Ethnic Conceit as Denial of Christ


Allow me to start by saying that I am not trying to pick on A.S. Protestant particularly. It is just that I saw this float by attached to someone in my Twitter feed—and because as it stands it encapsulates almost perfectly a sentiment that needs to be answered and refuted maybe five or six times, and with a cricket bat, I thought that perhaps something should be done. I am therefore taking it at face value in order to use it as a foil. Later on in the post, I will grant that the tweet could have a possible range of other meanings, less egregious but still bad. How’s that for an introduction?

And so sure. And Henry is taller than a pig is fat.

The logical problem here is the informal fallacy of equivocation. This happens when someone uses one term that has different definitions, but he acts as though only one definition is operative. The spiritual problem with doing this will be addressed a little bit later, as the logical problem will do for starters.

The example of this fallacy that I have used with my logic students, designed to highlight the dodgy nature of what is going on, is this one: “God is love. Love is blind. Ray Charles is blind. God is . . .”

In the example above, the word brother is being used in three different ways. There is the “ethnic brother.” There is the “brother in Christ.” Then there is the “brother to me.” These are all placed side by side, as if we were comparing things that actually occupied the same level, deciding which object on the shelf we liked the best. And then we are told that a particular arrangement of these things on that one shelf was “the truth.” The truth?

So the last man that Rahab had been with in Jericho was more of a brother to her than the two spies that she hid in faith, being therefore justified. Is that how this works?

Stretching that Elastic Term

How much work is that phrase “brother to me” going to have to do in all of this? It is going to have to do a lot of work, honestly, and so it is good that it is so elastic and flexible, the way all such subjective judgments necessarily are. But this is not to deny the relevance of that subjective element. Scripture does acknowledge circumstances where such a subjective factor really does have a say.

“There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Proverbs 18:24b (KJV)

So it makes sense to say that a true friend was more of a “brother to me” than a biological brother who let me down. That happens, sure enough, and so it is not a problem that this use of brother is elastic. The problem comes when you use the elastic term while pretending that it is not elastic—that is where the equivocation comes in. So the meaning can depend entirely on the circumstances, and frequently those circumstances will mess with the thesis of the tweet as registered above. Notice that in the proverb it was the bio-brother who did not stick as close as the friend did.

And which of the three travelers—the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan—was a “neighbor to” the man lying in the ditch? Right. Could the beat-up guy have said something like, “thank you for being such a brother to me”? Why, yes—yes, he could. The despised foreigner was a brother to him. I wonder if Jesus knew that this was a possible downstream implication of His parable. Or perhaps it was closer to being the central point.

Because we are talking about elastic circumstances, and an elastic term, there are also times when an ethnic brother could be much more of a “brother to me” than some other guy, the one with a different hue. History is messy. Biography is messy. Autobiography is messy.

So if I were to say something as confused as the above, I would have to say that Michael Moore was necessarily more of a brother to me than Voddie Baucham was. I would have to say that the white thug bent on murdering me was more of a brother to me than the black cop who intervened. But why on earth would anyone ever argue like this? I will try to answer that question near the end of today’s little rant. Not a rant really. More like a rantling.

Suppose I am at a reunion of all my Scots relatives, and there discover that one of my long-lost cousins thrice removed has actually been my mortal enemy for decades, although he is my ethnic brother, and I escape from his stratagems through the help of the Nigerian cleaning lady at the hotel. Now what?

The retort is going to be that the statement above was assuming mutatis mutandis, an “everything else being equal” sort of thing. But my retort to that is that we are talking about people, not colored blocks, and consequently nothing is ever equal. Not even close. I have many more white adversaries and enemies than I do black ones.

Another retort could be that by “ethnic” he meant fellow American, but that meaning fails the same way. Most of my unbelieving enemies are Americans. And I have a number of friends who are not Americans, and they are friends to me for the sake of Christ. Now what?  

So Let’s Define Brother

There are brothers through a shared mother. There are brothers through a shared father. There are brothers though a shared father and mother. There are brothers through a shared experience, like brothers in arms. There are brothers in Christ. There are brothers through a shared worldview. There are brothers through a shared ethnicity, through a shared great, great, great grandfather. There are brothers through a shared nationality—language, customs, citizenship, and so forth. And because these are crazed times, and cracked, why not say there are brothers through a shared color match with a set of Benjamin Moore color swatches? Sure, why not? Kind of at the end of the line, but why the heck not? But we do need to rank it down there with all the brothers at the Star Trek convention.

This shouldn’t be hard. Which of the above categories could produce a “brother to me?” Well, all of them. Which of them could produce a mortal enemy? Almost all of them. All but one.

Brothers Ranked in Scripture

Such ethnic conceit simply flies in the face of what Scripture teaches, as we will see in a minute. So why do people fall for it? The answer is that there are certain impulses in man that lie so close to the bone that it is quite possible for us to give way to them, and not even notice the fact that “Jesus said not to do that.”

For example, suppose Jesus said not to disfigure your face during fasting, and us coming up with Ash Wednesday. Suppose Jesus said not to make “lengthy prayers” the centerpiece of our worship, and so the Reformed glory in the majesty of the pastoral prayer. Suppose Jesus said not to use over-larded honorific titles, and us coming up with the Right Reverend Kinosling. Suppose Jesus said not to get hooked on flowing robes, and us floating down the center aisle in them. This is like that. “Birds of a feather” has more authority with us than the blunt force of the Lord’s teaching. We must come to realize that the hardest of the Lord’s very hard sayings were aimed directly at the kind of sentiments noted above.

Remember that time when Jesus was being mobbed by excited followers, and his mother and brothers came along to take Him in hand? Remember that? And do you remember what He said on that occasion?

“But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Matthew 12:48–50 (KJV)

Suppose someone in the back of the crowd, slow on the uptake, asked this: “Yes, Lord, we understand that the one who does the will of the Father is your brother, and is more of a brother to you than your familial brothers outside. And the one who does the Father’s will is even closer to you than the Holy Mother is. But what about Caiaphas? Is he not your ethnic brother? And so wouldn’t he be closest of all?”

We are not told in Scripture of any occasion where a questioner was escorted off the premises by three or four of the burlier apostles, but I begin to suspect that something like that question could have done the trick.

And then there was that other time when the Lord said that it was not possible even to be His disciple unless a man had gone through a fundamental repudiation of his kin folk at the heart level.

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:26 (KJV)

After reading this verse, go back up and read that tweet again. Does the phrase night and day come to mind? If it does not, then you are in grave spiritual peril.

Christ Denial

If someone looks at that tweet, thinks it through, and in the cold light of day says that someone with a shared skin tint is more of a “brother to me” than someone who is a brother in Christ, the solution to this problem is plain. He needs to be born again.

Please note that I am not saying that A.S. Protestant is not a Christian. I am saying that his tweet is not a Christian. His tweet is definitely not saved. But many Christians are better Christians than they are logicians. The apostle Peter gave way to the pressure of the false brothers at Antioch, and he didn’t lose his salvation over it. But somebody was being a false teacher there, and so Paul made sure to address it—and he addressed it by labeling the false gospel as a false gospel. So I don’t know ASP’s situation or context, I don’t know what other things he has said that would place this statement in a different light, and I don’t know if he said this without thinking it through in the heat of an argument. But considered in the cold light of day, as a settled conviction, and with all the ramifications thought out, not only is it not “the truth,” but it is manifestly false, and leads 180 degrees out from the way of Christ.

You cannot be a disciple of Christ and think like this. And that is why, incidentally, the open enemies of Christ are trying to exasperate professing believers into saying such spiritually stupid things. If they came up to a man and put a revolver to his head, and said, “Deny Christ or die,” he might perhaps pick up on the real issues at stake.

But if they, manifestly evil, put a gun to his head and say that they are going to shoot him for being white, after they shoot all his buddies for also being white, not to mention his white suburban family, he might fall for it and say something like, “You know what? I am going to be white even harder.” As though that were the issue.

But that is not it. They have made that the issue as a decoy, as a feint, as a ploy, as a trick, as a trap, and a whole lot of supposedly insightful white boys are FALLING FOR IT. This is a temptation. Moreover it is a temptation to deny Christ. So as you love your own soul, don’t do it.

Last Thing

I am not interested in any reactionary response to the woke madness. I am interested in a Christian response to it, and this is not possible apart from taking the words of Scripture seriously as our absolute authority. There will be no effective resistance that is not Christian resistance.

The fact that I see many on the right now toying with the prospect of gambling with their souls, and the fact that I say something about it, does not mean that I have somehow joined forces with those on the woke left. The woke have already lost their souls, and they need to repent of that whole sorry business. When they return to Him, Christ will welcome them just as He will welcome you. Christ welcomes sinners from every direction. His crucified arms, nailed to the tree, pointed to both the right and the left.

A number of Christian conservatives are acting as though they will have no enemies to the right, and that is why they will never “punch right.” All this does is tell the devil to make sure he comes after their soul from the right. “Hey, devil! This flank is completely exposed! I trust you will be a gentleman about it!”

Always remember that he is smarter than you are, and astonishingly cruel. After you have been in Hell for ten thousand years, it will be small consolation to you that when you tumbled headlong into the Abyss you were on the right wing of that column of souls that rushed over the lip.

Hard words? If they hurt, just ignore them. You are already ignoring harder words.

The post Ethnic Conceit as Denial of Christ appeared first on Blog & Mablog.






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