John Perkins’ Daughter: Charles Evers’ Statement is Accurate

Did John MacArthur visit the Lorraine Motel in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Several times since at least 2007, MacArthur has claimed that he was with civil rights icons John Perkins and Charles Evers as they traveled to Memphis in the hours after MLK’s murder. MacArthur added that he stood on the balcony where King was shot and visited the house where James Earl Ray fired the shots, all within hours of the assassination. A February 4 NOQ Reports article skeptically addressed this matter using an interview with civil rights icon Charles Evers. In the report, Evers denied he went to Memphis that night with MacArthur.

The NOQ Reports article quickly came under fire. Critics claimed it was biased and omitted some critical information. Due to the controversy and as a matter of historical interest, I became curious about the story and asked Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace to You (MacArthur’s teaching ministry), for additional clarification of several of the issues. He suggested I interview John Perkins.

Although it took several weeks for us to connect, I was able today to speak to Deborah Perkins, one of John Perkins’ daughters, who said she was empowered to speak for her father on this matter. I asked if John Perkins had gone to Memphis within hours of MLK’s murder. She said, “That’s not a comment we can offer a comment on.” She added, “Charles Evers has already commented on that. He already said that wasn’t right.” I asked, “So, do you think Charles Evers’ statement is accurate?” Ms. Perkins said, “Yes, Charles Evers’ statement is accurate if he made it.”

Ms. Perkins said that John MacArthur was a friend of Dr. Perkins and that was all they wanted to say but Charles Evers was accurate in what he said about the situation.

To make sure that I understood Charles Evers’ position and that he did indeed make the statement attributed to him in the February report, I called and talked to him. He repeated his claim that he did not remember John MacArthur, and he did not remember going to Memphis that night. He added that he might have gone to Memphis within days of the murder but he didn’t remember for sure.

I asked for response or comment from Johnson and Rev. MacArthur (through Johnson) but they didn’t response by the time I published this. I will be happy to add any response they offer.

Without a lengthier interview with Dr. Perkins, I still don’t know in detail what happened that night or if there was ever a trip to Memphis (within a week, a month?). Perhaps everybody involved has a fuzzy memory for the events of the time.

In summary, when John Perkins’ representative had the chance to confirm John MacArthur’s story, she declined to comment; then she spontaneously affirmed the accuracy of the person who said it wasn’t true. This is what I can offer at this time. What it means is surely in the eye of the beholder.

Accreditation Commission: The Master’s University Still on Probation, President Transition Required by End of 2019

Today, the WASC Senior College and University Commission posted a letter dated March 4 which describes their decision to keep The Master’s University and Seminary on probation. The letter also informs the school that the search for a new president to replace John MacArthur should be completed by the end of 2019 (see also this post). According to the letter, TMUS’s board of directors had decided to extend that date until later. The WASC team determined that was not in keeping with the plan previously established.

The Commission saw the lack of movement of finding MacArthur’s replacement as a sign of concern regarding organizational integrity. The Commission stated:

In addition, the institution made a commitment to transition its chief executive officer from the position of president to Chancellor of the Seminary within 18 months of the date of the visit. Yet, at the panel interview, the president mentioned that the Board has extended that date and had still not taken steps to define the requirements and job description for the institution’s next president. The Commission is concerned that TMUS still struggles in the area of operational integrity and transparency.

For this and other reasons, the Commission decided TMUS was out of compliance with the accreditation standards.

The Commission found that The Master’s University and Seminary is not in compliance with WSCUC Standards 1 and 3 and acted to continue the sanction of Probation.

Being on probation can lead to dire consequences for an institution of higher learning.

Under U.S. Department of Education regulations, when the Commission finds that an institution fails to meet one or more of the Standards of Accreditation, it is required to notify the institution of these findings and give the institution no longer than two years from the date of this action to correct the deficiencies. If an institution has not remedied the deficiencies at the conclusion of this sanction period, the Commission is required, under U.S. Department of Education regulations, to take an “adverse action,” which in this case would take the form of withdrawal of accreditation.

TMUS is required to respond to the following concerns:

1. The Board should ensure the successful succession and transition of the Presidential role including conducting a national search by 12/31/2019. (CFRs 3.8, 3.9)
2. The Board and Administration should continue to communicate with their constituents in the TMUS community regarding personnel actions and leadership succession. (CFRs 1.7, 3.2, 3.6)
3. TMUS should establish systematic two-way communication practices to promote consistent and sustainable flow of information among administrators, faculty, staff and students. (CFRs 1.6, 3.7, 3.10)
4. TMUS should establish and implement a formal procedure that allows for a safe environment for staff and faculty to express grievances and ethical concerns. (CFRs 1.7, 3.2)

The Commission’s Standards 1 and 3 are as follows (read all of them here):

Standard 1: Defining Institutional Purposes and Ensuring Educational Objectives

The institution defines its purposes and establishes educational objectives aligned with those purposes. The institution has a clear and explicit sense of its essential values and character, its distinctive elements, its place in both the higher education community and society, and its contribution to the public good. It functions with integrity, transparency, and autonomy.

Standard 3: Developing and Applying Resources and Organizational Structures to Ensure Quality and Sustainability

The institution sustains its operations and supports the achievement of its educational objectives through investments in human, physical, fiscal, technological, and information resources and through an appropriate and effective set of organizational and decision-making structures. These key resources and organizational structures promote the achievement of institutional purposes and educational objectives and create a high-quality environment for learning.

Each of these standards has criteria for review (CFR) which are identified in the letter. When CFR is referred to above in the letter, those are the criteria which are of concern to the Commission.

Did John MacArthur Visit the Lorraine Motel in the Wake of the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.?

On several occasions, Rev. MacArthur has claimed he visited the crime scene where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead on April 4, 1968. This issue has taken on new urgency with the publication of an investigative report in NOQ Reports written by Rogers.

Over several decades, MacArthur has described hearing about the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. In essence, he has said he was in the Jackson, MS NAACP office of Charles Evers, brother of civil rights martyr Medgar Evers when a man entered the office and said King had been shot. At that point, several of the men including John Perkins and MacArthur traveled to Memphis to see the crime scene. MacArthur claims the scene wasn’t monitored and the men were able to inspect the King’s blood stains at the Lorraine Motel and examine the bathroom from where James Earl Ray fired the fatal shots.

In Rogers article, Charles Evers is quoted saying he was in his car when he received word of the shooting. In the first edition of a book where he gives an account of the event, he says he heard of the shooting on the radio. In subsequent accounts, he said he got a call on his car phone. In any case, he was not in his office in Jackson.

However, I have found evidence that supports MacArthur’s contention that he was with Perkins. In John Perkins’ 1993 book, Beyond Charity, Perkins wrote the following:

While this passage doesn’t place MacArthur and Perkins in Evers’ office (and a later account from Perkins doesn’t mention Evers), it does place them together. This information was not in Rogers’ article.

A more important issue to me is whether or not Perkins and MacArthur went to Memphis that night (or at any time) and examined the crime scene. MacArthur has repeatedly said he did in the wake of the shooting even saying the security was lax which allowed them to go to the place where King was killed.

This seems unlikely since a curfew had been imposed and reportedly security was tight at the Lorraine Motel according to available police records. The Rogers’ article did an admirable job of bringing this information together.

I have emailed and messaged John Perkins via social media to ask him about his recollections of this night. He has yet to answer. In 2018, he told an interviewer that he was informed via the radio and community members after preaching. There was no mention of MacArthur, Evers or the NAACP office. I have been unable to find any mention in any of his books of a trip to the Lorraine Motel that night.

According to John Perkins, John MacArthur was in MS with him when MLK, Jr. was killed. I also believe that Evers was in his car when he heard about the death of King. I can understand how memory can reconstruct certain elements of an event. However, the trip to Memphis is another matter.

I would really like to hear from John Perkins about what happened after he heard the news. The logistics of that night and distance between Jackson and Memphis make it seem improbable that MacArthur’s detailed accounts are accurate as described. I can’t judge the situation beyond that and am certainly not willing to say anything more with certainty without hearing from Perkins.

(Information above without links is derived from Rogers’ article. Consult that article for more on the police reports surrounding the aftermath of the King shooting.)

 

John MacArthur Comments on Transition to Chancellor of The Master’s University

Out today:

Statement from John MacArthur
October 22, 2018

For 33 years, since 1985, I have had the rare and enriching privilege of serving The Master’s University and Seminary as president.

I originally signed up for 5 years, thinking I would be able — along with my pastoral ministry at Grace Community Church — to help strengthen the University and Seminary. I underestimated the hold that educating young Christians for gospel influence on the world would have on me.

Class after class, year after year, as new students arrived, I found it impossible to let go of the opportunity to educate their minds and hearts to take the Light of God’s truth into this dark world. So, I have stayed and loved every day of my service.

However, with the growth of the University and Seminary, demanding more leadership now and in the future, the time has come for me to transition to the position of Chancellor of the University and President of the Seminary.

The transition will provide for a new president for the university. This will occur over the next 18 months.

I rejoice in the 91-year impact of this institution, because of its faithfulness to the Bible, to the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and His beloved church.

I am confident of the continuing influence of these schools for the kingdom of our Lord and I look forward to continuing to serve The Master’s University and Seminary in the years ahead.

The Master’s University Board Responds to Accreditation Charges

On the school website, the board of The Master’s University responded to the probation imposed by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The letter was sent to faculty and staff this morning by John Stead, the provost of the college.

You can read the letter. Here is the closing:

In addition, since receiving the report, the full Board has met on three separate occasions to discuss the findings and requirements in the Final Commission Letter and to develop a definitive action plan. As a result of many hours of discussion and planning, including the tireless work of smaller groups and committees, we have made significant progress.

Working with the administration, faculty, and staff, we have created a comprehensive plan—a thorough set of specific action steps to address every concern WSCUC has raised. To ensure that these steps are implemented, we have assigned all of them to specific staff or members of the Board. We have also laid out a clear timeline in order to demonstrate to the Commission that we are making real progress toward meeting or exceeding their recommendations. The Board will thoroughly assess our institutional progress in implementing this plan at our October
meeting.

It is our hope that our resolute response will allay concerns among our University and Seminary family. We recognize the crucial importance of this issue to all our students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and ministry support partners.

My reaction is that keeping the plan private appears to cut the faculty out of the process. While it may be typical at small schools not to involve or inform faculty, that seems to be part of what the WASC report raised as a concern. I don’t know how hearing that a plan is in the works but not knowing any of the specifics could allay concerns.

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Santa Clarita Signal Calls for Changes at The Master’s University

Recently, John MacArthur’s The Master’s University was put on probationary status by The Western Association of Schools and Colleges – the regional group which accredits TMU.  Among other concerns, WASC cited a “climate of fear, intimidation, bullying, and uncertainty among significant numbers of faculty and staff” at the Santa Clarita, CA school.

Now the Santa Clarita newspaper –The Signal — is calling for changes at the school. In an editorial published last Sunday, the editorial board summarized the WASC report and called on the school to take the recommendations seriously. However, the editorial board opined that “there are hints surfacing that indicate those at the top are playing the role of victim” and added:

For example, TMU President John MacArthur, reportedly speaking before a group of Master’s Seminary students last weekend, portrayed the sanctions as an attack on the university and on him personally.

“These are the best of times for us, and we know that because the enemy is working so hard,” he told the group, according to a recording posted online. In the recording, the speaker characterizes it as “a rather orchestrated attack, if not by any human source, then certainly by Satan himself. There was an attack directly on me. And it came in all kinds of forms.”

The op-ed concludes with this admonition:

It’s going to take some major changes to restore faith in TMU and its leadership. Hopefully the right people are willing to look in the mirror and see that TMU’s problems are not the work of the devil, but of human beings.

The Two Faces of TMU

There is a contradiction between MacArthur’s story and what has been told to the press. In a Christian Post article on the subject, the TMU spokesman never refers to Satan. Yet, to his students, MacArthur downplayed the charges and blamed the Prince of Darkness. In light of these mixed messages, it is understandable that the outside observers would question TMU’s leadership.

 

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Anti-Social Justice Website Says Social Justice Threatens Human Rights, Invokes Hitler and Stalin

I have written recently about John MacArthur’s complaints about Christians who seek social justice. In short, he believes the pursuit of social justice is a hindrance to the purity of the gospel. You can read all about it here.

Last week, MacArthur and some like minded folks released the “Social Justice and the Gospel” statement. To support that statement, the signers posted an article on their website by Samuel Sey.  All at the same time, Sey manages to trivialize the Holocaust, compare ideological opponents to Nazis, and define social justice in a manner that social justice Christians won’t recognize. Here is a sample of the bizarre claims:

Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party were a threat to Jews because social justice is a threat to human rights.

Social justice was the basis for stripping rights away from Jews in the Khmelnytsky Uprising. Social justice was the basis for discrimination against Jews in the Soviet Union. Social justice was the basis for the holocaust in Nazi Germany. Social justice is the basis for South Africa’s initiative to strip property rights from White farmers. Social justice is the basis for stripping a pre-born baby’s right to life.

Bad people have invoked Christianity for evil deeds, should we blame Christianity for their actions?

In fact, actual social justice was not the basis for any of these catastrophes. The impulse to basic fairness that social justice Christians are calling for isn’t the basis for any of these events. If innocent people are being killed, deprived of their rights, or discriminated against, social justice isn’t at work.

Rambling Man

Sey then rambles selectively through social justice history. He mentions the Frankfurt School as leading social justice but fails to mention that the Nazis closed the school down.  Although he does correctly note that a priest is credited with coining the term “social justice,” Sey doesn’t tell readers that social justice has become a vital part of Catholic practice and witness.  One would not be smarter about the subject after reading this piece.

Social Justice Is Awful Until It Isn’t

Most of this article is incoherent. He starts with Hitler, then rambles around awhile on his way to telling us what he favors. However, what he favors in one breath, he disfavors in the next.

When the Bible commands us to “hate evil, love good, and establish justice” (Amos 5:15), it isn’t instructing us to eliminate disparities in society. Instead, it instructs us to identify evil and oppressive laws in society, so that being led by compassion and conviction, we would work to protect human rights for all. In other words, we should be like or support people like William Wilberforce and Francis Grimké, who identified slavery and segregation, respectively, as violations of human rights and worked tirelessly to establish liberty for all.

If we can identify objectively evil and oppressive laws against members in our society today, then we must name these laws. We should not, however, be distracted by perceptions of privilege and disparities. Otherwise, we will sow division into society and division into the church, and thereby threatening work to establish human rights and threatening work to advance the gospel.

First, Sey wants us to be like Wilberforce and Grimke but then he says we should not be distracted by “perceptions of privilege and disparities.” Wilberforce worked to end the slave trade and Grimke helped found the NAACP. Sorry, Mr. Sey, Wilberforce and Grimke weren’t distracted, they were focused; focused on eradicating privilege and disparities in the extreme.

In sum, the bizarre attempt to use Hitler and Stalin as negative examples of social justice fails miserably. One must have passionate hatred for social justice initiatives to bring Hitler and Stalin into the discussion.

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About The Master’s University #1 Right Choice Ranking

Yesterday, Dee Parsons from Wartburg Watch tweeted a question about the The Master’s University’s claim that the school was ranked as a #1 “right choice” school by the Wall Street Journal. Here’s what The Master’s University said about their rating by the WSJ in 2016.

In the September 29 edition of The Wall Street Journal, The Master’s University was ranked #1 for being the “right choice” of institutions rated among the nation’s 4,000 colleges and universities.

Congratulations to President John MacArthur and the faculty and staff of The Master’s University for your exemplary work. And to the students and their families, congratulations on choosing TMU and making the “right choice.”

In 2017, TMU proclaimed:

the Wall Street Journal recently recognized TMU as #1 Right Choice University amongst all U.S. colleges/universities for the 2nd year in a row

In Medium, TMU wrote this:

The Wall Street Journal has ranked TMU number 1 in the country for two years in a row as the top “right choice” university.

Indeed the WSJ did mention TMU in 2016 and 2017 but the ranking was more of a rating by the students. WSJ asked 100,000 students a series of questions about their college including “if you could start over, would you still choose this college?” On that question, TMU students gave their school ratings higher than students at any other school. Lancaster (PA) Bible College ranked second on that question. LBC’s write up about the survey more clearly explains the significance of the rating.

The Wall Street Journal surveyed students and asked them a series of questions to determine each institutions ranking. For the Right Choice category, students were asked, “If you could start over, would you still choose this college?” LBC earned a score of 9.46 out of 10.

The WSJ articles are behind a paywall but the 2017 article on the college rankings described the category as students’ response to being asked “if they would choose their school again.” According to the WSJ,

The Master‘s University, a small Christian liberal-arts school in Santa Clarita, Calif., topped all comers in that category, despite not cracking the top 500 schools in the overall ranking.

In a related article, the WSJ said,

The survey also asked students three questions that weren’t taken into consideration in the rankings, including whether students would choose their school again. Highest marks again went to schools with a religious affiliation, including The Master’s University in Santa Clara, Calif., Lancaster Bible College and Brigham Young, Hawaii.

Obviously, TMU’s students believe they made the right choice, so I don’t mean to take anything away from TMU. However, there is a difference between WSJ ranking a school and students rating a school via a survey. When TMU portrays an average score on a student rating as a merit-based ranking by the WSJ, there is potential for their audience to be misled.

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John MacArthur: Victims are Everywhere

Last Sunday, John MacArthur preached on social justice at his church. This is an extension of his recent blog posts which have ignited passionate responses from opponents and supporters alike.

In his Sunday sermon, MacArthur repeated many of the statements and themes from his blog posts. In this post, I want to touch on his definition of social justice and victimization.

Social Justice

MacArthur says

Social justice is a term that describes the idea that everyone has the right to equal upward mobility – everybody in a society: equal upward mobility, equal social privilege, equal finances or equal resources. And if you don’t have those rights and you don’t have those opportunities the society is, by nature, unjust.

Earlier in the sermon he claims social justice is a “part of classic socialism.” I can’t say with certainty but I doubt many social justice evangelicals mean this when they advocate for social justice. I know I don’t.

I will acknowledge that I haven’t seen a consistent definition of social justice. However, this simply doesn’t look right to me. Discussion about economic policy is a distraction here. Most justice minded Christians who are bothered by MacArthur’s views aren’t socialists. They simply believe Christians should advocate for what’s right when the status quo is unjust and wrong.

Victims are Everywhere

Rev. MacArthur doesn’t speak well of victims, except when he does. In a 2016 tweet, he seemed to call for social justice for a young girl in his congregation.

MacArthur called on people to sign a Change.org petition targeting 13 government officials in an effort to get a just result for a young child. I don’t know enough about the situation to give an opinion but I can understand why someone would advocate for this child to stay with the foster family. In my opinion, creating and signing a petition to attempt to bring awareness to a wrong is a great thing to do.

In contrast, in his sermon, he seems to mock people who have truly been harmed.

So we have a growing category of victims of all kinds of microaggressions. And these are the people that are demanding social justice, and by that they mean they want to stop being oppressed by all the oppressors in society. And the more victim categories someone is in, the more empowered that person is, the more important that person is, the more truthful that person is, the more authoritative that person is. If you’re in multiple groups this is a new idea called “intersectionality.” All the segments of victimization come together for you, and your multiple victim status makes you the most authoritative person, the one to be listened to. But if you are not in any victim group, you have nothing to say, “Shut up, and sit down.” That’s where we are. We have an ever-increasing belligerent mass of victims who are defining their lives by what other people have done to them.

At one point, he inexplicably highlights the #metoo movement.

All who die under the judgment of God die for their own sin and not somebody else’s. That is clear and unambiguous. But it is human nature to fight against it to say, “I’m a good person. I’m a good person. There’s just bad people around me who have done bad things to me,” sometimes two hundred years ago, sometimes two generations ago. Sometimes it’s just part of the dominate male chauvinistic culture. Or sometimes it’s just homophobia.

“All this has been done to me.” And so, hashtag, “Me too. I’m a victim.” “Me too, me too. I was abused, I was abused, I was abused.” “Somebody offended me. Somebody made a micro-aggression against me.”

So I’m a victim of certain regional attitudes or gender attitudes, or sexual preference attitudes, or hate speech, or economics, or education. I’m just a victim of intersecting prejudice and oppression, and I’m victim.” I’ve go so many categories I ought to be given a medal of honor for all my categories of victimization.

Everybody’s offended me, people I don’t know. Dead people have offended me, living people have offended me. You offend me. I’m a victim of past injustice and inequity. and present rejection, discrimination, offense. And most of you don’t even know how much you offend me, it’s unconscious. And by the way, if you’re not a victim, then you’re a part of the oppressor group. You must repent. I’m not surprised that exists in the culture, because that’s what Adam said. I mean, that’s how fallen people react. They don’t take responsibility, they just blame somebody else; and they’re perfectly happy to blame God.

When MacArthur makes light of the suffering of real people, it makes his assurances of concern for them ring hollow. Also in this sermon,  he said:

That is not to say that we’re not to love people and live justly, and care for them, and minister to the people who have been treated unfairly and unkindly and mercilessly; we are as Christians. Of course, we are. We are to be known by our love, love to one another and love to the whole world. And we are to be as Christ was to them, caring for them, meeting their needs, ministering to them, loving them. That is a result of salvation. The question is, “Is the social gospel a part of the saving gospel, or is caring for people a result of the gospel?”

I submit you can’t minister to people who have been treated unfairly if, at the same time, you dismiss them or make light of their situation. Part of living justly and treating people fairly is taking them seriously. Ridiculing, belittling, and minimizing the reality of their situation and status in society does not communicate love and concern.

In fact, there is no real conflict between the actual gospel and social justice. African-American pastor Terrance Jones certainly doesn’t believe there is. He attended The Master’s Seminary and is candid about what he experienced at the school. I will leave it to readers to determine the meaning of what Jones shared in his most recent post:

Placement is a unique hallmark of The Master’s Seminary. Not only do they train you to be a pastor, they also serve as a bridge between graduates and churches/ministries around the world. Churches can upload their information and available positions, while students can upload their résumé as they near graduation. When I was a student, the seminary boasted of having a 90% placement rate. This meant that within 6 months of graduating a student could expect to find a staff position within a church/ministry somewhere or enroll in another degree program. What wasn’t discussed with African American students was that we were a part of the 10% that could not be placed in a ministry position. I put my head together with faculty and admissions staff members to figure out the numbers. We determined that by the time I graduated in 2011 the school had only facilitated the placement of approximately 3 African American students in 25 years. According to people connected to TMS since 2011, not much has changed.

The rationale given to me as to why this problem existed was, “black churches don’t want sound doctrine.” What??? Black people do not have a monopoly on bad theology. I can think of several heretics of different ethnicities.

What is it that is keeping those placement rates depressed? Is it the gospel? Surely not! What else could it be?*

After all of this, let me advocate for intentional efforts to right wrongs when we see them. This shouldn’t be controversial or require a dissertation to justify it. When we see a wrong, we need to speak out about it, even if that wrong is being perpetrated or overlooked by people in our tribe, political or religious. Where we disagree about what’s wrong, let’s talk about it like we’re in this together, because whatever you think about the afterlife, we are here now.

*I asked Terrance Jones about how many black students attended the seminary during that time frame and he said about 50. He had reliable information that none had been placed from 2015-2018. Of course, if the school has an official statement on the subject, I would be happy to include it here.

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John MacArthur Doesn’t Know Any Evangelical Churches Which Disrespect Minorities

Possibly in response to reaction to his remarks to seminary students last week, John MacArthur took a more conciliatory tone in his most recent blog post on social justice. Published Monday August 27, MacArthur said, “I do not relish controversy, and I particularly dislike engaging in polemical battles with other evangelical Christians.” However, he defended his stance on social justice saying, “But as my previous posts in this series demonstrate, when the gospel is under attack from within the visible church, such controversy is necessary.”

About racism, MacArthur wrote:

Racism is a stain on American history that has left shame, injustice, and horrible violence in its wake. The institution of slavery and a costly civil war left a deep racial divide and bred bitter resentment on every side. No sensible person would suggest that all the vestiges of those evils were totally erased by the civil rights movement of the mid-twentieth century. Civil rights legislation now guards the legal principle of equal rights for all Americans, but no law can change the heart of someone who is filled with prejudice or bitterness.

In the next passage, he seems to move from understanding the ravages of racism in our history to not understanding it.

As Christians we know that the human heart is evil, so undoubtedly there are still people who secretly harbor animosity against ethnicities other than their own. But any open expression of acrimony, ill will, or deliberate antagonism across ethnic lines will be scorned and emphatically rejected across the whole spectrum of mainstream American life today.

Of course, people everywhere still tend to be oblivious to or inconsiderate of customs, traditions, community values, and ethnic differences outside their own culture. Culture clash is a universal problem, not a uniquely American quandary—and it’s not necessarily an expression of ethnic hostility. But Americans’ contempt for racial bigotry is now so acute that even accidental cultural or ethnic insensitivity is regularly met with the same resentment as blind, angry racism—and even a simple social gaffe is likely to be treated the same as bigotry. There are people—increasing numbers of them—so obsessed with this issue that they seem able to find proof of racism in practically everything that is said or done by anyone who doesn’t share their worldview.

I understand when fallen, worldly people filled with resentment lash out at others that way. I don’t understand why Bible-believing Christians would take up that cause. I thought the evangelical church was living out true unity in Christ without regard for race. That has certainly been my experience in every church I’ve ever been part of, and it’s also what I have seen in the wider evangelical world. I don’t know of any authentically evangelical church where people would be excluded or even disrespected because of their ethnicity or skin color. Just last Sunday night—as we do every month—we received about a hundred new members into Grace Church. It was another testimony to God’s love crossing all ethnic lines, as the group was composed of Hispanics, Filipinos, Chinese, Ugandans, Nigerians, Mongolians, Koreans, Ukrainians, Armenians, Lithuanians, Russians, Austrians, people of Arabic descent, as well as black and white Americans.

It seems to me that there are many minority brothers and sisters who have been crying out in the church hoping that establishment white preachers will listen to the disrespect and exclusion that they experience. MacArthur says in this paragraph that he doesn’t know any “authentically evangelical church” where this is happening. One of his alums, Terrance Jones, wrote a response to one of his blog posts recently. I wonder if he read it.

When he says those who seek racial reconciliation are a disaster for the gospel, I suspect they feel disrespected. Perhaps, white pastors who dismiss minority voices should listen first and speak later, much later.

Furthermore, look and listen to the culture. We have a president who has hosted 100 evangelical big names last night who early in his term said there were “very fine people” among neo-Nazi demonstrators. That same president prefers immigrants from white Norway versus black and brown “s***hole countries.” These same evangelical leaders give this president the highest praise.

When evangelical leaders are silent when the president or other elected leaders divide us through their racism or xenophobia, somebody must come along side them. Social justice minded Christians have done so. What good does MacArthur’s criticism do?

MacArthur finishes his post by criticizing apologies to groups for past wrongs.

So by this view of “social justice,” a person’s skin color might automatically require a public expression of repentance—not merely for the evils of whatever culture his ancestors were part of, but also for specific crimes he cannot possibly have been guilty of.

There’s nothing remotely “just” about that idea, and certainly nothing related to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The answer to every evil in every heart is not repentance for what someone else may have done, but repentance for our own sins, including hatred, anger, bitterness, or any other sinful attitude or behavior.

When it comes to personal salvation, of course individual repentance is necessary. However, no social justice advocate I know ever promoted public repentance as a way to salvation. This is a straw man.

Taking it a bit further, the value of representatives of government or of a church saying we were wrong is symbolic and can be healing. Individual leaders took actions on behalf of organizations or nations. Leaders today should lead those organizations and nations and say those actions were wrong. For instance, I am a supporter of the Native American Apology Resolution.  Conservative Christian Sam Brownback pushed it through Congress when he was a Senator and it was signed by Barack Obama (even though it was never really publicized well).

A critical response to MacArthur’s series on Social Justice posted Wednesday by TMUS alum Terrance Jones.

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Image: The Master’s University, by Lukasinla [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons