The Truth About Crime, Race & Policing In America Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and a New York Times bestselling author. She is a recipient of the 2005 Bradley Prize. Mac Donald’s work at City Journal has covered a range of topics, including higher education, immigration, policing, homelessness and homeless advocacy, criminal-justice reform, and race relations. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, and The New Criterion. Mac Donald’s newest book, The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture (2018), argues that toxic ideas first spread by higher education have undermined humanistic values, fueled intolerance, and widened divisions in our larger culture.
Mac Donald’s The War on Cops (2016), a New York Times bestseller, warns that raced-based attacks on the criminal-justice system, from the White House on down, are eroding the authority of law and putting lives at risk. Other previous works include The Burden of Bad Ideas (2001), a collection of Mac Donald’s City Journal essays, details the effects of the 1960s counterculture’s destructive march through America’s institutions. In The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan than Today’s (2007), coauthored with Victor Davis Hanson and Steven Malanga, she chronicles the effects of broken immigration laws and proposes a practical solution to securing the country’s porous borders. In Are Cops Racist? (2010), another City Journal anthology, Mac Donald investigates the workings of the police, the controversy over so-called racial profiling, and the anti-profiling lobby’s harmful effects on black Americans.
How Should Christians Understand Structural Sin and Systemic Racism?
As soon as you put us together and we formed structures together, our sinfulness comes into that structure.
The issue comes down in the American context to the terminology of structural racism or systemic racism. Do we believe in it or not? Well, you have to answer this question by saying yes in one sense, no in another.
Well, we understand that yes, there is individual responsibility, and it is individuals as we shall see who will stand before the judgment of God, but those individuals have now in their sin of abortion into a structural arena, into the systems of society. They have done so through, for example, the Supreme Court handing down the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
They have done so by legislatures, as we have seen in New York, in Illinois, and in other states even adopting more radical abortion rights legislation.
What Is Liberation Theology? The Definition of Sin Is at Stake
The Protestant liberals of the 19th and 20th centuries began to replace the gospel of Jesus Christ
What was wrong with Protestant liberalism is that it actually denied the gospel of Jesus Christ and sought instead to come up with a political methodology or a political mission and strategy for the church.
The second danger we have to observe is the arrival in the middle of the 20th century and especially in the last half of the last century of what is known as liberation theology.
This you might say was a social gospel taken to its quantum level. Liberation theology emerged first among Roman Catholics in central and South America but soon it became translated into other cultural contexts, the United States and Europe.
They basically took the biblical gospel and replaced it with a Marxist understanding of social revolution.
They changed the good news of the gospel as salvation in Jesus Christ to the good news of social and moral progress that would come by liberating human beings, thus liberation theology, and doing so through the appropriation of a Marxist revolutionary context and platform.
It also became in North America a variegated format or constellation of positions that include what had been called black liberation theology and feminist theology, and even more recently, the theologies of liberation as they have been styled that have been appropriated by the LGBTQ community.
Karl Marx alleged an exercise of oppression
So, here’s what we have to understand. The social gospel of the Protestant liberals of the 19th and 20th centuries gave way in the second half of the 20th century to these theologies of liberation, but the theologies of liberation did something else. The Protestant liberals started this. They took it to its ultimate conclusion, and that was the redefinition of human sin.
Sin was redefined so that it was no longer the transgression of God’s law, the breaking of the commandment, robbing God of his glory, an individual act of revolt against a holy God. It was translated into social structures alone, nearly exclusively, if not absolutely exclusively. Sin is now a systemic structural issue. It is not an individual issue. It’s not a matter of my sin and your sin, our violation of God’s law. It is instead the reference to systemic, corporate, political, economic oppression.
The answer to that kind of oppression, said the liberationists, is revolution, a communist Marxist form of what they called praxis in the place of a biblical understanding of the gospel.
So, in the perspective of those who operate from this liberationist methodology, when they talk about structural or systemic sin, structural or systemic racism, they mean that it’s not really about individuals being responsible for this sin and it’s not about even those individual sins and individual sinners effecting the society systemically and structurally and as laws and policies. They mean a revolution by which the entire experiment of Western civilization, its virtues, its values, its structures, its institutions, and biblical orthodox Christianity as a part of the shaping influences of Western culture, these have to be undone.
Liberation will only come and oppression will only cease, they say, when the society is revolutionized by a Marxist revolution and that which is, is no more and there will be a new liberated age on the other side of the revolution.
Now, understand that that’s the energy behind so much of the political and cultural left in the United States.
the rioters and their apologists demand what amounts to a total reorientation of the entire society. Speaking of this revolutionary energy, he then writes, “Their intellectual leaders tell us that capitalism is white supremacy, that immigration enforcement and patriotism are racist and tax cuts reify racial inequality.”
What Should the Christian Response Be to Systemic Racism?
I think in that article the confession of faith of the Southern Baptist Convention gets the answer just about exactly right. So, I’ll leave it there.