This past Sunday I had the honor of preaching at Apostles Uptown in Manhattan. During the service, John Starke took a moment to pastor his people through the recent events in Charlottesville. After hearing John's pastoral reflections, I thought our pastors and friends might appreciate hearing what he said. Thanks John! — Dave Harvey, Executive Director
Last weekend, a gathering of white supremacists and alt-right groups organized to protest a removal of a confederate memorial in Charlottesville, VA. The protest climaxed in violence on Saturday, with the death of one woman and the serious injury of several others who were counter-protesting the hate speech of the white supremacists.
Below is a statement shared on Sunday, August 13, 2017, at our morning and evening gatherings.
The Bible is very clear that the worldview of white nationalists, white supremacists, nazi groups, and alt-right groups are evil. Biblical Christianity is absolutely clear on that and it is satanic when Christians throughout history have not been clear on it.
Likely, none of us would identify as a white supremacists or a racist. And that may give us some relief, that we can distance ourselves from this problem as “over there” and not have to think about it at all. Here are three reasons why we may not be able to do that:
First, racism and white supremacy can take many forms, both socially and religiously. In many ways, racist groups can adopt traditional religious language or individuals can be explicitly supportive of social causes, like the pro-life cause. This has tempted Christians at times, to be patient with racism, especially white Christians. But in reality, white supremacists and racists are not pro-life. Being pro-life is about being pro-image of God in all human beings, which is not the case among alt-right, racist, white supremacist groups. We must not be patient with racism or white supremacy. We must call it out, reject it in all its forms. It is anti-Christian and an anti-gospel. It is an offense to the cross. These groups are working towards goals that the cross of Christ worked to end.
Second, racism is a doctrine of God issue. All human beings are made with the dignity of the image of God. So to hate or marginalize people of color is, in effect, to marginalize God. To slap and abuse a person of color, is to slap and abuse God. And to merely be silent, apathetic, or distancing of the problem is to distance ourselves from the honor and glory of God. God throughout history has sided with the marginalized in times of justice and judgement, so we must always, always, always be vigilant to side with God on this one. At some point, white supremacists will face a judgment throne, where the King will look like the black and brown people they have worked to marginalize in this life.
Third, since racism is a doctrine of God issue, then we must side with, support, defend, sacrifice for, and even participate with the marginalized. That’s what Jesus did with us: he sided with, supported, sacrificed for, and participated with us. As Christians, we don’t have an option to opt out of this one. We are called to be living sacrifices. We must clearly condemn racism in all forms, side with, sacrifice for, and participate with the marginalized. Their burden must become ours. We often use the language of this community becoming a safe and disarming community for the poor and marginalized. Safe and disarming is an impossible thing to accomplish when we merely distance ourselves from what many of our folks in our own church and our communities deal with every day. That means we must think clearly, listen to one another, read, participate, and joyfully become uncomfortable and potentially repent on a regular basis for attitudes, apathy, and maybe even resentment.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”’ Revelation 7:9-10