Our readers are well-acquainted with the ongoing apostasy of what remains of “conservative” evangelicalism, in which traditional orthodoxy is being casually set aside in favor of equality. Evangelicals have taken to worshiping the ancient idol of equality under the influence of her modern false prophet “Doctor” Martin Luther King, Jr. King masqueraded as a Christian clergyman during the so-called Civil Rights movement. Genuine Christians always recognized and opposed King’s radical agenda, but King’s egalitarian beliefs have gradually infected formerly conservative Protestant denominations such as the PCA, which was even founded in direct opposition to the radicalism of the “Civil Rights movement.”
The evidence of radicalization was on prominent display during the recent MLK50 Conference, which insisted that King’s message of “racial unity” is a “Gospel issue” as well as the Together for the Gospel conference (they use the abbreviation T4G so you know that they are real hip and relevant), which similarly paid homage to the deceased prophet. Matt Chandler’s church produced this new worship song which lays to rest the notion that contemporary “Christian” music isn’t compromised with the world. The lyrics elevate King to the status of an inspired prophet and incorporate cultural Marxist notions such as “microaggressions” into what is supposed to be Christian worship.
Chandler’s church also directly parallels King to Jesus himself in a manner that approaches sheer blasphemy. Timothy Thomas’s article “The Offending King” makes several statements such as “King Jesus and King Jr.” and “both Dr. King and King Jesus” that essentially equate the message of MLK with the Gospel. The article makes King into more than just a faithful Christian preacher, which he certainly was not, but perhaps the most important Christian social thinker of all time and worthy of direct comparison to Jesus himself.
Other examples of the adulation of King abound, but David Platt’s sermon during the main session of the T4G conference is noteworthy for its baptism of King’s message and agenda. Platt’s sermon is titled “Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters: Racism and Our Need for Repentance.” This sermon is distinguished by its dishonesty and deception. The title is taken from Platt’s main text, Amos 5:18-27, especially verse 24: “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Platt attempts to link the justice spoken of here and in other prophetic texts to modern-day egalitarian “social justice.”1 The Bible presents justice as emanating from God’s character and being revealed through the law. Platt equates justice with civil and social equality.
Platt marshals evidence of injustice in American society by mentioning statistics that demonstrate that blacks are not as prosperous as whites. Blacks are more likely to be unemployed, make less money, be more poorly educated, and be murdered compared to whites, and that there are racial disparities in the criminal justice system. All of this is considered evidence for oppression of blacks by whites. Does this qualify as oppression? Obviously not. There are plenty of reasons why these discrepancies are not unjust. For example, more blacks are imprisoned because blacks are more likely to commit crime. Other discrepancies between whites and blacks are usually attributed to “white privilege.” The Bible never condemns this kind of privilege, and I sincerely doubt that Platt is going to use the success of East Asians or Jews as an example of unjust privilege. Justice is determined not by modern humanistic notions of equality or fairness, but by God’s unchanging standard of morality revealed in his word (Deut. 4:5-7, 33:21).
In order to determine if discrepancies like the ones described by Platt are rooted in injustice towards blacks, we need to ask what God has revealed about these specific issues. Most modern Christians assume that civil rights are indeed rights, while true rights are grounded in the reciprocal responsibilities of Ten Commandments. What we call civil rights are often privileges which are not owed to every member of society but are normatively reserved to distinct social classes. In the case of participation in the body politic, this is unequivocally reserved for ethnic members of particular nations.
Furthermore, the mere fact that there are discrepancies between the races is not evidence of oppression or injustice. Platt mentions that blacks are more likely than whites to attribute discrepancies in wealth, education, etc. to systemic injustice whereas whites are more likely to attribute this to individual choices and responsibility. Professing Christian whites and blacks are even more extreme in both directions. Platt argues that white Christians need to make an effort to better understand the black perspective. The obvious problem with Platt’s exhortation is that these discrepancies are best explained without having to appeal to a nebulous concept like systemic injustice. For example, are blacks more likely to be incarcerated because of the legacy of segregated water fountains in the 1950s, or because they are more likely to commit crimes? Are blacks more likely to be murdered because blacks are also more likely to commit murder, or because of unconscious “microaggressions” that they perceive from whites? To ask these questions is to answer them, but David Platt is more concerned with placating black liberationists than understanding the truth.
This leads to another issue that I take with Platt’s presentation and the T4G/TGC crowd. Platt rejects the concept of different races of mankind because he believes that there is only one race, the human race. Platt implicitly defines race as group of people that are completely distinct from other groups in their heredity. In this paradigm no two races could share any common ancestors no matter how remote those ancestors may have been. However, virtually no one uses the word “race” in this way. Everyone, whether Christian or not, understands that the races of mankind have common ancestors. Platt’s recognition of discrepancies between whites and blacks requires us to acknowledge that white and black are legitimate classifications of identity if for no other reason than forcing whites to understand just how evil we are because of our collective guilt.
Platt is absolutely mortified by his own whiteness. Around the 34:40 mark Platt chokes back crocodile tears as he contemplates the hideous whiteness that afflicts his life and family (in spite of having “adopted” two non-white children):
In so many ways my world has been so white. I look around at my country and it is not so white, so why is my world so white? Why is the missions organization that I lead so predominantly white? How can I with a supposed zeal for the nations be so blind to injustice against peoples within my own nation? Why are so many of our churches so white? Why are so many of our institutions? Our seminaries and missions organizations so white? If I could be so bold because I love this conference…why is this conference so white?
The horror! What kind of man is this repulsed by his own identity? Needless to say non-whites don’t flagellate themselves this way, and you’ll never hear Platt or other evangelicals denouncing this. The only people that are expected to repent of simply existing as a distinct group are whites. Whites can atone for generations of acquired white guilt by integrating with non-whites, especially blacks in what Platt calls “multiethnic community.” Here again Platt tacitly affirms the existence of different races, even while conflating this concept with ethnicity.
Platt would not be impressed if a white man at the conference told him that he attended a church with representatives of the Germanic, Scandinavian, Celtic, Alpine, Mediterranean, and Slavic ethnic groups. All those people are white. What Platt means is that whites must do whatever they can to make sure that their churches are sufficiently integrated. But even that doesn’t go far enough. Platt argues that the dinner table is even more segregated than Sunday worship, so whites need to make an extra effort to cultivate relationships with blacks and other non-whites.
Platt’s understanding of Christian unity is amazingly historically myopic. Sometimes I wonder if most Baptists think that “true” Christianity began in the nineteenth century and really took off during the Billy Graham crusades. Platt argues that multiethnic (read multiracial) community is a necessary result of the Gospel’s transformation of society. This would have been entirely impossible for most of human history for no other reason than mere practicality. Medieval Germans couldn’t attend church with non-whites for the simple fact that there were essentially no non-whites in medieval Germany. Were these German Christians (assuming that modern evangelicals will admit that there were Christians in medieval Germany) unable to live this supposed “Gospel imperative” of “multiethnic” community? No, but medieval Christians did establish a society that was more or less in conformity with justice as it is presented in God’s Law. We must ask ourselves, if “multiethnic” community is a necessary outworking of the sanctification of nations converted by the Gospel, has the Gospel been a dead letter for almost two millennia since Christ’s earthly ministry?
Platt imagines that he is harkening back to the earliest days of the church which promoted the “integration” of Jews and Gentiles into one fellowship. This turns out to be a classic case of turning a mountain into a molehill. The main source of friction in the early church was between Israelite converts and the Grecians or Hellenists (Acts 6:1, 9:29, 11:20). The word used here is Hellēnistēs (Strong’s G1675). Thayer defines the word as “one who imitates the manners and customs or the worship of the Greeks, and use the Greek tongue” or “Jews born in foreign lands and speaking Greek.” The difference between the Jews and Hellenists of the New Testament was cultural and religious rather than racial or ethnic. Some Israelites had become assimilated into Greek habits, culture, language, and philosophy since the conquest of Palestine by the Greeks. These Israelites had in many cases left the faith of their ancestors to such an extent that they were not even circumcised.2 The issue addressed by Paul in Galatians is to address the Judaizers who insisted that these converts must be circumcised and keep the ceremonial precepts in order to be considered Christians. This has nothing to do with “multiethnic community” in the sense Platt or other evangelicals use the term. There is no historical basis for the idea that Christian churches in the first century were generally comprised of people of different racial groups.
Platt claims that his desire for multiracial churches is rooted in his trust of divine sovereignty and his rejection of the church growth movement. I found this to be especially disingenuous on Platt’s part. None of the major players in the church growth movement has ever advocated for ethnically-homogeneous churches as the past of least resistance to growing church attendance. Many of the most ethnically diverse congregations in America would easily be classified as megachurches that subscribe to some kind of church growth paradigm. Platt tries to sell himself as a committed Calvinist who faithfully preaches the word and trusts in divine providence to grow the church, but Platt actually advocates for a particular church growth philosophy aimed explicitly at creating “multiethnic community” in churches.
Platt exhorts white pastors to preach on topics that non-whites care about (egalitarian social justice) and to incorporate musical styles in worship that are comfortable to non-whites for the express purpose of tailoring white churches to attract non-whites. Apparently faithfully preaching the Word and administering the sacraments is not enough to build “multiethnic community”! Churches need to imbibe “reformed rap” and “holy hip-hop,” and to preach white guilt and social justice in order to attract non-whites.
Platt’s entire diatribe is revolutionary and duplicitous. He denies that race exists, but insists that racism is an ever-present reality for blacks (a particular race). Platt cites statistics of racial disparities as evidence of white oppression, while ignoring other well-established statistics that easily explain these discrepancies without the need to demonize white people. Platt calls for justice, while ignoring white victimhood of actual black crime. Platt joins the chorus white leaders who are denouncing the sin of “racism” in their own lives to preserve their positions of prominence in a society increasingly ruled by the concept of white guilt. By publicly confessing his sin Platt hopes to maintain credibility so as to “lead” us guilty whites on the path of true repentance.
A Facebook friend of mine, one of the few remaining faithful pastors left in an age of apostasy, has given a good succinct summary to the T4G and MLK50 conferences. He stated, “T4G/MLK50, has thrown an ultimatum to the American Church; ‘Give us a social revolution or we’ll force upon you a religio-political revolution.’ Having no reason to submit to either, Evangelicals must make a decision as to where and how they are going to make a stand or be swept further into the grip of Cultural Marxism. As is often heard, ‘You can keep on feeding the crocodile hoping he will eat you last, but eat you he will.’”