Catching Up

Mark Galli thinks evangelicals have opened a new chapter on race. But I wonder if it is the chapter that mainline Protestants opened — oh — fifty years ago:

We are currently experiencing a new “God moment,” when God is shining his burning light on how our nation and our churches are fractured by racial division and injustice. In the past two years, we’ve seen image after image of injustice perpetrated against black Americans. We’ve studied the statistics. And most important, we’ve heard the anguished cry of a suffering community that is understandably hurting, angry, and demanding progress.

Moderate white evangelicals, who make up the bulk of our movement, see more clearly than ever how racism is embedded in many aspects of our society, from business to law enforcement to education to church life. We have been slow to hear what the black church has been telling us for a while. And in all that, we hear God calling his church to seek justice and reconciliation in concrete ways.

To be evangelical now means to be no longer deaf to these cries or to God’s call. In 2012, only 13 percent of white evangelicals said they thought about race daily (41% of black evangelicals did so). Today, we’re thinking about race more than daily—due partly to the news cycle, and partly to our rediscovering biblical teaching.

I used to hear a lot about how evangelicals were always about 10 to 15 years behind the times.

So I wonder when evangelical Protestants like Galli will get around to reading John McWhorter whose book, Winning the Race, came out ten years ago:

It’s not that there is “something wrong with black people,” but rather, that there is something wrong with what black people learned from a new breed of white people in the 1960s. . . . The nut of the issue is that [people who see racism everywhere] want neither justice nor healing. What people like this are seeking is, sadly, not what they claim to be seeking. They seek one thing: indignation for its own sake. . . .

Two new conditions were necessary for alienation among blacks to so often drift from its moorings in the concrete and become the abstract, hazy “race thing” that whites just “don’t get.”

One condition was that blacks had to be prepared to embrace therapeutic alienation, and ironically, this could only have been when conditions were improved for blacks. When racism was omnipresent and overt, it would have been psychological suicide for blacks to go around exaggerating what was an all-too-real problem.

Second, whites had to be prepared to listen to the complaints and assume (or pretend) that they were valid. This only began during the counter cultural revolution, within which a new openness to blacks and an awareness of racism were key elements. . . . Many whites were now, for the first time, ready to nod sagely at almost anything a black person said. And in that new America, for many blacks, fetishizing the evils of the White Man beyond what reality justified was a seductive crutch for a spiritual deficit that we would be surprised that they did not have. It was the only way to feel whole. Even blacks less injured were still injured enough to let the loudest shouters pass, as bards of their less damaging, but still aggravating, pains. (4, 5, 7)

What will Galli’s successor write about evangelicals and race in twenty-five years when she discovers John McWhorter?

8 thoughts on “Catching Up

  1. Interesting post. I think the Church nerds to move beyond the terms ” race” and “racism”. Once “race” was used to define nationality but with Darwinism it came to represent ethnic origins. We know why. Darwin introduced the idea that some humans are inferior to others. Hitler made hay out of this philosophy. In reality there is one Human race. We are all made in His image. The New Testament teaches that the Church is the body God has ordained to bring mankind together as ‘one man’. As part of my study into Romans I have written a blog on this which you might be interested in reading,


  2. Wait, so we should be worried about Woketerian grads of Covenant Seminary who pal around with Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, and assorted UCC she-pastrixes and deistic queer activists? And said wokevangelicals in (the skimpiest of) NAPARC clothing are NOT on the bleeding edge?


  3. I want to know what statistics Galli is looking at? I’ve read reports that said the faux atrocities were blown out of proportion. When I read this, I decided to look into the statistics myself. Based purely on numbers, someone would have a hard time crying racial injustice.

    I really should create a spreadsheet to point this out for every time I hear this claim.


  4. Matthew, you’re not taking into account generationally afflicted slavery induced PTSD. Even if you’re white, you’re still afflicted which explains both your insensitivity to otherwise successful middle class blacks who are nevertheless depressed and apparent denial of your condition that you buttress by noting statistics favorable to your hereditary bias. Listen, y’all need to put down your white supremacist arms and let the calming balm of grievance class psychotherapeutic diagnosis and treatment wash over you. I’m going to do it just to get some Klonopin but stop just short of signing on to reparations.


  5. Mark Galli—I have noticed that in general those who publically champion Christus Victor don’t pepper their talks and prayers with personal guilt for sin or the need for divine forgiveness.

    “Arising from sleep I thank you, O holy Trinity, because of the abundance of your goodness and long-suffering, you were not angry with me, slothful and sinful as I am. Neither have you destroyed me in my transgressions, but in your compassion raised me up as I lay in despair, in order that at dawn I sing the glories of your Majesty.”

    Mark Galli—To be sure, those who favor substitutionary atonement have some questions to ask themselves: Do I favor this theory because I am neurotically obsessed with guilt? Am I avoiding the cosmic dimensions of salvation to avoid getting involved in the political and social sphere? But those are subjects of other columns…. I’m simply suggesting that Christus Victor may not be a theory that Protestant, should tie their wagons to… It has an uncanny tendency to downplay a sense of personal responsibility, which in the end, sabotages grace. More than ever in our day, we need Christus Vicarious.


  6. “We are currently experiencing a new ‘God moment…'”

    Is not the following true?:
    The only “God Moment” that truly exists is when one’s sins are forgiven through faith alone in Christ alone.

    Seems that any other “God Moment” adds to the work and message of Christ and minimizes the atonement.

    The “God Moment” of forgiveness dwarfs and swallows up all imitations… and in the end brings life and health into all areas of life.


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