According to the New York Times, the rally on Saturday, August 12th was organized in opposition to a plan by local officials to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy’s top general, from Emancipation Park in Charlottesville.
On Sunday the 13th at Victory Church we spoke about these Neo Nazi actions as demonic and anti-gospel. We spoke about Charlottesville out of the context of oppression in
"Woe to those who scheme iniquity,
Who work out evil on their beds!
When morning comes, they do it,
For it is in the power of their hands.
They covet fields and then seize them,
And houses, and take them away.
They rob a man and his house,
A man and his inheritance."
Micah warns about those who plan and execute evil. The natural contextualization of scripture to culture is obvious -- this kind of blatant Neo Nazi racism is demonic.
Though, I find myself being a bit leery when I see many churches, frankly pastored by "elite white men", releasing "official" statements condemning these actions. At some level, it's an indictment. It makes me ask questions like why do we have to release a statement? Doesn't the culture know where the church stands on race? Shouldn't we be preaching on the sin of racism regularly? One could see such public statements as a token nod to our African-American citizens or worse simply disingenuous -- "I have a black friend therefore I condemn this action".
(Side note: As a Tex-Mex, my latin heritage comes from the Spanish colonization of Mexico so I have some sense of what racism looks like. I too have stories.)
It causes me to ask self penetrating questions like:
"Do I read, listen and teach about what the 'new' Jim Crow looks like in American life"?
The answer to these questions is "Yes" but not nearly enough.
It just seems too convenient to jump on the social justice train and a little opportunistic. Though if "white elite pastor's" don't say something then do they / we / I are accused of "the silence is defeating" motif. What to do?
It seems one answer is message consistency --
being consistent on the sin of racism brings a level of credibility.
Here at Victory Church, we released an official statement calling for a time of confession and repentance (James 5:16) over the sin of racism. Why? Because we understand the sins of our fathers. We regularly address and live with the historical issue of racism.
We live in York-Poquoson in the Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia. We fully understand the diabolical history and live with the residual effects of the structural sin of racism. It is estimated that 127,200 slaves were brought through the Chesapeake Bay. Every time I go to the store, the golf course, a restaurant or coach one of my 7th grade soccer players. I'm keenly aware of our collective heritage. Our heritage is slavery.
The answer is not to take down statues and flags one answer is to humble ourselves, pray and confess and repent from our wicked ways so God will indeed heal our land (2 Chron 7:14). We cannot rewrite of history but we can call for a reassessment of history. Instead of looking at these monuments of pride we should view these monuments as a reminder of our misguided past.
We have to tell the truth. It's not pretty. It's not easy.
We must confess & repent of racism then go and sin no more.
As a pastor who leads a faith community who's mission is to "Invite people to discover Jesus in everyday life" it is obvious to me that we simply are not praying, teaching and repenting enough. The "white church" allowed this worldview to continue not only a few hours away but these kinds of attitudes exist in our own communities.
I love Virginia, and I want it to be "for lovers" though we as a faith community have a long away to go towards repentance and loving those whom we have robbed a man, his house, and his inheritance." Micah 2:2