A Response to Dr. Raymond Chang

Raymond Chang has written a thread in social media in response to our Statement that is helpful—in the sense of illustrating how worldview presuppositions impact reading and communication.

The thread begins with the intended conclusion, that which Dr. Chang is wanting to communicate to his readers: if you do not stand with the social justice movement, with those who are seeking to recast the Christian gospel in terms of power structures, oppression, intersectionality, and all the other current trends in cultural expression, you are (even if you vehemently deny it and there is not the slightest evidence of it) promoting racial supremacy, whatever that is defined as meaning today.  He begins by noting that over 4000 men (it is actually men and women) have signed the Statement, and then says, “This should grieve us all as it seeks to promote a type of false unity based on racial supremacy (though it will try and deny it) while fundamentally ignoring the the call to love others as Christ loved us.”  We can be thankful, I guess, that Dr. Chang is not attempting to look like a friend while trying to get close enough to stab with a dagger! No, this is a howitzer shot from 1500 meters. No close combat needed.  There is no desire of unity, no desire to dialogue, no view that we are all on the same side but need to talk this through. Nope—those pastors and theologians over there are racial supremacists (isn’t that just simply a longer version of “racist”?) who ignore the biblical command to love others. Period.

If you have read the Statement and are left just a bit confused as to how that set of affirmations and denials could ever be read in such an outrageously unfair and twisted fashion, you are not alone, but, you are also giving evidence of the fact that you have not been breathing deeply of the vapors of the social justice left. 

He goes on to note that many of those who have signed are pastors (quite true), but that this only makes things worse for “the blind are leading the blind when it comes to issues of racial unity in the church.”  Those who are promoting such concepts as critical race theory and intersectionality and the like are likewise convinced that if you are not “on board” with the program (its truth being so self evident!) then you are blind and, well, worthy of mockery and disdain.  In fact, those on the other side are truly unaware of their state, for Dr. Chang informs us, “they don’t see how their truth as been coopted by a hyper individualistic and racialized imagination. They can’t even see what they can’t see and that is what is most concerning because they operate in an echo chamber.”  It is difficult to know how Dr. Chang can be so condescendingly confident about such a wide range of individuals with ministries stretching around the world, but then again, the worldview of the left rarely troubles itself with accurate representation of any opposing viewpoints.

Dr. Chang goes on to assert that “the truth of God’s Word has been grossly missapplied by them. And now that people are trying to lovingly correct them they are bunkering down.”  I have certainly seen a number of attempts to respond to the Statement, but sadly, so far, the common denominator of these attempts would not be accurately described as “loving.”  Vitriolic, condescending, acidic—just plain nasty, yes, but “loving” would not be the appropriate descriptor at this point.  We can hope for future interaction that might be loving, thought-out, etc., but in reality one would not expect those responses as yet. It took us some time to put the document together, review it, get input, etc., so the thoughtful, meaningful, and yes hopefully, loving responses would probably be coming at a future time.

The accusations continue on with these words: As God in Christ Jesus tore the veil and broke down the dividing wall of hostility, they are seeking to build it back up brick by brick.” Such a strong denunciation should be accompanied, of course, by careful and accurate interaction with the statement, but, that would be highly unusual for those on the left. The mere accusation is normally sufficient, and that is all we get here, too. The accusation is, of course, utterly fallacious. Indeed, just this morning I preached on Ephesians 2 and the unity of the body and its basis in the work of Christ who, by His death upon the cross, makes peace and provides the basis of true unity between God and man and, thereby, between those in the one body of Christ. There is nothing any rational person could find in the Statement that would substantiate such an accusation.

Next we have, “What they don’t know, is that their actions are dividing the church that Jesus laid down his life for.”  Again, sweeping accusations that are left without the slightest substantiation outside of “they don’t agree with us about our social justice agenda, therefore, they must be wrong.” One is tempted to point back to the “echo changer” line that was used by Dr. Chang earlier and recognize that while many in conservative circles do indeed seek the echo chamber, the very essence of leftist ideology demands the echo chamber, applauds the echo chamber, and does all it can to maintain the echo chamber.

Dr. Chang then directed his readers to Pastor King’s already addressed article and then goes on to respond to the same passage that has triggered so many others on the left:  “But statements like this are the root of racial supremacy: ‘WE AFFIRM that some cultures operate on assumption that are inherently better than those of other cultures because of the biblical truths that inform those worldview that have produced these distinct assumptions.’”  Those on the left struggle mightily to recognize that just because belief X has been held by someone in the past who engaged in behavior Y it does not follow that belief X is necessarily foundational to or determinative of behavior Y.  The Inquisitors who tortured people in Spain confessed the Trinity, but the Trinity had nothing at all to do with their actions of torture.  Racial supremacists may hold to orthodox confessions at points, but it does not follow that those confessions are foundational to or determinative of their errors.  The affirmation in the Statement almost rises to the level of a self-evident truth, and failing that it is so very simple to establish it as true.  The biblical assumptions embraced by the people of Israel resulted in a better cultural manifestation than those followed by the Canaanites who offered their children in sacrifice to Molech.  How can this obvious truth be denied? If all cultural assumptions are equal, then it follows that Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and all the rest could not be identified as better or worse than any others.  There are many on the left that go there, but surely no Christian could possibly do so.

There were more comments that could be addressed, but this seems sufficient to identify just some of the problems, the biggest of which is easily seen: this is a response that is not a response. There seems to be an almost allergic reaction on the part of some to the very idea of actually interacting meaningfully with the words of the Statement, let alone any of the explications and applications that have been offered by its authors and signers in the week since its promulgation.  But, we continue to hope for better!

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