I will only speak for what I know best. The white, evangelical community traffics in various false dichotomies. Yes, individuals sin, but so do nations. The Bible is full of such teaching. On the other side, individual people are tied to communities. Consider how one person, namely Achan, brought a group into judgment.

Also, keep in mind that “the person understood as an individual” (literally undivided one) is a staple of the Enlightenment not the Bible. Before the Enlightenment we understood who we are as persons as we look to something bigger than ourselves: our community, family background, ethnicity, and religion. That idea has been lost both in the broader, secular culture and sadly among many Christians.

I agree with CJ Rhodes.

CJ Rhodes
How convenient it is that when it comes to racism and white supremacy, the Evangelical solution is individualized heart change (which I believe in, btw). But when it comes to any other justice matter the Religious Right endorses, the solution is institutionalized policy change.
Dr. Robert Jeffress
The only cure for the racism in America is a changed heart that comes from trusting in Jesus Christ. To try and heal racial divisions without that changed heart is like trying to cure cancer with a Band-Aid.
HT for tweets: Thabiti Anyabwile


5 thoughts on “FALSE DICHOTOMIES

  1. Brooke Butler

    Thanks for posting Dave!

    I had a couple days last week when I was overwhelmed with grief as I reflected on the historical sins of our country and how they are bearing fruit now. I think my greatest sadness was over some white Christian friends who I respect as mature believers. They were posting things that denied the existence of racism in the US or refused to think blacks have a legitimate right to protest injustice or police brutality. And I was deeply grieved when I saw them supporting President Trump’s photo op at the church. I see so many whites walking in fear that the “left” is going to destroy our country and so they back the President, even when he makes undemocratic and possibly unconstitutional moves and is rebuked by ex-Cabinet member Mattis, President Bush and very harshly by George Will.

    We are seeking to support our black athletes and to listen with empathy about things we have never experienced personally. Sadly, we have had two white students leave as they take things personally and cannot stop to listen and empathize, even if they don’t agree. I know this might sound surprising at Berkeley!

    Hope you are well and thanks for stepping into this mess!.

  2. S Hurd

    Well stated. Marsden writes about Jonathan Edwards from the mid 18th century-“Edwards and his Puritan forebears, kept such modern individualizing tendencies in severe check, balanced against their even greater insistence that one’s status was defined only in relation to the absolutely sovereign God and to the communities that God ordained. Remove divine sovereignty from the emphasis on individual choice and the whole system would collapse.”
    Very prescient of Edwards.

    1. Dave Post author

      Indeed. Thanks for sharing that Steve. You may be interested to know that I am co-authoring a book with a church history prof. I am playing the skeptic Emerson and he is asking questions of Edwards, played by the church history prof.


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