In his sermon at the Areopagus, the Apostle Paul said that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26).
Every single human being on earth is descended from one man, Adam. There is only one race—the human race. What we call racism, prejudice against another on the basis of their skin tone, is absurd (as all sin is) since fundamentally there’s no such thing as races. There’s also no such thing as “red and yellow, black and white,” as the Sunday school song goes. Essentially, we’re all the same color—just varying shades of brown, depending on how much melanin you have. To pass judgment on another for the tones of our skin is to pass judgment on yourself.
What divides people—from each other and most especially from God—is sin. We are all sinners. The problem of sin will persist until God comes to judge the world in righteousness. But in love He sent a Savior, Jesus Christ the Righteous One, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the grave. For those who believe in Jesus, He cleanses us of all unrighteousness, pours His love into our hearts, and reconciles us to God and to each other, “making peace by the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20). The only true unity is found in Christ. Believe in Him, and you will be saved.
Now, that sounds like a biblical way to begin a discussion about race, doesn’t it? I’d have thought a well-known Christian teacher like Phil Vischer would think so, too. But his recent 18-minute video “Holy Post—Race in America,” delivered while sitting in the same studio from which he emcees his What’s in the Bible? video series, is strangely without Bible.
Vischer’s video is supposed to be a no-nonsense history lesson on race in America to explain why black Americans continue to face injustice today. But while he may have good intentions, he falls into the same Critical Race Theory methodology a few teachers (and it feels like fewer and fewer teachers) in the church have been warning against. The first time I watched the video, I went, “Wow!” But the second time I watched it, I went, “Wha?” The cultural Marxist nuance became more apparent.
Before I talk about that, even with the most gracious viewing of Vischer’s video, he points at what he believes to be injustice but gives no solutions. He says, “I’m not here to tell you what the right solutions are, because I don’t know.” That is astonishing! The creator of VeggieTales and JellyTelly, who did an entire video series for kids called What’s in the Bible?, doesn’t know any solutions to the ills of society? Not even, say, the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is the gospel so powerless to heal that our Bible teachers now think they have to be Social Justice Warriors in order to accomplish anything?
Back in 1980, Andre Crouch was leading congregations singing, “Jesus is the answer for the world today.” Forty years later, too many minsters are bowing to the culture and saying, “I don’t know the answer for the world today.” We have a whole book full of answers. It’s called the Bible. And in the Bible, our Savior delivered quite the indictment when He asked the Pharisees, “Have you not read?”
You cannot fix racism without the gospel. You can tear down all the confederate statues, you can change the names on your buildings, you can change your bottles of syrup and your rice boxes and your tubs of butter, and you would still have the problem of sin in the human heart. Nothing can fix that but God. Vischer should know as well as anyone that even a tomato can quote John 3:16.
This is the most scathing criticism of Vischer’s video that I can make, and it’s really the only one I need to make. But I’ve been on social media for about as long as it’s been around, and I know someone is saying, “Sure, Gabe. Whatever. You just don’t want to deal with the issues. What about the data Phil Vischer presented? You can’t argue with the facts!” Alright, let’s consider the substance of his video.
At the start of Vischer’s video, he says, “We need to talk about race.” But what drives the video is actually his second question: “Why are people angry?” After taking the next 16 minutes to present his case, he concludes by saying, “And that is why people are angry.” Between these two statements, Vischer believes he has proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, the problem of systemic racism in our society.
According to Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, the leading university textbook on this issue, systemic or institutional racism is defined as, “The network of institutional structures, policies, and practices that create advantages and benefits for Whites, and discrimination, oppression, and disadvantage for people from targeted racial groups. The advantages created for Whites are often invisible to them. Or are considered ‘rights’ available to everyone as opposed to ‘privileges’ awarded to only some individuals and groups” (pg. 93).
Vischer proceeds to untangle that “network of institutional structures, policies, and practices” to show that it favors whites and discriminates against or even oppresses blacks. Some of the problems that Vischer highlights are legitimate problems for everyone, like our over-reliance on incarceration. But there are other things Vischer made problems that aren’t problems, like “militarized police” or income inequality (both the highest standard of living and the greatest income inequality is among Asians).
Nothing he presented means all white people are at fault (an accusation he makes at 15:34) or that black people are systemically oppressed. He did not point to a single current law that discriminates against a particular group of people. The laws of yester-year and random bits of regionally-based out-of-context not-sourced data do not prove systemic or institutional racism.
Of course, none of that matters to the worldview of systemic racism (also known as being “woke”). It doesn’t matter that everyone already has equal rights, or that the same laws apply to everyone. According to the woke, those laws aren’t being applied equally to everyone. Now, that’s going to be the case under any system of law. Injustice happens. When we see someone being treated unjustly, we should do something about that. I wholeheartedly agree.
But the thinkers behind the idea of institutional racism want you to believe entire groups are being treated unjustly, and white people are solely to blame. Look again at the definition of institutional racism. That definition has been gamed to make you think whites are oppressing every other minority group. That’s the worldview Vischer is looking through. Everything he presents is with the objective to make you “woke” to systemic racism and that white people are to blame.
I want you to think for a moment about the recent death of George Floyd. I’m sure you have an opinion about it. Did Floyd die because he was black? If you said yes, then you’ve been affected by the systemic racism narrative. It’s based on assumption, not facts. We don’t know that the death of Floyd had anything to do with race. It was a horrible injustice, but it would have been no matter whom it happened to. We don’t know that Derrek Chauvin, the officer who killed him, was racially motivated. In fact, four officers were charged in Floyd’s death, and they weren’t four white men.
There’s an idea infecting our society that black men are being hunted by cops. It is a vicious lie. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Heather MacDonald, police officers in America fatally shot just over 1,000 people last year. Of those thousand persons, 235 were black, and 9 of those black men were unarmed. Without knowing any other specifics, does that sound like America’s police force is exterminating black men? Statistically a police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black man than a black man is to be killed by a police officer. (Here’s the information on police officers killed in the line of duty last year.)
So far in 2020, it seems like we have only been hearing about the bad things police officers do. Even during the pandemic, we were watching videos of cops arresting people going to church or the beach. These images affect our perceptions. Where are the stories about the great things police officers do? How many lives did they save last year? America’s police officers have over 375 million encounters with civilians annually. Don’t let yourself be so emotionally triggered by the occasional viral video and automatically assume a short out-of-context clip is indicative of a major problem.
Back to my point, Vischer’s info isn’t fair. In addition to not wanting to take a balanced look at the data, there are problems he didn’t want to touch on at all—like personal responsibility; rampant fatherlessness among blacks; the difficulties in coming from a broken family; the rise in black on black crime; how the welfare system keeps black people poor; the disproportionate number of black babies being aborted compared to other ethnicities; and the fact that 4 out of 5 Planned Parenthood clinics are built in minority neighborhoods.
Do not think Vischer presented cold data and hard facts with no bias. Aside from his lack of citations, the problem is not with his info as much as with the way he presents it. He’s been influenced by a particular worldview, looking at the world through a certain lens. I’m going to give you another example of this, then I want to show you something about Vischer’s sources, and then I’m going to offer some solutions. At the tail end, I will provide additional resources for you to look at for yourself. You need to do some research on your own.
In the last portion of his presentation, Vischer talks about something called “unconscious bias.” Now, everyone has biases they’re not aware of. Everyone. But no two people’s biases are the same. Yet Vischer argues that while white people aren’t racist, they are biased, showing favor toward other white people more often than they show favor to blacks. Black people, on the other hand, do not have this kind of bias. They’re actually more fair than white people.
This is not only wrong, it’s divisive—especially considering Vischer is just pointing at perceived problems with no solutions. Vischer may think he’s being charitable by avoiding tropes like “white privilege” or saying “all white people are racists.” But he’s sowing dissension and evil suspicion by making judgments based on assumptions. The Bible strictly tells teachers to avoid doing what he’s doing (1 Timothy 6:3-16 and 2 Timothy 2:14-26).
Even without knowing what Scripture says, the people who attempt to measure unconscious bias know it’s impossible to determine with accuracy or fairness. Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson is one of the foremost critics of testing for unconscious bias, which never yields the same result twice. He points out that unconscious bias “only accounts for a fraction of your behavior. There’s all sorts of other things at work as well.” The experts who test for unconscious bias “know it’s not reliable,” and they know “you can’t train people out of their unconscious biases.”
Vischer doesn’t talk about unconscious bias until the end of the video, but the idea underscores the entire presentation. Again, he says, “We, the majority culture,” meaning whites, have caused all the problems for blacks. Friends, this is satanic. The name Satan means “the accuser” or “the adversary,” and that’s what this kind of thinking turns us into. We’re constantly suspecting one another of evil intentions and becoming adversaries to each other. Such Christless thinking has no place among God’s people. Perhaps Vischer is not doing this on purpose, but that’s no less problematic. Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33), and Vischer’s influences aren’t good.
If you manage to make it through his awkward “Care Stare” at the end, past the on-screen reference to Isaiah 1:17, past the on-screen quote from Mr. Rogers, and past the on-screen quote from Bob Pierce, you’ll arrive at a single white credit screen. On the left are the creators of the video: “Written by Phil and Rob Vischer; Produced by Phil Vischer.” On the right are Vischer’s sources: Michelle Alexander, Erin Blakemore, and Malcolm Gladwell. These persons—all three of Phil Vischer’s sources—are pro-LGBTQ, and include “gay rights” under the banner of Social Justice.
I point this out for three reasons. First, if Phil Vischer’s video sounds like your typical liberal talk on racial inequality, that’s because it is. Second, worldview matters, and Vischer’s views on race appear to be influenced by a mostly liberal worldview—worse than liberal, a worldview that is actively hostile against a Christian standard of ethics. (Note: Gladwell claims he’s a Christian, but in addition to calling “gay marriage” beautiful and good, he thinks of Jesus as a revolutionary figure, not the incarnate Son of God.)
Third, and perhaps most concerning, the Social Justice movement and the LGBTQ agenda are inextricably linked. Too many Christians don’t understand this. The Black Lives Matter movement was started by three liberal feminists who want to “disrupt the Western-prescribed [traditional] family structure,” “foster a queer-affirming network,” and “dismantle [straight] privilege” for their “transgender brothers and sisters.” Black Lives Matter is being used by its founders to advance LGBTQ causes.
That textbook I mentioned earlier, Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, was edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin—all liberal feminists and pro-LGBTQ. According to this book, the struggle for LGBTQ equality is every bit the same as the struggle for racial equality. The Civil Rights movement in the 20th century has been hijacked by the Social Justice movement in the 21st century in order to dismantle capitalism and usher in socialism, disrupt the traditional family in favor of a collective, and destroy religious freedom for sexual liberty.
Do you think I’m reaching? Look again at Phil Vischer’s video. He criticized the nation’s economic, legal, and political structures as unjust; mentioned nothing about abortion, personal responsibility, or rampant fatherlessness among blacks; and though he is a Bible teacher, he said not a word about Christ or His gospel. Why? Because his video was more influenced by a socialist, anti-family, irreligious worldview than by his Christian worldview.
Am I saying Phil Vischer isn’t a Christian? Not at all. What I’m saying is that he doesn’t have to openly align himself with the Social Justice narrative (i.e., cultural Marxism) to demonstrate he’s been influenced by it. He’s not the only one. This week alone, I heard a pastor I once admired yell at other pastors for saying, “Just preach the gospel.” Another once reformed pastor is teaching his people, “Black solidarity before Christian.” And in case you haven’t seen, I was criticized by “Christian Twitter” for sharing the gospel with a foul-mouthed rapper instead of bowing the knee to his critical race theory.
Now the creator of VeggieTales and What’s in the Bible? can’t think of any solutions to society’s ills. To many of our Christian leaders, the gospel is not enough, and the Bible is insufficient. They’re becoming priests of the Social Justice movement whether they signed up to be ordained or not. I’m not trying to win an argument here. I’m trying to warn the church not to be suckered into this. All I want is for the name of Christ to be proclaimed.
If you want to change the world, preach the gospel: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone. Get back to the basics of the Great Commission: go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).
Among those commandments are to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Husband, love your wife as Christ loves the church. Wife, submit to your husband as is fitting in the Lord. Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Raise godly churches and families. If you don’t think the gospel and these imperatives when lived in the Spirit of Christ will drastically change a community, no matter the “color” of that community, you don’t know the power of God.
Teach Christians to put to death sexual immorality and covetousness. Put away anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Take off the old self and its practices, and put on the new self, which is being renewed after the image of its Creator. “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
That was Colossians 3:11-17. (Eventually, I just have to shut up and let the word of God preach.) I recommend that you also read Romans 12, Galatians 5, and Ephesians 4-5 today. If people repented of sin and followed Jesus Christ, if they did what the word of God says, if even our laws were shaped by God’s Law, don’t you think our society would be in a much better place than it is now? Then why aren’t you preaching that?
Will the world hate you if you don’t bow the knee to their BLM and SJW and LGBTQ idols? Of course they will. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” The church has been speaking out for equality and justice for centuries. We don’t need Black Lives Matter and Social Justice to accomplish that labor. These worldly movements are antithetical to biblical Christianity. They keep people divided and solve nothing. Have nothing to do with them.
Don’t let society drive the narrative. Let the Bible be your guide. We all are made in the image of God, we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we all need the gospel and reconciliation with God. Not one single cause on this cursed earth is more important than preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Romans 1:16 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
Special thanks to Thiago Cavalcanti, who forced me to do my homework.
Additional Links (Updated June 22, 2020)
Dr. Voddie Baucham: Irreconcilable Views of Reconciliation (Ephesians 2:11-22)
Dr. Voddie Baucham: Ethnic Gnosticsm
Dr. Voddie Baucham: Defining Social Justice
D.B. Harrison and Virgil Walker: George Floyd and the Gospel
D.B. Harrison and Virgil Walker: Social Justice and the Gospel
D.B. Harrison and Virgil Walker: Whiteness
Dr. John MacArthur: Who’s to Blame for the Riots?
Dr. John MacArthur: How Should Christians Respond to the Riots?
Phil Johnson: Wokeism is a Hateful Religion
Samuel Sey: Social Justice is a Threat to Human Rights and the Gospel
Samuel Sey: Our Fathers, Our Failures
Samuel Sey: Does Systemic Racism Exist?
Wretched: An Extended Conversation on Social Justice
Apologia: Black Lives Matter and the Gospel
Dr. Thomas Sowell: The Myths of Economic Inequality
Dr. Thomas Sowell: Fallacies of Race
Brandon Tatum: How to End White Privilege
David Clarke: What the Mainstream Media Will Not Tell You About BLM
Ben Shapiro: “It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with culture.”
Ben Shapiro: The Myth of Systemic Police Racism
Denzel Washington: “Don’t blame the system for black incarceration. It starts at home.”