Thursday, January 16, 2020

The ACNA College of Bishops Communique and a Problem of Trust

The communiqué from the latest Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) College of Bishops meeting was released yesterday, and I honestly do not know what to make of it.  Part of that is that I have trust issues, but part of it is also that the ACNA has trustworthiness issues.
The section on “issues of race” illustrates this well. 
Following a video presentation by the Rev. Dr. Esau McCaulley, Director of the Anglican Church in North America's Next Generation Initiative, and the Rt. Rev. Alphonza Gadsden, Bishop of the Diocese of the Southeast (REC), the College spent time in discussion and prayer about issues of race, racism, and recent mass shootings. Particular attention was given to the great need for multi-ethnic outreach and church planting, ensuring that all peoples are reached for Christ and to addressing the public witness of the Province and our dioceses on matters of justice.
Now these presentations and discussions may have been balanced and fruitful, and I actually have good reason to think they were.  But I also know Dr. McCaulley’s approach to such issues has often been not balanced in the past, including his reluctance to affirm the obvious, that people of color can be racist against white people.  I also know that “justice” has become a buzzword in ACNA for pushing a “social justice” agenda. And ACNA has become a “social justice” playground in the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others, in the Matthew 25 Initiative, in the Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network, etc.
So it is difficult for me to welcome this communiqué and, yes, to trust the College of Bishops.
Trust can be restored, however if the College of Bishops were to set some boundaries.  One such boundary is needed in the area of racism particularly since, thanks to Critical Race Theory and related ideologies, “racism” is now a much abused word.  Both trust and clarity require the College of Bishops make clear that the sin of racism can be committed by people of all ethnicities against people of all ethnicities. As I have written at length before, this is needful and would be helpful in facilitating both trust and conversation. 
But I do not expect the College of Bishops to do even this. I expect the trust issues to continue.  I would be delighted to be proven wrong.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Jemar Tisby’s Double Standard on Anti-Semitism

Last May, just after an attack on a Poway, California synagogue by a shooter identified as a White Nationalist, Jemar Tisby wrote an article of concern that came very close to blaming the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and conservative evangelicals opposing “social justice” teaching for the Poway attack.  This passage stood out:
If denominations like the OPC wish to make their churches inhospitable to people who harbor white nationalist views  — or to confront the sins of racism and white nationalism in hopes that church members will repent of them — then they’re going to have to offer unequivocal and direct teaching refuting the ideology.
White denominations, especially in the theologically Reformed branch of the church, should hold specific workshops, classes and special events explaining white nationalist beliefs and tactics so their members can guard against subversion.
White churches and leaders must bring members who express white nationalist views or sympathies under church discipline, with the ultimate goal of discipleship and restoration. But, if necessary, suspension from the Lord’s Supper and excommunication should be an option.
In addition, white churches in Reformed traditions must probe exactly why people who hold white nationalist and other racist beliefs may find a comfortable home in their fellowships.
Perhaps it’s because pro-slavery theologians such as R.L. Dabney are still cited as positive examples of godly men.
Maybe it’s because black liberation theologians such as James Cone are demonized and if they are read at all, it is merely to discount their viewpoints.
Perhaps it’s because of the almost unshakable loyalty of many white evangelicals to Republican officials who express racist ideas.
Maybe white racists and nationalists can sit comfortably in the pews of certain churches because whenever calls for social justice arise their leaders say that such issues are a “distraction” from the gospel.
So if Reformed Christians and “white evangelicals” oppose Black Liberation Theology and James Cone, support Republicans, and oppose so-called “social justice”, then anti-semitism and racism is their fault.  Got it.  
Tisby does have a point that the church has a role in opposing racism and anti-semitism and teaching against it (as I have and intend to do in my next sermon), but that is to oppose racism and anti-semitism whatever the source.  Speaking of which…
As I’ve noted, late last year there was a rash of anti-semitic attacks in New York City.  Most of these attacks were committed by blacks.  And the silence from Jemar Tisby has been deafening.  Now I am hesitant to say he has said nothing – that would be very hard to prove.  But a painstaking search, including his twitter feed, reveals nothing from him on this matter. (And, please, if I am missing something, let me know in the comments.)
Now I will not make a similar mistake to his by saying if you are not vocal about every injustice then you are complicit.  But he said so much after an anti-semitic attack by a white Reformed man.  Yet now that blacks are the attackers of Jews, there is virtually nothing from Tisby.  He wrote when anti-semitic attacks were linked to white racist groups.  He is quiet when anti-semitic attacks are linked to a black racist group, namely the Black Hebrew Israelites.
He was so concerned (mistakenly) that Reformed churches and “white evangelicals” were enabling anti-semitism.  Perhaps he should be concerned that Critical Race Theory and other ideologies that give blacks a pass on racism might be enabling anti-semitism and other forms of racism.  He should be especially concerned given his own associations with these woke ideologies.  He certainly has the stature to stand up and state that, no, people of color do not and should not get a pass on anti-semitism and racism.
But, no.  Now Jemar Tisby is silent.  
His double standard is deafening.  

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

A Question About Racism that Deserves an Answer in ACNA

About a month ago, Dr. Esau McCaulley tweeted:
One day people will look back on 2010s and wonder how some decided that theologically traditional people who care about justice were such a threat to the church that silencing and/or policing us was more important than resisting the actual racism and sexism that we opposed.
I decided to leave aside the questions of whether the social justice “evangelical” crowd is “theologically traditional” and of whether this was a fair statement to make about those who oppose a social justice agenda. Instead, I decided to be charitable, find common ground, and ask a needful question:
I agree resisting actual racism is important. So tell me: can a U. S. person of color commit “actual racism” against a white person?
I’ve yet to receive an answer from Dr. McCaulley.  The closest I’ve seen to an answer is the following, and I am not completely sure he was addressing me.

I will leave it to the reader to decide whether that was an appropriate response.  But it does concern me that he did not answer my question very easily with a yes.
As you can see I then asked, “Is that your response to my simple question – ‘can a U. S. person of color commit 'actual racism' against a white person?’"

And I received no answer to that question.
At this point a fair question to turn around and ask me is why don’t I just drop this and let sleeping dogs lie?
First, given how Critical Race Theory (CRT) and related ideologies have redefined and abused “racism,” genuine discussion of racism requires defining just what we are talking about.  Are we talking about bigotry based on race that people of all ethnicities are capable of?  Or are we talking about something more or less only white people and Western society are guilty of?
Second, the CRT view that (at least in the Western context) racism is something only white people, not people of color, are capable of is itself racist and toxic.  To blame one ethnicity for a type of sinfulness, but exempt other ethnicities from it is inherently racist and virtually contradicts the Bible’s teaching that all have sinned.  As Dr. McCaulley himself says, “Racism … implies a heretical soteriology because if certain races are inherently more sinful than others then Christ's redemptive work brings them from farther away [from] God, and Paul argues that all are equally sinful and in need of redemption.”
Yet the CRT view that whites have a virtual monopoly on racism in the West has infiltrated the church.  But there is no sin that is monopolized by any one ethnicity – to say otherwise is unscriptural and racist.  So this is not just a secondary issue we can agree to disagree on; at least I cannot.  Therefore, we should know if our church leaders hold this CRT viewpoint of racism or not. Yes, McCaulley is far from the only one in ACNA who should be asked my question. 
Third, Dr. McCaulley through his actions and comments seems at least sympathetic to Critical Race Theory.  For one thing, he is an open fan of Jamar Tisby.  He certainly seems to share CRT’s obsession with race at times.  He has rather famously asked that unhelpful question, “If all translation is interpretation and interpretation is influenced by social location, what does it mean that most of our English bibles were translated with very few Black or other Christians of color or women involved?”  That he chooses not to answer my question also is odd. So does he share CRT’s view of racism? I do not presume he does, but it is past time for us in ACNA to know.
In short, given his statements and his leadership positions in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), namely head of the Next Generation Initiative and one of the Canon Theologians of the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others, McCaulley is among those who should clear the air and state whether they consider racism something all ethnicities everywhere are capable of or whether it is pretty much only a White Thing as Holy Critical Race Theory teaches.
Really he should welcome the opportunity to clear the air and give a straightforward answer to my question.  A correct answer would help clear up concerns about him and create more common ground.  He wants ACNA to resist “actual racism.”  To do that together we need to know what sort of racism we are talking about. Are we together resisting racial bigotry regardless of the ethnicity of the people it comes from?  We can do that!  Or are we talking about a CRT construct that is “an analytical tool”* to exempt people of color and to smear white people and Western society? 
A “yes” or “no” to my original question will do.
*I’m quoting the Southern Baptist Convention’s infamous Resolution 9, of course.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Epiphany Mishmash

There is disorderly confusion and even some contention on how the church should observe the first month of so of each new year.  Fr. Hunwicke goes into some of that with accompanying liturgical history.
My two cents, which is about what it’s worth:
Don’t turn Christ-centered holy days into Mary-centered holy days. I’m confident the BVM herself would agree.  So February 2nd is the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, not The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  That sounds like she’s visiting a beauty salon anyway.  (By the way, guess who is scheduled to preach a sermon that day?)  And if anyone dare calls it Groundhog Day or even Super Sunday – well, what do you think vergers are for?
I usually am a die hard about celebrating holy days on their proper day, not on the nearest Sunday as the weak and the Roman do.  So Epiphany is today, January 6th, thank you.  However, I concede that some years it is not practical for most parishes to be so stubborn. This year, with Epiphany being on a Monday, is one of them.  But, hey, if you can get people to come to church today, then God bless you and them!  
So celebrating Epiphany yesterday was fine this year.  My parish did a blessed mishmash and celebrated both Epiphany and the 2ndSunday After Christmas yesterday.  Celebrating both Christmas and Epiphany – it’s hard to beat that.  Even better for those who can bring in people on a Sunday night is what Pusey House did – an Epiphany Eve service, a tradition going back to the medieval Sarum rite and long before.  
I heartily agree with Fr. Hunwicke that the traditional Sunday lessons for Epiphany should be done every year.  An Epiphany that omits either the Baptism of Christ, the Coming of the Magi, or the Wedding at Cana just isn’t right. 
But (You might want to sit down for this.) there is an innovation to which I am sympathetic.  The Church of England’s Common Worship has January 1st as Holy Name Day.  That makes sense as during his circumcision is when Jesus was named.  It neatly solves the past juggling around of Holy Name Day and gives January 1st a name that does not make men cross their legs.
But however you observe these days of the New Year, may you be blessed in doing so free from those looking down their liturgical noses at you.  I certainly will not do so – I promise.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Not a Good Year for EU Idolatry

As 2019 comes to a close, right-minded people can rejoice that Great Britain will be sovereign again having thrown off the EU.  The 2016 Brexit referendum was finally followed up in 2019 by the resounding victory of Boris Johnson, who made “Get Brexit Done” his chief campaign platform, and the accompanying resounding defeat of those who did not respect the 2016 referendum and sought to obstruct Brexit.

But Robert Innes, the Bishop of the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe, is not so happy about that.  If you really want to read his whinging, you can go to Anglican Ink for that.

Now one may think my headline about “EU Idolatry” might be overwrought.  But it is prompted by the photo of Innes’ idolatrous mitre at Anglican Ink (with apologies to Anglican Ink for, well, stealing it):

Yes. That is an outline of Europe front and center on his mitre.  It is appalling that anyone claiming to be a Christian bishop would wear such a mitre.  Jesus is Lord, not any state, and not the EU.  And his kingdom is not of this world.  To have Europe – or the U. S. or a world globe for that matter – so displayed on a mitre is idolatry (not to mention in bad taste, also a cardinal sin in Anglicanism).

(And if that is the outline of his diocese, that is no excuse.  Jesus is Lord, not the area of a diocese.  If I were somehow a Bishop of Texas, I would not dare to have an outline of Texas so prominantly displayed on my mitre.)

But then the Socialist Globalist politics most Church of England bishops so adore is part of the idolatry of the state which has so plagued Europe and the world, is it not? No wonder those bishops so deplored Brexit.

Anyway, let us rejoice all the more that the brazen idols of Statism, Globalism and of the EU had a bad year in 2019.  May the 2020's be a decade in which millions upon millions become all the more freed from their illegitimate power.

Monday, December 30, 2019

A Hard Question After the New York Hanukkah Attacks

There are some questions that are so sensitive that the prudent rather not touch them with a ten-foot pole.  But sometimes those are the very questions that should be asked.  So with trepidation, I proceed.

Violent anti-semitism has been a problem in New York City for some time although it has not gotten much attention from the mainstream “news” media.  But the rash of attacks against Jews in New York during Hanukkah has been hard to ignore even for the Democrat “news” media.

Yet one inconvenient fact about these attacks is still being largely ignored.  These attacks, like many (if not most) of New York City anti-semitic attacks, have been committed by Blacks.  Pointing that out is politically incorrect, goes against “the narrative” and practically asks to be smeared as racist, so it doesn’t get pointed out much.   But as David Marcus notes, if the perps were White, reporting would be very different:

Make no mistake, if white supremacists in MAGA hats were shooting minorities or carving them up with machetes, it wouldn’t just be news, it would be the only news. So satisfying would that narrative be to our politicians and scribes that we would scarcely be able to turn away. But alas, it’s Jews being killed and maimed. And the criminals don’t fit the bill of right-wing, Trump-supporting Nazis, so, you know, it’s complicated.

That anti-semitism among Blacks is swept under the rug in spite of its virulence in New York City, that some of the perps have been released quickly on bail, and the silence from some on the Left and deflection from others are among the factors that compel me to ask a question that is very inconvenient, including for me:

Are identity politics, intersectionality and Critical Race Theory enabling Black anti-semitism and other forms of racism from people of color?

(And modern anti-semitism, being based mostly on ethnicity, is indeed an especially toxic species of racism.  I do not have the time to go into all the history of that here.)

What are the messages that CRT (I focus on Critical Race Theory as it is a chief source of identity politics and intersectionality.) and cultural elements influenced by CRT are sending to Blacks along with other people of color? You are oppressed. And the oppressors are Whites, including Jews.

Yes, adherents of CRT frequently lump Whites and Jews together when they are not singling out Jews as oppressors.  See the BDS efforts on campuses and elsewhere for some of their singling out. Further, identity politics activists have long stoked anti-semitism as William Jacobson and Samantha Mandeles documents.

Continuing, CRT further tells Blacks: Because Whites and Jews systematically oppress you and because racism is prejudice pluspower, it is virtually impossible for you to be racist against Whites and Jews.

Thereby racism and anti-semitism from people of color is neatly redefined not to be racism at all.

This message is far from merely theoretical or academic.  It is hard to miss that Western society and culture applies much more pressure against racism and anti-semitism from Whites than against racism and anti-semitism from people of color.  (Of course, one can argue that is justified given past history, but it that justified given society today?)

For those who think I am wrangling about words, definitions have power.  It’s not for nothing that most White racists are loath to admit they are racist.  Many instead say they are just realistic, and/or they use other words to define their prejudice.  The Monty Python troupe once noted the use of “racialist” by racists in its Hilter – National Bolcialist Party sketch (Those are not typos.  Watch it sometime.).  Society rightly rejects and ridicules such redefinition.

But Critical Race Theory conveniently performs the redefinition for Black racists and anti-semites and that with the approval of academia and even woke church people.

Now, of course, most Blacks completely reject violent racism and anti-semitism, just as most Whites do, even with the influence of CRT.  But toxic woke ideologies, such as CRT, and the accompanying coddling and even encouragement of racism against Whites and Jews do affect people at the margins, including those who may be prone to bigoted violence due to their own prejudice or mental illness.  Certainly, thanks largely to CRT, Western culture treats the explaining away or justification or redefinition of Black racism very differently than that of White racism.

Now, in this post, I am surely oversimplifying matters.  And perhaps my brief analysis is off in a significant way. I am certainly no sociologist. Further, anti-semitism from all ethnicities certainly pre-dates CRT.  We cannot blame all violent anti-semitism on CRT in any case.

But I would consider myself a coward if I were to remain silent after what I see. So, yes, I do ask: Are identity politics, intersectionality and Critical Race Theory enabling Black anti-semitism and other forms of racism from people of color?

Friday, December 27, 2019

About that Christianity Today Editorial…

When I heard of the Christianity Today editorial from Mark Galli calling for President Trump to be removed from office, I almost went incandescent.  But I had just pledged to lay off politics for the end of Advent.  So I deferred on posting here, while promising a “present” after Christmas Day.
Well, it’s after Christmas Day now, but by this time there is so much commentary out there I think it best for me not to add much to it, at least not now.  Many of you have probably heard quite enough about the subject already anyway.
At the same time, I want to point to two responses that are being largely overlooked. First is an open letter response from a number of evangelical leaders.  I am linking to it because although I’ve read about it, the open letter itself is not easy to find . . . because of search engine bias perhaps?  The letter concludes:
The editorial you [i.e. Christianity Today]published, without any meaningful and immediate regard for dissenting points of view, not only supported the entirely-partisan, legally-dubious, and politically-motivated impeachment but went even further, calling for Donald Trump not to be elected again in 2020 when he certainly survives impeachment. 
As one of our signatories said to the press, “I hope Christianity Today will now tell us who they will support for president among the 2020 Democrat field?” 
Your editorial offensively questioned the spiritual integrity and Christian witness of tens-of-millions of believers who take seriously their civic and moral obligations. 
It not only targeted our President; it also targeted those of us who support him, and have supported you. 
The second response is more off the radar screen of most, but it is one of the better rebuttals I’ve seen and merits more attention.  Carol Swain packs a lot into a short op-ed.  She begins by pointing out that Galli is wrong about the facts surrounding the impeachment hearings and wrong in being an “accuser of the brethren.”  But she says so much more.  Do go read her commentary.

I will briefly add that what I find most troubling about this episode is that a number of evangelical leaders not only seem not to have much problem with the perpetual coup against Trump but now are even cheerleading it.  And a few of the cheerleaders are leaders in ACNA. But you really do not want to get me started on that, so I will leave off for now.