Back in the days of Wilberforce, this same church led the abolitionist movement explicitly because Christ’s gospel led them to see all of humanity as one people, regardless of race. But now?
Now they’ve flipped that idea on its head, and are embracing the political philosophy of ‘anti-racism’.
Contrary to the Biblical imperative expressed in the New Testament of seeing everyone as equal before Christ, whether male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, Barbarian or Greek, and so on, this rival philosophy gives pride of place to racial considerations, being a lens through which all other things are considered.
Along with it comes all sorts of ideas of (perpetual) oppressor and (perpetually) oppressed. There really isn’t a lot of room in that philosophy for Biblical notions of unity, forgiveness, or — especially — grace. Which makes the implications of this story that much more difficult to contemplate…
Last year the church set up a ‘taskforce’ whose resulting report (‘From Lament to Action: Report of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce’) is due before the Archbishops’ Council next week. Happily, a copy found its way into my hands first.
As the report notes, the C of E has covered this terrain before. During a discussion on racism in the General Synod in February last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury said: ‘I am sorry and ashamed. I’m ashamed of our history and I’m ashamed of our failure. There is no doubt when we look at our own Church that we are still deeply institutionally racist.’ An original and originally worded insight.
…When talking of the ‘institutional racism’ that is allegedly so rife in the church, the report insists: ‘The time for lament at such treatment is over… the time for action has now come.’
What is that action? Well, the remnant of Anglican style that remains means that this call for action consists of identifying a set of ‘workstreams’ that will in turn report to a commission. These streams covering every aspect of the church will publish a final report on 22 April, or ‘Stephen Lawrence Day’, in recognition of ‘the continuing impact of institutional racism both within the society and the Church’.
It is very big on quotas. Henceforth there should be ‘One UKME (UK Minority Ethnic) clergy elected from each region’. Something called ‘programme cohorts’ should have a minimum of 30 per cent UKME participation ‘in order to build up pipeline supply’. And in that happy bureaucratese at which the C of E excels, the church should develop an ‘online module for anti–racist learning programme’. All shortlists will include ‘at least one appointable UKME candidate’ and where this does not occur, the ‘recruiter’ should provide ‘valid, publishable reasons for failure’.-Spectator
Additionally, there will be changes to education in all Church of England schools, Black History month will be celebrated, with special attention paid to relevant saints and martyrs.
Not just schools will be impacted, either. Their theology itself will be retooled to conform to these changes.
And the church’s theology too must change. The curriculum for ordinands must include participation in ‘an introductory Black Theology module’. They must ‘diversify the curriculum’, ‘produce a workable plan for increasing racial diversity’ and ‘formally adopt Racial Justice Sunday in February of each year’. All this will be overseen by the creation of a ‘Racial Justice Unit’, to be funded in these cash-strapped times ‘for a five-year fixed-term basis in the first instance’. –Spectator
Of course, the self-flagellation over the historical slave trade by people whose great grand parents were not yet born at the time of Emancipation is sure to continue ad infinitum. As we mentioned, there is no room in this philosophy for grace, forgiveness, or reconciliation.
Here’s a radical notion…
Rather than singling out a particular group to be perpetually horsewhipped to satisfy the indignation of another, how about the Church take the time to stop and recognize that the gospel already addresses this issue?
1) We are ALL guilty.
Each of us is guilty of something that would deserve an endless ‘horsewhipping’ of exactly this sort. For some, it may be racial animus. For others, envy. Others still, pride, or sexual sins, or theft, or … you get the idea. If we’re to be entirely honest, each of us has, to some degree or another, ordered from the entire menu of sins available to us.
2) God loves us.
This is far more than just some throwaway phrase. We are made in His image and likeness, and that goes far deeper than our skin color. Our eternal soul, our rational mind, our range of feelings, hopes, dreams, fears, all of it, draws from the likeness we have each been stamped with of Almighty God himself.
3) God forgave YOU.
When he when to the cross, he took on sin, and dealt with it in his own body. (If that kind of an exchange seems like a foreign concept to you, we unpacked it here: Why Does God Even Need The Cross To Forgive Anyone’s Sins?
4) God commands YOU to extend that same forgiveness to others
Jesus specifically took the time to address this in a sermon. One guy was in debt to his boss for a kings’ ransom, and he was unable repay the debt. He begged forgiveness, and it was given to him. That same guy turned around and was ready to send out someone to break the thumbs of a coworker who owed him 50 bucks. (Yes, I modernized the metaphor. Deal with it.)
Here’s what happened next: (Taken from Matthew 18)
When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Does this endless rehearsing of past sins of our fathers SOUND like the kind of grace and forgiveness we are COMMANDED to live in? Or is it look more like a trap being set for us by our adversary to keep us permanently divided? Jesus had a thing or two to say about a house divided, too, didn’t He?
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