vic·tim·ol·o·gy ˌviktəˈmäləjē/: the possession of an outlook, arising from real or imagined victimization, that seems to glorify and indulge the state of being a victim
Victimology is the mode du jour for those inserting the political philosophy of Critical Race Theory into the vein of evangelicalism. To be perceived as a victim is seen as being synonymously good. Victimhood, in and of itself, is an identity class to be coveted. When combined with an already established racial identity, like being from an “oppressed” minority group it becomes intersectionality, a weaponized tool to use against those who supposedly suppress marginalized voices. SBC Voices, the longtime standard-bearer blog for lesser-known Southern Baptist pastors, recently ran an atrocious example of victimology that clearly crossed the line of slander in regards to Dr. John MacArthur.
Dr. MacArthur has published two posts at his Grace to You website, the first introducing the topic and his forthcoming series on the subject of so-called Social Justice. The second outlined the mission drift observable in evangelicalism away from the Gospel and its philosophical and political origins. To summarize Dr. MacArthur’s concerns, ideologies manufactured in the academy have now been interlaced into American evangelical theology, creating a political-religious hybrid beast that is as ugly as it is dangerous. This has predictably lifted MacArthur to scorn, as an army of useful idiots who have recently discovered the fad of “justice” (it is in scare quotes because what Social Justice Warriors demand is typically not just at all) have taken to their pitchforks and torches. Many of those useful idiots read SBC Voices and have fallen lockstep behind Southern Baptist leaders that have tragically left their institutional door open to an army of Cultural Marxist change agents. The Critical Race Theory bandwagon is not empty, and it is, in fact, full of Southern Baptists.
SBC Voices ran a guest column by Terrence Jones who is the pastor of an inner-city church with the uber-hip and Steven King-esque name, “The Strong Tower,” in Montgomery, Alabama. Jones was once a student at Masters Seminary and criticized MacArthur for bizarre reasons. Worse yet, he made accusations toward Dr. MacArthur with little or no evidence of wrong-doing. And to make the incident more tragic, the editors at SBC Voices, to include Dave The Company Man™ Miller and Jay Adkins, thought it would be acceptable to publish.
Jones, a black man who was warmly embraced and treated hospitably by MacArthur at his various institutions, positioned himself to “speak out” about MacArthur in a way purported to be brave. Instead, he blathered unintelligibly.
For 11 years (4 as a student/staff at TMUS & 7 as an alumnus/church planter) I have kept my concerns mainly to myself, daring to share them with only a small group of people who’ve encouraged me to keep moving forward or whom I felt could actually bring about change. For many years I have “bitten my bottom lip” publicly, so to speak. In an attempt to honor those who have impacted my life, I have applied such force and pressure to that lip as to cause the shedding of blood. Yet quietly over the last few years, it has become increasingly difficult to keep biting that lip and wiping away the blood, and tears.
Heavens. What did MacArthur do to make this brave victim begin to speak out about his victimhood? Does the Klan meet secretly in the Masters conference room on Tuesday nights? Or is it Thursday? It must be a serious accusation against an elder for Jones to write this article and SBC Voices to publish it, yes? Jones continues to set up the accusations:
To hear Dr. MacArthur and Grace To You say/write narrow-minded, inconsiderate, and frankly unbiblical things about the intersection of the gospel and racism has had a profound effect on me. It has impacted me to the point of saying, “Enough is enough.” I no longer care that I’m a low level nobody challenging a giant. I no longer care if, like others before me, I’m labeled a “black sheep” by TMUS for lovingly articulating concerns. As a matter of fact, the cavalier attitude of Phil Johnson (executive director of Grace to You), and Dr. MacArthur make it perfectly clear that even if I remain silent, I’m already a “black sheep.” Their comments/writings do nothing to consider the circumstances of anyone other than upper middle class, Republican-leaning white men (I’m neither republican nor democrat), and minorities who are accustomed to that culture. So in reality, my comments today cannot make me what I already feel like, “a black sheep”. I’m just graduating from a “black sheep” to a “blacker sheep.” It’s a promotion that I’m finally willing to accept.
His nonsense use of scare quotes aside (he used the term “black sheep,” not MacArthur or Johnson; furthermore, speaking for myself here, the first word in that phrase seems a given but the second word is yet to be decided), whatever MacArthur or Johnson have said that is inconsiderate of the lower class I have no idea. Do you? I’ve linked MacArthur’s articles above. Do you see anything inconsiderate of different economic classes? No. Fixating on economic classes is a Marxist fetish, not a fixation belonging to MacArthur or Johnson. Is there anything in MacArthur’s or Johnson’s comments that seem prejudiced for “Republican-leaning white men”? If so, what are they? What comments have they made that resemble the characterization made by Jones? Please, be specific.
Jones explains the grave offense:
The truth is Dr. MacArthur’s own leadership and institutions show little concern for the African American community and other minority students who grew up in an African American minority context
Baaa Baaa, Black Sheep. Do tell…again, be specific.
In the entire TMS curriculum, which is 98 credit hours and approximately between 100 – 150 required books to read, not one book is written by a person of African heritage.
Forsooth! I’ll go one step further, which will leave God Almighty with the same charge of racism, should it be followed consistently. Of the 66 Books of the Bible, not a single one was written by a person of African heritage…not one.
Let me explain this. Masters Seminary, like Grace Community Church, holds to Baptistic beliefs. Baptists, as we now know them, arose in the early 17th Century in England. These Baptists blended their heritage with the non-conformists, Puritans, Congregationalists, and Separatists that came about in a mostly English milieu (mixed in with a few other western European countries like Holland and Wales). Not long after the formation of Particular and General Baptists, these red-headed stepchildren of the Reformation found their way to the Americas, first in Rhode Island and then throughout the colonies. Prior to the Reformation, the direct religious ancestors of the Baptists came exclusively from Western Europe, and they began to protest the church headquartered in Rome (this is why the Protestant Reformation focused more on Roman Catholicism than Eastern Orthodoxy, headquartered in Constantinople). Christianity flourished in western Europe from the time the first missionaries traveled there in the post-apostolic era. And while Africans indeed have played important roles intermittently throughout history (like the first missionaries to Antioch, who were Jewish expats in North Africa to Augustine, born in modern-day Algeria in North Africa), our religious heritage does not come through Africa, but through the Middle East via Europe.
Sorry, that’s history.
And not only does God, in all 66 Books of his curriculum, exclude authors of African descent, there are very few references to Africans throughout the Scripture. Sure, Egypt is technically in North Africa (unless you consider it a sub-continent). Moses married a Cushite. Simon of Cyrene carried the cross for Jesus. Phillip evangelized the Ethiopian Eunuch. But let’s be honest; when most people say “African” they mean “Sub-Saharan.” And the list of references to Sub-Saharan Africans in the Holy Bible you can count on
one hand one finger no fingers.
Jones should really be speaking up about the institutional bias of the Godhead. Jones continues:
We traced the history of Christianity from 100 A.D. to our present day. Of all the historical figures we studied, I only remember Athanasius being identified as someone from African origins. What majority culture Christians don’t realize is that their world is dominated by Christians of European heritage. Minorities are often looking for faces and contributions of people who share their ethnic identity. Not for the sake of being superior. We simply long to understand how people of a similar ethnicity have contributed to redemptive history.
Somewhere a little person is playing the world’s tiniest violin. How about this; the greatest influences on Christianity from at least the time immediately past the Patristics onto today have not been from Sub-Sahara Africa. Sorry, that’s the truth. They have also not been from the Far East. And, they have not been from South America (Pope Francis is happily excluded). And, by and large, they haven’t even been from the New World. They have been European. While there are countless thousands (or more) awesome believers who have suffered great hardship and experienced many triumphs in Asia, Sub-Sahara Africa, Central America, Australia, and for all I know the North Pole, they have not historically influenced the religion of Christianity to the extent of Western Europeans.
When I briefly taught history at Arkansas State, I refused to spend more than the time actually warranted to cover the influence of cultural minorities and women. I would not fail to cover the first President of the United States in order to cover a lady who sewed a flag that one time. I would not fail to cover the authors of the Constitution to spend time on the lady who led Lewis and Clark down a river. I would not fail to cover Jonathan Edwards in order to cover that Disney Indian princess. This did not make the chair of the history department happy, who was convinced I should give equal time to historical figures based upon ethnic and gender inclusion. I was hired to teach history, not engage in social experimentation. Furthermore, when selecting a book to use for curriculum, I can honestly say I never checked to see what the ethnicity was of the person who wrote the book because I am not a racist. I just wanted the best textbook.
Why does this matter? It sends a not so subtle message that the only great thinkers are European thinkers. The only great thoughts are European thoughts. Thus, Christianity is inadvertently portrayed as the white man’s religion. It’s heartbreaking and hurtful. When African Americans or people of color are in fact mentioned, it’s usually in a derogatory way for having bad theology, etc.
The great thinkers of Christianity in the last thousand years have been mostly European. Luther, Calvin, Owen, Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones, are just to name a few in chronological order. That’s history. You can’t change it, you can only mess it up. Likewise, “Black religion” in the United States is characteristically deficient and disproportionately plagued with the Social Gospel, Prosperity Gospel, Charismaticism and Word-Faith theology. Clearly, there are exceptions; but, as they say, the exception is not the rule. “White religion” in America is disproportionately plagued with Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism and rainbow flags. We all have problems.
At this point I feel it’s obligatory to write that facts aren’t racist.
The truth is that Christianity would have struggled to survive tremendously without Northern Africans and even African Americans. I just had to learn of them on my own time. My seminary didn’t think those contributions were worth mentioning. I was furious when I was made to write a review of my almost 700 page American Church History book. I read the book intently looking for black or brown people and their contributions. I did not find them.
Good. I hereby call on Terrence Jones to list all of the Africans and African Americans who rank among the most positively influential theological leaders in the last four hundred years. I’ll wait.
You can also ask Dr. Paul Felix (the only full-time African American Professor who is now retired). I ranted in his office behind closed doors many a days with many tears. If not for him and his care for me as an African American student with a heart to one day impact the African American community, I would have surely quit. I specifically remember him telling me after ranting, “Calm down before you get kicked out of school.”
Yes, I imagine you could get kicked out of Masters for throwing hysterical hissy fits. It’s a pretty sober-minded place. Also, pics or it didn’t happen.
It is hypocritical for Dr. MacArthur or anyone to say “just preach the gospel” thinking that will solve all issues. It doesn’t even work in his own church and the institutions he leads. It certainly will not work in your communities and churches. Hear me well. The true gospel is sufficient. The true gospel makes peace and destroys dividing walls of hostility. The true gospel looks racism and partiality in the face and condemns it to the pit of hell from which it came. It does not build barriers. We have a gospel that gives dignity and value and worth to all peoples. Shouldn’t our institutions that train us to take the gospel to all nations do the same?
Keep in mind that Jones’ argument is that MacArthur’s gospel-centeredness doesn’t work in his own institution based solely upon the fact that (like with all church history books virtually ever written) they’re primarily about European theologians. Jones doesn’t just impugn MacArthur as “racist,” but he impugns virtually every seminary everywhere as racist merely for teaching historic facts and not over-representing ethnic minority groups for no other purpose than political correctness.
It’s an absolute shame this tripe was written by Jones, and equally shameful that Dave Miller, Jay Adkins, or the rest of the troupe over at SBC Voices would publish it. Shame on them.