Four days ago, we posted a series of rather scathing articles calling out Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile and those who agree with him for having added to the gospel once and for all delivered to the saints. There are more articles forthcoming that are more instructive for the body in regard to how to address the sin of ethnic partiality within the body. However, before moving on to those, I am compelled to address something I have been seeing in the wake of the criticism that has come against Pastor Anyabwile in the wake of his very unhelpful comments.
One thing we have sought to do on CredoCovenant, polemical as we may sometimes be, is always choose to defend Christ, His gospel, and His church rather than ourselves. What seems to be commonplace in much public discourse in this age of social media is a certain defensiveness. Defensiveness can take many forms. The most common form adopted by many of the more Social Justice-savvy in our day is a kind of passive-aggressiveness (playing the victim) coupled with back-tracking (“What I really meant to say was…”) and blaming others for reading the words that were written as opposed to the words that were “meant.” This slippery rhetoric is quite a clever tool in the hands of the Social Justice-initiated.
A Self-Gratuitous Reinterpretation
That brings us to today. We have a couple articles for our consideration. First, Pastor Thabiti has offered for us an attempt at a very gracious re-interpretation of his own original words. He claims that he never asked Evangelicals to repent of their parents’ and grandparents’ sins. I leave it to you to try to unravel his own words to see (1) if they are consistent, and (2) if his denial is even close to a justifiable takeaway from what he says the very same article, “In several places in the Bible we find God’s people being called to recognize their solidarity as a people with the sins of previous generations.” Does Pastor Anyabwile not recognize that these sins were repented of by subsequent generations, because they were also the sins of the repenting generations? The solidarity came from shared sin, not shared skin. Where the sin of ethnic partiality still persists within the church or within society, whether the partial actor be black, white, or any other shade of skin under the sun, the church should be prepared to call it what it is: sin.
A further question that must be asked is how Pastor Thabiti determines who qualifies as a white evangelical who must be made to acknowledge said solidarity. Is it solely on the basis of skin color that white people are the only ones in the church who are being called upon to check their particular sin on this issue? Should African immigrants be made to admit solidarity with their ancestors who sold rival tribes into slavery? Should Saudi immigrants be made to acknowledge solidarity with the 9/11 hijackers? If a man walks into church tomorrow with a German accent, and I have ancestors who fought in WW2, do I have the right to force him to admit some kind of solidarity with Hitler? The mere suggestion is insane.
Through the ordinary means of grace and the corporate discipleship of the saints, people should be made to hold the mirror of the law up to their hearts. For the unbeliever, this will be a source of condemnation for them that will either drive them from the church or drive them to the cross. For the believer, the law is a delight. Constant, regular exposure to the law and to the gospel will be an oft difficult, but always joyful, exercise of soul reformation for the believer. Pastor Thabiti’s brand of color-based penance, which is well documented regardless of his efforts to backtrack, is an addition to the gospel that should be outright rejected.
A Very Ungracious Reinterpretation
Second, we have this offering today from Pastor Thabiti, in which he calls out those of us who have moved away from using the term racism. He wrongly suggests that the reason we don’t want to use the term is because we don’t want to admit that such sin exists. He writes: “Now, many people think that by dispelling the notion of “race” we thereby dispel (or at least make more difficult) any claims to racism.” At this point, I must ask Pastor Anyabwile to show his work. Where are people making this argument? Where has he seen this argument being used as the reason why many Evangelicals and others have moved away from using the term “racism”?
In truth, the opposite is the case. With the aid of such worldly philosophies as Critical Race Theory, many in our day have sought to redefine racism to fit a neo-Marxist narrative. They argue that only those who are in power (e.g. white Americans; read: bourgeoisie) can be racist. On the other hand, those who are part of the victim class (e.g. American minorities; read: proletariat) can never be accused of racism. This is a Marxist narrative, plain and simple, and many Evangelicals have agreed that it would be completely against Paul’s teaching in Colossians 2 to allow for this worldly philosophy to be smuggled into the church to define sin and, then, to offer its solution.
This is why you rarely see the term “racism” being used in many Evangelical circles. It is not so that white Evangelicals can avoid answering for their sin. It is the opposite. It is so that we can figure out a more biblical way to talk about sin. Hence, you may have noticed the fact that some of us here at CredoCovenant have started to use the terms “ethnic partiality” and “ethnic favoritism” instead. These are sins that are common to all men from which all men must repent and can repent (see hyperlinks for Scriptural authority). Take the apostles’ word for it. If a sin is not common to all men, if some men are not required to repent of it, or if others are not provided a way of escape from it (not even the smallest hope), you have just encountered a grossly unbiblical hamartialogy (doctrine of sin).
So, I will conclude with Pastor Thabiti’s own words. As you are reading his articles and the articles of those who agree with him (and there are many who agree with him), “Don’t let all the noise distract from these points. Debate the points if you like. But keep in mind that it’s easy to get lost in all the ‘he said, she said.'”