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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Cross and the Confederate Flag

An ungodly sight:  the Confederate battle flag at the South Carolina State House remained, per state law, at full staff while the national and state flags were at half staff this week for the victims of the Charleston shooting.
Since the horrific shooting in Charleston last week, the uproar over the presence of the Confederate battle flag on governmental premises in various Southern states has exploded across the airwaves and the blogosphere. As a native Southerner whose ancestral lines stretch back to 17th-century Maryland and Virginia, the descendant of slave-owning planters and Confederate soldiers, your Head Trucker could write a long and nuanced post about all that, from several different points of view; but I content myself with simply presenting this excerpt from an essay written this week by Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
White Christians ought to think about what that flag says to our African-American brothers and sisters in Christ, especially in the aftermath of yet another act of white supremacist terrorism against them. The gospel frees us from scrapping for our “heritage” at the expense of others. As those in Christ, this descendant of Confederate veterans has more in common with a Nigerian Christian than I do with a non-Christian white Mississippian who knows the right use of “y’all” and how to make sweet tea.

None of us is free from a sketchy background, and none of our backgrounds is wholly evil. The blood of Jesus has ransomed us all “from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers” (1 Pet. 1:18), whether your forefathers were Yankees, rebels, Vikings, or whatever. We can give gratitude for where we’ve come from, without perpetuating symbols of pretend superiority over others.

The Apostle Paul says that we should not prize our freedom to the point of destroying those for whom Christ died. We should instead “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom. 14:19). The Confederate Battle Flag may mean many things, but with those things it represents a defiance against abolition and against civil rights. The symbol was used to enslave the little brothers and sisters of Jesus, to bomb little girls in church buildings, to terrorize preachers of the gospel and their families with burning crosses on front lawns by night.

That sort of symbolism is out of step with the justice of Jesus Christ. The cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire. White Christians, let’s listen to our African-American brothers and sisters. Let’s care not just about our own history, but also about our shared history with them. In Christ, we were slaves in Egypt—and as part of the Body of Christ we were all slaves too in Mississippi. Let’s watch our hearts, pray for wisdom, work for justice, love our neighbors. Let’s take down that flag.

And that, if you are a Christian, says it all, I think. The full text of Dr. Moore's essay is here.

P.S. - Just last week, the Southern Baptist Convention at its annual meeting issued a call for civil disobedience against same-sex marriage.  Southern Baptists, as you may know, split off from their Northern brothers on the issue of slavery in 1845.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Sigh.

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