Letter to the editor

Response to Jan/Feb issue on racism and the church

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Photo: Getty Images

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” As followers of Christ we are to bring the Good News of Jesus to the world, to glorify God and rejoice in it.

Is the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches influencing the world or is it being influenced by the world?

The cover title of the Jan/Feb copy of The Christian Leader, has the familiar ring of the “politically correct narrative” that is predominant on all main stream news outlets following the George Floyd incident. The term “racism” has been a predominant topic in the secular media. It has even been used by some in politics as a cudgel to intimidate their enemies. The meaning of the word is all about division and seems to have been created for just that purpose—an issue that has become a wedge in our culture, used by many to create division, all without any specific true facts. Without using the actual term, the articles seemed to be influenced by the meme of “Critical Race Theory.”

Resolving to read all the articles with care and an open mind, I hoped to be encouraged by the Word of God from our conference publication, which should reflect the heart of its membership. Each article was well written, sincere, and interesting, even educational for understanding different perspectives on one of the failures of humankind.

Yet in the aggregate, there was familiar ring, with fingerprints of what is heard from the secular media and one political party, creating the impression of influence by the “secular narrative”, which is entirely accusatory, and offers no solution to the problem other than “re-education.” The Jan-Feb publication seemed to reflect either, guilt, pain or remorse related to the topic of racism, ignoring the significant progress of the past 60 years and woefully void of biblical guidance. Further, Scripture teaches us ALL have sinned, not just one segment of society. God deserves our praise and thanksgiving for whatever progress our country has made, and by his grace, we can learn how to continue to improve.

In his book “Exploring Revelation” John Phillips states, concerning the coming False Prophet: The role of the False Prophet will be to make the new religion appealing and palatable to men . . . . The dynamic appeal of the False Prophet will lie in his skill in combining political expediency with religious passion, self-interest with benevolent philanthropy, lofty sentiment with blatant sophistry, moral platitude with unbridled self-indulgence.  His arguments will be subtle, convincing, and appealing, His oratory will be hypnotic, for he will be able to move masses to tears or whip them into frenzy.  He will control the communication media of the world and will skillfully organize mass publicity to promote his ends.  He will be the master of every promotional device and public-relations gimmick.  He will manage the truth with guile beyond words, bending it, twisting it, and distorting it.  Public opinion will be his to command.  He will mold world thought and shape human opinion like so much potter’s clay.  His deadly appeal will lie in the fact that what he says will sound so right, so sensible, so exactly what unregenerate men have always wanted to hear.”

The False Prophet has yet to be revealed, but his tactics seem to have preceded him.

If we want to lament our sin, we should pray as Pastor Joe Wright of Central Christian Church in Wichita prayed at the opening of the 1996 Kansas Senate session a prayer that is still germane today:

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance. We know your Word says, ‘Woe on those who call evil good,’ but that’s exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.

We confess that: We have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it pluralism; We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism; We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle; We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery; We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation; We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare; We have killed our unborn and called it choice; We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable; We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self- esteem; We have abused power and called it political savvy; We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition; We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression; We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by you, to govern this great state.  Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the name of Your Son, the Living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

One thing is clear when we consider our condition, we need a Savior. Thanks be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have one. Followers of Christ are grieved by any hurt or pain that others have suffered, and we need to share the Good News of hope in Jesus with everyone.

With regard to the suggested reading list, the absence of the “Holy Bible” was a thunderous omission. It is the only reading material that can truly heal us.

Below are 10 suggestions for what we should do next.

  1. Humble ourselves.
    1. With our heads down, beat our breasts and say, “God, be merciful to me a sinner”.
  2. Pray.
  3. Seek God’s face which includes:
    1. Love God and love our neighbors, as God loves us.
    2. Feast on God’s Word
    3. Memorize God’s Word so our minds can be transformed to his will, not conformed to this world.
    4. Receive the Holy Spirit, listen to gim, and do what he says.
  4. Turn from our wicked ways.
    1. Hear and abide by Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

We are all sinners, and need the Grace freely given by God. We should spend our ink sharing the Gospel of Peace, not of division.

Archie Eutsler

Larry Toews

Glenn Lygrisse

Skip Jessup

Wichita, Kansas

CL Staff
This article has been posted by CL staff.

3 COMMENTS

  1. You argued that the Christian Leader “should reflect the heart of its membership.” I disagree. I believe the CL, district leadership, conference leadership, and our local churches should seek to reflect the heart of Jesus, even when the members fail to do so. Sometimes the role of community is to call us back to our center, back to the heart of God as demonstrated in his Son.
    You are writing your letter from a city that is 71% white. You have an opportunity to humbly learn from the experience of so many whose lives have been different than yours. When we become more upset by the terms used than by the actual attitudes and actions those words describe, we are missing the point. How can we expect to share the Good News with anyone when we can’t understand what in their own experience has been the bad news? How can we bring peace when we refuse to see the conflict?

  2. Thank you Christa for your thoughtful response to this disappointing letter. How long are we going to fall back on the worn out trope of “political correctness” to avoid confronting the issues that challenge deep-seated prejudices that are antithetical to the teachings of Christ?

  3. First, is there any other sin, besides racism, that the authors of this letter would accept a deflection of “all have sinned,” implying that somehow we shouldn’t be willing to specifically discuss this one sin?

    Secondly, to be blunt, it’s hypocrisy to claim that discussing racism, including CRT, is somehow part of the “False Prophet,” while parroting the anti-CRT talking points of an entire political party and the recent president. (A president, I will add, who already has his own cult and false prophet: “Q”.)

    Meanwhile, speaking up regarding continued racial injustices, on behalf of the minority, is somehow the tactics of this “False Prophet”?

    Thirdly, do we deserve a pat on the back because we’ve improved over the days of slavery? I don’t see a similar recognition of the many ways society has improved in the quoted prayer. Violent crime has been down for some time, as are abortion rates for over a decade, to cite some examples, yet there is no acknowledgement. However, somehow we deserve one regarding racism. Why?

    Finally, blaming those who are trying to talk about divisions, as if they created them, is like blaming the person who pulled the fire alarm for causing the fire damage. The division was already here; the authors were just conveniently ignorant of it before.

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