I am reaching out to you because we have all been made aware of the bigotry, hatred and violence in our nation, which seems to be in our news feeds and headlines every week. Most recently, this depth of hatred was expressed in Charlottesville, Virginia. How is Christ’s church supposed to respond to these continuous acts of evil and regard for symbols, which remind us of the sins of our nation?
In light of these recent acts, The Converge movement, a denominational group which Wooddale Church is a member, released a letter from their President, Scott Ridout. We were given permission to share excerpts from his letter with you.
Dr. Ridout writes:
“These are complex times socially, politically and relationally. Yet the response of the church is simple.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
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. (James 1:27)
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).
According to Scripture, we are to speak out against injustice, to defend the helpless and to recognize and root out falsehood. In the midst of living out these actions, we are to take the gospel to the people of every nation so that they may understand and experience the love of God and experience the forgiveness, hope and healing that comes through Jesus Christ.
What is the “alt-right”?
According to Wikipedia, they are a “loosely defined group of people with far-right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of white nationalism.”
According to NPR, “Most of its members are young white men who see themselves first and foremost as champions of their own demographic. However, apart from their allegiance to their “tribe,” as they call it, their greatest points of unity lie in what they are against: multiculturalism, immigration, feminism and, above all, political correctness.
According to the Bible, the “alt-right” promotes an ideology that is contrary to Scripture and grievous to the heart of God. It dehumanizes and divides. It promotes favoritism and fear, bigotry and bias. Its tenets are contradictory to what the Bible teaches about the value of every person, the character of God and the priorities of the church. It is anti-biblical, anti-Christian, anti-God and antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Its ideologies and actions have no place in our communities, congregations or hearts.
The Converge movement is built on four values:
- We are spiritually dynamic. We hold to the truth of the Word of God and commit to live our lives for his glory through the power of the Holy Spirit.
- We are missionally driven. We strive to see every person come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and be transformed by the power of the gospel.
- We are relationally devoted. We believe every person matters to God and therefore they should matter to us, and we will best accomplish this mission by working together.
- We are culturally diverse. We believe our diversity is a beautiful gift of God and one of our greatest strengths as a movement. We believe we are better together.
One day we will stand before the throne of God and people from every tongue, tribe, people and nation will worship him (Rev. 7:9). Until then, the church has work to do.
Doing the work of our times
We must Speak Out. We must condemn the actions of those who promote the errant ideologies of hate, injustice, bigotry and racism. We must correct false understandings. We must challenge the people of our congregation to believe the truth of Scripture and to condemn the actions of those who support what Scripture condemns.
We must Call Out. We must pray. We must ask God to use us to intervene on behalf of the hurting, helpless and oppressed. We must beg him to open the eyes of those who have been duped into false teaching and to open their hearts to the truth. We must pray for the courage of our leaders, the unity of our communities and the witness of our churches to do the right (as in “righteous”) things. We must pray for and encourage the leaders of our non-Anglo congregations, acknowledging the difficulty of these issues and reminding them that we are with them and for them.
We must Reach Out. Prayer without action won’t be enough. We must extend our hands across the divides, both personal and corporate. We must create relationships with other churches/organizations that don’t look like us or sound like us, but believe with us there is power in the gospel and in working together. We must engage the world with the love of Christ and the transforming power of the truth through love in action. The Church must act like the Church. We must believe God is a redeemer and we have been given a ministry of reconciliation, first between people and God, but also between people and people–and have our efforts match our beliefs.
We must Stand Out. We cannot wait for other organizations and leaders to take charge. We must step up and lead the way. By faith we must engage in this difficult work, believing that God will move ahead of us. We must commit ourselves to living out the gospel of reconciliation circumstance by circumstance, day by day, relationship by relationship and community by community, believing God has the power to open the eyes of the blind and break the chains of those in bondage. As reconcilers, we are committed to tearing down walls.”
As a church, Wooddale continues to seek connection, understanding and relationships with people of all color and background. As individual followers of Christ, it is our personal responsibility to demonstrate love and justice in our daily lives towards all who cross our paths. Will you rise to the challenge to make our campuses as welcoming as possible to all who are created in the image of God? Join me as I embrace the diversity of our cultural backgrounds and seek deeper understanding and appreciation of one another. My hope and prayer is that Wooddale Church will mirror the unity and diversity that we will one day experience in heaven, a place where no racial divide will exist but where every tongue, tribe and color will be present, reflecting the beauty of God’s creation!
If you would like further information on our efforts to bridge this divide please contact Pastor Richard Payne or one of our Campus Pastors to learn more about being involved.