Friday, March 28, 2008

On Repentance

Speaking of repentance please allow me to do so now. My post on Tuesday March 18th contained too much unbiblical anger and was far too judgmental of my white brothers and sisters. Even though I wrote out of anger I should not have allowed my words and the tone conveyed by them to carry such anger. My words should have been measured and tempered with God’s grace and the loving compassion He has toward His children who are also my brothers and sisters and will be for all eternity.

I’m extremely grateful to my friend and brother Steve for bringing this to my attention. Steve and I have been friends for years. He is a wonderful brother and a humble, godly man. Steve has served faithfully on CLF’s temporary board of elders and has been an invaluable help to me in the pursuit of my calling to shepherd God’s people. Whenever we start having discussions like these or anything that pertains to our church that might be culture sensitive he always begins the conversation by noting that he’s the 50 year old conservative white guy in the room. I appreciate his wisdom and insight and thank him for confronting me on my sin last week.

To my white brothers and sisters I repent and ask your forgiveness for my words and tone on that post (entitled ‘and this we know’). I should have known better and recognized that what I had written would not further our discussion but only lead to more division. Please know that I value your friendship and fellowship and pray that both can grow stronger. Please forgive me and Lord willing let’s continue to move forward in this necessary and hopefully edifying dialogue.

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor lance


Anonymous said...

Amen Brother, and thank you for your repentance and willingness to ask for forgiveness. Please, please measure your attitudes, words and actions against the scriptures. we desperately, I mean desperately, need godly men (any race) especially leaders, to speak biblically and wisely in this day.

Steve said...

Brother, You are gracious - and hardly need ask forgiveness, but I certainly freely grant anything needed on that score. I, too, repent of not making time to understand the depth of my brothers' and sisters' pain.
I do not for a moment dispute the fact of that pain, or want to suggest that anyone should 'get over' deep, painful history. I do want it known that some Christians of European ancestry DO want to listen and learn.
I'll commit to pray that God gives me - and millions of other white evangelicals - the heart and the integrity to listen and learn, to risk bearing the brunt of very real anger over very real injustices that some other guy committed, in order for us - for me - to not ignore or abandon my brothers and sisters who experience pain that I can understand but not feel in any deep sense.
And - here's the fun part for me - I'll commit to continue reading the extraordinary blogs that you, Brother Carter and others are using for such Godly and helpful discussions. Lance, I assume that God's call is on you, and Anthony Carter and Thabite Anyabwile and Eric Redmond and others, to lead many of us forward. Thanks for your leadership. I would be honored - and truly excited - to be part of the discussion.
To Him Who loves us! - Steve

Jim Pemberton said...

Well put, Steve. Add my name to that list. If one part of the Body of Christ is in pain, it affects the whole body.

Anonymous said...

So I have a question. Being that the Jews were slaves in Egypt for 400 years, do the blacks in America owe them an apology? Could the Jews still rightly grieve over this oppression? Do they have a right to certain things simply because of this former treatment? Is there any statute of limitations on this (or is there a time to put it to rest?). How much apologizing is enough?

Please think long and hard over this. Maybe then you will begin to understand why this whole thing begins to feel like a huge guilt-inducing burden that whites are expected to carry around eternally, it seems. Where is forgiveness? Where is moving on? Where is the recognition that WE ALL have sinned and fallen short - both toward God and one another? Where is the humility? Where is the biblical balance? Being that the world wants to keep this alive, could the Christian view be to let it all go?

Jim Pemberton said...

Anonymous (the 2nd),
What I said about the body of Christ still stands. It's one thing to say, "just let it go," and another altogether to deal with the years of division that have defined the western Church much less thinking about witnessing to the culture at large. What we need is practical bi-lateral ministry and we each have to come to terms with our own culpability or it's not going to happen.

Pastor Lance said...

thanks brothers for your gracious words.
re: anon#2. I don't believe blacks in this country owe Jews an apology anymore than I believe that the French own blacks an apology for American slavery.

re: apologizing I suppose it depends on if an apology was made, who made it and to whom? I personally think that an apology might help us in the process of reconciliation but understand that others do not.
and though blacks can and have moved on we simply cannot forget where we came from or what happened to us. nor would we challenge Jews to forget the holocaust or Americans to forget 911.

finally my brother or sister many African-Americans failure to move on has more to do with our current situation than the past. we've had over four hundred years of slavery, segregation, separation, hostility, distrust and pain. I too would love to wave my hand, wish it all away and let it go. however reconciliation is a process and perhaps one that the body of Christ can show the world who it seems would like nothing more than to have it go away.

thanks for checking in and please come back


Anonymous said...

"re: anon#2. I don't believe blacks in this country owe Jews an apology"

That is part of the problem. Some single themselves out to always be victims. Always. Even though others suffered the same fate, and some still are, they somehow can always claim that their situation was worse, or is still painful, etc.

"and though blacks can and have moved on we simply cannot forget where we came from or what happened to us. nor would we challenge Jews to forget the holocaust or Americans to forget 911."

Ok. It is one thing to always remember. It is quite another thing to hold it against people, to demand they must somehow continue to try and make it right, and to perpetually consider yourself still a victim. You are right, I never want to forget 911. However I do not wish to demonize all middle easterners, or even muslims. I do not expect an apology, nor do I consider myself a victim. I do pray that if I ever sit down in church with a former muslim, even a former radical, that I would not do so with animosity. No I pray it would be as a brother or sister and not even looking to the skin color or background.

"Americans failure to move on has more to do with our current situation than the past."

From my perspective part of the problem is what I just said, some want to be victims. It is easier to blame others than to get up and dust yourself off and get busy doing what you should be doing. It is human nature, I suppose. Also, let us not forget that it is biblical to turn the other cheek. A supernatural response is to love your enemies. Prejudice can just as easily come from the other direction, and I have faced that. I have also been told that light skinned blacks are prejudiced toward and look down on dark skinned blacks. This is the point.

We are all sinners, folks! There is no use trying to demonize white folks. Blacks play a part in the continuing problem. They must, or it would go away. It takes two to fight. This attitude grives me and it grieves me most because it is in the church, Christ's body, and ought not be.

Jim Pemberton said...

What you've said is not untrue, but you sound like one of Job's friends. What you say has been said for years and it's largely unhelpful. It's not producing the fruit that you expect it to produce. I'm training for ministry to speak the gospel to Arab Muslims and the approach that works seems a little backwards. Instead of being critical of their theology at first, we must assert Christ while demonstrating His love for them as His representatives. Then as God makes them alive to His truth, they will be ready to hear good theology.

In the white American culture we're brought up to be critical, but criticism is usually unhelpful. Christ, for example, didn't sit down with the Samaritan woman and criticize her for trying to find love by sleeping around although He mentioned it. Instead, He offered her the true love of living water and she took it. He got at the root of the problem and everything else fell into place for her.

What you fail to realize is that no one wants to be a victim. It's true that certain negative behaviors are enabled. The way to solve this problem is to get side-by-side with our brothers and sisters in Christ and come out of the mire that is our current worldly culture by creating a true CROSS-culture with them. Paul admonished us to bear one another's burdens and bear our own burdens. That's what I'm talking about. Christ bore our burden of sin on the cross and Simon of Cyrene bore his cross on the road. We can do no less for each other as sheep. Otherwise we're just goats. And if I'm being overly critical here, please forgive me.

Pastor Lance said...

excuse me brother or sister anon#2 but before we go on in our discussion I'd like to ask you some questions.

Do you know any black people who always single themselves out to be victims? Do you know personally know any black folks who want to be perpetually viewed as victims and if so have you spoken to them about it?

Please answer these questions before we continue our discussion.


Anonymous said...

Pastor Lance,
I do know some black people and consider them good friends. But I think this whole issue with Barak Obama has helped white people realize something. It is this: What blacks are thinking and saying to one another are quite different from what they are saying to whites. Do my friends consider themselves victims? I do not know. Would they tell me, since I am white?

Many have come forward to say that what Wright said in his pulpit is no different from what most blacks hear on a given Sunday in church. Barak didn't leave his church before now, because what he was hearing in church was 'normal'. I don't think the average white person (Christian or not) knew this before now.

Jim thank you for bringing some biblical truth to the discussion. This is often completely left out of it. Instead, even among Christians, both black and white what you hear is the same politically correct but spiritually bankrupt perspective. I do not feel that I am a Job's comforter. Though you may be right. However, what you say is the typical PC response: these people are hurting, cut them some slack.

Here is a good article that helps to clarify how people think and what some of the real issues are:
(BTW I am not Roman Catholic)


(too lazy to sign up for a blogger account)!!

Pastor Lance said...

thanks for responding julie,

but you didn't answer the question. I did not ask you if you had any black friends. thus far you have written that "some single themselves out to always be victims. always." you have said that that "blacks continue to hold it against people, to demand they must somehow continue to try and make it right, and to perpetually consider yourself still a victim." You have said that "it is easier to blame others than to get up and dust yourself off and get busy doing what you should be doing."

So once more I ask you do you personally know or have spoken with black people who have this attitude? If you do not, is it really fair to make gross generalizations about people that you do not know? Also please take some time to check out the breadth of my blog and determine if that attitude has been voiced here.

You just said that many have come forward to say that what Rev. Wright said is no different from what most blacks hear on a given Sunday. Personally I don't think that's true and I'm pretty sure that I have a better grasp on what is said and heard in black churches than you do. It seems to me that you want to throw out things you've heard about black people without ever actually talking to them. I recognize that you want Christians to 'let it all go' but do you really believe it's that simple? For instance can a person really come to God without having any or a minimal acknowledgment of his sin? I'm not using this example to put a guilt trip on you or any other white person, but to just highlight that superficial approaches to reconciliation will fall short.

And while you may disagree with me I would ask that you only look at your relationship with those black people you consider good friends. You don't know if they consider themselves victims. Is that because you've never spoken to them about their views on race/ethnicity? If they are good friends why don't you ask them about it? In fact why don't you tell them about this blog, invite them to read the posts along with the comments and join the discussion?

Julie I welcome you to this discussion. But I would ask that you not make sweeping statements about people you don't know and haven't spoken with. I certainly invite you and everyone else to put forward a biblical course toward reconciliation. But I fear that we won't get anywhere if we simply remain in our own ideological camps and throw stones at each other.

Lastly my sister please be careful regarding the root of prejudice. When we make statements about what those people think or how those people are we tread perilously close to committing the very sin we so vehemently claim to be against.


Jim Pemberton said...

Thanks for the chuckle, Julie. No one who knows me would accuse me of being PC, although my political discourse has been tempered by my involvement in missions. It's altogether more fruitful for the Kingdom of Heaven to properly prioritize political views low on the pole if one's goal is to present Christ, especially in countries whose political leaders are not particularly friendly to both Christ and the United States.

As for this discussion, Pastor Lance is on the money. We, as fallen human beings, have a bad habit of judging unjustly rather than wisely. Sheep seek the image of Christ in others. Goats seek to make others in their own image.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Lance, I did answer your question. I don't think you read my last answer carefully.

Here is a quote from John McWhorter from the Manhattan Institute which I think answers what is preached in black churches. McWhorter writes candidly; you might poke around on the website and see what else he has to say.
"There are black pastors nationwide giving anti-American sermons like Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s. It’s not as if Barack Obama sought out some peculiar institution to worship in. Call it Black Liberation Theology, “telling it like it is,” or what have you — Reverend Wright’s broadsides at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago were ordinary examples of one of many stripes of black sermonizing."

I still think the article from First Things which I linked to before is very insightful. Did you read it?

You guys do not seem to really want to discuss this, but only to have everyone agree with your views. Sorry, but I don't agree.

Jim Pemberton said...


I like reading the NASB. People say "It's wooden." I have no idea what they're talking about. Even through college my composition professors would tell me that my sentence structures were awkward, but they would never tell me what precisely made them so.

It's one thing to assume the role of a teacher and judge viscerally offering what sounds like good reasonable criticism without useful instruction. The fact is, you think more highly of yourself than you ought and it shows in the way you speak to other people. That's what's not useful. And it's counterproductive to any discussion. Here's a (very) basic summary of the discussion so far:

Pastor Lance: "I behaved poorly and I repent."

Julie: "Blacks ought to just get over it like whites do."

Jim: "That's not very helpful."

Pastor Lance: "Do you know any black people who believe like you think they believe?"

Julie: "You guys don't want to discuss anything. You only want people to agree with you."