For days now, I’ve been keeping up with the ongoing saga of a certain pastor’s Twitter rants. First, let me say this. I’m a 28 year old guy who has mostly been staying away from blogging, allowing the Lord to work on my heart in this much needed period of life. I’m a guy with a Bible degree that loves the church, music, and theology, and realizes that without Christ all of these things are useless. For the most part, I’ve been a fan of The Gospel Coalition. My former pastor used to highly advocate books written by pastors such as Thabiti Anyabwile. I do not consider myself especially esteemed, godly, or deserving of all the good graces I have in my life. But, like many others, when I write, I write with clarity and I say what I think. Undoubtedly, the tidal waves of, “Have you checked your heart on this matter?” will come in response to truth tellers. Or, perhaps, the dreaded pastor worship--though I used to get angry at people for using this term--will kick in and people will affirm a man no matter what he does. But, after reading Thabiti Anyabwile’s wall for days now, I think it’s fair to say that enough is enough, and to ask a pastor to show both humility and respectability in his position.
For months now, I’ve seen a growing YouTube trend to exploit the police. Multiple videos of cops “ruthlessly attacking” “helpless victims” abound, usually to the demise of authority and the praise of anarchy. And, really, haven’t we seen this internationally? Countless mobs marching against their own governments, all in the name of some great cause? Does Romans 13:1 have meaning any more? I am under no illusions concerning the goodness of governments. Nero wasn’t the greatest, was he? Yet, Paul wrote this. He didn’t tell Christians to “rise up”. He wrote Romans 13. Peter wrote this:
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
--1 Peter 2:13-20
Recently, a black man (not a helpless little kid) was shot by a police officer in the line of duty. Countless news articles popped up, looking something like this: “Helpless Victim Shot by Officer” or “Unarmed Black Teen Shot to Death by Police”. In truth, this was a some 6’4” 300 lbs black male who had just bullied a store owner and possibly stole cigarettes or related items. Movements came up, which Thabiti also hashtagged at least once, like “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”, rally cries against police brutality; of course, Brown’s medical examiner never said this was the case, merely that his hands were possibly in the upward position during part of the shooting. So, perhaps this officer, having a clean record and serving his community well for years before this incident, did shoot a random kid in cold blood, just for kicks; and maybe this huge black male, who had just shoved around a small a store owner, was raising his hands like an innocent child in humble obedience. Or, maybe he rushed the officer, as recent reports of the officer’s swollen face would suggest, and maybe when fired upon he raised his arms while charging. That would put a new spin on “Hands up don’t shoot!”, wouldn’t it?
Rather than a thoughtful response and waiting, as other black pastors have done, Thabiti’s response was to post comments like the following:
If not for liberals Xs on twitter, I wouldn't know police killed @ unarmed AA man and a SWAT team stares down machine guns at protesters. (Aug 13th)
"Your right to assemble is not being denied. It is, however, being supervised by several tripod-mounted sniper rifles. Just saying." (Retweet Aug 13th)
All my "conservative" tweeps are talking about... well... EVERYTHING else. What's wrong with that picture? (Aug 13th)
"The relationship between black men and police forces is, in fact, the main thing keeping America from becoming "post-racial" in any sense." (Aug 14th)
Proud of our young men, sad this continues to be an issue. #Ferguson #HandsUp #DontShoot #oursons #Menofmorehouse (Retweet Aug 15th)
Man walks with cane for #MikeBrown in #Ferguson. (Retweet Aug 16th)
Youngest member of the group holding her hands up in memory of #MichaelBrown (Retweet Aug 16th)
RT #Ferguson residents & allies rally. Proclaim #HandsUpDontShoot. Justice 4 #MikeBrown #livefree @LiveFreeUS (Retweet Aug 16th)
NY Times reporting independent autopsy of #MikeBrown shows he was shot 4 times in the arm and 2 times in the head. (Aug 17th)
@JasonMKates if the injustice comes from the hands of authorities meant to PROTECT you, then what means are left? (Aug 18th)
@JasonMKates Your question assumes the machinery of local justice is working. But at every point it has proven broken, rigged by authority. (Aug 18th)
@JasonMKates For that reason, "staying home" is to comply with your oppressors in your oppression.(Aug 18th)
@JasonMKates Would we even be talking about #Ferguson if people decided to "stay home"? How then would justice be served? (Aug 18th)
@JasonMKates It's past time for those who say they care about peace to direct their questions to those destroying peace: #Ferguson police. (Aug 18th)
@JasonMKates Seem a poor solution compared to WHAT? Your rec they sleep it off? You should 1st get a "great answer." Then criticize them.(Aug 18th)
@JasonMKates @mindworcsMike That is nonsense. We know exactly what happened. An UNARMED teen was shot 6xs, 2xs in the head and is dead. (Aug 18th)
@JasonMKates @mindworcsMike Whatever other facts or counter-facts come out, we KNOW this was a disproportionate response & a child is dead. (Aug 18th)
Handcuffs Up! 90-yr-old Holocaust survivor arrested in Ferguson protest http://wapo.st/1n3BeIa via @washingtonpost (Retweet Aug 18th)
Read the Scriptures above, my friends. Read them carefully. I think we can reasonably ask ourselves the following: Do Thabiti’s comments line up with what God commands, especially in light of the fact that we in fact do not know what all happened on the day of the shooting? You see, it’s very possible an innocent cop doing his job to protect Ferguson citizens is now in hiding because pastors like Thabiti became an Al Sharpton instead of a shepherd, and encouraged protesting instead of peace. And, if the cop did shoot the teen in cold blood, Thabiti is still in the wrong, because he is not waiting for the facts and he is not speaking peaceably. When I told Thabiti via Twitter that he had tried the officer in his heart, trial or not, and sounded like Al Sharpton, his response was the following:
Really??? You're going to call that a "Fact"? That tweet judges me far more than I judge Wilson. Wow. Thx 4 prayers. Bless you.
When I said again that all one has to do is read his wall, he responded:
Love believes all things... like when I tell you my honest perspective and that you're wrong about my thoughts. #ListenInLove
Now, friends, I ask you again to read Pastor Anyabwile’s comments above. And, pastor, if you in fact you read this, I would ask you to do the same. Is your response to me flat out deceitful, or are you just confused in a heat of passion? Can you not look at the comments where you explicitly stated that “we know exactly what happened”? I even had a friend ask me why I was being so “mean” to you. I believe this is where pastor idolatry and pastor tweets being favorited needs to stop, and pastoral accountability needs to begin. In fact, I tried to finally say something peaceable to Thabiti and end it, and I stated the following:
@ThabitiAnyabwil @caressedionne But. I desist. I respect you much. Just don't agree with your response. Oh well, right? :) Facts will come.(Aug 18th)
I received this twisted response to my attempt at peace, which I believe was even retweeted at one point by someone else:
@Berean313 @caressedionne Facts will come and won't allay everyone's concerns, won't even always be "facts." Fine to disagree. But… a person is dead and "oh well" will never suffice. Grace and peace to you.
Pastor Thabiti went on to vilify me via his social media, telling me to prove my disregard of life--I suppose--untrue by “mourning with those who mourn”.
Let me be clear. I work at a trucking company. You develop pretty thick skin working there. I don’t lose sleep or cry over Thabiti’s opinion over me. I’m not asking him to grovel at my feet personally for repentance. I get it. He interpreted this event as black hate and went on a rampage. It’s understandable. But, I’m more concerned for those who “follow” him. The Gospel Coalition will post often how we need to be “humble” and stop tweeting back and forth, but they only seem to post these kinds of things when their authors cause division via the internet. My soul is accountable to Christ, as is the soul of everyone else. Overall, I support The Gospel Coalition and believe they have done much for the kingdom. Much more than my sinful soul. But, the question remains, will you call Pastor Thabiti to show more humility and caution in his approach? To Pastor Thabiti, whether or not this officer is acquitted (but, yes, especially if he is), will your ask forgiveness of your followers for encouraging protests and hatred in their hearts, long before facts had come out? Will you ask forgiveness for your white racism, which has bled through all of your tweets, even if it's not generally true of you?
I could post more about growing up in Texas. I hate racism. I do. Hate it. We despised my grandmother talking about that “nigger” down the street, and my mother often told her to stop it. My sister was told once to never marry a black man. Guess what? She married a Mexican. Ironically, I often find black people funnier and easier to get along with than white people. But, let me be clear, I grew up in Texas, where blacks, whites, and Mexicans were all together. I was bullied more than once by a black kid (this was before “bullying” became an excuse for psychological disorder). I was once ran off a court by a group of black kids, one of whom walked up to me, smacked the ball out of my hand, and basically told me to get lost. But, you see, I can’t talk about that, because my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother wasn’t a slave.
Sadly, racism exists on both lines. But, Thabiti’s article on “fears” of moving to America was a bit much for me. Blacks have prominent positions in America, many are even officers. And, yes, many of them are great men, inside and out. But, in contrast to Thabiti's idea of America, I actually fear walking down the east side of my own town, because that’s where blacks are shooting others nearly every other day in the news. Yes, whites are criminals, too. But, often the crime on the east side here is largely in the black communities. So, largely, I don’t go there. It's not a statement of skin color, but of how kids are often raised in these places.
The point is this, we are called to live together, to live in peace, to honor God, and obey the governing authorities. Instead of taking this moment to encourage black brothers to live in harmony with the authorities and conquer racial evils with love, you have encouraged a spirit or protest and disorder--even after these protests turned violent on the news--and have gone against your calling as a pastor. Ironically, the “scary” picture you used in your anti-American article is a picture of Ferguson being burned by a group of angry blacks, is it not? You would use this to say you’re afraid of white racism?
I pray the best for Thabiti. I hope he is sincere and will repent of his rants and tirades. Or, he will do what is more popular these days, and use the Driscoll method to cover his tracks, acting like nothing ever happened or tearing down those who approach him in love.
Is Pastor Thabiti the godly man I think he is? Or, has he simply been another Al Sharpton biding his time, waiting for a white crime news event to pop up so he could spew his racial propaganda? Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know much about the man. I think and I hope it’s the first.
Please, Christians, read Peter’s epistle, read Romans 13, and read how Old Testament followers reacted in the face of evil rulers. Understand that Scripture does not call us to violence, and, even if it allows for protesting, let’s be honest: it’s not in there, is it? Paul did call up his rights as a Roman citizen once (Acts 22:28). But he didn’t go on the streets and tell his followers to protest. We see the opposite treatment of authority in Scripture, even authority that is corrupt.
Although I stand against the jerks that do exist within the police force, I hate more and more the anti-police anarchism that I see rising up in the waters of America every day. Pastors should not be encouraging this mindset, but teaching whites and blacks alike to submit to governing authorities in peace, to pray for them, and to count it all joy when they take your possessions, knowing that you are given an opportunity to give the gospel of grace. First Timothy 3:3 encourages overseers to be “peaceable”.
Pastor Thabiti, please do those who listen to you a favor, and obey these Scriptural commands. Please, please do not become another political activist, using your pastoral position as a launching pad. Remain the pastor of God’s Word that blacks and whites both need to hear, the voice of integrity and reason we have loved and trusted for years, even those of us who don’t know much about you personally. We can speak for justice, but we can do it in a way that glorifies the gospel of Christ, not the color of our skin. This article has been forward, not because I consider myself greater or authorized, but because I’ve seen very few others speaking up.
Please continue to lead us well, take a step back, and proclaim God’s Word and the gospel, the one thing we all agree is the answer to the world’s sickness.
Relying On Grace,
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.