Racism In The PCA and Reformed Seminaries

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Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
if he is willing, then I will gladly share with the board.

If he's OPC, there's a fairly good chance that he qualifies for membership here. If I recall some of the previous exchanges, it sounded like he was ill prepared for the cross cultural ministry in which he found himself.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
If he's OPC, there's a fairly good chance that he qualifies for membership here. If I recall some of the previous exchanges, it sounded like he was ill prepared for the cross cultural ministry in which he found himself.

He would certainly qualify for membership here, but I don't think he'd be interested. What "previous exchanges" are you referring to? Have I mentioned him before? Do you know who I am speaking of? If so, my apologies but I don't recall.
 

JS116

Puritan Board Freshman
We need to remember that racism is a part of the Fall, not geography, or even history. There has always been racism, and there always will be. Racism among larger ethic groups, between groups, etc. The reason I say this is not to excuse racism - it is a heinous sin - but rather to remind us that the solution is not to be more "educated," more "tolerant" or more "kind." The solution is the gospel. The Church is the only place on earth that is self-consciously pan-national and pan-racial (Rev. 1:7; 5:9; Gal. 3:28). That is the whole point - that God is the God of all people (Acts 17:26). If we do not keep this front and center we can be like Jonah - afraid to bring the grace of God to others.

Agreed and well said Pastor Greco

Like you stated "the solution is the gospel",but what happens when those who get up in the pulpit Sunday mornings and proclaim the power of salvation and don't even trust it enough to live it out?It's not that these people in history and today accused of racism dont know the gospel,they do,but the problem of today is that we undermine the power and cost of it.We think we can say "All is one in Christ" and throw our hands up to say we have it settled.

After reading and dawning on the subject I have come up with this..

The gospel is redemption and reconciliation of all mankind to God offered unfavorably and freely to those who place their trust in the works and person Lord Jesus Christ only,I dont have any hopes(at least on this earth) to see world racism ended,just as I dont have any hopes of every man to stop,lying,stealing,fornicating,murdering or any other sin by the corruption of the fall.My hopes is to see in those who DO profess Christ to be aware of how deep a problem racism has in today's churches and to be aware how it in different ways has affected everyone one of us and the body as a whole.We who embrace the Reformed faith of all people should be the main ones speaking today against it,seeing how we oppose liberalism,modernism and all types of different types of ideologies,but accept the doctrines of grace which proclaims all man is sinful and without God the holy spirit alone working in the regeneration of man and actively sanctifying our lives and renewing our minds on a daily all hope is lost for ALL of us.

it is such an importance to not let it go on it because if we believe all scripture to be inspired 2Tim 3:16,it means Revelation 5:9 too must be true, and without racial reconciliation of ALL God's people we deny the historic orthodox doctrine of the atonement.That's why I think it is much needed to be discussed in churches.
 
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Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
What "previous exchanges" are you referring to? Have I mentioned him before?
Perhaps I'm confusing him with someone else, or perhaps it was someone else that referenced him on an earlier thread about race and religion. Since I've never been particularly successful with the PB search function, it's unlikely that I can come up with the posts that I'm thinking of.

-------

Here's one mention, but I don't seem to have responded:

" I personally know of a pastor (who is white BTW) who left a reformed pastorate in Mississippi approximately 10 years ago because people in the church, including leadership, held discriminatory views against blacks."

Your post #50 on this thread: http://www.puritanboard.com/f40/genetic-differences-racial-differences-sons-ham-68623/index2.html

I'm not sure if this is the reference that I recall.
 
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Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Thanks Edward. I didn't think I was old enough for my memory to be going quite yet! Yes, I was referencing the same minister. As far as whether or not he was ill-prepared for the cross-cultural ministry, I think I'd disagree with you. It's not like he went to do inner-city ministry in the heart of Harlem. He went to pastor a church that was predominantly Caucasion in rural Mississippi. Maybe you're right though. Again, it'd be best to email him and have him give his first hand account rather than me elaborate about his situation.
 

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
Anecdotal, I know, but the only place I ever heard congregants use racial slurs (at least one time was in the sanctuary) was in northern MS. On the other hand, they also had the odd quirk of seeming to occasionally use a slur, yet in a positive connotation. Usage in general seemed to be fairly limited to one generation, though.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
And I have to admit that I do chafe at Dr. Bradley's statement that "no one ever told him." Why does someone have to tell him? Why didn't he do his own digging and find out for himself? I know for one that he never came downstairs to the PCA Historical Center in the years that he was employed by Covenant Seminary. I would have been glad to help with his questions.

Bingo!! His article does touch on some issues that younger people today would not tend to think about, although it is by no means a complete (nor balanced) picture of things. I remember reading this when it came out and was flabbergasted, honestly, with the statement that "no one ever told me." Birmingham 1973. Birmingham 1973. Birmingham 1973. Wouldn't that raise some flags with regard to integration, Civil Rights, etc. for an educated African-American man who (if I'm not mistaken) was raised in the South? EDIT: In fairness, the internet was in its infancy in the early 1990's so a lot of this information like the article I link below as well as the PCA Historical Center was not as readily available at the time. But there was a lot of time after that in which these issues could have been investigated, as you note.

No doubt the kinists who hounded him and perhaps continue to hound him was a very troubling thing, but I think he vastly overstates their influence. And they've been run out of some Presbyterian churches. I know that at least one was run off this board several years ago and if I recall correctly was reported to his elders. Few of them are in mainstream churches, from what I understand. There was the recent case in the Carolinas alluded to in this thread in which what amounts to segregation was repudiated.

I think that Pastor Bob Vincent's article Tensions in Conservative Presbyterianism gives a more balanced and far more informed account. Knowing Bob fairly well, my guess is that it was written at a time (probably about 15 years ago if not longer as he left the PCA in 1997) in which he was attempting to deal with Steve Wilkins, (who is no longer PCA) The League of the South and related issues. I think that may be what the "Confederate" resistance reference at the end alludes to, among other things.

Although the PCA's history is complicated with what was going on at the time of its formation, the same kinds of issues can be found among Baptists and pretty much anywhere else where you have people who grew up under Jim Crow or else were raised with that kind of mentality. I've heard of several stories of blacks within the past 10 years coming into Baptist churches only to be directed to a black Baptist church in the area after the service. I think some of this is frustration on Dr. Bradley's part that the current "Reformed Resurgence" among African Americans is much more evident in baptistic circles than it is among Presbyterians, which have remained largely white. There are many other reasons for that besides racism, whether overt or covert.

I also question Dr. Bradley's characterization of the relative isolation of Korean Presbyterians. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but based on reports from PCA pastors I'm acquainted with, their isolation is at least as much of a result of their preference as it is some kind of plot by whites to permanently relegate them to second-class status.
 
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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I also question Dr. Bradley's characterization of the relative isolation of Korean Presbyterians. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but based on reports from PCA pastors I'm acquainted with, their isolation is at least as much of a result of their preference as it is some kind of plot by whites to permanently relegate them to second-class status.
Interestingly, during the last GA the subject of whether the Korean Churches should still be a separate Presbytery came up for discussion on the floor. A TE wondered if the arrangement still made sense where the Korean Presbyteries fall under the broader authority of the PCA.

A middle-aged Korean American elder stood up to implore that the relationship remain as it was. There are still many congregations in which the older generation still speaks Korean and the time was not right yet to change the way things were arranged as they were working well. He expressed his great gratitude for the PCA. Thus, while someone bemoans the way he believes the Korean Churches are treated as "outsiders", they feel a warm kinship to us.

On that note, I exhorted today at the Korean Agape Church as I do about once a month. They are a small Korean American Church that meets at the worship location of a sister PCA congregation. I'm on the rotation to exhort at their 7 am service. As noted above, the older Koreans present rely on the interpreter while it is clear that the younger adults and children can understand everything I'm saying without the translator. I love those saints and they love the saints of our local PCA congregations.

I guess, in the end, I know that racism exists and it certainly existed in Paul's time in a way that was terribly acute. I wish the author of the blog post would follow the Biblical example and call out specific acts of un-Christian behavior when they occur rather than broad-brushing the Bride of Christ. Paul didn't say: "You Churches are racist" but he spoke to their identity in Christ and called them to who they were in Him. Labeling Christians as racists is not the Biblical pattern. Racism is a sin and we need to call people out of it but when they're Christians they are called to be who they are. He doesn't exhort to the identity of Christians but labels as if they are simply sinners.
 

Bob66

Puritan Board Freshman
The more things change, the more they remain the same......

I'm 66 years old white male, born and raised in South Mississippi. I am very familiar with racism. There was a time when there was no question that far too many whites were determined to keep this country seperate and unequal. And many of our churches today are still occupied by those who grew up in the segregated South, including myself. But I sense nothing today that could even approach the attitudes I once regarded as the norm.....But the past has left a barrier we have not been able to remove.....You can verify this unfortunate reality, by simply stopping by any PCA, EPC, PCUS, First Baptist, Methodist, or any given church, in any city and see a black majority in black churches and a white majority in white churches....You can go to almost any city in the country and see what amounts to segregated housing. Go to any public school, or college and see groups usually clustered according to race. I can only say that as one currently in a predomately white Presbyterian church, that we have been for years making a major effort to break through this barrier that remains.....We have major tutoring programs in predomatley black schools, we have endevored to reach out to the black communtiy in many ways, but sad to say we still remain essentially Christians in different worlds.... I wish I knew the solution? We could quote Scripture until we were blue in the face, but tomorrow will dawn with things as is...... Frankly, I think we have become too comfortable over many decades isolated in our own churches, with our own race, in our own parts of town. We're safe there, or so we think......We can easily blame each other, but we're all failures, black and white, for NOT living what we preach from our pulpits, and in our Sunday Schools....
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I'm 66 years old white male, born and raised in South Mississippi. I am very familiar with racism. There was a time when there was no question that far too many whites were determined to keep this country seperate and unequal. And many of our churches today are still occupied by those who grew up in the segregated South, including myself. But I sense nothing today that could even approach the attitudes I once regarded as the norm.....But the past has left a barrier we have not been able to remove.....You can verify this unfortunate reality, by simply stopping by any PCA, EPC, PCUS, First Baptist, Methodist, or any given church, in any city and see a black majority in black churches and a white majority in white churches....You can go to almost any city in the country and see what amounts to segregated housing. Go to any public school, or college and see groups usually clustered according to race. I can only say that as one currently in a predomately white Presbyterian church, that we have been for years making a major effort to break through this barrier that remains.....We have major tutoring programs in predomatley black schools, we have endevored to reach out to the black communtiy in many ways, but sad to say we still remain essentially Christians in different worlds.... I wish I knew the solution? We could quote Scripture until we were blue in the face, but tomorrow will dawn with things as is...... Frankly, I think we have become too comfortable over many decades isolated in our own churches, with our own race, in our own parts of town. We're safe there, or so we think......We can easily blame each other, but we're all failures, black and white, for NOT living what we preach from our pulpits, and in our Sunday Schools....

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a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
'A middle-aged Korean American elder stood up to implore that the relationship remain as it was. There are still many congregations in which the older generation still speaks Korean and the time was not right yet to change the way things were arranged as they were working well. He expressed his great gratitude for the PCA. Thus, while someone bemoans the way he believes the Korean Churches are treated as "outsiders", they feel a warm kinship to us.

On that note, I exhorted today at the Korean Agape Church as I do about once a month. They are a small Korean American Church that meets at the worship location of a sister PCA congregation. I'm on the rotation to exhort at their 7 am service. As noted above, the older Koreans present rely on the interpreter while it is clear that the younger adults and children can understand everything I'm saying without the translator. I love those saints and they love the saints of our local PCA congregations.'

I read this this evening in the Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah of the Jews during the dispersion, and couldn't help thinking of an analogy with Colossians 3:

'A nation, the vast majority of which was dispersed over the whole inhabited earth, had ceased to be a special, and become a world-nation. Yet its heart beat in Jerusalem, and thence the life-blood passed to its most distant members.'

' . . .put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.'


It's true that our churches often reflect the fact that our society has economic/social/cultural 'comfort zones'. Even in predominantly white churches, not a lot of lower class people are found in upper-middle class churches; and I think this is as much about the comfort zone of the lower classes as about the comfort zone of the upper middle classes; and is not a uniquely 'American' problem. We were in a church in Mexico where almost all the people were very poor; my husband visited another church in Mexico more recently where most of the people were relatively well to do. (I wonder if classism is not actually a larger contributing factor now than racism in our largely homogenous churches?) There are cultural comfort zones as well: I probably wouldn't choose to attend a Korean church over a similar non-Korean church. This isn't ideal and there have to be ways to make more conscious efforts against it; but the fact that people have different comfort zones doesn't have to mean that we have no value for each other, or that we don't love each other as one body in the Lord; that we don't all know and love the knowledge that our hearts beat from the same center, and the life blood flows to us from the same Lord. The fact that I wouldn't naturally feel most comfortable in a Korean church doesn't mean I undervalue Koreans, or think my Lord does.

Incidentally, though I dearly love my home church, the church I have felt most at home in was oddly the poor Hispanic one in Mexico City. I still feel like I'm missing an arm, because of missing those people.
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
What bothers me most about this is not that there are racists in the PCA, but that there aren't any racists. What I mean is that while I have heard members confess all sorts of heinous sins, I'm not sure I have ever heard someone confess the sin of racism. You'd think that where elders in the church were members of the White Citizens' Council there would be some room for repentance and reconciliation.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
most of my friends use (excuse my usage of it if it offends anybody) nigger, negro, and nigga as greeting terms for their white friends along with many jokes about black stereotypes.
And why do you call these people "friends"?

Actually thank you for pointing that out to me, and I don't hang out with those people as much as I used to (mainly because of sexual nature of the conversation (none of them are Christians), by the way this a group of people who all hang out with each other). But they've always been my "friends".

Andres, Are you going to condemn someone for having friends that use language that you don't find appropriate? You don't have non Christian friends? I have a lot of them. From all walks of life. And from my experience it is the African Americans who use this terminology the most. And I might add that some of the best friends I have had have been non Christians. I led one of those non Christians to Christ last year. I loved him and he actually shared a brotherly love with me for years. And his speech would have made you not be or accept his friendship if you truly live by what you seemed to be coming down on Rufus for.

On a side note I became a Christian after being invited to join the KKK. I refused. I hate racism. It was one of the goads God used to draw me to himself. I have to admit that I don't have as strong of an appreciation for all cultures but that has nothing to do with skin color. The Churches I have belonged to over the past decades have all had diversity of ethnic background. One of my Elders is Black. One of my Elders was raised Brahmin I believe. They are Godly men and much better than I am. My Congregation has mixed marriages oriental with whites, Black with whites, and so on. The RPCNA led the way for the past 150 years basically in the racial and slavery issue. The President of the Bible College I attended was Black and had a white wife. He was also one of my Elders when I attended College Park Baptist Church.

I would like to say this. Drudging up the past isn't always beneficial. Moving on and allowing repentance to have its work is sometimes the best. Sometimes stirring up the past only exacerbates the issue. Please don't remind me of my sinful past. Some people have refused to forgive me. And they still want people to remember me for my past. Sometimes I think that is all that is going on. The accuser of the brethren just wants to do his work.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Andres, Are you going to condemn someone for having friends that use language that you don't find appropriate? You don't have non Christian friends?

Randy, you do make a good point and I apologize to Sean for condemning him. He's an intelligent young man, so he doesn't need me to tell him who to be friends with. With that said, I don't think I'd be friends with someone who used racist language. I can put up with some other coarse words from pagans, but racism would be where I drew the line.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Andres, Are you going to condemn someone for having friends that use language that you don't find appropriate? You don't have non Christian friends?

Randy, you do make a good point and I apologize to Sean for condemning him. He's an intelligent young man, so he doesn't need me to tell him who to be friends with. With that said, I don't think I'd be friends with someone who used racist language. I can put up with some other coarse words from pagans, but racism would be where I drew the line.
Andre,
I believe in this scenerio it isn't about racism. Either way, you have stated where you would stand and I just think you might be cutting people off who you would truly be loved by and be able to love. I have friends from many walks of life. Some are gay, some are pot smokers, Some are just plain good ole folk without these hangups. Some are lawyers. LOL. Some people use this terminology as terms of endearment. Go figure. A lot of my non Christian friends use the Lord's name in vain. And I personally think that is more sinful. Either way, you have stated where you stand.

Be Encouraged,
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Randy, I wanted to be clear I'm not arguing that I'm right in my position. I hope this is an issue where the Lord's grace can work in me. I certainly have my own sins that other have to deal with.
 

seajayrice

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'd agree with Randy, if there is charity for lawyers and journalist, surely we can forbear with racists.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Part of what bothers me about all this is the way the PCA seems to be blamed for things outside its control and time. For example:
How desegregation led to the launching of Christian schools in Jackson, MS.
The Brown decision (or to be more accurate, its later enforcement) led whites throughout the south to start various "Christian" academies. Sadly, the folks that started these academies also held strong political control and often lowered the funding for the newly segregated public schools to the point that they were decimated. The PCA is to be blamed for this? What I saw in the PCA around 1980 were some of the earliest families in the home school movement: these families could not send their children to the state schools, nor could they support the white-flight academies. So they started teaching at home.

I'm also a bit unsettled by the "not in my state, the other states are the prejudiced ones" offered during this discussion. Some differences should be considered. In the south, we were taught to maintain a kind of formality in our relationships with others, particularly those we did not know well. This did not mean that everyone maintained an open mind to those of different races or ideas, just that these opinions would not generally be spoken. In other parts of the country, people tended to be more in-your-face: the behavior during the busing movements in northern school districts amply displayed this. No part of the country was immune to racism. Some just talked about it more.

However, the idea that the media produced the image of a racist south is laughable. There was nothing imaginary about the train loads of people that moved north to gain the opportunity to make improvements in their lives. If you want an idea about how badly things could be, read: Like Judgment Day

I've got tons more I could say, but will stop for now and get some sleep. Just don't get sucked into the idea that the modern reformed churches and scholars furthered racism and that this was somehow kept secret.
 

GulfCoast Presbyterian

Puritan Board Junior
Having lived all over the United States, and a good portion of my life in Mississippi, my observation is that racism is most certainly not confined to the South, or more (or less) prevelent in Mississippi, or confined to caucasians. It is a consequence of sin, of which we should constantly be on the alert, in both our own lives, and others.
 

jfschultz

Puritan Board Junior
There have been many good comments on this.

I had passing fellowship with a number of the early PCA'ers in the late 60's and early 70's at the Pensacola Theological Institute. I do not recall anything racist being said. The old PCUS, with perhaps a few exceptions, did not expand beyond Dixie. That being said remember many of these founding elders were in the ministry in to 40's, 50's and 60's and are creatures of their time and culture. I would not be surprised if they had some hint of racism in their personal lives.

(I do remember one Q&A when a number of the speakers commented on men with long hair. Dr. Calvin Malefyt, of University Reformed Church, Ann Arbor, MI, stood up, pointing to the stained glass windows, asked "What about Him?")

Sometimes these "scholars" grab a straws. I ran across an article on-line a few years ago where the mid-60's split at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis that formed Independent Presbyterian Church as a prime example. That "oxymoron on Walnut Grove" only joined the PCA within the last decade!
 

ericfromcowtown

Puritan Board Sophomore
I would like to say this. Drudging up the past isn't always beneficial. Moving on and allowing repentance to have its work is sometimes the best. Sometimes stirring up the past only exacerbates the issue. Please don't remind me of my sinful past. Some people have refused to forgive me. And they still want people to remember me for my past. Sometimes I think that is all that is going on. The accuser of the brethren just wants to do his work.

:ditto:
 

sdesocio

Puritan Board Freshman
I think Duncan wrote a response to this article that seemed to be pretty honestly repentant. Racism is a problem, but I tend to think Bradley is looking to intentionally push himself away from the PCA... Just saying. There are not a ton of Black guys in the PCA, but the ones who are there might be better people to ask than Bradley. Ie Rae Whitlock, or Doug Logan, or Wy Plummer, or any other number of guys.
 
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