We have attempted to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). As an Evangelical institution called to equip students to proclaim the Gospel, engage the culture, and defend the truth (including the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible), Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College (SES) stands for the inherent value of all human life (Gen. 1:27) and against racism in all its insidious forms (Zech. 7:10; Prov. 28:16; Acts 10:34-35; Gal. 3:28) while also acknowledging that some professing Christians throughout the church’s history have attempted to hijack the Gospel message for racist causes.
SES certainly affirms the belief that “black lives matter.” The truth is, that statement is woefully inadequate. As Dr. Corey Miller, President of SES ministry partner Ratio Christi, observed, “All black lives are sacred.”1 In fact, all human lives are sacred, whatever their ethnicity. Why? The fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross to purchase eternal salvation for every human being who will accept Him as their Lord and Savior makes every human being sacred. As Dr. W. A. Criswell famously put it, “God never created a nobody. Everybody is a somebody to God!”
However, in the midst of the very emotion-laden debate currently rending the social fabric of our society as we seek once again to deal with the racism that has always been the serpent in America’s Eden, it is critically important to take extraordinary measures to do everything within our power not to be misunderstood, as well as seek to bring greater understanding to the discussion.
SES, along with fellow Evangelical ministries such as the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and the American Family Association, have grave, fundamental disagreements with their moral, cultural, and political agenda (Meek Addison, “The Stated Goals of Black Lives Matter Are Anti-Christian,” Decision, vol. 61 [July-August 2020]: 10-11.) Consequently, SES cannot mouth the mantra “black lives matter” lest we be misinterpreted as supporting their godless agenda.
Having stated this position, it is important to acknowledge that the cancer of racism still exists in America. Racism exists in every nation because this disgusting form of sinful human pride is common to the fallen human condition (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:23). SES is committed to fighting the corruption and darkness of racism with the salt of the law and the light of the Gospel (Matt. 5:13-16), understanding that all of us are part of the one human race (Gen. 1:26-28; Acts 17:26).
While there are many well-intentioned people who protest peacefully while holding signs that proclaim “Black Lives Matter,” and have no intention of supporting the BLM organization’s goals, many observers will understandably be confused or misled into believing that such protesters do support such an anti-Christian agenda. Thus, it seems prudent for Christians to seek to avoid even the appearance of evil and find other ways to express their justifiable outrage at racial injustice.
Prudence and fairness, however, call all of us to not rush to a judgment of racism (pervasive, systemic, or otherwise) in every interaction or situation where differing levels of melanin are present, whether that involves police officers (most of whom do their best to serve and protect) or civilians (John 7:24). Not every confrontation, offense, or unequal outcome is necessarily because of racism (though racism certainly may be an issue in many instances). There is much debate beyond the scope of this short statement as to the modern usage of the term “racism” in some contexts and the extent of pervasive and/or systemic racism in the United States today. In addition to individual personal experiences, there is an abundance of general data that must be considered in order for anyone to make informed judgments regarding the causes of modern racial tensions and problems. Only then will real solutions to those problems be found, enabling us to effectively fight modern racism wherever it exists.
Racism is an affront to the Gospel and completely contrary to the good all human beings are called to pursue. The Gospel alone provides complete forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, and victory over the sin of racism and every other manifestation of sin (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 6:1). Our Christian convictions undergirded by classical natural law reasoning compel us to fight real racism wherever it is found and to stand for truth, justice, natural rights, and the freedoms they secure. That is why SES is committed to equipping students with the philosophical and theological tools necessary to engage these cultural issues head-on.
Please explore the information below to learn more.
As stated above, all black lives are sacred as a subset of all human lives are sacred, including victims of police brutality, victims of senseless murders, the 230,000 black abortion victims each year, and every other black life past, present, and future. SES does not, however, promote the mantra “black lives matter,” understanding that this decision is a matter of conscience for each Christian. As already noted, the BLM organization, and many of its related positions, are explicitly anti-Christian. Holding to mis-defined notions of love, freedom, and justice, BLM stands against the nuclear family, promotes homosexual and transgender ideologies, and is an admittedly Marxist organization.2
Imagine that a group of people were demonstrating while holding signs that read “Make America Great Again.” Understandably, passersby would assume these people are Trump supporters. When asked by a passerby why the group supports President Trump, one of the demonstrators responds, “What? We don’t support President Trump at all. We don’t like his rhetoric or his demeanor. We simply want to make America great again.” The passerby would likely respond, “What do you mean you don’t support President Trump? You’re using his campaign slogan. You can’t say ‘Make America Great Again’ and not expect people to assume you’re a Trump supporter.” (Note, this example is not meant to imply that anyone should or should not endorse President Trump.)
In the current context, there are many well-intentioned people who protest peacefully while holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter.” Certainly, black lives do matter, and the protesters may have no intention of supporting the BLM organization’s goals. Nevertheless, the “black lives matter” mantra has been so tied to the BLM organization that one is hard pressed to recite the words “black lives matter” without providing implicit endorsement for the organization (whether intentional or not). For this reason, as stated above, SES adopts the stronger, more inclusive, and less confusing phrase that “all human lives are sacred” while emphasizing the need to pursue truth and goodness for all ethnicities, understanding that we are all part of one human race (Gen. 1:28; Acts 17:26).
Please see the info below for the specifics of why BLM’s platform does not promote truth and goodness.
Classical natural law thinking gives us an objective basis, common to all human beings and consistent with God’s revealed Word, from which we can fight the evils of racism and bigotry. The same natural intellective power that enables us to discover and pursue the common good of society should lead everyone to summarily reject the major notions of “wokeness” ideology, critical race theory, “white guilt,” and “white fragility” that are currently promoted in many churches, schools, and mass media outlets as the solutions to our racial issues.
Many of these ideas are built upon the bankrupt philosophy of standpoint epistemology that essentially rejects the ability of humans to know objective truth about reality.11 This is a completely self-defeating proposition as it itself claims to be an objective truth about reality that all humans are somehow capable of knowing. In addition, several of these notions are built on the logically fallacious kafka trap that sets up a false dilemma (ex., “Yes or no, does your mother know you’re stupid?”) thus making accusations of racism completely unfalsifiable. Any reasons one provides to prove he is not a racist is used as evidence for his alleged racism. Moreover, these lines of thinking are often anti-Gospel, making little to no room for repentance, forgiveness, or reconciliation. They remove any personal responsibility and choice from individuals and place guilt on a collective group of people simply because of their skin color. This is the epitome of collectivist and racist thinking. While individuals are certainly impacted and influenced by the societal structure which they have experienced, ultimately individuals are responsible for their own behavior.
We must do better and call upon our fellow citizens to do better. Good philosophy and theology give us the needed tools to work for real change. Edward Feser ironically observes,
“The currency of the term ‘social justice’ originated in Thomistic natural law social theory. … It has to do with the just or right ordering of society as defined by strong families and cooperation between husband and wife in carrying out their respective roles for the sake of children and elders, solidarity and cooperation between economic classes and other social groups, and scrupulous attention to subsidiarity in the state’s relationship to the ‘little platoons’ of society.”12
The current popular understanding of “social justice” is the opposite of the good all humans should pursue and is anything but just. We cannot love our neighbors well and lead them to the Gospel if we sacrifice truth and goodness on the false altar of “wokeness” ideology.
The following words from former President Obama’s 2013 inaugural address summarize nicely, even if not held to consistently, our personal responsibility going forward,
“For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.”13
The great leaders of the mid-twentieth century Civil Rights revolution that did so much to liberate Americans of all ethnicities from our Babylonian Captivity of institutional de jure racism and segregation in which we were imprisoned, understood this truth about our nation. Like Dr. King, many of them were ordained ministers, and their movement was founded on, and immersed in, Christian theology, not Cultural Marxism.
Dr. King, the descendent of slaves, called on America to live up to the promises of its founding documents, which would produce the society to which he inspired, challenged, and dared all Americans to aspire:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” (Martin Luther King Jr., Washington, DC, August 28, 1963).
Thank God these men showed America the path forward from a history tainted by the sin of racism, challenging us to continue to strive to truly become a more perfect union. The brave men and women of the Civil Rights Revolution showed us that with enough faith and love, we could all be liberated from racism’s dehumanizing and crippling impact, white and black alike.
Will you courageously and graciously stand with SES in the face of the contempt, misguided love, hatred, fear, and evil we are currently seeing throughout our society? We must embrace the reality that pursuing anything other than truth and goodness only leads to destruction, for the individual, for the church, and for a nation (Prov. 25:26; Prov. 29:8).