Why I Devote Little Time to “Calling Out” Left Wing People and Groups

I hear it all the time.

During the election, when I expressed my angst or my disgust about the actions of my former political party, the GOP (technically, due to laziness, I haven’t taken the time to officially change my registration), I would immediately and consistently be met with a chorus of, “but what about Hillary?” responses. I was asked why I didn’t confront her and condemn her more regularly. That has continued in several different forms but has come to a head recently in the Alt-right, KKK, White supremacist issues that have arisen in our land, especially the one that happened in Charlottesville’s “Unite the Right” rally a couple of weeks ago.

I have been challenged repeatedly for refusing to accept the moral equivalence of the Antifa or BLM with the Nazi/KKK/White supremacist groups that instigated the showdown.

  • Why can’t we just condemn ALL racism? Why just focus on one side, one group?
  • It has been asserted by more than one commenter here (sometimes in comments that have not seen the light of day) that the reason for this must be my sympathy with or support of BLM or Antifa. I’ve been called the “second most liberal man in the SBC.” Not sure who #1 was.
  • I have been accused of not really being against racism, of having a warped value system, and several other warm, fuzzy things.

I am not writing this to fight back, to answer those people, or to settle scores. I’ve been doing this for a decade now and have reached the point where things like that kind of roll off my back (depending on the source, I suppose). But I do think it is wise for me to explain why it is that I do what I do.

1. I admit to the fact that I tend to “call out” conservative, right-wing, GOP, and even white groups more than I do Democrats, leftists, or groups rooted in other races. I don’t much enjoy “call ’em out” posts anyway, but if I do write one, it will be about Baptists, conservatives, the GOP, or what is wrong in right-wing politics – with only a few exceptions.

2. This is not because I despise these groups or disdain them, but because I am PART of them. I be conservative. My personal politics are pretty far to the right on most issues. Theologically, I am an inerrantist, complementarian, YEC, dispensational-leaning, antinomist (middle-ground on Calvinism), who voted Republican in every presidential race since 1976 until this year, when I voted for a 3rd party candidate. I call out my own.

I am much more likely to call out Southern Baptists than the CBF, conservatives than liberals, the GOP than the Dems, racial issues from MY side than those from other races. There are reasons for that which I will try to briefly explain. I realize my reasons will not satisfy the critics or convince everyone else that I am right, but this is my moral choice, based on my convictions.

So, here it is.

1. I only disciplined my kids. 

Every once in a while, when we are out for a meal, I will tell my wife that I am going to go over to a family that is letting a child run roughshod in the restaurant and offer my services as a disciplinarian. Of course, that is nothing more than a joke. There are 4 people in the world against whom I have not “spared the rod” to spoil the child. Four. Only four. No more. They have my DNA in common. I only disciplined my own kids. I didn’t go around with a wooden spoon dealing with other family’s miscreants.

If I am going to call anyone out, it is likely to be “us” not “them.” I could stand up on Sunday at my church and preach against a host of sins, get applauded, and likely be called “courageous” for standing against evil. But in my church, it takes no courage to preach against homosexuality or adultery or spitting in the sink or any of those heinous evils in the world. As long as I focus on “other people’s sins” I am golden. When I turn my focus to the heart issues that may be affecting people in our fellowship, well sometimes that is less well received. “Us People’s Sins” are far less popular!

I believe that we ought to hold our own accountable. That’s why I dealt with the failings of the GOP far more than I ever have or ever will that of the Democratic Party. I don’t expect anything from the Democrats – their platform is pro-death, pro-perversion, pretty much pro-everything I’m against and anti-everything I’m for. But I once expected more from the GOP and therefore am more likely to call out their failures.

  • It offends me more when my side messes up.
  • I have more invested in my side getting it right.
  • I think I have a moral obligation to “remove the log from my own eye before I start removing the speck from others.”

I am more likely to call out white racism for reasons that are obvious if you look at a picture of me. I am white. Is it okay for me to opine about Black issues? Sure, I have a Bible and it speaks to all things. But in my blogging, my focus is going to be on me and mine more than them and theirs.

2. I do not accept the equivalence of evil. 

I am no fan of Antifa, BLM, or other left wing groups. The political ones seem to be made up of people who draw dangerously silly conclusions from misread evidence. And there are parts of these groups that use and promote violence. They should be prosecuted vigorously. I do not advocate for leniency for BLM or Antifa groups that break the law. If they do, they should be arrested and the full weight of justice brought to bear on them.

But I do not accept the argument that they are “just as bad.”

These are Nazis, KKK, white supremacists. Measuring evil is a difficult thing to do, I know, and so this is an argument I won’t win with anyone not inclined to agree with me already, but the evil of the protagonists here (the white supremacists) seem to far outweigh the evil of the reactionaries (Antifa, etc).

No one’s evil should be excused, but neither should it all be equated.

3. There is a danger is the equivalence of evil.

It is a phenomenon I have seen since my first foray into a blogpost comment section. It bothered me then and continues to bother me today. When someone brings up a problem in something Rev X has said or done, those on “his side” retort, “but what about what Rev Y did?” If you chastise X for his unkind words, you are reminded that Y said some first. If you call out the tactics of X, well, Y did the same – and worse.

It is certainly not the intent of every person who highlights the misdeeds of BLM or Antifa, but the danger is there that by doing that we can be either tacitly or intentionally giving cover to the “Unite the Right” evil-doers. Again, I am not accusing everyone of intending that, but it is a danger. Better to just condemn the instigators of the evil and deal with the reactionaries another time.

4. There’s history there. 

Imagine, for the sake of illustration, that two men are fighting. One is beating the other senseless, for hours – a cruel, violent act. Towards the end, the second man rallies his strength and fights back, landing two or three blows. The police come along and arrest both men, saying, “We cannot excuse either of you for committing assault. To hit another person is wrong. Just wrong. You both were guilty of assault and you both have to pay.” Justice cries out for the man who gave the beating for hours to pay a higher price than the one who fought back for a minute or so.

For more than 400 years, white America has treated minorities horribly. Whites enslaved Blacks, brutalized them, subjugated them, tore down their family structures, discriminated against them and denied their basic civil rights. Our nation’s treatment of the Native peoples is a shameful story as well. The internment of Japanese was not a proud moment. There is much that is good about America and its history, but the besetting sin has been the fact that White America has treated this land as our land and people of color as guests on it. I love my nation, but I am not proud of our history of treatment of minorities.

Now, in recent years, as they have gained civil rights, some Black groups have gone too far. They have. There is no justification for acts of violence or other things that have been done. I have no sympathy for them. But history makes me wonder if we really want to be equating the suffering and abuse of minorities in America and the sufferings inflicted by BLM. This is not to excuse what they have done, but they have a long way to go to come close to matching the centuries of mistreatment that has happened – as is still happening today is some circles.

5. Clean your optics. 

My camera was taking bad pictures and I wondered if something had gone wrong with it. Then I noticed what the problem was – the lens was smudged. It was gunky and so the pictures were smeared.

Sometimes our hearts can be good but our optics can be bad. I think there are a lot of good-intentioned, well-meaning Christians who really truly think they are defending “truth, justice, and the American Way” when they say things like “I am against ALL forms of racism.” Of course, you are. We all are – hopefully. But when read the great article that Kyle Howard wrote. The optics on that are not good. It looks to many of our Black brothers and sisters like we are wafflings, making excuses, and defending the indefensible when we do that.

We need to keep our optics clean – because of history and our commitment to gospel purposes!

In Conclusion

Again, I don’t expect that any of this will convince those disposed to disagree. But it is not that I think that everything one side does is right and everything another does is wrong. That kind of thinking is foolish. But I believe my job is to clean MY house. I think we, White Christians, should be leading out in dealing with racism – exposing it, fighting it, and doing whatever we can to eliminate every trace of it from the church. Obviously, that will never happen till Christ returns, but it is a noble goal. We ought to stop doing anything that could even look like we are standing on the wrong side.

Christ is on the side of gospel unity, of races coming together as one. He is working to make “One New Man” by breaking down the walls that divide and establish a people from every tribe and language on earth. That is our destiny – we might as well get busy on that now.

Eclipse report from William “Totality” Thornton

I’m about 45 minutes from the edge of totality so I had a strategy for prime viewing. Rather than get mixed up in a million or so of America’s worst and most aggressive drivers, the metro Atlanta crowd, I took some familiar secondary roads to make a push deep into the totality zone, at least deep enough to get two or more minutes viewing of totality. This is serious business and one shouldn’t be too casual about the natural event of a lifetime.

My support staff included my wonderful wife and daughter – who understood that this was likely to be similar to airline flights we have taken over the years which was to get to the airport ridiculously early, embarrassingly early, because old Dad insists on planning for contingencies – along with a brother and sister who wanted to go along. We were well stocked with eclipse food – Moon Pies, Sun Chips, Milky Way candy bars, Capri Sun juice and some homemade pimiento cheese as token regular food.

The traffic was just slightly above normal on our route east. When we hit Royston, GA, home of Ty Cobb, and were in the totality zone, I was more relaxed. At one of the big Corps of Engineers reservoirs on the Savannah River, we passed what was obviously a planned eclipse viewing event where there were hundreds of people, tents, and the like who were setting up on the reservoir’s dam. We went just a little farther to a small park below the dam, a very nice grassy spot by the river, where there were only three people present. We were two hours before totality and a dozen or so others arrived before peak viewing.

There is an electrical generating plant below the dam and when the Corps starts the water flowing it comes from the bottom of the lake, very cool which made for some very nice cool breezes off the river. Perfect.

We all were prepared with eclipse viewers. I got several for free at a July 4th celebration in my town. My brother had a pair that he had picked up somewhere. His came with, no joke, eight standard-sized pages of instructions. “Don’t put the glasses on pets” it read, as if any dog anywhere looked directly at the sun.

Viewing advice included watching for unusual animal behavior. There were two kids present, one eight years old and five years old. They behaved normally, annoyingly. Years of training and discipline enabled me to avoid difficulty with them. It helped that one of our group tossed them a couple of bags of Sun Chips to distract them. About a minute before totality an armidillo, one of the world’s ugliest animals, slunk out of a small patch of trees and brush between our picnic area and the river. Nocturnal animals, guess the eclipse fooled it.

Totality, about two and one half minutes where we were, was spectacular in the clear blue sky around the sun. Viewing without the glasses, seeing the sun’s corona and the deep twilight over the river was remarkable. I had binoculars which made the corona much more visible along with Mercury which was close by. Baily’s beads were barely visible with the naked eye, much more so with binoculars and the viewing glasses. The diamond ring effect was striking. The entire experience was splendid, dazzling, and unforgettable.

The last week or so has been difficult. God is in the timing here, I think. The heavens, indeed, declare the glory of God. Maybe I’ll make the next one in 2024 but I don’t plan that far ahead.

For now it’s back to life as usual…someone has to take the trash out, in my household that’s me,  and I’ve also got grass to cut; the refrigerator’s broke and a water leak last weak ruined some of the insulation around the AC ducts, so I’ve got to fix all that.

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If you viewed the eclipse, share a few words about it.

A Kingdom Conversation On Race And The Alt-Right at Cornerstone, Arlington

DFW Area Churches And Pastors Come Together To Host A Kingdom Conversation On Race And The Alt-Right Sunday, August 20 At 6:30pm.

Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr., Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, Jason Paredes, Lead Pastor of Fielder Church Arlington and Ken Jones, Senior Pastor of First Como Baptist Church are co-hosting a gathering and bringing the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Steve Gaines to Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, TX ~ August 20, 2017 @ 6:30pm.

ARLINGTON, Texas – August 17, 2017. With the climate of our Nation clouded by increasing racial tension, uneasiness, violence, anger, hatred, and separatist movements, leaders are gathering together to confront the issues at hand with the hope of bringing healing and unity to our communities, churches and conventions.

McKissic made a tremendous impact on breaking down the historical stigma of racism in the SBC by presenting a Resolution Against The Alt-Right at the Annual Southern Baptist Convention in June of 2017. The SBC now has the credibility to address the Alt-Right and their White Supremacist/Nationalist ideology. Local Southern Baptist Pastors, Dwight McKissic, Sr., Jason Paredes, and Ken Jones are looking to bring a healing balm to the convention and the Nation. Taking the lead in bridging the gap and healing the convention, the President of the SBC, Dr. Steve Gaines, will speak at Cornerstone Sunday night and participate as a panelist at the event entitled, “A Kingdom Conversation On Race and The Alt-Right.”

During the first hour of the gathering the audience will hear from the choirs of Fielder Church in Arlington, TX and Cornerstone Church. Dr. Gaines will present his message (A Baptist View of Race) followed by messages from Pastor Ken Jones (Who Is The Alt-Right) and Pastor McKissic (A Biblical View of Race).

During the second hour there will be a panel discussion on Race and The Alt-Right. Panelists include, Dr. Steve Gaines, Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson, Pastor Ken Jones, Dr. Joseph W. Caldwell, Pastor Jason Paredes, Dr. Ronnie Goines, Min. Oza Jones, and Pastor Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. The purpose of the discussion is to answer questions, bring healing and understanding, and gain insight into how race has impacted the influence of the church on our Nation.

The service and panel discussion will be streamed live at 6:30pm via the following link: http://www.lifestream.tv/cbca/ . You can also view it via the Cornerstone website at www.cbcarlington.org and click the live stream icon.

Cornerstone Church is located at 5415 Matlock Rd. in Arlington, TX and you’re invited to attend this discussion August 20 at 6:30pm. The service is free and open to the public.

It is our hope that this gathering will be the beginning of rebuilding the unity our Nation so desperately needs and by denouncing all separatist movements and taking a stand for unity, love, and togetherness as one Nation under God.

Contact:            Veronica Griffith, Cornerstone Baptist Church – 5415 Matlock Rd. Arlington, TX 76018
Telephone:        817.468.0083 ext. 203 / Fax:  817.468.0309 / Cell: 817.903.0283
Email:               vgriffith@cbcarlington.org;  Web: cbcarlington.org; FB and Twitter @CornerstoneTX

A Kingdom Conversation on Race and the Alt-Right (and You’re invited!)

It’s no secret that Dr. Wm Dwight McKissic is a friend to this blog and to several of us personally here at SBCVoices. The reason for that, I believe, is that we have seen his consistent heart and passion for unity among the people of God and we share that heart. I appreciate my brother more than he knows and thank God for him. Many motives have been ascribed to Dr. McKissic as he has pushed southern Baptists to consider issues surrounding racial unity and reconciliation. The overriding motive I’ve seen from him is a desire for true fellowship and unity in the body of Christ – a desire for us live as the people of God, loving each other and serving together. Dwight does what he does because he loves the Lord and he loves God’s people and desires us to be one.

That desire was the impetus behind a quickly organized worship service and panel discussion this Sunday night: A Kingdom Conversation on Race and the Alt-Right. The service will take place this at 6:30 pm this Sunday, August 20, 2017, at Cornerstone Church in Arlington with “the hope of bringing healing and unity to our communities, churches, and conventions.” If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and can attend in person, you are invited to do so – others can watch the live stream (see details below).

I got a chance to sit down with Dr. McKissic in his office yesterday where he shared with me his heart on the matter. “We’re a family,” he told me, “and we need to be one.” He shared with me his biblical conviction that our oneness in Christ was both commanded by God and needed, particularly in this moment, so the world might see and know Christ.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21

“As I watched things unfold in Charlottesville last weekend, my heart grew heavy,” he told me. As he sought the Lord about what he could do, the idea for joint worship service and discussion about race with leaders from around the Dallas area and the Southern Baptist Convention. Invitations went out to area pastors and leaders to gather for this moment. I know an earnest effort was made to have a diversity of political views participating in the worship service and panel including invitations to key pastors in the Dallas area. With very short notice, a variety of leaders agreed to come – to worship together and to have this needed discussion on race and the Alt-Right.

The worship service will feature choirs from Fielder Church in Arlington, Texas and Cornerstone Church. Dr. Steve Gaines will deliver a message “A Baptist View on Race” followed by messages from Pastor Ken Jones, “Who is the Alt-Right” and Pastor McKissic, “A Biblical View of Race.”

 

During the second hour, the service will feature a panel discussion on Race and the Alt-Right. Panelists include

  • Dr. Steve Gaines, SBC president and pastor of Bellevue Church, Memphis, TN
  • Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson
  • Rev. Kenneth Jones, Jr., pastor of First Como Missionary Baptist Church, Fort Worth, TX
  • Dr. Joseph W. Caldwell, President of the Memphis Center for Urban Theological Studies
  • Rev. Jason Paredes, lead pastor of Fielder Church, Arlington, TX
  • Dr. Ronnie Goines, Pastor of Koinonia Christian Church, Arlington, TX
  • Min. Oza Jones, Youth and Young Adult Pastor, Cornerstone Church
  • Dr. William Dwight McKissic, Sr., pastor of Cornerstone Church, Arlington, TX.

 

If you live in the area, you are invited to attend the service at 6:30pm at Cornerstone Church in Arlington, Texas. The church is located at 5414 Matlock Rd. The Service is free and open to the public.

Others are invited to join the live-stream at 6:30pm Central Time via the following link: http://www.lifestream.tv.cbca/. You can also view the service via the Cornerstone website at http://www.cbcarlington.org and click the live stream icon.