The trial is over but the tribulations have just begun, it appears. And part of that tribulation is happening within Evangelicalism. This week, at The Gospel Coalition blog I read Trilla Newbell’s, Not Guilty: Now What?, regarding an aftermath perspective of the situation. Secondly, I read at The Christian Post where TD Jakes decided to enter his opinion on the matter during a recent sermon and finally I read Al Mohler’s -Trayvon Martin Belongs to All of Us.
These Evangelical voices-how and what they have to say on the matter-represent something that, at one time, was bewildering but no longer, having studied it for some time. They represent a dysfunction within a major segment of Evangelicalism.
That dysfunction? Namely, it is black racial narcissism synthesized with false white racial guilt and pseudo-integration stemming from theological and factual error/ignorance leading to conscious or unconscious racial pandering or race based theology and practice. Ultimately, these components have coalesced to produce a very fearful thing for many white Evangelicals and a very wicked and sinful thing for many black Evangelicals (though as well, fearful for many sober and doctrinally minded black Christians and a wicked tool for many white Christians). As my title suggest, it is no better than a wolf and in this case a black wolf.
The Black Wolf
This black wolf is the creation, mind you, of two parties. And if you are unsure who the two parties are and what their eventual toxic child is, I mean as follows:
Party A – black racial narcissists (mild to severe)
Party B –white Evangelicals who teach and practice false white racial guilt based on the untrue claim of modern systemic white oppression of blacks as the major contributor to black social deficits. Hence the white Evangelical accepts as true (though the assertion is both unproven and contrary to data from the last 50 years) the social adjudication of guilt of harm/oppression toward others (specifically blacks but often included are any and all minorities) therefore, adjusts his or her thinking and behavior to accommodate this false narrative at the expense of personal, social and theological/ecclesiastical integrity
Parties A and B – pseudo-integrationalists who are both black and white who essentially disregard the nullification by God in the NT of anthropological properties as relevant both theologically and practically in the body of Christ, culminating in race based theology and practice as normative and orthodox
This dynamic trifecta of racial narcissism, false white racial guilt and pseudo-integration has its origin in the world and its institutions but has been imported into the church and it is having a devastating theological and practical effect. Here in Part 1, I will be dealing with the responses of Newbell, Jakes and Mohler and my personal observations on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident. These will serve to illustrate and under-gird my propositions in Part 2, where I will cover the details of the dynamic mentioned above.
I’ll begin with Trilla Newbell seeing it is the most brief of treatments (As I write this another awful response to the issue with disinformation, moralizing and false witness, has shown up at The Gospel Coalition blog by a writer named Trip Lee, whose article is entitled Should We Move On. I do not have time or room for all of its failures or its self-serving grandiosity but suffice it to say after you read here and then there you will understand it is another manifestation of what I describe in this article).
Not Guilty: Now What?
Trilla Newbell’s tone, from the outset is clear in my opinion, she has no real interest in the humanity of George Zimmerman and quite a bit invested interest in Trayvon Martin. That makes for poor writing and poor analysis but worse, for a believer, it makes for error and injury. I say this because what will stand out, rather immediately, is Trilla’s depersonalization of George Zimmerman by the repeated use of his last name only and the constant use of Trayvon Martin’s first name with great preference.
While she begins the article with George’s first name she immediately drops it, never calling him by his more personal first name again but always “Zimmerman”. In contrast, she never refers to Trayvon by the less personal last name “Martin” but always as Trayvon or Trayvon Martin. Anyone of any age understands what this illustrates, a very fundamental bias, a prejudice, of which she is either unaware or worse aware but does not care (and we will assume the first with hope).
Secondly, when she speaks of Trayvon she insists that we, the readers, remember him, “regardless of how he lived” as someone made in the image of God. Okay Trilla, my dear sister in the Lord, how about George Zimmerman? You forgot about George, he too is made in the image of God.
Why, dear sister, did you so blindly neglect that we remember George Zimmerman, too, particularly seeing that he is still alive and must be interacted with by many and such an exhortation would be quite fitting. But it seems you have no room for such an encouragement for your readers toward George Zimmerman. This is a telling compass regarding your true disposition on the matter.
Finally, Trilla states that, “Zimmerman needs Jesus” and hopes that if any reason he lied he would confess this and seek forgiveness. Never mind that she does not know if he “needs Jesus” because he might already have Jesus but oddly, Newbell seems of little concern for any lying that may have been perpetrated by the Martins or any people testifying against George Zimmerman or even the prosecutors who were caught breaking the law by withholding information and putting out false narratives. That all seems to escape Ms. Newbell in all her concern for what matters and is godly and acceptable.
This essay is an example of what is called posturing and bias. While it is in a lesser form that you might see on television by, for example, Al Sharpton, it is still grossly inconsistent in its most fundamental form. It is not a healthy response but a biased, unbalanced and infected response which should exists as an example to avoid. The truth, when applied in love, honesty and godliness, always applies equally. Trilla Newbell failed this most basic test.
During a recent sermon, TD Jakes, decided to comment on the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case. He said about Trayvon and his being shot by George Zimmerman and succumbing to his wound and dying:
"But every parent who has a teenager, who dresses in some stereotypical way, needs to be a little alarmed that we live in a country where if that teenager is followed and ends up in a fight that we have now said it's okay to kill him if you lose the fight," Jakes explained and after pausing said, "…even though you are bigger and older and carrying a gun."
The fact is, Trayvon was not shot by George Zimmerman because George Zimmerman was losing a fight. This is what is called a false witness. George Zimmerman was being violently beaten to the point that he believed his life to be in danger. His head, a critical life sustaining area of the body, was being hammered on the sidewalk and the evidence supported this.
Trayvon Martin was shot because George Zimmerman believed his life was in imminent danger. Whether you agree or disagree that this is a good reason to shoot someone, that is your opinion but you do not get to misrepresent the facts of the context, as Jakes did to serve a greater narrative (which I am going to get to in a moment). Hence, it was not because George Zimmerman was losing a fight, it was not retributive as this suggests, but defensive because of what George Zimmerman thought he was about to lose which was not a fight but his life. At least Mr. Jakes, as one who claims to serve as a Minister of God, ought to be honest about the context. This is simply unacceptable from anyone claiming to be a Minister of God.
But further problematic is the narrative (this dishonest and unrighteous narrative that Jakes attempts to insert has come from racial profiteers in order to stir up anxiety, anger and ultimately revitalizing their profiteering machine) that this murder is a national and social signal that it is “okay to kill him if you lose a fight” and the “him” here is Trayvon as a representative of all young black males. It is not just outrageous but simply a false representation of both the context (which I have already made clear) and the conclusion. This is exaggeration and histrionics at its worst and serves nothing but whatever less than circumspect interest Jakes has in both the matter and his utterances.
Jakes adds this exacerbation of his error by demonstrating both logical and legal ignorance in another foolish statement.
"Once you redefine something on the books (law), what happens when a woman is going through a parking garage and somebody follows her? And she's taken some kind of defense training and she tries to defend herself and she gets shot to death," Jakes insisted. "Now we have a case on the books that defends the one who shot them. ... Now you have changed the standard and even if you think it was right in this case, what happens to the precedence that you set for the next case? For someone that has no weapon and tries to fight back, do you get to kill me because I can fight?"
Nothing legal has been “redefined”, nothing. TD Jakes speaks as if this is some rare occasion of self-defense with a superior weapon than that of the assailant and the assailant ends up dead. It is clear he is either completely uninterested in legal precedence and case facts or ignorant but in either case he is wrong, absolutely wrong. And it is both a shame and a matter of questionable ministerial integrity to mislead his congregation in such a manner. Using a gun for self-defense when the assailant may only have his or her bare fists is not phenomenal or unprecedented in the least.
TD Jakes has chosen a side, as has Trilla Newbell and that side for both is neither Biblically founded nor factually founded. But they are not alone, as we will observe with Al Mohler.
Trayvon Belongs to All of Us…But What About George?
Al Mohler has his feet firmly planted in a circle often referred to as Neo-Calvinist and/or Neo-Reformed. They are generally also considered Neo-Puritans. They are quit effervescent in their pursuit of moralizing and posturing crusades and certainly with regard to issues of which the Bible does not speak firmly or certainly, so it is no surprise to see this here. I am actually shocked to not have heard a long moralizing lecture from a certain Hedonist Christian who has recently taken up a racial crusade of his own. But that aside and to what Al Mohler postulated, I need to move on.
The first thing you will discover, immediately, is that the facts and Al Mohler's narrative are not companions. He begins by misinforming his readers regarding the witness count.
The fact is that George Zimmerman was the only witness to what happened on February 26, 2012. Trayvon Martin was dead, and there were no other witnesses to the event.
Actually, Mr. Mohler, there were witnesses, they simply were not witnesses of the entire event, but witnesses none the less. But hey, what is a jot and tittle, right? Al Mohler additionally claims another untrue point.
Trayvon Martin was killed, however, not by another African-American young male, but by a man who in a 911 call declared Trayvon was suspicious and out of place and then rejected the police dispatcher’s order to stop following him.
At no time was such an order given. Al Mohler has apparently cared so much to write about it but not enough for the facts. The dispatcher informed George Zimmerman that they did not need him to do that. No order was given to "not follow", it was ambiguous with regard to whether George Zimmerman's judgment was still pertinent and did not contain emphasis nor imperative. Those jots and tittles, they do have a way of getting in the way of a narrative.
In the article, Mohler determined by the photos of Trayvon Martin showed that he was a “normal, happy, 17-year old boy”. Come again? Most 17-year old boys I know are not drug users (which is the least of his abnormal and deviant behavior but maybe Al Mohler means "deviant normal" or something). It is far and away ludicrous to call him normal and happy as if to say there was nothing consistently deviant in his behavior because there was and his social networking history, school history and other history demonstrates this.
From here Al Mohler switches to the young black men on the campus he says that he is "honored to lead". You mean the ones smoking pot, thugging and doing other drugs along with gang-banging? Because, Mr. Mohler, that is normal, right?
The article is shallow and self-serving and again, not surprising. And like the others the compassion is dauntingly one way and shamefully it isn't toward George Zimmerman. You know, the guy who had the misfortune of having to defend himself from being murdered by Trayvon Martin due to a violent beating Martin was inflicting with no indication of let up. Yeah, that guy.
You see, right now, there is heavy recruitment of blacks to the Neo-Reformed circle. And the Neo-Reformed/Neo-Calvinists are very excited about the infusion of blackness into their midst, demonstrating they are spiritually enlightened and not guilty of the sin of racial prejudice (there is no such sin named in the Bible by the way), that is, unless you are George Zimmerman and the prejudice is for black Trayvon Martin, then you get to be prejudice only it has Jesus’ name stamped on it.
So now I get my turn. And to that I would point you to an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal by Jason Riley, Race, Politics and the Zimmerman Trial. Fundamental to some of the arguments of the people above is the objection that young black men are being profiled. That, alone, is wrong, according to them, and part of the reason young black men get so upset and respond to be followed with violent assaults so much so their victims believe they are about to be murdered. And to that Riley hits the ball out of the park.
Did the perception of black criminality play a role in Martin's death? We may never know for certain, but we do know that those negative perceptions of young black men are rooted in hard data on who commits crimes. We also know that young black men will not change how they are perceived until they change how they behave.
That is right, the hard data is what we, people-you know…human beings-respond to and Riley cites that data in his article as well when dealing with the claims by the above and others that we need to have a conversation about race in this country.
Any candid debate on race and criminality in this country would have to start with the fact that blacks commit an astoundingly disproportionate number of crimes. African-Americans constitute about 13% of the population, yet between 1976 and 2005 blacks committed more than half of all murders in the U.S. The black arrest rate for most offenses—including robbery, aggravated assault and property crimes—is typically two to three times their representation in the population. The U.S. criminal-justice system, which currently is headed by one black man (Attorney General Eric Holder) who reports to another (President Obama), is a reflection of this reality, not its cause.
"High rates of black violence in the late twentieth century are a matter of historical fact, not bigoted imagination," wrote the late Harvard Law professor William Stuntz in "The Collapse of American Criminal Justice." "The trends reached their peak not in the land of Jim Crow but in the more civilized North, and not in the age of segregation but in the decades that saw the rise of civil rights for African Americans—and of African American control of city governments."
None of these concerns are part of the narrative of Trilla Newbell, TD Jakes or Al Mohler and to their shame because the data answers many of their pleas and questions as to why such confrontations take place and have the outcomes they do.
So to Trilla Newbell, TD Jakes, and Al Mohler and the bandwagon of racial profiteers and self-righteous racial panderers, there isn’t a problem with whites or Hispanics or anyone else murdering blacks and you know it (and if you do not know it you ought to by now having read the data). As well, pretending it is an event which simply reminds us of the numbing normative thus, we are in a racial crisis, further denies us access to dealing with any and all real problems.
The truth is that the crisis is not with whites and blacks but within the black population itself. However, if that narrative, which is based on cold, hard data, is permitted to both be spoken and then accepted, broadly, the racial profiteering machine and those who use race for a moralizing pulpit in which to posture as purveyors of racial righteousness based on white fault and white guilt, well then they get shut down and so do the excuses which help people ignore an internally systemic problem in the black community as the major cause for their social poverty. No more is there a systemic problem for which others are responsible, instead it must be treated within the community and that can only start with placing the true blame where it belongs and I do not see any of these three or many others who claim to love the truth and wish to be set free by it embracing this truth any time soon.
I am not going to argue the merits of the case, it is not necessary. Following someone does not warrant violent assault to the point you believe you are about to be murdered. Mr. Zimmerman felt he was going to have his life unlawfully taken and his only self-defense was his weapon. In the end misery occurs because of sin.
However, it is not George or Trayvon whose side we must take. It is the side of the truth. Compassion for everyone is merited because Christ first loved us but as well, calls for that compassion in situations like these must not be made filthy with dishonest narratives and a refusal to embrace the facts of the context and event.
George Zimmerman belongs to us as does the Trayvon Martin and their families as well. While we hope to minister to them we cannot lie to them, to others and ourselves if we are going to use the occasion for a dialog and discovery as to why such a thing does occur. Christians are truth tellers, not story tellers.
(Part 2 will deal with Evangelicalism itself and the issues of black racial narcissism, false racial white guilt and pandering and pseudo-integration of the races in the church)