Monday, March 30, 2015

Happy Holy Week!


BTSF will be on a break through Easter
(including on Facebook and Twitter).

See you on the other side
of the resurrection!


If you're still looking for some good reading, check out the awesome writers sharing their knowledge in this week's Friday Fruit.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Fruit (03/27/15)

Joy Regullano: "White Fetish"
On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the many voices leading the way...


Weekly Round Up:

These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Pride and Privilege

keytruths.com logo: heart locket
keytruths.com
Guest writer Deborah Brunt continues her reflection from last week on privilege and her denominational history: 


In “The SBC and white-led racial reconciliation,” I challenge the racial reconciliation initiative Southern Baptist leaders have launched. I ask: For all their good intentions, might these SBC pastors instead only further illusion? I suggest: The only white-led “initiative” that can further racial reconciliation is an initiative to humble ourselves, to see and turn from our sins.

We cannot do that quickly or easily. Pride and a clinging to privilege will keep us from doing it at all.

Insidiously, pride and privilege whisper to leaders who genuinely want racial reconciliation, “You have to retain your status, to do the most good.” Falling for the lie, we cling to our titles, defend the structures that provide them, idolize the privilege we enjoy as Christian leaders – and avoid at all costs humbling ourselves.

I’ve remarked to white Christian leaders how desperately we need to confess and repent. I’ve suggested we cannot do it corporately until we do it personally. I’ve watched the blood drain out of each face, seen the body language become defensive, felt the room grow cold.

Grayscale text: PRIDE
As a leader, getting gut-level honest about my sins requires me to be vulnerable before people who may not continue to follow me if they know the truth. If I try to lead them to confess sins, especially racial sins, they may revolt, and strip me of my “place.”

My choice? Avoid confession, and protect myself. OR, choose against pride and the fear of losing privilege. Count honoring God more important than loyalty to my denomination, ministry, network, church or cause. Deny my yearning to retain power and status, in order to follow my Lord.

Paul faced down pride and privilege. Listing all that had given him status as a religious leader, he declared: “These things were my assets, but I wrote them off as a loss for the sake of Christ” (Phil. 3:7 CEB).


Furthering illusion
I was Southern Baptist for 50 years. The last seven, I served as a denominational leader. The last year-and-a-half, I was treated abusively. Finally, I was given an ultimatum – at which point God freed me to resign. The wrongdoing and the ultimatum had one goal: to pressure me to uphold the demeaning and division the denomination fosters in regard to women, a justice issue very kin to that of race.

Broken word art: illusionBefore the abuse, I had thought we were making progress with regard to women in the church. In accord with denominational views on women and with the full approval of my leaders, I had taken what appeared to be small steps in the right direction. Suddenly, a few leaders who felt threatened by the changes began to lash out. When they did, other leaders ran for cover. None wanted to risk the loss of finances, status, control. I was battered; the progress evaporated; the status quo was restored. For all my sincerity, I had only furthered illusion.

Out of that fire came years of healing, researching, seeking God and seeing much I hadn’t previously seen. With deep grief, I confess:

What I faced in this century in the heart of the SBC, and what I subsequently discovered in my own heart, are attitudes that were embraced and defended by the evangelical church culture from the days of the settling of the Cotton Kingdom. Though many changes have occurred since the Civil War, the white church culture rooted in the Deep South still has not seen, dealt with or turned from these demeaning and divisive attitudes at their root.

  • To explore the breadth and depth of our sins;
  • To express heartfelt confession;
  • To invite others: Let God show you you, your family, our church culture. Confess in a way that produces repentance, heals relationships, restores life.


Facing truth
Desperately, we look for another way. We believe “airing our dirty laundry” will shame us. No. It will free us from the shame that has bound us so long.

We believe blame for racial injustice lies somewhere else. Indeed, there’s danger of your reading this article, and thinking, “Ah, those Southern Baptists. It’s their fault.” But God doesn’t point fingers. He exposes hearts. Always, he does so to redeem. As we, in humility, agree with what he shows us about us, he cleanses and renews.

We believe that we, as Christian leaders, don’t have any idols. Yet, our terror of losing our status shows we do. Left unchallenged, pride and privilege will busy us trying to lead in racial reconciliation, while blinding us to the things within us that stop it cold.


Deborah Brunt is an author and blogger at keytruths.com. Her book, We Confess! The Civil War, the South, and the Church, explores in-depth the issues identified in this article.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Fruit (03/20/15)

‪#‎JusticeForMartese‬
On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the shoulders on which I stand...


Weekly Round Up:

These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The SBC and white-led racial reconciliation

Deborah BruntHere, guest writer Deborah Brunt offers her perspective with regard to her denominational tradition and a recent initiative calling for racial reconciliation. 

Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), has launched a racial reconciliation initiative, signed by several SBC pastors of different races and ethnicities.

The heartcry and united purpose expressed in the Baptist Press article is encouraging. Yet I’d suggest: The one white-led “initiative” that can actually further, rather than hinder, racial reconciliation will be an initiative to humble ourselves, in order to:
  • see, grieve and turn from sins we haven’t wanted to admit; and
  • adopt a learner/follower attitude toward other races and ethnicities, as we seek together to restore relationship.

The signing of the new SBC initiative by pastors of different races may seem a step in the right direction, as did the election of a black SBC president in 2012 and 2013, and the SBC’s Resolution on Racial Reconciliation, enacted 20 years ago. The current initiative’s signers may well be sincere in their desire for breakthrough. But for all their good intentions, might these SBC pastors continue instead only to further illusion?

Cartoon: Character #1: "I'm not racist but"; character #2: "Shhh...shh, it's okay. It's okay. Just accept your racism and never finish that thought"
In recent decades, openly teaching racial inequality has fallen into profound disfavor. At the same time, white membership in the SBC and other denominations has declined. Indeed, church growth in the US is happening in ethnic sectors, but not in non-Latino white.

Today, white Christians do not want to be seen as bigoted, nor do they think of themselves as such. Denominational leaders do not want to lose followers or income. Yet white people do love our privilege; we love to be seen as the heroes; and we’re terrified of losing control. So we have a strong proclivity to act like we’re leading toward change in race relations, when the changes are mostly cosmetic and we’re still committed to doing things the way we always have.

White men created the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845 to defend and align with a Southern culture adamant to retain slavery. In spite of steps taken to create distance from that past, white men still control the denomination, its entities and its attitudes.

Whether Southern Baptist or not, it’s time for white Christians to stop – and even recant – our efforts to “lead out” in racial reconciliation.

Key Truths logo: heart locket
keytruths.com
Further, it’s time to repent for believing we’ve already repented for our racial wrongs. Our confessions have yielded far too little genuine, lasting fruit, maybe because we’re so prone to overlooking our sins and so eager to deplore theirs. If we’ll really listen to our prayers of confession, we’ll realize how often we only lament the acts of people “back then” or “out there” or who we otherwise would classify as “them,” and not “us.”

Now 150 years after the Civil War, it’s past time for us to take the long, hard look needed to get gut-level honest about the depth and breadth of our sins. It’s time to see – then grieve, confess and turn from – sins currently operating in our lives, our families, our relationships, our churches and our US Christian culture. It’s time to admit we need guidance and help from others who aren’t “us,” in order to be free.


Deborah Brunt is an author and blogger at keytruths.com. Her book, We Confess! The Civil War, the South, and the Church, explores in-depth the issues identified in this article. Continue reading with her follow up article on 'Pride and Privilege.'
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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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