Like you, I’ve been watching with dismay and disgust as events have unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. There has been a naked display of racism and white supremacy. If ever there were a time for evangelical Christians to speak with biblical conviction and moral clarity, now is the time.
In doing so, no one should be taking their cues from the president of the United States on how to do this. Both this weekend and in his campaign, he has not shown moral clarity or leadership in this area (although as I write, there is an update). Rather, we should be taking our cues from scripture, which is absolutely and unequivocally clear that white supremacy, racism, and violence are grave sins which God himself will judge.
Why will God judge such racism? Because all people are created in God’s image, and as image-bearers we all have inestimable worth and dignity. To assault an image-bearer is to assault the One whose image they bear. Thus racism, white supremacy, and violence are incalculably heinous sins.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” –Genesis 1:27
“Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.” –Psalm 100:3
“From one human being he created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth.” –Acts 17:26
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” –John 3:16
“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” –1 John 4:8
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” –1 John 4:20
“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” –1 John 3:15
The first fruit of the spirit is love (Gal. 5:21). Anyone who refuses to love is showing that he does not have the Spirit and stands condemned.
The racism and white supremacy on display in Charlottesville are damnable errors and are antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who wave the banner of racism in the name of Christianity are no Christians at all. If they do not repent, they stand condemned.
This is the message that we must communicate, and we must do so in a way the matches the urgency of our moment. God’s word is clear on this, and so must we be.
UPDATE – 8/15/17: Today, President Trump addressed the nation in a press conference in which he said that the white supremacist protestors were “very fine people.” His full remarks were more than disappointing. They were morally bankrupt and completely unacceptable. People who protest while chanting Nazi slogans are not “very fine people.” I agree with David French’s assessment:
The most pernicious forms of evil always mix truth and lies. So, yes, there were kernels of truth in some of Trump’s statements. No question there were hateful, violent leftists in Charlottesville this weekend. And on the question of monuments, Trump is right to point out the lack of a limiting principle. We already know that some on the Left have their eyes set on demolishing or removing monuments and memorials that have nothing to do with the Confederacy, but all that pales in importance compared to his stubborn and angry attempts not just at moral equivalence (after all, no one on the Left committed murder this weekend) but at actually whitewashing evil…
Donald Trump loves people who love him, and the vile and vicious alt-right has loved him from the beginning. Today, he loved them right back.
The President again failed to show moral clarity and leadership. It was a sad, disgraceful display.
POSTSCRIPT: I am grateful to see so many evangelical leaders who have already spoken with conviction and clarity. The following list is only a sample of the many who have spoken up. I am grateful for all of them.
Call racism by its name. Decry its evil. Stand firm in truth and love. Trust the power of the cross to change hearts.
— hbcharlesjr (@hbcharlesjr) August 12, 2017
— James Merritt (@drjamesmerritt) August 12, 2017
We cannot renounce what we will not name. It’s called White Supremacy. And it is from hell. Call it. Condemn it.
— Beth Moore (@BethMooreLPM) August 13, 2017
This has no place in our society. Pure evil.
— J.D. Greear (@jdgreear) August 12, 2017
Why is racism offensive to God? Let us count the ways. https://t.co/zXtpyhmypW
— Kevin DeYoung (@RevKevDeYoung) August 12, 2017
Pray for Christianity’s witness against racism to be clear.
— Mark Dever (@MarkDever) August 12, 2017
— Ligon Duncan (@LigonDuncan) August 12, 2017
So sad to hear about the violence in #charlottsville. Anyone who looks down on another human being because of race is sinful & unchristlike.
— Pastor Steve Gaines (@bellevuepastor) August 13, 2017
— Ronnie Floyd (@ronniefloyd) August 12, 2017
White supremacy and its movements are evil to the core and are to be condemned. There is no place for this in America
— Jack Graham (@jackngraham) August 12, 2017
Claims of racial superiority are an assault on God’s glory in creation and the gospel of Jesus Christ. pic.twitter.com/cZ66IU7Ujc
— Albert Mohler (@albertmohler) August 12, 2017
The so-called Alt-Right white supremacist ideologies are anti-Christ and satanic to the core. We should say so. #SBC17
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) June 14, 2017
Christians should look at white nationalism movement and condemn it—full stop. No, “But on the other hand.” https://t.co/qoQgfy7lGA
— The Gospel Coalition (@TGC) August 15, 2017