The Briefing: Is racial justice a ‘gospel demand?’

Meredith Flynn —  December 9, 2014

Leaders debate in wake of grand jury decisions

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

The Christian Post reports on a disagreement among some Southern Baptist leaders, following a grand jury’s decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Missouri teenager Michael Brown.

The_Briefing“Seems to me that racial reconciliation is a good thing and is a social issue, not a doctrinal or theological issue, and certainly not a “gospel demand,'” blogged Texas pastor Randy White. “If there is something Biblical that expresses racial reconciliation as a gospel demand, I’ve missed it.”

White’s Nov. 26 post at was in response to Southern Seminary vice president Matthew Hall, who wrote about racial injustice after a Missouri grand jury decided not to indict former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s death. Hall blogged the gospel demands racial reconciliation and justice, and gave five reasons why Christians ought to heed its instruction on the issues.

“…It’s high time that we start listening to our African-American brothers and sisters when they tell us that they’re experiencing a problem in this country,” Russell Moore said after a Staten Island grand jury did not indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. In a Questions & Ethics podcast recorded after the verdict was announced Dec. 3, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President denounced racial divisions in and among churches.

As a 13-year-old, Christian rapper Lecrae went free after harassing people with a pellet gun, he said in a Dec. 3 Facebook post. “One officer decided not to arrest me years ago but instead challenged me to get in my Bible.” The post was published on the same day as the Cleveland funeral of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by a police officer while carrying a pellet gun.

A Southern Baptist pastor in Florida was killed Dec. 4 by a gunman who also took the lives of two women. Baptist Press reported police arrested Andres Avalos in Bradenton two days after the murders of Pastor Tripp Battle, Amber Avalos (Andres Avalos’ wife), and Denise Potter. Battle was the pastor of Bayshore Baptist Church in Bradenton; his father-in-law, Keith Johnson, was formerly on staff at FBC Machesney Park and Vale Church (Bloomington) in Illinois.

Six in ten Americans say the government shouldn’t define or regulate marriage, according to this recent LifeWay Research study, and more than half say clergy should no longer be involved in the state’s licensing of marriage.

A group of religion leaders, including Pope Francis, have pledged to do everything they can to end human slavery by 2020.

Religion News Services wonders how Christians will respond to “Unbroken,” the Louis Zamperini biopic from director Angelina Jolie. The film reportedly doesn’t deal with Zamperini’s Christian faith, chronicled in Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 book from its beginnings at a 1949 Billy Graham Crusade.



Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.