II. Race Based Special Interest Theology
III. Divine Institutions
IV. The Body of Christ and Its Spiritual DNA
V. The Error of Racial Theological Prescription through Racial Identification
VI. Labels and Their Implication
VII. Human Properties and the Body of Christ: Anecdotal vs. Primary
VIII. Spiritual Camaraderie Does Not Assume or Require Social Camaraderie
IX. Social Constructs vs. Spiritual Constructs
X. Racial Narcissism, Racism, and Anthropologicalism
XI. Black Trophyism/Chasing Down Black People
XII. Hoisting “Whiteness” Upon Orthodoxy
(Edited and Revised Nov 2012)
Recently there was a bit of a micro-cosmic ruckus going on within a Reformed and Neo-Reformed group of Christians closely associated with The Gospel Coalition as well as with others in its periphery. This mini-melee surrounds the event of allegedly theologically orthodox Pastor(s) inviting historically modalistic (modalism is the view that God does not express himself in three distinct persons but that they are only manifestations of the one God which is historically rejected as heresy) and prosperity gospel “preacher” T.D. Jakes to a sit-down where the result was Mr. Jakes being permitted to maintain a preference for modalistic language while giving lip-service to genuine Trinitarian orthodoxy.
The Elephant Room and Racial Considerations
This sit-down was in a forum hosted by a Pastor named James MacDonald and it is called The Elephant Room. From this, some accusations arose that the protests toward Jakes was, in part, racially motivated. James White, head of Alpha Omega Ministries quotes Bryan Loritts, a professing Christian, from one of Loritts’ blog posts:
But to be honest with you, right now I’m really embarrassed to be. The loudest voices in the conservative evangelical world are middle aged white Reformed guys. While their events are populated with a lot of young R/reformed people, on their stages and pulpits (at these same events) it is filled with middle aged white men. Because of this, the implicit message that is being sent is that the varsity section of the kingdom of heaven in 2012 is white, middle aged and Reformed. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not accusing anyone of racism. But we must be extremely careful of both the explicit and implicit messages that we send.
Now, as you cannot see for the moment with this quote, Loritts is black. While this should not matter to anyone with respect to theology and more importantly, Christianity, it apparently matters to Loritts who approaches the theological issue as if it is, in part, a racial one. He imposes upon the objections of others some kind of racial responsibility with respect to theology. That is, Loritts asserts, at least implicitly, that our theological assertions and objections can legitimately be formed, in part, by racial considerations.
Your first reaction, I am sure, is that he is wrong and you are correct. But you would be surprised the number of Protestant/Evangelical Teachers (and I am referring to those on the moderate to conservative side) who would, in one breath, reject Loritts’ assertion but in another breath echo the very theology underlying why Loritts believes it is acceptable to approach the matter as he does. I am not sure all of the causes for such duplicity in some notable men, particularly when it is rather obvious, it might involve ego-investment, but this paper is not about this so I will save the why’s in their case for another day.
John Piper’s Bloodlines
Additionally, this series stems from a recent attempt by Neo-Reformed/Calvinist Pastor, John Piper, to strengthen Race Based Special Interest Theology in his book, Bloodlines, which appears to have landed with a bit of a thud. I suspect he under estimated the level of informative decision making on this matter among Christians though, in the book he treats his readers as if “most” have not done their due diligence. I was working on a three-part response to the book but decided that after this recent Elephant Room conflict and working through the book, it would be more expedient to argue the larger theological proposition(s) and counter-punch the errors of Race Based-Special Interest Theology which have arisen and are contained in Bloodlines. So let’s begin with the premise contained in Race Based-Special Interest Theology.
II. Race Based-Special Interest Theology
Race Based Theology is the predominant form of Special Interest Theology articulated and practiced today in Protestant/Evangelical Christianity and growing in its acceptance and practice within historically conservative Protestant/Evangelical Christianity. Throughout this series it will be referred to either specifically as Race Based Theology or more generally as Special Interest Theology or with the combination and its abbreviation Race Based Special Interest Theology (RBSI Theology). While the term “Race Based” brings to mind racial considerations, this category must and does include ethnic and cultural elements which cannot be, on the whole, divided from the matter (though a few parts it may) which is why the more broad general category of Special Interest Theology assumes these extensions if Race Based alone does not serve the reader. They conjointly are being arguing against as valid theological forms and for precisely the same reasons.
This theology of the racial kind places an essential value on racial association when identifying one’s self as a Christian. As a result, those identifying as such do so with the objective of being treated as a certain class or kind of Christian (whether stated or not, this is the implication which exists with labeling, though not all tags are de facto wrong, in the case of race they are as they are used in this instance). In other words, their human properties make them a distinct kind of Christian and permit (if not demand) the view that they should be understood to legitimately have proprietary theologies and experiences based on their race, even in part. This thinking, though, is anthropologically (humanly) based and not Biblically/spiritually based.
Anthropological Classification vs. Spiritual Classification
Within anthropology we have racial classifications due to unique properties which result in certain measurable manifestations, thus unique grouping. Two examples are the demonstrative physical properties (morphology) which are apparent or the less apparent but quite real, DNA differences (which give us morphology). But as well (though strongly debated with regard to its being measured and expressed factually) there are immaterial properties which seem to commonly manifest themselves culturally or collectively in some manner, though not necessarily, which results in anthropological classifications and identifications, from race all the way to culture and in between.
However, for those practicing this and claiming to follow the Scriptures, the Scriptures clearly state that with regard to the body of Christ these human properties are not spiritual properties and their operation in no way signifies any spiritual reality (though such properties remain anthropologically real, thus legitimately socially and personally real and significant for each person, saved or unsaved). These anthropological properties are not the cause of our spirituality or even a means of enhancing our spirituality but most importantly, are not legitimate frames of reference with regard to our spiritual person.
Colossians 3:11(NIV)Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.Galatians 3: 28 (NIV)There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
This is not a denial of our anthropological realities; instead it is a statement about a divine construct, namely a spiritual one, which never existed before, (i.e. the church, the body of Christ) along with its new protocol(s). And as we can see, the New Testament is not re-arranging or denying the realities of anthropological constructs or their properties (that is, for example, a slave was still a slave, it was simply within the body of Christ this was not his order because in the body of Christ we operate on a spiritual order with spiritual protocols and human states, whether genetic or social, have no bearing on our spiritual state or order) but it is saying that these anthropological matters are not essential parts of the body Christ’s spiritual construct. Instead we are now one in Christ and Christ alone.
But Race Based Special Interest (RBSI) Theology ignores this new protocol and imports into the body of Christ anthropological interests as if they are acceptably fused into the construct of the body of Christ. And this infusion of special interests, especially racial interests (which in
stems from slavery and segregation but in history Special Interest Theology has been used in other forms), is accomplished by those who would misuse Scriptural contexts. America
Further, for those who would ignore this distinction (between our anthropological states or construct and that of the singular spiritual construct, the body of Christ) there is the belief that upon society one can and may thrust protocols meant only for the body of Christ as a prescription for social remedy. Worse they believe that upon the body of Christ one may thrust protocols meant only for anthropological constructs and remedies. It is vital to keep this basic theme in mind as you read.
There are social problems in every community but social constructs are not met with or combated by importing, from the body of Christ, its special spiritual protocols intended to remedy spiritual issues. Now, this has nothing to do with morality, itself, intended for all humanity but sometimes dealt with and taught upon in the church, rather it has to do with the special or proprietary doctrines reserved for the body of Christ and intended only for the body of Christ. But this is what Special Interest Theology does in attempting to impose upon anthropological contexts, the contexts of the body of Christ or trying to impose upon the body of Christ, social constructs and their protocols. And in the next section this will be explored, defined and exampled very clearly.
It may be tempting to practice Special Interest Theology for some because it does yield results which others enjoy but it also is an assault on the divine institutions given by God, namely the body of Christ. It attacks God’s spiritual construct, the church, and attempts to make it a social or anthropological one.