An aspect of how critical race theory has infiltrated the church comes from the diversity initiatives undertaken in many denominations. That statement will not be popular with the majority of evangelicals who have bought into the diversity agenda, but it is a fact. Let us dive into how we did this and what we did wrong.
First of all, I want to put it on record that diversity is not a bad thing. The church I currently attend has several different ethnicities in it and all of them are able to fulfill roles in the church. There is no reason why churches should not be composed of people of every ethnicity. However, when diversity is elevated to the level it has been in this culture, it becomes an idol.
Matt Chandler, an evangelical pastor, is famous, or infamous, for demonstrating how badly diversity has become an idol in the American church. He and his church were searching for a staff pastor using a search company. Here is how he described it ” ‘If we find you an Anglo eight, and an African-American seven, which one do you want’ I said I want the African-American seven. And they said, ‘What if we find an Anglo eight and an African-American six,?’ And I said give me the Anglo eight because the African-American six will look and feel to our people like the kind of tokenism I’m preaching against.” And yes, he really said that. Chandler’s comment illustrates an attitude in the American church that places at least the appearance of diversity above actual qualifications for a particular position, in this case, a church pastor. Chandler was willing to accept an African-American who was less qualified than a “white” man, simply to make it look like he cared about diversity.
What many people, most likely including Chandler, do not understand is that diversity, in the parlance of the left, does not mean simply having people with different skin tones. What it means is acceptance of diversity as an ideology. The implication is that all views must be accepted as valid. Since, in the parlance of the left, no one can understand the shared lived experiences of group X, then in order to understand group X, a member of group X must be part of the conversation. Therefore, for the church to reach group X, they must have a representative of group X involved in the process, because no one else can understand that group.
I have deliberately avoided characterizing group X as a “racial” group because diversity will never be limited to “racial” groups. It also includes things like sexual preference and gender. By accepting the left’s emphasis on diversity, the church implicitly is accepting that you cannot reach a group without a representative of the group being involved. What happens when the church decides to try to reach the LGBTQ community? Will the church hire a “gay” pastor? I suspect the answer is yes, and indeed, it is already happening in some denominations.
How did we get into this situation? I think there are a couple of reasons for this. One is that there are vast subsections of the church, largely in the south, that have a racist history. The people in those churches know this and they feel bad about it. They want to make up for the past. So they want to go out of their way to include people of other skin tones and promote them within their churches. This is a commendable desire. However, because of their fear of being called “racist”. particularly with their past history, they are less careful in examining leadership they bring into their churches when they are a “racial” minority. Hence Chandler’s comments on being willing to take an African-American who was less well-qualified for a job than a “white” man.
Another reason is we have done this is we have idolized “diversity” The world constantly pushes diversity and we, as a church, almost always try to be cheap knockoffs of the world. Look at how many churches are little more than weekly rock concerts if you want evidence of that. We have simply incorporated the world’s ideas into the church. We have elevated the idea of “diversity”,There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. meaning that we have to have a multiplicity of people groups in the church, above the God. Many churches will accept a minority who denies certain Biblical truths as a pastor or staff member because of diversity.
The problem with the diversity push is that, at its core, diversity views people as distinct groups with little to no overlap, and no way to understand one another. Yet the New Testament makes it clear, repeatedly, that we are all one in Christ. Consider these verses:
“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:8
“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;” Philippians 1:27
“For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” 1 Corinthians 10:17
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
Other verses could be cited. The point is, there are no “races” in Christ. There are no various groups. We as Christians should all be one. We do not need “diversity” initiatives in the church. What we need is a drive towards unity in doctrine from all who attend, be they full of melanin or lacking in it. While all who walk through the church doors should be welcomed, regardless of their skin tone, diversity for the sake of diversity should be rejected as divisive to the body of Christ and any church that has embraced the idol needs to repent and return to the sufficiency of Scripture.
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