11 February 2016

Against Mission Drift

by Phil Johnson

've been retired from blogging for nearly four years now, and I almost forgot how to get back in here. Very few things (or people) could have persuaded me to come back.

But I do sincerely love Thabiti Anyabwile, and after I poked at him in a Tweet, he directed some comments at his blog to me. He deserves a reply. So I'm back today for one post, and one post only. I'm not wishing to prolong a controversy. I strongly agree with the gist of Thabiti's remarks in the video excerpts I posted early Thursday morning. One of the logical corollaries of that excellent 2010 T4G message is that if brothers in Christ find themselves engaging in a prolonged, bitter controversy over something extraneous to the gospel, they have clearly gone off-message.

Moreover, as Thabiti rightly said in 2010, "The gospel addresses this irreducible minimum: that individuals must repent and believe" in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. To view Christian ministry in terms of "'winning the culture, engaging the culture, changing the culture' as ambiguous as it is, the language itself signifies that mission drift is already under way." All I really want to do is re-emphasize and reaffirm that point, which he made.

Also, full disclosure: I have a son who is a police officer who currently works nights in one of the most dangerous precincts of Los Angeles. My concerns about Thabiti's mission drift are undoubtedly magnified by my conviction that some of the rhetoric peppering his Twitter feed over the past two years aids and encourages a movement whose influence has put my son's life at significantly greater risk. Based on how the media, millennials, and most Internet forums have handled the issues of racism and police work, it seems fair to assume that the sector of society where my son must live and work is far more openly hostile to cops than to young black men, and Thabiti's post-Ferguson rhetoric hasn't helped. Thabiti and friends are not going to diminish the very real problem of racism or remedy the cancer of corrupt or criminal cops by portraying law enforcement itself as an evil institution and automatically assuming every police shooting is unjust. If anything, such rhetoric has widened a wedge in the church that (by Thabiti's own admission) should not be there at all.

Anyway here are a few of my thoughts in response to Thabiti's post. I'll reply to him directly:



Dear brother,

Thanks for your gracious feedback and your willingness to have this exchange with me. Without getting into a lengthy debate (which I'm sure would be unprofitable for both of us), I want to underscore just a few vital points in reply to your Thursday blogpost:
  1. I'm no doctor. I'm not a veterinarian. I've never even swept the floors at CVS. I recently removed my own stitches, but I don't think that qualifies me to be called "Dr." Dr. Phil is a totally different guy, in every way you can possibly imagine. The only thing I have in common with him is our first name and our home town.
  2. I'm not sure why you began your post by suggesting my Thursday morning Tweet was prompted by some mention of the word justice from you. I said nothing whatsoever about justice (which I strongly advocate, without excluding criminal justice). Nor did I say anything about social justice (which strikes me as one of those terms like agitator, having a controversial history and carrying a significant load of baggage). What actually did goad me to post excerpts from my favorite Anyabwile message was your tweet on Wednesday recommending an avowed socialist, secularist, and ardent supporter of abortion as the most suitable candidate for African American voters.
  3. You write, "If I understand this correctly, I’m the one now suffering 'mission drift,' one swept so powerfully to the left that the Bible and gospel have lost its center in my ministry." Yes. That's precisely what I allege, using your excellent 2010 description of how we can tell "that mission drift is already under way."
  4. I do realize, of course, that "'justice' and justice in [all] its [true] 'social' implications are biblical terms and ideas." Again, your use of the word "justice" had nothing to do with what or why I posted that video excerpt. But since you bring it up, let me make the point that Genesis 9:6; Romans 13:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; and Matthew 26:52 are just as surely tenets of biblical justice as Proverbs 31:8-9 and Jeremiah 5:28. The movement you have aligned yourself with has (to borrow your words) "a curious way of ignoring those texts and any application of them."
  5. Trigger warning: In this paragraph I will defend some politically incorrect terminology. Regarding the word agitator, you are correct that I was totally unaware that this word brought to mind racist connotations for anyone. I think you should investigate the actual history of the word, or easier yet, Google it alongside the word "communist." You'll find its dominant polemical use in the 20th century was to describe fomenters of left-wing political passions. (The Russians even invented a very useful term, agitprop, combining "agitate" and "propaganda" to describe the literature and systems by which Soviet Communist officials disseminated their views.) Anyway, if certain black leaders have commonly been labeled "agitators," I suspect it has rather more to do with their political opinions than with their race. And in any case, let me assure you that my use of this term had nothing whatsoever to do with race and everything to do with the Tweet you posted Wednesday (and its follow-ups), which understandably gave the impression to many who follow your Twitter feed that you are now stumping for Bernie Sanders. (Apologies to anyone who may think the verb "stump" is a microaggression against amputees. I don't mean it that way.)


  6. You have repeatedly declared your support for #BlackLivesMatter (and the protests they have organized). But you have done this in a way that systematically blurs a crucial distinction between the slogan and the movement that goes by that name.
  7. I don't know of any Christians anywhere who (in your words) "can’t seem to bring themselves to even utter the phrase [or] to say publicly, in principle, 'Black lives matter.'" Together with all my Christian brothers and sisters, I affirm emphatically that Black lives do matter—including the lives of unborn black infants. Many of us also want to stress that #BlueLivesMatter, too. And though loud voices in the BlackLivesMatter movement have already dismissed this as a racist slogan: All lives matter. We must make that confession together as well, because it is an essential tenet of biblical justice. Every human soul is precious—and each one will give account to God. That's why the gospel matters more than any injustice that might be committed against us as believers. And Christians who link arms with angry pagans in civic protests that threaten to become riots are actually behaving unjustly, by the biblical standard. Those seem like necessary conclusions of the premises you set forth in that 2010 message.
  8. Furthermore, what the organization calling itself BlackLivesMatter.com has done with that slogan is a gross corruption of the biblical concept of social justice. Specifically, their angry rhetoric and efforts to portray all law enforcement officers as emblems of institutionalized injustice puts every policeman (regardless of ethnicity) at greater risk.
  9. You famously stated: "It’s tragic that the country’s biggest sin is racism and the Church’s biggest omission is racial justice." I don't think either part of that statement is true. Perhaps the country's most talked-about sin is racism. There are at least a hundred churches in my town, and on any given Sunday if you could sample them all, you'll hear countless lectures on prosperity, relationships, social ills, politics, or the latest charismatic prophecies—almost anything except Scripture. You're far more likely to hear a lecture on the evils of racism than a clear exposition of some biblical text. So I'd say the greatest omission in the church is clear and accurate teaching of the Word of God. But more to the point: in a nation where millions of unborn infants are slaughtered annually, it seems pretty clear to me that the worst sin against blacks in America isn't racism per se, but the murders of countless unarmed black babies. Statistics suggest that twice as many blacks are killed by abortion as by all other causes combined. I know you are opposed to abortion, Thabiti, and you've even compared it to the sin of slavery. When you originally wrote that "the country’s biggest sin is racism," I dismissed that rhetoric as hyperbole. But your recent comments in the context of this year's election do give the clear impression that for you, abortion simply doesn't rise to the same level of urgency as racism. You seem to be moving steadily that way since you began to get pushback after your comments in the wake of the Ferguson riots and your continued defense of the "Hands up, don't shoot" myth. It does seem to me that your moral scales have become imbalanced.
  10. Finally, given the subject matter that consumes your blogposts and Tweets nowadays, I don't know how you can seriously claim there has been no shift in your thinking or teaching since 2010's T4G message.
I wholeheartedly agree with the comments I posted from Thabiti 2.010. If that seems like I'm taking a "shot" at you, forget me and just listen to what you yourself were saying in 2008-2010.

Collateral reading from Todd Pruitt on the blurring of lines between "Black lives do matter,: and #BlackLivesMatter: Black Lives Matter or black lives matter?

 

Phil's signature


62 comments:

Carlos said...

Carlos Campos Rey
Carlos Campos Rey It is reactions like "good Xtians" yours Phil, whom I once considered a brother, that results in many believers of color to reject the so-called love you are supposed to have for all brothers in the faith, regardless of wealth, standing, or color. Your condescending cuteness and dismissive comments about the evil deaths, injuries, maimings, beatings, murders, and harassment of people of color by rogue racist agents of "law enforcement" betray an unrepentant heart who obviously lives enjoying the fruits of colonization, rape, pillage, land theft, and slavery that your Xtian forefathers committed worldwide, upon people and tribes of color. Your Xtian pilgrims slaughtered the native "heathen", in the name of your messiah, and you enslaved the black race, using Biblical verses to justify the crime against humanity, and yet, you blame the victims of your brother's fellow officers, nationwide, for their cry to heaven for justice and equal treatment under the law. Your religion is still considered in its Sunday practice, to be the most segregated hour of the week. For that and for this, there will be an accounting at the Throne of Yah's justice. His Son was also a man of color, being born a Semitic, Arab-looking, dark-skinned Jew. Of course, you and the great American church have everyone fooled into thinking the Son of Yah was a blonde, blue-eyed Scandinavian man who walked around with a white robe "loving" everyone.

I urge you to repent of your inherent racism and pro-abusing-under-the-color-of-law mentality. John MacArthur should be ashamed of you. Try taking this full exchange and your "black-boy" response to brother Thabiti, to your pastor for approval. Better yet, go to your prayer closet and read these words to the g-d you claim to believe in and serve faithfully. Scripture tells us how the name of Yah is blasphemed by the actions and words of His alleged believers. May Yah grant you repentance.

Michael Coughlin said...

Aaaaaand comments are now closed due to safety hazards caused.

Ed Dingess said...

Carlos,
That has to be one of the most non-interactive responses I have ever seen. There was nothing condescending in Phil's rebuke. As usual, Phil hit the nail squarely on its head. There was not even the slightest lack of love in Phil's comments. If so, you should have been more specific. Your comments are over-generalizations that completely miss the point and indicate that your loyalties are based on the color of a man's skin rather than to the principles clearly expressed in Scripture. There are far more blacks being murdered, beaten, injured, and harassed by blacks than by rogue law enforcement people. Why have you decided to focus your attention on the 1 in 10,000 rather than the 4 out of 5? 90% of blacks that are murdered in this country are murdered by other blacks. Why not focus your energy on fixing that?

It seems to me that if you cared about those within the black community, your focus would be more on helping those who were most likely to suffer the sort of violence you seem to imply is commonplace in law enforcement.

It also seems to me that if you cared about those in the black community, cared like a Christian cares, you would focus your attention on the plague of abortion within that community. I wonder if you even know that ~1450 black babies are murdered by way of abortion in this country every single day! Even though black blacks make up 12% of the population, they account for 35% of the abortions in this country. That is tragic! And you are spending your energy where again? The cure isn't social movements like black lives matter. It is the gospel.

Your linking Phil's comments to slavery and what happened in this country 400 years ago is entirely irrelevant. It doesn't even make for good rhetoric and it certainly isn't an argument. This isn't about racism. It is about what is and what is not justice. Biblical justice is the only acceptable form of justice if one is a Christian. And it is unjust to support criminal behavior or to do anything that tends to bolster criminal activity. It is a sin to influence anyone to adopt an attitude toward law enforcement that is contrary to the teachings of Scripture even if there are those within that community (a tiny, tiny fraction I might add) that are corrupt.

The Christian attitude begins with the clear revelation of Scripture. And the clearest statement on this issue in located in Romans 13:1-7. Christians are to submit to the civil government, not protest it. When something goes terribly wrong, we should naturally pray for the individuals affected. When corruption is uncovered, we pray for justice. Internally, we trust the sovereign rule of God in our lives and recognize that God is working all things for His glory and for our benefit, even the tragedies. But to take up an attitude and a cause that is contrary to that commanded in Romans 13 is not only unwise, it is unChristian.

Carlos, I hope you spend some time reflecting on what Phil is actually saying in this article and have a change of heart. This isn't about race. It is about the gospel. Social justice at the expense of biblical justice and the gospel isn't justice at all.

layne said...

Sadly, Carlos is missing it. I'm afraid he's so wrapped up in this agenda he can't see anything else. Remember, if you're not for my agenda you're wrong and need to repent. Classic.

Arthur Sido said...

Well, that escalated quickly.

Justin Runyan said...

Reading these points and counter points leaves me feeling a little dirty, like I'm an intruder listening in on a private family conversation. I keep finding myself asking: Why wasn't this all done privately--the rebuke, the response, the clarification, etc? Why rebuke him publicly if you hadn't shared your concerns with him privately first?

I think this entire broohaha illustrates the unhealthy relational distortions produced by social media. Everything is public now--every political musing, passing thought, and personal rebuke.

Greg Linscott said...

http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/thabitianyabwile/2016/02/12/for-the-record/

Fred Butler said...

Seriously, Carlos? You need to repent of that ridiculous slander in that comment.

Elizabeth said...

It's unfortunate that Thabiti does not identify with this verse in Scripture (Gal 3:28), but identifies more with the color of his skin.



"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28)"

Jayson York said...

It's unfortunate that this incoherent mess is the first comment on an otherwise well stated and direct blog post, which addresses a critical issue like mission drfift for a man who is supposed to be advocating for the gospel to save souls.

Tim said...

Carlos Campos Rey -

It would seem to me, by your comment, that you have had some prior problem with Phil, rather than what he wrote in his blog. Your response to him seems to be more emotional than substantive. I would suggest that you comment on something specific that he wrote. He actually said very little, if anything at all, about the things that you have brought up.

last true gypsy said...

Wow. Phil, I love you, but you are so, so far off on this. I think it is clear that no one is going to convince you that speaking against corruption, hatred, and racism is different than supporting race-baiters and terrorists. I am shocked at your unbiblical response to Thabiti. I am amazed that you would publicly slander him before going to him to speak of your unfounded concerns. I am very saddened by your doubling down on this and your refusal to apologize for your actions. I am very, very sad to say this, but I am thankful that this is your last post.

Frank Turk said...

And yet again: the internet proves itself to becwhat it always is. And it justifies the retirement of serious andcsane people.

Good night.

Sharon said...

Thank you, Phil, for "coming out of retirement" to post this in loving concern for what is a real problem in the church today. I'm amazed at those comments who, in anger, blast you for being unloving to a certain race while hurling vitriolic hatred themselves. Stand firm for the Gospel and God will bless you for it!

David Rowe said...

Carlos, it is you who must repent. For your disregard for God and His holy Word. The basis for which we have our hearts righted by the Sovereign will of the Father / quickened by the Spirit.

Know you are loved, and are ever in my prayers.

Kerry James Allen said...

Carlos,

There were 241 shootings in Chicago in January with 51 left dead, majority people of color on color. Let me know when you want to go to Englewood to share your rhetorical skills and solve the problem. I'm only about 25 miles from Chicago and I'll be glad to put you up during your stay.

And Thabiti's shift sure seems to coincide with a move from the Cayman Islands to D.C. the epicenter of political correctness.

Welcome back and goodbye, Phil.

Alf Cengia said...

Thanks, Phil. Glad you made the time to respond. Hope you stick around a while longer.

Puritan Inquisitor said...

Carlos shows in his very first comment why Critical Race Theory and Critical Theory as used by those advocating for "racial and social justice" is an anti-Christian worldview.

Those who disagree are automatically "inherently racist" etc. Carlos' response is almost a textbook CRT response. Then a tale of victimhood is told and victimhood is used as a fist.

Carlos repent of slandering Christians, repent of aligning yourself with, and believing a worldview that is nationalistically materialist and hates the gospel and biblical standards.

Barchetta said...

I appreciate the dialog between you and Thabiti, Phil. This is beyond the larger conversation going on but as my son is also going to be a police officer. Thabiti's comments regarding Ferguson when it was happening tainted my view of him. Sadly, I might add. As I read his recent post and saw that he also repeated this regarding Eric Garner: "an unarmed man choked to death by a police officer" I am still put off by him. According to the NY Times Garner: “had several health issues: diabetes, sleep apnea, and asthma so severe that he had to quit his job as a horticulturist for the city’s parks department. He wheezed when he talked and could not walk a block without resting, they said.” That in no way excuses the actions of the police officers. They had the 400 some pound guy around the neck and rolled him over on his back. The 'choke hold' and many other factors caused Garners death but he didn't 'choke to death.' I know I'm one of those people 'tying himself to a tree' to not be able to see the forest and clearly, obviously, plainly Thabiti's post is about much more than the 10 words I've singled out, I confess they cause me to stumble over anything else he's said.

Lowell Van Ness said...

So, anyway, aside from the fact that Carlos seems to be a Rastafarian, let's actually address the substance of his post, which, once you strip away all of the rhetorical curlicues, attempts to delegitimize Phil Johnson, and the concern trolling, is relatively simple.
If members of a race have committed injustice against members of another race for reasons based on race, members of the the first race must always regard any claim of injustice made by the second race as legitimate and valid, and must never question it, because if they do they are simply perpetuating the previous injustice.
Do I have to explain how utterly unbiblical that is?

Also, Mr. Johnson, good post. Topnotch.

Juan Cauvin said...

Hi Phil. Just wanted to thank you for clarifying your "stump" comment. Having taken off a good portion of my thumb on a table saw, I'm sure you can understand how sensitive I am to the slights and offenses which are daily directed to me as I seek to live as one who has been disfingered in a world that is entirely oriented toward the wholly fingered. I sometimes weep at the unrelenting assault. STUMP LIVES MATTER!

Pensive said...

I appreciate your attempt to enter the fray- clearly, even in "Christian" circles, only one opinion is acceptable. These things need to be discussed by Christians-- WITHOUT resorting to name-calling, and bogus unrelated arguments (that was for you,Carlos). As for the public nature of the conversation, that was necessitated by their platforms, and Thabiti's many comments. I am distressed beyond belief to see how quickly this conversation among brothers has been hi-jacked and turned in to the same dismal hatred seen in the world. What happened to civil discourse and the ability to hold differing viewsWITHOUT disparaging one another? And btw, the ugliness was not in the post, but in the response.... #youwillbeassimilated. Satan just loves this, and all talk of Jesus just flew out the....

jorge vasquez said...

Jorge Vasquez
Carlos Campos Rey, according to you only white people have murdered, raped and pillaged other tribes? You can't be serious? You're simply picking and choosing out of history if you say that.
Furthermore, you think that because some who claimed the name of Christ and commited sins the Lord Himself condemned, are some how real Christians?

“They will ban you from the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God. They will do these things because they haven’t known the Father or Me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭16:2-3‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

These words were aimed at the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day who persecuted the church for a while. But if someone takes up the name of Christ and commits murders and rapes in His Name, they do not know Him, period.
Then you said that pastor Phil has an “unrepentant heart who obviously enjoys the fruits of colonization.” What do you mean by that? Because that can apply to anyone who enjoys the freedoms of this country, which would include you. If you are expressing your opinions freely and publicly — which you are – then you yourself are also enjoying the fruits of colonization. Do you see how your argument works against you as well?
I know pastor Phil, he is far from a racist not because I said so, but because I have first hand knowledge and conversations with him. I'm Hispanic sir, if he was racist he would not have shown me the hospitality and warm fellowship in the Lord that he has in the past. As a matter of fact, he is one of the many white brothers at Grace Community Church who do not make me feel like an outsider. Pastor Phil stands out to me as one of the most approachable white pastors I have ever met, not what you are claiming here at all.
Again Carlos, have you ever been to Grace Community Church? Segregated? I don't think so, I invite you to come and hear the Gospel preached. You will hear the one and only Son of God being raised and lifted up through the preaching and the hospitality of the people there. You will hear preaching that says “Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust Him and not be afraid, for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭HCSB‬‬
Jesus is what we preach at Grace sir, not a scandanivian hippie who just got off a hitchhiking trip, something I have never heard Pastor Phil mention.
You are calling pastor Phil to repentance but I think you are the one in need of repentance for falsely accusing him and for your obvious hatred towards white people who are racist. Didn't Jesus teach us to love our enemies? Your words sir do not sound like they have one ounce of love. Plus, what do you believe? I don't know of any disciple of Messiah who refers to the Father simply as Yah or g-d. Don't pretend to be Christian in the beginning of your post and then turn out differently at the end of your post. It would be helpful to know what you believe to address you better, because it does not sound like you are Christian.
So Carlos, I urge you to repent and believe that He is Lord and Savior and will one day return to judge white, blacks, Hispanics and every other tribe on earth as well.
The Gospel is what is most important here, what hope do you extend to both whites and blacks? If it's not the Messiah then you have no hope and no God in the world. I truly pray you would examine yourself about this issue.

aaron said...

Phil's reply to Thabiti lacks empathy. . . .he doesn't "cede" any points to a brother he claims to love. Even points that would not "cost" Phil anything in the argument (i.e. agitator), he continues to double down on. This is troublesome, and to me, as a fellow elder of an Evangelical church, . . seems to not be becoming of an Elder in view of 1 Timothy. Empathy is needed in this discussion, and ironically, Thabiti had published some rather long blog posts enacting empathy towards Police officers last year. It's an astounding lack of empathy, really, from Phil.

I'm ok if folks disagree with my reading of Phil, but I think it should be said. It's not just race-baiters and political liberals who have a problem with Phil here. I am as white as the driven snow, pastor a majority-white church, and typically vote republican. I think Phil erred, and then doubled down on some of his errors. Bad form.

Aaron

jorge vasquez said...

Carlos Campos Rey, according to you only white people have murdered, raped and pillaged other tribes? You can't be serious? You're simply picking and choosing out of history if you say that.

Furthermore, you think that because some who claimed the name of Christ and commited sins the Lord Himself condemned, are some how real Christians?

“They will ban you from the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God. They will do these things because they haven’t known the Father or Me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭16:2-3‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

These words were aimed at the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day who persecuted the church for a while. But if someone takes up the name of Christ and commits murders and rapes in His Name, they do not know Him, period.

Then you said that pastor Phil has an “unrepentant heart who obviously enjoys the fruits of colonization.” What do you mean by that? Because that can apply to anyone who enjoys the freedoms of this country, which would include you. If you are expressing your opinions freely and publicly — which you are – then you yourself are also enjoying the fruits of colonization. Do you see how your argument works against you as well?

I know pastor Phil, he is far from a racist not because I said so, but because I have first hand knowledge and conversations with him. I'm Hispanic sir, if he was racist he would not have shown me the hospitality and warm fellowship in the Lord that he has in the past. As a matter of fact, he is one of the many white brothers at Grace Community Church who do not make me feel like an outsider. Pastor Phil stands out to me as one of the most approachable white pastors I have ever met, not what you are claiming here at all.

Again Carlos, have you ever been to Grace Community Church? Segregated? I don't think so, I invite you to come and hear the Gospel preached. You will hear the one and only Son of God being raised and lifted up through the preaching and the hospitality of the people there. You will hear preaching that says “Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust Him and not be afraid, for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Jesus is what we preach at Grace sir, not a scandanivian hippie who just got off a hitchhiking trip, something I have never heard Pastor Phil mention.

jorge vasquez said...

You are calling pastor Phil to repentance but I think you are the one in need of repentance for falsely accusing him and for your obvious hatred towards white people who are racist. Didn't Jesus teach us to love our enemies? Your words sir do not sound like they have one ounce of love. Plus, what do you believe? I don't know of any disciple of Messiah who refers to the Father simply as Yah or g-d. Don't pretend to be Christian in the beginning of your post and then turn out differently at the end of your post. It would be helpful to know what you believe to address you better, because it does not sound like you are Christian.

So Carlos, I urge you to repent and believe that He is Lord and Savior and will one day return to judge white, blacks, Hispanics and every other tribe on earth as well.

The Gospel is what is most important here, what hope do you extend to both whites and blacks? If it's not the Messiah then you have no hope and no God in the world. I truly pray you would examine yourself about this issue.

Finally, yes, there is such a thing as police officers who go too far simply because someone is from another ethnicity then they are or simply because they are angry that they had to chase somebody down. John the Baptist would say to crooked cops, and all cops for that matter, “Don’t take money from anyone by force or false accusation; be satisfied with your wages.” Luke‬ ‭3:14‬ ‭HCSB‬‬
And to the rest Scripture points to Romans‬ ‭13:1-7‬; 1 Peter‬ ‭3:8-16‬.

The Lord will judge both crooked cops and rebellious citizens, and yes I think we should speak out against crooked authorities as Scripture does (Hab. 1:3-4; Deut. 1:16-17; 2 Chr. 36:14; Pr. 28:16). Both cops and delinquents need to hear the Gospel. So while it is right to call for justice when there is real injustice by police officers who are God's agents of justice, it is not right to side with a movement that rebels against authority.

Saiko Woods said...

Phil - Thank you brother. As a black man, I wholeheartedly approve this message!

Kerry James Allen said...

Juan for the gold! And am I the only one who noticed that Juan Cauvin sounds very similar to John Calvin? And could the first comment be the infamous One Star Hater that used to frequent this blog?

MJ said...

Thank you,for writing this. I'm trying to sort this out for personal reasons and this will be helpful.

donsands said...

Always love to read Phil. Tough stuff, having to confront a brother, who seems to become emotionally involved with a "worldly" cause, without emphasis on the Gospel. Our Lord calls us to confront at times; pastors must do this. I pray, with all my heart, that Thabiti will hear your well said words, and the Holy Spirit will draw him back to the essentials of the Gospel of the Cross of Christ. And especially so sinners who deny Jesus like Bernie can hear the truth in love.

Thanks again Phil for your hard work in the Word, and your gentle boldness and courage in kindness for Thabiti. I have had to be rebuked many times, and at first it burns like salt in a wound. But by God's awesome grace it subsides, and His amazing grace restores my heart, and His peace helps relax my mind.
Just today I was rebuked by my wife beofre I left the house. She forgave me when I finally came to my senses. The grace of our Savior was there.

"Through many dangers, toils and snares...
I have already come.
Tis Grace has brought me safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home."--John Newton

Have a blessed weekend, and Lord's day. Lord bless and keep your son Phil. God bless.

Chris Brannen said...

The tweets and Thabiti's blogs are all public. This a response should be as well.

Tobias said...

@Elizabeth - Don't know whether you read Pastor Anyabwile's first post on TGC, but he did, in fact, interact with the theme of Gal 3:28. When he stated, 'So while "race” is a pseudo-scientific, theological, historical and social fiction, racism is very real,' he was addressing the biblical fact that race is a worldly construct, while affirming that racism is a bona fide problem that needs to be addressed by biblicists.

I am thankful for Pastor Anyabwile's second blog post on this thread. It clarifies so much while providing sound thinking on these topics.

Tobias said...

@last true gypsy - Did you speak privately to Phil before posting this public condemnation of him, "I am amazed that you would publicly slander him before going to him to speak of your unfounded concerns"?

As Pastor Anyabwile stated in his follow-up TCG post, others have already expressed their concern about his perceived endorsement of the BlackLivesMatter.com organization. I think he put the question to rest in his latest post. However, I expect he will continue to receive public criticism if he continues to publicly associate himself with the organization through use of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.

Jim Pemberton said...

Phil, good to see you back on here "one last time."

I don't see how trading pro-life convictions for promises of civil rights is a wise decision when those promises are as empty as black wombs have been made by abortion. It's a bad trade. Really bad.

I've seen Christians around the world thrive under severe oppression, including and especially in the life of the early church, where Paul admonished and modeled submission to governing authorities. It's like a marriage. If you strive for a fair marriage, you'll never achieve it. If you strive to take on the lion's share of making your marriage work, then you will be amazed at how you will never seem to achieve it because it becomes a labor of love that really isn't a labor at all.

Civil rights is no different. If you get over your sense of entitlement and strive to be the primary contributor to social relations, you will never achieve the amount of work you are prepared to give.

The reason is because your goal fundamentally changes. It's no longer "what can I get for myself from someone else." It becomes, "What can I give of myself to someone else." The former is antithetical to the nature of God. The latter is the very nature of Christ. I'm surprised that Thabiti Anyabwile doesn't understand this.

Cathy Mickels said...
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Frank Turk said...

I have a very brave proposition for those who think that there is a deep, unquenchable race problem in law enforcement in the US today, so please buckle in and hear me out.

1. If we look at the demographics of the incarcerated, it is magnificently-disproportional to the demographics of the general public. This is ostensibly due to racism, yes? My first suggestion then is this: let's release those in disproportionately over-represented demographic segments back into the communities they came from until the mix looks more like the general population, starting with the crimes that the social justice seekers say are being disproportionately-enforced against these demographics. If they were probably incarcerated due to racism, nullify their sentences and release them to undo the injustice -- and all I'm saying is that I not be the one who has to determine which guys get to be set free. I'm buried in systematic racism, and my judgment would be tainted.

2. Withdraw the now-constituted police forces from the communities which say the police are acting with a sense of racism rather than just law enforcement. Those communities ought not to have to suffer under systematically-unjust law enforcement, and until society at large can do better, the police they are providing should be withdrawn.

3. Those communities should then be tasked to come up with a better way to enforce the laws on the books locally, including establishing their own policing system. As a sign of good will, if they choose a system which requires incarceration, they can send their criminals to the detention centers of the larger society. But since society cannot police them rightly, let them police themselves and let's see how it ought to be done.

I think that's a fair offer, and I have yet to see anyone take it seriously. If you think our system is racist and you would not accept this offer, why not?

Robert said...

@ Jim Pemberton,

I've been trying to get people to examine how Paul, James, Peter, and other apostles/evangelists dealt with the injustice of the government in their times. Paul made protest through legal channels, but always said we are to submit to authorities. And none of them went around championing the cause of social justice because the gospel already covers that. If people want to see real change where it matters, they will get it when God changes the hearts of people as the gospel is preached and He converts them. Outside of that, there will be no true justice. We can mourn with/for the oppressed and pray for them, but without preaching of the gospel we are not doing God's work. It isn't that we can not have a sound position on these issues, but they should not become a focal point for our overall ministry. Paul exhorted Timothy to preach the word in season and out of season...that is the main directive.

Scott Barber said...

Frank Turk,

I think they would rather just be treated exactly the way white people are....

And they are not, in America today. Those ghettos, you know, the ones white people let them live in after they finished enslaving them, the ones in the poor part of town, where education was as impoverished as the water was dirty, where alcohol and drugs found hopeless souls to feed on, where nobody batted an eye for decades as law enforcement fulfilled every inclination of their hearts towards brutality--they still exist. You can go there and see them.

What I just described is called systematic racism. And it's as biblical as loving your brother. Sin doesn't go away in the bible, it leaves a scar. In the words of T.S. Eliot: time heals nothing.

So why are we trying to ignore the scars?

Scott Barber

Frank Turk said...

What year is this? It feels like 2010 or 2011 …

Scott Barber pontificated:

| I think they would rather just be
| treated exactly the way white people
| are....

You know: I don’t want to break your heart or anything, Scott, but the ones who want to “live the way white people are” are actually living the way white people are. I know this for a fact because some of those sort of people live next door to me and across the street from me and work with me at a factory full of all sorts of people trying to be “treated the way white people are.”

And as a kid who was actually born in a black ghetto – a white kid born in a black ghetto because his parents were working where those black people worked – I have lived next to some who will not leave, and some who will.

So let’s talk about this. I suspect you don’t have half the information you think you have.

| And they are not, in America today.

I can disprove that by crossing the street and asking my neighbor the fireman if he’s allowed to be treated exactly the way white people are. I’ll ask the department store manager married to the grocery store manager if they are allowed to live the way white people are. Because I suspect they would tell you something other than what you are saying here.

| Those ghettos, you know, the ones
| white people let them live in after
| they finished enslaving them, the
| ones in the poor part of town, where
| education was as impoverished as
| the water was dirty, where alcohol
| and drugs found hopeless souls to
| feed on, where nobody batted an eye
| for decades as law enforcement
| fulfilled every inclination of their
| hearts towards brutality--they still
| exist. You can go there and see
| them.

I like this rant. I like it because it clearly indicates that you have never actually been in the ghetto. In the ghetto, there are no slaves – if you call someone a slave, they will probably try to kill you. There are a lot of people there living in a way which is full of desperation peppered by cell phones, television (with cable), and rented cars which are nicer than my paid-for car which is a decade old.

I also like this rant because it assumes that 50 years ago, the great-grandparents of these people lived like these do, and that 50 years before that their 3x-greats were handed bottles of whiskey and heroin needles and left to see what would happen – rather than, for example, going to work in factories and kitchens.

Think about this: in 1950, Black illegitimacy was below 20% and is now more than 50%. That fact alone contributes so heavily to black poverty that all other factors pale in comparison – and you cannot possibly say that racism is what causes black out of wedlock births.

| What I just described is called
| systematic racism. And it's as biblical
| as loving your brother. Sin doesn't go
| away in the bible, it leaves a scar. In
| the words of T.S. Eliot: time heals
| nothing.

Well, if you think your view if “biblical,” what is your complaint really?

And if it is not, why are you a liar? I just don’t understand why you would want to lie about this.

DJP said...

"the ones who want to 'live the way white people are' are actually living the way white people are"

Intarwebz = won

Sam Nelson said...

ABG, the new organization for those with Sharpton Syndrome, Anything But the Gospel. I gave up on them long ago and Thabiti has kept the door shut.

Rob said...

Just stop. Practice Matthew 18, work it our privately, and move along. What a pitiful waste of time.

Unknown said...

Titus 1:9 commands elders to rebuke those who contradict the gospel.
1 Timothy 5:20 commands elders to publicly rebuke those who persist in sin (such as elevating social justice above the gospel.)

Phil is doing exactly what he should do, according to Scripture. He isn't making a private matter public, he's openly addressing open statements from Thabiti.

If you'll remember, when C.J. Mahaney was being publicly accused of sin, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and others were criticized for speaking with him about the matter privately rather than publicly confronting him. No matter how things like this are handled, people eill criticize.

Tony Byrne said...
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Tom Chantry said...

The discussion of ‘systemic racism’ has become an exercise in authoritarianism - a form of spiritual battery. There are two pervasive elements of the attack on ‘systemic racists’: a refusal to ever specify what righteous efforts to resolve the offense would look like, and the constant invention of new un unsuspected offenses. The result (and indeed, the intent) is for the spiritually battered ‘sinner’ to chase his tail endlessly, searching hopelessly for a way to atone for all the sins of which he has been accused, but instead only being accused of new transgressions at every turn.

You’ll notice that in all the complaints about racism in the church, there is very little if any suggestion of what must be done. We are instead invited to perpetual self-flagellation over our unresolvable moral weaknesses. Meanwhile, we cannot speak without being further mired in iniquity. Honestly, did anyone realize prior to this week that “agitator” was a racial epithet?

As a Christian and as a pastor, I’ve seen this game played in other settings - ones having nothing to do with race or culture. I’ve seen it, and I reject it.

Here’s a thought: stop playing the game. The only way to defeat authoritarianism is to walk away and not be battered. The church needs to stop worrying about being ‘systemically racist’ and simply not be racist. The way to do this is simple: love your neighbor. Love him, and when asked what specific actions you are taking to fix this problem, smile and say, “No doubt not enough.” Love him, and when you’re told that’s not enough, nod your head and say, “Of course; all my works are filthy rags.” Then continue to love your neighbor, and get on with life. The game is rigged, and it’s not Christ’s game anyway.

elizabeth miller said...

Well said! Thank you for honoring Christ first and only. There is much to ponder and consider in your post...I appreciate your articulatenes .

Dennis Le Fort said...

Excellent Tom Chantry Excellent

Frank Turk said...

Chantry FTW. Again.

donsands said...

Aaron " I am as white as the driven snow" Looks like you drifted a bit brother.

semijohn said...

Phil said “Anyway, if certain black leaders have commonly been labeled "agitators," I suspect it has rather more to do with their political opinions than with their race.”

Thabiti pointed out that MLK and Frederick Douglas were called “agitators.” Phil, if you are really saying that you suspect that these two men might not have been called “agitators” because of their skin color fight against racism and slavery, but because of their “political opinions” distinctly, you’re showing a lot more ignorance than I thought you were capable of. I’m hoping this was just a very poorly thought through statement. Whatever you might think about the relative usefulness of the term “agitator”, at least clearly say that the way it was used against MLK and Frederick Douglas was often indefensible.


semijohn said...

Tom Chantry said "Honestly, did anyone realize prior to this week that “agitator” was a racial epithet?"

I'm not commenting on anything else you said in the above comment. However, this particular question would probably best be asked on a blog or forum with a large percentage of educated African-American readers/participants. I don't know for sure, but based on what Thabiti said, I can imagine that there might be multiple people saying it's at least inappropriate, loaded, or offensive.

Michael said...
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Susan S. said...

In all of my blog-reading/commenting days I've never been as angry as I was when I read two of Thabiti's blogs on the Gospel Coalition site during the post-Furguson uproar. My husband, like Phil's son, wore the blues for many years and now works in LA in the same line of work. The prejudice against white cops fostered by Thabiti's posts were outrageous. So many assumptions. Prejudice! For a pastor to make assumptions about the intent of the officer in Ferguson and the officer in New York, without having heard all of the evidence in the grand jury trials is just plain wrong. To then fan the flames of contempt on the police in general is egregious! Does that aid society in any way? A pastor who causes disrespect and distrust of those who commit their lives to serving the community and trying to keep it safe, shameful! My husband and those he has worked with have had honorable careers and genuinely care about finding and arresting criminals in order to protect those who aren't. I was so incensed by Thabiti's posts that I sent an email of complaint to those who oversee the GC site. It sickens me that a pastor of the gospel of Jesus Christ would advocate joining demonstrations against the police and join arms with Black Lives Matter and all that it stands for.

Thank-you Phil Johnson for speaking the truth in love. Thabiti needs to hear your admonitions and consider it prayerfully before the Lord. Thanks for having the courage to say what needed to be said. I hope and pray that Thabiti will realize his error and repent. I will pray for him.

Wish you were still posting on the Pyro blog. Susan

Frank Turk said...

Michael --

You're saying my neighbors and co-workers are not treated the way I am treated?

Then how do they live the way I live?

I think your nit-picking is self-refuting, but I'll leave my question here as the way to follow to the complete refutation.

Frank Turk said...

There are comments in the queue from "Unknown," and I'm deleting them because I refuse to encourage anonymous comments.

Frank Turk said...

There is someone who is calling himself "Danny Rand" leaving comments, but unless he can prove he has defeated Shou-Lao the Undying in combat, his comments are not making it out of the queue.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
barak3777 said...

I believe there is systemic racism still, but I don't think #blacklivesmatter (BLM) is a viable alternative for Christian activism; in fact I think proclaiming the Gospel and engaging in genuine Christian discipleship is the real life answer. BLM was started by three women, two of them are lesbians, and their agenda coincides with the LGBTG agenda. It is more of a trojan horse than actual concern for *race* ills. Further, its guiding principles, if you go to BLM's website, are fundamentally at odds with historic orthodox Christian teaching; again, support for BLM is incompatible with the reality and power of the Gospel itself. BLM is conceptually funded by Black Liberation Theology and/or neo-Marxist thought; which is based on horizontal premises with no real contact with vertical reality (i.e. the Gospel). If Thabiti Anyabwile is aligning himself with BLM, I can't see how that is commensurate with his prior and more basic commitments to the Gospel reality; and I can't see how encouraging others to line up with BLM is engaging in healthy pastoral mission-casting.

donsands said...

I do believe black lives matter, especially all the aborted babies that were black, and all those that shall be kill because our nation says abortion is a good thing, or at least a procedure that should be available for the woman to chose. How about the father's choice, and of course, the baby's life to live. The baby that needs a voice for him or her.
I'm sure pastor Anyabwile's view on this would strongly against black babies being killed in the womb.
69 % of all abortions are by black women. These black lives do matter, for they are created in the image of God.

Sorry if this is off subject, but I have been discussing abortion with other Christians of late, who like Bernie Sanders. Would love to hear the Pyro brothers post something on this whole subject of abortion in the U.S.A..

Frank Turk said...

Officially? The comments are not closed. Please feel free to continue to submit comments on this thread.

Unofficially? anonymous posters and people who are not really reading Phil's post of the responses already made are prolly not going to make it through the filter.

Frank Turk said...

I have an anecdote for the record here which I think has to be helpful. It goes like this:

I live in a subdivision in a suburb, and that subdivision is under construction - phase 2 and 3 are still piles of dirt mostly. There are a lot of police drive-bys in the undeveloped area because it is full of tools and equipment, and they come at all hours of the night and day to keep it random. In fact, they stop people back there about 1-2 times a month in the wee hours of the morning.

I know this because I am the one they stop almost every time. My big dog and I walk back there between 5-6AM every morning so he can walk off the leash without carelessly knocking over toddlers and old people. I usually wear a black hoodie (I only own a -black- hoodie), sweat pants, sneakers or boots (depending on the weather) and a small flashlight.

They stop me all the time, and I am the only one they ever stop. They always want to know why I'm back there. They always want to know why I'm walking at 5 AM. They always tell me to stay out of the construction equipment. They never stop the moms and kids who walk at 4 PM or 11 AM. They only stop me.

Should I be offended, or should I realize that a man in a black hoody walking at night in a construction site of going to get stopped by the police?

Susan S. said...

Yes, you get it. It's also true that if the police are looking for the suspect of a reported crime and the suspect is black, they are likely to stop and question blacks while searching. My former pastor's white son was questioned while sitting in a car with a friend at night in his own neighborhood. Why? Probably because thieves will sometimes sit in cars at night while casing a house.
A I asked a black elder at our church about being stopped by the police. He said that whenever it happens he's friendly and he hasn't had any problems.