Charlottesville


Bigotry is the seedbed of genocide.

In the past year I have been both demeaned by a white, female, liberal professor for not saying enough (in her estimation [1]) against racism and disparaged by a white, male, nationalist for not defending my “blood kin,” my nationality, my skin color, my “whiteness.”

The most recent incident occurred when I posted this 12 August 17 statement on Facebook:

“I stand with my black brothers and sisters against racial hatred #Charlottesville”

One man took issue with my statement, posting over one hundred replies. Here is one, direct, unedited comment about my “stance”:

“Sorry, but many white believers are growing weary of white weakling professors of faith who loathe the very skin God gave them, all the while “standing” with the perceived downtrodden. Weak, vacillating Professors.”

I doubt any of my students past or present, or anyone who knows me personally, would agree with the descriptors “weak” or “vacillating.” My public posts and staunch commitment to any “stand” I have taken should explode any connection to weakness. [2]

Making a simple statement that I stand with my black friends was vilified because I was not maintaining the “purity” of the “white” “race.” [3]

Further, I was called “an alienist.”

“Mark exhibits classic Alienism. . . . “a prejudice in favor of the alien, the marginal, the dispossessed” . . . In Christianity, . . . we have a greater responsibility to our own family, race, town, state, region, and country, than we do to “the other”. Christians should favor the native and the normal over the alien and the novel. . . . Shame on those who despise their own flesh, who God Made them.”

Far from ashamed as to who I am [4] I am not ashamed to speak out on behalf of others. As an “alienist,” then, I stand with Yahweh who chose to give the same love He gave to His people (Deut 7.8) to the “alien.” The identical Hebrew word is then used to command His people’s love for the “alien.”

              “He loves the sojourner . . . love the sojourner” (ESV, Deut 10.18-19)

 

“The sojourner” is the non-resident, the alien, the outsider, one from other nationalities or ethnicities.

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself(ESV, Lev 19.33-34)

My responsibility is to love (support, uplift, esteem, give to) everyone no matter their religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, creed, or self-identity.

There are no boundaries given.

There are no “what if ___” given.

There are no “what about ___” given.

There are no “but they did ___” given.

There are no rationalizations given.

“Love the sojourner.” Period.

Some would say – as did my interlocutor this weekend –  that I should defend my ethnicity. No one is disparaging their origins here! But that is NOT the issue. The issue at hand is “How will I respond to the history of oppression against my fellow countrymen and women?”

As a white man, my responsibility is to reach out to my black neighbors. I bear the responsibility to initiate, making intentional my communication and action. Ethnic superiority, purity, and division is NOT the gospel.

So to my liberal collegiate counterpart and my white nationalist Facebook “friend” I say the same thing: only the love of Jesus breaks down all the barriers.

My “whiteness” has nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus.

There is MUCH more to say against quotations ripped from context, misapplied arguments, non-sequiturs, hate-filled videos, and memes which conflate ideas into ideology. Many have thanked me online and in private for allowing false belief to be seen for what it is. Readers can see much more of my stand in the footnotes below. Dr. Mark Eckel is President of The Comenius Institute (site) (video).

 

 

[1] Readers can find many writings from me about ethnicity [use the search line]. Among them I wrote a three-part series with my brother, Pastor Brian Green on “Oneness” (one, two, three) and my personal responsibility as a professor is explained in the essay “Race” (here). Currently I am working on a journal article with my friend Charlie Mitchell on the theological foundations of the 20th century civil rights movement. Find my essay about “Charlie” here.

[2] After I read comments about my supposed “weakness” I continued to remember Paul’s comments, “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1.27).

[3] “Race” denotes the “human race.” It is better to use the word ethnicity when referencing a person’s origins.

[4] See my faith statement here and biography here.

Pressure


None of us thinks alone.

under pressure

We all face social pressure from our social groups.

My friendships are broad.

Some swear by CNN, others by Fox.

There are those who ally themselves with Rush, others with NPR.

One group call themselves “progressive” another, “conservative.”

Certain groups cheered this past election, others cried.

Select folks begin discussions with “social justice,” others start with “justice.”

 

rodin's thinkerWe like to think our perspectives are our own. We think somehow we are independent thinkers. We pride ourselves in believing that our perception is right because we have carefully considered all sides. We are ever touting the righteousness of our cause. We believe what we believe.

What we do not often acknowledge, however, is that our viewpoint is shaped by social pressure.

 

Incarnation-peopleA recent Vox conversation with Brown University cognitive scientist Steven Sloman (find the article here) was aptly subtitled: “Why We Pretend to Know More Than We Do.” Sean Illing asked Sloman the following question:

Illing: How do people form opinions?

Sloman: I really do believe that our attitudes are shaped much more by our social groups than they are by facts on the ground. We are not great reasoners. Most people don’t like to think at all, or like to think as little as possible. And by most, I mean roughly 70 percent of the population. Even the rest seem to devote a lot of their resources to justifying beliefs that they want to hold, as opposed to forming credible beliefs based only on fact.

Think about if you were to utter a fact that contradicted the opinions of the majority of those in your social group. You pay a price for that. If I said I voted for Trump, most of my academic colleagues would think I’m crazy. They wouldn’t want to talk to me. That’s how social pressure influences our epistemological commitments, and it often does it in imperceptible ways.

 

Knowledge IllusionThe title of Sloman’s most recent book is telling: The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone.

Simply said, social pressure influences our thinking.

 

 

 

vise“Social pressure” can be just another idol, an idol of which we should be wary.

All of us need to accept:

We may be wrong: we need to spend more time hearing other perspectives.

We may be right, but we need to accept others may hold pieces of truth.

We should question our own groups: they may be wrong.

We should listen to other groups: they may be right.

 

jesusMy role as a Christian cultural apologist (see my essay here) assumes all authority, all knowledge, all assumptions begin here: Yahweh, The Personal Eternal Triune Creator of the universe exists and has spoken in His Word and His world. My research and writing arises from a decidedly biblical vantage point. I am responsible to engage not just data, but people and their social pressures.

But I am also aware that I am swayed in my thinking—as we all are—by social pressures.

Others with other social pressures may describe themselves in other ways.

But let’s not fool ourselves. None of us thinks alone.

 

Lunch 20 March 2017Christian “social commitments” are very important to Comenius students. “We encourage each other with sound doctrine” (Titus 1.9) is imperative during the college years for Christian students. Dr. Mark Eckel is president of The Comenius Institute (our one-minute video here).

AFTERWORD: I believe my work in the culture is as a priest, a go-between, between people and God, a prophet, a mouth-piece for God to people, and an evangelistic-apologist, a defender of God’s Words & Works in the public square.