To the Saints of God found in the United States of America,
I greet you as one also called out of the darkness of sin and into the glorious light of our God and King Jesus Christ. May the grace of our Heavenly Father fill you to overflowing and the comfort of the Spirit build between us the bonds of peace.
After I heard about the events in Charlottesville I had a wide range of emotions. Shock. Disbelief. Anger. But the one emotion that lingered was that of disgust. I was disgusted by the events as they unfolded on the news. I was disgusted by the commentary offered by the professional moralizers in the media. I was disgusted by the vitriol spewed by some on my social media feeds. I was disgusted with the polarizing language that did nothing to point to a path forward.
After seeing all of this I had to decide what I would do. I do not subscribe to the idea that we have to denounce, denounce, denounce and then we can figure out how to move forward. That is not wise and it is not something I want to be a part of, even when the evil is as glaring as blatant racism. This has been the path chosen before and it has done nothing to change the trajectory of our society.
The worst part of this whole situation is that I was disgusted by the response by some of the most visible members of the American church’s leadership. Speaking out against racism and injustice when there is blood on the streets is low-hanging fruit. It’s easy. It’s expected. The problem is that it’s also too late.
The work of reconciliation must be woven into the fabric of our churches, not merely the token lip-service offered after the fact. Reconciliation should not merely be the talk of the hour, but the continuous labor of Biblical Christianity. This is what disgusted me the most. I was shocked by how little many of these leaders, with enormous platforms, ignore the ills that are poisoning the human heart until it all boils over onto the streets.
I am writing this letter because I am becoming convinced that these kinds of events will happen more, not less, if we don’t go to the source. We have to cut off what is feeding the social problems we are facing.
Charlottesville Will Happen Again… and Again!
History is linear because time marches in one direction. But the failures and errors of the human soul are cyclical. The wisest man in the history of the world said it simply: “There is NOTHING new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Nothing new. The New Living Translations says it this way: “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.”
That is the damning charge against every human attempt to solve the brokenness of sin with secular and earthly means. The hands of men (and women) are tainted and feeble. We are incapable of dissolving the stain in others because we are impotent to excise it from ourselves. We externalize because to reflect inwardly because it is too painful to accept what we find there.
The great G. K. Chesterton was once asked to opine on what was wrong with the world. In his response, he demonstrates a self-awareness too often missing in our world today.
“What is wrong with the world?” He responded with a simple statement. “I am.”
And it is here, in this simple exchange that I find the reason why Charlottesville will happen again and again. Are there evils that must be denounced? Yes. Are there problems in and among all our communities regarding race? Of course. Are there social structures and systems that must be reformed? Absolutely! But asking these questions does nothing to identify the common denominator among them all. That each problem is being caused and controlled by a broken and sinful humanity. And, that those attempting to correct the ills that are being railed against are still broken and sinful people themselves.
All the good intentions in the world cannot undo the damage done by flawed human hands. We are too emotional, too susceptible to bombastic rhetoric, too prone to judge harshly and quickly, rather than to wait and learn, and then respond with wisdom and charity. We have to see that injustice done in the name of justice is not justice for anyone. We cannot maim and mangle on the road to healing. There are too many casualties and an ever-growing number of fatalities on this road toward justice. Which makes me think that we may be on the wrong road, going in the wrong direction. It may be time to stop and rethink what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how we ended up here in the first place.
Why the Current Approach of the Church will never Prevent another Charlottesville or produce lasting Justice for all
I will get right to the point. The church in America is failing to cultivate justice in our society because it has adopted the language, tactics, and mentality of the world.
I don’t care how you slice the pie, the Church has not been on the field or on the bench. We have not even been sitting in bleachers spectating the disaster that has been taking place in our country. We have been running to the parking lot, climbing over ourselves, trying to stay as far away from “race” talk for decades. What has that produced? Exactly what we see. The secularists have taken over the game, the rules, and the coaching of our culture.
Instead of transforming the culture with Gospel Truth and Gospel Justice, we have been guilty of abandoning our post as watchmen. The city is in ruins. We are encircled on all sides by immorality, debauchery, and outright insolence to the purposes of God. And, rather than pouring water over it all, trying to put out the flames, we have taken out our skewers for a weenie roast because we shouldn’t let a good fire go to waste! Right?!
What the church has been doing is not working because the church has not been working as it should in many quarters. We have allowed moralizing and the false Gospels of prosperity and self-help to replace the true Gospel of the Cross. I am not saying that there are and have not been some who have tried to do the right thing. To call evil what it is. But that message is more unpopular than our President. We only go after the evils that do not affect our platform, our followers, or our business prospects. Well, look where that has gotten us. More fear. More hate. More platitudes. More vain and empty offerings of prayer and vacuous memes about peace.
The world is coming to an end and it is happening on our watch. It’s happening because we have abandoned our responsibilities to protect our families and neighbors; to look after the most vulnerable and destitute. We, the church of Jesus Christ in America, have been moving steadily on the path to commit the same mistake of Gomer, the whorish wife of the prophet Hosea. We have turned to any and every insipid claimant vying for our attention rather than remain faithful to our true husband.
The day is coming, and may very well be upon us, when we will look around and realize that the horrors we said would never come have arrived.
We must repent. And we must repent now!