Alright, I decided to offer a few thoughts on part 2 of the series I mentioned in my last post. If I disagreed with a little of the first part I disagreed a lot with the second. Mr. Moore basically calls Calvinism racist, cultish, elitist, oppressive, and promoting sinful living. He pretty much says that Calvinism is evil. There’s no real argument in the paper, just plenty of assertion. It’s also not a paper about Holy Hip Hop even if he peppers it with references to HHH. It’s a vitriolic attack on a theological system that I’m left to believe the author doesn’t really understand.
When he talks about institutional racism his point is basically that Calvin was a White guy who lived in the 16th century so for seminaries to subscribe to Calvin’s theology in the present day makes them racist. I know, not exactly the clearest line of thinking. He says:
How does institutional racism enter the equation? Institutional racism flourishes due to the inordinate and disproportionate exultation of the theologies of dead, white/European theologians over the present, majority, global theologies of non-white people groups around the world and Black theology developed right here in the US.
If an alien from Mars studied theology at just about any of the conservative seminaries in the US, the alien might think that humanity’s theological questioning ended in the 16th century. Due to the way in which Calvinism is presented, the alien might think white Europeans solved every theological problem nearly 500 years ago and created the perfect system to explain them all. Calvinism is presented as the theology to end all theologies. Reformed and no longer reforming.
Even in those rare schools which grant a generous dose of tolerance to their “Arminian brothers,” the problem of exalting dead, white theologians to the place of authority they do not logically deserve persists nonetheless. Whether the dead, white theologian from the 16th century that is being irrationally exalted is Luther, Calvin, Arminius, or Molina, it serves only to reinforce the racist status quo. (Pt. 2, p. 2)
But where’s the argument for why “Black theology developed right here in the US” should take precedence over Calvinism? How is it racist to be Calvinist and teach Calvinism? In my honest estimation, there’s a bit of ‘white guilt’ at work in Mr. Moore’s papers. This is most clearly seen when he turns the talk to slavery:
As I argued in Part I, when one is not the victim of evil and injustice, they are much more easily viewed as a part of loving God’s “sovereign” reign. But if one is unfortunate enough to suffer as a result of either evil or injustice, that one will not tend to be so understanding. This creates a tension in the Calvinists’ engagement of their communities and the world. On the one hand, all Christians are commissioned by Jesus to “heal the sick” and “cast out demons.” But, on the other hand, these would fall under the category of evil, and evil is an occurrence which God has ordained with his perfect all-powerful will. So, if a person is sick, God willed that. If a person is demon-possessed, God willed that too!
Think thats bad? It gets worse! If a people group is oppressed… yes, you guessed it …God willed it! To make this point hit just a little closer to home, allow me to use an example of an oppressed people group. Americans of African decent have historically been oppressed far more than any other people group in this country. Captured and brought to this country on ships in disgustingly inhumane conditions to be slaves, African human beings were bought and sold in this country like cattle. Families were ripped apart to be sold to different “masters.” Once Africans had been procured by these white/European land-owners, they were then forced to perform back-breaking labor for ungodly amounts of time in extreme heat with very few opportunities for rest. Grossly evil measures were instituted to control the African population such as brutal public whippings and the prohibition of any education. In fact, religion was often used as an instrument of oppression by teaching African slaves about the white/European God who wills their subjection to their “masters.” It’s difficult to even fathom the insensitivity it takes to hold a theology which proposes that the scarcely conceivable evil that has been inflicted upon Africans in America was ordained by God—but Calvinism forcefully asserts precisely this. (Pt. 2, p. 6-7)
But the Black, non-Calvinist, Rev. Earl W. Carter argues precisely this in his book No Apology Necessary (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 1997). The subtitle to his book is “How Hidden Prophecies in the Old Testament Foretold the Tragedy of Slavery and Give the Answer to Racial Tension in America.” This idea isn’t limited to White, conservative, Calvinistic Americans (with an emphasis on Americans since Mr. Moore doesn’t seem to refer to any of the world’s continental Calvinists, except of course for Calvin himself). In the end this is what I can glean from Mr. Moore’s papers, he doesn’t like Calvinism and he doesn’t like that a majority of Holy Hip Hop artists are Calvinists. There’s no sustained argument for anything that he’s claiming and as the title of my post says, it’s high on rhetoric but low on substance. I could have done without part 2 of his series, it’s much worse than the first.