Thabiti Anyabwile and TGC Have Lost Their Way, Racial Relations Suffer a Setback

By | April 9, 2018

“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.
-Charles Spurgeon

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?

Additional Information:

The Gospel Is The Remedy For Racism

Thabiti Anyabwile Says All Whites Are Complicit in Murdering Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Racialist Lens Disrupts True Christian Unity: A Response to Thabiti Anyabwile

There Can Be No Reconciliation Where There Is No Truth-Telling First


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I do feel obligated to point out that idea of a mass guilt of oppressers and the oppression of mass victims actually hurts REAL victims. When all of one group are guilty and all of another group are victims, then none are guilty and none are victims. Real victims are just trampled over.


Just when I think I can’t be shocked anymore by these guys. This one really pushes the envelope. He would think my parents horrible as we were taught there is only one race and it’s human. The amount of melanin in ones skin was of no consequence as we are each individuals. I refuse their guilt tactics. And as usual he plays down his accusations. I draw the line at accusing me or my family of being guilty of murder. Where does he think this will end? If he gets his way, will it be over once and for all? It’s never enough.

The divisive vitriol and virtue signaling guilt is coming off as a millennial recruiting strategy— to me. The old, “only we have the True Gospel” ran its course. They are now social justice warriors progressives. (Socialists)

I had no idea he was “Ron Burns”. The romantic appeal of exotic origins is over for me. 🙂 Just like finding out in my 20’s that Geraldo Rivera was originally Jerry Rivers from the Bronx.

Hi Lydia and 5years:

In the following interview, Thabiti Anyabile explains why he changed his name:

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Janna- I just went into my junk mail which I rarely do, and this reply was in there. I am surprised that with only two recipients it went to junk, but it did. Just wanted to let you know in case it is a glitch on your end. Thanks for the link. It was an interesting read and he sounds like a great guy 2.5 years ago during this interview. I would guess there is still a lot of anger and pain he needs to process….in a better way than the blame whitey thing. A great many blacks need to take a long hard look at the lack of fathers, as the predominant problem that outweighs alleged racism impacting kids in bad ways.

Thanks 5years. I just updated the comment system on the tech side. Hopefully, that will keep future comments from ending up in your spam folder. Please let me know if that happens again.

There are many other commenting programs out there, but this is the only one that allows people to sign up to read other people’s comments without first making a comment of their own.

Hopefully, it will continue to work out for that reason.

I understand your reasons for wanting to use the name Ron Burns. For simplicity’s sake, I’m sticking with Thabiti Anyabwile, as that’s how most people identify him now.

His comments about MLK seemed inflammatory rather than helpful in any way.

I have a low opinion of the integrity of all the Together for the Gospel plenary speakers. Therefore, I do not care about what Mr. Anyabwile says about most things.

We’ll see if he creates a real dialogue about complex racial issues.


Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Janna- That went through. Thank you.

I join you in the low opinion and the not caring 🙂

Thanks 5years. Feel free to let me know about any other tech problems or tech issues. For example, I’m happy to hear about any additional features people might want this site to have. Just e-mail Todd and he’ll forward the message to me.

Best, Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

The problem with society and education today is that they want to “white wash” white people from fighting injustice during the civil rights movement. You don’t hear about the white men and women who helped fight against the Jim Crows and it is made out to be only black Americans fight against Jim Crows! It looks like all white people were racists when that is not true.

How can we be right with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ if we hold grudges toward others?

This is about a person who won’t forgive those who wrong him. Blame a group of people who had nothing to do with it is wrong. It is not Biblical in the New Testament. Everyone will have to answer to God. How can we be a light to the world if we can not forgive those who wrong us? Jesus die on the cross so that our sin be forgiven and be right with God.

Grainne McDonald

Just a brief comment. Many of the slaves brought to America were sol to white traders by Arabs or by black slave traders. Many of the tribes in West Africa enslaved those whom they captured in war and sold them to traders who marched them to the coast and sold them. Surely reparations should be sought from the original slavers, each tribe having to make reparations for those whom they enslaved…..

As a long time anti racist I find it sad that this bitterness and desire to continue as victims is engulfing many who could show their courage by refusing to look back into a dismal past, being grateful that they live in freedom, and grasping every opportunity that comes from being really free. I can truthfully say that my family has always been anti-racist as far back as we can find, and, being Irish, understand what it is to be a subject nation. However, we do not hark back to the bad old days, but rejoice in where we now are.

Incidentally, as Janna said, there are many slaves still in this world, in areas where whites are not in the ascendancy. Let fighting that wickedness be the cause for which Mr Anyabwile fights.


Good analysis. Anyabwile’s article will only stir up tension and cause more pain. I just read the original article and highlighted this statement by him:

“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.”

As a white European do I stand condemned by this broad-brush assertion? If we accept his logic, my Jewish friends could say “My Gentile neighbours and Christian brethren can start by at least saying their parents and grandparents and the entire continent of Europe are complicit in mass murder of Jewish people during the holocaust!” As a Gentile, TA would stand condemned by his own logic. Such a statement would be offensive to the memory of many people who saved Jewish lives (including Christians and Muslims) across Europe in the 1940s. Thankfully my Jewish friends have never made such a statement and they appreciated my support in their campaigns against racism. TAs statement will only serve to alienate white people and it will be counter-productive.


First of all, his given name is Ron Burns. I will never call him T.A.

Secondly, he claimed during the last election, trying to get votes for Hillary, that people and pastors who make prolife the most important issue are guilty of idolatry and binding people’s consciences. ( Just to be clear, I voted third party; this isn’t about Trump vs Hillary).

“And we shouldn’t lose sight of this fact either: This idolizing of abortion has come at the teaching, preaching and advocacy of pastors and leaders. Some are offended that I’ve dare say these things “as a pastor.” But the church has been political for a long time and telling people how to vote for a long time. Sure, most avoided naming any candidate. But strong insistence that we only consider one issue and refuse voting for anyone who isn’t anti-abortion is, in fact, an attempt at binding the conscience in a political way in political elections. Insofar as one party has officially stood against abortion, then it’s also been a partisan binding of the conscience. That’s why so many today can’t even imagine a pro-life Democrat and can’t imagine participation in the party with the goal of changing its platform. Though the cause is just, wherever we pastors have gone too far in insisting that people’s consciences conform to our own, we’ve fostered idolatry and weakened the ability of many to consider and negotiate more complex realities.”

When a man accuses his fellow Christians and pastors who vote prolife (and make that their primary concern in voting) of being idolaters, and trying to bind the conscience of others ( ie legalism, sinful passing judgement), he has lost all credibility. I have no idea why TGC even keeps him on the list.

Thirdly, “Little King”, that was really funny and clever. Thank you.

Lastly, hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers lost their lives and limbs and eyes in the civil war, and my ancestors were northern abolitionists. The white guilt gets tiresome. I’d like to hear some gratitude for once for all the many whites who had a biblical understanding of race and fought against racism over the centuries. From Wilberforce to John Brown to Harriet Beecher Stowe to modern day Christians, whites have often led the way in godly race relations. Honestly, the repetitious accusation is annoying at best, demonic at worst.

Little King

Hey Todd,

I don’t have a comment on this article you just wrote, but i have some advice for you, so i hope you don’t mind me writing; it’s for your own good so just listen. I just looked a the website. At the top (I don’t know what they call that technology now) is a sort of scrolling marque of photos of some of the great speakers of wisdom that have been at the event in days gone by, indicating to the looker, i guess, what they can expect at this years event. Apparently the wisdom there is so great that the heading says, Together for the Gospel, Distinct from the World.” I guess the wisdom they possess is out of this world. Would you not say, that must be some incredible knowledge that is going to be shared and given out?

I see that this great wisdom event is sold out, which I’m sure you are aware of. But now that you are not ‘pushing tin’ anymore, you should be able this year to take advantage (with part of your leisure time) and enjoy and learn a lot by watching t4g 18 in live-stream; it says you can do so near the end of the webpage. You will be able to take advantage of all the great wisdom from all the great speakers by watching it on the net.

Todd, do you hear what I’m saying? You will be able to hear the plenaries’ (men who walk extremely intimately with God and their) vast knowledge, the great wisdom from the panelists (bringing together the wisdom in groups of four or so of the most talented, knowledgeable and humble servants of God in the 21st century), the extraordinaire singing leadership to enhance and make your current worthless ignorant sub-par worship of God relevant and taken to a new-high-high, and whatever else is offered so that you can learn what it is to love and serve God and truly know and follow Him, which by this manifesto seems to me to convey that most people need with the implication being you are unable to obtain this level of wisdom on your own without this knowledge. So you can take advantage of it and be blessed.

However, Todd, there is one thing that a person (such as yourself) will miss by not being able to physically attend this event. What is that, you ask? People like you are going to miss the possible opportunity to have a great meal with one of the panelists, plenaries, speakers or worship leader where you might have the good fortunate to be graced by being at the same table with one of these wise leaders so that you might be able to have some question of a spiritual matter that resides in your boring dull-of-hearing heart which you cannot figure out answered. This is an opportunity you will miss to be able to ask for specific wisdom on such a matter. Or maybe by being there for a happenstance meal, being lucky enough to just be in the right place at the right time, you will miss out on hearing some special extra words of wisdom about God that the speaker is not sharing with everyone in the big meetings. Now that would be something you could brag about on

But you, dear one, even though you cannot physically be among that zestful, youthful, ever-wanting-to-learn more about God passionate crowd, you will be able to buy (with your retirement checks) and consume (with your decrepit and sick unnourished soul) all the great books and I imagine videos they have for sale in case you aren’t smart enough to ‘quite get the messages’ through watching it live-stream on the site. (Maybe in your retirement you could add a page on your own website, selling these books and dvds to make a little extra money?)

So, buddy, you have no excuse to miss out on all this wisdom that is available for you. You’re just one dumb hombre if you let all this wisdom pass you by. (I only write this last sentence to encourage you, not to say you are dumb.) If you’re talking to Brent, you might want to let him know too, in case he is holed up wasting more of his time writing some new article to expose the truth. Who wants to know the truth when you can get all this wisdom that only a few select have been given magical most-favored powers to possess? You, O average one, do not have the character to be trusted with such knowledge!

In closing, I have to mention that I think these Scriptures ring out to us in these days:

Proverbs 27:2
Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.

Jeremiah 9:23
This is what the LORD says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches.

Psalm 75:4-5
I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’ I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists! Don’t raise your fists in defiance at the heavens or speak with such arrogance.

Here is what I found that Watchman Nee said:
Many may boast in the depth of their Bible knowledge and in the excellency of their theological tenets, but those with spiritual discernment are aware that it is dead.

Thank you, Todd, for having the courage to discuss such a controversial issue, as opposed to yielding to the understandable temptation to ignore it.

Right now, I would only comment on an issue that does not seem to have been addressed by very man people. What are those of us who are bi-racial, and partly white, to do the concept of white guilt?

My ethnicity is half-Chinese and half-White. My brother just got back the genetic test, 23 and me, to prove it. It’s actually 49% white and 51% Asian. So there may have be a surprise European ancestor on one side of the family 5-8 generations ago, but the scientifically-based ethnicity conclusions of the genetic test are close enough for me to make the following point.

I am at least 8th generation American, of German ancestry, on one side of my mother’s family. There are dated tombstones in Reich’s cemetery, in Lancaster County, PA, to prove it. That side of the family has proudly passed down a book signed signed by Frederick Douglass for five generations, and they were definitely abolitionists. However, it would be dishonest of me to presume that no ancestor on the white side of my family has ever been even remotely racist, no matter how much I would like that to be true.

By contrast, I’m first generation Asian-American on one side of the family, and was I not born before Dr. King was tragically assassinated. Therefore, my “yellow” side has a clear conscience, while my “white” side does not, according to what I perceive Mr. Anyabwile’s argument to be regarding who is responsible for Dr. King’s death.

So, should only half of me, as a human being, feel guilty about Dr. King’s death, per Thabiti Anyabwile’s argument about white people needing to feel ashamed about the racist behavior of their ancestors?

I struggle with this issue as a bi-racial person who is half-Asian and half-European. I think that I would be more troubled about it if I were bi-racial and half-white and half-black.

I believe that the issues discussed in the article above and by Mr. Anyabwile are complex, and I respect that. My only statement here is asking pointing out how truly complex they are for those of us whose ethnicity is very mixed and only partly white.

Thanks to all who read this comment.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)