The World Cup, racism, and the reprobate...

My thirteen-year-old son, Taylor, is a midfielder on a traveling soccer team and we share a love for soccer. Anticipating the World Cup beginning this Friday, we watched an ESPN special on racism among European football fans.

In 2004, Spain's World Cup coach, Luis Aragons, was fined after making racial remarks about Arsenal superstar, Thierry Henry. Things started to come to a head last year when Messina's Ivory Coast defender, Marc Zoro, was reduced to tears by Inter Milan fans hurling racial epithets at him. Having been abused beyond his ability to endure, Zoro picked up the game ball to hand it to a referee, and tried to walk off the field. Some of Inter Milan's quite-sportsmanlike players did their best to silence the abuse. They put their arms around Zoro and convinced him to keep playing. Racial epithets and bananas are thrown at black players on the field, but they're expected to shrug it off and keep playing.

This past March, in the Brazilian league, defender Antonoi Carlos was suspended for 120 days plus four matches after he shouted at a black opponent, calling him "monkey." Then, on April 3, Spiegel Online ran a story about FC Sachsen Leipzig's star Nigerian midfielder, Adebowale Ogungbure, being tormented after a game by fans who ran up and spit on him, calling him "Dirty N-gger," "Sh-t N-gger," and "Ape" as he walked off the pitch.

Racism threatens to tarnish the World Cup and there's a lot of talk about what FIFA officials are and aren't going to do about it. When the ESPN special was over, neither Taylor nor I had much to say to each other. This aspect of the beautiful game is ugly.

Then, this morning, I followed a link to our blog posted on another blog that is racist to the core, and also obscene, sacrilegious, and blasphemous. In the past, David and I have tried to get these wicked men not to link to us, but to no avail. They told us they'd link to anyone they wanted to and we couldn't stop them. They're right.

These men claim to be followers of Christ but it would be hard to find a more perfect example of what men would look and sound like who had been given over to the Evil One after knowing something of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. You may be wondering why I don't provide a link to their sites, but if you're a Christian who's read the book of Proverbs, you'll understand.

Racism isn't the worst sin--and yes, there are lesser and greater evils--but it's impact on the Body of Christ in America is as poisonous as it's been in every other place and time. Those who think it's been dealt the fatal blow in these United States are living in a dream world.

The racist blog I've referred to is unquestionably written by men who are members in good standing of a reformed church here in the U.S.--and likely a congregation of my own Presbyterian Church in America given the vitriol they reserve for us.

I ask myself how any pastor or session could have such men in their congregation without knowing of their wickedness, to which the pastor and elders might respond, "But these men write everything anonymously! How are we supposed to know who they are?"

But isn't it a distinguishing mark of true shepherds that they know their sheep?

You may judge me uncharitable in this judgment, but if these racist blogs were shown to have been written by men within our congregation, all of us serving on Church of the Good Shepherd's session would see ourselves as having utterly failed in our pastoral calling. In our day-to-day family life, we would believe we ought to have seen the telltale signs of their racism and exhorted them to repent, disciplining them if they refused.

But even if--and yes, it's a stretch--even if we had not seen any telltale signs, our lives, teaching, preaching, and fellowship should have been so heinous to them that our godliness would either have driven them to repentance or rooted them out.

Put aside all other discussions of immigration and race in America today, the Body of Christ should be leading the way in excommunicating these men who, in the Name and House of our Lord, turn the Christian faith into an instrument of cultural and racial hegemony while impudently denying their sin.

Let such men be cast out of the Household of Faith, and let men who connive at such brothers be rebuked to their face, in the presence of the whole congregation.

Comments

I also watched that special on ESPN. I was absoultely in shock after it was over. Obviously, there is a strong affilation to neo-nazis among Europeon soccer fans.

Its interesting that now all the sudden, FIFA wants to do something about when they're only a couple weeks away from being in the world spotlight.

Perhaps the best way to eliminate such behavior is to simply penalize the teams on whose "behalf" the fans are so obnoxious. Give the red card to the star midfielder a couple of times and let the bigots contemplate that they played a special part in their team's loss. (or follow the wisdom of "Keep Our Own Kids Safe" and ban the sport altogether)

And among weblogs? Boy, I wish there was a referee sometimes..and then I remember who is going to want to be the referee.

Actually, I think for the world cup, they are going to discipline coaches and/or players who make racial comments, but not the fans. And, the fans are the majority of the problem.

In the report, they said some fans will even harass their own players who are black. They showed many of the fans using the Hitler salute and some of the players actually giving it back in agreement with the fans.

To me, I don't see the beauty in this sport they call the beautiful game or whatever. I played it one year and thought, "Boy, all this running up and down the field with little or no score is really not fun." Too much work, not enough payoff.

Bill K.,

I hope your revelation concerning soccer led you to that greatest of games, American Football.

I did a search, and I wasn't surprised to find that the problem blog was the same one I was thinking of. I looked it over a few times last year, and I wanted to take a shower immediately after.

On the plus side, the post that the neanderthal links from excoriates you for exactly the virtues your post showed. Being hated by dirty-eared inbreds like this is a badge of honor.

Anyone who is shocked by such racist actions by anyone in this country or this world is living too sheltered of a lifestyle.

As someone who is not white, I have faced many kinds of racism in my life. The thing that bothers me the most, is not random comments by ignorant people, but the fact that there are educated people out there who think that things are OK today.

I won't give examples, but I can give plenty. I welcome any challenges.

Roberty Perry:

UEFA--the governing football body in Europe--has gone so far as to ban fans from entire matches after unruly behavior. A few years ago, AC Milan (one of the richest and most successful clubs in the world) had to play a home match in an empty stadium due to fan misbehavior.

After going to Europe last summer, I was shocked at the racism prevalent in that part of the world (especially in France). I was left thinking that Europeans were quite critical to look down their noses at the U.S. for many of our social politics.

Keep our own kids safe? I haven't heard that in years. Yet another classic Limbaugh parody.

Fans are a major problem in sports and need to be dealt with. Everyone remembers John Rocker's comments, but how many know that he erupted after New York "fans"/thugs were throwing D batteries at him? That is more than simple assault, that is attempted murder - if it hits you in the head it could be lethal.

But offensive words are so much worse than attempted murder.

Likewise, absolutely nothing was done about "fans"/thugs in the infamous Detrit/Indiana basketbrawl in 2004.

This is threatening to destroy professional sports, domestically and internationally.

The fans -- all of them -- should be encouraged to be self-policing.

A simple way to do this would be to apply an escalating scale of "no fans" sanctions.

First occurance of racist agitation/abuse in any season results in the next home game being played in an empty stadium.

Second occurrance in the same season results in the next two games played to an empty stadium.

Third occurrance results in the next three games being emptied of fans.

And so on to some point where the remainder of the season and the entirety of the following season has no fans.

Fans and team owners would, I am quite confident, find completely effective ways to stop this stuff.

Fr. B

Hey, Don't knock the link--that is how I found your blog & it is now one of my favorites!

BTW I know that in reformed circles (esp PCA) to refer to the "sin" of racism. What exactly do you mean by that? Do you have a scripture that defines it?

I am not trying to be obtuse but I always thought that calling currently unpopular ideas "sin" was a mark of the theologically liberal.

Genesis 1:26 26Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
Matthew 15:18-19
18"But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.

Kevin, those who spill such venom and hatred of a man made in the image of God reveal themselves as defiled. What is racism if not hatred of the God who created men in his own image? What is racism but "slander" against not only the man, but the God who made him?

Kevin, much that is called racism in our day is not, but rather the simple acknowledgment of racial characteristics shared across groups--generalizations generally true. To have a hissy-fit over generalizations is to show an intellectual obtuseness that ought to be embarrassing, yet our decadent and thin-skinned age has turned this obtuseness into one of it's cardinal virtues.

Neither the Apostle Paul nor the Holy Spirit would get past the editors of our day with this from Titus 2: "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. This testimony is true."

Ortega y Gasset pointed out that "Every concept is in itself an exaggeration." True thinking begins with exaggeration.

On the other hand, racism is a sin when it denies the dignity God gave to every man by making him the bearer of His Own image and likeness. To take just one example, consider soccer hooligans who throw bananas at a black player in order to communicate that he and his race are not men, but monkeys. This is a denial of the Image of God in man and it is sin.

It's sad to see Christians making racist comments. Are they unaware of the scripture that says there will be people of every tribe, tongue and nation in heaven? That scripture right there, Kevin, partly explains why racism is sin. Also, God created the human race, meaning He created them black, white, Japanese, Indian, etc etc. So discriminating against someone simply because of their skin color is to go against what, and how God created them, therefore it is sin.

Bill K's comment "To me, I don't see the beauty in this sport they call the beautiful game or whatever. I played it one year and thought, 'Boy, all this running up and down the field with little or no score is really not fun.' Too much work, not enough payoff."

I really dislike the attitude of not putting a lot of effort in but expecting tons of results-it's pretty prevelant in most areas of our life, and I see it in people's reactions to soccer. It is am immature feeling as well, one that immediately makes one blind to the amazing ideas, concepts, and skills of the amazing game.

To Bill K, and to Brandon as well: have you ever tried to control a ball with your feet while running at top speed while one person is right on your tail, and someone is in front of you, ready to tackle? It takes skill, and lots of hardwork. It's certainly a lot harder than catching a ball and running to a line, and way more beautiful to watch. And can you imagine running at top speed and then immediately changing directions, or weaving in and out of players while keeping control of and not losing the ball? (check out Thierry Henry or Ronaldinho if you want to see some beautiful examples of that).

Do you know the athleticism involved in running around (even though you might find that running around pointless) for 90 minutes? Midfielders, who literally cover the entire field run the entire time without slowing down, and they have been known for their amazing bursts of speed at times. Do football players do that? Oh no, they only know how to run real hard and fast, whereas a soccer player has a knowledge and vision of the game, so they know when they can slow the game down, or push forward. I also greatly doubt football players are fit enough to run around for 90 minutes. (take a look at soccer player. Hardly any body fat, and they are probably among the fittest athletes in the world--just take a look at the definition in their leg muscles, and their abs as well.)

Can you imagine what it's like to be a goalkeeper in soccer? You fight against 10 men who are trying to get a ball in to a large net-24 wide, 8 feet high. Sorry for some low scoring games, but skilled, hard working keepers have something to do with that. Their reflexes are sublime, and they glady put their bodies in the way of a ball that has been reported at speeds (I'll admit this is the very high end) of around 70 miles an hour. Check out the saves of Edwin van der Sar, Paul Robinson, or David Seaman sometime. Then you might not mind the low scores, because you'll see just how beautiful a save is. And then have you ever tried to score a goal? Just as difficult, since you're surrounded by defenders 90% of the time. Not to mention you have to KNOW how to kick a ball-will you use your instep, or your laces? Where do you want the ball to go? That will determine how you place your nonkicking foot, and how you follow through with your kicking foot. And then to do you want that ball to curve? Do a search on youtube.com for "Roberto Carlos" and you'll see the skill involved in making a ball curl how you want it to.

Timing-another beautiful thing about this beautiful game. Timing on tackles-if it's wrong, it can often mean a yellow card, and sometimes an injury to the person who got tackled, which can sometimes end a career. On the other hand, to see a ball won by clean tackle is quite a sight! And then to see the timing of a midfielder sending a ball in to his forward-he puts just the right amount of speed and power on it, plus perfect timing (on the mid and forwards part, for sending and recieving) often equals an exquisite goal, comprised of nothing but skill and grace.

And on top of all this, there are no time outs. No "ooh, I hurt myself, so stop the clock for me!" 90 minutes. The only interuption is half time. Also, there's no dog and pony show during half time. Who cares about that superfluous junk when there is a beautiful game to watch? Who needs it? (perhaps your game isn't interesting enough as it is? Hmm.)

I could go on forever about the different aspects of a game. But, my point is, if you want not as much effort but high scores, go watch american football. If you want to see athleticism, hard work, speed, agility, grace, and passion, come see a soccer game. There are quite a few on ESPN, ESPN2 and abc from June 9 to July 9.

Tim, I must say that after reading you reply to Kevin, that I'm more confused than ever. You said-

Neither the Apostle Paul nor the Holy Spirit would get past the editors of our day with this from Titus 2: "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. This testimony is true."

You then went on to say-

To take just one example, consider soccer hooligans who throw bananas at a black player in order to communicate that he and his race are not men, but monkeys. This is a denial of the Image of God in man and it is sin.

How can it be a sin, and a denial of the Image of God in man to call certain people "monkeys", and at the same time it's fine for someone to call an entire ethnic group "evil beasts"?

And, I agree that throwing things at people is a sin, as it's assault which could do physical harm.

But you seem to be saying that if they hadn't thrown anything, but simply yelled "Monkey" at the player, that would've been denying the Image of God. So how is it that soccer players are in sin for referring to individuals as "monkeys", but Paul wasn't in sin when he called an entire ethnic group "evil beasts"?

Chantal,

Since liking football or soccer is not a matter of faith or morals, we'll agree to disagree on this. I will attribute your failure to appreciate the world's greatest game to the fact that you were born in England. I would challenge you, though, to watch the Steelers this year. If ever you want to see a thing of great beauty, just watch Troy Polamalu take down a receiver with great force and his Polynesian locks flying out the back of his helmet. That's awesome. :)

Bill S;

Two things. One, it is sin not only denying the image of God, but despising it. Racism epitomizes that does it not? One hates the way God made some people in his own image and therefore hates the one who made them.

Also, Christ taught that it is not just the outward actions, but even the thoughts of the heart that are sinful; Matt 5:21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' 22But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.

Next, I implore you to read the bible to get context of a verse.

Titus 1:10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Paul was refuting false teachers and was reciting someone else's quote. He was comparing the generalizations of the day, made by one of their own, and comparing the generalization with behavior of the false teachers currently disrupting the church.

If one reads commentary on this passage:

The description Paul has thus far given has drawn out the obvious faults of the false teachers. When their attitudes, methods and motives are exposed, there can be no doubt that these people are evil. Paul puts the cap on this expose with his surprising ***quotation of Epimenides (v. 12)***. He calls this ancient religious teacher, from the sixth century B.C., one of their own [that is, the false teachers'] prophets. This first connection probably lies in their common profession, teaching religious fables, and in their common homeland, Crete. But how does Paul mean the citation to be understood? Cretans had acquired the name liars because of their claim that the tomb of Zeus was on Crete. Thus a reference to religious deceit is at the heart of the saying. These false teachers have fulfilled Epimenides' prophecy in their own generation by propagating a religious lie. The rest of the quotation, evil brutes, lazy gluttons, associates the false religious claim with uncontrolled, wanton behavior. Notice how closely Paul's description of the errorists corresponds to the three-part saying: they are deceivers (v. 10), rebels and disrupters (vv. 10-11), with minds set on money (v. 11). Clearly, in the case of these Cretan heretics, the ancient forecast held true. Today the religious lies propagated by cult leaders (those that draw attention away from the gospel) belong to the same category. Their purpose is to attract attention to the leader or the cult's ruling elite. Their result is self-gratifying behavior on the part of the leaders and ignorance on the part of naive followers.

To Alex. I'm sorry for the racism you have had to endure. To clarify, when I say I was shocked, I was referring to the tolerance of it by the league and officials. But, admittedly, I didn't think racism to that magnitude still existed in Europe as much as it apparently does.

To Shantel, you don't like my attitude of laziness and immaturity toward soccer. I'm usually not suprised when bloggers on this site jump down my throat because of my more liberal views on subjects like abortion, women working, or the birth control pill. But, I shook my head in disbelief that a simple statement about my dislike for soccer could be taken so seriously and actually get a reaction. Sorry to have insulted "The Game".

I've never commented here before, but I couldn't let Jeff's last comment pass.

Jeff, I hope you understand that the words "this testimony is true" came from Paul, not Epimenides. Of course there were false teachers, and of course Paul had a godly motivation. The point, which you have nicely evaded, is that Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, called an entire ethnic group "beasts." That's quite a generalization. He could not have possibly known them all.

Thanks, Jeff. But that doesn't help much. It just restates what Tim said, but at more length. I already knew the context of Titus 2. And you're apparently missing something pretty important. Paul was talking about the Cretans who were believers-the instructions are to rebuke them sharply that they may overcome their lazy, mendacious, evil beastly character and "be sound in the faith".

"Two things. One, it is sin not only denying the image of God, but despising it. Racism epitomizes that does it not?"

Well, that seems to be the question. You're assuming what you're supposed to be proving. I agree that there is such a thing as denying the image of God. And I suppose that racism could be one example of that.

But the question is-what is racism. Tim said racism is referring to men as monkeys. But he said referring to men as "beasts", which Paul did, isn't racism, and isn't denying God's image in man. I'm just saying that I have a hard time seeing how you can have it both ways. If calling some men "monkeys" is sin, then Paul surely committed sin by affirming that an entire ethnic group are "evil beasts".

Also, I've got some books by the great Presbyterian theologian R L Dabney, in which he says terrible things about black people. Was he a reprobate? I think we should think long and hard when discussing racism, lest we anathemize many heroes of the faith. It's one thing to ask that people of all races be treated with dignity and respect. It's another to say that anyone who doesn't share our racial views are "reprobates". If Dabney were alive today, he'd surely be called a racist. So would he be a reprobate?

Sheldon is right. I didn't notice that Jeff had tried to pawn it off as Paul just quoting the saying as a reference point. No, Paul affirmed it. He said it's true that Cretans "are evil beasts"

In other words, the ungodly fruits of the false teachers were confirming the truth of the parable spoken of them.

Would we try to foolishly equate distinctions and generalizations made on the basis of race to those made of sinful "behavior"?

Does God the Holy Spirit have the right to call men evil? Was this epistle not written to Titus to set things in order in the Church of Crete? Do we think Paul despised the church in Crete because they were Cretans? Were there not believers in the Church in Crete, etc?

Men of faith have carried many sins. However, are you crossing some lines here with equating some theologians with teaching of an apostle who penned the word inspired by the Holy Spirit? Could Dabney make that claim?

Yippee, yi, yay, Chantal; you go girl!

Bill S. asked: "How can it be a sin, and a denial of the Image of God in man to call certain people 'monkeys', and at the same time it's fine for someone to call an entire ethnic group 'evil beasts'?"

Because the One who calls Cretans "evil beasts" is the Holy Spirit, for starters. Then too, there is a distinction between an epithet and a rebuke. Then three, the Holy Spirit was not denying the Image of God in man by rebuking Cretans for being "evil beasts." And so on...

Jeff, you're still dodging the main questions.

If racist Christians today are to be considered reprobates, then why shouldn't Dabney be considered reprobate. If he were alive today, he'd certainly be considered racist by any fair minded observer, even Tim. So if racist Christians are reprobates, why isn't R L Dabney reprobate? I wonder if you've actually read some of the things he said about African Americans.

"Do we think Paul despised the church in Crete because they were Cretans?"

Imagine this scenario, Jeff. Your pastor visits a black church and you email him and ask for his impressions. And he replies that black preachers need to rebuke sharply in their sermons because blacks are *all* liars, lazy gluttons, and evil animals. And let's say some black people somehow got a copy of this email. Do you think they'd feel your preacher respected them? Or despised them?

Bill raises a point about Dr. Dabney that I had not previously considered. Mr. Bayly writes, "men who are members in good standing of a reformed church here in the US - but if these racist blogs were shown to have been written by men within our congregation, all of us serving on Church of the Good Shepherd’s session would see ourselves as having utterly failed in our pastoral calling. In our day-to-day family life, we would believe we ought to have seen the telltale signs of their racism and exhorted them to repent, disciplining them if they refused - the Body of Christ should be leading the way in excommunicating these men who, in the Name and House of our Lord, turn the Christian faith into an instrument of cultural and racial hegemony while impudently denying their sin. Let such men be cast out of the Household of Faith, and let men who connive at such brothers be rebuked to their face, in the presence of the whole congregation."

While I don't know the blog to which Mr. Bayly refers, could not all of this have been said about Dr. Dabney? Did he deserve excommunication? And let's not play word games about how he was a product of his time. He made Scriptural arguments that have no basis in time or cultural context. How about Thornwell, Palmer, Girardeau? I could go on and on. So I wonder if, before we start excommunicating racists in the here and now, we should begin by posthumously excommunicating all racists from the past. And if that's not possible, perhaps a formal statement is needed that these men were in sin and should have been excommunicated while they lived. I suggest that this be done as a foundation on which to rebuke and excommunicate all racists in the church today.

Because the One who calls Cretans "evil beasts" is the Holy Spirit, for starters.

Well, exactly. That's my point. If referring to people as animals is a sin, then Paul sinned, even as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. If it's always a sin to refer to particular people as animals, then Paul sinned. If Paul didn't sin in calling an entire ethnic group "evil beasts", then it isn't always a sin to look down on some people and call them animals. You can say all day that Paul and the Holy Spirit meant no disrespect by saying *all* Cretans are *liars* and *lazy gluttons* and *evil beasts*. But serious minded people will laugh at you. And rightly so.

And if racism makes a person reprobate, Tim, why shouldn't we regard Dabney, a racist if there ever was one, as a reprobate?

Bill complains: "I'm usually not suprised when bloggers on this site jump down my throat because of my more liberal views on subjects like abortion, women working, or the birth control pill." Well, there are only two bloggers on this site--brother David and myself--and I can't ever remember jumping down Bill's throat, nor even wanting to. But who knows, maybe he mistakes argument for jumping-down-throatism?

Meanwhile, speaking of argument, it's important to point out to Bill that there is no "liberal view on abortion." Rather, there are those who are truthful and call abortion "murder," and those who lie and call it "self-determination" or "a woman's right to choose." And although I can't remember which of these two sides you've taken, Bill, if it's the second, you should be thankful that David and I were restrained and only jumped down your throat.

You deserved far worse.

Affectionately,

Tim Bayly

"Then too, there is a distinction between an epithet and a rebuke."

That's right. And "evil beast" is an epithet. Paul never rebuked the Cretans at all. He cast epithets at them, and then said to rebuke them sharply.

Bill S.,

First, the Holy Spirit is not guilty of the sin of racism precisely because He is the Holy Spirit. And being the Holy Spirit, He cannot lie by denying that a particular race lacks the Image of God. Soccer hooligans, though, can and do.

Take them at their word when they give Third Reich cries and salutes, swearing allegiance to Hitler who exterminated men because they were what he called "useless eaters." Throwing bananas is thus an extension of their "Heil Hitler" salute, and saying so is only a way of believing their actions and words. They're followers of a dehumanizer, and they themselves follow his dehumanizing conduct.

As for church discipline, note the context of my post: exhortation, rebuke, and excommunication flow from each other. To take my comments and try to get me to say that their logical force is that I must think that R. L. Dabney should have been excommunicated is to fail to address the points I made, instead replacing my points with others. Here is what I actually wrote:

* * *...if these racist blogs were shown to have been written by men within our congregation, all of us serving on Church of the Good Shepherd's session ...would believe we ought to have seen the telltale signs of their racism and exhorted them to repent, disciplining them if they refused. (Further) our lives, teaching, preaching, and fellowship should have been so heinous to them that our godliness would either have driven them to repentance or rooted them out. (T)he Body of Christ should be leading the way in excommunicating these men who, in the Name and House of our Lord, turn the Christian faith into an instrument of cultural and racial hegemony while impudently denying their sin.* * *

So, I don't believe that racism is a sin of excommunication in a way that greed is not. Rather, both racists and greedy men, if exhortation and correction and rebuke and discipline don't bring them to repentance, should then be cut off--not because they are racists, but because they are contumacious idolaters. Again, as I wrote, they have proven themselves to be men who, "in the Name and House of our Lord, turn the Christian faith into an instrument of cultural and racial hegemony while impudently denying their sin."

I've read Dabney's bio of Stonewall Jackson and, although it was about ten years ago, I can't remember anything in it that even approximated this. Yet I'm not going to get caught up in a discussion of this, if someone cares to prove me wrong. Time is too precious and this post was about racism and the failure of reformed sessions to discipline it in the church today--not one hundred and fifty years ago.

No, Bill S., you are in error. The Holy Spirit did not "cast epithets" at the Cretans.

Yes, Tim, "evil beasts" most certainly IS an epithet.

You're either denying that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write "evil beasts", or you're denying that words have any meaning.

If "evil beast" isn't an epithet, there's no such thing as an epithet.

Really, Tim. You're just making yourself look silly.

"First, the Holy Spirit is not guilty of the sin of racism precisely because He is the Holy Spirit. And being the Holy Spirit, He cannot lie by denying that a particular race lacks the Image of God."

Mr. Bayly, are you saying that the Holy Spirit affirmed that Cretans lack the image of God? As Bill said, this was an exhortation for the CHURCH at Crete. This was directed to Christians. I don't understand what you mean. I also fail to understand why, if the Holy Spirit says something, no one else can ever draw the same conclusion again - EVER - even in the face of overwhemling evidence. In what other area of life could this principle possibly apply? (I speak in general terms, not in response to your references to Nazis or anyone else in particular.)

You have also evaded my questions, sir, probably because you have not read "A Defense of Virginia" and other Southern apologetics. Should RL Dabney have been exhorted to repent for what he believed, and excommunicated if he stubbornly refused? Believe me when I say that he was what you would call a racist.

I think the point about Dabney is important, because it becomes difficult to deal with racism today in a practical manner if you are unwilling to identify it in the church of yesterday.

Sheldon and Bill S.,

My responses and explanations strike you as silly and evasive, and you continue to attribute things to my keyboard that I've neither typed nor thought. So feel free to write on, but I'm going to turn my attention elsewhere hoping readers will read my actual words and think them through, rather than the other things falsely attributed to me. And I leave open the question whether the false attributions are intentional or simply due to my own lack of clarity. Yet I tend to think the second more likely than the first.

I wasn't trying to be rude. I'd seriously like to get to the bottom of what I perceive as gaps in your logic. If I'm wrong, I hope someone sets me straight. But if you don't wish to continue the conversation, I'll move along.

Sheldon,

Sorry, I didn't think you were trying to be rude. But the canoe seemed to be going backwards with each exchange, and I'm late getting home for dinner. How about a phone call--please see my private E-mail.

Thanks,

Tim

It should be noted for starters (in reference to a note above) that those who assaulted Pacers players a while back WERE tried AND convicted for their misbehavior. And I'm glad that some are trying to get the fans in line, even in European soccer.

I do not really know where I said someone was reprobate if they have racist thoughts etc? Many of us believers, even today, probably hold prejudices of some kind based on sinful thinking.
Wicked sins are done by men who have saving faith.

I did not mean to "pawn" anything off. Whenever I post there is always something I think of afterward I wished I had said, etc.

The heart of the matter here is do we believe the bible to be the inerrant, "god-breathed" word of God? If so, then I fail to see where any confusion on this issue is? If we do not believe that, then these ships will never come to port and we may as well stop this subject. Does God know what he is doing or do we think we know how God should have inspired the writers of scripture?

Was John the Baptist sinning when he called the Pharisees a "brood of vipers?" Did he know each and every pharisee? Did he know any of them personally? I mean, this could go on and on.

Shantel,

Actually I have performed some of the same skillful tasks as a soccer player. Walking in downtown Toledo after work at one in the morning, I have to run as fast as I can to the car, then in an instant I have to change direction when someone pops out from around a corner to ask me for money, I somehow change direction at high rates of speed, and I do it all while holding my hand behind my back holding my wallet, while my other hand strategically holds the sharp end of my key in my fingers ready to strike potential muggers. I've been told it looks beautiful.

Hey Bill, quite funny!

What you say about Dabney applies also to Louis Talbot, for whom Talbot School of Theology was named. His writings contain extremely bigoted statements about "the Negro" as bearing the curse of Ham, and so on. One African-American student even wrote a dissertation exposing this. The institution's response to this was that Talbot was "a product of his time."

Calvin on the debated verse:
13. "This testimony is true."
1 How worthiness soever the witness may have been,2 yet the truth which has been spoken by him is acknowledged by Paul. The inhabitants of Crete, of whom he speaks with such sharpness were undoubtedly very wicked. The Apostle, who is wont to reprove mildly those who deserved to be treated with extreme severity, would never have spoken so harshly of the Cretans, if he had not been moved by very strong reasons. What term more reproachful than these opprobrious epithets can be imagined; that they were "lazy, devoted to the belly, destitute of truth, evil beasts?" Nor are these vices charged against one or a few persons, but he condemns the whole nation.

It was truly a wonderful purpose of God, that he called a nation so depraved, and so infamous on account of its vices, to be among the first who should partake of the gospel; but his goodness is not less worthy of admiration, in having bestowed heavenly grace on those who did not even deserve to live in this world.3 In that country so corrupt, as if in the midst of hell, the Church of Christ held a position, and did not cease to be extended, though it was infected by the corruption of the evils which prevailed there; for here Paul not only reproves those who were strangers to the faith, but expressly reproves those who had made a profession of Christianity. Perceiving that these vices so ful have already taken root, and are spreading far and wide, he does not spare the reputation of the whole nation, that he may attempt the care of those whom there was some hope of healing.

To Brandon:Indeed, I am happy to agree to disagree with you. But next time I'm down in Bloomington, I will be bringing videos of the worlds greatest sport for you to watch and admire. And yes, I am sure that Troy Polamalu's locks flying in the wind are beautiful. :-) Perhaps even more beautiful than one of David Beckham's crazy hairstyles.

To Tim:You're awesome, thankyou, I love you!

To Bill K:No worries about you "insulting the game" as you put it. You did state that you didn't see what was so beautiful about the game, so I was simply showing you examples, that's all. Your little parody was funny though, about running around, getting your car keys out, etc etc. Still not as beautiful or skillful as watching Thierry Henry dribble, but I'll give you points for effort. (if you had done all that with a ball at your feet, THEN it would have been beautiful).

Last, but not least since its correct spelling means a great deal to me, my name is Chantal, not Shantel. Just thought you should know, if you choose to comment or reply again. Thanks!

Enjoy the World Cup this month, or the superbowl later on!

"What term more reproachful than these opprobrious epithets can be imagined; that they were "lazy, devoted to the belly, destitute of truth, evil beasts?" Nor are these vices charged against one or a few persons, but he condemns the whole nation".

Thanks for pointing that out Jeff. Calvin can't even imagine anyone saying anything "more reproachful that these opprobrious epithets" about the Cretans. Nor can I. This is horribly disrespectul language about an entire ethnic group. Which is pretty obvious to all, and to argue that "evil beast" isn't an epithet is arguing that words have no meaning, and may mean whatever you want. As I said yesterday, if "evil beast" isn't an epithet, then there's no such thing as an epithet. And if the Holy Spirit doesn't inspire people to write epithets, then the book of Titus doesn't belong in the canon, because Paul cast opprobrious epithets in the book.

Let's consider a seminary professor, Jeff. Let's say that one of his graduates was called to pastor a black church. And the grad emailed the seminary prof for advice on his new ministry, and the prof emailed back that blacks should be rebuked sharply, because all blacks are liars, lazy, gluttonous, evil animals. If the black members of the church, or any other black people got a copy of this email calling their whole race lying, lazy, gluttonous, evil animals-what do you suppose their reaction would be, Jeff? And what if this email wound up on the news?

Do you really believe that black people wouldn't feel just as insulted as if they'd been called monkey? Don't you think they'd probably feel a whole lot more upset, especially since this is coming from a guy who trains Christian preachers? Do you really believe that the professor wouldn't be called a Nazi like white supremacist, and that all churches, liberal or conservative, would rush to condemn him as a racist who wasn't a true Christian, and asseverate that those views had no place in Christianity? And do you really believe that claiming that the prof meant those things "in a loving way" is going to pacify any of these people? I doubt it very much. If Paul had written that today, churches, including the PCA, would be calling him a horrible racist, and probab ly a reprobate. Seriously. . ."evil animals"? I don't know what page Tim is talking about, but if they've said anything worse about black people, I'd like to know what it is. Because it doesn't get much worse than saying that all members of a racial or ethnic group are evil animals. Which John Calvin makes quite clear.

Out of curiousity, I took a look at some of Dabney's writings, and what comes through loud and clear is that, in the documents I read, Dabney was primarily reacting to Reconstruction. He also says some interesting things about what we might today call "white trash" in the same context--esteeming them even lower than the freed slaves.

So it's certainly debateable whether Dabney was primarily racist, or whether he was simply decrying the Reconstruction habit of putting ill-educated men into positions of authority and giving them mountains of tax money to spend.

Here are just a couple of Daney quotes:

"The black race is an alien one on our soil; and nothing except his amalgamation with ours, or his subordination to ours, can prevent the rise of that instinctive antipathy of race, which, history shows, always arises between opposite races in proximity."

"The offspring of an amalgamation must be a hybrid race incapable of the career of civilization and glory as an independent race. And this apparently is the destiny which our conquerors have in view. If indeed they can mix the blood of the heroes of Manassas with this vile stream from the fens of Africa, then they will never again have occasion to tremble before the righteous resistance of Virginia freemen; but will have a race supple and vile enough to fill that position of political subjugation, which they desire to fix on the South."

That was from (by all accounts) the greatest theologian of the 19th century.

"So it's certainly debateable whether Dabney was primarily racist"

Robert Perry, this is another reason I believe we have to be very careful when it comes to any discussion of racism and reprobation.

First we tend to anathemize millions and millions of dead Christians, and many heroes of the faith, when we make broad, sweeping statements about racism.

Then in reaction to that, we start qualifing, and coming up with all sorts of strange and wonderful theories and doctrines. We start saying that calling people monkeys is vile, but Paul calling a whole race "evil animals" was not only not one of the worst epithets imaginable, but wasn't an epithet at all, but only a remarkable display of Christian love. Then we announce that there are different "kinds" of racism, like being "primarily racist", (and apparently "secondarily racist" or something), and that it just so happens that none of the dead racist heroes of the faith were in the first category of racism, which is the really bad one, but were simply "reacting" or "conforming" and didn't really mean the things they wrote. And it just so happens that all the people we call racist today really are in the first category of the really bad kind of racism, and they should be condemned to hell. When we start doing these mental gymnastics to deny the clear meaning of words, and inventing different kinds of racism to spare the racists we like, we lose our moral authority. If racists are reprobate, then Dabney was reprobate. If calling people animals is racist, then Paul was racist. And if Paul calling an entire race of people "evil animals" is in no way racist, then we're hard pressed to see how any printed or spoken words could be racist.

That's the worst thing about any discussion of racism today. The first casualty is intellectual honesty.

I've never commented but this discussion has pulled me in. I'm just a white 25 yr old teacher in Minneapolis, working in a predominantly black high school so this discussion hits close to home.

First, I think Paul intentionally shapes his language to avoid making the strong epithet that you all are arguing over. He quoted a respected Cretan scholar. That's like saying, "George Washington said that all Americans were greedy and lazy and I agree". That's not quite the same as the hateful divisive language that we're talking about.

I also can't put my finger on it, but I feel there's a difference in grouping people by nationality and by racial sub-group, If I say something negatively about French people I feel that's not as bad as ripping on African-Americans (no proof, just a feeling). I feel it's tied to the recent globalization of our society and the proximity with which we live to people of other backgrounds.

With the statement, "A certain one of them, in fact, one of their own prophets, said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons,'" the apostle calls on one of Crete's former and ancient religious teachers to expose their true character and manner of life.

Here's some commentary I found by Hampton Keathley from http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=2591

These Cretan false teachers were all the more dangerous because of the known nature of the people on whom they preyed. As evidence, Paul quoted a line from Epimenides (6th-5th century B.C.), who was held in honor on Crete as a poet, prophet, and religious reformer. The NIV rendering, "one of their own prophets," implies that Crete boasted a number of such prophets, a point not raised by Paul. The original, "A certain one of them, their own prophet," stresses that the quoted verdict came from one who had intimate knowledge of his own people and was esteemed by them as a "prophet." Paul was willing to accept this evaluation in order to underline the authority of his own judgment. The quotation establishes the picture without exposing Paul to the charge of being anti-Cretan. It put the Cretans on the horns of a dilemma. They must either admit the truthfulness of his verdict concerning them or deny the charge and brand their own prophet a liar.68

Nick-so it's not racism to say that it's true that black people are "evil animals" or "monkeys" if a black person said it first? It's only racism to say that Cretans or blacks are evil animals if one of them didn't say it first?

"First, I think Paul intentionally shapes his language to avoid making the strong epithet that you all are arguing over."

Well, you should read the passage again. If Paul intended to avoid making the strong epithet of "evil beasts", then he wouldn't have made the strong epithet "evil beasts".

He quoted a respected Cretan scholar. That's like saying, "George Washington said that all Americans were greedy and lazy and I agree". That's not quite the same as the hateful divisive language that we're talking about."

How is it like that in any way? I don't think Tim Bayly would be on here going on about reprobate racists if the website he refers to was talking about white people or "Americans". It's like George Washington, who was a racist who bought and sold black people, or Thomas Jefferson, who was also a reprehensible racist by today's standare, saying "blacks are stupid, they're lazy and goof off the first chance they get, they smell bad, they act like orangatangs, they only care about having sex and eating" (which Jefferson did say, by the way) and someone saying "Jefferson's right about blacks". It doesn't matter whether Paul was the originator of this statement or not. He said "it's true". Now Tim says comparing people to animals is racist. Well, Paul compared a whole race of people to animals. In fact, he called them animals.

"I also can't put my finger on it, but I feel there's a difference in grouping people by nationality and by racial sub-group, If I say something negatively about French people I feel that's not as bad as ripping on African-Americans (no proof, just a feeling). I feel it's tied to the recent globalization of our society and the proximity with which we live to people of other backgrounds."

Which is proving my point to a T, Nick, that when we start discussing racism without giving it much thought, and only repeating platitudes, we are soon forced to invent all these fancy doctrines and theories to distinguish between different kinds of racism, which somehow always seem to excuse our own hatreds, and the hatreds of our Christian ancestors, while conveniently enabling us to condemn those whose views and strong language we don't approve of. It's currently fashionable to despise and badmouth the French, so you think that's not nearly as bad as despising and badmouthing black people. Again, Nick, how convenient.

And you don't think much of this constant hunt for racism and hatred and prejudice and bigotry that goes on in America is tied to the fact that our country is increasinly multiracial? And that almost every day, things that it used to be perfectly acceptable to think and say now become "racist hate"? And don't you think that the church has to watch out for this problem too?

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