Intersectional Virtue Signaling from the Pulpit

“One of the firms helping us find men [to pastor satellite congregations] asked me, Pastor Matt, if we find an Anglo 8 and an African American 7, what do you want?  I said I want the African American 7.”

–Pastor Matt Chandler, Spring 2018

One way to summarize Matt Chandler’s homiletic approach here is to imagine a man preaching, “I am not interested in fools, so if you disagree with me, don’t send me emails, because you are a fool. I am about to cause unnecessary racial tension, and if you disagree with me you are ignorant.”

Unfortunately, this is no exaggeration. Pastoral pride is a very ugly thing to behold. Say something outrageous. Pretend scripture justifies the outrage.  Dare your congregation to disagree.  Throw in a “y’all” here and there to confirm your regional credentials.  Put a few straw men up on the pulpit and knock them down to great applause.

At one point, Matt makes this bold declaration:

“..white pastors must say something regardless of the cost.. I’m not asking you to find the black person that agrees with you.  Becoming friends with the African American who agrees with everything you say is not helpful to you as a white evangelical and probably has the African American trying to win approval or position.”

Is it just me or did he call any black man who agrees with a white man an Uncle Tom?  Or is it actually a little more sinister?  Is he saying that any white and black agreement is a sinister and compromising condition?  True “wokeness,” in this intersectional brave new world, demands that the races be kept in a state of constant intellectual and cultural friction? We must have someone to lecture.  Guess who that’s going to be?

Of course, true Christianity calls all people with faith in Christ together. There is no Greek, nor Jew, and Matt reminds us passionately, of Peter’s folly in Galatians 2:11-21, where Paul has to remind, Peter, forcefully, that believers in Christ are not to divide their associations, or their theology, gentile and Jew. Matt brings this forward to our day with an insulting straw man:

“..let the nations, let the nations, let the nations be glad; it’s not about a group of white folks in English singing songs that many of my good friends would call melancholy.”

When was the last time you heard a pastor claim the the gospel is about white folks singing English hymns?  Me neither.  It’s one thing for a culture to take an honest, corporate rebuke. It’s another to be forced into listening to an intellectual 8th grader insulting his audience with bigotry and parochialism that doesn’t exist.

Ironically, Matt launches into this call for unity after scolding white evangelicals for not understanding black history, for not being able to trot-out, at the ready, the contributions of Africa to world history.  I return to my simple test for racism at the pulpit — or anywhere for that matter.  Could you scold blacks for not knowing Asian history?  Could you scold Latin Americans for not knowing Slavic cultural contributions?  Using Matt’s clumsy descent into Galatians, this would be something like Paul lecturing Peter for not being familiar with Greek architecture.  He’s not talking about spiritual unity.  In lamenting racism, he’s preaching it — non-stop race-awareness at all times and non-stop emotional reparations.

And did you catch that bit about finding a multi-million dollar church facility for 2,000 people for a satellite congregation, with pastors selected by marketing experts?  I was under the impression pastors are chosen by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, prayer, and pastoral examination.  Evidently, the New Testament has a lot to learn from the HR department..

One of the firms helping us find men asked me, Pastor Matt, if we find an Anglo 8 and an African American 7, what do you want?  I said I want the African American 7.

We’re not to worry, however. An Anglo 8 would still be hired over an African American 6, since that would be fighting tokenism.

Honestly, when someone seamlessly mixes quota politics with scripture and then pretends “it ain’t nothin’ but the word, brother,” we have a real problem in the pulpit.

We’re either following idiots, or hirelings. It’s one or the other, and neither picture looks very pretty.