist, I’m not sure that’s an argument you’d want to have. Furthermore, concerning churches serving as sanctuaries for rioters, churches – like St. Mark’s Family Church, led by Pastor Tommy Pierson and the Liberation Christian Church, led by Pastor Dietra Wise-Baker – have done just that.
6. I’m terribly sorry if I’m made it “uncomfortable” for you to be a Southern Baptist pastor. The moral neutrality, social progressivism and ecumenism that comes from ERLC, the books sold at Lifeway and Ronnie Floyd’s confetti cannon make ME uncomfortable to be a Southern Baptist pastor. We have something in common. I guess we’ll both have to figure out a way to get over being uncomfortable.
7. I agree ENTIRELY that Stetzer, Moore and Anyabwile represent the other side of the evangelical coin. Two of the three represent a side that is intellectually condescending, saying much without saying anything, and have provided commentaries that are altogether unhelpful to anyone except themselves to avoid the same charge of racism that you are giving the rest of us. The other of those three so clearly prejudged the situation, without having the facts laid out, stuck to his judgment, and judge wrongly once the facts were in.
8. I apologize for my verbiage, if it was hostile, unnecessarily offensive, or could have been seasoned with more salt. I would add, however, that in a world that lacks much truth, perhaps we shouldn’t be so sensitive as to how that truth is expressed. And even if what I’ve said you don’t consider truth, at least someone is making an effort. It doesn’t strike me that Stetzer or Moore were going out of their way to express truth.
9. You again level the charge of racism in saying that if Russ had given the same statement as I did, that it would be “racist.” My black nieces and nephews might disagree. My black congregants (yes, even in Montana) might beg to differ with you. My faithful repudiation of racism in my sermons and radio program might stand as a witness against you. We’ve got to get beyond the “You said something negative about rioting African Americans so you are racist” mentality. It’s simply not helpful. It’s also slanderous and wrong.
10. You applaud Stetzer, Moore and Barber for not making judgments (although they easily could, as any reasonable soul knows). You applaud Anyabwile for presenting solutions. One solution presented are body-cameras for officers. While I read the suggestion earlier today and thought it was a great idea (the law probably shouldn’t be named after a man who assaulted a police officer, though), I think this demonstrates the error of presenting solutions without providing realistic and reasonable judgments regarding the problem. The problem is not a lack of video evidence. The problem is sin and – in part – Christians who are too afraid of being called racist to point that out.
11. I’d agree completely that NAMB should focus on planting multi-ethnic churches in those communities that are racially diverse. Praise God to that! That means NAMB should stop planting affinity based churches that tend to attract one particular ethnicity. I know NAMB funded “cowboy churches” and “Indian Churches” in the same community. Something tells me that cowboys and Indians should be worshiping together.
12. My friend, no one wants to “fight over Ferguson.” An opposing opinion is not fighting, I hope we could all agree. But we can’t present solutions unless we’re able to clearly define the problem without the fear of, well…the accusations you leveled in this article.
[Contributed by JD Hall]