One of the more controversial issues facing our nation, and in many ways our world today, is the issue of racism. It’s the hottest issue on the news—eclipsing the pandemic. Is racism, or ethnic prejudice as I would prefer to call it, really the driving issue of the day? Could it be that the American people are being played by political groups with a devious agenda centered on an insatiable appetite for….power?
A few years ago, Voddie Baucham coined the phrase, ethnic Gnosticism. The term Gnosticism is a word that comes from the Greek term gnosis which means, having secret knowledge. It came to represent a cult with a set of beliefs that twisted the doctrine of man, God, and salvation into a strange story of philosophical dualism that professed salvation through secret knowledge, or gnosis. Voddie Baucham connects the idea of ethnic superiority to Gnosticism to define the idea that black people (and other ethnicities including white people as well) have the ability to possess secret knowledge of motive, intent, and goals in specific situations such as the recent cases involving police officers and black men. Ethnic Gnosticism is completely disconnected from tangible data and presumes on situations without the necessary information about the individuals involved that would lead to a proper conclusion.
Was Derek Chauvin a racist? It seems that everyone knows Derek Chauvin really well, because within hours of the video surfacing on YouTube—Derek Chauvin was evaluated, examined, and denounced as a racist cop who murdered George Floyd as motivated by his racist heart. The fact of the matter remains, we still don’t know if Derek Chauvin was a racist with white supremacy motives or if he was merely a white man who murdered a black man on the street without the slightest care of the man’s skin color. It may be determined through the trial that he was certainly a racist, but it could likewise be determined that he was merely a murderer who would have done the exact same thing if George Floyd’s skin was white.
At the memorial service for George Floyd, Al Sharpton read a portion of Scripture from Ephesians 6:10-13 and then made the following statement:
We are not fighting some disconnected incidence. We are fighting an institutional, systemic problem that has been allowed to permeate since we were brought to these shores. And we are fighting wickedness in high places.
It was at that very point that Al Sharpton launched off into a politically motivated rant filled with social justice language that was completely disconnected from the intent and aim of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. He called out the “white system,” the President of the United States, the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and continued to lament injustices against the black population while using a biblical text completely out of context at George Floyd’s memorial service.
What about the recent police shooting in Atlanta? Was Garrett Rolfe, the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks, a racist cop? Without any information about the officer involved, he is quickly accused of being a racist cop who “street executed” Rayshard Brooks. On what basis? Because of his skin color? Yet people rush to Twitter and other social media outlets to quickly demonstrate their hatred of racism while Monday morning quarterbacking an intense police situation with an intoxicated man who was resisting arrest and attacking officers.
Following the tragic event, the Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, in a news interview stated that the officers should have “just let him go.” Is that a proper depiction of justice from the leader of a major city in America? A pastor in Atlanta stated a similar thing on Twitter. Is that a biblical display of justice for a man who was D.U.I. and endangering his community? Is that the proper response to a man who attacked and endangered police officers after resisting arrest? That’s what happens when we replace biblical justice with social justice.
The presumption of ethnic Gnosticism is fueling the fires of many problems in our nation today. People claim to know that white police officers are racist if a black person dies during any traffic stop, confrontation, or incident. Such presumption bypasses the due process of the law and leads to further injustice. We have seen this in recent days through riots and burning of businesses based on the “knowledge” that flows out of ethnic Gnosticism—claiming that the officers involved in these recent cases are indeed acting out of racist motivations.
In the case of George Floyd or Rayshard Brooks, could the officer be racist? Yes. Could it be that he was merely guilty of bad policing from a non-racist heart? Sure. Could it be that he made the right call, albeit not the most popular decision, from a non-racist motivated heart to uphold the law and protect the community? Yes. This is why we have a process that must be properly played out as opposed to quickly and abruptly judging people by hashtag wars on social media and mob rage in the streetsI
Can we see that our civilization is at jeopardy? We are on the precipice of making really uninformed and destructive decisions that will have a lasting and negative impact upon our nation as a whole if we continue to allow the nation to be bullied by the mobs of our day. If the mob rules the culture, he who can possess the greatest rage and threat wins the day.
In the midst of all of this, we have evangelical leaders lecturing local churches—insisting that we must listen to stories and experiences of other people and stop talking about statistics and data. Sure, stories and experiences matter, but we can’t make decisions in life detached from and ignorant of real statistics and data. We live in a nation that has provided the greatest opportunities to all ethnicities—including black people—in recent years. We have black leaders in all spheres of our culture (political, religious, economic, educational, athletic, entertainment). Prior to the pandemic, the black population celebrated the greatest employment rates in the history of our nation. And yet, we are being lectured about a dominate white supremacy culture and white privilege that holds back the black population from advancement. We hear this from political and religious leaders.
What about that data? What about those statistics? What about ethnic Gnosticism? What about political agendas? What about the gospel?
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization is using a Marxist ideology with a postmodern deconstructive goal to fuel the flames of ethnic Gnosticism in our culture. The organization exists to disrupt society. The BLM organization promotes critical race theory and intersectionality (CRT/I) as a means of advancing identity politics which serve to divide rather than unite. An organization that claims to stand for the dignity of black lives supports the murder of hundreds of thousands of black babies every single year. The BLM organization is a perverse and divisive group that seeks to destroy black families, murder black babies, divide ethnicities, fuel ethnic prejudice and superiority, fuel a spirit of anarchy (#DefundThePolice), and point the black population to the democratic politicians for the answers to the problems of human depravity. All of this under the umbrella of change.
Where does ethnic prejudice originate? We inherit it from our forefather, Adam. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they plunged the entire human race into sin. According to Romans 5:12, “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” That means that we are born as sinners. The idea that we are born completely innocent and at some point we pass through the “age of accountability” where we determine the difference between right and wrong and actively engage in trespassing God’s law is simply the product of corrupt theology.
According to David, he was a sinner even from his mother’s womb (Psalm 51:5). The only two humans in the history of the human race who lived without any stain of sin and were completely innocent in the eyes of God were Adam and Eve. Not one person has been born completely innocent and without the stain of sin throughout the history of the world since the days of Adam and Eve.
We find ethnic prejudice interwoven throughout the fabric of humanity. The Jews struggled with this problem and had to be rebuked as the New Testament Church was growing and the gospel was bringing together both Jew and Gentile into one covenant family. Jews looked down at Gentiles – often referring to them as “dogs.” Proselytes to the Jewish religion were never fully accepted within the religious circles of the Jews.
The Jews, were known as “the circumcision” which was a sign of their covenant with God. As a separate people, they took great pride in being the chosen ones of God (see Deuteronomy 7). They looked down upon the Gentiles (non-Jews) as “the uncircumcision.” They were devalued as the savages, rebels, and unholy people. Often Jews would avoid passing through Samaria because they viewed them as “half-breeds” and people who had broken their covenant with God. The ethnic prejudice was so bad that Jewish women were not permitted to aid in the birth of a Gentile woman’s child because they would be seen as aiding in bringing another God hater into the world.
Where did such ethnic pride and prejudice come from? It’s a product of human depravity. As David made clear in Psalm 51:5, we are born sinners. We inherit our sin nature from Adam and the variations of sin flow out of that seed of depravity. Regardless of our melanin count, we are all capable of possessing ethnic prejudice in our hearts. To engage in prejudice attitudes and actions against another ethnic group is sinful. It disrupts society and breeds ethnic superiority which is detestable and destructive.
In order to oppose the injustice against George Floyd—many people have engaged in forms of ethnic prejudice behavior. Signs were placed in windows of businesses while cities were being destroyed by mobs during the riots that read, “Black Owned Business.” In order to be consistent, we must see this as a racist message. When black people call for white people to kiss their boots in order to repent of racism, that’s actually an example of ethnic prejudice. When the elites publish statements about “White Fragility” and “White Privilege” requiring white people to “check their privilege” at every given turn—that’s nothing less than a form of ethnic prejudice and discrimination against white people.
How do we get beyond this ethnic division in our culture? It’s only through the message of the cross of Jesus. Black lives matter to Jesus, and therefore, black lives matter to the Church of Jesus. We value all human life as image bearers of God (imago Dei). The very best way to see life through a proper lens is to look at the world through a gospel lens rather than a disruptive Marxist lens. Only in Jesus will we have true unity. That’s a picture we see in the Church of Jesus—a foretaste of heaven.
There are no shortcuts or bypasses to overcoming ethnic prejudice in the hearts of people. That’s why Paul said the following to the church in Galatia, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). This is why the Church of Jesus Christ has the greatest message of hope to an ethnically divided culture. Political rallies and open riots will not win the war—only in Jesus will this world finally and forever be cleansed of ethnic superiority and we long for that day to come (Revelation 21)!
As we survey the sea of humanity, the creative genius of God is put on display as we look at the multiplicity of ethnicities with variations of facial features and melanin count who populate the human race. One day, when Christ returns and ushers in God’s Kingdom, a people of all tongues, tribes, people, and nations will be gathered together under the banner of King Jesus who will rule and reign and who will receive the praise of his people.
We long for that day when racism is gone. When we gather as one people in unity and harmony without the slightest stain of sin. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!
Is all of this about real racism or is it about politics and power? Sure, real racism exists in our world, but we need to engage the situations with real knowledge rather than ethnic Gnosticism and ethnic prejudice.
We must replace ethnic Gnosticism with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ must lead the way.