The leadership of Doxa firmly believes that the gospel informs how we act, talk, and think about racism, injustice, and systemic oppression. We seek to humbly and boldly address these issues with an open-minded, patient, and Spirit-led response. We invite you, the members of Doxa, to partner with us on this on-going journey as we actively work toward justice and mercy for our non-white brothers and sisters.
Before we dive in, let's acknowledge upfront that most people have strong opinions about race. What we're asking of you is to imitate your Savior in humility as you engage what's written below. Our hope is that even in disagreement we can respond differently than the world does; reducing each other, insulting each other, assuming other's motives, and "cancel culture" in general.
We all have blind spots, and by nature of them being blind spots, we do not see them. Our team has confessed some significant learnings and recognized places where we ourselves have not embodied what the Gospel tells us around racial issues. In the last few weeks, people of color, including trusted friends and other leaders, are helping us grow in our awareness. This has been a gift, and we want more of it.
As a first step in growing in our understanding around the experience of people of color, we'd love to share a bit with you about an important holiday happening this week. We've also included abbreviated responses to questions we have already received as a team to begin our conversations around these questions.
GOSPEL AND RACE FAQ
Can’t we just preach the Gospel?
The Gospel is central at Doxa and that has not changed. Gospel centrality is the very reason we desire to engage and not ignore injustice around us. Speaking and acting out against racial injustice is actually a beautiful example of the Gospel and the character of Jesus. You cannot read the New Testament without seeing God’s word constantly referring to racial division and systemic oppression. Looking at Jesus’ life, we see him enter into people’s pain, listen to them, heal them, and advocate for them. We also see that God’s heart for justice is inseparable from what we consider to be “normal church” gatherings. In fact, he warns that religious gatherings without the pursuit of justice is a serious offense (Amos 5).
Many within the Church feel it’s best to stay out of matters of race, yet feel we have an obligation to act, speak, and rally around other matters of injustice such as sex trafficking or abortion. Racial issues deserve all the same attention and investment from us as believers. And in the same way that most would agree we need to act, not just speak about those other areas of society, we are committed to doing both at Doxa around racial injustice. To be silent as a church is, in of itself, saying something.
Is racism really still a problem?
If one looks back at America’s history and compares the era of Jim Crow laws and segregation to our current cultural moment, there assuredly has been progress. At the same time, there is no refuting that the experience of being a person of color in the United States is still very different from being a White person in the United States.
Just because laws have changed (a necessary element in moving forward) doesn’t mean the hearts of men have been cleansed of these racist ideas and norms, nor have the systems that were built to imprison and impoverish Black lives been deconstructed. This is what is referred to as systemic racism. Black people are still suffering from the systems that were originally built to oppress them; systems that were intended to reinforce the economic and social gap between White and Black people. So even though racism may look different in some ways than it did back in Jim Crow days, it is still an everyday reality for our Black brothers and sisters. They have been culturally denied the honor, dignity, and privilege that most Whites take for granted.
Check out the video above to get a simple explanation of how systemic racism is a real and current problem.
Does Doxa support Black Lives Matter?
Not unlike the ways in which Christians have talked about their nuanced support of political candidates, (I don’t approve of _________, but I affirm these set of values, etc.) there is an important distinction between the phrase, “Black lives matter” and the organization with many factions and groups of people with varying ideologies and worldviews.
We do not support the Black Lives Matter organization because much of their founding principles are antithetical to the Gospel. At the same time, the phrase “Black lives matter” is important to say in light of what is happening around us, completely biblical, and something we whole-heartedly agree with. In the same way, Jesus pointed to specific people groups (Gentile's matter, Samaritan's matter, children matter, the poor, orphans, etc), we believe the Church needs to echo the voices that call out that Black lives should be given the same consideration and justice as others.
Does Doxa support those in law enforcement?
The origin/nature of this question is the byproduct of the polarizing and deeply broken ways this world addresses issues of race. The “us” vs. “them” mentality is divisive (this sin is warned against many times in the Bible). This question often presupposes that someone is incapable of supporting hard-working and honorable law enforcement while also believing that abuse of power in society is wrong and needs to be changed. This type of thinking is worldly, dangerously close-minded, and intellectually lazy. There is immense pressure at this moment to pick one side, and the Bible won't allow it.
Doxa is home to many families who work in law enforcement or are first responders, including one of our elders.
To be very clear:
- we stand against police brutality
- we agree that reform is needed in law enforcement for increased accountability and transparency for those who are charged with serving and protecting citizens
- we, like the overwhelming majority of those in law enforcement, agree that the killing of George Floyd (as only one example) was a heinous crime and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law
- we stand with those in law enforcement who respect all human life and give their lives for the protection of others as well as their families who live in fear in these times of heightened danger and violence
What can we as a church do that will make a difference?
We love this question. To be crystal clear, we do not arrogantly believe we can solve racism. We do believe our mandate on this earth from the Lord is to make earth look more like heaven. As we've stated above, the way forward means that all of us listen and learn from each other. Our leaders are currently engaging conversations with many other leaders who have a track record of addressing these matters in a gospel-centered way. We'll continue to invite people of color to have voice and influence on our decisions as a church, educated and preach through the issues as they arise in the books of the Bible we are teaching (which happens frequently!), watch for tangible ways to help other churches and ministries that are farther down the road than we are, and pray fervently as a church for God to continue His redemptive and healing work in the areas of race. In other words, there's lots to do! We'll provide specific opportunities along the way.
In closing, we recognize that parts of what's written above may excite you or anger you, but we ask that in all things you would carefully ask the Spirit what He desires in your heart and in your church at this time. Our team is here to help you process what's happening. Feel free to reach out to your regional pastor for more discussion or specific questions.
To God be the glory. May the Father unite us and make the places we live, learn, work, and play look more like Revelation's picture of every tongue and every tribe together worshipping His perfect Son.