11.11.16

A Theology for the Black Lives Matter Generation: Man

In our last post, we considered The Ferguson Declaration’s paragraphs on the doctrine of God. Today we turn our attention to the doctrine of man.

We find those statements in three paragraphs:

1.4    We believe Black Lives Matter. Scripture speaks of the infinite worth of ALL of humanity (; ), and the Triune God distinctly created us with intentionality and purpose. God loves us in our DIFFERENCES and reveals that the Body will only find true unity in this midst of seeking the purpose of our divinely composed diversity (; ). The holy writ portrays a sovereign God as caught up in the scandal of particularity moving through the lives of the powerless from the election of Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrews out of Egypt to their Gentile neighbors in ancient Syria, Ethiopia, Persia, Egypt, and Palestine (). In each of these circumstances we are able to testify to God affirming our differences and addressing unique plights throughout human history. In the Gospels, we see that Jesus heard the cry of the Syrophoenician woman and healed her daughter (). By sitting and listening to someone who was a cultural minority and recognizing her unique plight, Christ worked to set her and her daughter free from their captivity. The authors and signatories of The Ferguson Declaration: A Black Lives Matter Creed, express solidarity in word and deed with the movement begotten by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Collors, and Opal Tometi. This solidarity also includes but is not limited to, all other resistance movements such as #SayHerName, #AMillionHoodies, and #JusticeForFlint committed to nonviolent resistance as opposition to racism for the sake of the Common Good.

1.5    We believe the Scriptures reflect God’s Preferential Option of the Poor from Genesis to Revelation (, , , ). The Prophets of old taught that God loved and provided for all people, and yet widows, orphans, and migrants found favor with God. God requires justice for the poor and judges each government accordingly (, ). Jesus Christ the Son taught Divine Providence, and before he sent out his disciples, he assured them that God’s loving-kindness reached even the smallest of birds, the sparrow (: 26-31). God’s will is for the lowly of society to receive justice so that all persons in the human community can be made whole.  

1.6    We believe in the Sanctity of all of life and that the Church should work with society to look after the general welfare of all persons from womb to tomb (). We affirm that humanity was meant to live in liberty rather than chains, and that God has bestowed upon women and men the capacity to choose goodness and love.  Worship of the Resurrected Savior should lead us to stride towards freedom and a Culture of Life ().

Given this commitment to life and humanity’s sacred worth, we are troubled throughout this planet, as our brothers and sisters of African descent continue to live under the weight of oppression. 

Paragraph 1.4 might be summarized with five key terms: worth, difference, unity, liberation and solidarity. The authors see in the imago Dei creation of all humanity a declaration of “infinite worth.” Nevertheless, that common creation and shared worth do not preclude meaningful differences. “With intentionality and purpose” God not only created man in His image and likeness but also created man in a “divinely composed diversity.” This diversity moves toward eschatological unity in and 14:6. God also expresses concern for the particular circumstances of individuals and peoples. Specifically, God works in the world to free or liberate the captives, exemplified in this paragraph by the Syro-Phoenician woman and her daughter. As a consequence the authors express their solidarity with what they call “resistance movements” and “opposition to racism for the sake of the Common Good.”

Paragraphs 1.5 and 1.6 present us with ethical positions in keeping with this view of man. “God’s preferential option for the poor” and His love for all people lead God to “require justice for the poor and judge each government accordingly.” The authors maintain, “God’s will is for the lowly of society to receive justice so that all persons in the human community can be whole.” Consequently, paragraph 1.6 declares a “womb to tomb” view of “the Sanctity of all life.” That paragraph calls Church and society to seek the welfare of all persons. Such a pursuit lies within humanity’s ability to choose. Invoking Dr. King and Pope John Paul II.

If 1.5 reflects language and phraseology typical of progressive and liberal Christians, paragraph 1.6 channels the language and idioms of evangelical and conservative Catholic believers. In this way, the document attempts to tie together social and political views often at odds with one another and rarely willing to admit any common ground. That’s a good move.

However, the effort likely falls short for both theological and political reasons. Theologically, these paragraphs give little attention to man’s sin. Where most mainstream systematic theologies pay scant (if any) attention to human dignity and worth as a consequence of man’s imago Dei creation, focusing instead on man’s fall into sin, this document commits the opposite error. There’s a welcome and necessary correction in emphasizing dignity and worth in difference and unity, but there’s a glaring absence of any meditation on human sin. As a consequence the document fails to deal with man’s most fundamental problem (sin). A deeper reflection on sin, biblically defined, would have sharpened and heightened the document’s concern with injustice. For what are injustice, racial oppression, and indifference to poverty but flowering shoots from sin’s root?

Politically, the document needs more reflection on alliances, cooperation and co-belligerence. Especially if the authors want to somehow call together varying church traditions and streams, they will need to offer more principled argument about when and how such coalitions and endorsements ought to form. Simply referring to founds of #BLM and other movements will not suffice.

The upshot? The Ferguson Declaration gives healthy attention to human dignity and sanctity of life. That’s so needed in our time. But it needs more extensive statements about sin and how sin distorts the very dignity the document hopes to protect. Without the bad news of sin there’s no genuine good news. Our sin makes the good news of Jesus Christ so very good. Being clear about the bad and the good news would help keep Christian engagement in these matters distinctively Christian.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (ESV)

“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image. (ESV)

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation, (ESV)

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. (ESV)

“Are you not like the Cushites to me,
O people of Israel?” declares the Lord.
“Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt,
and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir? (ESV)

25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. (ESV)

27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (ESV)

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation. (ESV)

21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (ESV)

Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker;
he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished. (ESV)

He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall decide for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid,
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. (ESV)

25 that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. 26 And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. (ESV)

10:1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (ESV)

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (ESV)

17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (ESV)

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation, (ESV)

Thabiti Anyabwile
Thabiti Anyabwile serves as a pastor of Anacostia River Church (Washington DC). He is the happy husband of Kristie and the adoring father of two daughters and one son. Holler at him on Twitter: @ThabitiAnyabwil

C’mon Up!

  • Michael

    Pastor Anyabwile is a man of integrity. He must get it from both sides-conservative and liberal Christians. But, nevertheless, he can walk and chew gum at the same time. He stands on a firm foundation, first seeing the world through the Bible’s clear lense and then seeing this nation warts and all.

  • Guy Spillers

    Thanks for this analysis, Pastor Anyabwile. I think you make many good points. I did have a question and a couple of observations.

    1) “Where most mainstream systematic theologies pay scant (if any) attention to human dignity and worth as a consequence of man’s imago Dei creation, focusing instead on man’s fall into sin…”

    Pastor Anyabwile, can you give a source for this assertion? How are you able to come to such a broad conclusion about the majority of the existing systematic theologies? Have you read them personally in sufficient detail to know how much attention they pay to human dignity and worth? Please clarify.

    2) “Politically, the document needs more reflection on alliances, cooperation and co-belligerence.”

    I agree with this statement. The Ferguson declaration seems to undermine its own credentials here. In its opening statement, it affirms the worth of all humanity, reflecting a biblical vision of unity. However, when naming co-belligerent organizations, it names only organizations that aim to fight racial injustice, specifically injustice against the black community. This ignores entire demographics of people in our own country against whom the system unjustly discriminates, including poor, white, rural communities in middle America, many of whom have no Thabiti Anyabwiles or NAACPs speaking so passionately and eloquently for them. (I mention them because these communities have been specifically and specially demonized post Trump’s election. Of course, the list of disenfranchised communities could be endless.) I wonder if the founders of the Black Lives Movement care equally for those from ALL backgrounds who suffer unjustly, or if their compassion extends preferentially based on race. If the former is true, it might behoove the organization to say so in this document. At any rate, it would seem that self-reflection is definitely in order.

    As says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I believe this biblical vision of unity is often lost or distorted when theologies arise from within secular social movements, as is the case of the Ferguson declaration born out of the Black Lives Matter movement, rather than arising out of Christian churches that are, while acknowledging that we all have innate prejudices and live in a broken and unjust world, yet, because of the love that God showed us in Jesus Christ, and in repentance and faith, do our best to unify across racial and and class lines. This is in stark contrast to a world that daily rips itself apart over those same distinctions. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” . I wonder if we, the Church, prioritized praying toward and working harder at uniting in Christ over addressing the outward social grievances that divide us as directly (please notice I said over, not instead of), we might see greater social impact than all the marches, demonstrations (and the unintended violence that often results) have achieved. Again, not saying that those marches and demonstrations are wrong at all. I just wonder if we have sometimes mistakenly prioritized them over the Gospel of Christ, in Whom all these divisions were crucified on the cross.

    “While I cannot prove my case, I believe with all my hear that if the local leadership of the religious forces of the nation, particularly in the South, had paved the way by integrating their own congregations decades ago, the Supreme Court’s decision declaring public school segregation unconstitutional would have been unnecessary, for the secular order would have followed the leadership of the churches” (from Benjamin E. Mays “The Churches Will Follow” in The Christian Century, 1964).

    When Mays penned these words, it was to highlight with incredible and piercing insight the fact that social change, in regards to the Church, is most effective when migrated from the Church outward, rather than being transposed onto the Church from outside. That insight is still every bit as relevant and as poignant today.

    3) “1.6 We believe in the Sanctity of all of life and that the Church should work with society to look after the general welfare of all persons from womb to tomb…Given this commitment to life and humanity’s sacred worth, we are troubled throughout this planet, as our brothers and sisters of African descent continue to live under the weight of oppression.”

    While the affirmation of the Sanctity of all life is absolutely right and good, I wonder if the conclusions drawn are shaped and communicated so as to avoid offending the political preferences of the majority of the BLM movement’s adherents, rather than being the conclusions that most logically lead from those statements or have the greatest impact on the black community. In other words, why no mention of abortion? Consider these statistics from the CDC: in 2012, there were 13.2 abortions for every 1000 live births across all demographics. However, for non-Hispanic black mothers, who had the highest proportion of abortions among racial divisions, the figure was 435 abortions for every 1000 live births!! (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6410a1.htm?s_cid=ss6410a1_e).

    Considering the overwhelmingly negative impact that abortion has on black community, I find it INCREDIBLE that there is no mention of it on the section concerning the sanctity of life. In fact, I would venture a guess that the oversight is intentional. Why might one think that? According to a 2012 poll conducted Public Religion and Research Institute, “two-thirds (67%) of black Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.” (http://www.prri.org/research/african-american-and-hispanic-reproductive-issues-survey/) A July article in Christianity Today, citing a Pew Research Center pre-election poll, noted that 89% of black protestant voters surveyed said they would vote for Hillary Clinton, the highest proportion of pledged support by any demographic for any candidate. “This preference lines up with African Americans at large, who favor Clinton,” the article continued. In other words, not only did an overwhelming majority of black voters side with Clinton, whose pro-abortion stances are a huge portion of her platform, but so did black protestant and evangelical voters in nearly equal proportion. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/july/pew-most-evangelicals-will-vote-trump-against-clinton.html)

    What implications might be drawn from this? If 67% of black Americans are pro-abortion in all or most cases, and black voters, including black evangelicals (who penned the Ferguson Declaration), voted monolithically in support of one of the most ardently abortion-friendly candidates the US political landscape has ever seen, then it is reasonable to assume (and really, almost unavoidable to conclude) that many of those in the black community who profess to be evangelical Christians are also in favor of abortion.

    If the Ferguson Declaration’s statement regarding the sanctity of life explicitly condemned abortion, then, it would run the risk of offending a large number of potential supporters even professing Christians. That might explain the declaration’s vague wording (“womb to tomb” instead of “conception till death”) and its avoidance of any mention of abortion among the existential threats it does address (“our brothers and sisters…continue to live under the weight of oppression.”) I say “might” to leave open the possibility that this was an unintentional oversight. If so, the authors might revisit and correct it. There is also the possibility that the authors felt their “womb to tomb” reference was enough, though I believe that to be unlikely given the context. Either way, given the Bible’s clear stance on the sanctity of every life from the moment of conception and its emphasis on protecting the marginalized and oppressed, I believe this declaration should be amended to reflect the lethal epidemic abortion poses to the black community, regardless of what political ideology to which many of its adherents likely conform. The Word of God, and not political preferences, should shape the weight and substance of our theological statements, no matter how prolific those preferences may be.

  • Guy Spillers

    First, I want to say that I support Black Lives Matter. Black lives do matter, and they should matter, and there is clear injustice in our society, particularly from law enforcement, but from many other corners of society as well. As I’ve talked to friends and listened to public figures like Tim Scott talk about the unfair treatment that they’ve received at the hands of police officers, and of the fear that many of them live with daily, it is made me aware of a problem that I honestly had no idea existed. Injustice runs so deep, even and especially at an institutional level, that many do not even recognize the prejudices that reside in their own hearts. I am certain this is the case for me. For that reason, I thank Pastor Anyabwile and the other contributors to this blog for their insightful analyses and willingness to tackle difficult, and very likely unpopular, topics. I think these conversations are long overdue in my own life and in my Church.

    That said, the thoughts that follow are made from a humble posture. I am not an expert. I am open to correction and even rebuke. I do not seek to correct those who mourn. These are open, honest, and perhaps probing or difficult questions I have of the larger Black Lives Matter movement and the theology some within the movement have adopted. Please know I ask them with zero intent to cause harm. If they seem insensitive or offensive, please blame my ignorance, not my intent. I ask them with the expectation that they have been thought of and addressed by better thinkers than myself.

    I also have no wish to argue. If anything here offends, I encourage you not to respond. If you would like to add perspective, or even to gently correct, however, I am all ears! My aim is godly discussion to increase holiness in the Church and in my own life.

    1) “Where most mainstream systematic theologies pay scant (if any) attention to human dignity and worth as a consequence of man’s imago Dei creation, focusing instead on man’s fall into sin…” This is more a question regarding scholarship. Does anyone know whether the author can cite a source for this assertion? Or is this more a statement of opinion from experience? Just curious, as it seems a very broad comparison.

    2) “Politically, the document needs more reflection on alliances, cooperation and co-belligerence.”

    I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. In its opening statement, the Ferguson Declaration it affirms the worth of all humanity, reflecting a biblical vision of unity. However, when naming co-belligerent organizations, it names only organizations that aim to fight racial injustice, specifically injustice against the black community. This ignores entire demographics of people in our own country against whom the system unjustly discriminates. This may be intentional, and it may even be appropriate, but it makes me wonder if the founders of the Black Lives Movement care equally for those from other backgrounds who suffer unjustly. If so, I wonder why they would not say so in this document.

    I believe this to be an important question because the Ferguson Declaration was written by churches who supported the larger movement. And I believe that, when we become Christians, all prior distinctions and allegiances (eg. political allegiances, national allegiances, social, class and racial extinctions, etc.) are subjugated so that everyone can be unified in Christ. This takes place, of course, in the context of a broken world and a community of broken people. Even so, says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I wonder sometimes if this biblical vision of unity is possibly lost or diminished when theologies arise out of secular social movements, even when the cause of the movement is a just cause. It seems that a biblical vision of unity involves people of various backgrounds coming together, and acknowledging that we all have innate prejudices and live in a broken and unjust world, yet, because of the love that God showed us in Jesus Christ, and in repentance and faith, do our best to unify across racial, national, and class lines. This is in stark contrast to a world that daily rips itself apart over those same distinctions. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” . I wonder if we, the Church, prioritized praying toward and working harder at uniting in Christ over addressing the outward social grievances that divide us as directly (please notice I said over, not instead of), we might see greater social impact than all the marches, demonstrations (and the unintended violence that often results) have achieved. Again, not saying necessarily that those marches and demonstrations are wrong at all. I just wonder if we have sometimes mistakenly prioritized them over the Gospel of Christ, in Whom all these divisions were crucified on the cross.

    I believe one person who recognized this was the Reverend Benjamin E. Mays, who said:

    “While I cannot prove my case, I believe with all my heart that if the local leadership of the religious forces of the nation, particularly in the South, had paved the way by integrating their own congregations decades ago, the Supreme Court’s decision declaring public school segregation unconstitutional would have been unnecessary, for the secular order would have followed the leadership of the churches” (from Benjamin E. Mays “The Churches Will Follow” in The Christian Century, 1964).

    When Mays penned these words, it was to highlight with incredible and piercing insight the fact that social change, in regards to the Church, is meant to move inside out, not outside in. That insight is still every bit as relevant and as poignant today.

    3) “1.6 We believe in the Sanctity of all of life and that the Church should work with society to look after the general welfare of all persons from womb to tomb…Given this commitment to life and humanity’s sacred worth, we are troubled throughout this planet, as our brothers and sisters of African descent continue to live under the weight of oppression.”

    While the affirmation of the Sanctity of all life is absolutely right and good, one of my first thoughts was why there is no mention of abortion. Consider these statistics from the CDC: in 2012, there were 13.2 abortions for every 1000 live births across all demographics. However, for non-Hispanic black mothers, who had the highest proportion of abortions among racial divisions, the figure was 435 abortions for every 1000 live births!! (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6410a1.htm?s_cid=ss6410a1_e).

    Abortion undeniably has a devastatingly negative and evil impact on every community it touches, and in America is affects the black community more than any other demographic. That is why I wonder why there is no explicit mention of it in the section on the sanctity of life.

    I honestly wonder whether the failure to mention it might have something to do with partisan politics. According to a 2012 poll conducted Public Religion and Research Institute, “two-thirds (67%) of black Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.” (http://www.prri.org/research/african-american-and-hispanic-reproductive-issues-survey/) A July article in Christianity Today, citing a Pew Research Center pre-election poll, noted that 89% of black protestant voters surveyed said they would vote for Hillary Clinton, the highest proportion of pledged support by any demographic for any candidate. “This preference lines up with African Americans at large, who favor Clinton,” the article continued. In other words, not only did an overwhelming majority of black voters side with Clinton, whose pro-abortion stances are a huge portion of her platform, but so did black protestant and evangelical voters in nearly equal proportion. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/july/pew-most-evangelicals-will-vote-trump-against-clinton.html)

    What implications might be drawn from this? If 67% of black Americans are pro-abortion in all or most cases, and black voters, including black evangelicals (who penned the Ferguson Declaration), voted monolithically in support of one of the most ardently abortion-friendly candidates the US political landscape has ever seen, then I wonder whether those who penned this document were unwilling to risk offending large numbers of people, perhaps even professing Christians, who support abortions.

    If the Ferguson Declaration’s statement regarding the sanctity of life explicitly condemned abortion, would it run the risk of offending a large number of potential supporters? Could that explain what seems to me to be vague wording (“womb to tomb” instead of “conception till death”) and it’s avoidance of any mention of abortion among the existential threats it does address (“our brothers and sisters…continue to live under the weight of oppression”)? Of course, I could be wrong. There are many other possible explanations. It could have been an unintentional oversight. If so, the authors might revisit and correct it. There is also the possibility that the authors felt their “womb to tomb” reference was enough, though I believe that to be unlikely given the context. Perhaps they felt that there was no need to reference abortion in a theology of the sanctity of life. Either way, I wonder if this might be a place where the evangelical believers who wrote this document might reflect on what message they are sending regarding abortion. The truth of the Word of God, in my opinion, should outweigh the political preferences of potential supporters, in my opinion, no matter how prolifically those views are held.

  • Matthew Marshall

    Amen!