I promised C.Jay Engel I wouldn’t talk too much about the whole Ferguson thing. Not that he needed to force me. I think there are other important topics to dwell on. In any case, I simply have no choice except to issue praise for Voddie Baucham’s recent article at the Gospel Coalition on this issue. Recently, I told C.Jay to post the following on the Reformed Libertarian Facebook page for me (I don’t have a Facebook –C.Jay does my dirty work):
“It amazes me that the theme coming from the decision in Ferguson, even throughout the conservative Christian blogosphere, is that this is supposed to make us ask “the tough questions about race.” This has nothing to do with race. An officer shot another man and the question is whether it was in self defense or not. The jury was to make a decision on this and a decision was made that many are not happy with, and if it had been decided in the other way, many would have been disappointed as well. I have my own thoughts based on the available facts.
But beyond this, please don’t get suckered in to the race baiting and race blaming and this whole artificial theme about the return of the civil rights era. It is manufactured and it is meant to stir up trouble and make the masses angry about things which are irrelevant. The media and the Al Sharptonites and the Professional Racial Tension Stirrers are making this whole thing out to be something it’s not. And for Christian commentators especially to get caught up in this Progressivist idea of statistic-based social justice is disheartening. It amazes me that the so many around this nation thinks they have the intellectual capability of knowing whether Wilson was motivated in his heart by the color of Brown’s skin. This is an absurd presumption at a dangerous level. And it is unacceptable. Leave race out of this.
And to my fellow blacks who are once again tempted to play the victim over something that happened hundreds of miles away from you, I plead with you, find your identity in Christ and consider all that He has done for your eternal salvation. Don’t get caught up in the coming media storm of Dominant Social Themes that are meant to manipulate.
If you want to talk about it, great. If you want to pray for all involved parties, do so! But make Christ, not rumors, the basis of your response.”
Perhaps too polemical. I need a way to entertain myself. But along comes Baucham with a Christ-centered Pastoral approach which really struck me. I completely agree with Baucham and was very edified by his statement. He first notes that “my first response to Ferguson was to say nothing. I was on the outside looking in. I didn’t know what happened. I didn’t know the communities or the issues surrounding the tensions.” Exactly. Too many opinionators out there. I hope this point by Baucham isn’t overlooked. Far too often we get caught up in the alleged “national conversation.” This is dangerous for both liberty and truth. It leads to sensationalism and media-driven hype and speculation. We should focus primarily on the problems in our own communities and church bodies; and Baucham has exemplified this pastoral role wonderfully. I was blessed to read it.
Besides that, Baucham talks about a host of other things, many of which need to be internalized by those who comment of social themes and fail to understand the manufactured nature of most of it. And more importantly (at least for me) he says things that would be unacceptable for a white man to say in today’s culture. This is such a tragedy! That people –both white and black –are so caught up with the “neo-marxist” (Baucham’s phrase) idea of white privilege that we can’t even speak objectively! We judge people by the color of their skin under the guise of not judging people by the color of their skin! Baucham wisely points out:
There is indeed an epidemic of violence against black men. However, that violence, more often than not, occurs at the hands of other black men. In fact, black men are several times more likely to be murdered at the hands of another black man than they are to be killed by the police. For instance, in the FBI homicide stats from 2012, there were 2,648 blacks murdered. Of those, 2,412 were murdered by members of their own ethnic group. Thus, if I am going to speak out about anything, it will be black-on-black crime; not blue-on-black. I want to apply the gospel and its implications in a way that addresses the real issue. If a few black men being killed by cops requires a national “dialogue,” what in the world does the overwhelming number of black-on-black murders require? If the police do not see black men through the proper gospel-centered, image-of-God lens, what does the black-on-black murder rate say about the way we see ourselves?
In addition to violence, black men are plagued with criminality. Low-income black communities like Ferguson know all too well that black criminals preying on their neighbors makes life almost unlivable. Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, I know all too well what it’s like to have bars on the windows and doors for fear that thugs will break in to steal or kill. I remember being robbed at gunpoint on my way home from the store one day. It was one of the most frightening and disheartening events of my life. The fear, helplessness, and anger I felt stayed with me for years. And it taught me an unfortunate lesson: the greatest threat to me was other black men.
These are very politically incorrect comments. But they are very true and important.
Baucham also writes:
It does me absolutely no good to assume that my mistreatment was systemic in nature. No more than it is good for me to assume that what happened in Ferguson was systemic. I have a life to live, and I refuse to live it fighting ghosts. I will not waste my energy trying to prove the Gramscian, neo-Marxist concept of “white privilege” or prejudice in policing practices.
I don’t care what advantages my white neighbor may or may not have. If he does have advantages, God bless him! I no more fault him than I fault my own children who have tremendous advantages due to the fact that they were raised by two educated, Christian parents who loved, disciplined, and taught them. Ironically, when I think about THAT advantage, I am filled with joy and gratitude to God for his faithfulness. People are supposed to bequeath an advantage to their children and grandchildren (Prov. 13:22). Why, then, would I be angry with my white neighbor for any advantage he is purported to have? And what good would it do? How does that advance the gospel? Especially in light of the fact that growing up with the gospel is the ultimate privilege/advantage! It is the advantage that has granted us all “American privilege”! Are we guilty for being citizens of the wealthiest republic in the history of the world? I think not!
I’m not sure I can add anything to that. It was exactly what readers need to see, in my lowly estimation. We get so caught up in the memes of the therapeutic society (see my book review of Gottfried here), that we fail to apply Biblical logic. Bauchman bravely goes against the cultural grain. He would probably be disappointed to read me lavishing praise on him, so I’ll stop. But I can’t recommend this piece, and Baucham in general, enough; so go read it for yourself.