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Why I Won’t/Will Bow the Knee

This weeks column in Christian Today  was inspired by the photo of Keir Starmer and his deputy Anglea Rayner ‘taking the knee’ and then this one of the bishops – not bowing before Christ, but bowing before an ideology.

Screenshot 2020-06-14 07.15.28

Why I won’t/will bend the knee

Black Lives Matter Protest
Black Lives Matter protesters gather in Westlake Park near Westlake Mall during Black Friday in Seattle, Washington November 27, 2015.REUTERS/David Ryder

Screenshot 2020-06-14 07.13.56I have seen plenty of people ‘taking the knee’ – Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner in a carefully staged photo, for example, and then in contrast to that, another of a demonstration in Oxford where every demonstrator bowed the knee – except Peter Hitchens who stood imperiously alone above the crowd. (In the interests of accuracy Hitchens responds that the crowd were asked to sit down and raise their fists – and it was an activist who tweeted about him not bowing the knee – although he does say he would have done neither)!

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Why this trend for bowing the knee? Or its sister: tearing down monuments and getting rid of non-PC cultural icons from the past? The idea is that in bowing the knee we are showing solidarity and apologising for past crimes against black people. What should the Christian response be? Some Christians are keen to join in. Surely we should all be supporting Black Lives Matter? After all black lives do matter. Other Christians respond by saying that ‘all lives matter’, but that is missing the point. Saying black lives matter is to simply say that black lives matter as much as anyone else’s.

 

As Christians, we need to listen most of all to God speaking through his Word. Racism is quite simply sin – sin against our fellow human beings and ultimately sin against God. All human beings are made in the image of God. The idea of race is a social construct, not a created ordinance – “Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in his sight.”

We also need to listen to our history and our black brothers and sisters. This article from the Christian hip-hop artist Shai Linne is an example of some of the writing out there which should enlighten, move and humble us:

“So when I watch a video like George Floyd’s, it represents for me the fresh reopening of a deep wound and the reliving of layers of trauma that get exponentially compounded each time a well-meaning white friend says, ‘All lives matter.’ Of course they do, but in this country, black lives have been treated like they don’t matter for centuries and present inequities in criminal justice, income, housing, health care, education, etc. show that all lives don’t actually matter like they should.”

Black Lives Matter

I agree and, as I said above, racism is a sin.  But I won’t be taking the knee – and I won’t be joining the BLM marches. I did think about it. I went as far as looking up the time for the Sydney march and thinking that I should probably go. But then I thought some more – and investigated what the BLM movement is. Black Lives Matter is not just a slogan; it is an organisation – one which is fundamentally anti-Christian in its ethos and methods. So why should I support it?

Let me put it this way: if there was an organisation which campaigned to prevent child abuse do you not think we should support it? But what if that organisation was a far-right organisation that was using the issue to virtue signal and garner support for its political cause? Should we all be emotionally bullied into supporting that organisation because not doing so would somehow be taken to mean we supported child abuse?

The Binary Choice?

That’s the logic I’ve seen from far too many Christians and even Christian leaders. “You don’t care. You’re a racist because you don’t support BLM or think that tearing down statues is a good idea. You’re not listening to our black brothers and sisters.” Or how about some of the passive aggressive language which some Christians have mastered. This one is a classic example (written to another David in public): “Christian friends, please feel free to pray with me for David’s heart that it would soften on whether or not he can say that out loud in this current moment, without qualifying. It’s important to do so as a Christian, here and now.” The message is loud and clear: if you don’t agree with my political views you clearly have a hard heart and are a bit of a coward – if you are even a Christian!

If people actually read the BLM manifesto, I think it would cause most to shudder. Apart from a radical commitment to transgender ideology, they are lined up with every regressive cause championed by the godless. Take for example this statement: “We’re guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world.” You can read the whole manifesto here.

BLM is also a violent and oppressive movement and, I think, fundamentally racist at its core. The dream of Martin Luther King, that no more would anyone be judged by the colour of their skin, is long gone. They believe it is necessary to judge everyone by the colour of their skin. If you are white then you are an oppressor, you suffer from ‘white privilege’ and you must bow the knee. If you don’t, you will be named and shamed. Why is it often wealthy white middle class people (as in the recent demonstrations at Oxford University) who are shouting the loudest ? Might it be because they think they are atoning for past sins, or perhaps they have a sense of their own inherent righteousness compared with other white people? One thing is for sure: privilege for them, like protest, is only skin deep. They are not going to give up the privilege of their wealth to help the poor. So no, I won’t bow the knee to such hypocrisy.

The Revolution Eats Itself

But surely if we go along with these demands it will show that we care, and then the brave new world will be ushered in and we can all get on with our lives in a more just world? That’s not how revolutions work. They eat themselves. The BLM have no end goal, just endless demands. They will always demand more and if you don’t agree, then out comes the racism card. Destruction is easy. Construction is much harder.

Notice how the statues movement and the replacement of cultural symbols has accelerated. My word limit won’t permit me to list them all, but here are a few that the cancel culture has succeeded in bringing down in the past few days. Little Britain, Gone with the Wind, and even Fawlty Towers. Statues of Abraham Lincoln, Baden Powell, Robert the Bruce, Robert Peel and Churchill have all been vandalised. Who will be left? Surely Keir Hardie, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Roland Dahl, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Shakespeare must all go? What about Plato, Aristotle and Socrates – the ancient Greeks who believed that slavery was essential to a society? Or Mohammed? It’s interesting that the BBC article on slavery in Islam points out that “the Prophet Muhammed himself bought, sold, captured, and owned slaves”, although they do attempt to show, in the context of the culture of the day, that he was a ‘good’ slave owner.

But don’t expect logic, history or nuance to affect the actions of the mob. George Orwell foresaw what would happen when ruling cultural elites and mobs combined to rewrite history. In words that seem prescient for today he wrote in 1984:

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

Hypocrisy

It’s the hypocrisy that sticks in the throat. If we really are going to hold institutions today responsible for the sins of the past, then the Guardian newspaper for example, strong in its support of the statue destroyers, would itself be in trouble. Its founder made a fortune in the cotton trade, supported the Confederacy in the Civil War and attacked Lincoln for freeing the slaves. Should the Guardian be cancelled too?

No, I won’t bow the knee in order to submit to the demands of the BLM organisation, nor will I do so as a sign of my own virtue, nor because of the pressure to do so from the current cultural zeitgeist.

Why I Will Bow the Knee

But I will bow the knee to Jesus Christ. Because he is the only hope for our fractured and breaking society. I have seen nothing more encouraging that this video from Tim Keller and Bryan Stephenson showing that justice and the Gospel walk hand in hand. Indeed, justice is ultimately the fruit of the gospel.

 

Justice, not mob rule. Justice, not more money. Justice, not political power. That is the crying need. “Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 16:20, NIVUK.)

When as a teenager I visited a friend’s home and we were all sitting in the living room after our meal. “We’ll take the books,” said the father. I wondered what that was, but it soon became clear. Much to my astonishment and embarrassment, out came the Bibles and Psalm books and we read and sang. But it’s what came next that is forever ingrained on my mind. As we finished with prayer, every single member of the household, including the father – a strong, proud and intelligent man – got on their knees and together pleaded with the Lord for grace and mercy.

I contrast that with the photos of the politicians bowing the knee for a photo op and I ask: what does our society need more – those who bow in fear and pride before a political cause, or those who bow in adoration, confession and humility before the triune God?

What a joy – and a shock – it would be if the leaders of our nation called upon us all to have a day of prayer and repentance. Given that the leaders of the Church seem unable to take that step – it’s probably a bit much to ask – we can but believe in miracles.

In the maelstrom of voices all around us, let’s make sure we hear and act upon the voice of the Lord, who said: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

David Robertson is director of Third Space in Sydney and blogs at www.theweeflea.com

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48 comments

  1. David, you may know of Amir Tsarfati from Israel and his newsletter this week is excellent.
    I wonder if you’ve seen it. I’m not writing this for publication but for your perusal and I didn’t know how else to send you an email to let you know of it.

    Here is the link:

    Behold Israel ( Weekly roundup June 5th – 11th 2020)

      1. Dear David,

        As an tech non-savy boomer, may I ask for a clarification on the above email address? There are times when I wish to send to you things I feel you would appreciate receiving. As twitter and Facebook etc. scare me, is this such a route? Also, is “Website” where one enters a link? Thank you

  2. David,

    Thanks you so much for writing this. I have been under personal attack recently from Christians, even a former bible college lecturer, being treated as racist for contributing to discussions with truths such as Africans sold other Africans in the slave trade and any negative comment towards someone based solely on the colour of their skin is an act of racism, and this is true when applied to whites. Also when honouring Martin Luther King’s dream of everyone being judged by the content of character. In the case of the latter a claim being made that I am one of the “white folks” who hijack what MLK has dreamed to assert “white privilege” and because of “systemic racism” am therefore being “defensive” and unwilling to surrender power.

    OK so in supporting Marting Luther King’s dream, that’s become racist now if it expressed by a white person? I don’t think so.

    And what can we do when the false accusation of racism is screamed in every increasing malice then what is there to do other thank accept the reality that civil discourse has on occasions such as this has been replaced by violence if not physically, then in thought. And anyone who knows their bible will be familiar with the idea Jesus had of anyone being angry with their brother committing murder in their heart.

    But no you must “bend the knee” if not physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually in this zeitgeist.

    And looking at the BLM website, the stated aims of the group are to disrupt the family and to de-fund police. So you have with this ideology a city such as Seattle where the police have withdrawn as protester create an “autonomous zone” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/11/chaz-seattle-autonomous-zone-police-protest. And then there being of course a reaction to this with the defence for example of statues by “football hooligans, veterans and far-right groups” https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-protests-black-lives-matter-statues-memorials-right-wing-groups-a9563841.html.

    Of course one side is reported with the pejorative terms “hooligans” and “far right”. Are BLM protesters with their anarchic manifesto reported with equal judgement when protesting? It seems not.

    The way to heal a deep wound is not to be wounding towards others – all that happens is that more people get wounded. Everyone with an ounce of common sense knows this, so why has this violence in thought and action manifested.

    I think David, you hit on something with asking the question, “why is it often wealthy white middle class people (as in the recent demonstrations at Oxford University) who are shouting the loudest ?” As you rightly say, “they are not going to give up the privilege of their wealth to help the poor”. Of course this is hyperbole and I am sure there are many wealthy white people in Oxford University doing great work for helping address poverty. But I think you are right about there being a significant number wanting to give the appearance of being righteous. What easier way is there to “keep up appearances” by pointing the finger at other white people and claiming not to be racist like “them”, then getting BLM and any black person who feels wounded to do their dirty work for them in a power game.

    When I see comments made by key figures in the black community such as Barack Obama criticising “woke” culture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaHLd8de6nM, and this argument for how West Indian immigrants have “wildly greater” achievements than native black Americans with “systemic racism” being “minimal” https://youtu.be/HBWJC7LWq7I at a deeper core, I don’t think this is about race but cultural and political factors and how the environment (for example family and whether there are two parent homes) influences thoughts, behaviour and outcome.

    Or, given your comment about Oxford University, how about listening to a black man speaking in an Oxford Union debate – “the foundation of any problem begins with the individual… education, the family structure”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pv7hsiUirUU

  3. Hello David,
    I read the BLM manifesto on the link you sent and didn’t find the quote about imperalism, capitalism etc. on it. (Although I did find a lot of transgender agenda stuff.) Was that a mistake?
    Assuming you did find the quote somewhere on their site, is it really enough to make any Christian shudder? Should Christians all be fervent defenders of “imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world” ? Personnally, I’m fervently hostile to imperialism and white-supremacy. I’m sympathetic to those who think capitalism needs replacing by something less bad. While state structures, law and order etc. are obviously necessary, I’m clearly in favour of dismantling those that “disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world.” And though many might regard my complementarian position of gender relations as “patriarchal”, I think Christians should be against at least some forms of patriarchy.
    Seems to me clumsy, at least, to equate these causes with the “regressive causes championed by the godless.”
    Or have I misread you?

    1. Yes its in their manifesto and website. Of course ‘imperialism’ and ‘white supremacy’ are wrong…but the whole litany is code. Fine if you want to destroy capitalism…just make sure you have something (that works) to replace it with. They are also opposed to the nuclear family…they are absolutely anti-Christian. They are more Marxist than the Socialist Workers Party!

  4. David
    thanks for the article.
    I read the manifesto but could not find the quote
    “We’re guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world.”
    Did I miss it or is it elsewhere?

  5. Thanks David, excellent as usual.

    One question. You say you agree that ‘in this country, black lives have been treated like they don’t matter for centuries and present inequities in criminal justice, income, housing, health care, education, etc. show that all lives don’t actually matter like they should.’

    That seems a racially charged and not very accurate way of describing 21st century Britain. Doesn’t that kind of allegation play straight into the BLM narrative? I agree there are social issues that need addressing, especially family breakdown and the degradation of culture. But is it helpful to frame this in racial terms when Britain has such strong anti-discrimination law and a host of positive action schemes?

  6. Thanks David. It was just you said you agreed. But anyway on reflection I think the quote isn’t so racially charged as it switches to all lives when talking about the present. Knowing it’s from the US also helps, where historic systemic racism was severe. So please ignore my first comment!

    1. Not so fast, Will.
      David, _within your lifetime_ there were changes such as to the Australian Constitution (think, 1967 referendum) and the Mabo decision. It might be good to reflect on these events in your context when you consider the BLMUK manifesto.

      1. David, I said ‘manifesto’ not ‘movement’. So, _within your lifetime_ there _was_ a need for the state to ‘dismantle… the state structures that disproportionately harm black people’. Has this need passed? Or are there things in Australia still that Christians need to be helping with, even if it is in company with others with whom they might sometimes disagree?

      2. Of course there are things that need to be dealt with – I’m not convinced that there is any particular state structure which needs to be dismantled. What ones would you suggest?

      3. Say, changing justice systems that focus on retribution to focus on restoration? Implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Deaths in Custody? Consideration of the Uluru Statement? Serious discussion of what is seen as racism? …

      4. I’m not sure that the first will help black communities particularly. Retribution and restoration should both be part of the justice system – for all. The recommendations of the Royal Commission are not to overturn the state system. And I don’t know enough about the Uluru statement to comment on it…

      5. David, the manifesto says ‘dismantle… the state structures that disproportionately harm black people’. It does not say ‘overturn’. How many of the recommendations from the Royal Commission have been implemented to change (‘dismantle’) the ‘state structures that disproportionately harm black people’?
        When you say the 1967 referendum and Mabo decision ‘have nothing to do with the BLM movement’, arn’t you missing the point? Don’t they have everything to do with ‘Black lives matter’?

      6. I/m not quite sure I get the difference between ‘dismantle’ and ‘overturn’? I would suggest that BLM considers all of contemporary societies structures to ‘disproportionately harm black people’. It’s a catch all phrase that can mean anything..

  7. I frequently kneel (bow my knee?) when I am in church. I kneel in respect of God. “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10). But what exactly is the purpose of ‘bending the knee’ when it comes to defeating racism? Who or what are people bending their knees to? Is it just a random gesture? Could they have chosen bending their knee in the air just as easily?
    Given the Christian significance of ‘bending the knee’, ‘bending the knee’ in the context of defeating racism seems to be equivalent to being asked to burn incense in honour of a Roman Emperor.

    And just how is Robert the Bruce supposed to be guilty of racism?

  8. I am a Christian of Ghanaian descent (‘black’). When many of us say “black lives matter” or attend protests we are not actually co-signing with the organisation but rather joining in to highlight racial inequality and injustice. It would be great if we had some Christian organisations that would lead the way in speaking out against racial injustice as we would do so against modern day slavery, issues to do with euthanasia etc. Unfortunately we have none (that I am aware of).

    Perhaps we can focus more on how the church can be unified as a body where cultural expressions of worship are all accepted and celebrated. It hurts that many ‘white’ brothers and sisters are more so concerned with the politics, virtue signalling etc rather than the actual problem and solutions to this problem.

    1. Hi Tee – I agree entirely with highlighting racial inequality and injustice. And there are many Christian organisations who speak out against racial injustice – but is anyone listening? You are right about the church – I despise the abomination of one colour only churches and am thankful to have worked in churches which are multi-ethnic. The church at its best is the best expression of how to unite races – in Christ the dividing wall of partition is broken down.

      I notice you are from Ghana – because of a post I wrote challenging what I perceived to be the racist elitism of the Scottish Parliament in the way they treated the Ghananian president. I actually received a lovely message from your ambassador thanking me and saying that they were trying to build a country along biblical lines. I was so impressed! The article is here – https://theweeflea.com/2016/03/23/open-letter-to-president-mahama-of-ghana/

      1. Hi David

        Thanks for your article. Can you please name some of the Christian organisations which speak out against racial injustice?

        It would be great to have a biblical alternative to BLM to get behind and support.

        Re: statues – many people criticise the removal of statues as an erasure of history. But I don’t think this is the point. I think protesters feel that these people shouldn’t be lionised or celebrated. For example, Jimmy Saville did lots of charity work but I doubt many people would want a statue of him erected anywhere. Protesters are simply applying the same logic to slave traders too. You can preserve history without endorsing or celebrating those who perform evil acts.

        Thanks.

        Michael

  9. Thank you Rev David for your sensible approach and biblical grounding. It is imperative that we check out the aims of any organisation. Follow the money is always a good idea. Where are they funded from? How can they mobilise worldwide so rapidly? They are part of the globalisation plan to divide and rule. All their aims are the same as the globalists – they have no interest in black lives, only in power.
    I wrote to my Bishop to protest when he referred to systemic racism in the church. If that is true then we need to be called to repentance before God, not bow the knee to a hate filled anarchist mob, as he and his staff did for the Tv cameras.

  10. Racism is quite simply sin – sin against our fellow human beings and ultimately sin against God

    And yet it is evidenced in the bible and ‘okayed’ by your god.

      1. The Old Testament authors clearly thought God was ok with racism and race based violence. God never was, but they wrote down words saying he was. Sometimes the bible is instructive in how wrong people were about him. Jesus is the word of God. The bible is words of men.

      2. You don’t accept the Bible as the word of God. Jesus did. I follow Jesus – not sure who you follow – or which ‘god’ you are speaking about…

    1. I guess it really depends on what one means by ‘word of God’ doesn’t it. The ‘word of God’ Jesus spoke of was the Old Testament, exclusively. Should we deduce that Jesus was pro genocide one Millenia and then instructed us to love our enemies the next, as if being pro genocide was somehow a lesson we needed to learn, or perhaps the bible has cultural overtones and context we need to interpret and decipher. Even Paul himself was prudent enough to telegraph when he was speaking on his own behalf, not God’s, but there it is, in the bible, the word of God(?) Clearly not always. But the point is, so what? What does the bible being the word of God actually mean? Does it mean women not wearing hats, or speaking in church is a sin, a fundamentalist view would have to say so. But we need to interpret the ‘word of God’ and understand cultural bias and overtones don’t we, seems like there is a lot of humanity we need to work through to get to the God bit at times. Interesting to say the least…

      1. The word of God is the bible – as Jesus says Scripture cannot be broken. It’s not that difficult – unlike you pick ‘n’ mix approach.

    2. So hermeneutics isn’t even a thing now? Yikes. It’s this type of fundamentalism that creates a crisis of faith in people when they discover the earth isn’t 6000 years old and made in a 7 day week. It’s entirely unhelpful…

      1. It sounds as though you don’t know either what hermeneutics or logic is? And you clearly have little understanding of what the bible says…speaking of being unhelpful.

      2. I offer a discussion on the problem of biblical violence, it’s ignored. I raise the importance of humanity and cultural nuance in understanding biblical intent, I’m accused of ignorance and general stupidity. I highlight the problems of a fundamentalist interpretation of the bible that can’t withstand scientific rigour and I’m accused of following the wrong God. Is ridiculing people holding contrary views part of the ‘third space’ manifesto David, or have I caught you on a bad day? You’ve played the man and not the ball, it’s pretty poor form.

      3. Except that’s not what you did. You presented a caricatured straw man and claimed that the Bible is not the Word of God. I didn’t ridicule your views – your simplistic attempt at mocking the Bible, and those (like Christ) who believe it is the Word of God – was challenged. If you can’t cope with that don’t resort to the ‘you’re not nice’ approach. Next time be a little more considerate in what you post and don’t offer such simplistic accusations.

      4. Fair enough, I thought the post on ‘what does the bible being the word of God mean’ would have been a reasonable point of clarity, despite my provocative start. It’s a really important question. Fine, the bible is the word of God, but what does that mean? There are clear creation account errors, ‘trees did not come before stars’ and so many more. So what does that ‘error’ mean we should do with the bible, is it all false? No, but is it all inerrant? Clearly not, if I’m pushing back on anything, or at least trying to get people to think, is that the bible is not written by God alone, it is steeped in human thinking, blood, culture and dust. If Jesus was 100% man and 100% God, there are times when the bible is at any given point on that spectrum, and it’s important to acknowledge that and work through it. If you hold a fundamentalist view, I guess I should respect that, and hope that if people read this who are struggling with it, that they don’t feel the need to through baby Jesus out with the bathwater of literal biblical interpretation. We can agree that following Jesus is the path to life, that might have to do for now. All the best.

      5. The bible was inspired by God – why should you think it incredible that an Almighty God could use fallible human beings to give us his infallible word. Genesis 1 is not a scientific text book. How do you know who Jesus is, if you don’t have the Bible – or you just have a pick ‘n’mix approach to the bible – where you choose the bits you like and leave out the bits you don’t like? You are just making your own personal Jesus. As to holding to a fundamentalist view – that is precisely what you are doing – your fundamental beliefs determine what God is or is not saying….

      6. What’s really interesting is that almighty God used fallible humans to explain a creation account that is demonstrably incorrect, if interpreted literally. I guess that’s what I’m pointing at, he could have easily inspired people to put things in the right order, but he didn’t (why?) and that’s not got much to do with it being a science book or not, but an accurate creation poem. And this I think is my point, we need to wrestle with scripture, if there is a part I don’t like (and there are plenty) especially the genocide stuff, it’s my job to wrestle with it and try and understand what the authors (human) Intent, what was the culture was like at the time and what can we learn about (God) from it, what did people think God was like at the time? What is eternal, what is not? We need to do the work to get behind it all, I bring beliefs and biases to the book, so do we all, it’s the wrestle that changes us. If we simply say, it’s perfect and everything is coherent (it’s not) God said it, that settles it, then there is no wrestle. Do women need to wear hats in church? No. But what was Paul’s intent by writing that, what can I learn about God from his point of view? It’s where we take those words literally, and words like them, that we get into trouble. We all pick n mix, I don’t think I’ve been to a church where women cover there heads. I’ve enjoyed the discussion, it’s reminded me that I need to take the bible seriously, but not literally, and it was the wrestle with you that got me there. Thanks.

  11. David,
    The Sydney rally – at least the large one which you thought of going to -was not organised by the UK or even the US Black Lives Matter organisation but by a group called Indigenous Social Justice Association.
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/439781042698959/
    They share a slogan and hashtag with the groups you mention, and maybe there are some things they stand for that you don’t agree with.
    ISJA seem far more focussed on Deaths in Custody and Aboriginal rights that the manifestos you discuss.

  12. Thanks David for another excellent article.
    What we are seeing is a playing out of the work of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s, ‘Hegemony and Socialist Strategy’, which builds on Gramsci in order to find a way for the Left to establish its own hegemony to bring about what they term, ‘radical democracy.’ They argue that given the social complexity that now exists, what is required to effect social change is not simply the mobilisation of a single class (the proletariat) but a bringing together under one umbrella all the diverse groups which are engaged in their own struggles: urban, ecological, feminist, anti-racist, ethnic, sexual minorities. They argue that the narrative which will enable the energy of these disparate groups to be harnessed for social change is the use of power. This is a product of the social organisation of Western society, they say, which is not only capitalist but inherently sexist, patriarchal and racist. Whilst in recent years many shrill voices have been raised highlighting the ‘big three’ evils of our day, it is the last one- that of inherent racism- which has taken centre stage and is the concern of many in the mass crowds on the streets of our cities accompanied by a good deal of rage.

    Laclau and Mouffe propose that part of the socialist strategy to bring about the new Hegemony of the Left is for what they call external ‘actors’ to those who are in unequal power relations to draw attention to the fact. Thus advocates of identity politics and intersectionality incessantly remind us that our societies are racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic and the list goes on. These oppressions form part of an interlocking web which somehow must be unpicked if radical democracy is to be achieved. Such an ‘unpicking’ is now occurring big time on both side of ‘the pond’.

    At the moment, racial oppression is the blue touch paper being lit by ‘external actors’ such as the Bishop of Dover, Labour MP, Dawn Butler and many others (including celebrities in the USA who have paid the bail of those arrested for rioting). When it is claimed (but not empirically shown) that English or American society is ‘systemically’ racist and that not to explicitly support BLM is itself a racist act (‘silence is violence’) then the neo-Marxist meme is very much in evidence.

  13. It might well be worth adding to my previous comments that none of this is not to deny that individuals or political groupings exist who are avowedly racist and need to be challenged, or that none of us have prejudices, racist or otherwise which need to be checked; but to see everything in terms of identity politics is hardly a formula for harmony, quite the opposite, it will harden present divisions and give rise to new ones.

  14. Thank you for this thoughtful and God-honouring argument. This is the kind of help the Church needs at this time of huge confusion and self-righteousness. Regarding the BLM website, reading what they actually believe, as you point out, is so important. Let’s all read the small print before signing the document! Keep up the great work David. (I’m also enjoying reading your A.S.K book with my teenager.)

  15. An interesting read, and you seem like a good person, but I’m curious as to your thought process here. Surely, as a Christian, you read the teachings of Christ in the hope to assimilate them so that, in moments like these, you can ask yourself, with love and humility, what would Christ do?
    Is the job of a Christian not to spread peace and love in his name? Jesus wouldn’t delve into the politics, he would show unity and compassion.

    1. Yes – what would Jesus do is the question. What does unity and compassion mean? Are you presupposing that supporting BLM means showing unity and compassion? I think it brings disunity and hatred. Would Jesus do that?

  16. What a great opportunity and challenge to demonstrate to a hostile world the truth of Galatians 3:28 in our churches. I was reading this quote from J Piper: “The Roman Emperor Julian, writing in the fourth century, regretted the progress of Christianity because it pulled people away from the Roman gods. He said, ‘Atheism [I.e. the Christian faith!] has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.” As Jesus Himself put it: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Actions speak louder than words! The BLM movement cannot compete with 1. Corinthians 13. Keep up your good work, David!

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