“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more .” Hebrews 8:10-12.
“And I will remember their sins no more” sayeth the Lord. The “merciful toward their iniquities” part is the forgiving and the “remember their sins no more” part is the forgetting.
Today, I read a post by Douglas Wilson on how Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, introduces the report of the Southern Baptist Convention that tries to confess, repudiate, and atone for their historical sins of racism and slavery. He had a link from the post to the Christian Daily Reporter, which featured a Twitterlogue (what passes for dialogue these days) on reparations. Let me define that word so there’s no confusion. Reparations is paying someone living for the suffering of someone long dead by extracting/extorting money/favors from the innocent living due to the sins of the guilty dead, and is evidence of lack of godly forgiving and forgetting. Specifically in this case, alive white Americans who had nothing personally to do with slavery–let’s say they had moved here from Sweden–are coerced into paying alive black Americans, who might or might not be the descendants of slaves–they might have moved here last year from the Sudan–because dead white Americans enslaved dead Africans, with the cooperation and active participation of other Africans. Am I missing anything? Oh yeah, some say the reparations are compensation for the labor stolen from slaves and the resulting profits made by slave-owners. Two points: 1. Why are you entitled to be paid, and by whom? 2. While white southern slave owners got cheap labor from slavery, and thus remained an agrarian society, northern factory owners who got cheap labor from immigrants and kids built an industrial society that conquered the south through the sheer weight of manufacturing capacity. Both groups were exploiters, but the slave owners got the worst of the deal. Where are all the descendants of the immigrants and exploited kids demanding reparations? That’s where it gets complicated, because without the clear demarcation of melanin content, how do you tell the exploiter descendants from the exploitee descendants?
My playing around with the idea of reparations obscures the much bigger, more important point. I will let pastor Wilson explain: this is how we know that gospel is missing. When you are preaching free grace to a people who have been lost in sin for centuries, and who have done innumerable foul deeds, how long before a minister of grace is authorized to offer them a full and complete certificate with no condemnation stamped on it? That offer can be made, must be made, needs to be made by the end of the sermon. But in this set up, with regard to this original sin of American slavery, under no conceivable scenario will Al Mohler ever be allowed to stand before the students of Southern Seminary and declare to them that their sins are entirely and completely forgiven. He will never be allowed to say, “It is finished.” He will never be permitted to say, “Behold, all things are made new.” He will not be allowed to say that forgiveness has been sought, and extended, and all biblical forms of restitution offered, and received, and the matter is therefore concluded. So what would happen if Al Mohler were to offer a definitive and final assurance of pardon to white people? Are you kidding me? The reaction would be volcanic. And why would a volcanic reaction to such a statement happen? Guilt can always be monetized, and free grace can never be. Now let’s hear from a “woke” believer in reparations who either attends or might like to attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: “Good first step. Now reparations are due; not only symbolically but financially. This can take various forms but nothing short of free tuition & student loan debt cancellation for Black Americans who attended and will attend SBTS in the future. Reparations must follow repentance.” M.DivA@sista_theology.
Wilson again: White privilege is the sin of simply being white, and it is—in this vile new religion—an unforgivable one. Two hundred years from now, white boy, your descendants will continue being white, in their unrepentant insolence. In fact they are probably really white, your great grandparents having emigrated here from Finland in the 1920’s, having had no more to do with slavery than can be read about in a history book. And—if we continue selling ourselves into spiritual bondage this way, into this bizarre form of works righteousness—when those descendants of yours encounter a black man on the street, they will cringe with the burden of all that guilt inside. And why? Two hundred years from now they will cringe, and why? Because they encountered on the street a descendant of that evil African chieftain who sold thousands of his black brothers into the horrific slavery of the Middle Passage. And this is the place where we discover that the point is actually not who is actually descended from criminals then, but rather what criminal color one is now.
Now back to me: The choice is stark; we can forgive as God forgives, which is to “remember no more” or we can forgive BUT, give me reparations. Speaking personally, if you want to expiate your feelings of guilt over something that someone of similar melanin content did long before you were born, go ahead and “write the first check.” I ain’t playin!