Thursday, October 17, 2019

How Should ACNA Deal With Critical Race Theory? III – By Directly Addressing Its Racism

Last time, we noted (admittedly with a lot of thinking out loud) that if a church addressed Critical Race Theory (CRT) by name, there may be a number of problems, the complexity of CRT being among them.  I perhaps should say that if I were in a synod that proposed a resolution unequivocally opposing CRT, I would vote for it in a heartbeat.  But I have my doubts about that being the best way to proceed.
Instead, I think it better to address particular concepts of CRT; for these concepts can and will recur under different labels in different contexts.  Also, it is easier to understand and address a particular concept than an entire complex and evolving ideology such as Critical Race Theory.
One CRT concept stands out as one to be opposed by the Anglican Church in North America and by all orthodox churches – that racism is prejudice plus power and that therefore (in America and the West at least), racism by people of color against white people does not exist.
As noted in the first of this series, this is a profoundly unscriptural view of sin that should be banished:

…Believing that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” but thinking only white people can be racist is inconsistent to put it very mildly.  To justify blatant racism against white people as CRT also does is worse. If we clearly oppose White Supremacist views in the church (And we should.), we should oppose CRT in the church, too.  To do otherwise is noxious sin against the dignity all have from being created in God’s image.  Why should whites or anyone put up with bigotry against white people?  Racism is racism and should be given no place in the church.
And this concept has infiltrated the church and has indeed enabled racism against white people.
It has been suggested that I should “chill” about this. Really? Let’s flip the colors. If some insane group was somehow justifying white racism against people of color by saying racial prejudice by whites is not racism at all or if actual White Supremacists were saying in church contexts that racism against black and brown people was right and justified, the church should not and I hope would not put up with that.  At the very least, people pushing such views in the church should be told to repent (or get mental help).
Full strength CRT is about that racist and noxious in denying the existence of racism from people of color and enabling racism against white people. Those who do so should also be told in no uncertain terms to repent.  And at least those in leadership should be disciplined strictly.  The dignity of men and women created in the image of God and scriptural teaching about sin is at stake.
So, no, I am not going to “chill” about this, thank you.
Unlike CRT, that racism is racism no matter the target or the source is something most can understand easily.  And although many are not familiar with CRT, most are aware of blatant racism from non-white sources and the absurd justification of it. Most also oppose such.
And that not just in the church.  Here is an opportunity for a positive witness.  People may be impressed if a church has the backbone and common sense to condemn racism from all ethnicities and to oppose the enabling of it.  The contrast with the CRT nonsense in academia and elsewhere would be a refreshing one to many.
So a well written resolution stating that racism is racism and opposing the concept that non-white racism is not racism at all should be one the church can understand and unite around.

In ACNA, there will be a minority, small I suspect, that would be upset.  I doubt more than a very few would leave.  But if they are that wedded to this aspect of CRT, then so be it. ACNA should not be hospitable to willful racism, period.  Yes and again, saying only whites can be racist is racist.  And if you want real division then allow CRT, especially its racism, to continue its infiltration of the church unchecked.
Those of a social justice inclination actually should welcome such a resolution; for it would facilitate conversation.  Using myself as an illustration, I am hesitant to engage in discussion with someone I think has a CRT concept of racism as something only white people do.  I’m even more hesitant if they seem to think that if a white person breathes, that’s racist. I doubt we have the common ground necessary to fruitful discussion.  But if there is agreed upon standard that racism is racism no matter the source, then we can talk. Put another way, if we somewhat agree on what racism is and that it is not just a white sin, then conversation is facilitated.
A well written resolution stating that racism is racism no matter the source or target would be effective not only because it narrows the subject to something people can understand and be united in opposing. In an important way, it would also be broader than directly addressing only CRT.  For there are a number of current ideologies that condone non-white racism and say it is not racism at all.  It would also be broader in time as well for false teachings have a way of recurring under different names, and the CRT view of racism surely will as well.  And, of course, it would be broader by opposing all racism.
Now there is no perfect resolution or bishops’ statement that solves all problems.  And passing a resolution alone will not do in opposing CRT racism.  There has to be the will to back it up and discipline when necessary.  But if the Anglican Church in North America clearly states that racism is racism and that it is a sin all can commit and all should avoid, then that would be an important and helpful step forward.

I may revisit this and act on this after further prayer and thought. Respectful comments to guide this are welcome. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

How Should ACNA Deal With Critical Race Theory? II – It’s Not Simple

For reasons spelled out yesterday (And, again, I am more or less thinking out loud.  To go through this whole subject in detail would torment both this blogger and readers.  Apologies if thinking out loud annoys.), I think it is time for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and ACNA dioceses to lay down boundaries opposing Critical Race Theory through synod resolutions and bishops’ statements among other means.  
But so opposing Critical Race Theory (CRT) head on and by name is not a simple matter.  Let’s say you want to pass a resolution at a synod.  Much of the room, perhaps most of it, will not have a good idea what CRT is.  And that makes passing a good resolution problematic.  One factor behind this year’s Southern Baptist Convention passing a not good resolution on CRT, Resolution 9, is that much/most of the delegates did not know what CRT was.
Even writing a good effective resolution on something as complex as CRT is far from simple.  It would be too easy to end up with a convoluted, wordy, attention span busting resolution that people would forget or regret or both.
But let’s say you manage to write a good resolution, and you do education about CRT beforehand and assume enough people listen.  There are still problems.  Assuming enough people will listen is indeed an assumption.  Is it reasonable to expect your average active church member or even your average synod delegate to be interested enough in CRT to sit, really listen, and comprehend?  And educating/learning about something as complex as CRT is going to take more than twenty minutes as I’ve discovered personally.  Is that the best use of church time? 
But let’s assume you successfully do the education somehow.  Another problem is once people know what CRT is, it could morph into something about the same under another name. Remember “global warming”? Once a few unusually cold winters and increased polar ice made that less credible, it suddenly became “climate change.”  We cannot trust our opponents to be honest although I will say the academics of CRT are new and evolving (or devolving); so terms and concepts can change without deception or dishonesty being involved.  Nonetheless, with CRT new and evolving, it is something of a moving target.
And we are not as concerned about labels, which can change, as about the concepts behind them, which can and do recur in different forms under different names. A good resolution that stands the test of time addresses said concepts more than labels that may become as passé as “Emergent” in a few years. 
Accordingly, I may have a better idea than a church resolution or statement confronting Critical Race Theory head on and by name.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

How Should ACNA Deal With Critical Race Theory?

Lately I’ve been wrestling inside about what I and my church (the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)) should do about Critical Race Theory (CRT).  It is far more than a matter of my personally disagreeing with it; it is divisive, toxic, and not compatible with orthodox Christianity.
But I should take a breath and slow down.  There are a number of ideas that may be wrong, perhaps very wrong, but the church wisely does not directly denounce all of these.  Many are secondary issues we can agree to disagree on and hope that good teaching from Scripture accompanied by spiritual formation and learning leads us as a church to become more and more conformed to the Truth of Christ.
Also, time can take care of some errors.  Time has taken care of some excesses mentioned in my Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now series.  Remember The Late Great Planet Earth and the eschatological excesses of the 1970’s?  Time has largely discredited those, and such extreme eschatology is less of a problem now.
Also, at first glance, CRT may seem a secondary issue, more touching politics and academics than the Gospel.  And, yes, one can be an orthodox Christian and buy CRT.  Christians can be faithful on core doctrines yet hold other views which are just wrong. We can be very fallible and inconsistent that way.  I remember having a few very off notions as a young Christian.  We should give space for Christians to work through such with the Holy Spirit and learning working on them. 
But CRT does dilute and even contradict core Christian doctrines.  As I’ve noted before, believing that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” but thinking only white people can be racist is inconsistent to put it very mildly.  To justify blatant racism against white people as CRT also does is worse. If we clearly oppose White Supremacist views in the church (And we should.), we should oppose CRT in the church, too.  To do otherwise is noxious sin against the dignity all have from being created in God’s image.  Why should whites or anyone put up with bigotry against white people?  Racism is racism and should be given no place in the church.
Really CRT baptizes woke sin.  At the same time, it calls sinful or racist or white supremacist thoughts and deeds which are not sinful and are good.  What is that verse about calling good evil and evil good? Rightly disagreeing with these woke people or even just wanting to avoid disagreement by being quiet is racist or at least complicity with racism in the CRT view.  But, hey, if you agree with the woke crowd and support them and you are white, you are just trying to puff up your status as a “good white.” Instead of “victory in Jesus,” if you’re white, you just can’t win!
(By the way, this excellent video just out from Sovereign Nations on CRT notes this repeatedly.  I highly recommend the video for a good summary of CRT.)
And that gets into another way CRT contradicts key Christian doctrine.  If you are White, CRT lays burdens on you no man can carry instead of freeing you from sin and forgiving you through Jesus Christ. When I first heard that there is no redemption or forgiveness under CRT, I did not understand that.  But the more I watch CRT in action the more I get it.  I see far more grievance from CRT church people than forgiveness.  I guess one can hold to the Gospel and to CRT.  But to do so is to be a walking contradiction.
As mentioned, CRT is highly divisive.  A look at recent years in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) or the Presbyterian Church in America illustrates that well.  And conflict is increasing in ACNA.  That is to be expected; for to divide people up into various “protected classes” that are supposedly oppressed by whites, especially those straight white males, is inherently divisive.  CRT is not just a philosophical or theological error about which academics argue.  It is tearing churches apart.  The departure of churches from the SBC has already begun.
But will time take care of CRT?  If we look the other way, focus on “making the main thing the main thing,” will CRT eventually fade away? Who knows.  But it is well embedded in academics.  Many/most universities practically brainwash their students in it.  It pretty much owns the social sciences. Opposing it can be bad for a career in a number of fields. And it seems to be becoming more influential, even (especially?) in the church.
But a better question to ask is do we have time?  CRT is dividing the church now.  Really it is dividing society and then importing those divisions into the church, which goes against so many things St. Paul wrote and even got in St. Peter’s face about. (Galatians 2:11-14)  If we just let CRT play itself out, a very possible result will be church splits.  A certain result will be good people dealing with it by walking out.  I am certainly among those who will put up with CRT in the church for only so long.  In ACNA, we have enough issues that make keeping good people and parishes and even a diocese or two difficult already without CRT.  So if we want to retain them, we must deal with CRT soon.
Having said all that (in admittedly very summarized form), opposing Critical Race Theory in the church is easier said than done.  I intend to say more about that, but will leave off for now.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Henry Parry Liddon and the Political Sermon that Wasn’t

I’ve just completed readingThe Life and Letters of Henry Parry Liddon by John O. Johnson. Before reading it, about all I knew about Liddon is he was a friend of Dr. Pusey and wrote his biography.
So I was deeply impressed and moved to read of Liddon himself.  What a godly and dedicated man!  His example moved me to reexamine what I am doing with my life.  And he was gifted man as well.  He was recognized as one of the best preachers in England, and his sermons often packed out large churches.  Yet he was modest and self-critical.  And he turned down a bishop’s mitre a number of times.
Liddon was involved in the politics of the day, especially as they touched the Church of England.  He and Gladstone were good friends.  Yet he rarely discussed politics during his sermons.
In Life and Letters, there is a diary entry from Liddon that reflects this wisdom as well as his English humor (and which follows up yesterday’s post well.):
December 3rd[1876] – A large number of people came to St. Paul’s this afternoon expecting a political sermon.  I disappointed them.
Would all Christian leaders so “disappointed”.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Politicize All the Things!!

My memory is fuzzy on this, but I may have noted here the Left’s tendency to try to politicize everything.  Some even demand everything be politicized.  This is part of their totalitarian streak.
Yes, yes, there are non-Leftist extremists that can be that way, too.  But it is much more frequent from the Left.

This morning, I see an example both annoying and amusing from an alumni group I am in.  One alum, who constantly makes political posts from the Left, replied to an admin’s very polite insistence that the alum group was not the place for political posts with the following:

With all due respect to you, there are no spaces that are inappropriate for politics. Doing politics is an ethical demand which must be carried to ALL spaces and the idea that there are or should be spaces in which politics are inappropriate is complicity with fascism.

It is precisely in spaces *like this* where doing politics is most important.
He followed it up with this:
Spaces where people feel uneasy about politics are the spaces in which doing politics is most important.

We dont have time to play around any more. The fascists are in power and the jet stream is collapsing. Theres no time for polite company. 
[Punctuation and logic his.]
Well there you go.  If you want a little space or time apart from politics, you are complicit with fascism.
But it seems to me that it is rather “fascist” and even totalitarian to insist all spaces be politicized.  But that’s just me.
And isn’t it funny that many of the same people, who insist you listen to them at all times and in all places, shout down and even assault those that dare disagree with them.
So I suspect I am right that Leftist attempts to politicize all the things come from a totalitarian streak.

By the way, a reminder that this blog is decidedly less political than it used to be.  Political posts that are not that relevant to Anglicanism, Christianity, or other recurring subjects on this blog go to my sister blog on history and current events.  So if you just can’t get enough of my wisdom on politics, go there.
Clearly I do still occasionally post on political subjects on this blog.  But I am much more selective about that than I used to be.  
You’re welcome . . . or I’m sorry, whichever is appropriate.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

A Good Question to Ask “Social Justice” Church People

At the beginning of his latest video, James White tells of an online conversation he had with a professing Christian espousing various “social justice” themes.  White decided to ask him a simple question: Is there such a thing as Black racism?  Can a Black person be racist?
The social justice person hemmed and hawed and talked about history . . . and would not give a straight answer.  Whereupon, White decided to politely end the conversation.
White’s reasoning is cogent.  Scripture teaches that all are capable of sin and do sin.  And people are so fallen that they often sin in ways we might not expect.  The rich can be envious; the poor can be covetous; and so on. And, yes, people of all ethnicities are capable of racism. None are exempt.  
So to explain away or redefine sin as to exempt large groups of people is a thoroughly unscriptural view of sin.  And so it is with redefining racism to be just a White thing, and not a Black or Brown or whatever color thing.
Thus White’s question in a very simple, straightforward way smokes out whether someone’s “social justice” concerns come out of scripture (or a well-meaning misinterpretation of scripture) or are imported out of worldly ideologies incompatible with orthodox Christianity and with the orthodox view of sin such as Critical Race Theory.  
No, it is not the perfect question, if one exists, but it is one that reveals a lot.
I may revisit this.
----
N. B. Since CRT defines “racism” as prejudice plus power, and since in some countries Blacks are dominant in holding political and/or economic power, a more on-target way to ask the question may be, “In the American context, can a Black/Brown person be racist?”

Friday, September 27, 2019

An Odd Statement on Brexit from the C of E House of Bishops

First, I have to get credit where credit is due.  On its face, the statement on Brexit by the Church of England House of Bishops is commendable.  The result of the Brexit referendum should be respected.  And even Archbishop Welby of all people has called out the Remoaners for their “whingeing”.  And care should be taken in the language used in discussing Brexit.
But the statement has the air of a body that is above the fray when Church of England bishops have been anything but.  Church of England bishops are almost all Remainers, and quite a few merit being dubbed Remoaners.  Further, some of their language towards those who back Brexit has been *cough* uncharitable as Cranmer notes.
You know if I were to give a sermon on the sin of unrighteous anger, I would feel like a pretentious hypocrite if I did not acknowledge during it that I struggle with anger.  So how can the House of Bishops give a statement like this without clearly acknowledging and, yes, apologizing for the very public Remoaning amongst them in the years since the referendum?
Nonetheless, the statement is a pleasant surprise.  Better late than never.