In general there are three macro pathways to heresy. The first is that you add to Scripture. This is legalism. The second is to take away from Scripture. This is where beliefs like antinomianism come from. The third macro way is to “read into” Scripture. And by read into, I am referring to things that aren’t there. This is gnosticism. The Social Justice Gospel is a damnable gospel that deviates in all three of these categories. In a recent post published on JD Greear’s website we see the legalism of this woke heresy’s call for racial reconciliation. Janetta Oni is the communications director for Summit Church, JD Greear’s North Carolina megachurch and the author of “Racial Reconciliation and the Church: Same Song, New Response.”
This is a compounded trauma. I use the word “trauma” because I want Black people to know that the trauma they feel is a real thing. This trauma operates in three ways.
First, there’s the historical trauma, which a friend likened to a mother who’s lost three generations of children: during slavery, during Jim Crow, and now, at the hands of police brutality.
Second, we also have the trauma of our own experience, and that scar tissue starts to itch when it brings up our own individual racial trauma.
Last, there’s the vicarious trauma of watching, for instance, an eight-minute and 46-second video of a Black man being mercilessly killed. We are all deeply disturbed by the video of George Floyd’s death. But for the Black community, it strikes differently. We think, “Wait. I’m Breonna. I’m Ahmaud. I’m George Floyd.” We felt our bodies screaming, “Is this us? Am I next?”
Oni begins by treating the experience of all black people as the same. In argumentation, it’s unwise to speak dogmatically in absolutes, for they can easily be disproved. First, not all black people experience trauma. But Oni goes one to describe the three ways black people experience trauma. The first is historical, but doesn’t apply to African immigrants to the United States. The second is individual, assuming everyone has one. The third assumes that every black person identifies as George Floyd in that video because he’s black, not because he’s being murdered, for which race is likely not the motive. Oni continues.
Now the church is being called to lead in mourning, in lament, in solidarity, and in a renewed commitment to racial justice. Many of my white brothers and sisters are wrestling with this process in a fresh way, wondering how they connect to centuries-old sins like slavery. They are beginning to grapple with their role in the racial disparities of our society today. They are asking about white supremacy—what it means and how we might dismantle it.
Let me explain how white people connect to the sins of the past: they don’t. When I look at my own history, my Italian ancestors immigrated from Italy after the Civil War. Most Italian immigrants came from Sicily. The history of Sicily is one of war and instability, dating back to antiquity. Its people have known slavery and after immigrating to America, they knew discrimination as well. My ancestry is untied to slavery, and even if it were, my sin which Jesus atoned would not include the sins my my ancestors. Oni talks about white people beginning to wrestle this process, but what she is describing is not an enlightenment, but a pervasive, culturally Marxist propaganda campaign.
The second item worth noting is that Oni equates racial disparities with systemic racism, as most woke people do. And therefore, even though Asian Americans outperform White Americans, there must be white supremacy behind every corner.
Like others in the church, I build my worldview based on what Christ has done in me. But I’m also an American, and I’m also a Black woman. I’m a product of my mother and my mother’s mother and the mothers that came before her. The legacy they have left for me is something I can’t ignore. I’m a product of my family’s history.
As are you. As are we all.
In language, “but” negates what came before. So when Oni describes her Christ centered worldview, she immediately negates it by revealing that race is the source of her worldview. And she treats this as a universal truth. But (see what I’m doing here) this is not true for everyone. Going back to myself as an example, I am not really the product of previous generations. I am the product of my parents, and my grandparents are largely separated from my worldview formation. In Christ, my upbringing is more aligned with other Christians who grew up in the church. I am a product of my parent’s faith and the church, not my forefathers and skin color. This excerpt is rather revealing of Oni’s worldview.
Racial reconciliation is a gospel issue. When Jesus was asked what the greatest law was, he said it is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength—and, though they didn’t ask for a second one, he told them anyway that you are to love your neighbor as yourself. We say that as a blanket statement that has no nuance to it. How do I love someone as myself? I’ve got to figure out what’s going on in their life, and I also have to look at my own life and how I love myself. If we don’t do that as the church, then people won’t trust us. If people feel like they can’t trust us with their body and their melanin, then they won’t trust us with their soul, either.
There’s a lot wrong with the hermaneutic here. Oni claims that racial reconciliation is a gospel issue. To make the claim would be to say that those who disagree are heretics. There are gospel issues. Let me list several:
- Hypostatic Union
- Christ’s Physical Resurrection
- Christ’s Second-Coming
- The Virgin Birth
- Substitutionary Atonement
- Salvation by Grace Alone through Faith Alone
- Original Sin
- Christian life of repentance (Lordship Salvation)
Racial reconciliation does not belong on the list. And only Scripture referenced in the well-known line of Jesus that does not directly speak to it. It’s one thing to deny the faith of someone who for instance doesn’t believe Mary was an actual virgin at the time when Jesus was born. It’s another level, one I do not endorse because of theological study, to question the faith of someone who does not believe in six physical days of creation. Six eras, in my opinion is a biblically inferior position, but if one hold it not because they lack faith but because they believe this gives God more glory, I would not question their faith. These issues are questions of the meaning of Scripture, whether Scripture actually says Mary was a virgin or six physical days. However, what it means to love your neighbor is a question of the application of Scripture.
The application of Scripture can change depending on the covenant or our unique circumstances. Loving your neighbor has universal elements, see the 10 Commandments, but going above and beyond the threshold of not sinning against them is a matter of unique application, as no two people are the same. To equate one application as universal command, an Oni does is legalism. Not all legalism is damnable, for instance, older Christians may know that rock and roll music “was of the devil”. This application of Scripture was legalistic, but not heretical. The Bible gives a command in Romans 14 to not misapply Scripture to that which is not expressly forbidden.
Oni moves on to get the order of operations wrong. If people to not trust in God, if they are unregenerate, they will not trust the church. There have always been secular arguments to tear down the church. Many are without legitimacy, and, the ones that are, we need not listen to the outside world to figure out.
After this damnable paragraph, Oni shifts to speaking of sanctification and closes with this:
Sanctification is slow, and there is no “done.” That’s the posture we should take with racial justice and reconciliation. We are being sanctified together as the church in the United States, and we shouldn’t jump to solutions any more than we should jump to “three ways to quick sanctification.”
What I’m talking about here isn’t about complacency, but about pace. Just because the journey is a slow one does not mean it’s an optional one. I have faith that I will see my God offer to us this far-off solution in the land of the living. But, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I declare that “even if he does not,” I will engage the church in racial discipleship with eternal hope.
When we commit to the long haul of repentance and reconciliation and acknowledge God in all our ways, then he will make our paths straight.
With sanctification, there is an end goal. It is completed upon our deaths where we will be freed from Adam’s sin. With racial reconciliation, she never explains what it looks like. What starts out as an erroneous comparison of sanctification with racial reconciliation, becomes a damnable conflation of the two. But as stated before, sanctification has an ending: death. Racial reconciliation does not, despite its worldliness. When she talks about racial discipleship, she is boasting about bringing foreign ideas into the church. Let me cite Colossians 2:8 NASB:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
Oni is here to deceive the church and take Jesus’ flock captive. She is using philosophy (Marxism) and empty deception (see below) appealing to men rather than Christ.
Despite being JD Greear’s communications director, Oni’s biblical knowledge is severely lacking in this argument about a “gospel issue.” She does not describe what racial reconciliation is, talk about tangible applications, or desired outcomes. It’s simply left as a vague mandate upon which the salvation of Christians hinges. Her argument is simply left to trying to guilt people with past sins to present action. And should someone fall to this guilt trip, they will also fall to whatever comes next. This is empty deception on racial reconciliation.
This is also empty deception on Scripture. I am not trying to call certain passages cliche. I am noting that the three references to Scripture, (Jesus’ greatest commandments, Isaiah 6, & Daniel 3. Oni speaks “Christianese” while undercutting the gospel. She does not go beyond well-known passages, like I do in this rebuttal. Even worse, she does not cite the most applicable passages to the concept of racial reconciliation. The New Testament has numerous passages about the reconciliation of Jew and Greek believers. One could make the case the Greeks oppressed the Jew, though this would be presentism. But these passages do not support the postmodern ideas of racial reconciliation we see today. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek. To apply this Scripture today would be: In Christ there is neither black nor white, because our identity is in Christ not our melanin levels. She doesn’t aim for this because Satan knows that these verses do not support her arguments. And thus her entire argument is substantively insolvent.
Ultimately, this article is significant because JD Greear is significant. As head of the Southern Baptist Convention, JD Greear has fought hard to beachhead Critical Race Theory in the SBC and to maintain it there. Greear employs Oni and published her words on his website, without disclaimer. Greear is promoting damnable legalism. As Christians we cannot allow squishes to run churches.