“We Await Repentance for Assassinating Dr. King”
“My white neighbors and Christian brethren can start by at least saying their parents and grandparents and this country are complicit in murdering a man who only preached love and justice.”
“I’m saying the entire society killed Dr. King.”
“The Civil Rights leaders standing on the balcony on that dark day pointed not only to Ray and the area where the shot was fired, but figuratively pointed to the entire country in its sinister hatred and racism.”
“I don’t need all white people to feel guilty about the 1950s and 60s—especially those who weren’t even alive.”
-Thabiti Anyabwile, from his article:
“We Await Repentance for Assassinating Dr. King”
Whether intentionally or not, Thabiti Anyabwile delivered a below-the-belt shot to white, American Christians with his article of April 4, 2018, found on the Gospel Coalition website. With his broad-brush statements quoted above Pastor Anyabwile has done a good job of destroying gospel coalitions, increasing racial vitriol and incriminating all of white America for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Although Pastor Anyabwile did find it in his heart to excuse the whites who were not yet born during the 1950s and 60s from having to feel guilty, since I was 10-years-old at the time Dr. King was assassinated I am not one of the fortunate ones who escaped the ire of Pastor Anyabwile. He is waiting for me to “at least” admit I, my parents, and my grandparents are complicit in murdering Dr. King. (What is the “most” I could do is left unsaid.)
While I am unsure who the “we” is in Pastor Anyabwile’s title “We Await Repentance for Assassinating Dr. King,” I will only say that Pastor Anyabwile will be waiting a long time for me to repent of an act that neither I, my parents, or my grandparents committed. Further, I reject Pastor Anyabwile’s contention that I am complicit in the murder of Dr. King. I subscribe to the following quote by President Ronald Reagan:
“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
Take a look at the photo below. I count twelve whites marching with Dr. King. There were many whites who supported Dr. King’s efforts and believed strongly in his dream of racial equality and an end to racism. Would Pastor Anyabwile have us believe all these individuals were complicit in Dr. King’s murder?
Dr. James White has recently responded to Pastor Anyabwile’s article, as well as other similar comments made by speakers at the ERLC sponsored “MLK50” conference on his “Dividing Line” podcast. His response is lengthy and thorough and I agreed with his critique. If you have forty-five minutes you can watch the video here. Alternately, you may listen to a brief highlight I have recorded from the program below.
Dr. White, in his broadcast, mentioned an article which I found to be great. (To put it in the common vernacular, the author “nailed it.”) Written by Joshua Sommer and titled “Thabiti and TGC: A Response,” Mr. Sommer states:
Thabiti recently wrote two articles. The first article is about white people and their responsibility in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The second article is a follow-up to the first, as a result of blow back.
…If you thought his words in the first article were rather odd and even unbiblical, the second article might have you scratching your head even more. Thabiti realized people were upset because of his first article. Who wouldn’t be? (He just called a bunch of people’s loved ones criminals). But he doesn’t acknowledge any of this in his follow-up article. Instead, he paints those upset people as people responding solely to the more reasonable things he said in his first article. The problem, however, is the majority of people responding to his article were responding to the paragraphs quoted above.
…The first words of his follow-up do not even begin to fathom the depths of the wounds he’s opened in the minds of some. He has only deepened the chasm of division and has given racial reconciliation a poor prognosis.
…Demonstrably, this does not get at the heart of Thabiti’s issue in his previous article. He did not address the most inflammatory part of his piece, namely, that white Christians need to recognize the sins of their parents and grandparents. And, by the way, he assumes this based on people’s skin color (last I checked, this is textbook racism at work). As I mentioned above, hasty generalizations will get us nowhere. And here, Thabiti has wounded the discussion, and the people on the “other side,” more than he’s helped fix or reconcile anything.
…Again, Thabiti is inaccurately characterizing his own article. No one is angry because he said there was racism in the 1950s and 60s. Everyone knows that. No one is denying that it was a racist behind the assassination of MLK. No one is denying the various supremacy groups during that time and before. Rather, people are upset that he has mischaracterized a biblical definition of sin, making a group of people guilty of the sin of one man, without exception.
This is not New Covenant justice.
People are upset that, without qualification, Thabiti has condemned a swath of people without warrant. It was my parents that taught me not to judge people based on mere outward appearances; it was my parents who taught me to love people; it was my parents who taught me racism was wicked. There are many who are offended at these articles for this very basic, emotional, reason. I’m sure many others thought of a grandparent or parent who has been influential in their lives, for the better, as they read Thabiti’s harsh (and inaccurate) words.
So, Thabiti wrote something inflammatory in his first article that actually worked to degrade the situation. Then, in his second article, he soft-peddled his first article to get himself off the hook and to make the angered party look bad.
In my opinion, Pastor Anyabwile has succeeded in looking like more of a radical than Malcolm X. At least Malcolm X had sense enough not to label the entire white race of the United States racists:
Malcolm first began to reexamine the black-white relationship, according to his own account, in Jedda in 1964 en route to the holy city of Mecca. “I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda,” he wrote to a friend. “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” In effect, he came to distinguish between whites and white racists. “I don’t speak against the sincere, well-meaning, good white people,” he said publicly. “I have learned that there are some. I have learned that not all white people are racists. I am speaking and my fight is against white racists.”
-Malcolm X, “The Fantasy of Black Nationalism”
Thabiti Anyabwile is not only a plenary speaker at the upcoming T4G conference later this week, he will also be taking part in a panel discussion titled “50 Years After MLK.” Although to date, no one has been able to convince Pastor Anyabwile to cease his unwavering support for C.J. Mahaney (scheduled to be a plenary speaker at T4G, Mahaney was pressured to withdraw from the conference for credible evidence of his covering up the sexual abuse of children in the Sovereign Grace Churches denomination. This makes 2 out of the last 3 conferences Mahaney has had to withdraw from) I hold out hope that Anyabwile will have the discernment to step away from the racist comments expressed in his article and build bridges towards unity rather than blowing them up.
Satan always hates Christian fellowship; it is his policy to keep Christians apart. Anything which can divide saints from one another he delights in. He attaches far more importance to godly intercourse than we do. Since union is strength, he does his best to promote separation.
My daughter attended a church service today where, in my opinion, the pastors did an excellent job discussing the sin of racism. Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr., Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Glenarden (a suburb of Washington, D.C.) seems like a brilliant man who seeks to build respectful relationships in order to advance the cause of justice and equality for all. Pastor Anyabwile is also in the D.C. area. May I suggest that for the good of American Evangelicalism Pastors Anyabwile and Jenkins meet up for coffee?