A Letter on Sin and Racial Justice | Northshore.Church Northshore.Church

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From Pastor Scotty to Northshore

Northshore Family,

One of the questions I’m asked a lot is, “What’s behind all this talk about race and injustice?” I’ve heard concerns about our church becoming too focused on social justice or promoting Critical Race Theory. These are great questions, and I’m so grateful to those of you who have reached out to learn more. 

There’s far more to this conversation than I can say in a letter, which is why we’ve included more resources on this webpage.

However, when we talk about justice as a church, it’s not in response to Critical Race Theory or secular ideas of justice, nor is it a response to what’s trending on Twitter or cable news. Instead, our response is based on the Bible. To learn more about a biblical response to Critical Race Theory, please read the article we’ve posted by Pastor Tim Keller called: A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory.

The Bible is clear that God loves all people and that all people are made in His image. Additionally, the Bible is also clear that sin has destroyed not just the spiritual fabric of our hearts but the communal, relational and societal fabric of our world. The result is a world filled with sinful people and sinful social structures which perpetuate poverty, violence, oppression and racial prejudice. Throughout the Old Testament, you can see evidence of this in the two great sins that God’s people consistently fall into: idolatry (failure to love and worship God) and injustice (failure to love and protect one’s neighbor).

What’s the answer to these sins? Well, it’s not a new political policy or cancel culture; the Bible’s answer is in Jesus. The Gospel of Jesus is not about spiritual justice rather than social justice; it’s about Biblical justice, which has spiritual and social ramifications. It’s about how Jesus makes us right with God AND how Jesus makes us right with each other. It’s about the veil being torn down between God and human beings and the dividing wall of hostility being torn down between Jews and Gentiles—two groups that had been racially divided for centuries (see Ephesians 2).

The Bible is also clear that sin like injustice, poverty and racial discrimination is not merely the product of broken social systems (what Critical Race Theory espouses) or individual choices (what some Christians wrongly assume). Instead, the Bible teaches these societal ills are the product of both personal sin and systemic sin.  For example, in Proverbs 10-12, we see many statements indicating that a lack of personal responsibility can bring someone into poverty (Proverbs 10:4; 12:17). But then Proverbs 13:23 states, “An unplowed field produces food for the poor, but injustice sweeps it away.” This verse speaks not to the lack of personal responsibility but societal injustice as a whole. This is why the Bible denounces both sinful hearts and choices and systemic injustice, such as judicial systems that favored the rich over the poor, business practices that manipulate market prices and unfair labor practices, to name a few.

So while the Bible is clear that God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11), it is also clear that God also calls His people to specifically defend the rights of the poor and oppressed (Proverbs 31:9). Such actions are not expressions of partiality but righteousness and justice. This is why in Jesus’ first sermon in the Gospel of Luke, He taught on Isaiah 61, which was the announcement of good news for the poor, the blind, the prisoners and the oppressed (Luke 4:18-21). His gospel wasn’t just about redeeming hearts; it was about saving this world.

You can find further evidence of this in the preaching and work of the early Church, which wasn’t just about calling people to repent from personal sin; it also addressed systemic expressions of sin and injustice, including racial prejudice. For example, the story of the twelve disciples choosing seven men to help with food distribution in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-7) was a response not just to widows lacking food but also to the fact that Greek widows were discriminated against as opposed to Hebraic widows. The Bible doesn’t say that the Hebraic Jews were more sinful than the Greek Jews. Instead, it simply points to a time when the early Church had to confront a longstanding pattern of ethnic discrimination by choosing seven men to oversee food distribution (which was a systemic solution to a systemic problem).

Fast-forward to today, the fact that our nation’s history sadly includes a history of racism doesn’t mean that white people are more sinful than people of color or that people of color can’t also be guilty of racism. It means that the Church, like the New Testament church, must be willing to confront situations and systems that perpetuate sin and injustice, along with individual needs.

For that reason, we believe that followers of Jesus are called to address both the sinful hearts of human beings AND the sinful systems of injustice. Not with guilt, blame or secular justice ideologies like Critical Race Theory, but with humility, repentance and sacrificial generosity rooted in the life, death and teaching of Jesus.

I hope this inspires you to learn more, and we would love to help you do just that. To help you in your journey, there are more resources here on our racial reconciliation webpage and a link to our Be the Bridge ministry.

Blessings,

Pastor Scotty