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God in the Gallows

• Greg Boyd

Greg has recently returned from a three week trip in Europe, and today he shares stories of how the Kingdom message of a Jesus-looking God, radical love and non-violence is truly spreading all over the world. The joy of his travels, the opportunities to see the work of fellow Kingdom people, and the vast beauty of God’s Earth as seen on the Alps came to a crashing halt with his visit to Auschwitz. Sharing his experience at Auschwitz, Greg addresses the timeless question of “Where was God in all that suffering?” and teaches that God is always on the inside of pain and suffering, not as the author of it, but as the Redeemer of it. And he reminds us that, in the end, Christ, not evil, has the final word and he will be (and is) victorious.

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Greg had the opportunity to visit Switzerland, Austria, and Poland and during his time there, he met Kingdom people who are doing radical things for God. He was encouraged to see the Kingdom message of love and nonviolence and a Jesus-looking God to be spreading throughout Europe. He was reminded that he is not alone and that we are all part of a growing movement that is changing the world one person at a time. After having met several individuals and couples doing beautiful things for the Lord, the joy of Greg and his wife Shelley reached an all-time high when they stood on the Swiss Alps and saw the vastness of God’s beautiful earth all around them. That spiritual high came to an all-time demonic low as they visited the concentration camp Auschwitz.

As he visited the gas chamber and saw the scratch marks on the walls from men, women, and children trying to gasp for air from a tiny hole at the top, he had to reconcile his faith at the gates of a literal hell. He had to face the question that has been uttered by millions over dozens of years. The question “Where was God in Auschwitz?” When people ask this question, often they ask as though God is up in heaven, smiling and causing the Holocaust. And out of moral integrity, a lot of people say they can’t believe in that kind of God. And that’s why we look to Jesus because he is God fully revealed. When we read Isaiah 53:3-4, we read of a God who leaves his glory in order to enter into our suffering and to bear our pain as though it were his own.

Greg shares an excerpt from Night by Elie Wiesel, where Wiesel recalls a hanging of a 10 year old boy on the gallows in Auschwitz. But due to the light weight of the boy’s body, it took 10-15 minutes before the boy finally choked to death. As the Jews were forced to watch this boy’s slow death, people began to mutter under their breath, “Where is God? Where is God?” To which someone replied, “He’s up there on the gallows.” Greg goes on to explain that Jesus so identifies with our pain, with the Curse, with the horrid that he experiences it from the inside and that we are not alone.

This is what the Cross is all about – about God entering into the very worst humanity has to offer and experiencing it from the inside. All because of his love for his people. God does not cause evil; he is not above evil. He is right there, entering into solidarity with his people at the gates of hell. He’s there to be a comfort and to bring healing and redemption. Greg encourages us to lean on Christ because he’s there, and he understands exactly what we’re going through.

In the end, pain and evil and suffering do not have the final word. God’s love and his victory is the last word. What he began he will complete, and he will restore. The Cross was victorious, and God will someday wipe away every tear from every eye and put an end to all sorrow. And just as Jesus empathizes with us, we too are to empathize with others, to enter into their suffering, and to let them know they are not alone. As followers of Jesus, we always have hope and joy because we know what is coming – a New Earth where the Kingdom of God will reign in its fullness.

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Topics: Pain & Suffering, Presence of God, Problem of Evil


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Focus Scripture:

  • Isaiah 53:3-4

    3 He was despised and rejected by others;

    a man of suffering[a] and acquainted with infirmity;

    and as one from whom others hide their faces[b]

    he was despised, and we held him of no account.

    4 Surely he has borne our infirmities

    and carried our diseases;

    yet we accounted him stricken,

    struck down by God, and afflicted.

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29 thoughts on “God in the Gallows

    Jeremy says: Tuesday August 26, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Racism….Sucks.

    Reply
    Chase says: Tuesday August 26, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Thanks Pastor Greg. Grateful that you spoke up about Ferguson. Grateful that you tied it so closely to the Good News of our God in the Gallows.

    A bow atop this whole package, I’d say, is James Cone’s “The Cross and the Lynching Tree”

    Reply
    Ryan says: Tuesday August 26, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Great sermon- awesome to see how the message of Christ is spreading throughout the world. And the back half of the sermon is a topic that I’ve seen Youtubes of Greg speaking on before- and actually was a turning point for me in accepting a personal, loving God, rather than the sort of “I made this thing, now we’ll just see how it plays out” kind of God. So this was a wonderful reminder today!

    Further I very much appreciate the steps that Greg takes to make sure that when he talks about the role Woodland Hills is taking in this movement, he is not talking about himself, but rather his community in Christ. Being wholly honest, when I first listened to this, one thing that stuck out to me was Greg talking about the dissertation on “my(Greg’s) theology,” and that concerned me a bit, because it occurred to me that such a statement could be interpreted, by people unfamiliar with his preaching, as though Greg was promoting himself in the name of Christ rather than promoting Christ. However, when I went back to listen again and get a better understanding, I noticed how often he refers ‘us’ and ‘this theology,’ when others might take pride in what they might see as their own accomplishments and turn ‘us’ and ‘this’ into ‘I’ and ‘my’. It’s very refreshing to hear this, and I’m glad I listened a second time. Thanks for being such a great example Greg!

    Reply
    David says: Tuesday August 26, 2014 at 11:55 am

    I have wrestled with this for years, my wife has a lot of health issues that require great portion of my time as her caregiver. I consider it a privilege as her husband to be able to serve her. But have had conversations with God about how much I love her and it hurts to see her hurt. The heart searching whys she isn’t healed fully, etc. But this insight brings such a deeper revelation that I’m not just taking care of my wife, but of my Lord as well. He is right there, He feels my pain and frustration and I can know His love on a level I’d not known before. Thank-you for a teaching that goes beyond ‘Head Knowledge’ to ‘Heart and Life Knowledge.’

    Reply
    Kevin says: Tuesday August 26, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I do get that God is on the inside of our suffering and we who are blessed to be in covenant with Him through Christ know that He is there and we know we can trust and lean on Him when we personally suffer; that doesn’t stop the suffering though. And what of the millions who suffer apart from trusting and leaning on God?

    What i don’t get is that once, when man became too overtly evil, God destroyed everything with a flood and started over. How evil does humanity have to be before God intervenes again? It’s been 2000 years of senseless suffering over here! Wasn’t the holocaust enough?

    Reply
    Kevin says: Tuesday August 26, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    @ Jeremy; check out Morgan Freeman’s take on racism; it’s mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3cGfrExozQ&safe=active

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Tuesday August 26, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    The Roman playwright Plautus didn’t go far enough when he wrote –

    “Homo homini lupus est” – Man is wolf to his fellow man.

    Sardonically, the systematic extermination of Indigenous and First Nations People from the Americas by the Colonialists, was supposedly one of Hermann Göring’s defenses at the Nuremberg Trials. The sickening depth and amoral influence of Satanic evil that various Holocausts have represented world wide, found it’s crescendo at Auschwitz and more recently in the Rwandan Genocide, etc… It’s wonder God bothers with humanity at all.

    But so great is His love for us, even in our mutual self-destruction and bigoted viciousness, He is STILL willing and able to forgive, step in and absorb and destroy all of our horrors! He loves us that much! Even more so, He’s preparing an unimaginable Glorious Place for us in Eternity that begins right in the here and now.

    Only Jesus has the power to breakthrough the cycle of moral destruction in our hearts and in our culture. Awesome message – Praise God!!!

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Wednesday August 27, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Kevin,

    I essentially like Freeman’s attitude and response to Wallace’s persnickety questioning – over the years those 60 Minutes guys have really known how to push some interviewee’s buttons. But, the thing is though, as we all well know, a lot of “Americans” don’t agree with Freeman’s position and want their cultural and genetic heritage acknowledged, respected and celebrated – which is absolutely equally valid!

    So, if one is in the “out group”, regardless of whatever their appearance and race may in fact be, they might come across as being disrespectful and condescending if they appear to be too “colorblind”. We shouldn’t stress about this but I can see how false perceptions and misalignment can lead to tensions of “How I think my Brother wants ME to Love him” and in comparison to, “How “I” think I should be Loving my Brother”.

    Thank God though The Love of The Cross cuts through the mire of all attitude and the history of oppression!

    Reply
    Peter says: Thursday August 28, 2014 at 7:09 am

    There are several themes that come from Greg’s Sunday message. However, I have chosen to reflect on Greg’s recent ‘mission’ to Europe and its relevance to Matt 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising (immersing) them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” While in one sense this may not have been the main focus of Greg’s trip, it nonetheless underlies any work that he has done and, also associates with my comments of my last post concerning God dealing with nations.

    When we become a believer, often our outlook tends to be individualistic, which is really our ‘old self’ starting point and, depending where and how our spiritual development takes place, should lead to becoming communal viz ‘loving your neighbour as yourself’ as we are ontologically designed for that form of living.

    A relevant quote sets up our situation and its association in the Church,

    “ The Church is the human community which has its origins in the Divine Community, which is the Trinity. The aim and purpose of God for the Church is explained in terms of God’s plan for Creation and the goal He has set for it. The community began in the Garden of Eden. But the serpent set about to subvert true human community and replace it with another community. Even though the true community was human, it was a threat to the high pretensions of Satan. This new community would be the very image of the Triune Community. All Satan’s aims at setting himself up ‘above the throne of God’ would be twarted.”

    For man to be truly himself he must live in the family (community) of God as he was made in God’s image and God is community….not simply three Persons in one Godhead but that He is love ie love does not exist outside relationships and true relationships cannot exist outside love.

    So where man rejects God, he requires a substitute god to which he can relate which, as Paul points out in Rom 1 and 2 is idolatry with unnatural relationships following. It is therefore interesting to parallel idolatry with true Covenant living where idolatry demands a group of worshippers follow their god, which demands devotees to work in a system of custom and culture to advance their god in its ‘purposes’ and thus a cultus which demands obedience to the deity or lord. Following these ‘laws’ is primary under the threat of the idol reacting negatively…..as obedience usually promises rewards. Similarities of this behaviour throughout history including the world wars and even today are not hard to find where nations rise up against nations to exert the superiority of their ‘god’ or beliefs.

    But as captured in 1Pet. 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

    As distinct from warring nations and in the spirit that Greg preaches,

    “There ought to be no triumphalism in our notions of the Church being strong. The Church is only ‘strong in the Lord (Eph 6:10), ‘strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1). Triumphalism is a form of spiritual jingoism carrying a hearty contempt for the less eager and volatile brethren. And this pride is quite dangerous, as the enemy will use it to the destruction of these over-exuberant saints……Rightly speaking, the Church is as strong as Christ – who is meek and gentle, lowly and humble. Christ’s present life is in fact the life of the Church as that community witnesses to God.”

    Reply
    M85 says: Friday August 29, 2014 at 7:48 am

    The query: “At Auschwitz, tell me, where was God?”

    And the answer: “Where was man?”

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Friday August 29, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Big M,

    “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.”

    Viktor Frankl

    Reply
    Earline McCauley says: Friday August 29, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    After giving this some thought this week I want to comment on the Ferguson, MO events. Over the weekend while protests and media were primarily focusing on the tragic event in Missouri, 7 people were killed in Chicago, most of them were African Americans and 42 others were shot. Yet little attention was given to these people. There were no protests and no one speaking out on their behalf. Over the July 4th weekend this year 16 people were killed and 82 shot in Chicago. There was more focus on statistics than the lives of these people. Because I grew up in Chicago and still have family there I am speaking out about this through firsthand experience. Within our family, a cousin was happy that she had managed to raise her son in Chicago and was able to send him off to college in Florida. While walking across campus with a friend, they were approached by two Black males who demanded his sweatshirt. His friend said he quickly gave it over but the two other Black males pulled a gun, shot and killed him. Our family was devastated. This tragedy barely made the evening news. My mother witnessed the shooting of a Black man killing another Black man from her apartment window. She called me hysterically saying she never in her life thought she would witness anything so horrible. It barely made the evening news. When my husband and I bought our first home in Chicago the neighborhood was racially mixed. Within two years Realtors were coming through the neighborhood telling our white neighbors that more Black people were moving in and that they should sell. Our white neighbors begin to put signs on their lawns which said, “HOME NOT FOR SALE” to ward off the Realtors. They did not want to sell. During that time our home was broken into twice. Once I was home alone with my children when two Black males tried to break in on us. At that point we were the ones who moved. A close friend of mine who lives on the South Side of Chicago, grandson was sitting on the front porch of his family’s home when two young Black men approached him and started an argument. He was not a member of a gang and was in school. His girlfriend was sitting with him and stated that during the argument the two guys pulled a gun, shot and killed him. I will never forget the eyes of my friend when she told me what had happened. I felt I needed to be a bit graphic here because it always seems that little or no attention is not brought to these ongoing events unless the crime is a white on Black crime. The numbers seem to be escalating in the Black community. Is this simply about poverty or something else? I have a different viewpoint. I wanted to bring attention to this because I believe that the lives of the ones I mentioned who were killed or maimed are as valuable as the ones who get all of the media attention. I can’t help but wonder if Michael Brown had been killed by another Black youth would the media attention and outrage be as public or would he be just another dead Black person?

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Saturday August 30, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Earline,

    I think your concerns and comments are super insightful and profoundly demonstrate the conundrums that racial and ethic tensions place us all in.

    I’ve mentioned him before but – “Richard Beck” over at the “Experimental Theology” has recently has had two intense blogs on the topic that might be well worth reading and sifting through.

    Cheers, Dave

    Experimental Theology
    experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/

    “The Passion of White America”
    Posted on 8.15.2014

    “The Only Way I Know How To Save the World”
    Posted on 8.17.2014

    Reply
    Cameron Parker says: Sunday August 31, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Dear Pastor Boyd,
    I have been an avid pod-rishioner for about four years and am a huge supporter of you and the ministry of WHC as a whole. God used the counseling team there to help save my marriage and bring my wife and I back from the brink of divorce and the devastation that would have caused in our lives and our family. That is why it saddens me to write this. I love the messages from WHC, both from you and your guest speakers. I don’t always agree with the theology or your perspective (usually but not always) but love the spirit in which you present it, and the fact that you don’t insist everyone agree with you in order to be considered a “true Christian.” I love the church’s emphasis on loving others as Christ has loved us and on leaving judgment to God and God alone. That is why I was very disappointed by your opening remarks regarding the Ferguson case in your most recent message. Through your statements you indicted Officer Wilson, passed judgment on him and in effect, sided with the media and “Rev” Al’s perspective on this specific case without any proof. You repeated quotes from Michael Brown’s friend, Johnson, about how the incident unfolded which have been proven false by the coroner’s report (Brown was not shot in the back while in the act of surrendering as Johnson claimed), other witnesses who have now come forward, and audio recordings of eye witness statements at the scene immediately following the shooting.

    The picture the new evidence paints of the events and of Michael Brown himself, is far different from the one the media and Michael Brown’s supporters have attempted to paint. I don’t know which version is correct because I was not there but the evidence thus far supports Officer Wilson’s version of the events. You typically do a great job of maintaining an unbiased opinion and showing impartiality. You didn’t do that in this case. You pronounced judgment on Wilson without knowing all the facts in the case.

    I would like to hear your thoughts on two other similar cases which have not been publicized a tenth as much as Brown’s case has been even though the cases are similar and the individual in question seems to have been killed unnecessarily.

    In Texas in 2011, James Whitehead an unarmed white male was shot and killed by an African-American police officer. The officer was dressed in plain clothes and witnesses allege he never identified himself as a police officer to Whitehead. Whitehead was attempting to return a defective auto part to a store and became upset because they would not give him a refund. The officer arrived on the scene, apparently dressed in his civilian clothing. It is not clear if he was on or off duty and just happened to walk in. In either case, Whitehead gave up trying to get a refund and went to his vehicle to leave. The officer told him not to leave. Whitehead made a racial remark and said he didn’t believe the man was an actual police officer and got in his truck to leave. The officer shot Whitehead while he was sitting in the driver’s seat of his truck and killed him. The officer in question was positioned next to the driver’s side door when he fired on the unarmed Whitehead.

    In another incident on August 11, 2014, Dillon Taylor was shot and killed while outside a 7-Eleven. Police were responding to a 911 call of a man waving a gun around outside the store. Taylor was stopped by an African-American police officer outside of the store. When he attempted to pull up his pants, the officer apparently thought he was going for a weapon and shot him. Dillon’s family state he did not have a gun and the police have yet to say whether he did or not. The police chief in the case said it was an unfortunate incident which ended with Taylor losing his life.

    Why haven’t we heard about these stories? What is so different about them and the Michael Brown case? It is ironic that the police officer who shot James Whitehead has a documented history of police brutality while Officer Wilson’s record is exemplary according to his police chief. The only reason these two stories weren’t publicized as much as the Brown case is because the race of the individuals involved was reversed. The narrative of an out of control African American officer gunning down a white suspect doesn’t fit with the current politically correct view that white Americans are always racists and black Americans are always victims.

    I am not saying that racism does not exist in society as a whole and within law enforcement specifically. It does. And I would agree that law enforcement as a whole have become far too quick to resort to the unnecessary use of force, both lethal and non-lethal. But it is unjust to automatically assume a police officer was using unnecessary force and/or acting out of racially biased motives without actual proof. Racism exists in equal proportions among all races not just white on black but black on white as well. African-Americans are just as likely to commit acts of violence against a white American as the reverse and are more apt to commit acts of violence against each other than to have whites commit acts of violence against them. Look at the police statistics. For you to chime in and voice your support or the PC narrative that says all whites are racists and all African-Americans are victims only serves to further racism in this country; not expose it or bring it to an end. For you to join others in rushing to condemn Officer Wilson in this case and charge him with the racially motivated use of unjust deadly force also only serves to widen the racial divide in this country and in the church. Jesus cares about justice, but he cares about justice for all people, not just one race. He is equally saddened by the death of Dillon Taylor and James Whitehead as he is by the death of Michael Brown.

    Reply
    kathy d says: Monday September 1, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    I love this message, and it made me weep. For a couple of reasons.

    First, I’ve seen photos of the hair gallery at Auschwitz; I saw photos of a gallery similar to that filled with clothing and shoes….the shoes really got to me, there were so many children’s shoes…… They haunt me.

    Secondly, and this is not to take away from the human cost of this message in any way shape or form – it is horrifically evil what has happened and still happens to people by our incredible propensity toward violence. As I listened to you Greg, not only could I picture the people and the children and the babies; not only can I picture my family there, and get on the inside of their pain and suffering and horror as they experienced it; but as I listened, I could take that one step further and see it also through the eyes of a pig or a cow or a chicken, who sit as I write and as you spoke in their own Treblinka – an eternal one we neither recognize nor fight to stop in any real way, for the most part, as the church. To even bring it up in conversation with, or compare it’s similar dynamics to, the Holocaust brings gasps from people and you can hear the thoughts – “O Lord how could she!”

    And I have to admit – even I, the animal lover of all animal lovers – to even write as I am here, on the church comment section, feel a twinge of “oh maybe I shouldn’t…what will they think….”. I love people Greg, I really do. Yet, we are the church! We are Christ’s hands and feet, His voice for the voiceless and not just voiceless people! Who in God’s good creation are more voiceless than children and animals!

    People have got to begin equating our evil propensity all the way into the life of every creature our Precious Lord Jesus died to redeem, and who sees their pain and is on the inside of it, too…… All of His creation suffering pains Him, we crucify Him all over again when we don’t see that what we do to animals is every much as worth standing up for as the church does and would for human suffering. They suffer just like we would if it were us or our children in their place!!

    We are the pinnacle of His creation. Christian animal welfarists aren’t asking for equality. They ask that animals be brought into our theology as part of the creation God died to restore and redeem and that this be taught in our churches. And the thing is, as I re-worked this message and added animals in places where they could have easily been added as a teaching moment, in my mind, I could envision the power of this message deflate. And this, my friend, is very sad indeed……a sad thing to say about us, the Pinnacle of His creation, who, in the garden were their guardians……….and who are still suppose to be.

    Animal life may not hold the same value as a human life. Yet, all life is valuable to our Lord. He chose to be depicted as the Lamb of God – an innocent, gentle, small little creature. Just as all animals are significant and precious to Him, they aught to be to us.

    I can only imagine what God sees in the CAFO’s, the dark dungeons of the abattoirs, in the long rows of sheds that house thousands of sows, thousands of chickens in their own stench….never experiencing the sunshine, nor the rain…..nor the grass under their feet, only metal wire that their fragile feet get caught in, breaking them….to go unnoticed ….to live in constant pain until the horror of a death beyond any other imaginable in a mechanized world of spinning metal, the sights and sounds and smells of horror and death of their fellow kind the last thing they experience before the ending of their sad, short (thank God short) little lives …….Our Lord sees and hears…..he doesn’t want us to turn away, but as you said in this wonderful sermon, He wants us to look into it and enter into it – look evil in the face! – for them same as for people.

    The Covenant is with animals, too. Can we begin to include them in our theology? Can we begin to include them as companions who need God’s love too in our ministries – in fact create ministries that serve them as we have ministries that serve other human needs and issues? Can we begin to think about their fate and how we “use” them? Can we teach each other that God’s love is indivisible, and to look all the way through the cross to see and include animals too? I pray we can….. I pray we will……

    Thanks again, this was a fabulous sermon.

    Reply
    Jill McHenry says: Tuesday September 2, 2014 at 6:45 am

    I left the church and want little to do with it because of the inhumanity towards God’s creation. It is the devil I would call ego that man put’s himself on a pinnacle above God’s creation. What a mistake to think that you are more important than that which God created. I would not hesitate and have received much flack for comparing animal treatment to that of slavery and the holocaust. I don’t care. People search for anything to feel important, if they didn’t there would be no hurting of anything. I commend you on your enlightened understanding. Jesus said he desires compassion not sacrifice.

    Reply
    Denley McIntosh says: Tuesday September 2, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Amen Pastor and Brother Greg. Finally a White minister who gets it and speaks out. Thank you sir for addressing this and encouraging everyone that we’re on this road together irrespective of race.

    ~Denley

    inhisloveandtruth.wordpress.com

    Reply
    Denley McIntosh says: Tuesday September 2, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Cameron & Earline,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and pain of the injustices that many Black people criminally commit on White people. It’s not easy to be open about this sensitive issue. As Christians, Black or White, we must call out what is wrong especially among members of our community. It is true that racism (or ethnic discrimination) exists among all races.

    Saying that, the fact is that minorities have very little power to act on racism in systematically, destructive and dehumanizing ways compare to Whites. Even though minorities especially Blacks do carry out heinous crimes, it is still unfortunately a drop in the ocean of hate compare to the trans-generational atrocities of Whites commit starting from the inception of the country till now. Every race or ethnicity has been impacted by White-on-Minority discrimination/racism in one way or the other – beginning with First Nation Indians (or Aboriginals), moving to Blacks and Hispanics and now Asians and Arabs.

    I agree that all evil should be condemned, and all life is truly precious before God. However, citing a list of Black crimes as if this is the norm or majority in Western/US history, as if Black people are the main predators/violators and White people are main prey/victims, is misleading and disingenuous. I know you mean well, but history does not bear your facts to be so. I have no comments on whether Officer Wilson of Ferguson was right or wrong for his actions toward Michael Brown. All I do know that US/Canadian history shows the justice/penal system to minorities especially Blacks is far from just. That is a sad fact.

    I can’t get into roots of Black-on-Black crime at this time. Yes it is a sad state of affair, and the numbers I agree bear that out. However, assume racism has no bearing on that situation is not properly telling story behind the data. Let us remember that racism does impact the way that we interpret data as well.

    I believe this conversation is helpful, because it shows us as Believers that we need to talk to each other more and not at each other. I pray that the Lord helps us to that end, so that we may confess our sins to one another and find healing.

    Blessings…

    ~ Denley
    Inhisloveandtruth.wordpress.com

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Wednesday September 3, 2014 at 5:28 am

    Denley,

    Awesome Post !!!! Amen!!!!!

    Acknowledging the social and historical “Chain of Causality” behind such events is part of the Healing and Reconciliation process. To be in denial of it, is to perpetuate the animosity.

    Reply
    Denley says: Thursday September 4, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Thanks Dave. Very true Brother!

    Reply
    Cameron Parker says: Thursday September 4, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Denley,

    I am for everyone, regardless of race, taking responsibility for their actions, choices and the consequences of those actions. I believe the Biblical text lines up with that perspective. I understand that in order to properly understand our current circumstances, a proper understanding of the history of race relations is necessary and helpful in many ways. But living in the past and using what has happened in the past as an excuse to justify current negative behavior and choices is counter-productive and has been proven to be harmful. I can sit here all day long and blame my current position in life or circumstances on the past actions of others but that does nothing to improve my situation or increase the likelihood that I will be able to escape my circumstances. That will only happen when I take responsibility for that which is in my control, my actions and choices in life. History plays a role and influences our current circumstances in many cases, big and small depending on the situation and pertinent history. But history does not doom people, especially in the US, to a particular place, status in life, or to certain behavior and choices. My dad grew up dirt poor and literally lived in a tar-paper shack with 6 other siblings. He left home at 14 to help ease the financial burden on my grandparents and make it possible for them to provide in a better way for his siblings. But he and his family lived well below the poverty level. He was able to climb out of that situation and status in life to make a decent life for himself. He was never overly wealthy but was able to provide the necessities for us. His life could have turned out much differently if he had looked around at his circumstances and settled on the “fact” that there was no way for him to rise from poverty. He could have used his pitiful surroundings and circumstances as an excuse to make negative choices and decisions. But he didn’t. I understand that in many ways, for many years the deck was stacked against minority populations in this country. But that is far from the case now. As long as the media and the likes of Al Sharpton remain focused on the theme that racism among whites is the main cause for the issues plaguing the black community the lives of those stuck in those situations will never improve. You can’t/won’t change what you are told is out of your control. The violence in the inner cities is not going to be fixed by blaming white America, whether in the present or the past. Yes, atrocities and complete injustice has occurred in the past, much of it perpetuated by white people, but how does this fix the present? It doesn’t. And it is wrong and unjust to hold white people alive today responsible for what happened in the past. The only way to fix the problems is for everyone, of every color, to be held accountable for their choices, decisions and the consequences of those decisions.

    With respect,
    Cameron

    Reply
    Cameron Parker says: Thursday September 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Dave,

    “Acknowledging the social and historical “Chain of “Causality” behind such events is part of the Healing and Reconciliation process. To be in denial of it, is to perpetuate the animosity.” I agree totally. But the flip side of that coin is this: If all we as a society, and more importantly, the Church, do is focus exclusively on the past and the role that racism among one group towards others has played, without coming back to the present and empowering people with the message that they control their current choices and decisions and the consequences that flow from them, we are dooming people to live perpetually in the negative state they are living in. In addition to not making the lives better of those stuck in the cycle, focusing only on the past and the role racism has played without making individuals accountable for their choices and actions today, and blaming one group of people for the actions and choices of others only serves to fuel animosity and widen the divide between the races. As Christians we are called to be peacemakers and those that pursue justice and truth. The only way to do that is to hold each person accountable for their actions and choices and the consequences that come from them. I believe much of the backlash from many in the white community over the recent well publicized shooting deaths of African-American young men is because of the obvious bias in the way the media portrays the parties involved and the narrative that says “only whites are capable of racism and most of the troubles within minority communities are the cause of white people.” I know that is a blanket statement but it is really hard not to hear that as the collective message whenever the issue of racism is discussed. Where is the cry from minority leaders and activists for accountability and responsibility among those in the minority communities? Any police officer, regardless of their color needs to be held to a high standard of conduct and made accountable for their decisions and the consequences of those decisions. But the other parties involved should be also be held responsible for what they did that contributed to the outcome, whether they were the direct cause of it or, in some cases, complete and total victims. If the message portrayed by the media and liberal pundits on this issue was consistently, “everyone should be held responsible for their own choices and decisions and the consequences of those decisions” it would go a lot farther in bringing about healing and restoration than continuing to focus on the blame game.

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    Cameron Parker says: Thursday September 4, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Denley,

    I also disagree with your statement that those in the black community can do little to counter racism. Having leaders in the black community speak out against the violence committed in the inner cities, calling for individuals to take responsibility would do a lot to improve the race relations in this country. Also, having those in the black community admit that racism among black individuals toward white individuals exists and is just as much of a problem as the reverse would also help. I could be wrong but I don’t recall hearing one leader from the black community call out the young people in the black community who were engaging in “knock-out” game and tell them point blank to stop even though those assaulted were often seriously hurt.

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    Denley McIntosh says: Monday September 8, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Cameron,

    Thanks for sharing your point but I think you misread my comments. There is nowhere in my post that negates personal responsibility. In fact, I go out of the way to say that all forms of evil must be condemned irrespective of race. If the opposite is inferred, that is not my intention, so let me dismiss that thought. All folks of every color and stripe will have to give an account to our Lord, which the Apostle Peter has laid out well in 1st Peter 4:5-6. So I hope we’re on the same page on that area.

    What I am challenging is your enumerating or list of Black offenses to show the crimes that the “Liberal” media has not shared or disclosed. I am challenging the notion because it gives the faulty impression or caricature that Blacks are disproportionally more violent than their White counterparts. My retort was and is you have to put offenses in the balance of US history. Otherwise, you will forget that it is only 50 years ago Black folks were being lynched in droves just for walking in the wrong neighborhood in the South. Many cases as such are not and will never be reported where the White perpetuators who are still alive live scot-free to earn a living and leave a family legacy. Many Blacks have been deprived of that opportunity to live reasonable lives and are still recovering generationally speaking.

    All I ask is for humility in understanding that both sides have “blood on their hands” so to speak. The offenses done by Black seem worse, because it is more concentrated in a short span of time with the added media/social-media attention. However, the balance and weight of atrocities fall more on the White Majority if we stretch out time in full view. That is what I wanted to reiterate.

    Speaking about Majorities, why do we not hear about the White “Majority” Leaders rising up against police violence? Why do we not hear White ministers or pastors talk to their congregation, who many are police officers, on understanding racism? (Notice I said understanding racism not just about racism. The former requires more self-reflection and analysis.) Where is the Rightwing media on that issue of police brutality and unnecessary force? There are many police officers who carry racist attitudes and act out of that dehumanizing centre of being and then go to church on Sunday with no thought of that gross sin. (If they even know it’s a sin!) Asking that question where White “Majority” Leaders are on these issues of police brutality and inadequate justice system seems silly and weird to say. The question is not a part of our cultural lexicon, because it’s not the White church’s problem. However, we ask that same question to Black leaders, pastors and churches all the time. Again, it gives the impression that something is wrong with “them” – those Black people. They need their leaders to put them in their place like some animal or beast. It’s that kind of narrative, which I’m against, and I hope our White brothers and sisters in Christ would appreciate.

    We have an orthodoxy of racial equality in many White churches but not an orthopraxy thereof, which is perpetuating the issue of racism. I agree Black pastors must do their part to stop violence, which they are. (Liberal and Conservative media may not always see and share.) However, it takes two to tangle. White pastors must do the same.

    I hope that clarifies my view Cameron. I do my best not to succumb to my unjust reality as a Christian, but I don’t deny it as well as a Black man. Like you, I push toward the Kingdom where all racist attitudes and thoughts are taken into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5b)

    Hope to talk again on a future sermon as fellow pod-rishioners.

    Peace & Blessings

    Reply
    Earline McCauley says: Tuesday September 9, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Denley, I understand your viewpoint and respect it. I grew up in poverty, in urban Chicago during the 50s and 60s. That was a time when even though we were poor most families were in tact. Things changed as time went on. Things changed, became bad as I mentioned in my previous comment. Until you have been in a particular situation(s) I cannot begin to tell you the fear that sets in. By the grace of God I have overcome many of these fears and have gained trust in people. My parents grew up in the segregated South, I heard the stories many times so I know about the plight of Black people. I lived it, saw it and heard it. But at some point there has to be some personal responsibility. There is enough harmful hate to go around on both sides. But why, why is Black on Black crime escalating? In this day and age there are numerous resources available to help people get past issues. Why destroy one’s own community when certain issues arise? I don’t think Black churches send out strong enough messages that can help. I been there, I have heard the messages and many times those non-substance messages are provocative. I am not looking for an apology or a soothing response. I simply want to bring the attention to the fact that every life is valuable and God has a purpose for each of us. It is so sad that God’s purposes are not fulfilled due to violence against each other.

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    Denley McIntosh says: Wednesday September 10, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Indeed Earline! Every life is precious. We will continue to pray for that Kingdom reality to permeate in all our speech actions.

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    Dave Pritchard says: Thursday September 11, 2014 at 3:58 am

    Cameron,

    My experience has been that whenever one discusses “Race” it is so easy to resort to hyperbole and cliche’ to drive home ones point or angle – if I have done this, in any way, I firmly apologize! But, I also often see people talking past one another, rather than engaging in “deep, empathetic and meaningful listening”. For clarifications’ sake, I want to say that when I wrote –

    “Acknowledging the social and historical “Chain of Causality” behind such events is part of the Healing and Reconciliation process. To be in denial of it, is to perpetuate the animosity.”

    I was not implying or suggesting that one solely or exclusively do this; That’s why I said (“is PART of …..the process”) And yes, we’ve all got to embrace our own accountability & responsibility in that dynamic if we want to move forward and grow socially in a positive direction – that goes without question!

    In reflection though, a few things come to mind in this discussion. Greg often mentions Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the spiritual struggles he went through in his far too brief a life. In the early and then again in the late 1930’s, he started attending the Abbysinian Baptist Church in Harlem, invited by his good friend Frank Fisher who later became friends with Martin Luther King. Based on his correspondence, it was clear that Bonhoeffer was totally blown away by the Kingdom love, generosity and scriptural commitment of the Believers there in that church he was invited to join and eventually teach in.

    Just think about the social climate at the time here in the States and in Europe and how racially tense and ethnically charged those times were by comparison today. Imagine, here comes this little round faced, dewy-eyed white German guy, who steps into that Awesome congregation and says – “Guten tag citizens, I vant to vership vith you” Ha! Imagine the initial stares! But…..so powerful was the impact of his experience there that he triumphantly returned to Germany to face an almost certain execution. He knew in his heart it was the right thing to do – he would not, could not, disconnect himself from pain and suffering that The War had cost the people whom he loved so much and in which he saw incredible spiritual potential in. Talk about putting oneself out there – Wow!

    When I consider the examples you’ve stacked up and put forward, I can sense a need for equality and justice you’re encouraging – I see the obligation our faith requires. However, what I’m not sensing is an empathetic undercurrent that your construct ovoids. Personal accountability and responsibility is hallmark to anyone’s Spiritual Development and or Formation, but it’s often our own life experiences and the “Koinonia” company that we keep that tends to crystalized and solidify our own presuppositions. Statistics can be used to reinforce any spiritual construct we like, or dismantle that of others.

    Over the last few years since I’ve come out of “Dispensationalist Christianity”, I have attempted to nourish myself on a diet of not only God’s Word but also writers and theologians who emphasize a “Kingdom Now” aesthetic. Greg, Bruxy,Tony Campolo and others have driven home the point, that our walk with Jesus has less to do with securing and enforcing “Justice” and “Truth” in our world and more to do with being a purveyor of “Peace”. What I’m coming to see is that “Cross like love” is absorptional, load-bearing, and unconditional, rather than administrative, patristic and political.

    As disingenuous as it might appear to others, I also try to step out of my ecclesiastical comfort zone by taking onboard the powerful scriptural elucidations of those outside my own very limited socio-economic and cultural experience. Pastor Terry Anderson from Lilly Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Houston Texas is an awesome force for God who emphasizes personal accountability coupled with a deep reverence for scripture – Seriously, you should listen to this guy, he will knock you out!

    So there are Spirit Filled Leaders out there calling for accountability, transparency and a quelling of racial animosities!!! Ferguson represents in some ways a “perfect storm” where years of socio-economic inequality incubated a power-keg of frustration for citizens who felt they had little or no voice outside their own politically isolated community. So when a horrific shooting like this occurs, irrespective of blame, we all are wounded in the event because it exposes our hidden polarities that we’ve often just veneered over with politically correct language – And yes, the media is responsible for whipping people up.

    But, my response and responsibility as Kingdom Builder for Christ should be to ask, “What specifically can I do to make life better for those people there”? To serve them, come under them. Thankfully, a “BUYcott” initiative was started immediately afterwards, actually by members of the “Tea Party” which was Super Positive! But as we all know, it’s a change of heart that is needed to really heal the wounds and build the bridge of trust between any historically conflicted area.

    Cheers, Dave

    http://hennessysview.com/2014/08/18/buycott-ferguson/

    Reply
    Denley McIntosh says: Thursday September 11, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Very well said Dave! Continue to walk in that love and truth brother.

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    Cameron Parker says: Saturday October 25, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Denley and Dave, thanks for the open, honest and respectful dialogue. I appreciate you guys sharing. I’m wondering what you think of the recent activity in the Michael Brown case that corroborate officer Wilsons version if events and wonder when he is going to get an apology from all those who public called into question the mans character and motives.

    Reply

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