Following in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement, key figures such as Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson eventually emerged to the forefront. In the same way that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., it was the religious community that propelled religious figures to the front of the civil rights movement by giving them pulpits and creating platforms. It goes without saying that the official prefix of reverend before their name as an ordained minister provided clout that gave such men a voice to address social issues.
Over time, it has become less and less important within the culture to have a minister at the forefront addressing cultural issues. From the perspective of the average secular citizen who doesn’t value gospel centered principles—the reverend prefix is not nearly as valuable as it once was in the past. As America has drifted further away from Jesus, the leaders of such social movements have become more and more secular.
As postmodernity overtook our nation like an angry tsunami, one of the most impactful tools that has continued to be used to indoctrinate many people (especially among the younger demographic) with messages of social justice is the hip-hop genre. At some point, the rapper replaced the reverend in the fight for social justice. While we have a rise of wokeness within evangelicalism, the culture craves a far more progressive message—and this is the problem with the woke movement within the church. In order to remain relevant, your message has to become more and more progressive as the culture changes.
Through the years, hip-hop artists have used their craft to teach progressive messages that resonate with the people. The edgy lyrics within the hip-hop culture have become powerful tools that teach complex ideologies and philosophies with street language slang that flow straight out of Marx, Cone, and Derrida in his work titled Of Grammatology.
In 2015, Public Enemy released a track titled, “Man Plans God Laughs.” One line says, “Do it for the culture, do it for the youth.” The self-proclaimed Prophets of Rage, who once demanded that their audience “Fight the Power” continue to push a social justice agenda.
In 2016, TI, the self-proclaimed “King of the South” speaks about police brutality in a song titled, “We Will Not.” In the opening words, he says, “No, we will not stand here in silence while they take the lives of our brothers and sisters.” This is a common thread that runs through the hip-hop industry—and such raw and confrontational material strikes at the heart of their audience.
In 2017 Vince Staples released a song titled “Bagbak” in which he said, “We need Tamikas and Shaniquas in that Oval Office/Obama ain’t enough for me, we only gettin’ started.” The cultural push for the hip-hop culture to go to the polls and vote is becoming more popular. The Long Beach rapper also addressed gentrification and racial division.
One of the latest editions in the hip-hop tradition of social justice messages comes “White Privilege II” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis—a duo of white rappers from Seattle, Washington. Loaded with profanity and social justice messages, one line says the following:
Hip-hop has always been political, yes It’s the reason why this music connects So what the *f___ has happened to my voice if I stay silent when black people are dying Then I’m trying to be politically correct?
While the rapper remains relevant, the culture continues to become more progressive and looks for additional ways to push social justice politics, ideas, and messages. Today, a new opportunity has arisen. We have moved from reverends to rappers, but now the rich athlete is preparing to become the latest sage in the social justice saga. It was Darrell Harrison who once said, “Rappers want to be NBA players and NBA players want to be rappers.” He was pointing out that there is a close association between the two spheres of hip-hop culture and the NBA. It’s one large blended family.
In the wake of the woke bombshell that has resulted from the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent riots that have rocked our nation, suddenly Colin Kaepernick has been resurrected and turned into a poster child for the new category of social justice warrior: the athlete-activist. As our world has pressed the pause button on professional sports through this COVID-19 pandemic, everyone from the NFL to the NBA and beyond has been making policy adjustments regarding their engagement within the social justice movement. Once upon a time it was popular to have “reverend” or “rapper” as a prefix to your name if you were seeking street credibility as one of the movers and shakers in the social justice movement. Today, it’s the professional athlete who is being turned into a paid activist to push ideas through their social engagement.
Why is this important? Because with millions of followers on social media and millions of dollars in the bank—the athlete-activist is postured to use his or her voice and financial resources to further the agenda. In an NBC Sports series titled, “Race in America: A Candid Conversation”— in a recent episode titled, “Race and Sports in America: Conversations with Steph Curry, Charles Barkley and more,” professional NBA player Stephen Curry talked about how he and other athletes can help push the social justice agenda. He made the following statement:
You’ve got real-life activists who do this for a living, who do this and have been doing this for years. And now, we just need to support them. Send resources. Volunteer your time. Put them on a pedestal, because we don’t know all the answers…knowing the platform we have, knowing what sports has given us in our lives…if you say anything it’s going to be a headline, so why not use it and find those people who have dedicated their lives to this work, that are the real life heroes in these communities doing the Lord’s work? And for us, that’s our job.
With the NBA preparing to reopen for a modified conclusion to its 2020 season, the NBA and Player’s Association came to an agreement on allowing social justice statements to be worn on individual players’ jerseys. Some of the approved statements include the following:
“Black Lives Matter,” “I Can’t Breathe,” “Vote,” “Justice,” “Stand Up,” “Listen,” “Listen to Us,” “Say Their Names,” “Peace,” “How Many More,” “Education Reform,” “Liberation,” “Equality,” “Freedom,” “Enough,” Si Se Puede,” “Say Her Name,” “Mentor,” “I Am A Man,” “Speak Up,” “Ally,” “Anti-Racist,” “Justice Now,” “Power to the People,” “See Us,” “Hear Us,” “Respect Us,” “Love Us,” and “Group Economics.”
In many ways, the NBA is following a longtime tradition closely aligned with the goal of the hip-hop artists which involves far more than activism. It involves indoctrination. When an NBA player takes the court with “Group Economics” on his jersey, he’s doing more than raising awareness about injustice—he’s indoctrinating people with a specific philosophy. Let’s be honest, this new platform and agenda within the world of athletics will be culturally consequential. It’s crystal clear now that the NBA and the athletes are going far beyond getting involved in social issues or addressing injustice. They want to do more than play basketball, they want to teach ideas and philosophies.
Will fans who are paying exorbitant fees to watch professional athletes play a game want to be lectured about their lack of engagement and perceived complicit participation in everything from white privilege to subtle racism and racial injustice? Will this be popular or unpopular among the fans? Time will tell, but regardless of the popularity of such strategies—look for an ongoing battle for the minds as ideologies continue to rage onward through social media platforms as professional athletes engage in the hashtag war of social justice.
We must never underestimate the use of leaders who possess the ability and have the platform to speak into the heart of the local community. Margaret Sanger used black ministers to push eugenics and was able to successfully position Planned Parenthood as a means to “exterminate the Negro population.” Today the social justicians are using professional athletes as their latest tool to reach the masses and to push their progressive agenda. The ideas that we accept today will shape the world we live in tomorrow.
Our world is not satisfied with one type of social justician. The progressive and fluid movement that we know as social justice is seeking total domination. It’s not that the movement no longer needs reverends or rappers—the movement needs every voice and every platform in all of the spheres to do their part. From reverends in pulpits to rappers on the stage to athletes on the court—this will lead the way to a deconstructed culture and a dominance that produces radical change.
Can you see the little black boy who is growing up in a government project in the inner city without a father? Can you see him sitting on the picnic table adjacent to the basketball court with his earbuds casually listening to his favorite hip-hop artist? Imagine him sitting there waiting on his friends to show up for the afternoon game. As he listens to his choice playlist of hip-hop—he scrolls through social media and reads statements and hashtags on social justice from Steph Curry and LeBron James. As he continues to wait for his friends, he drifts off into a day-dream—it’s a familiar dream that he revisits on a regular basis. The dream involves him moving up in life as he finally makes it as a successful NBA player. His dream world looks different than MLK’s dream because social justice is always progressive.
Those men are his heroes. Those men are his teachers.
In 2019 I was invited to Washington D.C. to speak at a special event organized by Sovereign Nations in conjunction with CPAC – the conservative political action conference of American politics. While my focus is the local church and specifically the preaching of Scripture—I felt that this invitation was worthy of attention due to the rise and influence of social justice as guiding principles and even religious convictions.
In this talk, I pointed out the victimology of intersectionality as it pertains to the new religion of social justice that’s being introduced into our culture. This new religion is embraced by the government, is popular among the people, and is fueled by victimology. You will find it in the world of athletics, corporations, the university system, politics, and religious circles.
It was my aim to point out that America’s greatest days are when the Church of Jesus is healthy and strong in America. If America is determined to replace Christianity with social justice ideologies, it will result in deconstruction and a massive downgrade. If the Church in America bows to the woke religion, America will follow in the footsteps of the European nations from a social, political, and religious standpoint within a few years.
When I gave this talk it was prior to the George Floyd tragedy and it predated the vandalization of statues of key figures of American history. As we watch the mob tear down such statues in the streets—we are witnessing more than a cancel culture. We are witnessing the spark of a movement that’s bent on the deconstruction of our civilization. These controversies that are being addressed by social justice ideologies and protested by the rage of the mob fueled by the Marxist organization known as Black Lives Matter.
As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day in America, we must realize that the ideologies of social justice threaten our independence and have an agenda to deconstruct America as we know it.
I stand behind what I said in this talk. I hope it will be an encouragement to you as we continue to expose the false religion of this woke social justice movement.
The following is a guest post by Dr. Chris King who serves as pastor of Bayou View Baptist Church in Gulfport, Mississippi.
The Roman Governor Pilate committed a horrible atrocity against the Jews. While they were worshiping, he apparently had some of them killed (mingling their blood with their sacrifices). People in the crowds following Jesus wanted Him to address this act of government oppression and injustice. History confirms the political tensions between the Jews and the Romans, and the crowd wanted to hear how Jesus would respond to this massacre.
Luke records this conversation in 13:1-3, where Jesus provides a two-fold response. First, He addresses a common misunderstanding—that these people suffered because they were “worse sinners” than others living in Galilee. The Lord asks the question, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?” The intended answer to this rhetorical question is, “No, they did not suffer because they were worse sinners.” Implicit in the question seems to be the idea that these people died because of some sin they had committed. With this response, Jesus clarifies how everyone is sinful and guilty before God.
Secondly, Jesus says to the crowd, “…Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” The call for sinners to repent marked the ministry of Jesus Christ. Matthew 4:17 records, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Why doesn’t Jesus answer the crowds’ questions about the atrocity committed by Pilate? Because a more serious and pressing issue needs to be addressed—the fact that all sinners need to repent. Jesus’ mission/purpose deals with the grave spiritual needs of mankind (Luke 19:10), not temporal issues related to government oppression.
Jesus also highlights the consequences facing those who do not repent—they will “all likewise perish.”  By using the word “all,” the Lord underscores the imminent danger of everyone in the crowd (and the world). The crowd focuses on those who had died under Pilate’s hand. Jesus focuses on the need for all the living to repent.
What can we learn from Jesus’ responses?
First, Christians need to recognize the pervasiveness of sin. Jesus’ initial response highlights the universal sinfulness of mankind (as a legion of other Biblical references will confirm). The Lord indicates the crowd shares a dire problem with those murdered by Pilate. But they didn’t seem to recognize it. The crowd was more concerned about the evil Pilate had committed (and what should be done about it) than their own spiritual plight. Jesus cuts to the deepest problem—the curse of sin that afflicts all people.
When people point out the myriad of injustices in our world, we should remind them how we’re all guilty before God because of our sin. People often point out the sins of others without taking account of their own guilt before a holy God. As Christians, we should direct people’s attention to the most serious concern facing the world—people are “condemned already” before God (John 3:18). As depraved acts unfold before us, it provides us with a potent opportunity to explain the universal and ongoing sinfulness of all mankind. People clearly recognize injustices and the effects of sin in our world. This affords us an opportunity to point people to the Gospel.
Second, we need to emphasize repentance as the response to the reality of sin. Jesus calls sinners to repent, Christians should be calling sinners to repent. The Lord has not commissioned Christians to answer every question about injustice in our world. Later in his Gospel, Luke makes clear what His followers should be focused on doing: “…Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations…” (Luke 24:47). Like Jesus, Christians should be more concerned with calling sinners to repent than trying to explain the continuous cycle of evil acts in the world.
Repentance is a response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Talking to people about sin and repentance gives Christians the opportunity to clearly explain the Gospel. We can share the good news of what God has done by sending His Son to die for our sins and be raised from the dead. We can joyfully explain how all their sins can be forgiven because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. To be forgiven of sin and guilt, we must repent and trust in Christ alone. When people ask questions about how God could allow an atrocity, like Jesus, we should ask them if they’ve repented of their sins.
Third, we need to clearly express the severe consequences of sin: if people don’t repent, they will perish. This gives us another opportunity to explain the Gospel. The Gospel offers eternal life to the perishing (John 3:16). When crowds highlight the evils propagated by others—we should turn their attention to the fact that all who do not repent will perish.
In his ministry, Jesus does not typically address the atrocities and injustices carried out by the Romans or other governmental authorities. He deals with far weightier issues like the universal sinfulness and guilt of mankind, and the pressing need for repentance. Luke 13:1-4 provides one of the many examples of His concentration on the eternal and spiritual needs of mankind. He focuses His ministry labors on preaching God’s Word, making disciples, and fulfilling what the Scripture promises about the coming Christ.
How should Christians respond to evils and atrocities carried out in our day? I suggest we follow the model set forth by Jesus Christ: expose the universal reality of sin, call sinners to repent, and make clear the peril facing the unrepentant. Christians should use the tragedies of this world to point hurting people to the good news of the Gospel. Christians have good news to offer a world full of injustices.
Paul also highlights the importance of repentance in his preaching of the Gospel (Acts 17:30; 20:21; 26:20).
On May 25th 2020, the video of the mistreatment and subsequent death of George Floyd was a bombshell that rocked our nation. Within hours of the video that surfaced with officer Derek Chauvin on the neck of George Floyd, protests and subsequent city-wide riots broke out in Minneapolis and eventually, throughout the nation. Organizers of these protests continue to use the #BlackLivesMatter or #BLM hashtag as they call for justice in the case of Floyd.
Black Lives Matter was born during the height of the controversy surrounding the George Zimmerman trial in 2013. What started as a simple hashtag quickly grew into a cultural movement and subsequently—an entire social justice organization.
According to Herbert G. Ruffin II, the Black Lives Matter movement builds on past civil rights movements and infuses intersectionality as a means of fueling the new social justice movement. He writes:
Its organizational structure builds on the legacy of earlier reform campaigns, including the civil rights/black power movement, Pan Africanism, Africana womanism, the LGBT movement, and the Occupy Wall Street movement while using cyber activism to promote its agenda. Specifically, Black Lives Matter puts the feminist theory of “intersectionality” into action by calling for a united focus on issues of race, class, gender, nationality, sexuality, disability, and state-sponsored violence. 
If anyone should value life—including the lives of Black people—it should be the Church of Jesus. While every single Christian, regardless of ethnicity, should desire justice in the case of George Floyd, that doesn’t mean that Christianity must be baptized into the woke movement of #BlackLivesMatter whose worldview is rooted in ethnic partiality.
This is certain for several reasons, which I will detail in this article, but at the end of the day we must remember that Christianity is the world’s greatest message and if we as Christians will see real peace, love, and unity—it will only be through the gospel of Jesus.
The Radical Social Justice Agenda of #BlackLivesMatter
According to the Black Lives Matter website, they exist to work for “freedom, liberation, and justice.” They have a new agenda in 2020 called, #WhatMatters2020 which is described as follows:
BLM’s #WhatMatters2020 is a campaign aimed to maximize the impact of the BLM movement by galvanizing BLM supporters and allies to the polls in the 2020 U.S Presidential Election to build collective power and ensure candidates are held accountable for the issues that systematically and disproportionately impact Black and under-served communities across the nation. 
Notice the language of “power” which seems to be the central goal of the organization. They want to gain power so that they can change power structures within major arenas like the powerful seats of office within American politics and beyond. The woke social justice movement has mortally wounded the university system in our nation, negatively impacted businesses, and has now been infused within evangelicalism.
Pastor Eric Mason, the founding pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the author of Woke Churchdefines “woke” as an “urban colloquialism used by black nationalists and those who are in the black consciousness movement” to describe becoming fully aware of “the systemic, sociological, economic and comprehensive disenfranchisement of African-Americans.” In his book, he writes,
Colorblind theology denies Christ’s power to heal racial divisions, disparities, and injustices by ignoring their ongoing impact. Colorblind theology undermines unity in the church by refusing to acknowledge significant ethnic differences or address significant problems. 
Mika Edmondson addressed the Council of The Gospel Coalition in 2016 where he answered the question—“Is Black Lives Matter the New Civil Rights Movement?” In his address, he said the following, “I strongly recommend full engagement with the concept and critical engagement with the movement, especially since there’s no evangelical alternative to Black Lives Matter.” Is that true? I would argue that the Church of Jesus is the best place to minister and mobilize to make disciples who find their joy in Christ Jesus. Edmondson goes further to say:
Why am I not as torn up over this as non-Christians are? Why is Black Lives Matter more torn up over black people dying than [Christians] are? . . . They have more moral sense than we do! How can Black Lives Matter see the value of black life better than we can? 
I would argue that the Church of Jesus is torn up over the injustices of this world, but we grieve differently than the world and we have different goals than Black Lives Matter. The reason the Church looks different than Black Lives Matter is based on a fundamental goal of the movement itself. Black Lives Matter is about disrupting and changing power structures and the Church is about changing hearts with the good news of Jesus.
We can see the goal of disruption and political goals during a press conference in Atlanta for Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to speak as the riots broke out in the city following George Floyd’s death. After she spoke, she turned over the microphone to a hip-hop artist named “Killer Mike” who approached the microphone with a shirt that read, “Kill Your Masters.” This is what he communicated to the citizens of Atlanta while rioters were busting windows of businesses, looting property, and burning police cars in the streets:
It is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy. It is your duty to fortify your own house so that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization, and now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize. It is time to beat up prosecutors you don’t like at the voting booth. It is time to hold mayoral offices accountable…I’m mad as hell. I woke up wanting to see the world burn down yesterday because I’m tired of seeing black men die…we want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism burnt to the ground. 
He then finished his speech by encouraging people to register to vote and go to the polls in November and vote by exercising “bully power” to beat up politicians that “you don’t like.” He encouraged people to vote for progressive politicians who would legalize marijuana and topped it off by calling the President of the United States a “Dumbass President.” This is social justice 101, and it capitalizes on tragedy and emotions as a campaign to further their own agenda.
This is not the way of Jesus. Our God is the God of justice—he created justice—and our justice system is designed in such a way as to reflect the justice of God. Although our justice system is imperfect and upheld by imperfect people, we are called to be people of peace, law, and order. Christians are commanded to love God supremely and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Anyone who diminishes the value of human life and engages in ethnic prejudice is denying the way of Jesus. The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel describes the Imago Dei in the following way in Article II:
WE AFFIRM that God created every person equally in his own image. As divine image-bearers, all people have inestimable value and dignity before God and deserve honor, respect and protection. Everyone has been created by God and for God.
WE DENY that God-given roles, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion, sex or physical condition or any other property of a person either negates or contributes to that individual’s worth as an image-bearer of God.
The modern social justice agenda is not about equality and civil rights—it’s about disrupting systems of power and gaining power in order to accomplish their progressive political agendas.
The Lawlessness and Injustice of #BlackLivesMatter
As I write this article, the rage continues in the streets of America under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter. Lawlessness and anarchy abounds. Major cities are at a boiling point with businesses being burned and looted, police cars burned and damaged, graffiti messages of “BLM” are being painted on monuments and government buildings, police stations burned, and police officers attacked.
Black Lives Matter is built on a postmodern foundation that has a goal of deconstruction. Notice the language of “disruption” as one of their functional goals:
We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.
This methodology of disruption and deconstruction finds its source in Jacques Derrida, a postmodern philosopher. The goal is to dismantle and deconstruct power structures, organizations, entities, Christian denominations, athletics, universities, and especially political structures. This agenda is clearly visible as Black Lives Matter promotes the hashtag #DefundThePolice.
During these riots, police officers have been verbally abused and viciously attacked. The very men and women who put their lives on the line to serve and protect the citizens of our communities every single day are now the daily recipients of the rage of unjust mobs who are looking to take out their frustration in an unjust manner on innocent officers. During these attacks, not one message has been issued on social media by Black Lives Matter to denounce such rage and violence. Graffiti in Oakland, California was captured on the wall that reads, “Kill one back…”
This is not the teaching of Jesus. The Church of Jesus Christ should reject any movement that applauds and supports this type of lawless and reckless behavior. Jesus said:
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:19–21).
In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said the following:
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you (Matthew 5:38–42).
The lawless behavior of the protests under the banner of Black Lives Matter is simply not the teaching of Jesus nor should it be supported by Christians.
The Religion of #BlackLivesMatter
From the very beginning, Christians have written out creeds and statements of belief that articulate key positions and doctrines. Such statements of belief provide clarity on key positions and doctrines that govern how we live, worship, and serve God.
If you visit the “What We Believe” page on the Black Lives Matter website, you will see that their stated beliefs and key positions do not align with a Christian worldview and outright deny key Christian doctrines. In fact, they stand opposed to Christian doctrine on several essential issues:
Black Lives Matter is more than a movement, it’s a religion. A black man approached a white woman in the name of Black Lives Matter in New York and asked her to get onto her knees and apologize for her white privilege. At one public rally in Maryland (*I do not endorse the full video, but you can at least see the video footage), white people by the hundreds are being asked to publicly repent of racism before black people and recite a confessional creed as an open apology for their sins.
Black Lives Matter serves as a corrupt denomination within the social justice religion. It’s gospel is a social gospel rather than the true gospel of Jesus. It has more in common with common criminals than it does the Church of Jesus Christ. The key doctrines, principles, and practices of the organization do not align with Jesus Christ. The social justice movement is morphing into a confused modifier for gospel. In other words, if you are unwilling to accept social justice—or in this case, Black Lives Matter, many people will not consider you to be Christian.
There is a better way to grieve and a better way to stand against injustice than locking arms with Black Lives Matter. Remember, God’s plan for his people was not a social justice organization—it’s the local church. The message we have is far superior than the message of Black Lives Matter. We must remember the strong words of Paul to the Church at Galatia as he grieved that the people had opened the church to a false gospel. Paul said the following:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8–9).
Do not be fooled or shamed into embracing a godless anti-gospel message. Don’t trade your gospel for a false gospel. Remember the message that Paul goes on to preach to the church in Galatia as he points to the cross of Jesus as our ultimate hope and means of unity with God and our fellow man. He writes:
But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:25–29).
Paul is not arguing against the reality of gender distinction or ethnic distinction—but what he does in this text is demonstrate the beauty and power of the gospel. The very people who are the most different, distinct, and in many ways—opposites on a social level—are brought into a familial bond where they are literally brothers and sisters through the blood of Jesus. Black Lives Matter can never achieve such goals.
Black Lives Matter is an anti-gospel movement fueled by postmodern social justice. The Black Lives Matter organization will never lead communities to peace, harmony, and unity.
Do Black lives matter? Yes, in fact, all lives matter and we see this clearly articulated in the pages of Scripture. All people are created in the image of God (imago dei) and all human life should matter to the Church of Jesus.
Dear Christian—follow Jesus, do justice, and walk humbly with our God.
On May 25th 2013, my wife and I received a troubling phone call informing us that our good friend, Jason Ellis, was murdered. He was a husband and father of two young boys and he was also a really good police officer in Bardstown, Kentucky. In the early hours of the morning as he was making his way home after working the night shift (which he enjoyed), he exited the Bluegrass Parkway on a rural exit ramp where he discovered the road blocked by tree debris in the road. He stopped his patrol car, walked in front of the vehicle to remove the tree limbs and debris from the road when he was suddenly ambushed and murdered. He left behind a loving family, a devastated wife, and two little boys who would never play baseball with their daddy again. It was a senseless murder of a police officer and it still hurts today as I retell the story. To this day, his murderer has never been found and the case is unsolved.
Seven years later, on May 25th 2020, George Floyd was handcuffed by police officers in Minneapolis and placed face down on the road next to a patrol car. The images are graphic and the video is unbearable. Numerous times George Floyd could be heard asking for help—emphatically stating he couldn’t breathe. After approximately eight long minutes where a police officer, had his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck and head, he went unconscious and subsequently died. I can’t help but think about Floyd’s family as they received a phone call telling them that he was gone. It’s a piercing feeling that lingers for days, weeks, months, and years. This feeling is only intensified as they watch the graphic video on national television.
As I watched the video this week, I couldn’t help but think about Jason Ellis who was murdered by the people he had taken an oath to serve and protect while George Floyd’s life was taken by an officer who took an oath to serve and protect him. George Floyd did not receive justice. We live in a culture broken by sin.
The media and popular celebrities on social media outlets are pressing a narrative of racism and police brutality as a result of George Floyd’s death. I think it’s foolish to make decisions without proper knowledge and rush to conclusions when all of the information is not available. When we behave that way, we become pawns in the hands of the media and weapons for political gain during an election season. The fact is, I have no idea if this officer was motivated by a racist heart. Before we twist the case of George Floyd into a cultural story about white versus black, perhaps we should focus on what we do know. We do know that George Floyd was a man. George Floyd was a human being who was made in the image of God. What we do know is that whatever motivated the officer, it was not righteousness and justice. We do know that other officers involved were not white and supported the actions of the officer on the video. We do know that it was wrong.
According to the Bible, there is only one human race (Acts 17:26). Regardless of what our culture continues to press upon us in an attempt to keep ethnic groups divided, there is only one human race made up of many different ethnicities. Every last one of us can be traced back to Adam—the first created human—the progenitor of the human race.
This officer failed to respect the dignity and value of human life—regardless of George Floyd’s ethnicity. Regardless of George Floyd’s melanin count—the fact that he was a human being should have prevented the unnecessary force that was used against him on the streets of Minneapolis. When Cain murdered his own brother Abel, he took the life of his brother. He took the life of another human being who was created in the image and likeness of God. It was a tragic sin. Yet—from that very first sin of Adam that led to Cain’s murder of Abel—a multiplicity of sins have continued to flow through history. What happened to George Floyd in the streets of Minneapolis can be traced with a straight-line right back to Adam (Rom. 5:12). Cain’s senseless angry murder of his brother Abel can likewise be traced to his father’s failure to obey God. One sin opened the gates to hell.
We are not divided by race, like our culture would have us to believe. We are divided by sin and motivated by human depravity. Since all ethnicities can be traced back to one human being (Adam) and we make up one human race, we’re not nearly as different as we might be led to believe. What divides us is sin. When someone is angry and they kill unjustly—as Cain did in the first murder of human history—it’s motivated by sin (Genesis 4). When a police officer uses unnecessary force to perform his duties and it results in the death of a handcuffed unarmed man on the streets of Minneapolis—it’s motivated by sin.
When we hear of the death of a police officer who was murdered—like my friend Jason Ellis—we should consider the fact that he was an image bearer and we should long for justice.
When we look at the statistics of hundreds of thousands of little babies being murdered legally through abortion in America—we must remember that those little babies are image bearers of God and we should speak up for justice.
When we see a disturbing video of a 20-year old black man beating a 75-year old elderly white man in a nursing home in Detroit—we should consider the fact that he’s an image bearer of God and we should long for justice.
When we see the reports of Tony Timpa who wailed and pleaded More than 30 times as Dallas police officers held his body to the ground face down until he lost consciousness and died. We should see this as troubling and we should long for justice.
When we see reports of an elderly couple gunned down in the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, we should long for justice.
When we watch the video of George Floyd begging for help and claiming that he could not breathe, we should see an image bearer of God—a human being—and we should long for justice.
When we see people burning businesses in the streets of Minneapolis as a response of George Floyd’s death, we should see this as adding injustice upon injustice. We should not give a license to the general public to create havoc and commit crimes simply because they are grieved over one injustice. When we refuse to speak up about certain cases of injustice because it doesn’t fit the cultural agenda of social justice or press the narrative that is most popular, it creates further division and opens the doors for more injustice rather than less.
A coupe of years ago as I worked with a group of brothers to draft the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, one of the things that motivated us was a lack of understanding regarding justice and a rising confidence in worldly ideologies and philosophies influenced by Karl Marx that emerge from a postmodern deconstructionist agenda. Article III on Justice reads as follows:
WE AFFIRM that since he is holy, righteous, and just, God requires those who bear his image to live justly in the world. This includes showing appropriate respect to every person and giving to each one what he or she is due. We affirm that societies must establish laws to correct injustices that have been imposed through cultural prejudice.
As a Christian, I’m saddened by the death of George Floyd because I see him as a man—an image bearer of God—who did not receive justice. As a follower of Christ, I long for the day when we will see no more unjust actions, no more senseless murders, no more broken families, no more sin, and when May 25th will not be overshadowed by darkness and death. Until then, we must stand for true justice that finds its source in God—rather than the pages of sinfully motivated books by sociologists and politicians who reject God and refuse to pursue righteousness.
When Job was being rebuked, we find these words “Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right” (Job 8:3)? The point is obvious—God always does what is right. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 106:3, “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!” We are surrounded by sin and sin lives inside of us all. Righteousness is not always pursued and people do not always execute and keep justice. Obviously as we navigate this sinful road, we know that ultimate justice rests in the hands of God. Our ultimate hope is not James H. Cone or the teachings of Critical Theory. Our ultimate hope is not in political parties and politicians. Our ultimate hope is in Jesus Christ.
As we walk this broken road and pray for justice to roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24)—we long for the day when Jesus Christ will return and make all things new. When there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more death, no more injustice (Rev. 21). We need far more than a “Free Hugs” campaign. We need the gospel.
Our faithful Lord will execute justice (Matt. 25:31-46).
Finally, God will wipe away every tear from the eyes of his children (Rev. 21:4).
Every so often, during political debates, you will hear people talk about the importance of a proper reading of The Constitution of the United States. The argument is that if you allow people to revise the meaning of the original Framers of the Constitution through a modern revisionist approach, the nation will be led to embrace whatever the cultural winds of the day desires.
In seminary, I had faithful professors who taught me proper methods of hermeneutics—the science of biblical interpretation. It’s essential to read the Bible through a proper lens, otherwise you will end up twisting the meaning of the text outside of the proper meaning rooted in the original author who is addressing the original audience. In short, the text of Scripture has one single meaning that is extracted through a method known as the literal-historical-grammatical interpretation. Reading through an allegorical lens butchers the text and produces all sorts of meanings that are ultimately created by the reader rather than the author.
When reading the Bible we must go through a process of examination—discovering the author of the text, recipient(s) of the text, purpose of the text, and date (for contextual purposes). This method helps us extract the literal meaning as opposed to some spiritual meaning formulated through a reader’s own modern experience and circumstances. Remember the old interpretative method that asked each reader what the passage of Scripture means to them personally? We all know how dangerous this method of interpretation is—right?
Curtis Woods, one of the leaders who brought Resolution 9 to the SBC and which was adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention at the 2019 meeting in Birmingham has written extensively on “Afrosensitive evangelical spirituality” as you can see in his dissertation, “Afrosensitive evangelical spirituality champions social justice without revising Scripture.”  Woods was educated at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently on staff at Southern as Assistant Professor of Applied Theology and Spirituality. In his dissertation, he is arguing for the use of a specific interpretive methodology that brings to the surface the African experience. In footnote 22, Woods explains his approach carefully:
Afrocentrists, therefore, believe African peoples are more qualified to study issues that face them on account of their presuppositional commitment to African agency. See Asante, The Afrocentric Idea; Lucius Outlaw, “Critical Prelude: The Africology Project and Normative Theory,” in African American StudiesReader, ed. Nathaniel Norman, Jr. (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic, 2001), 550. In dialogue with Asante, I offer afrosensitivity to communicate a slightly different nuance. Afrosensitive hermeneutics involves reading African diasporic literature in its own voice without submitting biblical theology to personal experience. Afrosensitivity, unlike Afrocentricity, shows respect to the African perspective without enslaving one’s hermeneutic to African agency. In so doing, Afrosensitivity avoids evaluating other worldviews on the basis of African agency but rather places all worldviews under Scripture. Wheatley unequivocally affirmed a distinctly Christian worldview even though she utilized non-Christian poetic sages and Africanisms in her writings. John C. Shields, arguably the foremost scholar on Wheatley, would disagree with my assertion. Shields believes many students of Wheatley coopted her narrative to advance an agenda. She became a pawn in some socio-anthropological argument aimed at constructing a defensive or offensive front for or against racism. For more information, see John C. Shields, Phillis Wheatley’s Poetics of Liberation: Backgrounds and Contexts (Knoxville: University of Tennessee, 2008), 1-42. 
The problem with this method is that it elevates a specific hurdle that a reader of the Bible must overcome in order to get to the actual meaning of the text. In essence, if anything, this method makes it more difficult for someone to get to the true meaning of the text. For example, in his dissertation, Woods makes the following point as he defends Wheatley from the critique of Julian Mason in 1966:
Mason poorly judged Wheatley’s poetry in comparison to her European poetical counterparts, and failed to evaluate how Wheatley’s environment or lived experience shaped her writings. Sociologists label this evaluative process an “ecological perspective.” We cannot disregard how one’s biography shapes one’s theology and social concerns. 
Our lived experience—or to use another term, standpoint epistemology, should not dictate the meaning of the biblical text regardless of what any sociologist says. Anytime we read the Bible, we don’t need to read through an African lens or a European lens—we need to read through the lens of the original author.
In his book, Woke Church, Eric Mason writes the following:
In his examination of the economic situation in African American communities, Du Bois concluded that any study of “economic cooperation among Negroes must begin with the Church group.” He was referring to the founding and establishment of black churches during the period of slavery and in the aftermath of the Civil War…You can’t talk about gospel-centered and Christ-centered ministry without talking about the black church. Circumstances forced the black church to look for answers in the Bible and develop a theology that became a robust, comprehensive view of the gospel. 
This statement is indicative of the many problems found in the entire book. Mason is committed to a specific hermeneutic lens that makes the mission of the church about defending the cause of the needy and oppressed. Is that really the legacy of God’s Church? Is that really the primary purpose of God’s Church? While I’m convinced that Christians who walk in obedience to Scripture will definitely care for the needy and will stand opposed to oppression—to make bold assertions that the primary mission of the church is to be an advocate for the needy and oppressed is to be guilty of mission drift. As Mason argues for a style of preaching called “prophetic preaching” that addresses social justice matters and reflects “God’s heart” can often miss the actual meaning of the text while trying to address real problems in our culture.
Once again, this way of reading the Bible through a specific lens has developed many different approaches to the Bible through the years—one such tradition is what is known as Black Liberation Theology. This method of reading the Bible focuses upon the needs of the Black community—specifically needs related to systemic racism, systemic oppression, poverty, and other related issues to the historical Civil Rights era.
Black Liberation Theology is a method of reading and interpreting the Bible that was developed by James Cone in the 1960s. In his book, Black Theology and Black Power, James Cone explains how his theological positions were formulated:
For me, the burning theological question was, how can I reconcile Christianity and Black Power, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s idea of nonviolence and Malcom X’s by any means necessary philosophy? The writing of Black Theology and Black Power was the beginning of my search for a resolution of that dilemma. 
Anytime we approach the Bible looking for a means to reconcile Christianity to political movements, it will inevitably result in a misreading and misinterpretation of the Scriptures. We must ultimately remember that the Bible is not about us. It’s about God and his redemptive plan to save sinners. We make application to us, and as always, on the bridge of application from the ancient text to the modern reader, we must not fall off the bridge and be swept down the stream of cultural interpretations through an improper hermeneutic.
Woke Commentary Selection
After a proper evaluation of the text of Scripture through a proper literal-historical-grammatical hermeneutic, it’s always wise to read commentaries to see how others have reached the goal of discovering the meaning of the text. This is a good practice because it enables us to make sure that we haven’t gone far off track in our approach.
So, how should we go about selecting commentaries to read and study the Bible? Should it have anything to do with their gifts, abilities, and specific educational background that enables them to be a clear voice that points to the meaning of the biblical text? Sure, but what about skin color and gender? Should a minority be able to speak to text in a better way than a white male? In other words, when studying the Bible, should we use a form of intersectionality in order to decide what commentaries to pull from the shelf to read? Well, that is precisely what Beth Moore is promoting. Notice what she stated on Twitter about her approach to reading and Bible study:
Much of these last 2 years I spent neck-deep in books on viticulture as I wrote on John 15. I learned so much. I love research. In my regular reading this year, to balance what I’d leaned toward for years, I concentrated on women authors and Black men and women authors both. 
In a Twitter exchange on January 4th 2020, Beth Moore explained why she doesn’t put out a yearly reading list. After someone requested to know what she’s reading, she explained her approach of reading black men and women authors. Are white males disqualified from providing clear exegesis? Not only is this a form of intersectionality, it’s likewise a means of virtue signaling to the watching world. It makes Beth Moore look good in the eyes of a culture raging on social justice. However, I wonder when she is boarding an airplane if she looks to see if the pilots are black men and women before she enters and takes her seat? Would she use this same approach in selecting a cardiologist or oncologist for treatment purposes?
The point is clear, we can’t afford to allow the social justice agenda to hijack our hermeneutics. How we read the Bible matters. An improper lens results in an improper interpretation—leading to an improper meaning. Do we really need a new social justice fueled hermeneutic? Must we read the Bible through what might be called, “The Intersectional Standpoint Epistemological Hermeneutic?”
It’s time that the evangelical church wake-up and consider the massive implications of the social justice agenda. When conservative evangelical denominations and leaders begin to use standpoint epistemological qualifications for interpreting the Bible and intersectionality as a means of commentary selection—it’s indicative of the massive cancer that’s within.
Beware of those who continue to cry, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. Within the SBC, we have become the laughing-stock of the evangelical world. For years people have continued to lament the fact that the SBC once won the war on the inerrancy of the Bible, but it’s currently losing the war on the sufficiency of the Bible. How long will it be until the watching evangelical world knows that the SBC not only believes in the full inerrancy of the Bible, but likewise stands unashamedly upon the sufficiency of the Bible? Stating that the Bible is sufficient in the annual SBC pastors’ conference and then adopting CRT/I as helpful analytical tools for gospel ministry is a massive inconsistency.
Such a commitment will take leadership that stands when others remain seated, speaks up when others remain silent, and advances forward when others hide in the shadows. J.C. Ryle once made the following statement that’s certainly very applicable to our current condition within evangelical circles:
Whenever a man takes upon him to make additions to the Scriptures, he is likely to end with valuing his own additions above Scripture itself.
Curtis Woods, “THE LITERARY RECEPTION OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF PHILLIS WHEATLEY (1753-1784): AN AFROSENSITIVE READING” (Louisville, KY: The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2018), 6.
Eric Mason, Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice, (Chicago: Moody, 2018), 126.
James Cone, Black Theology and Black Power, (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1997).