Pastor Walter Jackson was the preacher for the opening session of the Brackett-Morrell Association (Area 7) of the American Baptist Churches of the South. The session was held at the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church Blainesville, VA which was also the first pastoral call for Rev. Jackson in 1971 -1974.
In this sermon Pastor Jackson looks at several passages of scripture; Exodus 14:13,16,21-22, 27-31 and Isaiah 43:19 in the light of how God wants to do a new thing in us and often has to close the door on the old things and ways so that we can’t go back to them in order to move us forward in His NEW THING He is doing in us.
Who doesn’t love stories of people who come form humble origins and become wealthy or influential? Sometimes we call this a self-made man or woman. Except it is a myth. There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. We are God-made!
Was very blessed to hear Hernandez’ talk, buy his book, and speak with him afterwards. I had a lot of questions…
One quote was my big takeaway:
If you don’t see my race, you don’t see me. If you see my race first, rather than my humanity, you also don’t see me.
Racism is very real; brutally real. But race, that on which racism is based, is not real.
Biologically speaking, there is no such thing as race. We are all part of the human race. “Race” is just an arbitrary set of traits based on superficial and subjective similarities and offering no objective boundaries. It is often used by rulers to divide and conquer. Or to curry favor with factions by creating divisions and emphasizing them. Skin color is handy for that. Slavery cannot exist without the sword of government protecting it. If Caesar does not back the slaveholders with iron, the slaves run away and never come back.
For instance, what is a “Latino/Hispanic?” This label is based totally on language and culture, and has nothing to do with physical traits at all. Virtually every skin color can fit under the so-calld race “Hispanic.” And the recent upsurge in genetic information shows that every one of us is a deep blend of all kinds of traits and “races.” Sweet Polly Purebread does not exist anywhere on this planet.
For the record, Hernandez appears to have the physical/linguistic traits of a Black Puerto Rican Hispanic man. He would embrace that heritage. Moving to the US South to go to college created all kinds of tensions for him, and helped him think especially deeply on the topic of race. Of all the thinkers on race, Hernandez makes an unusually stubborn attempt to think clearly.
All “races” have been hard on people who don’t look like them. There are no “noble savages” out there. Aztecs, Incas, Mayans, and the Cherokee held slaves.
Racialism: Giving too much attention to race. Seeing race as the prime identity of any person. Left-wing/progressive and right-wing have a different (but in some ways chillingly similar) flavor of over-emphasis on race.
The West has been trying to institutionalize human rights since the Enlightenment. Everywhere except in the West, this institutionalization of universal human rights has been systematically resisted.
The Natural Law/integrationist approach to race.
The American Founders put natural law principles in their founding documents; throwing their hats over the fence, forcing us, someday, to go get them. They set the standard for human equality, even though most of them (nor us) live up to it. Something for which we have the opportunity to strive.
Personalism: Ethnicity/race is not the heart of human identity. Not intrinsic to who we are. It is a result of the Fall and of Babel. Pentecost overcomes Babel. Reverses the downward slide. Ethnic and racial chasms can be bridged.
The heart of human identity is the IMAGO DEI (We are made in the image of God, both male and female). The peronalist/integrationalist view is optimistic. The spark of God in us will prevail. Tikkun Olam–the creation will be healed.
Our duty as Christians is to invite ourselves and others to live up to these ideals. We must also challenge our leaders to do so.
A form of collectivism. In conflict with Personalism/Integrationist view. Personhood is the goal, not the a priori state of the human being.
Oppression obscures the person, so justice must prevail first before personhood can emerge.
“Sovereignal Freedom” releases the oppressed individual from isolation/marginalization in exchange for service, deference, and loyalty.
Departure point is the collective, not the individual. This is a pessimistic worldview. Martin Luther King was an integrationist. Malcolm X was a separationist. With the death of King, the civil rights movement gave way to a sublimated form of Marxism based on race, not class (as Marx envisioned).
This has manifested itself in diversity training throughout corporate America, assuming falsely that more information will lead to more appreciation of others. This doesn’t work in this case, because the difference between races and cultures is over-emphasized (with separationist assumptions) to start with in such sessions; creating even more division and sending honest conversation underground.
We do need more conversations about racism, etc. The world is getting smaller–but all such conversations need to be based on the dignity of the individual. And the identity of the individual being much more than just “race” or ethnicity.
All of us need to acknowledge:
The beauty of true diversity
The very real history of systemic oppression
Also, we should be able to challenge anyone’s assumptions. Many collectivist/separationists get super-defensive if anyone challenges their dialectical assumptions. It can go ad hominem really fast.
Truth is, everyone’s assumptions are fair game for rational challenge…
Russell Moore heads the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention.
His after dinner keynote at Acton University hit the power chords on the issues of freedom of conscience in a free society.
What follows is a combination of brief notes and my observations/commentary.
Many secularists today encourage us to keep our beliefs out of the public marketplace of ideas. They have no place to put things like:
…being motivated by religious conscience…
We get the feeling that we have other motivations, such as some kind of power grab which they need to block.
We have two challenges before us:
Internal. Helping religious-minded people understand why religious liberty matters. Is the state God? The final authority? What limits the state’s sovereignty? The first amendment starting with religious freedom shows a “priority of conscience” which limits the state.
External. Helping secularists understand that freedom to believe is more than private thinking. It is a freedom to act in spiritually motivated ways. Helping secularists better understand spiritual motivation.
Is “majoritarianism” the solution to everything? Winner takes all?
Can those with exclusive truth claims exist with others? Of course, they tend to be the best at it because of clarity. Exclusivists (with deontological postulates) who believe in religious liberty don’t want to coerce others to believe what they believe. A coerced Christian message (or Gospel) is not a Gospel at all.
Growing secularism forces us to self-define. This is a good thing. But we have to do the work of making it happen. Intellectual laziness comes easily.
We don’t have more atheists today. We have more HONEST atheists.
A majoritarian view of politics is a problem, secular OR religious.
The temptation to use state coercion (force) to eliminate OR establish religion runs totally counter to our founding DNA in America. The founders clearly opposed both. De facto elimination (from the public square) of anything supernatural is an intellectual gutter ball. The tension (and there is indeed tension) must be held, and common sense must prevail in case-to-case situations.
The state does not have the capacity or authority to referee between truth claims. Eliminating the Design Argument from classrooms is over-reaching.
Advocacy for religious freedom is an offensive (literally) act. We can’t just play defense.
Those of us who are religiously motivated need to claim the power to have honest discussions in the public square.
The state does not settle every issue. No one believes that the state does NOT equal “highest truth.”
A state that can pave over conscience can do anything.
People with vague beliefs and no real church/God often over-identify personally with a political movement (right or left).
We don’t want to be persecutors OR to be persecuted.
There is something more important than Caesar. Caesar is not God.