Black Lives Matter: Some Reflections

Neal Blair, of Augusta, Ga., wears a hoodie which reads, “Black Lives Matter” as stands on the lawn of the Capitol building. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

As we near the long, long homestretch of the political season, it is hard to ignore the influence of the Black Lives Matter movement. It has been primarily a disruptive factor as far as politics goes. Those who think this is just radical, left-wing liberalism in new garb should remember that Black Lives Matter activists shut down campaign events for Bernie Sanders in protest. There is something else going on here.

Why would anyone want to promote a slogan that claims “Black Lives Matter”? The answer is pretty simple. There are some who wield government power or who have influence over opinions who do not think that black lives matter, at least not as much as some other lives.

My contact with the black community is not as strong as it has been in other locations, but I have seen various reactions from the non-black community concerning this movement. Here are some of them:

Black lives matter, but we should be saying that all lives matter. Yes, that is the point. All lives do matter including black lives. We should not stand for those who devalue people of color, whether overtly, covertly, or through neglect.

This is really about maintaining law and order in the community. Black lives matter, but the so-called martyrs of the Black Lives Matter movement were criminals and thugs. Do the lives of those who run afoul of the law not matter? Some of the black people who have been killed by the police were less than model citizens, but not all. Some seemed to be just law-abiding Americans.

Black lives matter, but the tone of this movement is fueling racism in America. Sorry, I don’t think it needs any fueling. If exposing long-standing racist attitudes and practices is dangerous, we might as well admit that the American proposition of “all men are created equal” is dead and not an ideal for which we strive.

Black lives matter, but …………. yes, black lives matter to me. I don’t need any “buts”. Ah, now we are getting somewhere and can begin to have productive dialog.

Mark Krause
Nebraska Christian College of Hope International University

The opinions of this blog are solely those of the author.

Theological Mistakes: God Died

Celtic Cross ChurchI realize that correct theology is not much valued in the church any longer. With deep-seated biblical illiteracy having found a home in congregations and increasingly among church leaders, it is no longer surprising to find things in worship songs or sermons that are askew of what has been considered the traditional teachings of the church. We now receive our theology as “sound bites,” short statements that seem clever and edgy, but often are confusing or misleading to new Christians.

One that I have heard three times in recent months is “God died on the cross for you.” Really? If we follow this logically, it means one of two things. First, it might mean that God is dead, permanently and eternally. Death is death after all, and the only one who could raise someone from the dead (God) is dead, so there is no possibility of overcoming death, even for God. Second, it might mean that God didn’t really die on the cross. The body crucified on the cross may have ceased to function in a living manner (no pulse, breathing, or brain function), but the person (God) retained the power to bring this body back to life.

Either option denies cardinal, foundational principles of the Christian faith. If God is dead because of the crucifixion, there is no one to raise us from the dead and our faith in the resurrection of the dead is futile. If the person on the cross did not fully die, then he was not fully human. In this case, no one has actually died for our sins and we remain in them.  The doctrine of the atonement doesn’t work.

The Bible never teaches that God died on the cross. It tells the story of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, dying on the cross for our sins. Because he was fully human, he died completely. This is why early creedal statements always include the detail of Jesus being buried. You only bury dead people. Jesus was stone cold dead in the tomb for parts of three days. The human Jesus was dependent upon God the Father to raise him from the dead, to restore him to life. The doctrine of the Trinity is admittedly difficult, but we don’t make these difficulties disappear by abandoning a distinction between the Father and the Son. The early church did not see Jesus’ death on the cross as a negation of his divine nature.

So to say, “God loved you so much he died on the cross for you” is a distortion of biblical teaching. To say, “God loved you so much he sent his Son to die on the cross for you” reflects what the church has believed and taught for nearly 2,000 years.

Mark Krause
Nebraska Christian College of Hope International University

The views expressed in this blog post are solely those of its author and not necessarily those of his employer.