“Words matter, especially when words are at the center of controversy and conflict. It is the responsibility of all people to look at words carefully, to understand what the words are, what they mean, and what they are doing”
Above is the opening lines of Dr. Mohler’s post on Public Discourse in the article Black Lives Matter: Affirm the Sentence, Not the Movement. In the article, Dr Mohler affirms the sentence Black Lives Matter because people are made in the image of God and he also recognizes there are “moral concerns about the lives and well-being of black Americans. It is not wrong in our context, therefore, to say “black lives matter” as a sentence. But it’s not that simple.”
Dr. Mohler goes on to explain how Black Lives Matter has emerged as more than a sentence and into a movement with a history, values, and ideologies. The concern which Dr. Mohler addresses concerning Black Lives Matter the organization and movement are valid and important to bring to the forefront and discuss. Dr. Mohler does an excellent job in the rest of his article examining the movements affirmations, policy demands, statements, and definitions. Dr. Mohler compares the Black Lives Matter Movement to the Civil Rights Movement and Christian Theology and how they differ and are at odds with each other.
I encourage you to read Dr. Mohler’s argument he draws out important information that we should be aware of and Dr. Mohler’s evaluation is superb and beneficial.
My problem is I disagree with his conclusion, in his conclusion Dr. Mohler states,
“Christians like me believe that God calls us to evaluate everything by his Word, by the gospel of Jesus Christ. While we affirm the sentence “black lives matter,” without hesitation and with full enthusiasm, we simply cannot use the sentence, because it will be heard, nearly universally, as a movement, not as a sentence. The sentence is no longer a sentence—it is a movement, a platform, an agenda of revolution at odds with the gospel, contrary to and destructive of God’s creational order.”
Defining and Explaining
Words matter and the explanation of the words we use are of vital importance. If people were to gather from various religions from across the globe in a room and explain the statement “For God so loved the world” we would get views of various kind, biblical views, heretical views and unbiblical views. The Christian would have the responsibility to explain faithfully what the Bible means, but of course, even within Christian circles we disagree on the meaning of this statement when we break it down. Now this statement does not describe a movement, my point is we do not throw away the statement because some describe it in heretical and unbiblical ways. As Christians, throughout the centuries of church history we have defined and explained the words we have used and what we mean by them, an overview of confessions and creeds would point that out.
While the words “for God so loved the world” are not the mantra of a movement and Dr. Mohler’s point is the movement and the sentence have become one in the same. What about the name and movement of the Southern Baptist Convention, history informs us, the issue of slavery was central to Baptists in the South separating from the North. The southern states were known for slavery, Jim Crow and Segregation. The term “the South” or “Southern” in the minds of many people are synonymous with slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow. Resolutions have been drawn up to change the name and the name has been changed, yet the name Southern Baptist Convention regardless of its founding and association with slavery, Jim Crow and segregation is still being used. While the SBC is dealing with the stain of the sin of partiality in its past, based on Dr. Mohler’s argument, we should do away with using the term “Southern” in the name of Southern Baptist Convention and Southern Seminary. Yet the name remains, and the people of the SBC explain the history, the resolutions and repentance associated with the organization’s history.
Why It Matters?
Our words matter and our African American brothers rejoice when pastors, friends, church members from various ethnic backgrounds, proclaim and affirm Black Lives Matter. When other fringe groups have come and hijacked terms and sentences, we do not allow them to. When a Mormon says I am a Christian, we are quick to respond why the Mormon faith does not align with Biblical Christianity, when prosperity Gospel preachers use the life, death and resurrection of Jesus to claim health and wealth, we are quick to define terms and differences between the prosperity gospel and Biblical Christianity. Yet when an organization who uses the sentence Black Lives Matter to define their organization, we are quick to drop the sentence because of what the organization stands for, instead of defining, explaining and defending what we as Christians mean when we say Black Lives Matter.
We can and should be better.
Redemption is a loaded term, too much for a blog post for sure. But if we look at the basic meaning of redeem it means, to gain or regain possession of something in exchange for payment. The Bible tells us that we have been redeemed by God, the payment or cost of that redemption was Jesus’ life and death. As a redeemed people we should be a people who redeem the society and culture we are a part of. As Christians, we can redeem the sentence Black Lives Matter, explain why we believe the statement is worth saying. My question is are we prepared to pay the price and do the work to redeem the sentence Black Lives Matter? Will we be willing to speak out when we see injustice? We will stand with our African American citizens and affirm Black Lives Matter? Are we willing to invite them to share spaces and allow them to speak from the heart without retribution? We will stand up for them when others try to defame their character? Redeeming the sentence will cost us, it will cost us jobs, friendships, allegiances and more. But the sentence is worth redeeming.
The reason we should say Black Lives Matter as Christians is because for far to long, the voice of the African American and other minority groups have been silenced, not only in society but in the church, in religious organizations, seminaries and denominations. Now we want to silence them again from using a sentence because another organization has embraced it, defined it, and proclaimed it louder than the Church of Jesus Christ.
May I ask who is at fault here?
We are, as the body of Christ are to blame because we have allowed a movement to champion a sentence, the church, from every ethnic heritage, should have championed long ago. We have allowed the rocks to cry out instead and that is a judgement on us, the church. Instead of clamping down on the statement we should proclaim, explain, and defend from the Scriptures what we mean when we say Black Lives Matter. We should champion biblical justice for our African American brothers and sisters, and other minority groups who have experienced injustice. We should with arms and hearts linked together, proclaim in unison with our African American brothers and sisters, Black Lives Matter.
Until Next Time
Soli Deo Gloria