Thinking Biblically About Riots: #Ferguson

Cripplegate

by Jesse Johnson

Yesterday I was interviewed at The Daily Signal for a churchman’s perspective on the Ferguson rioting.
I chose to limit my responses to the riots—as I think it is foolish to try and relitigate the guilt or innocence of Wilson or Brown. After all, one man is believed until he is cross examined (Prov 18:17), and there are only a few people in the world who have heard from the witnesses on both sides of this case.  Nevertheless, there are some basic biblical principles concerning the aftermath in Ferguson that need to be said:   

1)  Riots are the fruit of an attack on biblical authority. Through common grace, God has given the world structure: God, governments, military, law-enforcement, families, and marriage. These are all the God-ordained authorities in the world, while our culture actively undermines confidence in each of these. The fruit of a culture that does not trust law-enforcement is riots. The fruit of a culture that does not respect marriage is anarchy in that institution as well. The fruit of a culture that does not respect military is equivocation on the concept of moral evil. Obviously our culture embraces all of these examples. If trust in government, family, and marriage is all relentlessly attacked, it should not surprise anyone that a society turns to violence and lawlessness. Fires in the streets are the product of decades of cultivating a disdain for authority.
2) The United States has a seriously messed up understanding of race, in large part owing to the brazen hypocrisy seen in a founding that simultaneously proclaimed “all men are created equal” and the lawfulness of slavery. The fruit of the blatant sins of slavery and segregation, mingled with the more subtle evils (like banning interracial dating, racial profiling, and “the sordid business of divvying us up by race”) naturally results in a culture built upon the foundation of a sinful understanding of the human condition. The fruit of these generational sins is a divided world, where riots and injustice co-mingle, the perpetrators of each claiming victimhood.
3) The counter to both of these sins is the church. I don’t mean that the church has the power to direct the culture or the power to right past wrongs. I’m too much of a premillennialist for the former, and too much of a realist for the later. Yet on the macro level, the church is the one institution that transcends race and ethnicity. This is seen in the mandate from Jesus to make disciples of all nations (Greek: ethnos), and it is seen in its founding: Jews and Gentiles together in one body. On the micro level, when those who abuse power come to faith in Christ, they stop abusing power. When those who loot and steal come to faith in Christ, they loot and steal no more. Thus the gospel—in the church—is the Christian’s solution to the both the long and short-term sins that produce riots in the streets.
So please, pray for peace in Ferguson, pray for wisdom for church leaders there (real church leaders, not the so-called Reverends without churches, who are obviously doing more harm than good), and pray that the Lord would cause many people to come to faith through the work of local Christians there who are eager to point people to the Savior.

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