I hadn’t heard about James White’s infamous Facebook post until after the firestorm was well underway. He had already recorded and published a video responding to people who had taken offense at his characterizations and assumptions regarding a black youth that White had spotted flipping off a police officer and littering with an empty drink container.

White’s observations led him to draw a line from sagging pants and a belligerent attitude to a past of fatherlessness and a future of infanticide. Fatherlessness is certainly a problem that needs to be addressed (in all ethnic communities based on my experiences here in white suburbia) and you’ve already heard what I have to say about the pro-abortion industry. But to project deep-seated societal problems onto the actions of a 15-year-old boy and then critique an entire culture because of them? People were understandably upset.

We had a behind-the-scenes conversation here at Reformed Margins about whether we should respond but nothing ever came of it. By the time we would have been ready to say something, Jemar Tisby had already published a helpful critique and other voices had chimed in as well. Maybe we should have spoken up, but it seemed the subject was being put to rest.

But then our friend Ekemini Uwan wrote a piece for RAAN expressing the need for white brothers and sisters, as well as other non-black ethnic minorities, to speak up on these issues. She helpfully called on those of us in the Reformed world to use whatever platforms we have to join our African-American brothers and sisters in pushing the conversation forward. I was challenged and spurred on to continue speaking as a show of support for those different than me.

James White didn’t find the article very helpful at all and said so. He decried the “racial lenses” being used by Ekemini and others, accusing them of being co-opted by sociology and secularism. White implied that those who challenged him weren’t quite biblical in their worldviews and that their arguments actually ran counter to the mission of the Gospel.

It’s important to note that this is the second time in just a few weeks that a minority thinker in the Reformed world has been castigated from daring to talk about racial issues in ways majority culture finds distasteful. This latest social-media dust up smacked of the earlier attacks on Thabiti Anyabwile that Andrew has already discussed. As minorities enter into the Reformed conversation and begin to shape it, some are pushing back with claims that the voices of minorities are influenced too much by the world and aren’t falling in line with the Reformed rank-and-file.

The claim is correct in one regard: we’re not falling in line. We’re talking about things and using categories that are somewhat new to the Reformed conversation. Brothers and sisters, this isn’t liberalism. This isn’t “mission drift” or the creeping influence of the world. This is what happens when the Reformed tradition begins to experience the growing pains of change.

Now, we could see this as an opportunity. We could see this as a chance for iron to sharpen iron, to build one another up in the faith, to deepen our love for Christ and our love for one another through the reconciling work that is done under the banner of the cross. We could see the broadening of the Reformed tradition as an opportunity to further develop our thoughts, to bring to bear the whole counsel of God, and the implications of categories like justification and sanctification for equally important ideas of unity and diversity. We have stumbled upon an amazing opportunity in the Reformed tradition to image God’s desire for the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that is defined by the mission of God. In Christ, God has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, reconciling the world back to himself and in the process reconciling various peoples and nations into one diverse people (Ephesians 2, 1 Corinthians 5, 1 Peter 2).

And yet there are some who are steadfastly against this progress within the Reformed tradition. Perhaps it is because of a knee-jerk suspicion of all things progressive, a refusal to believe that there is a need for progress in the first place. Perhaps there is a longing for those “days gone by,” those assumedly golden years that are a fiction to all outside the old guard of white Reformed Christianity.

Well, those days are gone. Good riddance. Minorities are here and are demanding a fair hearing. Of course, we are passionate about many of the same things as our white brothers and sisters. We want to see the sovereignty of God declared authoritatively from pulpits in all churches. We want people to recognize the beauty of a God who saves by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone as revealed in Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone. We want people to have a high regard for Scripture and an appreciation for the deep things of God. But we also want people to realize that the Gospel continues beyond Ephesians 2:10 and forces us to embrace the very racial lenses White denounces in order to display the Kingdom of God to a broken world.

I learned the power of these truths because of the ministry of my white brothers and sisters. It was white writers and preachers that introduced me to the world of Reformed theology. And so I am indebted and thankful for the work of my white brothers and sisters in the Reformed world. I am not the only minority that was brought in to the Reformed tradition because of the work of my white brothers and sisters.

Well, now we’re in the tradition. And there are things in the tradition that have been neglected because of the relatively monolithic worldview that the Reformed tradition long held. This is not the fault of our white brothers and sisters. They cannot be expected to have worldviews like our black and Latino and Asian brothers and sisters. We cannot expect to hold worldviews that are naturally foreign to us because of ethnicity, background, etc. But we can listen to those other worldviews and together deepen our understanding of one another in the love of Christ.

When minorities began to embrace the Reformed tradition, we brought something in with us. And it is a valuable thing. And it will require all of us to learn from one another. Sometimes, it will mean being told that you were wrong. I know acknowledging your mistakes or your blind spots is a difficult and painful thing. I understand because I have had to do so many times. But if we are to grow as a tradition, if we are to sharpen one another and build one another up in the faith, then we must begin acknowledging our faults. We must allow others to point out our blind spots. And we cannot respond with vitriol whenever our weaknesses are pointed out.

Dear brothers and sisters, we have the opportunity not only to learn from one another but to help each other grow. In order to do this we must listen to one another and truly hear one another. James White missed the opportunity to learn. To grow. To move toward a better and stronger church in light of the challenges put forward by Ekemini, Jemar, and others.

It is a sad missed opportunity. And a frustrating one for the many minorities who have taken a seat at the Reformed the table. Because we love the tradition as much as our white brothers and sisters. We do not claim to be Reformed because we are trying to take territory away from anyone. We claim the name Reformed because this is where our convictions lie. Now that we have brought new backgrounds and new presuppositions into the room, the Reformed tradition will begin to change. I believe it’s a healthy change in a fuller, more robust direction. So let’s work together through these growing pains and build one another up in peace and love as Christ so desires.

Posted by Marcos Ortega

Marcos married up and has two beautiful daughters. After growing up in Arizona and going to college in San Diego, he and his family moved to the Philadelphia area so he could go to seminary. In May of 2016, he graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary and is a candidate under care in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. He is also a program director at an awesome church just outside the city. Fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, Sixers, Union, Phillies, and Flyers (in that order), he loves and writes about Jesus, theology, culture, sports, movies, music (except country), and good books.

31 Comments

  1. I sometimes think part of the reason that the American Church in general has issues with discussing race, is partly due to fear and lack of experience.

    I’ll make the point that I agree with you, in that it’s dangerous and isn’t beneficial for anyone to judge an entire race or culture based on the actions of a single one of it’s members.

    In regards to a lack of experience, you have a lot of leaders who have never really spent much time considering these topics. The United States is much more diverse than many other areas where missions and churches seek to serve, and thus each separate culture is somewhat insulated from the others. In this way, church leaders are figuring out first hand that it’s in no way a simple topic, nor is it cut and dry. There are various shades of grey and a multitude of methods for approaching the topic of race and culture within our nation, but many I think are not well equipped.

    Fear is probably a larger issue. Part of the fear I can see, is that we each see race and culture differently. Koreans for instance are very aware of their familial customs, language, culture, etc., that are rooted in their origins. Most white Americans don’t seem to realize they possess and exhibit the exact same set characteristics, just unique to their families and origins. There is a certain fear I see among white friends that they are unable to take part in these sorts of discussions. They fear their opinions don’t count, or are irrelevant. They fear they will be labelled racists, or that they are viewed as the source of racial injustice. Television, and the media perpetuate this potential outcome with the “awkward white guy” role in any movie where they have to interact with minorities (no matter how unrealistic). Rather than participate in any discussions on the topic, they avoid it entirely. This fear characterizes their entire approach towards the topic of race and culture.

    Now I’ve personally never felt this way, and have no qualms discussing the topic, but I see it in my fellow compatriots of pale complexion (lol). This is often why people say “all lives matter”. They’re afraid to talk about it. We do have to approach the topic with patience and grace as this is certainly one requiring incredible wisdom and Godliness, but that doesn’t negate in any way the importance of the topic. I think race and culture are tremendously important topics to understand and comprehend, as these very misunderstandings or mischaracterizations of others have lead to great violence throughout history. Ethnic cleansings in recent history are one such terrible side effect of a building hatred and percieved “otherness” towards people who don’t look, think, act, and talk “like us”.

    Keep talking, praying, and spreading wisdom. I believe these are simply growing pains, but I do believe we’ll get through it.

    Stay courageous!

    Reply

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Dennis!

      I think you’re right: fear is a major silencer when it comes to these issues. I hope that we can model a spirit of conversation that encourages listening before speaking, prayer before action, and repentence before retaliating. It’s hard to have these conversations, but I’m incredibly thankful to those who are willing to do the hard work of diving deep.

      Reply

  2. Now, to be fair, I do believe that Dr. White brought up some valid points in his response that is applicable and worth considering. While race is something we must consider (where I agree with you), I personally find our modern internet/facebook/twitter “outrage culture” repulsive (in that I agree with White). We crucify everyone over the tiniest detail, while failing to allow ourselves to be placed under the same scrutiny. We constantly accuse the famous of various sins and wickedness, but deride even passing criticism of our own walk and lives. While men and women in positions of power and authority are certainly at the mercy of a more stringent set of standards, we must also judge ourselves by the measure in which we judge others.

    This goes along with the fear I mentioned earlier. It is socially and morally acceptable to discuss the ills of the “white man” (and to be fair, I think we need some healthy criticism), while it is not morally or socially acceptable (as a white person) to discuss the ills of a minorities culture. To do so, is social and cultural suicide.

    I do think that you each must be willing to look in your hearts and contemplate some of Dr. White’s points however, as I do believe that this entire debate can be useful to both sides. I believe that this was blown way out of proportion though, and I do think the accusations thrown at him are questionable, but not entirely without basis. He certainly could have said things differently, taken a different approach, or maybe have never posted originally in the first place, but it’s too late now. Be careful not to simply “stir the pot”.

    Sure we need to analyze things that public figures say or do, but sometimes I think publicly and loudly accusing someone of racism when it’s hardly clear that that’s true won’t change a thing. If anything, I believe this only builds more walls, creates more interracial strife, and leads to further feelings of “otherness”.

    While I encouraged you previously, be sure that you also encourage others through your writing and speaking. It’s easy to throw stones at Dr. White and anyone else here at Reformed Margins, but how much more difficult is it to be encouraging, to speak words of kindness, joy, and forgiveness? It’s easy to have a platform by which we can complain and judge everyone, and that’s something I personally am extremely, sinfully talented at. I must work daily to focus on the positive aspects of my family, to encourage my wife and children, rather than focus on judging and critiquing their each and every flaw. Sure, we shouldn’t tolerate wickedness and sinfulness, but there is a time and a place for these things. We just often give the judging priority #1.

    Reply

  3. Chris Simmons April 1, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    This piece really rankled me. I hate seeing the word “white” used the way it is, as if there is a Reformed monolith out there. I’m also bothered by the sense of moral authority the author seems to appropriate for “minorities.” If you were waving the flag for others who feel they are on the margins to come run behind you, I think you’re writing this the right way. If you want to encourage gracious, irenic, inclusive dialogue, I don’t see this as a positive step. There has been a conversation taking place with eager ears on many sides between those in developing countries and those in the Western world, Southern hemisphere and Northern hemisphere and those Who perceive themselves as being more central and more marginal for 50+ years within Reformed circles. One of the most gracious human beings hosting that conversation was Harvie Conn. Given how insular your institution has become, I can see how one might be unaware of that, but please don’t perpetuate the tone of this piece.

    Reply

    1. I feel the same way. I have attended a “black (mostly so) Reformed church and found that the worldview crosses color lines that are many times artificial. Reformed means sola fide, sola Scriptura, sola Christo and many churches of one race or another in majority buy into the worldview. In fact, the leadership in the PCA church of blackness was far more faithful to Calvin/Luther/Knox/Owens than the “white” PCA church that I attended that was confused as to what the Reformation stood for.

      I knew the chief elder in that black church and I learned from him even though I had read the Reformed fathers extensively.

      God gives the truth to those ready for it and indoctrination by “whites” is not necessary when the truth is expressed by another name.

      I have listened to African black pastors who I would consider it a privilege to sit under.

      Reply

  4. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard Voddie or Thabiti or Conrad Mbewe and wondered what their ethnicity was because they preached the sovereignty of Almighty God, the glorious majesty of Jesus the Messiah and His perfect work of atonement for His people. As a caucasian middle-aged man, I gloried in God’s mercy and grace. They don’t make the gospel about “Black Lives Matter” because all lives matter. Never heard it.

    I can rejoice in Shai Linne’s marvelous lyrical theology and praise God that He redeems and gifts such men as these and I praise Him for these gifts to the Church.

    Ekemini Uwan and comments of support for her on Twitter appear to locate their identity in a community who are “hurting” and grieved by Dr. White’s comments. Are not we who are redeemed of the Lord forgiven of such an infinite mountain of personal sin that we should be ready to forgive others even these offences (Matt 18:21-35)? Will not God, who said, “vengence is mine, I will repay” avenge all injustice done. Should not grieved believers seek their consolation in the One true God who alone exalts and brings down and judges rightly? Or is it that we don’t want to wait? It reads like there is a demand that wrongs be righted now – when the singular mandate to all believers of every colour, tribe and tongue is to extend the glory of God to the ends of the earth NOT overthrow “white privilege” by social justice. That will come when Jesus the Messiah returns. Until then we need to go preach “repent and believe”.

    It could have been any ethnicity and Dr. White still would have decried it. Of this I feel quite certain. He doesn’t know me from Adam 😉 so it’s not like I have a stake in this. As a minister of God it would be a reproach to the Lord and the Gospel he claims to serve to hate anyone for his or her colour or elevate his ethnicity. He called out behavior and mapped it to a sin-stained culture. Now he’s being pilloried for not being “politically correct”.

    This is simply another device of the enemy to create division and discord within the Body to cause us all to forget our first love. Love for others.

    There are calls for “more dialogue”. In Progressive terms that’s code for talking someone into submitting to their point using emotional language of damage and hurt.

    I imagine that a debate would intrigue Dr. White if the thesis was clear, biblically supportable, and subject to hard cross-examination for a positive and negative position. See debate clarifies. Dialogue diffuses. 😉

    Thanks for reading my rant. Grace and peace to you.

    Reply

  5. I don’t understand the pre-occupation so many people have with being a minority.
    I am a person of Asian ancestry who was born in America and grew up overseas. Even though I fit the description of being in a minority group, I don’t consider myself a minority. Why? Perhaps because I travel to Asia every year and witness with my own eyes how many people there are of Asian ancestry. There are 5 times more Chinese in this world than there are Americans. There are 4 times more Indians (from India) than there are Americans. So who is truly the minority?
    It is a fact that Americans who are Caucasians or are of a European ancestry constitute the largest group of Americans. Nevertheless, because I have a global perspective of life, I don’t see myself as a minority in this world that we live in.

    I think people who see themselves as a minority have not spent much time living overseas. It is astounding to me how many Americans of Asian ancestry have spent so little, or no time in Asia. Many have been to Europe but not to Asia – no wonder they feel like they are a minority.

    Reply

    1. Thanks for the interaction, Mr. W. You are right. White Americans are a minority in the global perspective. It needs to be clarified, though, that “minority” is a very contextual term. In the context of America, the Chinese are not a majority. The context that this blog post and this whole blog site are primarily concerned with is the context of American evangelicalism (particularly the Reformed strand), in which the Chinese voice, along with the black, latino, south and southeast Asian voices are all minorities. Also, to speak of “minorities” isn’t just about numbers, but it’s also about influence and integrity. Even if there are more Asians in the world than Europeans and North Americans, the dominant powers still largely lie in the West, especially when it comes to evangelicalism and theology.

      To not understand certain minorities’ preoccupation with being a minority betrays a certain amount of privilege, in my opinion. Perhaps you are not currently confronted with the harsh realities of your minority status as, say, the Black community in America, or the working class Asian Americans. My prayer for you, and for myself, as participants in middle-class, suburban, Asian American culture, is that we not take our situations for granted or begin to believe that we deserve such status and comfort on the basis of our own pure merits. The global perspective that you speak of is indeed a valuable perspective, but please keep in mind that the ability to have a global perspective is largely tied up with privilege. Mobility, both social and geographical, demonstrates privilege. Those of us with privilege, particularly the blessing of traveling overseas, would do well not to be condescending toward those who don’t have the same privilege of seeing the world as we do.

      Insofar, as you don’t understand so many people’s preoccupation with being a minority, may I kindly encourage you to recognize your privileged status as a minority who hasn’t been burned as much by the often harsh realities of a minority status, and consider how you might serve others who are less privileged.

      Reply

      1. You’re welcome Mr. Ong. I think we can communicate on a public forum without having to use formalities to address each other. So if you don’t mind, let’s just address each other by our first names like everyone else.

        I am learning very fast that posting on a public forum, is an open invitation for others to make assumptions about me and to “put me in my place”.

        When I posted my comment, I knew some people might not like it. However since I was posting a comment on a Christian forum of highly educated people I was not expecting such a patronizing response.

        The first part of your response Andrew was good and addressed the question that I posed.

        What surprised me was how without knowing the facts you then proceeded to;
        1. Suggest that perhaps I am not familiar with the “harsh realities of your minority status say, the Black community in America, or the working class Asian Americans.”
        2. Assume that I “take our situations for granted or begin to believe that we deserve such status and comfort on the basis of our own pure merits.”
        3. Suggest that I am “condescending toward those who don’t have the same privilege of seeing the world as we do.

        You are wrong on all of the above.
        1. I have familiarity with the economic plight of the Black community from well over 10 years of interacting with and getting to know low income African American residents of Oakland, and I definitely know many poor and working class Asian Americans and what they have to deal with. I probably have far more exposure and interaction with them than you do. I also personally know multiple former illegal aliens from Mexico, including one who was a former convict.

        2. Because you don’t know me, you don’t know how thankful I am to have all of the blessings that I have, and I never assume that I am entitled to anything. Just ask my kids, they will tell you.

        3. If you choose to make negative assumptions of others, then anything anyone says can be twisted to be condescending. There is nothing condescending in what I posted. I did make the point that I am surprised that so many Americans of Asian ancestry have spent “so little, or no time in Asia”. This was not in reference to those who do not have the means to travel, but in reference to those who do have the means. I think that Asian Americans who spend time in Asia will feel “less” like a minority than those who never set foot in Asia. I felt like a minority for over 40 years of my life, but once my eyes were truly opened with how many people there are of Asian ancestry, I stopped seeing myself as a “minority”.

        You wrote that I should “recognize your privileged status as a minority who been burned as much by the often harsh realities of a minority status”. It is your practice to make such judgments of others without any idea of their actual background? I know from personal experience far more about the harsh realities of a minority status than you ever will Andrew.

        It is truly laughable that someone like you who grew up in a privileged middle income environment in one of the most prosperous and tolerant areas on the planet, would have the hubris to tell me that I am “…a minority who hasn’t been burned as much by the often harsh realities of a minority status”.

        You have no idea of what it is like to be on the receiving end of vicious and institutionalized racism. Do you know what it is like to grow up in a country where the Chinese language was banned? Where it was illegal to import or distribute any literature that had Chinese characters? Where Chinese New Year was illegal?

        When I was a teenager, I absolutely hated the fact that I was born with a Chinese ethnicity and was part of a tiny and totally defenseless minority group. I totally rejected my cultural heritage that was so hated and discriminated against by the majority population. As a teen, I wanted to have absolutely nothing to do with anything that was Chinese. (Thankfully I fully embrace my ethnicity and heritage now).

        Do you know what it is like to be part of a minority group that is always used as the scapegoat and punching bag for the society at large? Just one example: In 1998 when there was political turmoil, Chinatown in the city that I grew up in was attacked, ransacked, and burned. Innocent people of Chinese ancestry who had absolutely nothing to do with politics were murdered and women raped. Where anytime there is any kind of social turmoil, the minority group that you belong to could be in mortal danger? This has been ongoing for a long time. The so called race riots in the US are very tame in comparison.

        Do you have any idea why my last name is not a Chinese name even though I was born with one? Do you have any idea why three months after turning 19 I gave up my former citizenship to live in the US for the rest of my life, by myself? Why would I leave my family that I loved so much and move across the Pacific Ocean forever? At the age of 19?
        Have you ever experienced anything like those harsh realities of being part of a defenseless and heavily discriminated minority with no legal protections? No you haven’t. So please get out of your ivory tower and investigate the facts before passing judgement on others.

        The reality is that the US is the best country in the world to be a minority. Just think about it, why do so many Mexicans make the very risky journey to smuggle into the US despite all of the harsh realities of being a Latino in the US, especially if you are an illegal one? If things are so bad in the US for minorities, why do so many people who are members of minority groups want to live here? Because there are so many resources, opportunities, and protections afforded to them.

        Saying that I do not see myself as a minority is a frame of mind. It is not a denial of my ethnicity or of my cultural heritage (both which I now totally embrace and accept). I believe in treating everyone equally and fairly regardless of their ethnicity or cultural heritage, and do not view mine as either less or better than someone else’s.

        Reply

        1. Hello Peter.

          I just re-read my response to you, and I deserve your apparently unhappy response. Please forgive me for the judgmental impression I gave in my former reply. Having re-read my comment, I think I could’ve used a lot more tact, and more carefully worded my main point. I really should have used less 2nd person singular pronouns (you). 1st person plurals (we) would’ve had a nicer touch. I hope you are willing to forgive me for any offense or hurt that I may have caused. I really do respect you and your perspectives.

          I’m not going to contest your experience as a suffering minority, nor your knowledge of many blacks’ and latinos’ economic plights. Like I’ve told you before, I admire your social conscience, and really do believe that you have more exposure to such than myself. Neither do I contest that you have experienced far more racism than I ever will. I wasn’t suggesting that I know more about blacks and latinos than you or that I understand racism better than you. I poorly tried to point out that as Asians there is a real sense in which we will never fully understand the non-Asian minority experience. Still, I realize how flippant and insensitive I came across, so please forgive me for that. Though I am aware of the sad history of the Chinese Indonesians, you are correct in that I don’t know what it’s like to experience pretty much all of the things you mentioned above. Thank you for the good reminder that I am very much in an ivory tower. This is something I do reflect upon quite often, believe it or not.

          If you will allow me to clarify my intentions, I would be very grateful.

          The main thrust of my comment was to address your statement that you “don’t understand the pre-occupation so many people have with being a minority” and your thought that “people who see themselves as a minority have not spent much time living overseas.” These two lines struck me as possibly insensitive and myopic because I read them as honest questions, yet questions that could possibly lead to attitudes like: “why do minorities complain so much?!” or “people just need to get out and see the world more, so they can relax and not make such a fuss about being ‘minorities'”. I myself have been insensitive and myopic when it comes to issues of social justice and race, so I simply wanted to raise some points that helped me be a little bit more sensitive and have a wider perspective. I honestly did not know if the same was true of you or not, but I thought I’d share anyway. In other words, the thoughts I shared with you, could very well have been preached to myself. I just made the foolish mistake of employing “you” instead of “we.” So my comments were not primarily leveled at you, Peter W. (with all of your harsh life experiences), but really all of us middle class Asian Americans who should continually reflect upon all the good gifts God has given us and how we might use them to serve those who are still struggling.

          The intention wasn’t to put you in your place, so much as it was to raise perspectives to balance the ones you shared. And again, I don’t blame you for believing that my intention was to put you in your place or that I was being patronizing. It is not my practice to make judgements upon others without knowing them well. However, may I just clarify that I was speaking of privilege broadly. I recognize that there is diversity amongst Asians in what kinds of racism and suffering they experience. I totally believe that you’ve suffered more as an Asian than I have. Still, I do believe that there is a general and common privilege that both of us have as Asian minorities, which other types of minorities are not afforded. In one sense, being Asian, especially today, means not having to face some of the harsh realities that other minorities face. That was all I meant by encouraging you to recognize your privilege, which is something we should all continually be doing.

          Perhaps I can clarify it like this: I over-generalized and was speaking to you as one Asian to another Asian instead of as Andrew to Peter. However, I failed to recognize the particularity and diversity within the Asian experience, such that I did not acknowledge how different your (by no means monolithic) “Asian” experience might be from mine, and for that I am truly sorry.

          Thank you for calling me out on my suggestive and tactless comments and assumptions. I’ve learned a lot from interaction with you and will definitely be more careful in the future.

          Reply

          1. Hi Andrew,

            Thank you for your response and for understanding where I was coming from. I’m glad to hear that you are familiar with the plight of minorities overseas because it can help in your understanding and interactions with them.

            I also want to acknowledge that I could have worded my original post more carefully.

            “I’ve learned a lot from interaction with you and will definitely be more careful in the future.”
            I am happy that you find our interaction helpful and wish you the very best with your studies in Scotland.
            My father also got his Phd., so I know how challenging it can be to pursue one.

          2. Thanks for the kind words and glad to be reconciled, Peter. It’s a powerful apologetic to the unity and reconciliation that Christ has won for us both. I hope this exchange hasn’t discouraged you from continuing to critically interact with our content. It’s good for all of us to hear your perspectives.

  6. Stephen Davis April 2, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Sorry but at what point did Dr White “critique an entire culture”?

    Are you implying that “black culture” is defined by “fatherlessness” and “infanticide”?

    Reply

  7. Dustin Butler April 2, 2016 at 7:10 am

    I love this piece. Especially your honesty about (the Holy Spirit through) “white” brothers and sisters leading you to a reformed understanding of faith. It is a cool thought to think of diversity growing so my children will be able to read and interact with people, to grow and expand their love of Jesus! Wow, how like our God, people from every tribe, tongue and race.

    Reply

  8. “This is not the fault of our white brothers and sisters. They cannot be expected to have worldviews like our black and Latino and Asian brothers and sisters. We cannot expect to hold worldviews that are naturally foreign to us because of ethnicity, background, etc”

    I’m having trouble accepting that within Reformed Christianity we are supposed to have different worldviews. I agree there are different ethnicities that we all need to learn about and appreciate, and that we often fail miserably in stepping out to walk in another’s shoes. But a worldview should not be equated with an ethnicity. There are two basic worldviews that any person can have: one in which God is sovereign and the other in which man is. I don’t like this “white worldview” and “black worldview” and “Asian worldview” etc. We who are Christians, and reformed, since that’s the audience here, should be united in all things biblical while appreciating our diverse ethnicity as one of the ways in which God has been pleased to show his character. I want to learn about your ethnicity and you should want to learn about mine. I didn’t choose my ethnicity and you didn’t choose yours, God did. We are, after all, one race: the race called mankind, descended from Adam.

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  9. I am somewhat confused by your words. It seems to be that you are saying that the reformed faith needs to be reformed by black and other cultural groups. It seems that you are saying that black and other such groups are to be a reforming force within the reformed faith. I am under the conviction that all culture is subject to the word of God. It is to be reformed by and shaped by the word of God. Blacks have nothing to offer when it comes to reforming anything. Neither do whites for that matter. Reformation if it is to take place is based upon the objective truth of God’s word and all cultures are under it’s authority and our world views are to be conformed to and changed by its authority. You alluded to the blacks etc.. having a world view that can help reform those within the reformed faith. If that world view is not biblical, if it is not based upon unity between races based upon the gospel then it is an anti-biblical world view that should be whole-heartedly rejected.

    Reply

  10. “But we also want people to realize that the Gospel continues beyond Ephesians 2:10 and forces us to embrace the very racial lenses White denounces in order to display the Kingdom of God to a broken world.” Can anyone give a sound, exegetical basis for this statement? Where does the Bible tell us to embrace a racial lens?

    ” We cannot expect to hold worldviews that are naturally foreign to us because of ethnicity, background, etc.” Aren’t we to hold a Christian worldview? Is there a white Christian worldview, and a black Christian worldview, and a Hispanic Christian worldview, and an Asian Christian worldview, and … The Bible only knows of one Christian worldview; one that does not include a racial lens.

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    1. What do you mean when you say “embrace a racial lens”? I think what Marcos is trying to say with the phrase “racial lens” is that it is a false dichotomy to say that as Christians we must see through a gospel lens and not a racial lens. We do both. Our ethnicities are not something to be ignored in favor of a more “gospel” perspective. The Apostle Paul embraced something like a “racial lens” in order to display the Kingdom of God and spread the gospel to all people. Here’s what Paul says in 1 Cor 9:19-23: 19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1Co 9:19-23 ESV)

      Paul is saying here that there is much to gain from adopting another culture or ethnicity (or racial lens, if you will) for the sake of the gospel. Paul didn’t take a proud attitude that said, “I’m gonna ignore the racial distinctions. I’m just gonna focus on the gospel!” Instead, he asked, how can I use these racial distinctions for the purpose of the gospel? Hudson Taylor, pioneering missionary to China, did the same thing when he was persecuted for adopting Chinese culture to win them for the gospel. He certainly had a “racial lens” that recognized the different worldviews of the Chinese. He didn’t see his British worldview as superior.

      On what exegetical grounds would you say the Bible only knows of one Christian worldview? I think defining what we mean when we say “worldview” would be helpful. “Worldview” is commonly defined as “a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.” People from different cultures have different worldviews; they view the world through a particular lens that is influenced by their upbringing, traditions, culture, language, etc. etc. Becoming a Christian does not erase this. I’ve worshiped with Christians from Asia, Africa, and Europe, and I can tell you that Christians in Africa express their faith through a very different worldview than Christians in parts of Asia or America (just look at how different their services are as one example!). Christians in certain parts of Africa also understand race differently than Christians in America. How do you explain this? This is due to their differing worldview. I think Marcos is trying to point out that having different worldviews under the one banner of Christ is helpful to the body. It won’t do for us to simply try and make all Christians who differ from us conform to our worldview. Instead, we have to try and learn from each other. I come from a Korean background, so I have in some ways grown up with two worldviews (American and Korean). By joining the Reformed community, my perspective will cause some friction, but it will result in a mutual sharpening that helps the church. I, too, have much to learn from those who don’t share my worldview (including many white brothers and sisters in Christ!). I just don’t think it is helpful to say “the Bible knows of one Christian worldview.” If that’s the case, I can tell you that the worldview I see in the Bible is often at odds with the American worldview..

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      1. I agree with your last statement. The “American worldview” is in many respects horribly wrong. Worldview is about fundamental presuppositions about the nature of reality. There is only One True God from whom the created order can understand nothing apart from Him and we are to bow down to His revealed law. That is a worldview that informs how we relate to Him, what He requires of us and why we must love Him and one another. That’s a worldview and in fact I would humbly submit to you that 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 provides a basis for exegeting worldview. Everything must be taken captive to make it obedient to Christ.

        Would you say the African Prosperity Gospel movement is a legitimate worldview that must be welcomed into the Reformed community and given validity? I trust not. All peoplen that know the One True God, who are humble and repent of their sins; have been born again by the power the Holy Spirit and make disciples in order to extend God’s glory to the ends of the earth. That’s a worldview we want to be part of (even for white people ;).

        It has been said and I think it’s valid: we need missionaries to come to North America. American evangelicalism as we see it portrayed in the media with some whopping helpings of lunacy needs to be torn down.

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        1. Thanks for your thoughts, Peter. No, the African Prosperity Gospel is not a legitimate gospel. I don’t think I’d call it a “worldview,” but I think it might come from an aspect of a certain worldview. The African Prosperity Gospel, as far as I know, is a product of America. It was exported from America and in many ways is a result of a very American worldview.

          And amen – we must all make disciples to extend God’s glory to the ends of the earth. And God is using people from many different worldviews to proclaim the one gospel of Christ to the entire world.

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  11. Manley C. Beasley April 2, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Much of the attitude of this article is unloving and unacceptable. Dr. White is a brother and should be treated with love. The author is attacking Dr. White because he disagrees with his assumptions about a kid? In God’s church we will love our brethren of all races but we will not accept this infiltration of postmodernism and its backdoor division and accusations. God’s people have ONE worldview. God’s people do not beat their chests and promise to cause trouble for others. I (for one) call on this writer and others involved to repent of this ungodliness and disrespect to an elder and leader of God’s people.

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  12. That we are hopeless, helpless, and harassed without Christ is the lens. So delighted to see this generation wrestling with significant issues and not loosing site of the “Go” in the process. Carry on.

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  13. Jonathan Edwards April 3, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Marcos,
    There are so many things wrong about your article that I don’t even know where to begin. In fact the idea of even trying to address them is so overwhelming that it seems futile. And this is the observation of a BLACK REFORMED BAPTIST. There is just too much conflation in what you have wrote.

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  14. The most obvious blunder of White’s article is that he continues to insist that his initial FB post did not contain,” a single word, not a syllable, in that little 545 word post about black Christians, black churches, Christianized CRT, or anything else”. If that were true, then why does he keep defending his right to opine on RACIAL issues in regard to that post? His initial defense was not that the post did not address a young black man AS a black man, but that White was simply “the wrong color to be discussing racial issues”. James White has a really bad habit of this kind of constant equivocation and bifurcation. His initial Facebook post did exactly that. He used “buzzwords” of common rhetoric known to implicate the black community, and he even defended his reasons for doing so by pointing to BLACK STATISTICS on abortion and fatherlessness. White needs to pick and excuse and stick with it.

    What White is doing is comparing his own black Christian Reformed followers to the radical side of other black movements, and equating black complaints from CHRISTIANS as the same narrative insisted on by the likes of DeRay Mckesson and his ilk. What White ignores is that many of those offended by his FB post ALSO detest many of the actions taken by Black Lives Matter activists; yet White insists that his own Reformed followers are “ethnic gnostics”, and even accused them of being unsaved (his first Dividing Line response was to explain how gnostics acquired salvation through secret knowledge which implies that those he presumed to be “ethnic gnostics” were attempting to be saved through some kind of socio- cultural gospel view).

    White continues to maintain that he was discussing “sin issues” and that his defense is a “gospel issue”. That’s pure nonsense. Not once did he ever discuss that kids sin nature, nor what he or anyone else in his position could do about it (like, going to the cross). His original post was a RANT, period, not an analysis about the sin nature of a general pool of ALL individuals, but about one black kid IN PARTICULAR and then on to the hasty generalization of an entire black community.

    White has GROSSLY misrepresented the complaints and critiques of his own followers, and changes his story with every new post on the matter. Of course, White deflects the charge of racism by pointing to his “debates with Muslims”. However, Islam is not a race, it’s a religion. It is worth noting that White has never, to my knowledge, debated any BLACK Muslims in America from the Nation of Islam, the largest population of Muslims in America (and some of the most radical). It is hard to fathom how someone could claim such a thorough apologetic to the Islamic community as a defense against racism, while neglecting the largest Islamic population in his own back yard, which happen to be black.

    There are those who do view the world through a radical racial lens, but that does not describe the Christians who were offended at White’s comments. I can just imagine White telling Rosa Parks, “stop complaining about the back of the bus, you’re simply looking through a radical racial lens”. As much as I hate the racist attitudes of many BLM activists (and lets keep it real, when you attack a white cop simply because he’s white, or play a “knock out game” on a white person, you’re a racist as much as James White is), there is no denying that there are still large pockets of systematic racial targeting of blacks by whites. White was given several examples in numerous responses, but chose to marginalize all of his detractors, and that has only complicated the racial tension.

    Nobody is asking White to compromise gospel issues. Most of his followers share the exact same Reformed views that he does [inserting disclaimer about Calvinism!] White is being sneaky by cloaking his defenses in gospel rhetoric that is a red herring to the actual issues over his FB post. Yes, it’s true, that the gospel doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race (Galatians 3:27-28), but that wasn’t the issue, and he knows it. He got caught, and instead of admitting he was wrong, dug his heals in to his error. White even blamed me as the cause of this entire feud because Thabiti Anyabwile had retweeted the article from this “troll”…with a PhD. https://dorightchristians.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/james-whites-racist-diatribe/ I’ll let my article speak for itself.

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    1. Manley Beasley April 3, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      I’m not sure what your problem is. From your own post of his original statement he didn’t say anything different than what I’ve heard many African-American preachers say over and over again. He didn’t generalize about black people but actually stated a percentage which is pretty accurate related to black children and their fathers. My question is, why aren’t you complaining every week when hundreds of black pastors say the same things? The fact is Dr. White witnessed something that agitated him and said something about it. You are playing the same kind of racial games with this as many non-Christians do and it’s ridiculous. I’m glad you haven’t bought into the extremes found in groups like BLM but that doesn’t mean you aren’t supporting a form of the same foolishness. It’s wrong to accuse a brother the way you have.

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    2. Seriously, your personal vendetta against Dr. White is obvious. What really is your end-game here? Do you profess to love Christ, honor His Word, seek peace? You’ve slandered a brother and are attempting to promulgate a lie that Dr. White is a racist: “a racist as much as James White is”. I’ll give it to you in words that your narrow group can appreciate, “Speak not evil one of another, brethern. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy; who art thou that judgest another.”

      Sowing discord. Attempting to discredit Dr. White’s apologetic work and proclamation of the Messiah Jesus to a hell-bound peoples as the muslims and your monolith argument is to cast tiny rocks by insisting he’s not much of an apologist if he’s not debated people from the Nation of Islam? Surely you understand the differences?

      Yes sir you do give all the markings of someone simply interested in tearing down a brother in Christ a la Hymenaeus and Alexander. Pray tell, are you desperately earnest to see racial wrongs righted or is this simply another peevish and petty attempt to sow division wherever you can? Please feel free to provide a positive reason for how you are helping the body of Christ?

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  15. “It’s important to note that this is the second time in just a few weeks that a minority thinker in the Reformed world has been castigated [for] daring to talk about racial issues in ways majority culture finds distasteful.”

    Without a doubt, this is one of the most inflammatory and rhetorically charged, but substantively empty sentences that I have ever read. And that is no exaggeration.

    I mean seriously? Disagree with White fine. Argue against him fine. But instead all of that is skipped. Nothing specific in his article is interacted with. How am I supposed to learn something if this is the kind of response being written? All of White’s comments are brushed away with one stroke as “the castigating of a minority thinker for daring to talk . . .” Really?

    What if I linked to this post and said, “This the umpteenth time that a humble, godly, elder of a small but faithful Reformed church has been viciously attacked by leftist liberal for daring to speak in way that those who hold to the currently in vogue cultural narrative find distasteful.”

    When you get to set up the premise like that, well then there is no debate, there is no dialogue, there is no chance for you or White or anyone else reading to grow or be challenged. You either agree with the horrible characterization or you don’t. The end.

    I honestly (perhaps unfairly) stopped reading this post after the quoted sentence. Maybe I lost out on learning something, but in my mind, there was no point to continue. There was no hope of dialogue or growth, only casting one’s “enemy” (for that is how it seems White is viewed, rather than as an ally and brother in Christ who might be mistaken) in the worst possible light, rather than interacting with their substantive arguments (whether right or wrong).

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    1. Point well-taken.

      I still support the main point of the post, but I think your critique of that sentence is fair. We can all be tighter and more careful with the language we employ.

      Thanks for articulating the critique!

      Reply

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