Here is a sample of the continuing response to Ferguson. I have immense respect for Thabiti Anyabwile. I read his stuff and respect his courage. He is one of the few blacks who speak for High Calvinism, which doesn’t exactly make him first runner in a popularity contests with the black community. He has to speak to social issues as a minority in the theological community he has identified with. He regularly has to call out others for lazy rhetoric that threatens the Gospel’s inclusivenenss. His posting is “WHY I BELIEVE THE GRAND JURY GOT IT WRONG AND INJUSTICE TRIUMPHED.” He writes that he speaks as a “recovering social psychologist whose research interest included procedural justice. That’s the study of procedures (usually legal) and how the perceived fairness of those procedures affect satisfaction with the outcomes.” He has serious questions about the legal process of the Grand Jury investigation and how it slanted toward Officer Wilson. An interesting take. He is a man I take seriously.
Here is another take on Ferguson. Believe me, this kind of posting will get a lot of play behind the scenes. It starts out, “Ferguson, MO has erupted in barbaric violence that should cause all law-abiding citizens to demand the restoration of the rule-of-law, but the Evangelical world is preaching kum-ba-ya sermons about race-relations.” He calls out three in particular – Matthew Hall, a research fellow for the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Russell Moore and Eric Mason. These are all Southern Baptists and for Randy White makes them a target since they are in his denominational family. He writes, “His [Matthew Hall] article is posted on “Cannon and Culture,” a project of the ERLC. The ERLC seems to be full-court press, all using the same talking points. You can read Russell Moore’s “Ferguson and the Path to Peace,” and Eric Mason’s “The Gospel, Race, and our Experiences” for more of the same. Each article basically says, “we don’t understand how blacks feel, so we should be slow in our judgment” and “the Kingdom brings us all together in one big, happy family, so let’s act like Kingdom people in a big, happy family.” Ed Stetzer, also a Southern Baptist, also joined the chorus, singing in harmony with the talking points. – See more of White’s article here.
Randy White’s article will not find its way into the Evangelical press. I came across it at Zite. But make no mistake about it. White speaks for a very large, and virtually silent, white Christian community. Number one, he questions whether or not Evangelicals are conflating social justice (and White asks, in effect, whatever that is) with the Gospel. It is true that the trajectory of Evangelicals is to conflate any number of social goods with the Gospel. It is happening on a regular basis, given credibility by much of NT Wright’s work. In the words of NT Wright, “Heaven is important, but it’s not the end of the world.” Wright makes the point, and I affirm it, that Christians are part of the eschaton when heaven fully comes to earth renewing all things. The good that they do now is a participation in that final work of Christ. This gives dignity to our work in ruling over creation per Genesis 1 and 2. However, and there is always a however, it is easy to slip over from what the Gospel is to what the Gospel does. This is one of John Piper’s criticisms of Wright.
Number two, White emphasizes personal responsibility as the ground zero of any crime. As he puts it, “to blame society for a crime committed by an individual is soundly insane.”
Number three, he accuses Evangelicals of buying into the “liberal church-as-kingdom theology.” Liberation theology as historically made the church a subset of the world rather than a contrast to the world. The church is, according to this interpretation, a community that joins with the world in its struggle to liberate the poor and oppressed from the powerful and the wealthy. Jesus, in this view, is a political/economic/social revolutionary. No doubt, Roman Catholicism had to struggle mightily with its own clergy in Latin America who bought into this paradigm of the church. This led to some house cleaning under John Paul II.
White’s version of things is the undercurrent in many a church community. They simply want to treat Ferguson as a crime story, end of story. And so does a vast swath of Americans. Evangelicals would be wise to include parts of this narrative in their response even as they reject the ad hominem attacks and faulty logic. Evangelicals could soon be out of a job, even as the mainline liberal denominations are, if they lose touch with the common sense morality of grassroots America.