Rosh HaShana | Yom Teruah

I am sitting in my study.  This morning during devotions, I was reflecting on Rosh Hoshana. Once again, this year is not the normal Rosh Hoshana where were we go to services, sing liturgy and hear the sound of the shofar.  The Delta COVID spike has changed that for us. I loved our gatherings when I was leading our congregation in Maryland.  We had such wonderful times of worship with a Yeshua-centered liturgy. The presence of the Spirit was so precious.

Today’s reflections were on the meaning of this day.  Biblically, I think that the meaning of the day was just to bring an exclamation point that on the Jewish biblical calendar, this month was of crucial importance.  The first month, Passover, and now the seventh month are most important times on the calendar.  In seventh month, we were to experience forgiveness on the Day of Atonement and all that is connected to it. (Lev. 16, 23)   The 15th to 23rd centered on the great harvest festival, Sukkot, and its concluding time of the 8th day sabbath celebration, Shemini Atzeret.  Rosh Hoshana, (not the biblical name) is the wake up call of preparation and accentuates the whole month. Maimonides noted this wake up call for sleepers, a key meaning of the sound of the Shofar.  The actual biblical name is the day of the blowing of the Shofar, Yom Teruah.   

Yet, I am not averse to the Rabbinic meaning given to the day, the memorial of the first day of creation.  There is no proof that the first day of creation was on Tishri 1.  The Sabbath is a memorial of the 7 days of the Genesis account of God creating the heavens and the earth.  However, it does not commemorate first moments of creation, “In the beginning, God created.”

The Genesis account now has an agreement with scientists.  Orthodox Jewish scientists and conservative Christian scientists and other theists are happy about this agreement.  Atheist scientists, not so much.  I want to write about the Genesis 1:1.  The Universe had a beginning.  The famous astronomer, Frederick Hoyle, posited the steady-state theory of the universe.  It was the preferred view of atheists and agnostics.  The universe always just was, is and will be as it is now, everlasting cycles as in Hinduism.  Galaxies, stars and solar systems come into being and pass away in an everlasting process with no beginning or end.  Today, no one holds this view. The scientific evidence is so very strong against it.  The Universe had a beginning.  Some have called it the big bang theory since the universe constantly expands from a tiny point beginning smaller than the ballpoint on a pen.  From that concentration of matter, all has come.  There really was no bang, though the idea of an explosion fits the expansion.  It is rather a singularity event of beginning. It fits Genesis 1:1 perfectly.  This is so upsetting to some!  They even posit multiple universes and many such singular beginnings in some other unmeasured or undetectable dimension (It can never be discovered since it is beyond our universe to which we are limited.)  They will appeal to it for their defense of evolution.  It is special pleading with no evidence at all.

The argument for the existence of God from design is the second part of my article today.  Not only is there a beginning, but there is simply no way to account for the universe and life on planet earth including human life without positing an intelligent designer.  The idea of chance evolution is not new.  It was posited by the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras.  A chance evolution view was put forth as well by Epicurious, the Greek, and by Lucretius in Latin.   For the latter two, chance assembled all that exists by tiny particles colliding and joining.  Darwin sought to give chance more sophistication but it really was the same argument ultimately as these ancients.  He posited the idea of survival of the fittest once life came into being to explain the upward line of development ending in human intelligence.  Of course, this did not fit the fact that on a survival and adaptive basis simple celled animals have greater survival capability.  Today, Darwin’s simplistic view and all other iterations over the years have now been found to be bankrupt since the simplest cell is as organized as New York city.  That the organization of the cell is a most complex integrated reality that cannot evolve from simpler forms shows the impossibility of evolution. There is no simpler form that a cell can evolve from. 

However, there has not been a catch up in the culture to what some know for sure, a paradigm shift.  You can read about the impossibility of naturalistic evolution and the irreducible complexity (Michael Behe’s term) or specified complexity (William Dempski’s term) that show it to be impossible.  It is summarized in Orthodox Jewish physicist Gerald Schroeder’s writings.  The evidence is so irrefutable that two of the most notable atheists have concluded that naturalistic evolution is impossible.  Antony Flew, the leading atheist philosopher in Britain, wrote a book asserting God Exists near the end of his life. This was a bombshell considering Flew’s history.  Then Thomas Nagel, whom some consider to be the greatest American philosopher, now emeritus, from New York University, historically an atheist, has argued that naturalistic evolution is impossible in his important book Mind and Cosmos.  Read a few of these sources and be amazed!

How can this be answered?  Again, only with special pleading speculation.  Maybe if our universe is one of an almost infinite number of universes that come into being and pass away, then what is impossible according to chance statistics becomes possible.  This does not work, not at all, since the issue is that in an evolutionary view, life had to arise spontaneously from inorganic life.  The first cell was so complex that it could not be done.  Therefore, the impossibilities of evolution from simpler to complex life based on the possibilities given this world’s beginnings according to the theory of evolution, is again impossible.

Finally, there is the issue of an anthropic universe.  Astrophysicists use this term to demonstrate that the whole universe seems specifically designed to support human life on earth.  The very forces of basic physics, strong and weak forces in atoms, gravity and the effect of galaxies on this earth, show an exact confluence of mathematical chance impossibilities that occur none the less.  Paul Davis, Michael Denton and Gerald Schroeder and many others argue this.  The answer of the atheists?  The same special pleading of multiple universes.  Yes, they will say, it is extraordinarily unlikely that such a universe that is so fine-tuned so as to support human life would exist.  However, if many universes exist and come into being and pass away, over infinite time, one would exist that is fine-tuned and really looks designed.  Of course, there is no evidence for this at all.  Again, on the idea of the complexity of the cell itself it is impossible within the universe that does exist.

So, from the big bang, or the singularity event of the beginning, to the complexity of the cell to the fine tuning of the whole universe, it is certain that the universe exists only by the will of an infinite intelligent designer.  Why is this now denied?  In the year 2021 the evidence is overwhelming.  Is it because these folks do not want to believe in God?

The Bible Will Keep us from Decline in Theological Liberalism

When I was a young leader in Chicago at Adat HaTikvah, we rented from a Presbyterian Church.  I was at that time an ordained Presbyterian minister with hopes of influencing the Church to return to a more Evangelical orientation.  The Pastor of the church was a homosexual who argued that the Bible was written a long time ago before our more advanced knowledge of psychology and genetics.  We would have to adjust our moral stands to take into account this greater understanding.  We maintained a friendly relationship.  I did not know any details about his personal life.  However, in the Presbytery of Chicago, I was part of a vocal contingent that argued against this new re-adjustment.  Most of us who so argued had a high view of Scripture, that every text taught the truth when understood according to the claim of the author in context (inerrancy-see my summary in Dan Cohn-Sherbuk, Voices of Messianic Judaism, “Biblical Authority” 19-28).  Those who argued against our view had a lower view of Scripture as containing revelation, but an imperfect book.  Though we held off the moral revisionists for a season, they eventually prevailed.  They controlled 6 of the 7 major seminaries of the denomination.  Then I observed the rapid decline of the denomination (I left in 1981 on good terms).  From 5.5 million members to under 2 million, but in real terms today, maybe only a million.  There was a profession of respect for the Bible, but generally, the idea was that we must negotiate a position that accommodates modern culture.  Many other mainstream denominations also took this direction with similar declines, such as the Episcopal Church, from 3 million to under 1 million.  It was then that Dean Kelly wrote his monumental study, Why Conservative Churches are Thriving.  This is not as much today as conservative churches in America have switched to a feel-good Christianity rather than the radical call to the cross and discipleship.  However, we learned from those years of steep decline from 1975 to 2005.  

Many of the early leaders in the Messianic Jewish world were trained in the best of Evangelical institutions.  They entered their work of evangelism, planting, and pastoring holding to a high view of Scripture with confidence that on the foundational issues of theology and morals Scripture was clear (the two are intertwined) and that the consensus of the Church throughout history on these matters was firmly established.  My own professor and mentor on biblical authority was the Dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dr. Kenneth Kantzer, whom I consider the finest teacher on these issues in the 20th century.  Dr. Walter Kaiser, who later became the President of Gorden Conwell Seminary, was also an influence.   Dr. Kaiser was one of the early teachers in our Messianic Jewish yeshivot.  

One other book was a seminal influence, Christ and Culture, by H. Richard Niebuhr.  Niebuhr argues for respecting cultures but with the centrality of Christ and his teaching being the key for what is discarded and what can be redeemed and transformed.  He argued against the liberal orientation where Christ is subsumed under culture so that what is left is not a vibrant biblical orientation.  

This all produced a foundation for me and many others where we seek to understand the universal absolutes of Biblical teaching according to its own context of cultural background for interpretation.  Then we seek to present those claims, including the claims of the Gospel, in the most relevant way, but without compromising those absolutes.   Many who do not believe in the full trustworthiness of Scripture cannot over the long time succeed in this work but will in the end compromise Biblical teaching to accommodate the culture.  It is not that there is new evidence in the culture really refutes biblical teaching.  Rather the strong cultural push against historic biblical morals is a matter of propaganda.  

Today we face a new shaking, and the Messianic Jewish world is not insulated from it.  The center of it connects to sexual identity agendas which are being given an enormous propaganda push by the left.  It includes such matters as the push back against the traditional teaching of Yeshua that God’s standard was lasting marriage without divorce of one man and one woman for life (Matthew 18); the rejection of pre-marital sex and cohabitation without marriage, and the clear standard of Torah that rejects confusion in regard to the identity of male and female.  This also includes a more tolerant acceptance of abortion. Those denominations that have embraced a cultural accommodation in steady decline.  No Church stream that is growing in evangelism and discipleship (Kingdom expansion) has embraced the cultural accommodation.  This includes Africa, India, China, East Asia, Southeast Asia and South America.  For all who are confused or in these wrong orientations, the power of the Gospel offers deliverance though repentance and submission to Yeshua.  His word remains, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”  I just do note that the formation of the new Anglican association, GAFCON, our of African and Asia is now the growing segment of Anglicanism and has totally rejected the liberalizing trends. 

This also relates to the Messianic Jewish approach to halakha.  I accept the fact that there are new situations presented by today’s society that require thinking about how biblical principles apply to new situations.  How do we apply the principles of the Sabbatical year and Jubilee to a modern age when the situation of agriculture is so different and wealth distribution cannot be done by a return to ancestral land?  How do we deal with medical issues that were never even considered in ancient days such as artificial insemination, or genetic medicine to produce cures?  What about cloning?  What about extending life through genetic manipulation?  Also, how do we apply biblical injunctions on caring for the environment?  What is consistent for Jewish people in keeping the Sabbath today and not working and what is not under the New Covenant consistent with Shabbat observance.  But halakha must not come up with adjustments or changes in Biblical absolutes such that spoken by the word of Yeshua that we make void the Word of God through our traditions.  Rabbi Lawrence Schiffman in his From Text to Tradition,  clarifies that though the Torah has a high place of authority in Rabbinic Judaism, Rabbinic authority superseded biblical authority.  This we must not allow.  If we do, we will slide into decline just like the mainline denominations.  Of course liberal Judaism has made this radical adjustment.  

All of this relates to how we approach all the issues of LGBTQ people.  Reaching out in compassion is crucial.  Accommodation in a way that could be taken as accepting ways of life that violate absolute biblical norms must not be done.  Not only would such accommodations lead to our decline, but we would be lending ourselves to the possible damnation of those Yeshua came to save, whose salvation depends on repentance and seeking to live by biblical norms.  I am for the accommodations that welcome inquirers into our midst, but our evangelism to these groups will no doubt be much more connected to developing relationships outside of the meeting spaces of our communities.   

On a practical note, the fact of aberrant sexual orientations should be understood in a multifaceted way.  There are many factors that aid in ministry.  Some can be due to just being born after the fall such that design in creation is marred.  God has power for us to overcome such handicaps.  Secondly, there are environmental factors, upbringing, and the earliest memories.  Thirdly, there is demonic power though in a modern world we do not like to realize that there is very powerful demonic forces at work.  There are intergenerational negative inheritances.  Then there is a too rigid cultural definition of what counts as male and female ways of living.  On a ministry-level, there is much needed.  I recommend studying the writings of Messianic Jewish Scholar Michael Brown, Albert Moeller (former head of the Southern Baptist Association), and the pastoral writings of Leanne Payne. 

What if Luke 4:18 was really the priority of the church?

Imagine the Gospel story if it read like this.  

Yeshua called his 12 disciples and brought them to a special retreat in Galilee.  The trauma of Roman occupation and hard dealings with zealot terrorists was such that these disciples would not be able to do ministry for some years. After a few years of intense ministry for inner healing and deliverance, he established some communities where others could find the same benefits.  

Of course, there were many traumatized in first-century Israel, but those who were called by Yeshua entered the work and were healed as they walked in the power of God and were able to see God work through them as He worked through Yeshua.  This level of power in the Gospel is something that in the American Church, we do not know well. 

Yeshua’s ministry was primarily and first to those we call marginalized.  Early in his ministry, Yeshua announced the character of his work in these terms, 

“The Ruach ADONAI (Sprit of the LORD) is on me,

Because He has anointed me

to proclaim Good News to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim 

release to the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to set free the oppressed,

and to proclaim the year of 

ADONAI’S favor. 

This quote is from Isaiah 61.  The context of the Jubilee reset where lands returned to their original owners such that the whole country experienced a new economic reset.  Though the ministry of Yeshua invited all, the focus was on the marginalized and He indeed set them free as did the Apostles and the 70 in Luke 9, 10.  The Beatitudes of Matthew 5 should be understood in the same way. 

The American Church has pursued all kinds of goals but has not generally put the focus where Yeshua placed it.  He expected those who ministered with him to find healing in the “As you go,” ministry to others rather than a focus on self.  I have often asked the question.  What if the American Church was filled with Holy Spirit power and focused its efforts on the marginalized with effectiveness?  Would we still have a Black Lives Matter Movement and an increase in neo-Marxist ideas today?  I think not.  What if the Church was effective in power with those who are bound by drugs, or those with gender dysphoria?  What if even the blind would be healed, and the lame would walk?  Imagine the credibility of the Church and the progress of the Gospel in American society!

There is a new growing emphasis on Luke 4:18. I was focused on this when I heard that our friend Mike Bickle of International House of Prayer was embracing a prophetic time of focus on Luke 4:18 to be one of the defining foundations of their ministry.  Though it is not large at this point, this emphasis is growing and could be part of revival and restoration in the American Church.  

Luke 4:18 presented a ministry vision for the marginalized in Israel in the first century.  We have so many that are marginalized in Israel today, and some congregations and ministries are giving themselves to a Luke 4:18 focus.  I hope that this will be a growing key to the Messianic Jewish movement in Israel.  

The Great Loss of the Young Adult Generation to the Body of the Messiah

How is it possible that statistics say that the younger generation has been lost in droves to the Body of the Messiah? I don’t think the answers are difficult to find.  

The basic answer is that this generation in the deepest level of soul was formed much more by the secular world than by a culture of radical loyal followers of the Messiah.  Most parents allowed this generation to be raised by a public school system that does not respect biblical values in contradistinction to the time period when I was raised in public schools.  Teachers impart who they are.  Sometimes this includes demonic presence.  Our children were given at least 7 hours a day year after year.  Then they mostly attended secular higher education if they continued schooling.  The whole orientation and atmosphere were anti-biblical.  In addition, the young adult generation is the first generation raised on the internet.  Many found much anti-biblical content to influence them. However, there is another more insidious and hidden aspect.  Focus on the screen hour after hour produces for many an inability to focus and concentrate.  Brain physiologists and psychologists note a change in brain function and addictive behavior.  This produces an inability to read deeply or to appreciate the depth of truth, beauty, and goodness. Thomas Dubay in his great book, The Evidential Power of Beauty, one of the most profound books I have ever read, and an amazing apologetic for biblical faith, notes that beauty reveals God.  However, a jaded generation no longer can appreciate beauty on any deep level.  Their minds are dulled.  There is a lack of interest even in the beauties of sports, both participatory and spectator.  In summary, we did not produce a counterculture, but were blindsided and inadvertently allowed the world to raise our children.  

There are other reasons.  Did our children see and experience such a reality in God that it was difficult for them to deny it?  Did they witness real miracles?  Did they see an effective congregational life that brought deliverance to people according to the Luke 4:18 model of Yeshua and his Apostles where the marginalized are healed and freed?  Were they impressed with what the Church has done for the poor and marginalized?  Were they led into their own encounter with Yeshua and found that it was an unshakable reality?

So where do we begin?  First, the generation that seems lost can be awakened in revival.  Let us first repent for missing it and giving our children over to the world.  Let us pray and believe that Yeshua will reveal himself and awake the slumbering, for such is this generation of young adults, woke to deceptive philosophies of our age, but dead or asleep to the truth and reality of Yeshua. 

Secondly, let us now begin with what remains, those who are followers of Yeshua and raising young children.  We begin with preschool children.  Let us create a true counterculture including alternative schools, both private schools (as we did some 40 years ago) and home school consortiums.  Let us turn off the internet and have no unsupervised internet for minor children, and let us limit the time on the screen from none at all (yes, it is not necessary to do internet) to limited time.  Then let us create a reading culture in our families by reading great stories to our children, having them read great books, and discussing those books.  Let us give our children access to beauty, by trips in nature, camping, learning musical instruments, listening to great music, and seeing great art.  Let us center our lives on Bible reading, together and in personal devotions.  We can also take our children to venues where they will witness miracles and can see the reality of God’s interventions in amazing ways.  Let us lead them into being born again, immersed in the Spirit, and having a passionate relationship with God. 

When we speak about creating a counterculture, we are aware that the danger in so protecting our children that they will not be able to cope with the world.  We need much wisdom here.  Sufficient and guided understanding of the world, its teachings, its influence, and more is needed if our children are to be able to face this world with courage and not fall apart when exposed to it.  As children need to play in the dirt to develop their immune system, so sufficient guided exposure is needed if the children when they grow up will be able to face this world with courage and not be overwhelmed by it.  Yes, we need to educate our children about the world so they will not be overwhelmed.  We can raise a generation that for the most part will not abandon the faith. 


The Evidential Power of Beauty 

A few years back, our friend Mike Bickle recommended a book that had greatly increased his understanding of the beauty of the LORD and beauty itself.  It was by the Catholic Theologian Thomas Dubay.  Patty, my wife, first read this book and was very enthusiastic about it.  Then I read it.  It almost takes your breath away.  

In Dubay’s presentation, beauty, truth, and goodness are intertwined.  The beautiful is the true.  He even notes scientist after scientist who declared that the theory more likely to be true is the most beautiful one.  This is also asserted in the very difficult but amazing book by chemist philosopher Michael Polyani, Personal Knowledge.  

Dubay presents the evidence of beauty in the world of art including music and presents the nature of beauty as a reflection of our being created in the image of God.  He presents the evidence of science.  The macrocosmic, that is the universe of galaxies and the amazing order. Yes, it is order and not something random, and all is ordered in a way to support life on earth.  He presents the microcosm, each cell an ordered and beautiful complexity that is as complex as New York City.  This has prompted America’s most famous philosopher Thomas Nagel in his book, Mind and Cosmos, to declare that the Darwinian theory of evolution is systematically impossible.  Then he describes the amazing beauty of the midcosm, creation on the plain of our normal existence, plants, animals, rocks, and trees.  By the time he is done, if you are not jaded by a weak life upbringing and disappointments, you are greatly inspired.   Great athleticism is also part of this realm of beauty. 

However, he leaves the greatest description of beauty to be the life of Yeshua, his amazing death for our sins and his resurrection.  It is the beauty of the LORD revealed in fullness.  

In our days at Wheaton College, Professor Clyde Kilby, a friend of C. S. Lewis, sought to awaken students to beauty, to open them to wonder, and then to the reality of God perceived in the experience of wonder. The great Rabbi scholar, Abraham Joshua Heschel, spoke of human beings finding themselves in a universe that shows grandeur everywhere. I am well aware of our struggle with the problem of evil and doubt.  However, the grandeur and beauty of life is much the greater reality.  

One of the very sad aspects of the generation growing up is a jadedness that cannot perceive beauty and the grandeur of creation.  They are jaded by hours of brain-deadening screen time and coarse musical entertainment.  I wonder how much unbelief is rooted in a culture that cannot perceive beauty.  Higher education seems to have lost the quest for truth, beauty, and goodness.  This follows along with one of my recent articles.  Our calling is to become a counter-culture where our young are educated and trained to recognize beauty and to be moved by it.  We have to overcome a culture where nothing wonderful captures the imagination of our young.  So many commit suicide because they are just blind to the reality of that which gives joy.   For us who follow Yeshua, the greatest revelation of truth, beauty, and goodness is in the Scriptures, brought to their height in the New Covenant Scriptures.  As we read them, we should ask, how is it possible that something this wonderful can be written.  Amazement at the person of Yeshua, the ideals, the morals and ethics of the text, the power of the Spirit, and more should capture and move us.  May it be so.  I do recommend to you all this wonderful book.  I want to read it once a year. 

Discipleship and Community

Before Messianic Judaism in our lives from about 1970-1971, Patty and I were on a quest to ask, “What really is the nature of the Church?”  This question came in a context where secular writers were ringing alarm bells on the social trends in America, the loss of the stability of place, friendships, extended family, and local neighborhoods.  We were mere economic pawns in the system and we were allowing our lives to revolve around money and the ease of mobility for seeking greener pastures.  The end of these trends was deep alienation and loss.  Surely, we thought, the Church must have an answer to this problem.   We were also very discouraged by what we experienced as we looked for a church and experienced only what I now call “Go to meeting church.”  Sit down, stand, sing a hymn, have announcements, have a hymn, an offering, have a special music piece, have a sermon, an invitation, then a benediction, and go home.  The special music might have been really special and the sermon quite good, but … but.   “Where was the community?” We asked.  

Then we discovered Acts 2:42 ff. and groups of people who believed that the local churches should build communities of relationships that last, like an extended family, and that these churches were the key to discipleship.  Without committed lasting covenant relationships, discipleship would be greatly hindered.  We had to be committed together to make disciples and to motivate one another to deeper discipleship.  We anticipated the great teaching of Dallas Willard in his Divine Conspiracy, that one is discipled when he or she generally obeys the commandments of Yeshua.  We have sought to apply this throughout our ministry.  To mitigate against congregational hoping and moving away, we sought to encourage the people to only leave the community if convinced of the leading of the Spirit. Ultimately a person has to obey what he or she thinks the Spirit is saying.  However, to put a governor on this and the human ability to rationalize carnal desires, we asked all to test what they said the Spirit was saying and to seek confirmation with their closest friends and leaders.  Ultimately it was their decision without any negative onus.  This has worked well for us for over 49 years.  We found that a Messianic Jewish pattern of life was greatly helpful in community building.  

Today there is a new movement that adds to our knowledge of discipleship in community. One of our leadership couples in Tikkun America, Daniel and Berilyn Gillespie encouraged us to look into it.  The leaders of this movement teach that without bonding in a community where all embrace mutual encouragement and correction, discipleship does not usually take place.  This movement grew out of a ministry in Pasadena, California, the Shepherd’s House.  The center of the teaching of Shepherd’s House is that the heart is the key to discipleship, not just the head or intellectual content as is the emphasis of many churches.  They call this right-brain discipleship.  To make sure we avoid philosophic materialism, I like to speak of it as right-brain/soul or heart since all that we see in the brain exists in another dimension in the spiritual realm.  A simple introduction for understanding this teaching is the book The Other Half of the Church by Michael Hendricks and Jim Wilder.  In his last years, Dallas Willard embraced Shepherd’s House and the organization that grew out of it, Life Model Works.  This is now growing into a movement including networks of congregations.   The goal is quality discipleship.  This takes place by developing bonded relationships of love and kindness, hesed, in Hebrew.  This leads to a community where the habits of the heart are in accord with the Word and Spirit.  It is a community where the love of enemies prevails and the narcissism in all of us is overcome.  

It has never been my goal to build big or to build small but to build faithfully with the people God brings into our sphere of responsibility as elder shepherds. God’s concern is twofold.  One is the quality of discipleship in community, that is what happens to people connected in our congregations.  The second is the ability of the congregation to reach out in love to those who do not know Yeshua and draw them into the community.  When we think of ministry to the Jewish people, there are so many of our people that are wounded, confused, and hurting.  We can be a loving community of healing for our people.  This kind of community will draw them through love that is real.  


Come Holy Spirit 

One of my privileges was to meet and spend time with John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard network.  He actually had a word from God to reach out to me from reading a brochure on a conference I was a part of.  This was quite amazing!  Wimber was famous for revealing the reality of the Holy Spirit, his gifts and his moving through a congregation.  He would say, “Holy Spirit come.”  People would be moved, laugh, cry, prophecy, be healed and so much more.  This was a special calling and gift.  When others asked Wimber about it and how they could see it in their congregations, he said you can do the same thing, just say, “Holy Spirit come.”  Often, they would say this, and little would happen.  More prayer and seeking God was probably necessary.  But back to Wimber: he showed how the presence and power of the Spirit could be shown in large and small gatherings.  He showed how good government could prevent debacles.  As we look beyond Wimber’s central congregation in Anaheim, California, congregations that show the Spirit with maturity also show greater power in evangelism and motivating people to give their all to the Kingdom of God.  I have been observing this now for over 40 years.  This was so true in the days when I pastored. However, most congregations that say they believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit have little in the way of showing the Spirit.  

There are too many reasons why we have so little of the manifestations of the Spirit.  However, I will list a few.  

  1. Leaders are afraid that if they open their congregations to member participation that things will get out of hand.  It will embarrass visitors.  Better to have an attractive and ordered gathering. 
  2. Leaders have not been trained to govern services that are open to the manifestations of the Spirit.  This ability is caught more than taught.  They need to sit under others who are doing this well to have confidence that they can do it. 
  3. Leaders have brought into the seeker-sensitive errors that depend on social-psychological methods to draw people rather than seeing the Spirit as the one who draws and knows how best to bring a reality such that people really do confront the truth. 
  4. Leaders have not raised up a core of mature people who can prophesy with accuracy and good impact.  Good prophecy opens up a community and is emphasized in I Cor. 14 as the key gift to desire. 
  5. Leaders have not understood that home gatherings are the places where a I Cor. 12,14 type of meeting can take place so that all can participate, and then those who are mature can be released into the larger meetings. 
  6. Leaders are afraid to upset people by denying them the microphone.  If only vetted people can speak, then others will be offended.  So, it is thought best to let no one speak from the congregation.  This is a great mistake. 
  7. Leaders have allowed unstable and rebellious people to publicly speak and minister. Having brought shame and tension, now the leader decides it is best to allow nothing of the participation of the members spontaneously. 
  8. Leaders fear it will take too much time.  It need not if it is governed well, prophecy, some manifestations but ministry during ministry times.
  9. Finally, leaders have not led their congregations to seek the Lord with prayer that they might be given the grace of his manifest presence. 

It has been amazing to me to see congregations that grew and prospered with a commitment to showing the Spirit pull back and become completely controlled.  Can the Spirit speak, act and re-direct?  Is He also Lord?  Allowing and welcoming the Spirit and his manifestations is a foundational value in Tikkun.  It is a key to seeing more drawn to the Gospel, more healed, delivered, and encouraged. 

One thing I have found, the Holy Spirit has to be invited and welcomed to show Himself in a tangible way.  Wimber was right in inviting, “Holy Spirit come.”  I am sure you can think of many more examples than the nine I listed.  We read in I Corinthians that “Jews seek a sign.”  I have found the reality of the Spirit revealed has been a key in Jewish people coming to know Yeshua. Members of congregations where the Spirit shows himself learn confidence that the Spirit will show Himself through them in the marketplace and wherever they share with people who do not know Yeshua. 

Biblical Anti-Racism

I have evaluated Critical Theory and Critical Race Theory that grows out of it, (from here designated CRT) in several articles on my Facebook official page based on reading works from supporters and reading from those who are critics of the theories, both secular and Christian critics.  My conclusion is that CRT is profoundly contrary to the Biblical World View.  One book, by Voddie Baucham, a black Baptist theologian and missionary to Africa, gives a profound evaluation on a world view basis. 

The quest for equality of worth was originally a biblical norm.  Heresies from that norm are dangerous.  They turn the biblical ideas of justice into either a Marxist idea of equality of outcomes, as in income, or to the new idea of equity in outcomes.  It teaches that American society is to be divided into different ethnicities including categories of new sexual identities represented by the letters LGBTQ etc. On this basis of equity financial prosperity, educational access, and success in various life roles and positions are to be divided by the proportion of the numbers of such people in the society. Such a quest will be a never-ending failure and a source of continual strife.  Can you imagine this dividing for those of Asian background (the Chinese are really not the same as Japanese, Indians, Philippinos, or Indians) Hispanic and others?  Biblical justice is defined in my book Social Justice.  Justice, first of all, is motivated by love.  Love is defined by passionate identification with the other that seeks their good guided by law.  Their good is their destiny fulfillment which begins with loving and knowing God and then fulfilling his calling which is according to the gifts and talents he gives.  Justice or civil righteousness is an order where the maximum number of people can fulfill their destiny.  The Bible makes it clear that God’s ideal will includes sufficient material provision for people.   The Bible does not orient us to divide in conflict over the goods of society.  Rather it calls us to a different way.  

First of all, anti-racism or anti-ethnocentrism begins with Biblical affirmations that all human beings are created in the image of God.  Each human being thus carries unique value and is worthy of being respected and treasured.  Only people influenced by the Bible gave credibility to the idea of the equal basic worth of human beings.  Study the history of the world and you will not find this idea outside of the influence of biblical faith.  Yes, societies that claimed to be Christian often did not live out the implications of biblical faith.   They reflect the well-quoted statement of G. K. Chesterton responding to people who said, “Christianity has been tried and found wanting.”  Chesterton responded and said, “No, Christianity has been found difficult and untried.”  The most profound charter of anti-racism and the only charter comes from the Bible or law influenced by the Bible.  This unique universalism of the Bible has been the foundation of human rights such as found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, largely authored by the godly Christian scholar Charles Malik.  Though there are movements for equality and equity not based on biblical norms and some contrary to biblical norms, I don’t believe due to the sinfulness of fallen humans that such movements will succeed.  Again, such equality movements are only in nations that have biblical influence in their history. In rebellion against God, these movements are bound to lead to failure and more despair.   New Testament affirmations against racist and ethnic superiority and domination are unique and profound.  “From one He made every nation of men to live on the face of the earth, having set the appointed times and the boundaries of their territory.   They were to search for him and perhaps grope around if and find Him.  Yet He is not far from each of us, for in him we live and move and have our being.  Jacob (James) can say concerning the tongue, “With it, we bless our ADONAI and Father, and with it, we curse people, who are made in the image of God. . . My brothers and sisters, these things should not be.”  

In Revelation 21:26, each nation brings its distinct glory into the eternal Kingdom, the New Jerusalem, the new Kingdom.  So, every nation in the redemption has a distinct glory and will make a distinct contribution. Rev. 21 shows the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham. He was not chosen, and Israel was not chosen as the superior race, but as a servant nation to bring the nations of the world into the Blessing of God.  

Biblical assertions of the foundational equal worth of all human beings if etched into the United States Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal” and have inalienable rights from the Creator.  The Good News leads to reconciliation between all races and ethnicities who become one with Jewish followers of Yeshua.  They are called new creations in the Messiah (II Cor. 5:17) and are given the highest status together, “Raised with him and seated with him in heavenly places,” at the very throne of God (Eph. 2:5). 

Contrary to CRT and CT, there is objective truth.   We are not relativists.  For CRT proponents their quests for equality and equity are power assertions of choice based on what philosophers call an emotive preference.  It is not based on objective truth and ethics.  There is no answer in CRT as to why the strong should not dominate and enslave the weak and make them serve them.  There is no answer to Nazism except for personal emotive aversion.  Nazis like the idea of the domination and survival of those who can conquer.  It causes humans to evolve and become stronger. It fits Darwin!

We are speaking here of the ultimate foundations and the picture of ultimate redemption.  However, the human race is divided by self-centeredness, strife, hatred, prejudice, the domination of one nation by another and even slaughter and genocide.  The profound level of sin and its effect on the world is clearly revealed in a study of world history.  CRT people point to the sins of western civilization but rarely point to the slavery and genocide that has been a great part of world history, especially in the East or in Africa or even in pre-colonial Mexico for example.   

The Gospel of the Kingdom makes its debut in Israel and Yeshua announces  Good News to the poor.  The power of God is so great that Yeshua announces his ministry through the power of the Spirit as being Good News to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind, the release of prisoners, etc.”  (Luke 4:18) The Gospel first comes to those in society beginning in Israel with those who are marginalized.  This is so contrary to Roman culture.  The often misunderstood beatitudes in Matthew 5 are very much in line with Luke 4:18. Blessed are the poor, for poverty no longer determines their identity or destiny.  The meek who are trampled upon will inherit the earth. The mourners will no longer be trapped in mourning, for they will be adequately comforted.  The great reversal of conditions comes with the coming of Yeshua.  If one is truly in Yeshua then one can no longer claim to be a victim since his power enables us to fulfill a destiny and purpose in him with eternal reward. 

Gospel realism states that all have sinned, and that sin will land us in Hell if we do not repent and receive the great atonement of his death for our sins and resurrection life in his Spirit.  Once this is embraced, God calls us to be joined to communities of reconciliation.  Galatians 3:28 provides a most radical anti-racist text, that in Yeshua there is, “Neither Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave for free.”  Rather we are all one in him and form one new humanity in him (Eph. 2:15).  This should not be read as eliminating Jewish calling and identity or homogenizing ethnic identities.  The Bible values the good in cultures, but the Bible is also the norming norm for evaluating what is good and bad in cultures.  Biblical multi-culturalism does not like CRT trivialize the value of all cultures by claiming they are all equal.  However, the value of our ethnic identity, even Jewish identity is now made secondary to the centrality of our oneness and equal status in Yeshua (Eph. 2:5).  The Bible, therefore, calls us to the ministry of reconciliation, to be reconciled to God and to one another.  

The Bible also is very clear about our priorities of commitment in sharing the Gospel. It is first to the poor and marginalized.  They have the first right of refusal.  The preaching of the Gospel is offered first as well to the Jews as the covenant people (Romans 1:16) but other than this, the first right of refusal in the great Gospel offer is to the marginalized, the poor, imprisoned, the crippled, the disposed of, the ill, the rejected.  This offer is not made on the basis of race preferences but without regard to race and ethnicity.  Not many of high status first responded, says Paul.  While the Bible allows for disparities of wealth, those who are rich are exhorted in the strongest terms to invest their wealth to lift the weak and poor or they and also that their riches will perish.  God, says James, has chosen the poor of this world to inherit the Kingdom.  (James 2:1-4, 5:1-6).  His warning to the rich is delivered with severe words of warning.  Lifting the poor is part of the essence of the Gospel and its outworking.  

Generally, the history of the world does not include multi-ethnic, multi-racial societies (my view is that race is a social-cultural construct but ethnicity is real and objective).  The Roman Empire comes closer to this but still was far different than the United States and its liberties. So, the Bible does not speak to the situation of the new reality of such societies directly, but its principles have profound implications.  If a particular race or ethnicity has a high proportion of those who are poor, marginalized, and imprisoned, that race or ethnicity should receive a high or disproportionate focus of outreach and care.  This is the clear implication of Luke 4:18 and the teaching of Yeshua and the Apostles.  In one sense the Gospel is race-neutral but in another sense, the issue of race is dealt with on the basis of the Gospel mandate if a group is poor and marginalized.  Yes, the rich are offered the Gospel, but they are not the primary focus of the efforts!  The power of the Gospel really does deliver!  Salvation is more than going to heaven. 

I note that the issue of privilege can never be solved by multiplying civil laws. Those with two parents in a loving marriage have the privilege.  Those who are beautiful versus those who are homely (this does affect hiring!), those who are handicapped versus those who have normal physical abilities, those who come from prosperous homes versus those from poor families, those children who were not abused, and those who were, show all kinds of privilege and disadvantage.  CRT does not know what to do with the prosperity of Asians who obviously are not white and not held back by white privilege.  There are social patterns and values in Asian families that do give them a leg up (privilege).  The Bible teaches that God gives different giftings and callings; gifts and talents are distributed by God. However, again the answer is the Gospel.  Those who embrace the Gospel and live in and from the Kingdom of God are empowered by the Spirit and can hear the voice of God leading them to a successful life.  All levels of underprivilege can be overcome by the Spirit and power of God. 

The outworking of the Gospel is to create communities of reconciliation.  Before society is influenced (the New Testament talks little about this) we are to create communities that are a model for society, communities of transformation with great interethnic love and mutual appreciation, serving and humility.  

At this point, I evaluate the American Church as mostly a failure.  There are wonderful exceptions.  The idea of mobilizing the churches in mass to be involved and focused without distraction on the poor and marginalized just has not captured the minds and hearts of the 20th century and now the 21st century Church in America. Yes, again, I can point to wonderful exceptions.  There have been rescue missions, ministries like David Wilkerson in Teen Challenge, reaching gangs and those dealing in drugs.  What would have happened if the Black, White and Hispanic churches pledged themselves in mutual love and commitment and created massive programs for the needy.   

I will return to the issue of who should repent.  For CRT all whites are guilty and should repent and even pay reparations (almost forever and ongoing!).  The Pole, the Arminian, and the Ukrainian who came last week to America now have white privilege and have to repent for white privilege and systemic racism.  CRT fosters false guilt and no possibility of real redemption.  However, the Bible does foster repentance from real guilt, and corporate guilt can be inherited if there is no repentance and restitution.  First, any individual who has held prejudice in his or her heart must repent.  Secondly, we repent for the history of racism in the Church bodies, both the racism that was overt and the actions of not caring or apathy.  Every individual who did now care about poor blacks can repent of apathy and leaders can repent for not leading churches out of apathy.   When the Southern Baptists and the Assemblies of God repented for purposely embracing segregation as a policy in their past, this was appropriate repentance for real guilt. The next steps would be involvement in poor communities, preaching the Gospel, mentoring, serving, educating, and more.  Perhaps whites who had ancestors who held slaves can repent and renounce the sins of their ancestors and act redemptively in involvement to lift poor black people. That would be wonderful.   The United States can still repent for not passing laws in the past that would have eliminated discriminatory practices, such as housing loans for those who qualify but are black. Great progress has been made on this.  Such repentance needs to ask God’s forgiveness.  Bible teaching is focused on real guilt, not a generalized fake guilt where the specifics of sin are not made clear.  The idea that an institution is racist can only be the case if people with racist intent set up institutions that discriminated in unfair ways.  There has to be clear objective evidence (CRT does not believe in objectivity!)  The institution may inadvertently be wrongly organized and need changing but racism is a wrong redefinition of the term. 

One more thing that will be hated by secularists is that the poor and underclass blacks have to repent when they embrace the Gospel, repent of bitterness, anger, and hatred, and to forgive the whites that did wrong to them.  Of course, they repent of their violations of God’s laws.  When CRT teaches that all cultures are equal and that such standards as punctuality, correct math answers, precision, language skills, etc. are racist, they destroy the potential for blacks to succeed.  All cultures are not equal. Some are better and others as judged by the Bible as the norming norm.  The Bible teaches that all have radically sinned and that our debt before God is incomparably greater than any debt we are owed.  This stand brings mutual humility and forgiveness though we indeed weigh the sin of the wealthier as much greater.  

When CRT lays guilt on all whites, no matter their history, and points to vague institutional guilt due to disparate levels of success in racial and ethnic groups, it lowers the potential for real healing and progress.  CRT really offends truth when socialistic solutions to help the poor are considered the only absolute answer.   Those who oppose such solutions are racist, eg. Medicare for all.  Actually, vouchers for the needy would bring competition and much better medical care for the poor than government-run health care.  

So, we begin our anti-racism program with massive church repentance and a massive re-direction of the Church.  May there be a movement toward this end that will grow and grow.  Some years ago, Donald McGavran argued that churches grow best when they are more homogenous.  People gravitate to their kind of people, their style of music and worship, their cultural ways of being.  While we may give some acceptance to this being natural, the Gospel requires that we act beyond being comfortable with our own kind.  A mostly white Church and a mostly black church need to deepen mutual involvement and relationships to demonstrate the power of reconciliation and effective ministry together. 

The program of the churches that commit themselves to anti-racism focus first on the basic Gospel and discipleship programs.  It incorporates those who are won into the church with a strong emphasis on discipleship.  Training programs are also needed for parenting.  Rebuilding marriage and biblical families in the black underclass will be a crucial emphasis.  

However, we have to begin with the situation as it exists with many coming from single-parent mother-led homes. Discipling the mothers is so important.  Many single mothers are illiterate.  They need education and training.  Some of the best programs I have seen begin with children and teens and puts them into tutoring programs and then full-time schools with a Gospel emphasis.  There are several such programs.  Until vouchers are available from public funds (they are available in some states) we need to mobilize wealthy people and all who can give to fund such schools.  The CHATS (Church Hill Activities and Tutoring and Schooling) program in Richmond, Virginia, is one such program I support.  They maintain a full high school and the success rate is amazing.  It challenges the lie that blacks must fail due to racism for the graduates of this ghetto school to succeed, and greatly so.  Overcoming massive illiteracy is crucial.  Public schools in ghetto communities graduate many illiterate poor from high school if they stay in school!  Practical job training needs to be part of such schools.  Christians can provide vocational training. 

Other programs that attract children and teens in sports and art are helpful. This opens people up to the joy of performance and beauty.  

If the Church had focused on prayer, power ministry, and serving as it should have, we would not have the racial issues today which frankly are exploited by the neo-Marxist left to foster their revolution.  

Robin D’Angelo: White Fragility and Voddie Baucham Faultlines

I have now read several books and multiple articles on Critical Race Theory.  I want to review the contribution for Robin ‘D’Angelo and then reference Voddie Baucham, an African American scholar who now serves as a missionary in East Africa.  This will be in two parts.

Robin D’Angelo was mentored by Critical Race Theory scholars (now designated for the rest of this chapter as CRT).  She is a trainer in diversity, plurality, and sensitivity.  Her book, White Fragility, is now one of the most popular and important books fostering CRT.  The title refers to the anger and negative responses of white people who are called to a discussion of systemic racism and the structures and institutions that perpetuate racial disparities in success in the Black American demographic in the United States.  I am not writing in any way to condemn Robin D’Angelo.  People are in different places and maybe on a road toward Yeshua without knowing it.  Her heart for raising the Black community is commendable, but she may have veered off philosophically and in the best way to do this. 

Readers should review my book review on Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Anti-Racist.  D’Angelo is a fan of his. She is white and committed to fighting race disparities.  As CRT writers, they both advocate for a changed definition of racism.   The old definition was that a race (or different ethnic groups) was inferior by genetics and therefore deserving of a lesser position in society. The new CRT definition is that racism is the systems and institutions created by whites to oppress Blacks and other minorities. Thus one may be a white with benevolent feelings for blacks and strongly believe that they are created in the image of God and deserving of equal respect.  Yet you are guilty, and all whites are guilty because they inherited the systems that oppress and continue to participate in those systems.  Just what those systems are today is generally vague in CRT.  Whites are guilty of racism in a more indirect way.  All whites participate in white privilege due to this history and must face their participation in oppression.  This radical redefinition of racism is crucial and a source also for much confusion in the larger public. Though Asians and Hispanics are referenced, and the latter was also seen as oppressed, the focus of D’Angelo is overwhelmingly Blacks.  Some Hispanics are actually quite white (Argentinians, Chileans, etc. and some from Brazil and other countries.  It is never clear if whites really set systems where only whites dominate, how Asians, especially Indians, and then Nigerian Black immigrants prosper so greatly. 

First of all, I identity with the pain and utter frustration of the leaders from Black American backgrounds that almost 60 years after the great civil rights legislation of the 1960s, there is still such enormous disparity.  That Yeshua followers should search out why and seek solutions through prayer, biblical applications, and social science research is very important. 

D’Angelo deeply identifies with this problem.  However, she as her hero Kendi use neo- Marxist language where human existence is understood as the battle between oppressors and the oppressed.  The oppressed are to be liberated and equity sought.  Equity is not equality-justice as understood either in the Bible or in the American Constitutional order.  Equality in America was defined as equality before the law in the courts, equal liberty to pursue religious, economic, and other goals.  Equity is about parity in outcomes; in the number of billionaires, corporate leaders, percentages in professions, and income parity to whites more for those who are not socialists or communists. Those who define equity as equalizing income move toward socialism or communism (Patrice Cullors, founder of  Black Lives Matter).  D’Angelo never fosters communism as the answer, at least in this book.  She also does not teach that whites are inherently evil due to genetics as some do.  This latter view is the source of the uproar by parents in schools teaching a children’s version of CRT to their children 

D’Angelo presents two answers to the problem of oppression and white supremacy or privilege.  One is sensitivity training in fostering black/white relationships.  She speaks about how blacks respond to whites in ways whites do not understand. I have traveled to Asia, including Japan, Korea, China, Singapore.  I have traveled to Africa, Europe, Russia, and South America. It is good to seek a basic understanding of the cultures and the cues so we act in the best way in developing relationships.  Some of this would be helpful in developing black/white relationships.  How blacks see behaviors from whites and visa versa (She does not do the visa versa. Trust building is on the shoulders of the whites).  However, the microaggressions (many unintended) and the catalog of wrong white behavior are almost Talmudic.  Very few will be able to accomplish the behavior advised.  Walking in love and intentions of love are not sufficient.  One must master the list of rules.  The Biblical adage that love covers a multitude of sins is quite different than this list.  Those who buy into D’Angelo will commit themselves to walk on eggs.  However, one rule, to listen and try to understand the black perspective is important.  However, unlike the relativist idea of “my truth,” the black perspective is not always to be accepted as true.  He or she due to their history may see what is not really there.  D’Angelo is a relativist in the matter of truth.  Understanding is always a two-way street.  One analogy is very helpful.  Some years ago, Jews in California were polled and asked if a Jew could be elected to high office in California.  The majority said no, yet the two U. S. Senators in California were Jews.  We Jews see anti-Semitism where it is not there.  Blacks have experienced prejudice but are also now being propagandized to believe in white racism as a general characteristic.  Will such training really solve the problem of disparate achievement and prosperity for blacks?  It is doubtful.  Indeed will this predispose blacks to see racism where it is not?  Yet the perspective of the black is to be uncritically received. 

The second solution is programs and policies that will lead to parity.  The answer strangely is not in requiring excellence in education since much education is said to be based on white standards and not objective.  For some CRT theorists, objective standards are a matter of white supremacy.  Generally, affirmative action, hiring quotas, and reform of institutions so that blacks will attain is the solution.  Quotas for blacks are very problematic.  Programs for the poor not based on race would rightly disproportionately be given to blacks, and that is well and good.  But how will we do quotas?  Will it include those who are half white and black or one quarter, or with colorism, does one need to fulfill a criterion of darkness?  The solutions tend to be big government ones.  However, it can be argued that in some ways the big government solutions made things worse, and more will make things worse again. The government will promise what it cannot offer leading to more frustration. 

Some claims of institutional racism remain vague with little proof of just how this happens.  The system is racist but there is little substance presented.  It must be racist due to the disparities.  But this is circular reasoning and circular reasoning is ubiquitous with CRT people.  One answer is to change the standards for English and Math so outcomes will be the same for different races.  That will equalize outcomes but will also produce weakness in the pool of professionals needed. 

We could study claims that white teachers favor white students.  With the National Educational Association now embracing and pushing CRT in schools, it is hard to credit.  However, the claim is still made that white students are favored and treated differently.  This would not be due to the institution of public education but the prejudice of teachers.  Is that really happening so much today?  There is anecdotal evidence, but I have not seen the study to prove this when it is not based on outcomes. 

Another example is that blacks are disfavored in hiring.  I agree that overqualified people should not be favored.  However, when both a white and a black are fully sufficiently qualified, then I would think choosing the black is justified.  However, it is hard to pin down since employers pick people who they intuitively feel comfortable with.  That might favor whites.  Or it might not.   Massive studies on corporations and other businesses keeping records of black, white, and other applicants and the percent of choice when all look sufficiently qualified would be good, but how bad a problem is unclear. This does not affect Asians, Nigerians, and others. 

Then there is the issue of housing. Subsidizing ownership for the working poor is one solution, but giving mortgages to people who cannot pay them is a disaster.  Remember the mortgage meltdown in 2007.  Again, we do not know that red-lining (seeing that blacks do not purchase homes in white areas) a major problem today.  The cost of housing is a real issue.  Even now powerful firms are buying up houses to rent them and make purchases more and more out of reach. (See Blackrock on this issue) This does affect blacks.  But is this white supremacy or simple greed that is hurting most Americans of modest means who can not buy a house. 

Another is in police treatment of blacks and whites and the penalties for blacks and whites for equal crimes.  Is there disparate sentencing?  It seems that there is.  Strangely it was Donald Trump who gave orders to mitigate this problem. 

Some of the main thrusts of CRT are really theological.  All whites bear white guilt.  How do you corporately repent for being white since white is not really a corporate category for any type of biblical repentance? Is the Jew who escaped the Holocaust and is white equally guilty?  Are the Hungarians, Finns, Norwegians, Czechs, Poles, etc. equally guilty?   The descendant of slaveholders and the recent immigrant share guilt. Yes, it is said because when they come to the United States their color gives them privilege.  Is it all in skin color or is it in qualifications for the needed position at least in part?  All must repent for this sin of participating in a system that favors whites.  This is a secular version of repentance, but it goes on forever, and there is no forgiveness or release from sin. The only answer is to be forever repenting and committed to working against white privilege.  The danger of this could be in fostering greater division and backlash.  It is difficult enough for Yeshua/disciples to accept legitimate shame but for non-disciples to walk in continual humility and repentance toward the black races seems very unlikely.  Yes, under the pressure of schools and corporations and now even the military people will play the game but will not really mean it in heart.  Could all this be counter-productive?  D’Angelo is requiring a heart change in people without the Gospel.  Can this work?  I think not. Changing hearts is paramount. 

I would like to see CRT people be more clear on the ultimate vision.  How utopian are they?  CRT people are not all the same. Some are communists. Some are not.  Some just want levels of parity that no multi-ethnic society has ever attained.  Some CRT people emphasize intersectionality with the LGBTQ oppressed, women, and even the Palestinians!   Sometimes I would like each one to define justice, their ultimate vision for man, and the basis of the epistemology. (Theory of how we gain true knowledge)  Most are relativists which means they are just asserting their value preferences and narratives.  There is no real truth to any of it since there is no truth with a capital T  Most do see life through the lens of oppressor and oppressed with very strong Marxist class struggle terms that now are applied more to race than workers!

Part II

The issue of World Views: D’Angelo and Kendi 

My biggest concern is that some Christians and Messianic Jews are embracing CRT.  I believe that this is syncretism and that two incompatible world views are being mixed.  One world view comes from Atheists.  When I first read into CRT I noted this worldview disparity on the nature of sin, redemption, justice, and the hope of a glorious age to come, and more. This is really a secular cultic offshoot from Christianity.  As atheist historian Tom Holland says, the quest for equality based on the equal worth of human beings only is pursued in nations influenced by Christianity. This then is a heresy from Christianity.  Study world history.  Each tribe often favors its own and seeks to dominate and even eliminate others.  Study China, India, and Japan, and even Africa!  Yes, this is a universal problem.  Then there are the reasons they gave as to why such evil is justified. Only the United States declared due to its biblical roots that “All men were created equal.”

Some are using and fostering inter-racial hatred as part of the goal to see communism established.  This was part of the vision of Herbert Marcuse, that the elite educators would partner with the marginalized to pull off the communist revolution. 

However, we now, even more, must point out the worldview disparity.  I found Voddie Baucham’s book, Faultlines, confirming and enormously helpful on this.  I strongly recommend that all Yeshua followers who are concerned about these issues read his book. 

First is the definition of justice. In the Bible, it is the pursuit of an order of righteousness.  It is an order where every person can fulfill their God intended good destiny according to the gifts and callings they have received from God.  Adequate provision is part of this and God’s ideal will for all.  However, differences in wealth, responsibility, and vocations are assumed as part of the variety in a good society.   Due to the worth of human beings, the issue of evil people oppressing the poor, the widow, the orphan, etc. is a central theme and is ubiquitous in the Bible.  God will judge the oppressors and deliver the poor.   The focus on the poor and oppressed was to be the central thrust of the offer of the Gospel, “Good news to the poor, “ Luke 4.  The Bible also calls out those with power and money who do not use it for the good of the marginalized.  I cannot emphasize how central this theme is in the Bible, but alas not in the mainstream of the Evangelical churches.  There are many notable exceptions. 

For CRT, the original fall was slavery in the colonies of white nations.  The way of redemption is a works righteousness of forever repenting, humbling, shaming, and good works to fight institutional racism.  There is no forgiveness, but there may be limited levels of reconciliation.  The CRT sessions of repentance are like the Kafka novel The Trial.  One is on trial for a sin that cannot be clearly presented. One is then found guilty.  Some CRT sessions (not D’Angelos in her book) seem like Communist reeducation. There is an emphasis on listening to the stories of the oppressed, but this limited love replaces the love of different ethnicities in Messiah where we come to a passionate love for one another, a union of heart. The New Testament by contrast counsels love which can be summarized as “passionate identification with the other that seeks their good guided by law.  Their good is their destiny fulfillment in God.  That destiny is always within the parameters of God’s Law.  To support anyone in their goals contrary to God’s law is not love in a biblical sense.  Then what is salvation?  The chosen are those who are woke and salvation is in being counted among the anti-racists which among whites is a state of always repenting, always humbling, always being the one blamed.  In the Bible, all have sinned and are lost. Only by repentance and transformation in Messiah can people come to true love for one another crossing racial and ethnic boundaries.  Blacks need such transformation as much as whites. The unity of Jew and Gentile is a case in point. This huge separation has been overcome for those in Messiah.  There is “neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free.” (Gal. 3:20).  We now have unity in the Messiah and are able to truly love one another and put one another first.  This love must precede the work of societal progress from Christian involvement.  The basis of progress is to create communities of love where ethnic divisions are overcome in Messiah.  Those communities model what is to then influence society. 

Then what is the ultimate goal?  For Yeshua/disciples it is the Age to Come, the Millennial Age, and or the New Heavens and New Earth. Because of this, though we work for a more just order in our nations, we know that the most important issue is being in Messiah and having everlasting life.  This is not an “opiate of the people” hope. Rather we are to rescue the perishing and disciple them in ways that will lead to their success in this life as defined by Scripture.  The greatest issue of being delivered is not a new white paternalism now bringing rescue to black by white shame and repentance, but the power of the Spirit in the black person by which he or she can do all things through Messiah and partnership with white, Hispanic, and Asian believers, etc.  In this, Christians who are embracing CRT are giving themselves to another Gospel and expecting the transformation of society outside of the power of Christ.  This false Gospel will not succeed.  CRT does provide some insight into the problems, sometimes, but not always, but does not provide the solution. 

When Christians and Messianic Jews give themselves over to CRT and work for it, they generally lose the power of the Spirit to really see people change and come to victory.  They put their hope in a false Gospel and lose hold of the head.   We all must ask the question of how much positive transformation is available outside of Christ.  Progress in the western world, where there has been progress, has been rooted in the Bible and influenced by the Bible. 

Then we must note the anti-Biblical thrust of repentance for being white.  Whiteness is not a category for individual or corporate repentance since whiteness does not represent a corporate group.  An individual can repent of their individual sins. People of an ethnic group can repent in intercession for their corporate family, tribe, or nation where they have sinned.  This becomes part of the bank of intercession toward their nation officially repenting.  We can see the example of Germany repenting to the Jewish people.  Then there was restitution to the Jewish people.  However, can whites make such restitution and even those of ethnic backgrounds with no history of racism?  The United States can corporately repent of its sins, especially to Native Americans, but in reparations should Hispanics pay for it (and their taxes will) or Asians or more recent black arrivals from Africa?  The problems and inconsistencies are great.  The Bible presents corporate as well as individual repentance, but being white is not an ethnic category that is subject to repentance. Repenting for being white and for being privileged in the United States is not biblical.  God as the Lord of history gives gifts and callings to believers and if one has advantages, he or she embraces them as undeserved gifts while giving their lives to serve the needy (a biblical mandate for all).  The Church and churches can repent for their lack of engagement in lifting the poor.  Indeed, human beings under sin take advantage of and use and abuse others.  As such, the churches have a prophetic responsibility to call this out.  The fact is that those who abuse power and dominate are doing so for finances not to maintain white structures to subjugate blacks.  It is, in my view, not a race thing but a money power thing irrespective of race.  CRT struggles to show how whites seek to maintain structures to oppress blacks.  Rather, if the immoral rich would gain more riches by hiring more blacks, and if there was more money in parity for blacks, they would be glad to have more blacks.  It is all about money and power, and I do not believe today that money and power consider race as a basic way to maintain money and power.  Rather the sin of the immoral rich is to abuse and use all for their gain, black, white, Asian, and Hispanic.  Note, I say immoral rich, for there are a number of moral rich people who invest their lives in lifting the needy.  The problem of CRT is shallow repentance that without the Gospel does not go to the root of sin and CRT can not root it out!

As Baucham notes, CRT is filled with incoherence, but then coherence, logic, and contradiction are not greatly valued.  They are considered white.  The circular reasoning is amazing.  Again as Kafka, if you do not admit you are complicit in racism it proves you are. If you admit it, there you are.  Racism explains everything and is unfalsifiable as an explanation.  It is argued that American whites are prosperous due to racism, whites are more successful due to racism, and America’s wars were due to racism.  

Baucham gives his summary of reasons for racial disparity.  He does not believe the primary problems are the ones identified by CRT folks.  In this, he accuses the CRT folks of bearing false witness, and if Christians buy into CRT they will likely be bearing false witness.  I will note his list of false witness thrusts in CRT. We should note that Bauchma was raised poor in a single-parent Black home.  

Here are some important Biblical norms and evaluations from Baucham.  

  1. Humans seek to dominate and to favor their own kind.  Blacks would do the same if they had the power and the money.  The Sunnies in Iraq oppressed the Shiites for decades. When the Shiites prevailed, they oppressed the Sunnis.  All have sinned. Therefore, transformation by the Gospel and the prophetic role of the Church is crucial.  All are to repent, but of real sin. 
  2. Those speaking of systemic racism are on the left and identify with the left. Therefore, they ignore conservative blacks who have given incisive analysis. CRT solutions are leftist: more redistribution, bigger government and more central government power or control over our lives.   
  3. Baucham raises the question of the demise of the Black family as an enormous root of the disparity. He quotes a speech from Barak Obama from 2008 pointing this out and declaring the lack of fathers as a key reason for the disparities. 
  4. Baucham points to the issues of culture in the black community re; lack of discipline in schools and lack of real achievement in passing to the next grade level.  He again quotes from Obama’s speech for this.  The culture of violence, gangs, and drugs for young men is endemic.  Obama pointed to this as well. Yes, sentencing non-violent offenders to jail rather than community supervision and restoration is a major mistake that is contrary to the Bible, but it has to be admitted that most are in prison for violent crimes.  Baucham’s description of the decline in the poor black communities since the Great Society programs, the drug epidemic, especially with crack and fentanyl today is devastating.  It was less due to systemic discrimination and much more due to white paternalism.  Have we taught blacks that they can only succeed through whites?  Does the victim emphasis hurt them?
  5. The incentivizing of fatherless homes was a major institutional foundation of systemic racial disparities.  
  6. The public schools are another institutional systemic racism problem to use CRT terms.  Most black parents would prefer vouchers to use in successful schools of their choice. However, blacks are subject to public schools that fail them year after year though some are very well funded (as New York and Baltimore).  The solution can be seen in those private schools, especially Christian schools, in the ghetto that are succeeding at amazing levels.  I am connected to one in Richmond where 90% gain literacy and the majority go to college and succeed.  Yet the left and the teacher’s unions see their power.  How about speaking about teachers union privilege that oppresses the Black community.  Yet the solution of CRT is to through more good money after bad and to dumb down the math, language standards, and other aspects of objective attainment.  Testing is racist.  (Yes, tests need to be really objective and not culturally prejudice). Objectivity is a white value!  
  7. The issue of crime requires much more policing. Once there is a massive police presence to end drug dealing and violence, then the potential for progress is greater.  Blacks in these neighborhoods desire this but elite leftists want fewer police and to defund the police.  Part of this error is based on false witnesses.  Bauckham presents the false witness of the level of police brutality and the killing of blacks.  Yes, it exists. Yet he proves beyond a doubt that it is not disparate compared to whites and the crimes being committed.  Statistics are used in lying ways in CRT and this will greatly hurt marginal Black communities. 
  8. In general, there is no black responsibility emphasis except for those blacks that do not identify with Black Lives Matter and CRT.  They foster white supremacy and privilege and are Uncle Toms.  
  9. Thomas Sowell’s latest book is pointed to as a key to reading the statistics on disparities and when one looks closer, they do not say what is being claimed by CRT leaders.  

CRT and the Church and Baucham 

Baucham’s greatest concern is that the Church not embrace the false Gospel of CRT and loses its power and focus.  The way of overcoming ethnic and racial division is through the Gospel and building communities of faith.  There is enough presented in Baucham to show a serious problem of compromise in the Church.  But there are issues that Baucham does not address that speak to the CRT issues.  The primary issue for me is the kind of churches that have been created and the kind that should be created.  

Some years ago, Donald McGavern in Understanding Church Growth, argued for the Homogenous Unit Principle.  Churches grow best and evangelize best when they are made up of people of their own kind.  This has been shown to be true.  Way back in the sixties when he wrote this book, he called for Jewish congregations that would be more successful in Jewish evangelism.  Yet, the Church must demonstrate inter-ethnic/inter-racial love and unity.  While there will be a gravitation to styles and culture producing greater homogeneity, we must always work to overcome it.  If a church is largely white, Hispanic, Asian, or Black, close unity with other ethnic-based churches is important.  It is also important that there be churches that include multiple ethnic peoples while preserving respect for the cultures of these ethnic groups.  This has not been well done in America and for this, there should be corporate church repentance.  Baucham misses this important failure.  

Baucham shows the weakness of the black church, especially in sexual morality and abortion. For this, there must be much repentance. However, what of the repentance of the white churches.  Yes, sexual morality now is at an all-time low.  However, Yeshua is also just as concerned that the focus of Gospel efforts be to the poor and marginalized.  They are to be served, won to Yeshua, discipled, and built into the kind of communities that alone can disciple people. Mentoring, alternative schools, job training and so much more could have come from the Church and its business people.  There are stellar examples but way too few.  By not following the example of Yeshua in Luke 4, the Church has left the vacuum for CRT to fill.  We have giving our children to the secular education system, sacrificed them to Molech, and then not provided for the poor. I don’t mean a handout but a real hand up.  There is a great need for corporate church repentance.  I dream of the day when we have true Luke 4 churches and that the racial disparities in our culture are overcome by the Gospel. I would hope that a right engagement with CRT would challenge the Church to pursue the real answers that come from the Gospel and a coherent Christian worldview. 


Understanding Biblical Teaching from the Best Biblical Teachers

I recently got an earful of anti-Bible and anti-Christian vilification from an unbeliever. I realized that the Bible and Christianity were being understood by the narrative of the secular anti-Christian culture, that the Bible is misogynistic, pro-slavery, and sends people to Hell lightly. I realized what a violation of fairness that evaluation is. Rather, we are to understand any religion through the eyes of its strongest proponents. Only then can we fairly disagree.  We have to show that we understand their point of view to their satisfaction.  Such was my study of other religions at Wheaton College.  After that, I studied liberal Christianity at a liberal seminary from strong proponents.

Actually, the Bible and Christianity should be evaluated in a very opposite way from the critics.  Christianity was a key to ending slavery among Christians in the second century.  Christians could not see enslaving brothers in the Lord and others created in the image of God.  Slavery at that time was not race-based slavery, but a matter of indenture due to economic situations. 

The Bible lifted the position of women far beyond the Greeks and the Middle Eastern and Roman cultures and really more than all the major cultures of the world.   Some point to the wife’s submission to the husband and are very negative to this.  The Kings of Israel had multiple wives, isn’t that misogynistic?  So how did Christianity establish monogamy in the Western World?  All the Kings of western nations were required to be monogamous.  What a contrast!  What happened.  The west came to enforce the teaching of Jesus that God’s ideal was one man and one woman for a lifetime.  This greatly transcended the culture and elevated women to a level of respect previously not entertained.  In Plato, women were only part of the value of men.  But in the Bible women are created equal in God’s image, deserving care and love to the level that Jesus loved his Church. (Eph. 5). Nothing was ever heard before of such a level of respect for women.  Read the history of India, China, or Japan and note the contrast.  On the status of women compared to the Roman world, see Rodney Stark.  The contrast is amazing. 

The Bible has been the great lifter of humanity.  The idea of just courts and clear evidence is from the Bible; the basic equal value of all people comes from the Bible, you won’t find it in other cultures to this level.  But you would not know this from the social media attack. 

Only a few years back, Reuven Hammer, the Jewish Conservative Rabbi wrote The Torah Revolution on ten revolutionary matters of progress from the Torah, great advances in the world. But when we do not understand the culture of the times and don’t treat the Bible fairly, then there is arrogant disrespect. 

One example of cultural context is the trial by ordeal of the woman accused by her husband of adultery (Num. 5). She drinks the dust of the Temple mixed in water. If she does not get sick, she is innocent. This looks like a terrible thing for the poor woman. It is actually the opposite, a great gain for women. In that culture and today in parts of the Middle East, a woman has no equal justice in the courts. Two witnesses to adultery are not required. The husband could kill her from suspicion or false accusation. So, therefore, the women are given supernatural protection by God in the Temple and a way out of false accusation or unjust suspicion. She is protected by the test and God supernaturally acts for her. If innocent, her husband must receive her, not divorce her, and not again accuse her. All Western movements seeking greater equality only came about in nations influenced by Christianity. Can there be a fair discussion?

The emphasis on care for the poor and marginalized comes from the Bible. You will not find it in most other cultures.  The underclasses were despised. The emphasis on mercy was the key to establish hospitals.  Hospitals were a Christian invention.  

One critic said the Bible was pre-science and its ideas antiquated.  However, the Bible and biblical faith only arose leading to great advancement due to Biblical emphases.  As many have pointed out; Stark, Whitehead of Harvard (Science and the Modern World), and the historian Herbert Butterfield, the Bible taught that nature was the creation of a God of order and followed his laws.  Such laws could be discovered.  This was a key to science.  The Bible anticipated science and its accuracies show its amazing divine origins.  

The quest for human rights only arose in cultures influenced by the Bible.  Again and again, we see how advanced the Bible is.  

Most of what I write here is not new to cultural apologists.