Darrow’s never again story from Ghana
In a dark dungeon I stood with a broken heart on centuries-old dry excrement. I was visiting the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, a transshipping point for African captives in the British Atlantic slave trade. In each dungeon, hundreds of slaves were so tightly packed that these desperate humans could only stand day and night for weeks at a time.
In the courtyard above the dungeons, our guide pointed to a quaint, whitewashed two-story building (at the extreme left of the picture): “This is where the Christians met on Sunday for worship.” My heart was pierced. The British who ran this fort professed to worship Christ while, a few feet below them, thousands of slaves—each one precious to Jesus—suffered horribly. Here is the incredible irony of racism and slavery being perpetuated by people who professed Christ. This is the sinful heart perpetuating one of the most unjust evil institutions of all time.
One of the greatest causes of poverty in the world is the lie of racism – “my race is superior to your race!” This lie has brought misery, injustice and poverty to millions of our black brothers and sisters, and others around the world.
Engraved on the outside wall of the chapel (see the red arrow on the image above) was this sobering “never again” testimony.
In everlasting memory of the anguish of our ancestors. May those who died rest in peace. May those who return find their roots. May humanity never again perpetrate such injustice against humanity. We, the living, vow to uphold this.
The words “never again” struck me, An appropriate sentiment, but nothing more. Several hundred years later, during WW2, Nazis killed six million Jews, people made in God’s image deemed unworthy as a race.
We see this lie manifest in other forms such as tribalism–my tribe is better than your tribe, casteism–my caste is superior to your caste, sexism–male is superior to female.
America’s lamentable slave history fits here. Communists in the Soviet Union and China killed 100 million mostly minority people to ensure conformity to their Marxist ideology. The history of the USSR also includes ethnic cleansing of the Ukrainians, the Tartars, the Chechens and the Ingush among others, while in China they persecuted largely non-Han people such as the Hakas, Uighur, Kazakhs and Tibetans in their countries.
In the Rwandan genocide in the 1980, Hutu and the Tutsi tribe members killed one another.
Even today, a slave trade is active in Africa and the Middle East, including sex slavery in Europe, Latin America, the USA, Asia, the buying and selling of brides. We can go on and on. Why do these “isms” proliferate? Because of ignorance about or rejection of the principle established at creation that human beings are made in the image of God. Godless atheistic and pagan cultures demean people of different backgrounds.
But there were men and women who took the “never again” seriously and stood against the tide of moral evil. William Wilberforce, parliamentarian and statesmen, and John Newton, the repentant captain of a slave ship, inspired and led a moral renewal in England that made slavery unthinkable and ended the slave trade.
In the USA, Abraham Lincoln and Harriett Beecher Stowe led the emancipation movement, along with Harriett Tubman, who braved life and limb to create the Underground Railroad that ushered slaves to freedom. These, and the thousands who joined them, understood that before humans are slaves, they are human beings, and being human meant they could not be anyone’s property. While much of the world went sleepwalking, accepting or ignoring race as a moral evil, thousands of brave souls, black and white, fought to bring an end to racism and slavery. They believed in a moral universe.
The current racial tensions and riots are not unique moments in history. All the racial, tribal, and sexual aberrations over the generations are cut from the same cloth. We who cried “never again” too often ourselves find ourselves in the same place.
However, the issues raised by Black Lives Matter have caused me to reflect anew on racism. This series of blog posts is intended to give a worldview analysis regarding racism in America and globally.
The Antidote to Racism: The Human race
As we begin our worldview analysis of racism, we will begin by looking at the worldview that provides the antidote to racism. Bank tellers are trained to spot counterfeit bills, not by studying examples of fake currency, but by becoming intimately familiar with real money. In the same way, to recognize racism as the counterfeit it is, we must study the real currency. There is only one race, the human race, and each member is made imago Dei, in the image of God.
Racism is a result of mankind’s rebellion against the Creator. The effects of the sin and the fall included a distorted understanding of what it means to be a human being.
Once we have examined what is real, the human race, we will look at two major counterfeits derived from atheism (that is, anti-theism) in its modern and postmodern manifestations.
When we define people primarily by their skin color, or ethnicity, we violate the unity of the one human race God created. Again, every single person has been made in the image of God, a truth derived from the biblical worldview of Judeo-Christian theism. In short, all lives matter! To disembowel racism requires beginning with a biblical worldview: blacks, whites, Asians and browns are all made imago Dei.
But what does this mean? It means something dynamic and profound. In its simplest form, when God made human beings, where did he look for the pattern? Not at dogs or monkeys; He looked at Himself! When God made you, no matter what your physical characteristics, he imagined you like Himself. The thing that marks you more than your age, color, sex, height, weight, etc. is that you are imago Dei at the core of your being.
In the first chapter of Genesis, the veil is pulled back on eternity past to reveal a conversation between the persons of the Trinity:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
- in the image of God he created him;
- male and female he created them.
Two key words describe humankind as separate from the rest of creation.
- צֶלֶם (ṣě·lěm): image, likeness, i.e., that which is a pattern, model, or example of something
- דְּמוּת (demûṯ): likeness, i.e., that which has a similarity or comparison
At the beginning, God noted just one difference between the two humans, their binary sexuality as male and female. Otherwise, they share their most basic identity as humans. Later, the narrative will introduce other distinctives within the human race, including skin color. But the fundamental reality is that both male and female, and all skin colors, have the same intrinsic worth and moral value because they are imago Dei.
Think personally and deeply about this for a moment. Let it sink in to the depth of your soul. You are the very image of God!
While human beings, like the rest of creation, are creatures, we are differentiated from the rest of creation in that we are made in the very image and likeness of God.
What does it mean that we are the image of God? The image of God in humans has three facets that refract like a three-sided prism: the essential view, the relational view, and the functional view. The refraction of light from these three facets reveals the glory of imago Dei. We see these three aspects of the image of God in Genesis 1:26-28.
The Essential View — Nature of Humanity: Gen. 1:26a, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’”
The Relational View – Community: Gen. 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.”
The Functional View – the Cultural Commission: Gen 1:26b, 28: “And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. … And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth [the social commission] and subdue it, and have dominion [the developmental commission] over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
What do each of these mean?
The Essential View – All human beings are like God.
In three critical areas we are like God and unlike the rest of the created order. All human beings are endowed with a mind, heart and will. The mind is the attribute of intellect and includes knowledge, understanding and wisdom. The heart is the attribute of morals and includes holiness, love, grace, goodness, mercy, righteousness and patience. The will, the attribute of purpose, means human beings are free moral agents who can make decisions that shape history. As found in human beings these may be described as internal capital.
This internal capital combined with the human body allows each and every human to fulfill the cultural mandate (see below) as a steward of creation. The external stewardship of creation requires the internal self-government of the mind, heart and will. In short, humankind stands apart from the rest of creation in design and function. Human beings are imago Dei. This is what separates us from the rest of creation!
The Relational View – We are made for relationship
Before the creation, God existed as three distinct persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in one Deity. This Trinitarian model, unique among all philosophies and religions, is profound in that it establishes the unity and diversity of the human family. It allows us to celebrate our distinctives. God said, “Let us make man in our image,” not, “Let me make man in my image.”
Community, communication and communion existed before the creation. To be made in the image of God is to be made for relationship that includes community, communion and communication. We are not made to be alone. While each human is absolutely unique, we are made for community. “It is not good for man to be alone!”
In His eternal existence God is unity without uniformity and diversity without superiority. “Adam” captures the unity of humankind; all humans carry the DNA of the first couple. The diversity of mankind is found in such things as our male and female sexuality, our physical characteristics like facial features, height, skin color, our tribe/ethnicity, our individual personalities, and many other dimensions of human life. It takes this wonderful diversity to begin to reflect all that it means to be the Imago Dei. This diversity is to be enjoyed and celebrated. It is not meant to divide.
The Functional View – We are here for a purpose
Michael Novak, the Roman Catholic economist, makes a remarkable observation:
Creation is full of secrets waiting to be discovered, riddles which human intelligence is expected to unlock. The world did not spring from the hand of God as wealthy as humans might make it. Novak understands that when God finished his work of creation, it was perfect, but not complete. It was filled with purpose and potential. And God’s intention was to have the human race to be his vice regents.
We are to take what he made and do something with it; we are to develop the creation which God made full of abundance. This implies that wealth is not limited by the volume of natural resources in the ground (zero sum economics as atheists assume) but wealth can be conserved, invested, and grown (positive sum economics). Novak writes:
We might call this a theology of economic man. This stands in stark contrast to evolutionism which states that human beings are cosmic accidents; we are here by chance, not by purpose. We are here as consumers, not creators.
No, the scriptures and our design indicate that we are here for a purpose. We are economic creatures. We are to steward creation for human flourishing. Wealth is not, as the Marxists say, limited and to be divided and distributed. No, wealth is to be created by human beings of all races.
In summary, we are made like God (the essential view), to form families (the relational view) to govern creation (the functional view). The nature of every human being, no matter what race, is that we are imago Dei. There is no place for racism in the Bible or in the world.
This profound biblical principle led the Founding Fathers of the United States to proclaim, in the Declaration of Independence, a political document,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
This was the first political document in history to enshrine the biblical principal that all men are created equal. This statement was the high water mark in human history for political documents recognizing the intrinsic equality of all human beings with certain absolute rights. These are God-given rights, they are not granted by the state and cannot be removed by the state or any institution or individual.
Has the United States or any other nation reached this standard in practice? No! In fact some of the founders who professed this standard, owned slaves themselves. While no nation has perfectly met this benchmark (and some don’t even try), it became gold standard for political aspirations.
Where did this standard come from? The Judeo-Christian scriptures.
The Bible does not divide people into aggrieved groups based on skin color. It does not build one’s identity on race or sexual orientation. Rather, the Bible sees our primary identity in our humanity; each of us is imago Dei. This reality—a common humanity—precedes even the large gap the Bible places between God’s covenant people and those outside that company. We are all first and foremost children of God. And yet, at the same time, the Bible recognizes the wonder of the unique individuality of each human being, like the Trinitarian Community.
- UNITY WITHOUT UNIFORMITY
- DIVERSITY WITHOUT SUPERIORITY
Our primary identity is our humanity. In this we are all equal and are to be treated with respect and dignity. Our diversity is not to divide us but to be celebrated in all its wonder. This understanding is derived specifically from the nature of the Creator.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently stated, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
But the Judeo-Christian worldview has been rejected for a posttheist, “God is Dead!” worldview. Ideas have consequences. As we move from the theistic mindset to an atheistic mindset, everything changes. We move from the human race to the ideology of race-ism. As the Harvard Crimson student newspaper put it unapologetically: “Everything is about race.” The issue is skin pigmentation, not our nature as imago Dei nor the content of our character. It’s a move from a dynamic view of human nature and the unity of the human race to a flat-earth view that reduces man to the physical or ethereal and leaves us divided racially.
Two Forms of Racism
The twin forms of racism most manifest today are born out of silent universe, a universe imagined without the Creator.
One view is cut from the cloth of evolutionism, known as Social Darwinism, and promoted by Margaret Sanger of Planned Parenthood and the science of eugenics. The other is cut from the Cultural Marxist cloth is the view of Ideological Social Justice, the “nonracist” racism of Black Lives Matter.
Both of these begin with atheistic premises about the nature of the universe. God does not exist, no moral or rational foundation underlies humanity. Human beings are a cosmic accident and have no purpose in life or in death. We are ruled by our passions and emotions.
Atheism is an affirmation of faith, the denial of God, despite clear evidence of the Creator’s existence. Atheism, (and its offspring, evolutionism/Darwinism) is a comprehensive world and life view. They are ideologies, held in faith, that (falsely) answer life’s persistent questions, such as: What is a human? Where did we come from? How did we get here? Why are we here? Racism, as a concept, falls into the discussion of the nature of human beings.
But today, because of modernism and postmodernism, the West divides human beings into two separated, unrelated parts. Both postmoderns and moderns dichotomize human life into the physical and spiritual, but they do so in diametrically opposed ways. Each claims that its preferred half defines all human reality. Each discards the other half, impoverishing both the individual and the society.
This is profoundly dehumanizing. Christian professor and apologist, Nancy Pearcey gets it right when she states,
Materialism reduces humans to products of physical forces. Postmodernism reduces them to products of social forces. Whenever a [religious ideology] absolutizes something less than God—no matter what it is—the result is reductionism, and a lower view of the human person. (Finding Truth, page 122)
Now let’s examine each of these racist ideologies, grounded in atheism, one from the modern, naturalistic perspective of Social Darwinism and the other from the postmodern Critical Race Theory perspective of Ideological Social Justice.
Modern Racism: Social Darwinism
In a spirit of license, to rid the universe of a moral element, leaders of the atheistic revolution revolted against God. They insisted the idea of deity was an exploitational fiction and declared God dead. Thus the universe is without moral law. Social Darwinism was the application of Darwin’s ideas to society as a whole. This led to Fascism, the Nazis, eugenics, Planned Parenthood, the neo-Nazi/skinheads movement.
Darwin proposed humans as a cosmic accident; life developed from some primordial soup and evolved over millions of years to higher forms. The first “human beings” were little higher than a chimpanzee, but destined to evolve into higher and higher forms of human life and finally reach the pinnacle of evolution: the blond, blue-eyed Aryans.
Darwin deemed dark-skinned people—aboriginals in Australia and Negroes in Africa—a lower form of human life, while white-skinned were the highest form of human life and the best races. (See the first minute and 48 seconds of this short video.)
Here are two graphics used in Nazi Germany and the US in the 1920s to teach the development of the human species and the science of eugenics.
Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger, a white supremacist, leading eugenicist and social Darwinist who wanted to help evolution improve the human species by applying the lessons of eugenicist science to women, mothers, pregnancies and babies.
Sanger saw people of color as weeds in the garden.
Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives.
In addition, Sanger wrote:
Hordes of people [are] born, who live, yet who have done absolutely nothing to advance the race one iota. Their lives are hopeless repetitions … Such human weeds clog up the path, drain up the energies and the resources of this little earth. We must clear the way for a better world; we must cultivate our garden.
Margaret Sanger was a racist and a leader of the eugenics movement in the USA at the same time the Third Reich in Germany was planning its eugenics strategy to rid Germany and Europe of those the Germans, particularly Jews, declared Lebensunwertes Leben – “life unworthy of life.”
Because of her racist tendencies and eugenics goals, Sanger placed her clinics in poor urban neighborhoods in the United States where people of color lived. Her racist legacy is established by the number of black babies who were not allowed to live because their skin is the wrong color. We have written about that here.
In today’s world a woman’s “right to choose” an abortion is of higher value than the lives of the most vulnerable—black babies and their mothers. If racism were so important to Black Lives Matter and their white, liberal supporters, they would bring down Planned Parenthood, one of the most racist organizations in the US. But Planned Parenthood receives not a peep of protest from BLM. Why? Because BLM is a racist antiracist organization. More on this below.
In the Darwinian racist scheme, what is a human? An evolved animal. More highly evolved humans are better than less highly evolved. This is racism pure and simple. The lie: White is better than black! Light-skinned people are better than dark-skinned people.
Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines racism as: “The belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” Race is biological! You are born inferior because of your skin pigmentation or ethnic background.
Postmodern Racism: Ideological Social Justice
The second form of racism to examine is Ideological Social Justice variety, from what is known as Critical Theory or Social Marxism. It is manifest most powerfully today through the organization known as Black Lives Matter. These are the racist anti-racists. They profess to oppose racism, yet their ideologies and methodologies often demonstrate a postmodern racist ideology. Working from Critical Theory, they deny the modern understanding of reason and science as “white race” ideology, and define everything in terms of social construction.
As DNA president Scott Allen has written,
They believe science, reason, and evidence are a ‘white’ way of knowing and that storytelling and lived experience is a ‘black’ alternative. I’ve found it very hard to reason with people who have absorbed critical race theory. They always come back to personal stories and anecdotes, for which they feel very strongly. Emotion is a huge part of this. These personal experiences cannot be challenged. Yet from these, they extrapolate to the whole (the system, the institution, etc.), but if you make the case using evidence and reason that that extrapolation can’t be supported, they just discount the effort. In the past, reason and evidence seemed to carry some weight in disputes. Not so much now.
The underlying framework of Ideological Social Justice reveals it for what it is: Cultural Marxism. Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors she was asked in an interview if BLM needed a more clear ideological structure. She responded that “we actually do have an ideological frame … we are trained Marxists” and “super versed on ideological theories.” (You can hear her say that here.)
Black Lives Matter exemplifies this “new” racism
Let me explain.
Intersectionality was popularized by civil rights advocate and lawyer, Kimberlé Crenshaw. Adia Harvey Wingfield writes that Crenshaw, “introduced the theory of intersectionality, the idea that when it comes to thinking about how inequalities persist, categories like gender, race, and class are best understood as overlapping and mutually constitutive rather than isolated and distinct.”
In other words, society is encouraged to subdivide and frame one’s identity at the narrower point of the intersection. No longer is it simply black and white, straight and homosexual, men and women. Now, a black lesbian is differentiated from a white lesbian. An Hispanic, homosexual male is a different class of person from a transgender Asian.
Instead of a framework that unites people, we are witnessing divisions of people into smaller and smaller aggrieved groups. This is the application of Cultural Marxism and, tragically, marks the rise of what can only be called a “new tribalism.”
What unites people in the intersectionality framework is oppression. These people are victims of white privilege. They are all oppressed by the systems white European males have created. It is white European males who are the racists. What makes them racist? Their whiteness. In today’s climate, the way to become nonracist is to be woke, to admit that because you are white, you are racist, and you are expected to literally bow the knee to the ideology of BLM.
Victimization accrues power. The more victim categories you can accrue, the higher your “intersectionality” score. There is no victimization in a biblical worldview where “All Lives Matter!” But the mantra “Black Lives Matter” does not mean all black lives matter or that black youth killed by other black youth lives matter.
No. To Black Lives Matter, only the lives of young, unarmed, black men killed by white cops matter. And their lives matter, not because they are made imago Dei; that is a racist idea. No, they matter because of their high level of victimization, their intersectionality score.
Herein is the new tribalism, an example of microtribalism comprised of very small intersectional victim group. To BLM, the organization and the movement, not all black lives matter.
BLM does not care about all human life. It does not even care about all black lives. It does not care about the 1000+ black babies killed every day in the United States by the racists at Planned Parenthood, or the 7500 black youth killed every year by other black youth.
Why do they not care? Because these deaths do not support their narrative, which is only concerned with the small victim class of young, unarmed, black youth killed by white cops.
Do the lives of Trevon Martin, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, George Floyd and others matter? A resounding yes! Why? Not merely because they were young unarmed black men killed by white cops. Their lives matter because they are human beings.
But why do only their lives matter? Why don’t the 363,705 black babies killed every year by abortion matter? Again, it’s about the BLM narrative. The stories of these young black men killed by white cops accrue power for the BLM organization. They are very visible “symbols” of the police brutality that is the primary leverage point of the organization.
BLM has learned how to weaponize this particular victim group to promote their narrative. Their goal is to destroy Western civilization (which, in their view, was created by racist white, European males). If you are white, by definition, you are racist. A white cop is a racist cop. Herein is the anti-racist racism.
In this frame, what is a human? An expendable pawn in an ideological movement, a slave to groupthink. A human has no individual value, is not free to think or speak independently. The group must think and speak as one.
The lie: Your individual life means nothing. The victim class to which you belong is used to promote a Marxist ideology rooted in Atheism and denies Judeo-Christian theism (a moral God and moral universe) and the Western Civilization founded on that theism.
Scholar and prolific author Nancy Pearcey writes of this phenomenon in Finding Truth.
[Cultural Marxism] reduces individuals to puppets of social forces … it implies that individuals are powerless to rise above the communities to which they belong. It … dissolves individual identity into group identity.
Individuals are little more than mouthpieces for communities based on race, class, gender, ethnicity and sexual identity.
We see this every night: protests on the one hand and the riots on the other. (For more on this go here and here.)
The new definition of racism is prejudice plus power. It applies only to white people by virtue of their monopoly on cultural power. Only white people are racists. Victims are nonracist. Thus the new racists are “nonracist.”
Human beings are without substance. To use Arthur Koestler’s term, they are the “ghost in the machine.” Our identity has no transcendent nor physical quality; it is simply a social construction. Race is institutional. It is the system constructed by white, European, Christian males to maintain power.
In When Marxist Mobs Come for the Liberals Daniel Greenfield writes,
The radicals tearing down statues see religion as enslaving, not liberating. That’s one possible reason so many churches and synagogues were vandalized during the Black Lives Matter riots across America.
Emancipation once meant that slaves were freed from slavery and that the nation was freed from the sin of slavery. That 19th century political theology has long since been discarded to argue that emancipation, for the former slaves or for the nation, is impossible. The conjunction of critical race theory and black nationalism contend that the original sin wasn’t really slavery, but whiteness.
America will be as racist and oppressive as it is white. The only way to advance is through destruction
Modern racism is rooted in the physical: skin color and facial features. In postmodernism, race is rooted in ideology, i.e. “whiteness.”
The Smithsonian National Museum of African History and Culture – NMAAHC – has established an online teaching tool based on Critical Race Theory, titled “Talking About Race.” NMAAHC defines whiteness as
Whiteness and white racialized identity refer to the way that white people, their customs, culture, and beliefs operate as the standard by which all other groups of are compared.
The document includes a graphic that summarizes “whiteness” and its vices. Among these are,
- The significance of the individual and personal responsibility,
- The natural or “nuclear” family composed of father, mother and their children,
- Objective thinking, i.e. the pursuit of truth, through science and rationality,
- Dignity of work and entrepreneurship,
- Delayed gratification.
So, if these are the vices of whiteness, are their opposites the virtues of non-whiteness? If hard work is a vice, is idleness a virtue? If delayed gratification is a vice, is instant gratification a virtue? If the natural or nuclear family is a vice, then broken families and non-binary families must be the virtue. If personal responsibility is a vice, is negligence the virtue?
I do not think so! Is anything more racist than this perspective? To be black is to be a victim, incapable of using one’s God-given gifts? No! This idea is demeaning and robs the image bearer of dignity, worth, value, opportunity, etc… His life is only good if others DO for him. This again denies the mandate given by God to ALL His image bearers. People who have embraced this have done amazing things with their lives. Think of people like George Washington Carver, Harriett Tubman and Sojourner Truth.
These virtues and vices have nothing to do with whiteness or blackness, but everything to do with a cultural mindset, or worldview. Your worldview determines not only how you see the world, but how the world works and the kinds of communities and nations you build. A worldview is a set of ideas, a mindset that may be held by any person and has nothing to do with skin pigmentation.
The ideas and virtues that NMAAHC identify as “whiteness” were born in the Middle East, from an ancient Afro-Asiatic language family of Semites. The “patriarch” of this family was likely brown skinned male, from Ur of the Chaldees, now modem day Iraq, not far from the Persian Gulf. The man’s ancient name was Abram, now known as Abraham, the father of the ancient Jewish and Arab peoples.
The Jews abandoned the tribal deities and family altars of their ancestors. They repented of the animism all around them and turned to the one true God. Their concept of reality was transformed. It changed them, and not only them. It changed the world forever. In his book The Gift of the Jews, Historian Thomas Cahill observes:
The Jews gave us a whole new vocabulary, a whole new Temple of the Spirit, an inner landscape of ideas and feelings that had never been known before. Because of their unique belief—monotheism—the Jews were able to give us the Great Whole, a unified universe that makes sense and that, because of its evident superiority as a worldview, completely overwhelms the warring and contradictory phenomena of polytheism. They gave us the Conscience of the West. . . .
The Jews gave us the Outside and the Inside—our outlook and our inner life. We can hardly get up in the morning or cross the street without being Jewish. We dream Jewish dreams and hope Jewish hopes. Most of our best words, in fact—new, adventure, surprise; unique, individual, person, vocation; time, history, future; freedom, progress, spirit; faith, hope, justice—are the gifts of the Jews.
If people, communities, and nations are to flourish, this outlook is critically important. It is metaphysical capital, a mindset that reflects reality. Truth sets people and nations free to thrive. Metaphysical capital is more important than physical capital in the flourishing of nations.
These ideas and virtues represent the transforming mindset of monotheism, originally witnessed by the ancient Jewish people in the Torah and later by followers of Jesus Christ. The list of what the NMAAHC has called whites has nothing to do with whiteness. These ideas have been embraced by people from all over the world of every skin pigmentation and people group.
The postmodern view of racism is rooted in ideology – Critical Racial Analysis. It is rooted in a very different set of ideas than Judeo-Christian Theism. It is rooted in atheism and is marked by very different set of ideas and virtues. And these ideas are bringing a cosmic shift, at this point to what has been known as the western world. While it purports to be against the racism of the Nazi and neo-Nazi type, it is actually a new form of racism, a hatred of people who are “white.” But ultimately the new form of racism, is a hatred of a set of ideas born in the ancient Middle East that have done more to bring flourishing to people of all skin colors and ethnic groups who have embraced these ideas.
As a result, “people of color” like brilliant economists Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and cultural commentators Larry Elder and Candice Owens who embrace these ideas are considered “Uncle Toms” and traitors to the black community. They are ignored or even “erased” by those in the press, academia and politics. Why? Because these men and women are free thinkers and are challenging the Critical Racial Theory narrative and BLM.
Joe Biden, the presumptive nominee for the Democrat nomination for President, stated on a popular radio talk show, Biden: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
While Biden later apologized for this incredibly racist comment, it is a reflection of the narrative that to be black you must think a certain way and you must vote for a particular political party.
Race has moved from biology to ideology.
The “anti-fascists,” as exemplified by Black Lives Matter (the organization) are the new racists. They segregate people into smaller and smaller victim classes and declare that all white people, by being white, are racist.
All People are Racist
There is still racism in America. When it rears its ugly head it needs to be challenged and where people have been harmed by its presence, we need to walk beside them and they need to know our compassion.
There are racist whites, Asians and blacks. Some whites, some Asians, are racist toward blacks. Some blacks are racists towards whites, and perhaps toward Asians. Some lighter-skinned Latins are racist toward Latins with indigenous blood lines.
I was teaching a workshop in Latin America when a young woman of mixed race, black and Spanish blood, came up in tears, before 150 students, to confess the racism in her own family. She was one of several children and in the middle of the pigmentation line. She felt inferior to her lighter siblings and looked down on her siblings who were darker.
The global phenomenon of anti-Semitism is another dimension of racism. Throughout history, wherever Jews have gone, they have been hated. Anti-Semitism is again raising its ugly head in Europe and North America.
There is racism in America because there is racism in the human heart. In the past, America has practiced systemic racism. By and large, this is not true today. The work of the Civil Rights movement and the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King helped bring a cultural and policy shift in American life.
However the anti-racists are themselves racists. They see “whiteness” as racist. What could be more racist than that?
By their thinking, a white person can only be accepted if he becomes woke, accepts the narrative of BLM and bows the knee to Critical Race Theory. In this framework, the United States is no longer unified around allegiance to the constitution, the vision of liberty and the American flag as a symbol of the freedom. No, whites must bow the knee before the ideology and agenda of the BLM organization.
Antifa, the fascist antifascists, shows a similar irony. These are postmoderns using fascist tactics against those whom they consider fascists.
From a biblical perspective, all human beings are sinners. Sin is rooted deeply in our hearts and lives.
A clear teaching of the Bible is that, because of Adam’s original sin and our own moral choices, we are each sinners (Genesis 6:5-6; Matt. 15:19; Romans 3:23). This is personal moral evil.
Yes, evil has three faces. Personal moral evil is the most fundamental. Then there is natural evil: floods, earthquakes, famines, etc, and there is institutional evil. Racism be it personal or institutional – systemic – (like slavery, Apartheid, or anti-Semitisms).
All three forms of evil are to be fought, beginning with the sin in our own heart, as well as its manifestation in the institutional evil of racism. While this will mean a change in policies of organizations and institutions, a change in laws and policies is not enough. Why? Because behind the institutions are people and ideologies. Without changing people’s ideas, values and hearts, you may change the laws of a state or the policies of an institution, but you will not solve the problem of racism. The solution must change the human heart. Without change at the level of culture, the old culture will simply form new racist institutions. Without love replacing envy and hatred in the human heart, racism will continue to raise its ugly head.
This is counter to the prevailing mood that institutions are evil but humans are basically good. Because we are all are sinners, we are all capable of racism. Personal moral racism leads to racist institutions. But one can tear down an institution without rooting out the racism in the heart.
The thoughtless mood of the day is to tear down institutions and deconstruct history. Some believe racism will disappear as a result. So we have riots and looting, burning down buildings and business, dismantling or defunding police forces, destroying national monuments, and even deconstructing history, as with the New York Times 1619 project. Unchecked, these will result in anarchy which in turn will bring a new police state.
Why? Because the root of the problem is the human heart.
The American actor Denzel Washington stated in an interview:
You can change the law, but if you go home and teach your son how to hate every day, doesn’t matter what law has been changed until you teach your son how to love, then then the law is not going to change the way your son feels.
Two great Russian novelists understood this more than most Christians do today.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918–1956), wrote in The Gulag Archipelago,
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Yes, institutional evil needs to be addressed wherever and whenever it exists. However, evil institutions will arise without addressing the evil in man’s heart. Only the cross of Christ has the capacity to deal with that evil.
Both the old and new forms of racism are derived from the same a-theistic (against Judeo-Christian theism) faith. And these views are radically distinct from the Judeo-Christian worldview.
As Francis Schaeffer said in The Christian Manifesto,
These two worldviews [Judeo-Christian theism and A-theism] stand as totals in complete antithesis to each other in content and also in their natural results —including sociological and governmental results, and specifically including law. …. It is not that these two worldviews are different only in how they understand the nature of reality and existence. They also inevitably produce totally different results. The operative word here is inevitably. It is not just that they happen to bring forth different results, but it is absolutely inevitable that they will bring forth different results.
The atheistic worldview of secularism and the theistic worldview of the Bible articulate very different concepts of human life.
On the atheistic side, the Darwinist posits that we are simply animals or complex machines, the product of a cosmic accident, while the Cultural Marxist holds that the world can be divided between evil oppressors and innocent victims, and that the oppressors can be identified by their skin color. Atheism grounds both the old and the new concepts of racism.
Theism, on the other hand, affirms that we are the very image of God, that human life is sacred and was created for a divine purpose. There is absolutely no ground for racism. All lives matter!
As our discussions move forward it is important to make several distinctions.
The first is to distinguish between Black Lives Matter as an organization and that all black lives matter as a conviction. BLACK LIVES MATTERTM is an international advocacy organization focused primarily on the lives of young black men who have been murdered by white cops. “Black lives matter” is a conviction that all black lives matter and should be treated with dignity and justice. This is an eternal principle quite simply because all human beings are created imago Dei.
The ideologues behind the BLM organization and movement are directly opposed to the first principle, established at creation,that all black lives matter because, as human beings, they are made Imago Dei. They are offended when you say “All lives matter!” This statement is branded a racist statement.
A second needed distinction can be pictured by the difference between drug pushers and drug users. Users need our love, compassion and care; pushers need to be brought to justice because of the death, broken lives and families in their wake. Similarly, we need to distinguish between sincere people protesting abuse on black lives and destruction of black communities, and those who lead the organization and movement BLM. The former need to be identified with. The latter need to be brought to justice for the chaos, havoc and poverty they are intentionally bringing to the black and larger community.
Third, we need to distinguish between a revolutionary movement and a reformation movement. The former is a revolt, a turning against the old order and the foundations – the first principles that established that order. For instance the first principles, among others, of Europe and the United States founding are that the Creator God exists. The universe is moral and intelligible. Man is made in the image of God. A revolution wants to sever the tree from its roots, to kill the tree, to destroy the institutions and culture born from those roots. The French Revolution and the Communist Revolution are examples of revolt. Their intentions are to overthrow the foundations of Western Civilization and replace them with counterfeit first principles such as there is no Creator, we are here by chance, the universe is amoral and purposeless. Human beings are at best merely highly evolved animals and at worst machines.
BLM, like its Marxists parents, is a revolutionary movement seeking to destroy the old Judeo-Christian foundations and the unjust Western civilization.
Contrast that with a reformation movement. Instead of revolting against, a reformation wants to return to the principles that gave birth to a civilization, to restore the foundations and reform the society based on the old truths. The reformer’s task is to nurture the roots so the tree will flourish again. The Protestant Reformation in Europe was a return to the Bible, to biblical principles and biblical worldview. This return to the foundations allowed the Reformers to reform the institution and structure in Europe, bring educational reform, and social, economic and political transformation to the continent. The founding of the United States was a reformation, the formation of a new nation based on sacred first principles.
Finding Hope In the Midst of Despair
Twenty-four-year-old mother Jessica Doty Whitaker was shot and killed after an argument with BLM. Someone in a group of BLM supporters shouted “black lives matter” to Whitaker and a group of her friends. Jessica responded by saying “all lives matter.” Jessica’s punishment for saying all lives matter was to be shot in the head.
Either all lives matter, including young unarmed black men shot by white police officers, or no lives matter. If only the lives of unarmed black man shot by a white officer matter then it is no big deal to shoot a 24-year-old woman simply for proclaiming all lives matter.
At a time when the world seems to be falling apart, is there any hope? In a time when a white cop would murder a black youth, and someone would murder a young mother for saying all lives matter, is there any place for hope?
There is only despair in the old racist culture of Margaret Sanger and Adolph Hitler and the new racist culture of Critical Racial Theory of BLM.
An empty, silent universe cannot satisfy humans. What is needed is a universe envisioned and created by God, a transcendent universe, one with the presence of the infinite-personal creator. We need a universe filled with life and birth, of seed and womb, a universe that is a place of life and unity, uniqueness and diversity, a universe where God exists and human beings are created in His image. God is not made in man’s image, as those with hollowed out lives would argue. No! When God conceived you, where did he look for the pattern? He looked at himself! He made you imago Dei.
What is needed is the deep personal and cultural understanding of the Cross of Jesus Christ. The horror of racism can only be solved in the heart and minds of individuals. But not with a simplistic gospel that leads to a deep spiritual/physical divide or love/truth divide that lacks the foundation of a biblical worldview.
What the United States and Europe need right now is a new Reformation based on the biblical worldview (BWV) and biblical first principles. Christians must become a counter-cultural movement, neither of the left or the right, presenting an alternative in the unique, hopeful worldview of the scripture.
The dilemma today is that too many Christians do not function from a biblical worldview. Rather, they operate unconsciously from a postmodern, neo-Marxist paradigm. Dr. Van de Poll, a prominent African theologian, commented on this phenomena in the African context.
Because the gospel was not brought to the people as a new, totally encompassing life view which would take the place of an equally comprehensive traditional life view, the deepest core of the African culture remains untouched … The convert in Africa did not see the gospel as sufficient for his whole life and especially for the deepest issues of life. For that reason, we find the phenomenon across Africa today that Christians in time of existential needs and crises (such as danger, illness and death) fall back on their traditional beliefs and life views … The sad fact is that many Western missionaries to Africa focused on a narrow gospel. Numbers of converts and new churches were regarded the exclusive measures of success. Lost in the process was a commitment to the discipleship of Christians in a biblical worldview.
My friend and colleague Jeff Wright said it so well: “The Christian today is ill-equipped to answer the questions they want answered about race and justice and so they see a big, shiny Trojan horse of a movement, that, on the outside, says what they think a Christian should be saying and they respond, ‘Sign me up!’”
Because too many Christians fail to think “worldviewishly,” we lack the capacity to understand the times. Too often we are moved by emotions rather than reason and the word of God, and simply want to join the latest movement, be it good or ill.
As Christians we must think critically and worldviewishly. We must stand against the spirit of the age, be it the modern naturalistic world that enlivened the racism of the Nazi’s in the last century or the postmodern world of Critical Racial Theory enlivening the new racism of the 21st century,
Writer and researcher Elizabeth C. Corey affirms this in her article at First Things, “The First Church of Intersectionality.”
One of my African-American colleagues was recently asked to give an interview about what it felt like to be a black professor at a largely white university. He refused. As he said, “I don’t identify as black.” The student who had approached him was perplexed, because the professor is indisputably black. But he was making a point that should be underscored: He does not choose to allow his membership in a particular racial group to determine who he is. He is not in denial about being black; he’s well aware of his skin color and origins. But he sees himself through other characteristics: He is a prolific writer, a religious person, a father.
This understanding is rooted deeply not in race consciousness, but in human consciousness. We are all one, a member of the human race. This concept is touted and grounded in scripture.
Genesis 1:26-27 affirms that all human beings are made in the image of God. Whatever else that includes, it means that as human beings we have unity as God-image bearers, and we have glorious diversity in His image as well. We exhibit, at the same time, unity without uniformity, diversity without superiority. Human beings are of one race, the human race.
We have one set of first parents, Adam and Eve, who in their bodies had the DNA components for all the great diversity of the human family.
Before we are male or female, we are human beings, before we are Latins, Asians, African, American, Indian, we are human beings. Before we are black, white, or brown, we are one race, the human race all decedents from onset of first parents.
Acts 17:26 affirms that we have one blood in our veins: “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, ….” All human beings are of one blood. What an incredible message. When I look at my friends from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, I realize we are bound together by one blood.
Revelation 7:9 celebrates this great diversity of peoples and nations united in one kingdom: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” It would be wise to let the coming kingdom of God be the pattern of unity for our nations.
The Latin phrase e pluribus unum—out of many, one—captures the counterpoint of intersectionality, the radical action of living out the concept of unity in diversity of imago Dei
It seems to me that this is the more helpful framework for our discussion. It reflects both the nature of God and the nature of His creation, including our own nature as human beings. The antithetical order of atheism leaves us with two racist alternatives Social Darwinism and Ideological Social Justice. We need to affirm that all human beings are made imago Dei and as such there is only one race, the human race.
Racism needs to be fought and slain, be it in the Social Darwinian or the Social Justice form. All lives are to be enjoyed and celebrate, because all lives matter, each is made imago Dei!