Saturday, January 20, 2018

WHI, racist "anti-racism" and practical Christianity

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live yon all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, (Acts 17:26)

In light of the recent racist post by White Horse Inn under the Core Christianity brand, I thought it would be good to put more thought into the issue of how to deal with issues of race. Now, in Singapore, color-blindness is institutionalized in our national creed, where we confess to being "one united people, regardless of race, language, or religion," and it is seen in the social engineering that our governing party (for many decades) has done in basically forcing everyone to mix and live in harmony. This does not mean that the methods of the social engineering process is good, or bad. But the engineering has been done, and the results are that Singapore has survived as a multi-ethnic nation where people by and large live harmoniously in peace, without the formation of ethnic ghettos. That does NOT of course imply that everything in society is perfect, for as long as sin remains in the hearts of men and women, no social program implemented by anyone can totally eradicate all manner of racism and racial discrimination. But if we make perfection the enemy of imperfection, then we run the risk of jettisoning a good workable theory and practice for something that destroys society in pursuit of the mirage of utopia. That is why Marxism fails at its core, not because equality is a terrible thing, but rather that the methods of pursuing a utopia of equality has led to misery and death, and yet inequality has not ultimately been eradicated, as we can see in the history of the USSR.

As Christians, how we ought to deal with issues of race is to look to Scripture, not to social science. If we believe in Sola Scriptura, then Scripture Alone has to be our ultimate authority. Scripture of course is not a social science textbook, or science textbook, or any textbook on any subject. But rather Sola Scriptura implies that Scripture is the foremost and ultimate authority. Theology is to be the queen of the "sciences" (in its historic meaning of "knowledge"; Regina Scientiae), which means that, while social sciences are not to be rejected, whatever Scripture says must trump whatever the social science say. Social sciences can only aid as a servant in discussion on topics Scripture teaches, not to over-ride Scripture on anything. Unfortunately, those like Mika Edmonson and Timothy Cho (Operations Manager(?) of WHI) do not abide by this principle of Sola Scriptura in their dealings on issues of race, but rather take their cue from culture and society, as they embrace Critical Race Theory, a theory taught nowhere in Scripture.

How does Scripture deal with issues of race? Scripture of course does not directly speaks about "race," but rather it deals with different people groups, of which the foremost division lies between Jews and Greeks. We know that the focus of passages like in Galatians 3:28 is to focus on the eradication of differences between Jews and Greeks as pertaining to the ceremonial distinctions between Jews and Greeks. In that sense, Galatians 3:28 is not a good passage to talk about issues of race, because the thrust is more on removing the wall of Jewish ceremonial distinctions, and only secondarily about race. A better passage where we see the issue of ethnicity dealt more explicitly lies in Paul's speech to the Athenians in Acts 17.

The Greeks of that time, especially the Athenians, were cultural supremacists. They believed that Greeks were superior above all other races, and Greek culture superior to every other culture. There were the Greeks, and there were the uncivilized barbarians. This superiority was ethnic and cultural in nature, not religious, as opposed to the differences between Jews and Greeks.

How then did Paul addressed the Athenians at the Aeropagus? If we were to follow Edmonson and WHI, Paul ought to have told the Athenians they should respect the different distinctions among different cultures. After all, isn't that how Edmonson and WHI think racism ought to be combated? But what did Paul actually do? Paul addressed the racism and cultural supremacy of the Athenians by pointing them to creation and the fact that God had made all men from one man, Adam. Paul referred the Athenians to the common humanity they share with other men (Acts 17:26), including those they scorn as barbarians, especially the Scythians (Col. 3:11). Since all men are derived from Adam as our common forefather, there ought to be no room for hatred, for racism, or for any form of supremacy over another man. The biblical method of dealing with racism is to focus on our common humanity, not to focus on tribal distinctions. In this, we can easily see that Paul embraces the idea of color-blindness (anachronistically speaking), since he advocates treating all men (and women) as equals, not to distinguish and divide men into different groups and social constructs each to be treated differently.

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, racism is defined roughly as follows:

Racism, also called racialism, any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview—the ideology that humans may be divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called “races”; that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural and behavioral features; and that some races are innately superior to others. ... (Source)

Racism is theoretical, but racist actions is racism put into practice. Thus, racism in act does not necessarily need to have the ideological component of some races being superior to others, but rather racism in act is the action of treating races differently because of something inherent in the races. According to basic definition therefore, those who advocate for treating people differently because of their immutable ontological characteristic of race are promoting racism. The intention does not matter, for being racist out of what is perceived of as a good intention is still being a racist. That is why those promoting Critical Race Theory are racists, even though they promote it out of a sincere desire to combat racism. But since when is combating racism an excuse for using racism to fight racism? As long as one promotes treating people differently because of race, by focusing on racial distinctions, one is essentially promoting racism.

But, it is protested, what about distinctions between people and ethnicities? As I have said, human beings are not ethnic, religious, or class social constructs. We are individuals, each one of us unique in his or her way. That is the problem with much of social sciences, because they reduce individuals to social constructs they can study and make generalizations and control. But the fact of the matter is that each of us is different, even within the same ethnic group. Distinctions are to be dealt with in everyday life, as we deal with people, even people of the same "race." Distinctions have nothing to do with race per se, but of people. Those who claim that color blindness eradicate distinctions have a rather strange view of distinctions. Perhaps they only stay in a particular intellectual ghetto where all their peers think like them and have the same values as them? But for those of us who actually interact with people and do not stay in social "safe spaces," we realize that people are not the same, even within the same "race." The balkanization in American politics (which has unfortunately seeped into WHI) is such that all those who think differently are delegitimized and considered "evil," "deplorables," and "Nazis," all done so as to deny that actual distinctions exist within the same "race," such that Critical Race Theory with its idea of racial distinctions among racial construct entities is legitimized as THE ONLY way one should think about distinctions. Critical Race Theory, at least in the popular leftist version, cannot exist in a universe whereby distinctions are acknowledged as legitimate within "races," or "classes" or whatever construct they slot people into. That is why American Liberals demand that all women must vote for Hilary Clinton, for example, since women must all conform to the "woman" social construct they have created, and all those who refuse to conform to their social construction are considered "traitors" to their gender as women.

Does this mean that there cannot be talk about racial differences and discussion about inequality among people of different races per se? No, it does not. But rather, any such discussion must proceed upon the foundation or axiom of the ontological equality of the various ethnicities or color-blindness. Color-blindness must be presupposed as the basis and the uniting force against racism. Without this foundation, any discussion about distinctions between individuals and groups of individuals of different races will surely result in tribalism and racial antagonism at best, and racial warfare at worst. Even from a pragmatic viewpoint, what good is it to combat "racism" if the consequence of one's tactics in combating racism is tribalism and antagonism among the races?

Back to White Horse Inn and Mika Edmonson, it is supremely ironic that, while they talk a big talk about celebrating "distinctions," I do not see them actually recognize the actual distinctions that exist within the races. In all their talk about "racial reconciliation," where is the part about celebrating the differences they have with, e.g. Trump supporters? After all, aren't they supposed to be big about "diversity"? I do not see them celebrating ideological distinctions with people who reject Critical Race Theory. I do not see them recognizing the arguments posed by people who are different from them ideologically, and interacting with them intelligently. Rather, they just parrot the Liberals in their social theories of race, and refuse to acknowledge or interact with their detractors. What "diversity" is there and what celebration of "distinctions" are there for Edmonson and the folks at WHI?

Last but not least, the main problem with WHI is that they are taking a political position in what is supposed to be a push for theological reformation. But, they claim, it is not political to be against racism. True, it is not political to be against racism, provided you are not taking up a political position while attacking racism. But that is what they have done, in siding with the (post-) liberal left! The whole premise of "Core Christianity" and the Campaign for Core Christianity was to promote a return to biblical Christianity and a rejection of American "Christianity." That was what I had supported and why I had followed them in Twitter and Facebook. But now, with the publishing of that article, the call to biblical reformation has been muddied by a partisan political piece, in a false association of biblical reformation with siding with the political left. There is nothing wrong of course with having a personal conviction that the left is right, but one should not mix one's politics with one's Christianity in such a manner. Instead of the "Campaign for Core Christianity" being about a return to biblical Christianity, now it has degenerated into a "return to biblical Christianity and an embrace of Critical Race Theory." Is Dr. Horton agreeable that Critical Race Theory be seen as an integral part of his idea of a "return to biblical Christianity?" Is Justin Holcomb fine with the conflation of politics and religion in this manner? What is "Core Christianity" now, since the waters have been muddied? We must remember that the Campaign for Core Christianity is meant to be non-political but to be focused purely on Scripture, not to be the platform for a few people's social justice activism based upon their social and political views, or at least that was what it was supposed to be. But I guess it has gone to waste now. The Campaign for Core Christianity has now become partisan, and can no longer be seen to be promoting Core Christianity in the same way as Jim Wallis does not promote Core Christianity either.

As for the people who deign it right to write and publish such unbiblical nonsense, it is my hope that they will repent of falsely claiming the support of Scripture for their position. As a social theory, they are free to hold to it (even though I think it is trash), but to promote it as biblical is a violation of the third commandment. I would hope they will keep their socio-political nonsense out of the equation, but at the very least stop claiming biblical support where none exists.

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