WALKING THROUGH LAND MINE(S), A WAY OUT: A FOLLOW-UP TO THE LAND “REPUDIATION” POST By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

Editor: This powerful follow-up article to Dwight McKissic’s equally powerful article last week was originally posted on his blog, Wm Dwight McKissic, Sr. “New Blog for a Pneuma Time.”

There are three questions that have surfaced to the top in response to my Richard Land “Repudiation” Post that I want to address in this article:  (1) Do I believe Richard Land is a racist? (2) Should Richard Land’s entire career be judged by fifteen minutes of commentary? (3) How do we resolve the “Land-mine” and the racial divide surrounding this issue?

How the SBC responds to the Land racial comments–not the election of Dr. Luter—may determine whether or not Blacks are attracted to the SBC, remain coy, or even be repelled by the SBC. Whatever gains that may grow out of the rightful election of Dr. Fred Luter as president—not on the basis of race, but on the basis of qualification—have already been neutralized, if not nullified, by the Land racial comments.

In recent years the SBC has been discussing and sometimes debating a name change; a Great Commission resurgence; and the renewal/revitalization of a declining denomination. The answers or solutions to these discussion/debates may all be wrapped up in the SBC’s response to the Land controversy.

I.  Do I Believe Richard Land Is a Racist?

No! I have absolutely no reason to believe that. Do I believe Richard Land is racial in his outlook and interpretation of matters? Yes! And so am I. If Richard Land is a racist, so am I and the vast majority of America, Black, Hispanic, Asian and White.

I make a distinction between being racist and racial. A racist is intentional, unashamedly and foundationally, comfortable viewing persons of other races as being fundamentally and inherently flawed or less than.  A racist prejudge or relate to other persons based on their foundational outlook. A person who is racial in their outlook—and most of us are—are simply products of the fact that we were born into a racial construct and society, and we observed or were taught certain things about race that shapes or form our world view. We sometimes think, write, talk and act out of the racial world view from which we basically inherited. This sometimes conflicts with a kingdom or biblical view of race. I do not believe Richard Land or most Southern Baptists are racist—but racial. The National Baptist Convention—of which I’m also a member—likewise is not racist, but clearly racial. As a matter of fact, the Southern Baptist Convention in many regards, are doing a better job than the National Baptists Convention to reach across the racial divide and bridge the gap. National Baptists generally view the SBC with suspicion and distrust because of comments like the ones Dr. Land made, the belief he reflects and the belief that his comments reflect majority Southern Baptist thought. Given that suspicion National Baptists rarely reach out to bridge the racial divide. When the moderates were in charge of the SBC race relations were actually far better between Southern Baptists and National Baptists then and now. The Conservatives who are now in charge really need to do some soul searching on that question.

Most Blacks who are a part of the SBC are members because someone in the SBC reached out and made us feel wanted and welcome as pastors, parishioners and participants; but the jury is still out as to whether or not we are welcome to occupy seats of power. In many instances the SBC entities provided resources and support that we could not or didn’t receive from the National Baptists. For that I applaud and appreciate the SBC. The issue before the SBC now is, will the Convention accept Blacks not just as members and participants, but will you accept Blacks as partners and share equal power? The ERLC that Land leads has twenty-one full-time employees and not one Black. There are about thirty persons on my staff at present and only one part-time White. Neither Dr. Land nor I are racist, but our hiring has been racial.

The Land racial remarks threaten the reservoir of goodwill in our convention regarding race that Dr. Land helped to establish, I’m told. Please read the Baptist Twenty One blog post where this young African American named Walter Strickland, whose spiritual DNA is SBC as opposed to NBC, clearly articulated the pressure and problem the Land remarks poses for us who are dually aligned or singularly aligned with the SBC. Ed Stetzer posted the best response to date by an Anglo SBC leader to the Land problem. Land’s racial statements, unchallenged, cause those of us who remain in the SBC be looked upon by other African Americans as “Uncle Toms.”  I appreciate Walter Strickland for expressing the huge problem Dr. Land has caused us. By far, this is the best African American response to the Land controversy. He expresses his viewpoint in a much more gentle tone than I do, which is good. We are addressing the same pain and crying for help from the SBC to heal the wounds and repair the breach.

The racist in the SBC are those churches that don’t allow non-Anglo members, refuse to baptize African Americans, officially or unofficially will not employ African American staff members (except custodians), reject African Americans as guest preachers (this happen to Dr. Luter in Louisiana in the 90’s) reject inter-racial marriages (currently know of an Anglo SBC church where this is an issue) and I could go on. Dr. Land would not support any of these practices; therefore, I don’t believe he is a racist. Succinctly stated, racism–I believe–is intentional. Being racial is accidental and unintentional. I do not believe Dr. Land’s remarks were intended to hurt or do harm. I don’t think he would have spoken these words had he known it would create a racial fire storm and deepen the racial divide in the SBC. To that extent, he has apologized; and I accept it. However, we are still waiting on him and the SBC to own and then disown his words.

As a matter of fact, seven to nine years ago, I recall reading in a Baptist publication, the fact that Dr. Land had a burden against modern day slavery in Sudan. He was addressing that issue with words and work, as I recall. I was impressed with what he was saying and doing based on what I read. I invited him to our church to preach on that issue. He accepted my invitation and he did a very fine job. Subsequently, our church responded to his message with prayer for the Sudan situation; and, as best I recall, we raised funds and supported a ministry that was addressing the situation.

I was experiencing personal pain over a personal situation that I was dealing with when Dr. Land came to preach. I shared with him my pain. He listened and ministered to me mightily, for which I will always be grateful. No! I do not believe Richard Land is racist. I do believe his word-view and words are sometimes racial and reflect a Euro-centric or secular, conservative, political, sociological outlook—as opposed to a biblio-centric, Christo-centric, and Kingdom of God oriented outlook. His Trayvon Martin comments reflected the racial construct in which he was born, not a biblio-centric outlook that says, “for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”  (1 Samuel 16:7). By most accounts, Dr. Land has a history of racial reconciliation work that is positive and long-standing.

II.    Should the SBC Repudiate a Man’s Life-long Work Over Fifteen Minutes of Commentary?

Dr. Bart Barber, echoed by David Brumbelow, raised this valid and compassionate question. First of all, I do not suggest that we repudiate his life-long work; only the controversial Trayvon Martin comments and particularly, the racial profiling justification commentary. I agree with Dr. Barber and David Brumbelow:  It would be non-Christian to repudiate a man’s life-time work over those fifteen minutes. Therefore, I am not, would not, and never have proposed that.

In The Tennessean article, dated April 14, 2012, Travis Loller reports:

“Land, who is white, said in an interview that he has no regrets. And he defended the idea that people are justified in seeing young black men as threatening: A black man is ‘statistically more likely to do you harm than a white man.’”

I appeal to Brother Bart and Brother David, to please try and understand that if the profile quote goes unchallenged, un-repented of, and not repudiated by the SBC or Dr. Land, then it forever becomes the official position and attitude of the SBC regarding racial profiling. Do we really want that statement to go unchallenged? If so, that statement would be far worse unchallenged than the curse of Ham teaching, that was taught by Dr. Criswell and most SBC preachers before him. That’s where he learned in from. And no one would deny that W.A. Criswell was the single most influential pastor/preacher in the past fifty years in SBC life; Although, Dr. Adrian Rogers would be an honorable mention in the same sentence with Criswell, when it comes to influence and impact upon the SBC over the past fifty years.

The reason that Dr. Land’s profile statement must be recanted is because, it approves of viewing Black men with suspicion, sanctioned by the SBC. Land’s profile statement places my freedom, job opportunities, goodwill with all men, life and ultimately my destiny at risk—to those who with SBC approval believe it is permissible to profile me based on statistics and skin color. Why in heaven’s name would the SBC place God’s kingdom agenda, the Great Commission, race relations and the future growth of our convention at stake—to uphold a secular worldview racial profiling posture. I can assure you, if this comment stands, it will greatly hinder the conventions outreach to African Americans. Why would I want to be a part of a convention that the chief ethics officer says that it is justifiable and understandable to view me as a suspect? This is a serious matter that must be addressed. YES! This portion of the fifteen-minute commentary at the very least must be resolved, because of the influence and impact it has over so many.

III.  How do we resolve the Land Mine and the racial divide surrounding this issue?

There are three ways to view the Martin/Zimmerman matter: (1) The White view; (2) The Black View (3) The Kingdom View. If the SBC embraces and adopt the Kingdom View, I believe that at least internally, we can resolve the crisis within our convention, so that we can celebrate the election of Dr. Luter, without any racial baggage associated with this case hindering it.

A. The White view of the Martin/Zimmerman case is basically:

  1. Let’s not rush to judgment.
  2. Zimmerman had a right to defend himself in a fight, even to the point of shooting and killing Martin.
  3. President Obama should not have commented on this case (although other presidents have commented on other national issue cases)
  4. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton should not have responded to the request of Martin’s family to get involved.
  5. There should not have been rallies and protests in the streets.
  6. The forty-five days it took to arrest Zimmerman was perfectly fine.
  7. The Black Panthers who put out the bounty should have been immediately arrested.

 B.  The Black view of this case is:

  1. Zimmerman should have been arrested that very night; in part because of the evidence and the recommendation of the investigator on the scene that night that Zimmerman be arrested. There is also a knowledge in the Black community that immediately that night, had it been a Black on Black shooting, or a Black on a mixed-race shooting, the Black man would have been—without question—arrested that very night, particularly with the investigating officer recommending arrests.
  2. Zimmerman was the aggressor and the profiler. He disobeyed the instruction of the 911 dispatcher regarding following Trayvon. Had Zimmerman stayed in the car, there would not have been a murder that night. Trayvon was not breaking any laws or posing a danger to anyone—had he been left alone. Therefore, Zimmerman is the guilty party here.
  3. If Zimmerman had been arrested that night—again, like a Black man surely would have been—the Black panthers nor Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or President Obama would not have been involved.
  4. The Black Panthers were absolutely and unequivocally wrong biblically and morally to offer a bounty for Zimmerman. I simply don’t know enough about the law on this matter, to know whether or not they violated the law. Vigilante justice is wrong whether practiced by Zimmerman or the Black Panthers.
  5. It is very common and expected from parishioners and the community for Black ministers to get involved, when requested by the family or community leaders. This is a historic role black preachers have played. Community organizers may be frowned upon in the White community, but they are highly respected in the Black community. Parenthetically, that’s why it was a tactical error by the Republicans to make light of candidate Obama being a “community organizer.” The disparaging of Mr. Obama as a community organizer, enraged Black people. After all, Martin Luther King in addition to being a pastor was viewed as a community organizer as leader of the S.C.L.C. the attacks and criticisms of Sharpton and Jackson after supporting Trayvon’s family are simply coming from person who don’t understand this has been an always I suspect will be the case that Black ministers got involved in these type of situations. They would face for more criticism, if they didn’t get involve. The criticism against Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for their involvement is viewed identical to the criticism that Southern Baptists and White evangelicals leveled toward Martin Luther King. He was called a trouble maker and in effect a race hustler. Therefore Black people by and large dismiss these criticisms.

C.  The Kingdom View:  As a Kingdom citizen (Philippians 3:20), with a Kingdom world view, I don’t know if we can or should fully embrace the White view or the Black view, we must embrace a Kingdom view of this matter. This was modeled well in my judgment by the Sanford pastorsJack Hayford and John Piper. Unfortunately, no major SBC pastor that I’m aware of stepped up and spoke a Kingdom view. Where is the Kingdom view, Southern Baptist voice on the Martin/Zimmerman case? Southern Baptist may drop Southern from their name as a way of distancing themselves from their racist past. But when they remain silent on this issue or speak from Richard Land’s perspective which is largely viewed as anti-Black and pro-Zimmerman, it doesn’t matter what the SBC name themselves—trust has been lost. The question now is how trust can be regained. Again, the only ray of Southern Baptist hope that I’ve seen on this matter is the Ed Stetzer brilliant and gutsy piece entitled, “Southern Baptist, Stats, and Race: Reflections on Some Unhelpful Remarks.”

What is the Kingdom view? Based on Amos 5:24, Genesis 9:6, Proverbs 18:17, we should have come together across racial lines as pastors and cried out immediately for justice for Trayvon Martin and his family and due process for Zimmerman and his family. We want patience, peace and respect for law and order to prevail while we trust God and the authorities to adjudicate this matter. Had Dr. Land taken this position, we wouldn’t have the plagiarism investigation and the deepening racial divide between the SBC and the Black community.

So, what is our way out? How do we resolve this crisis within the SBC? If Dr. Land, President Bryant Wright and two-three African American preachers agree and release a statement similar to the following, I believe it will immediately reduce tension, consternation and frustration among Black SBC pastors and parishioners:

“Racial profiling is not a biblical concept. As a matter of fact, Scripture cautions against racial profiling (1 Samuel 16:7). We reject the notion of viewing persons of other races with suspicion based on statistics or racial classifications. The SBC does not believe in, support or practice racial profiling. Dr. Richard Land regrets that he made statements in support of racial profiling. Furthermore, he regrets the damage, offense and hurt that these statements caused. And he asks your forgiveness.”

If a statement similar to this is made, it would be widely and readily accepted by all of good will and kingdom-minded. We could then put this crisis behind us and go on to NOLA to elect Fred Luter as president, which could be the dawning of a new day is the life of the SBC. Could it be we are where we are, at this point, because this is a Divine test? Our convention could be hanging on the balance, based on our response.

Comments

  1. SBC Layman says

    I one-hundred percent agree that we should repudiate any hint that the SBC supports profiling by race. Dr. Land should clearly admit the content of his statement was wrong and specifically ask forgiveness for it. SBC leaders should make it clear we don’t support it. I appreciate the clarity you’ve brought to the black perspective on the Treyvon Martin case. You’ve made excellent distinctions between being racial and racist. We do all have an inescapable racial element brought with us from our backgrounds.

    But I have a very honest question: What will it take to get to the point where black pastors within the SBC can give some grace (at least for a while) to incidents like this one with Dr. Land without being labeled “Uncle Toms” and feeling pressure from their black peers to distance themselves from the SBC? I sense in your words a need to show your African American brethren outside the SBC that you are no Uncle Tom. Forgive me if I’ve put words in your mouth. What does it take to build trust between black pastors and white pastors within the SBC? My question is as genuine and sincere as I can convey it on a blog.

    • Dwight McKissic says

      SBC Layman,

      “Grace” will be given on incidents like this when relationships are built over a period of time, sort of like a marriage relationship. To build additional trust will require hiring a Black entity head, and completely empower and include Blacks in significant numbers in every aspect of SBC life–or at least in proportion to our ratio percentage of membership. When and if that happens, the grace and trust issues are almost immediately resolved. I hope I’ve answered your question.

      Dwight

  2. says

    From a Baptist Press article:
    “Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, made the apology in a letter to SBC President Bryant Wright, an Atlanta-area pastor, on April 16.

    In response, a prominent African American pastor, Fred Luter Jr. of New Orleans, issued a statement to BP accepting Land’s apology. Luter is the SBC’s first vice president who will be nominated for SBC president during the convention’s June 19-20 annual meeting in New Orleans…

    Luter, in his statement to Baptist Press, said, ‘I commend Dr. Richard Land for his letter of apology pertaining to his comments about the Trayvon Martin case. His comments certainly were a concern for many of us across the Southern Baptist Convention.

    ‘Our convention has made a lot of progress in the area of racial reconciliation and we want to continue this effort,’ Luter continued. ‘Dr. Land’s letter of apology will hopefully keep us on track. I accept his apology and will look forward to working with him and others within this convention to tear down the walls of racism in our great country.’”

    The full article:
    http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37620

    David R. Brumbelow

  3. says

    Dwight, I agree with parts of the “white view,” parts of the “black view,” as well as the import of the “kingdom view”. I’m not sure where that leaves me.?.

    Also, you mention “When the moderates were in charge of the SBC race relations were actually far better between Southern Baptists and National Baptists then and now.” You and others are in a far better position to know, but I will suggest a “third way” that is involved in this. Moderate Baptists are more ecumenical than Conservative Baptists. So there is not just the “race relations” but also the theological relations. Doctrinal and ecclesiological can and do hinder relations between churches that are conservative that will not bother churches that are moderate.

    • Frank L. says

      Robert,

      So there is not just the “race relations” but also the theological relations.””””

      A very insightful look at the matter.

      • Dwight McKissic says

        Frank and Robert,

        National/Black Baptists and Black Southern Baptists share in official documents practically identical doctrinal beliefs. Most Black Baptists would agree to every line in the’63 BF’M and most would even agree to every line in the 2000 BF’M. Therfore, would you help me to understand what are theswe doctrinal differences that woul make moderates mre ameniable to better race relations than conservatives. Is it doctrinal differences or heart issues that explains why the moderates do a better job than conservatives when it comes to race relations?

        Dwight

        • says

          Dwight, please understand that I did not say that moderates are more amenable to better race relations than conservatives. I am not talking about “race relations” as such, but about theological relations that some may perceive are about “race relations” when they are not. Let me give two examples that hopefully will clarify rather than muddy the water.

          First, tongues. At our church we would not preach a man who speaks in tongues, or be keen on fellowshipping with a church that believes in tongues. That has nothing to do with race, but if we did not preach a black Baptist preacher or fellowship a black Baptist church for this reason it might be perceived as “racial” even though it has no connection to race. (I am not saying “tongues” itself is a conservative vs. moderate issue, but only that is something that likely wouldn’t matter to most moderates but will to many conservatives.)

          Two. The National Baptist churches in our area preach ministers of various denominations, and even allow women preachers in their pulpits. We don’t, so this is an issue that hinders relations. Again that has nothing to do with race. We don’t have good relations with white churches who have such practices, either. (The point again being that something like this likely wouldn’t matter to most moderates but will to many conservatives.)

          I hope this helps clarify. If not, I will try again. As far as doctrinal differences or heart issues I’ll make no attempt to define whether moderates or conservatives have a better heart. I’ll let God look there.

          • Dwight McKissic says

            Robert,

            Very helpful, thanks. Neither one of the theological concerns you mentioned are forbidden in the B,F, &, M. I’m afraid if the conservatives make those two litmus test issues for fellowship, there will not be a whole lot of fellowship with Black churches. Why is it that if these two matters are that important to SBC conservatives that it is not a requirement for membership in the Convention, or mentioned in the BF& M, 2000. Female Senior pastors are forbidden in the BF & M 2000, but not female preachers. There are Black Baptist churches whose positions on those matters would be identical to the “conservatives” in the SBC, bit most of the growing, dynamic, and progressive Black Baptist churches tend to affirm the gift of tongues as did Paul in I Corinthians 14:2, and women preachers as did Paul in I Corinthians 11: 5 and Acts 2:17 as spoken by Peter. The SBC will continue to be a denomination in decline if they continue to disqualify people or decline fellowship with churches based on tertiary issues.

            In the past two days two young extremely gifted Black Baptist preachers with great and growing congregations asked me my opinion about joining the SBC. There point of hesitation was Richard Land’s racial remarks–and they told me about a third young pastor who feels the same way. Two of the three strongly believe in and practice tongues(I Corinthians 14:2 ) and believe that God calls and gifts women to preach. Two of the three have decided against joining the SBC for the aforementioned reasons and the other remain undecided. It appears to me if the SBC will continue to be petty over tertiary issues, any real hope for serious inter-racial growth, may never occur. I appreciate your honesty in answering this question. I would to God that the convention had the integrity to be as honest as you have been so some of us would know if we really qualify to belong to this Convention.

            Dwight

          • says

            You’re welcome, Dwight. Let me clarify further that I did not mean to speak for any churches other than my own. Please let others speak for themselves. Like some of the friends you mention, our church is not actually in the convention. We have friends, family and brethren in the convention and SBC churches. Because of its size and prominence, what the convention says and does affects us as Baptists whether we did or not (for example, what Richard Land said affects us). I was using myself and our church as an example of how wholly theological issues can hinder getting a good relationship going with black churches without it being a racial issue. We draw the same line with white churches. But please don’t let my views reflect on others who may not draw the same lines. If they agree, let them speak up for themselves.

  4. Chief Katie says

    Dwight,

    Do you speak for the entire black community? My son says you do not speak for him and he finds some of your comments to be untrue, and unfair.

    Just so you know, not every black person in America sees you as an authority on race relations inside the church, or even the country.

  5. Christiane says

    oh goodness me . . .
    ‘the White view, the Black view . . . no, no, no, no

    as far as I know, there is no ‘White view’ in most of the United States on the killing of Travon Martin . . . certainly among some people who play to a certain ‘base’ there have been racially slanted statements,
    but most American people were sickened when they heard what happened to a young seventeen year-old, walking unarmed on a sidewalk, going to his father’s home after buying a package of candy and a can of tea

    I’m not sure how it can be that ‘White’ labeled ‘point of view’ could exist any place other than in a community of close-minded pre-judging individuals and it just is NOT fair to most white Americans to stereotype them as falling in line with a “White” point of view.
    Most of our country has been able to get past that point . . . not all. In some geographical regions and historically racially-troubled areas, perhaps ‘whites’ might fall into that stereotype,
    but the stereotype just isn’t going to fit most white Americans in this day and age anymore. Not to say all ‘prejudice’ is gone, no. But the killing of an unarmed American kid who was stalked because: 1. he was black
    and 2. he was wearing his hoodie . . . that shocks MOST Americans and they want to know the truth of how it happened that this could be.

    Most American people who are white are aware that if Tray had not been black and wearing his hoodie, he would likely be alive today.
    That is a hard truth for our country to face. But we must.

    • Dwight McKissic says

      Christiane,

      No truer words have ever been spoken. Why won’t Many SBC pastors speak as truthfully as you just did? You may be one of those Acts 2:17 daughters who just prophesied. Somebody needs to say it, and you did. God bless you. I am somewhat shocked to hear such straight truth on this subject on this thread. God bless you.

      Dwight

      Dwight

  6. Bar Logos says

    The primary problem all Southern Baptists have is that they have failed to understand that biblically and biologically, race is totally fictive. Race is a social construct created to support the economics of slavery.

    There is no mention of race in the Bible. So long as Southern Baptist speak conceputually, theologically or socially of race, there will be little or no progress to affirming the truth of Acts 17:26: “And [God] made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation…”

    • Frank L. says

      “””The primary problem all Southern Baptists have”””

      Bar Logos: that survey must have taken you some time at considerable cost to interview each and every Southern Baptist. But . . . you missed at least one that I know of for a fact.

      True, the word race is not mentioned in the Bible. Then again, neither is the word, “hotdog.” I’m pretty sure hotdogs exist.

      It seems to me your problem is equally as acute as that which you say is everybody else’s problem. While technically there is only one race, the human race, there are many different anthropological expressions of humanity throughout the world.

      To suggest–as I interpret your post to suggest–that we are “all just exactly the same” seems to over-simplify to the extent of distortion the reality we call life.

      Notice in your verse if you will that the very verse you use to indicate an elementary uniformity speaks of God-ordained diversity.

      The key to avoiding “racist” mentalities it seems to me is not to ignore the obvious differences, but to recognize them and celebrate them in a spirit of civility and community.

      Hence, for me the solution is not “color-blindness” but color appreciation.

      • Bar Logos says

        Frank L:

        I mention all Southern Baptists, without the benefit of having surveyed all, only in the sense that the Convention speaks of its members in “race” terms and it is my problem so long as it is anybody’s.

        The Bible does not mention the term race nor does it mention the concept. Neither existed before the 18th century. The Bible does speak of ethnicity/ties (ethnos) translated often as nations. This is a cultural term and culture was practiced by multi-facted peoples who were of divergent sexes, genders and skin colors. Notwithstanding, these divisions had nothing to do with “race”. We are not the same in physical appearance, but we are the same as all are created in the image of God and that image/s has mutiple expressions.

        The quoted verse was not to suggest uniformity. Rather it was referenced to indicate origin of humanity. God made men and women and both are God imaged.

        I agree with your concluding comments with the caveat that color is not race. Our differences should be celebrated, but not to differentiate own’s own culture or tradition or method as being inherently superior to another. No colorblindness indeed. But I’m all in favor of “race blindness”.

        • Frank L. says

          I think we are on the same page. Language becomes a bit of a problem when discussing this issue.

      • Smuschany says

        The difference in skin color is no different in terms of “obvious differences” than the color of one’s hair. So unless you are willing to say that someone with naturally blond hair is “obviously different” than someone with red hair, you are clearly judging by racial stereotypes and racial identities rather than the reality of the human race. To prove this, I could give you three pictures. One of an “black” American youth, one of a youth from Kenya, and another of a youth from indigenous Australia (aka aboriginal). And I would be willing to bet you could not tell the difference between the three. Yet each has significant differences in culture. Further, the Australian Aboriginal is not even of the same “racial classification” as Africans. They are nothing the same. Yet they each have “black” skin, and I bet dollars to donuts that that is what you meant in using the phrase “obvious differences”.

        • Frank L. says

          How many dollars are you going to send me because you completely missed what I “meant.”

          You could not be more off base in your evaluations of what I meant. In fact, if I understand what you are saying, we are in agreement.

          Race, however you want to define it, may involve skin color, but “racism” has little to do with skin color–in my opinion.

          Skin color “may” indicate strong cultural differences, but not nec.
          essarily. That’s why I advocate not lumping everyone into tidy groups like “white” and “black.”

          I cannot speak for Dwight, but it is pretty clear that he and I differ greatly in the shade of our skin. That is simply one difference we have. The real issues are much deeper and more complicated
          and . . . much more dangerous to categorize.

          Also, just for fun, I would bet that if you showed me a picture of a “black American youth” and an Australian Aboriginal I would be able to tell you the difference 9 out of 10 times. How much are you going to send me for that bet?

          Rather than send me the money for so completely missing the meaning of my post, why not just buy donuts for your youth group at church and tell them: “It’s from Frank.”

          • Bar Logos says

            I am sorry I misinterpreted what I meant.

            My contention is that race is all about skin color even when it does not make sense on many lelvels. Take for instance your example of a “black American youth” and an Australian Aboriginal”—if there skin color is different, what makes you able to distinquish one from the other—only 90% of the time?Are they of the same “race”? Would both be viewed/treated equally?

            Race in the American context is about skin color and precisely so, otherwise there would have been many more different colored slaves. Moreover, if race is not about skin color, why do we reduce it to the terms “black” and “white”? To be sure, the extension of the “black/white” context involves more than skin color—but skin color is central to the concept of “race”.

            Skin color does not indicate cultural differences. My twin and I have the same skin color. One of us is a Northerner, the other is a Westerner. Looking at us from a photo, you would not be able to tell who is which.

            I’ll buy the donuts.

          • Frank L. says

            “””if race is not about skin color, why do we reduce it to the terms “black” and “white”?”””

            Here is where the term becomes a problem in communication. Race, in anthropology, is not just about skin color. You seem to use the term to merely describe skin color.

            I will agree that “primarily” the American conversation “used to be” about just white and black. It is not that narrow anymore–at least not in my mission field.

            In fact, “race prejudice issues” in my area are more related to brown, than black. A few cities over, the shade of prejudicial issues is yellow.

            Color is just our “quick reference chart.” But, in my experience the hatred goes much deeper than the skin differences. Prejudice involves a lack of tolerance and understanding for an entire way of life.

            I do think, as much as I can tell, that we agree on this issue for the most part. There is only ONE RACE–THE HUMAN RACE. It seems to me that is your primary point to make in this discussion and I agree wholeheartedly.

            We may differ on how we approach the answer to the problem perhaps, but not the problem itself.

            By the way . . . are you both Smush and Bar?

  7. Frank L. says

    PS–I”m sure you are aware that the Bible declares that in Christ there is no “male or female.”

    I accept this truth wholeheartedly but I also recognize that the last time I looked–my wife was quite different from myself. She also approaches matters in a very “female” kind of way.

    Whereas theologically we are exact equals, biologically and socially (or anthropologically) we are quite different.

    Race, as the term is used colloquially, is more than skin deep, just as gender is more than a difference in plumbing.

    • Bar Logos says

      Herein lies the problem as I understand your definition of race: “race” is more than skin deep. If race was only viewed as ‘”skin deep” we would be having a different conversation. That race is more than skin deep is the problem.

      Theologically as you suggest there is no place for race as race has no theological purpose. What makes your wife a female is not the color of her skin.

      If race as used “colloquially” had theological merit, Strom Thurmond would have never engaged with his family’s maid—she had different skin (read race) but her “plumbing” to use your word was the same as any other female with different skin.

      “Race” is social, political and even religious. I can find no support for “race” biblically.

  8. says

    “Unfortunately, no major SBC pastor that I’m aware of stepped up and spoke a Kingdom view. Where is the Kingdom view, Southern Baptist voice on the Martin/Zimmerman case?”

    Dwight, you are saying it. I agree with you. I have seen many repudiate Land’s comments, but they just are not large church pastors with large platforms.

    One problem in things like this is that we cannot trust the media. We have no idea what the facts of the case are. I would like to comment, but the facts keep changing almost daily. The media has already been proven to be doctoring evidence to support a certain take on the story. Because this is one case with transitioning “facts,” it is difficult to take a definitive position and denounce or affirm anything.

    That said, the call for both justice and due process and the standing against racial profiling is something that we should all agree with and wisdom leaves us there. We should affirm justice and denounce injustice in all forms. Justice should be color-blind. Making judgments one way or another on this case are premature. Land was wrong and should be corrected.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      Good words Alan and I agree. I have the highest love and respect for Dr. McKissic and his handling of this situation while being open and honest, willing to engage is why.

  9. Frank L. says

    “””Therefore, I am not, would not, and never have proposed that.”””

    I’m not sure, but many posts ago I thought I read where Dwight was calling for Land to immediately resign or be fired.

    If my memory is correct then Dwight did in fact repudiate everything Land has been or done. There was no tone of reconciliation, or even hint that any reconciliation with Land should be considered.

    Is the writer backing off of his previous stance? I don’t think so. Again, if my memory is correct, the writer seems to be changing his wording without changing his tone.

    Another point: does anyone see a problem with a “Black person” summarizing the “White View?” As presented, the “White View” seems to be at best a caricature, and at worst . . . well, something else.

    And, as the Chief points out: the “Black View” may not even be the view of most blacks.

    I think we do a great disservice to justice when we caricature the views of the opposition. I certainly do not hold to the bulk of the “White View” and I’m pretty white–well, at least white. The pretty part is probably up for debate.

    • Chief Katie says

      Thank you Frank.

      I’m not trying to be disagreeable. I believe that Land was wrong. But even if he had kept his mouth shut, the fact that he still believes such things is troublesome.

      BUT… herding everyone into one barn or another based on other stereotypes is just as wrong and that is why I am so strongly objecting to Dwight’s message. I don’t dislike him. But he clearly used the modifier ‘most’ in his last post regarding white Souther Baptists. That’s a stereotype. It’s wrong and if anyone should understand the serious nature of this kind of stereotyping, it should be Dwight.

      I want to be careful to not use words that inflame, but if we want to have a real and honest conversation about where we as Christians want to go, we need to start with our own attitudes. I do not like being called a racist. I am not a racist. I was married to a black man for 18 years before he died. I spent a few years growing up in the Potrero Housing Project in San Francisco. O.J. Simpson was my neighbor. If Dwight really wants to grow respect and a common love for each other as the children of the Risen King, accusing us of wrong-doing as a whole isn’t helpful.

      I will not accept any label that he attaches to me just because he thinks it’s true. Nor will I accept any of us abusing him in that way. Fairness is a word that can only work when all involved actually apply it.

      You have been a blessing to me many times Frank. I’m grateful to you.

    • Dwight McKissic says

      Frank L.,

      My position was and is on Dr. Richard Lands racial remarks is that he needs to publicly repent–own and then disown–the substance of his racial radio commentary relative to Trayvon Martin for the following reasons: (1) his words were factually incorrect (2) his words were biblically unjustfiable (3) his words were racially offensive (4) his words were imbalanced in favor of Zimmerman. If he repents,there would be no need for him to resign in my judgement, although his credibility has been irreapirably damaged in my neck of the woods. I certainly will withdraw my call for his resignation and repudiation, if he repents before the June convention. If not, the SBC needs to repudiate– at the very least– his justfiable racial profile commentary. I have not at any point sugessted that his whole life’s work should be repudiated. I hope you inderstand my position on this matter now.

      Dwight

      • Frank L. says

        Dwight,

        I will not quibble with your four points. My problem was your sweeping generalizations of what “white Baptists” think (whether some, most, or all I don’t think matters that much).

        In regard to blogs I think it is common to overstate one’s case, see the discussion, revise and extend remarks and come to clearer, more reasoned view after a few hundred comments.

        I know that is how the process usually works with me. I do not think you set out to “do battle” or show disrespect for anyone. So I do hope I have contributed to your growing insight into this matter.

        You have added to mine.

        God bless, and have a great evening.

        • Dwight McKissic says

          Frank,

          I concur one hundred percent with what you just said. I appreciate the dialogue. I’ve learned much from listening to the insights of others.

          Dwight

  10. says

    The Trayvon Martin case has also been a liberal vs. conservative issue to some extent. Interestingly enough, one of the most objective commentaries I’ve found is on the liberal blog “TalkLeft”. There are several posts, but one example of the Martin-Zimmerman analysis is Reaction to the George Zimmerman Bail Hearing.

    There is very much a lack of objectivity in this case.

  11. Jim Lockhart says

    From Dr. McKissic’s comments, here is what I agree with:

    “My position was and is on Dr. Richard Lands racial remarks is that he needs to publicly repent–own and then disown–the substance of his racial radio commentary relative to Trayvon Martin for the following reasons: (1) his words were factually incorrect (2) his words were biblically unjustfiable (3) his words were racially offensive (4) his words were imbalanced in favor of Zimmerman.”

    and here is what I perceive as the issue:”

    “What is the Kingdom view? Based on Amos 5:24, Genesis 9:6, Proverbs 18:17, we should have come together across racial lines as pastors and cried out immediately for justice for Trayvon Martin and his family and due process for Zimmerman and his family. We want patience, peace and respect for law and order to prevail while we trust God and the authorities to adjudicate this matter.”

    The first statement is one of perspective and reality. It represents the racial divide that faces us as a nation and as a community in Christ. Dr. Land’s words should never have been said by a denominational leader because they do nothing to advance the cause of Christ. Moreover, whether or not race is a construct, it is real and it arises out of the intellectual and spiritual underpinnings of slavery in the United States (and elsewhere in the Americas) and lives in the community of Southern Baptists regardless of our repudiation of the past. The second statement is incisive because it illuminates the racial divide between us and reveals the ghosts that haunt us as a nation and people (both in the larger community of nation and the smaller community of a body of believers).

    I am an attorney and I understand due process and the quest for justice. Justice is the sense of righteousness that wrongs will be brought into the light, acknowledged, and consequences exacted from the wrongdoer. Due process, on the hand, is the fairness of the process used to arrive at justice. Due process is anchored in our Constitution and requires a standard of proof for confirmation of wrongdoing (in this case: beyond a reasonable doubt), an open process to find the truth (i.e. no self-incrimination, the right to confront witnesses, a jury of peers, etc.), and a judgment that fits the verdict (i.e. if there is a verdict of guilty – no cruel and unusual punishment, do we punish or rehabilitate, is there room for mercy, etc.). My point: assume a process that is punctiliously “due” and a verdict of “not guilty” or “guilty” and where does that leave us? It leaves us where we began and where we seemingly always remain: the ghosts of the past, the ones that haunt and instruct us at this very moment, are roiled and stirred and refuse to be laid to rest.

    What would your reaction be to a verdict of guilty? Or not guilty? I will not speculate on such an outcome because it really does not matter for our souls. Whatever might be the result of “due process”, we will still have to measure for our selves the result and, I believe, by doing so, reveal our innermost perceptions, stereotypes, constructs, and attitudes.

    What, then, is the Kingdom way? I believe it is to see things as God sees them. We have that power, you know, in the Spirit as manifested by Jesus and revealed in the Word. So, what would God see in Trayvon? I think God would see a son (who looks like the son Barack Obama would have) who is loved by his family and parents and whose loss would be grievous and heartbreaking, especially as they try to give “meaning” to his death. I think God would see a young man embarked on an innocent activity (going to the store to buy something benign), a confrontation with the reality of sin, and a result that was sin. I could go on but all it requires is for us to look at the moment of truth in this young man as God saw it, both in its playing out and its aftermath. It would also require us to expect civil authority to act rightly and to allow room for Mr. Zimmerman to consider for himself the magnitude of what transpired and what might have brought him to that moment (there is much to commend public – as opposed to coerced – confession).

    With that being said (and I purposely did not say a lot), it really comes down to this: what have we projected on Trayvon (his family and community) and on George Zimmerman? I suspect if we look hard enough we will see, like Dr. Land as evidenced in his public pronouncements, our fears, constructs of “truth” about race, and the chasm that separates us. In short, it would not be like God sees it. To me, the Kingdom Way is the way of truth illuminated by the Spirit, animated by love, and anchored in the character of God. We, as Southern Baptists, a people with an unrighteous past, ought to be able to do more than just wade in the turbulent waters of cultural racial attitudes; we ought to be able to find, and speak of, the better way of love and thereby quiet the waters and make them recede.

    • Dwight McKissic says

      Jim Lockhart,

      Your statement (comment #29) ought to be the official statement of the SBC on the Martin/Zimmerman matter. Wow!!! Standing beside you as a Southern Baptist makes me proud.

      My reaction to a guilty verdict would be to respect the jury system and the verdict they arrived they reached after carefully examining all of the evidence. My reaction to a not guilty verdict would also be the same. This is the only position that a Kingdom view can take in my judgement; assuming that the jury is racially balanced.

      I love what you said about the “Kingdom Way” in the last paragraph in your comment. Lest I be guilty of plagiarism, please grant me permission to repeat in writing and speech your definition and amplification of the Kingdom Way. It is brilliant. I’m sure I will not always in speech remember to give attribution to you. I ask your forgiveness in advance. And I pray that our convention would adopt a Kingdom stance on this issue. Thanks for the interaction.

      Dwight

      • Jim Lockhart says

        Brother Dwight,

        Your courageous and honest words have given me encouragement and a better instruction as a Southern Baptist and helped me gather the courage to openly write so perhaps I (and we) can become a bit more like Jesus.

        Everything I wrote came from my heart, inspired by the Spirit, and my words are just as much yours as mine . Use anything you want. After all, it is about God and the Kingdom, not me.

        Keep your hand on the plow.

        In love,
        Jim

        • Dwight McKissic says

          Jim,

          Thanks for permission to use your words. I am working on a sermon to preach to our young people about the Martin/Zimmerman matter and your words will greatly inform and provide the template for my message. In addition to Ed Stetzer, you have spoken the most healing, unifying, and biblio-centric words to date(that I’m aware of by a Southern Baptists. Thanks again.

          Dwight

  12. says

    Profiling is an overt means to identify criminals. The only problem is that evil comes in all sizes and shapes, and, get this, so does the good. I am seeking to deal with a young man who has taken to the agnostic and atheistic side of life, and I have offered him a proof of the existence of God. That proof is the existence of the African American Christians. Yes, some of the greatest examples of Christian believers, people who really live the Christian life, are the believers of African American descent. Even in the days of slavery and extreme prejudice (and the prejudicial view of African Americans was developed to justify their enslavement). God’s Holy written word was even used to justify that terrible evil. This goes to show that filters can be placed in people’s minds so that even the way they look as Scripture and Christian teachings is often shaped by others who had a stake in the outcome of such interpretation. But even in the days of slavery, God was producing Christian believers among the African Americans that even those who enslaved them had to admit the reality and value of the Black American’s commitment to Christ. For example, in Virginia the White slave owners purchased the freedom of African American and called him as the pastor of their church where he served for 10 years. In all of the Southern States some recognition was afforded to African Americans who were called to the ministry along with those whose lives were of such sterling character as to excite the admiration and, yes, even the envy of some Whites. Their attainments under the adverse circumstances even in education are such as to excite appreciation. When General Lee felt that the Blacks could never be equals of the Whites, though he kneeled with one at the communion rail in an Episcopalian Church in Richmond, Va., a few weeks after he surrendered to General Grant, there were two African American Slaves in South Carolina who had completed the course work at Oxford University in England. This was due to the fact that their masters (sons of a very rich slave owner) thought that what ever they did, their servants ought to do likewise. Thus, the two Black men took every courses, etc., from grade school right on through Oxford Univ.(but whether they actually attended the classes and received the degree, I do not know. I did understand that one of them was versed in Hebrew and the other in Greek). Claflin University, a back to back campus with South Carolina State University where I taught, was named after one of those men who were Methodists.

    There are many stories in the old South which indicate the tremendous response of African Americans to the Gospel, and the personified some of the finest examples of the Christian Faith and commitment that I have ever seen in my studies in history and in my encounters with Black Folks.
    Thar some do evil comes as no surprise, because we are infected with that problem of original sin. I grew up on a sharecropper’s farm in Arkansas. Across the field from me another young man grew up. Both of us were White. When I was pastoring in Missouri back in the 60s, he was in prison for armed robbery. Any evil that can be cited against Black people can be cited against White people. I think of White and Black children who murdered a parent or even both parents in two cities nearby in the past four or five years. How can one profile such a thing as that. In fact, Blacks are noted for being strongly oriented toward any family they have, regardless of deprivation. There are great people among African Americans. I have met many of them. God grant us the grace to recognize that we must not put filters into people’s minds that cause them to make mistakes in judging others simply based on the color of their skin or the clothes they wear.

  13. Johnny Touchet says

    Dear Dwight

    i will be at the convention this year in NO. I am going to support DrFred Luter for SBC President, and especially the call of repentance from Dr Richard Land! If he does not repent of his comments and show fruits of repentance then he needs to resign! Dr Land has led in racial reconcilation within the SBC up to now, so he needs to lead now in repenting of his racial profiling and unrighteous pride! May God grant us healing and harmony at this convention this year for the Glory of God and the honor of Dr Fred Luter. I too support the Jim Lockhart statement above as a resolution at the convention.
    Brother Johnny