Posts about politics.

, ,

The Growing Danger of White Supremacy, pt. 1

The events in Charlottesville this past week have brought the topic of white supremacy to the forefront, and for good reason. Many are under the impression that white supremacy is an old danger and no longer poses a threat to the future, but events like the one in Charlottesville are waking people up to the reality that this form of racism is still alive and well. It is a major long-term danger.

I speak out a lot about “reverse racism” in our culture today, and some immediately interpret that as being motivated by my own White privilege/prejudice against minorities. But that could not be further from the truth. In fact, it is a strong sign of how their own mind has been warped by the racism that has become popular in our culture today.

Rather, my continual point is that racism, on both sides, springs from the same root. One kind impassions and emboldens the other. Satan cannot cast out Satan, and fighting against White racism by appealing to victimization only exacerbates the overall problem. In fact, the “reverse racism” that has become entrenched in progressive politics today is just as dangerous for stirring up racial strife. Moreover, it is tearing down societal safeguards (such as free speech) that I believe will pave the way for white supremacy in the coming decades if not stopped.

But how can I be so sure that my view of racism is the correct one? I challenge all Christians to submit to the authority of Scripture and seriously consider what it has to say on this issue.

Firstly, Scripture does warn about the dangers of the rich oppressing the poor. This is a real danger that the progressive wing of our nation rightly recognizes. There’s little disagreement here, so I won’t go in depth on this topic.

The controversial issue is that the Scriptures also tell wives to submit to husbands, slaves to submit to masters, and oppressed people to “turn the other cheek” when they are wronged. This is not fair, and the Bible never claims that it is… until the Day of Judgment. The reason that we are to bear unjust treatment in this life is because (1) God promises he will compensate all injustices and right all wrongs on Judgment Day, (2) God forgives us a much greater debt in Christ, and (3) Jesus set the example for us to follow. The biblical teachings on forgiveness and ultimate judgment must be the foundation upon which all prescriptions to the problems of oppression flow. Why do we honor and submit to unjust rulers? Because God promises that He will judge, and in the meantime we show trust in Him when we forgive. The biblical gospel is that we can be free *now* through faith in Christ and forgiveness. We don’t need to stay in inner bondage until our oppressors repent. If we bear unjust treatment we are taught not to rage but to rejoice, for we are promised eternal reward if we bear it rightly. This is most clear in passages like 1 Pet. 2:

18 You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 19 For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.

21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

Those with little faith will complain that obeying these instructions enables and empowers oppression. That would be true, if freedom was primarily an outward thing. But from the biblical perspective, freedom is something we have on the inside. Jesus said that if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. He said this as a member of a conquered and oppressed people group. He never preached a vision of freedom that was about being free of foreign oppressors–he preached about freedom from the effects and consequences of sin, of having abundant life on the inside in the midst of outward persecution and suffering. Karl Marx preached a freedom that came from forcefully taking it from oppressors, but this is not the way of the Kingdom. We forgive, are freed inside, and trust God to right all wrongs at the Judgment.

Misunderstanding this biblical priority makes us vulnerable to unrighteous judgment. In Mat. 7 Jesus warns that we cannot remove the speck from another’s eye unless we first remove the planks in our own eyes. This speaks of offense that clouds our understanding and perspective of others. The nature of holding on to offense is that it becomes unrighteous judgment within us. When we are hurt by the words of another, and it is never dealt with through forgiveness, it will turn into a judgment about how that person is mean/bigoted/stupid/etc. and eventually can morph into “those kinds of people are… mean/bigoted/stupid/etc.” Most Christians I know severely underestimate the importance of forgiveness in their own lives. Think about it! Jesus taught that if someone refused to forgive others then their own sins would be held against them (Mat. 6:14-15). This is an incredible warning. Even a relatively small amount of unforgiveness can warp our perspective of others in a major way. It is a gaping, open door to demonic influence. We must be relentless to remove all offense from our hearts, to be ruthless in forgiveness. Only then can we see clearly and help others see clearly as well.

Any solution to racism in America starts with the preeminence of forgiveness and God’s judgment. There is a God in heaven who will right all wrongs. He will remember the deeds (and misdeeds) of all people, and reward those who obey His commands to forgive and love those who oppress them. In fact, Scripture says that we should rejoice if we undergo undeserved persecution, because if we bear it rightly we receive great eternal reward. Why do we get great reward for this? Because it is both the most difficult response and the most effective in destroying embedded hatred. The great temptation for Christians is to think like the World, to believe that we must have justice now, to nurture offense, and to lose sight of our calling to disciple the nations and teach them to obey Jesus’ commands.

, ,

Police Racism in America?

With every new shooting of a Black American comes a deluge of Facebook posts calling for an end to racism in policing. In the latest shooting, a white, female police officer fatally shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, in what appears to be a bad shooting. I’ve seen the videos and it does appear that there was little cause for lethal force, although I do think it is important to refrain from judgment until an investigation can be done.

If this was a bad shooting, which seems likely at this point, it is indeed a tragedy. I mourn, as I think we all should, the death of a man who probably did not deserve it. The officer, if guilty, should be prosecuted under the law. That being said, I think it is a mistake to lump this shooting in with the raft of other white-on-black police shootings that further cement a narrative of police racism. Here’s why:

  1. Many of these shootings have been woefully misrepresented. The Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson is probably the prime example. Personally, I went from deep sadness to near rage when I actually took the time to investigate the facts of the case. The media portrayed a narrative where Michael the gentle giant was shot with his hands up by a clearly racist officer. That story basically created months of rioting in Ferguson. In fact, Brown was a criminal who had charged Officer Wilson and was rightfully gunned down. This is a major problem. The mainstream media has become so entrenched in a liberal bias at this point that it seems to be intentionally crafting a bird’s-eye-view narrative of this issue that is false. And this is demonstrated in the data.
  2. The statistical fact is that cops shoot almost twice as many whites as blacks (50% vs 26% of police shootings). Though some will argue that blacks are only 13% of the population, this is misleading because they commit the majority of violent crimes. Heather MacDonald writes that “the black violent crime rate would actually predict that more than 26 percent of police victims would be black.” Furthermore, a 2015 DoJ report shows that Hispanic and Black officers are more likely than white officers to shoot blacks. The greater point here is that white on white or black on black police shootings don’t make good TV, but white on black ones are trumpeted on every news network and re-shared ad nuaseum via social media, hence the number of comments on my Facebook wall saying, “how does this keep happening?”
  3. Our media and university system have embraced a deeply flawed concept of racism. I do not refute the fact that racism exists in our police and court system, because racism exists everywhere. On the other hand, I absolutely reject the notion that the only racism that matters is the systemic racism of oppressive groups. It is racist when someone assumes that an officer acted out of racist intent, without actual evidence. It is bigoted when Colin Kaepernick likens cops to pigs. The fact that these racist attitudes are not held by white people does not make them less racist or bigoted.

And this is where the gospel comes in. We live in a flawed world, but God, the great judge of all, promises to judge each person according to his/her deeds and situations. This is a glorious truth. He will make all things right and reward those who bore unfair treatment in faith. He never promises that this world, in this age, will be totally fair or right, but he promises he’ll take all these things into consideration when he judges.

This is important to know, because this truth gives us grace to repent for our own wrongs, and forgive those who wrong us. In forgiving, we free ourselves from offense that locks us in pain and causes us to judge others falsely. My call, especially to my Christian brethren, is to let go of offense in this area so that we can see clearly. Offense and anger cannot cast out wickedness, it only makes it worse.

From that perspective, let’s evaluate each of these shootings in turn. Let’s refrain from condemning all police or making accusations of racism without evidence. Let’s fight for the guilty to be punished, the innocent to be saved, for police reform where needed, and for justice for each person.

, , , , ,

My favorite podcasts

I listen to a lot of podcasts. In fact, since I’ve turned 30, the only time I listen to music these days is if I’m studying or praying. Most of the time in the car, or when I’m doing semi-mindless tasks, it’s either an audiobook or podcast that I’m listening to, and I go through a good deal of them. I’ve subscribed and unsubscribed to many over the years, and here are the ones that remain. So I’ll give my take on each, and if you think you know of any I really should be listening to, let me know!

  1. Line of Fire Radio. (Theology + Politics) This is Michael Brown’s podcast, and there really isn’t a theologian in the world that I align more closely with than him. I think Brown is one of the most credible, balanced, knowledgable, and passionate Christian thinkers out there. He has an incredible handle on Scripture and how it applies to both Christian life and politics, and I’ve learned a lot from his books and youtube debates as well. His podcast format, though, sucks. It’s basically a recording of his national radio show, and the constant commercial interruptions make it a chore to listen to. His formatting and music also seem like they’re stuck in 1980. So, A+ content in a C- format. I’ll go with B. Time to hire a modern producer please!
  2. Equip the Saints. (Church Ministry) This is one I just started listening to. It’s hosted by Chris Cruz, who’s the Young Adult Pastor at Bethel, and basically seems like conversations about a host of ministry topics. It’s too early to give a real opinion on this, but so far it’s been pretty awesome. N/A
  3. Bethel Church Sermon of the Week. (Weekly Sermons) To be honest, I’ve been listening to this one less and less over the years. I still greatly love and appreciate Bill Johnson and Kris Valloton, but I think my preference in listening has changed. In the past couple years of my life I prefer more hard teaching/theology to weekly inspirational sermons. They have great insights on a lot of topics, I just want more hard facts than catchy revelations lately. For most people, I think this is a pretty great podcast to listen to regularly. B+
  4. The Ben Shapiro Show. (Politics) If you care about politics at all, I highly recommend this one. Shapiro is a fount of knowledge; he has like a conservative encyclopedia in his head, and there’s just no one that I’ve found that marries incredible eloquence with fact-backed logic like he does. Just check out some of his youtube videos if you’ve never heard of him. He does tend to stray a bit too much to mockery for my comfort, but unfortunately so do most political commentators. A.
  5. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. (History) This is an amazing history podcast. It’s well researched and entertaining, which is pretty important when trying to learn history. He does a good job trying to be historically objective, and just really has a knack for creating a narrative out of the historical data. The only real objective I have is that he’s really slow at adding more episodes. A-
  6. Freakonomics Radio. (Pop economics/culture/politics). What we’re seeing everywhere right now is the infusion of statistical analysis into all walks of life, which is a good thing. I love how data-driven analysis is combatting conventional wisdom in sports, politics, and, who knows, maybe even religion (one day). Freakonomics is probably the poster-child of this movement, and they occasionally find great insights, like how no one can taste the price of wine, or how abortion is primarily responsible for the drop in crime rates in the 90s (though this one has been academically challenged). It’s insightful; it’s fun; it’s well produced; it just has a lot of topics I don’t care about often. B
  7. The Tim Ferriss Show. (Leadership). Ok, I have to confess, I’ve been subscribed to this one for several months and have yet to listen to an episode. His guest line-up is just amazing, and the topics look fascinating; I just haven’t really taken the plunge to really test it out. Blame it on the thousands of other great things I could be listening to. I read 4 Hour Workweek several years ago and loved it, so I do plan to eventually listen to this. N/A
  8. The Lowe Post. (NBA). This is the best basketball podcast out there IMO, as I think Zach Lowe gives the best consistent basketball analysis. He knows his stuff, articulates it well, and has on knowledgable guests. I like that he appreciates and incorporates saber-metrics, but isn’t overly reliant on them, and isn’t afraid to challenge his guests when he disagrees. I miss his interaction with Bill Simmons, as Simmons has the best narrative eye (he creates compelling stories out of what he sees) and then Lowe would anchor the discussion back in reality. A-
  9. The Grey Nato. (Horology). I’m a closet watch nerd, like, those things that people used to wear on their wrists that tick. James Stacey, who does some of the best reviews for Watch Report and a Blog to Watch, talks about watches and I nerdily listen along. Most people would not enjoy this one at all, but if you know the difference between a Speedmaster Pro and Reduced, check it out. A-

That’s it! I keep hoping that Mike Bickle would put out a decent podcast (come on Mike!) as his online teaching library is just clunky to use on a phone, or that Rick Joyner would do one (though I’d have to use the 2x speed feature for him). Let me know if you know of any great ones!

, , ,

Site is live! What is the kingdom???

Hello everyone,

Welcome (back) to my website. This is not officially a new launch, because I ran this blog for a couple years and had a good amount of posts racked up. This time it’s back up, but with a new theme and landing page that hopefully communicates some of the vision behind the posts. People often ask me what I mean when I talk about the Kingdom of God, because it’s such a loaded term when I talk about it in normal usage. Simply put, the Kingdom is the place where God reigns. It is primarily a spiritual kingdom, which is why Jesus said it was “within” us. But it’s hard to easily understand a spiritual reality like the kingdom. So perhaps an easier way to think about it is to picture “heaven.” Heaven is the place we think of where God’s will is done perfectly, and the full expression of His will is plainly visible. That’s why it’s perfect and the hope of our hearts. There are 2 lies generally believed about heaven though, great big whoppers. The first is that we are supposed to wait to experience it, and the second, that it’s something like singing forever while sitting on a cloud.

The first lie has to do with how the Gospel (Good News) has been redefined. Jesus, when he was on earth, preached the “Gospel of the Kingdom,” which was the good news that the Kingdom of God had come to earth, so one should repent so that he could “enter in.” More simply understood, Jesus was saying that heaven had come to earth, and it was time to experience it NOW. That’s why he went around healing people: he was demonstrating the reality of the kingdom. In the kingdom, there’s no disease and hope reigned eternal. Somewhere in Church history, the gospel was redefined to mean that the Good News was that, if we repented and believed in Jesus, we could go to heaven when we died. This is true, and good news, but it is not the same message. It is the “Gospel of Salvation,” that preaches the way into the kingdom, but then stops. It is hard to understate how devastatingly different this message is.

Because of this understanding of the kingdom, people are made Christians and then essentially told to “be good” until death, which is when the really good stuff happens. So Christians all over struggle to abstain from the things of the world and try to be faithful until death. But this is really only the very first, most elementary of understandings about the kingdom. As I often say, the good news is not that we get to go to heaven when we die; it’s that heaven is here and invading the earth! The true calling of the Church is to function as ambassadors of heaven, demonstrating its reality to a fallen world, and calling all peoples to obedience to Jesus, who is the rightful king of the earth. This gospel is different because it demands that the Church be of a different stuff entirely. We are to have power to heal the sick, raise the dead, and prophesy while also demonstrating the lifestyle of a people who are from heaven – not figuratively, truly! In fact, we can only do the work of the kingdom to the degree that we live in and experience the reality of the kingdom (heaven).

Which is why the second lie is so terrible. It’s that heaven essentially sucks. We sit on clouds and sing with harps for eternity. Are you starting the see the resemblance between this vision of the heaven and that expression in the Church? How often is it that in church we sit in services and sing and can’t wait to leave. The reason why this vision of heaven is damaging is that we are called to bring heaven (the kingdom) on the earth. If our vision of heaven is not compelling, then our “preaching” is not compelling. In fact, singing will only be a small part of what we do there. In the age to come, we will have jobs and eat meals and do many things like we do now. When I envision heaven now, I think less of sunlit clouds and more of a city, which is I think what the Bible hints at more as well. In fact, rightfully envisioning heaven and living in it (!) is the key to being effective on the earth. The key for Christians is that each must start living in his calling. What is your calling?? It’s your eternal job, started now. It’s the thing you were designed to do for eternity in “heaven,” except you start doing it now and see how you were sovereignly designed to do just that.

This blog, in its essence, is the attempt to envision heaven on the earth. What does that look like in each aspect of society? What does that look like in our music and government? What does it look like in our homes and jobs? It is rejecting a religious notion of the church and its lifestyle and embracing a vivid picture of the kingdom of God on the earth.