Not long ago, I wrote about the dangers of Postmodernism to both our culture and our faith. Now, I’m going to get very specific and jump right in: Christians, Beware of Black Lives Matter (TM).
The Obvious Caveats
I put that (TM) in there to remove any ambiguity. Do black lives matter? Of course. Is it wrong to say “Black Lives Matter” instead of “All Lives Matter”? Of course not. This isn’t what I’m talking about at all.
There are very serious issues in our society which affect one racial group more than another. I have participated in causes for “cystic fibrosis” patients without feeling the need to stand up for all people with chronic illnesses. It’s perfectly fine to pick out a particular cause.
And don’t bring complicated arguments using simple and basic statistics about “black-on-black crime” or “most police aren’t problems” or “it’s problem of culture” to push back on a particular cause. Because, really guys: Who cares. When I go to the doctor about a severe and splitting pain in my abdomen, I don’t want a doctor to lecture me about how diet, exercise, and healthy habits can solve 99% of medical issues in society. I want him to check for internal bleeding, check my liver enzymes, look for kidney stones and gallstones, or see if I have an inflamed appendix.
Lecture later. Talk to me now. Don’t be that “doctor” for actual societal issues when people bring up racial issues.
While Christians cannot turn the church into a social or political club, it is certainly fine for Christians to think seriously and HARD about political and societal issues. (After all, what is this blog if not that?)
But what I am saying is this: Be careful who you align yourself with publicly. Be careful what parade or cause you join. Be careful about your public pronouncements. Black Lives Matter (TM) is explicitly not Christian and their stated beliefs are antithetical to the gospel.
The Beliefs of Black Lives Matter (TM)
I don’t want to misquote or mischaracterize what my opponents think, so I will quote this organization in their own words and in full. This is from the “What We Believe” section of the Black Lives Matter Network (TM):
Four years ago, what is now known as the Black Lives Matter Global Network began to organize. It started out as a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission was to build local power and to intervene when violence was inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.
In the years since, we’ve committed to struggling together and to imagining and creating a world free of anti-Blackness, where every Black person has the social, economic, and political power to thrive.
Black Lives Matter began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. Our intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities. The impetus for that commitment was, and still is, the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state.
Enraged by the death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman, and inspired by the 31-day takeover of the Florida State Capitol by POWER U and the Dream Defenders, we took to the streets. A year later, we set out together on the Black Lives Matter Freedom Ride to Ferguson, in search of justice for Mike Brown and all of those who have been torn apart by state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. Forever changed, we returned home and began building the infrastructure for the Black Lives Matter Global Network, which, even in its infancy, has become a political home for many.
Ferguson helped to catalyze a movement to which we’ve all helped give life. Organizers who call this network home have ousted anti-Black politicians, won critical legislation to benefit Black lives, and changed the terms of the debate on Blackness around the world. Through movement and relationship building, we have also helped catalyze other movements and shifted culture with an eye toward the dangerous impacts of anti-Blackness.
These are the results of our collective efforts.
The Black Lives Matter Global Network is as powerful as it is because of our membership, our partners, our supporters, our staff, and you. Our continued commitment to liberation for all Black people means we are continuing the work of our ancestors and fighting for our collective freedom because it is our duty.
Every day, we recommit to healing ourselves and each other, and to co-creating alongside comrades, allies, and family a culture where each person feels seen, heard, and supported.
We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities.
We work vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people.
We intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.
We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.
We see ourselves as part of the global Black family, and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black people who exist in different parts of the world.
We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.
We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.
We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.
We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.
We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.
We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.
We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).
We cultivate an intergenerational and communal network free from ageism. We believe that all people, regardless of age, show up with the capacity to lead and learn.
We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.
Guys, if you haven’t read my previous work on Postmodernism, you should go do so now. If you have read it, you can notice how “power” is is used. Even if you haven’t, you should note how strange it is that “queer-affirming” polemics are used in the “What We Believe” section of “Black Lives Matter (TM).”
Christians, Don’t Be Naive
If you are an ordinary Christian person who is generally decent, and SOME things in this “What We Believe” section resonate with you, then I will say that your general Christian impulses are probably leading you in that direction. However, I will also say the words themselves are probably a lie.
Note that the word “Blackness” and “Anti-Blackness” appears more often than “Racism” and “Anti-racism” (which have themselves become ideological terms based on “power” and not anything based on a belief about racial superiority). Notice how they are “unapologetically Black in our positioning.” What does that even mean?
This is Not About Police Violence
Regardless of what you think about police violence, what is clear from their statements is that this is not “about” police violence. Police violence is the opportunity (excuse?), but ending police violence is NOT the point.
By their own words is that Black Lives Matter (TM) is a postmodernist, Neo-Marxist organization whose explicit goal is to overthrow the current society.
As for their tactics and the rejection of truth (see my post about Postmodernism) But what is clear is the verified Orwellian “double-speak” in this language, as is clear from the nonsensical phrase:
We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities.
So… …if you celebrate both differences and commonalities, you celebrate everything, right? Do you celebrate different opinions about policing or the guilt of an accused? Of course not.
The Danger to Christianity
If these seems like some dangerous thing “over there” and nothing that affects Christianity, I’d like to push back on that.
Remember when Josh Harris left the faith? Wasn’t it strange that his announcement of this fact was paired with an apology to LGBT people and “not affirming your place in the church”? Isn’t it weird that he is sorry that he “didn’t affirm their place” in the church at the same time he announces that he’s leaving the church? Isn’t that weird?
Do you think it’s any ACCIDENT that a Black Lives Matter(TM) organization explicitly incorporates “sexual identity,” “gender identity,” and “trans” people? Do you think it’s any ACCIDENT that Josh Harris also mentions this group (that’s is “oppressed”) almost immediately after he left the Church? I don’t.
Remember that we are in a “Spiritual” war, one that is fought over the influences and desires of the human heart. We are commanded:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
I’ve seen the tactic at work where the Christian concept of “original sin” has been co-opted and equated with the Postmodernist lie of collective guilt. Notice how white Christians seem to be called to confess the collective guilt of racism, but black Christians are not called to confess any sort of parallel and complimentary collective guilt.
What I’m saying is this: There is a Postmodernist infection within our own churches, and it is being used to tear down our faith.
This Is About “Power” (which is all that exists) not “Truth” (which doesn’t exist)
Because of the underlying assumptions of Black Lives Matter(TM), which are unapologetically Postmodern, this organization, and therefore, the movement it is behind, is antithetical to Christianity. Postmodernism does not believe that “truth” exists. The only thing that exists is “power.”
Their “justice” does not come when “the truth” comes out. Their “justice” comes when arbitrary POWER (which is all postmodernists believe in) gets shifted to them.
Do you see the references it “liberation,” and “comrades” and “power” and all that? That might not even be “Neo-Marxist.” It might be just ordinary Marxism. Who knows?
So if you are a Christian who naively believes, “But I too want to overthrow the current society in a glorious gospel way!” Then I will kindly point out that this organization does NOT believe in the gospel, and the “patriarchal practices” that they denounce include the church you attend and the Bible you read.
This is an Anti-Christian Postmodernist organization. They are not your friends. We should recognize that.
The Present Danger of Black Lives Matter in Evangelical Christianity
Unfortunately, based on everything I’ve seen, our Evangelical Leaders are not reacting well to this moment. Let me explain what I mean.
Example 1 – The Gospel Coalition
Just today, this article was posted on The Gospel Coalition, with a raised fist on a cardboard sign is used as the featured image of an article titled “Unmasking Racism, Starting With Me.”
Seemingly without any irony, the author is Asian. In the article, he describes being racially teased by black and brown kids, of being bullied, and of his bike being stolen by these kids in his neighborhood. But somehow, the racism he’s unmasking is his, not theirs. He says:
I never consciously resented or thought less of my black friends as individuals. But the latent prejudice was there and would periodically bubble to the surface.
The article goes on to describe a sort of religious awakening to his own guilt in the midst of a march protesting the George Floyd death, and he writes:
As I thought of these things while the march proceeded, I began to weep tears of remorse for my sin, my racism, and my indifference. I vowed to no longer stay silent, passing by my black brothers and sisters. And then, the crowd began to chant the names of the victims. Ahmaud Arbery! Breonna Taylor! George Floyd! My tears changed and, for the first time, I wept for Ahmaud, Breonna, and George. I wept for their families. I wept for their community. Perhaps for the first time, I knew what it meant that Black Lives Matter.
And if you think this paragraph doesn’t involve activism or anything, and is merely a personal reflection, let me quote the VERY NEXT SENTENCE IN THE ARTICLE:
Before we jump straight into activism, some of us need to take a moment to unearth and repent of the racism and sin in our own hearts. Can we engage in meaningful conversations with others, and confess to one another our own failures and lack of concern? This will help us better lament with, learn from, and stand alongside our black brothers and sisters.
Note: The point is not to learn from “the scriptures” about how to repent of the racism and sin in our own hearts. Nope. The point is to learn from “our black brothers and sisters.”
That non-gospel Black Lives Matter(TM) commercial is currently on the webiste of The Gospel Coalition.
Example 2 – The Leader of the Southern Baptist Convention
Similarly, J.D. Greear, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention has said the following when it comes to racial reconciliation:
Our journey toward this goal hasn’t been easy—true diversification never is. But we’ve learned that pursuing racial reconciliation isn’t a niche “project” for a select few; rather, it is an essential part of discipleship and the responsibility of every follower of Jesus. For those of us in the majority culture, this process has begun with a posture of listening, not talking.“
But Mr. Greear, you are a PASTOR. Your calling from God is to preach the word. How can you “listen” and “not talk”?
And as for “majority culture,” let me be frank: YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN IN A PAGAN LAND!!! YOU ARE NEVER IN THE MAJORITY CULTURE!!! TO THE EXTENT THAT YOU ARE, YOU SHOULD REPENT!!! For the sake of the Gospel, how dare a man of such leadership take a position of “not talking.”
Example 3 – A Ton of Southern Baptist Leaders
As I learned from the Baptist Press, on May 30, 2020 (which was less than 24 hours after the Hennepin County prosecutor issued his complaint), Southern Baptist leaders issued a joint statement on the death of George Floyd. The statement says in part:
While all must grieve, we understand that in the hearts of our fellow citizens of color, incidents like these connect to a long history of unequal justice in our country, going back to the grievous Jim Crow and slavery eras. The images and information we have available to us in this case are horrific and remind us that there is much more work to be done to ensure that there is not even a hint of racial inequity in the distribution of justice in our country. We grieve to see examples of the misuse of force, and call for these issues to be addressed with speed and justice.
. . .
Therefore, as a matter of Christian obedience and devotion, followers of Jesus Christ cannot remain silent when our brothers and sisters, friends and/or people we seek to win for Christ are mistreated, abused or killed unnecessarily.
Therefore, we pray for our local, state, and national leaders as they seek justice, and call on them to act quickly and diligently to ensure that these situations are brought to an end. As a people, Southern Baptists stand ready to help towards that end. May God give us His favor, help and strength in this effort.
I wonder what they would think of my detailed break down of why I believe the evidence shows Derek Chauvin is almost certainly innocent, along with the three other officers, and that George Floyd died of a drug overdose of Fenanyl and Meth, which gave him Excited Delirium, which was the reason the officers were restraining him.
I suppose my defense is that, I have not remained silent when people have been mistreated in this situation. However, I bet we disagree about who exactly is being mistreated.
With such a quick statement, has the SBC suddenly become a criminal justice organization? Does the Gospel Coalition now endorse Black Lives Matter (TM)?
Or did such a strong reaction of the world push the SBC to react in kind?
The Command to NOT Listen to Those Who Speak Falsely
And if you think this is just my private opinion on the matter, if you think that this is a subject on which Christians can just “agree to disagree,” let me push back on that. First of all, these leaders called it a “matter of Christian obedience” to take a stance after the death of George Floyd.
Hm… I wonder what the Bible says about those who want to make confident assertions on things in the law:
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
(1 Timothy 1:3-7)
I’m not going to say that I think “myths and endless genealogies” is 100% comparable to the concept of “Race” that was invented by François Bernier in 1684–
–but I am going to say that I think it’s about 95% comparable.
Additionally, I will not say that we SHOULDN’T listen to our black brothers and sisters, because we should have fellowship with all of our Christian brothers. However, I will say that we have an obligation NOT to listen to certain people, regardless of whether they are black or white:
Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
(2 John 1:9-11)
And if someone comes preaching Postmodernist Critical Race theory in your church, or if someone is spitting out Black Lives Matter (TM) talking points, then we need to be clear that they are NOT teaching things in accordance with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Danger of Not Proclaiming “Black Lives Matter (TM)!”
Since “Black Lives Matter (TM)” is at the forefront of a massive issue of justice in society, isn’t it possible that many people will not think very kindly of us? Won’t they call us racist? Won’t they say that we don’t share their ideas of basic justice? Won’t we invite hatred of the gospel?
Well, DUH! What club did you think you signed up for when you became a Christian? This is what happens. As Jesus himself said:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
Therefore, remember that Evangelical Christians should be NERVOUS when we join a movement that is popular in the streets like Black Lives Matter (TM), not confident in our own righteousness.
It is FINE to be concerned with issues of police violence or unjust governance. It is FINE to want to have a church that is not composed of a single ethnic group. It is FINE to join hands and worship with a wide diversity of different races as we recognize our one faith, one baptism, and one Lord.
But to the extent that Christians are caught up in Black Lives Matter (TM), that is the extent to which they are joining in wicked works, and do not reflect the Church of Christ.
So get ready to be hated, and preach the gospel, anyway.