Social Justice and the Gospel: 5 – Corporate Repentance and Racial Reconciliation

It was previously stated that a primary concern of the Social Justice movement, as it manifests in the church, is ethnic or racial equality. The charge of ethnic inequality, which is synonymous with ethnic injustice, which is synonymous with racism, occurs not at an individual level but at a corporate level. This is not to say that racism does not exist at the individual level, but it is to say that there is a more pervasive version of racism corporately. Social Justice is far more concerned with corporate racism than individual racism, and therefore Social Justice is far more concerned with corporate repentance than individual repentance. The Social Justice term often used to describe corporate repentance is “racial reconciliation”.

Before we discuss corporate racial reconciliation, let us look at repentance at an individual level.

Repenting of Racist Thoughts

If a man has a racist thought and he keeps it to himself and has no racist words or deeds against anyone, then repentance would be taking such thoughts captive and not thinking such things in the future.

Repenting of Racist Words

If a man utters racist words, then repentance would be going to the person the words were spoken to and asking for forgiveness. It would be assumed that in asking for forgiveness the person is truly sorry and is not just attempting to save face. There would be an expectation of forgiveness in the event of a truly repentant apology, per the command of Christ:

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18: 21 – 22)

The gospel is demonstrated vividly in both the giving of a repentant apology and the receiving of it, for this is how God deals with us. When we come in true repentance to Christ, He truly receives it and forgives us our sins. The command to forgive up to seventy times seven is a direct attack against the natural desire of carnal man, who seeks disproportionate vengeance:

Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice, you wives of Lamech, give heed to my speech, for I have killed a man for wounding me; and a boy for striking me; If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold” (Genesis 4: 23 – 24)

Repenting of Racist Deeds

Because there are so many forms a racist deed could take, it is hard to detail repentance at an individual level. But it is quite possible repentance will need to be more than words – a repentant deed may need to follow a racist deed. This pattern is seen in the ministry of John the Baptist:

And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.” Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.” (Luke 3: 12 – 14)

John gave the people deeds appropriate to repentance, based on their specific circumstances. The same would hold true with a racist deed – if property were defaced or stolen based on racism, it would need to be repaired or returned. If an opportunity was taken away from someone based on racism, then repentance would be providing that opportunity again. The point is, there is a close relationship between the sin committed and the deeds that may be required to fulfill repentance.

Repenting Corporately

Now that we have briefly examined repentance at an individual level, we can turn to corporate racial reconciliation. Because the Social Justice definition of racism does not require individuals to have explicitly racist words, thoughts, or deeds, racial reconciliation does not look like the individual repentance we just walked through, where there is a clear sin and a clear person being sinned against. Instead, racial reconciliation focuses on altering policies and procedures. After all, if there is no explicit racism occurring at an individual level, then the racism that exists is to be found in the policies and procedures of those who make up the corporate body of racists. And what if there are no explicitly racist policies and procedures? Then the policies and procedures are implicitly racist by what they omit rather than by what they contain.

Do not take my word for this view of racial reconciliation. Instead, consider this sample from Christian leaders:

  • Matt Chandler, lead pastor of the Village Church, famously said he would hire an “African American 7” over an “Anglo 8” to ensure diversity on his staff. He then said he would not hire an “African American 6” over an “Anglo 8” because he wouldn’t want to be accused of tokenism. 1
  • Latasha Morrison, author of best-selling book Be The Bridge, tells the story of an affluent white lawyer who purchased a plantation so that he could give tours and run a museum that highlighted the horrors of slavery that had occurred on that plantation and elsewhere. 2
  • Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick Fil A, shined the shoes of Christian hip hop artist Lecrae during a panel discussion on race. 3
  • Russell Moore, head of the ERLC, said that worship styles might need to change so that the music sung on a Sunday morning or the liturgy adhered to would not be as white and segregating. 4
  • Beth Moore said that one needs to add more authors of color to their personal theological library, since Jesus was not white. 5
  • Pastor Eric Mason, author of the popular Woke Church, said that all blacks should get free college tuition for the next 200 years6

None of what has just been detailed in regards to racial reconciliation was an individual case of someone repenting of an explicitly racist sin. What was just detailed were procedural changes to routines and habits and customs in order to promote racial reconciliation. In the examples presented, the sins were not ones of commission, but rather omission. If you don’t intentionally hire people of color to your church staff, you are racist. If you don’t actively engage in highlighting the horrors of slavery, you are racist. If your worship songs are not diverse enough in sound and style, you are racist. If all the theological books you own are written by white people, you are racist.

If this whole thing seems odd to you, it should. The call to corporate repentance of all whites in the American church is a call based on no particular revelation from God, but on theological, economic, and sociological conjecture. The prescribed deeds of repentance are based on no particular revelation from God, but on the arbitrary whims of those speaking in the movement.

As one thinks about corporate repentance and racial reconciliation, one must ask, can a church in Seattle, Washington really be lumped together with a church in Montgomery, Alabama? Does God set aside all cultural relevancies and boundaries and charge all white Americans to corporately repent, for being white in America? In a country the size of America, with its diversity of cultures and ideas, it would seem hard to accuse an entire group of people with sin based on their skin color alone. Perhaps we can gain perspective by peering at the seven churches of Revelation. Christ viewed them, and named them, regionally. Jesus did not charge the “Church of Asia Minor” with sin. He spoke to seven distinct corporate bodies within Asia Minor, and charged each of them with sins relevant to themselves. Ephesus did not have to answer for Smyrna’s sins, and Smyrna did not have to answer for Pergamum’s sins. Each church was held to account for its own sin. There was no singular indictment made against the Church of Asia Minor.

To conclude, Social Justice has presented an argument for corporate repentance based on a multiplicity of conjecture. None of the key premises of the framework are proven facts. Much of the argument can be classified as a Third Commandment violation, since many of the premises could only be truthfully validated with divine revelation. Here again as reminder are the unproven facts of Christian Social Justice, which require divine revelation to be proven true:

  • God has charged white American Christians with racism
  • God uses the definition of racism that has been developed by Social Justice Advocates and Critical Race Theorists
  • God has given the ability to define corporate repentance to the Social Justice movement
  • God expects the white American Christians He has charged with racism to participate in racial reconciliation as defined by the Social Justice movement

There is one more bizarre premise undergirding corporate repentance which was not listed above. It is called generational sin and will be discussed in the next post. For now, as we think about all these things, let us focus our mind on the Third Commandment and be sure that whatever we believe about Social Justice, that we do not put words into God’s mouth. How horrible it would be to charge someone with sin that has not sinned. And how horrible would it be to mandate deeds of repentance that God has not mandated.

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20: 7)
The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, attributes, ordinances, Word, and works. (The Westminster Shorter Catechism)

You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks. (Luther’s Small Catechism)

  1. This statement is excerpted from his sermon A House Divided Cannot Stand and starts around the 25:35 mark.
  2. Chapter 4, pages 70 – 71
  3. This starts around the 38:57 mark of the dialogue titled The Beloved Community
  4. Let’s Crucify Our Worship Styles
  5. This is a secondary source quotation, as the primary source is Twitter and I could not find the original conversation. The quote starts shorty after the 12:20 mark of The Dividing Line
  6. The call for free college tuition was part of a sermon titled A Biblical Case For Reparations

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s