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Christian Support for Reparations Severely Diminishes our Testimony of Gospel Grace

By last count I believe we are at nine of the current Democrat presidential nominees that have come out in support of government compensation for descendants of slaves in America, or at least the development of a commission to study and make recommendations for such financial reparations.  Senators Booker, Harris, Sanders (flip-flopping on his prior opposition to the idea), Klobuchar, Warren, and Gillibrand, along with former Mayor Julian Castro, former Representative Beto O’Rourke, and author Marianne Williamson have all supported the idea.

And it hasn’t been more than a couple months ago that the New York Times house “conservative” David Brooks wrote an op-ed entitled “The Case for Reparations.”  It was a “conservative case,” no doubt – at least if you ask the Times.

If I can be honest, with as divisive, fruitless, and counterproductive as I find the idea, I’m hardly surprised that in our victimhood culture we have arrived at such a point of political pandering.  Embarrassing?  Of course.  Surprising?  No, not really.

However I admit to being dumbstruck when I saw this idea get positive play from those associated with The Gospel Coalition, specifically board member Thabiti Anyabwile who commended it with these words:

“Oh, that all my Christian brethren had this sense and heart at things! Oh, that we could bring forth such an acknowledgement, healing and awakening by God’s gospel grace!”

Again, I may oppose the idea politically, but I can at least understand its secular origin.  It is hardly surprising to see a secular society diagnose a problem using a secular approach, and arriving at a secular resolution.  But there is nothing about this effort that comes close to resembling “God’s gospel grace,” and it is a shocking commentary on the state of the evangelical mind if that observation has even become debatable.

In light of “God’s gospel grace,” all human deeds, sins, faults, and failures become irrelevant and neutered.  The need for manmade reconciliation is swept away by God’s transformative regeneration of new creatures – creations unencumbered by past grievance or current condition.  A dear Christian brother named Chris Okogwu who ministers the true gospel of Christ in Abuja, Nigeria put it as well as I’ve ever seen it stated:

“In blessed union with Christ, there is no ethnic, tribal, linguistic, or national distinction; there is no advantage of another by earthly privilege; there is no superiority of position nor is there personal favoritism elevating one over another.  Whatever physical or societal or familial or economical or philosophical or any other general influences in what divine providence has dispensed to any man in his particular estate – in the new genesis of life in Jesus Christ, these are irrelevant and avail nothing.”

What an amazing statement from this African brother.  Not to be disrespectful to Mr. Anyabwile, but “Oh, that all of us as Christian brothers had that sense and heart at things!”

The enslavement of a particular ethnic group was an abomination and anathema to the gospel of Christ.  That it was actually justified by the abuse of Scripture stands as an even greater outrage.  So too is the effort to enforce a perpetual state of guilt and repentance on a particular ethnic group, as it demands an emotional captivity that reeks with the stench of revenge and comeuppance rather than the liberating scent of gospel reconciliation.

One of the great challenges to the church in our contemporary culture is instructing a full surrender to Christ, where those who come to Him don’t just surrender their hearts, but their minds, prejudices, thoughts, and politics as well.

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