Two Revelations from Ferguson

Some people say if you haven’t experienced injustice or walked in the shoes of those who have, then you can’t relate to those who’ve suffered.

That statement doesn’t apply to me.

My family was slapped in the face by civil injustice. My father went to prison for three years because a jury made a wrong decision. We nearly lost everything–my mother courageously working a graveyard shift so that we could keep our house during that season of grief.

Not once did we blame the establishment or burn our neighborhood down to get even. We made a better choice.

Here are two revelations from Ferguson, Missouri.

Yes, it’s true that I’m not African-American and weighted down with the historical millstone of slavery. That is not a pretty history and no one can deny that it has affected generations of black Americans.

I am as white as white can be–half German, half Swedish. But many races, cultures, and families have experienced human injustice in other forms.

In my case, it was directed at my family in the 1960s.

My dad was a successful doctor who brought down the wrath of the medical elite by helping to fund a better way of doing blood tests that undercut the profits of the establishment. They needed to put him out of business to benefit their bottom line.

They succeeded.

In a bogus trial in which the main witness lied on the witness stand (and later committed suicide), my father was convicted of a crime he never committed and spent three years of his life behind bars.

Unjustly.

A jury of his peers made the wrong decision and my family spent a horrendous thirty-six months (and then a lifetime) dealing with the consequences. 

So when I hear shouts of “injustice” I understand its meaning. I’ve felt it, experienced and hate it.

But when I saw the reaction of the local community to the killing of Michael Brown–and more recently watched the riots and wanton destruction of property by those who were angry that Officer Darren Wilson wasn’t indicted–it brought to my mind two revelations that I want to offer up to my fellow Americans who are still dealing with this tragedy.

The first is a perspective on our current culture that is frightening. If we don’t learn from this insight, then our nation could “burn” in the coming years.

The second revelation is more personal. I believe it would have been shared by Dr. Martin Luther King, a rightful hero in the United States and in other nations among those who care about truth and justice.

Revelation One – Post-Modern (Pagan) Morality Destroys.

I haven’t liked the term “post modern” since I first encountered it in my graduate studies about a decade ago. Almost nobody can define it. Between typing these lines, I tried to google a definition of post modernism on-line and got a gobblety gook of words with little meaning.

Post-modern is supposed to be “after the modern world, “a new evaluation of culture, mores etc.” One definition got close to the heart of it: self-referential when it comes to right and wrong.

What does that mean?

Let’s back up a moment and look at its opposite.

Nobody who is honest about history would disagree that the modern world was built on the foundation of a Judeo-Christian values. Let’s call this God-referential--in other words: 

  • There is God Who made not only the natural laws of the universe but also revealed the moral laws that apply to all human beings. We are accountable to Him for our actions.
  • From the Decalogue and the nation of Israel, to the Magna Carta, to the Reformation, to the foundations of British law and American civilization, this biblical view of life has formed the basis of modernity and the civil rights (and peace and prosperity) that we enjoy.
  • Human rights are not derived from tyrants or human governments, but are God-given, including the rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
  • The biblical worldview assumes that there is such a thing as truth–and that this truth is based on evidence. All of our human courts and principles of justice are based on this axiom that we must seek to know the truth that is based on objective facts.
  • Our system of “blind justice” is the best the world has produced–and human juries are the wisest and humane way to keep justice near to the people and discover truth in a fallen world.
  • Because human beings are sinful and fallible, sometimes even the best structures make wrong decisions. But the rule of law that comes from God is still worth honoring, even when it fails.
  • Perfect justice or judgment will only be given in eternity by a holy and just God. We must leave ultimate justice in the hands of God.
  • The end (justice) never justifies the means (violence). 

Thus the biblical worldview teaches us 1) there is a God of justice, 2) truth is based on evidence, and 3) We must never take justice in our own hands either through vigilantism or random acts of violence.

A biblical worldview and godly character are the guardians of peace in a free society.

So what happened in Ferguson and what did it reveal about our present character and worldview?

The shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson looked confusing early on. It could have been racially motivated–a white cop over zealously gunning down a black young man–or it could have been a young thug robber assaulting a policeman which cost him his life.

Which was it? 

After a media circus fueled by race hustlers used the occasion to stir up the community against the police and burned and destroyed parts of Ferguson, a grand jury was convened to analyze the facts. They concluded: 

  • That many early witnesses lied and changed their stories about it being police brutality.
  • At least six African American witnesses confirmed Darren Wilson’s testimony that he shot Michael Brown in self defense after Brown punched him, ran away, then charged him even when Wilson pleaded for him to stop.
  • There was no basis to indict Darren Wilson. 

Yet after the grand jury decision was announced, 20 businesses were burned to the ground by angry, stoned, anarchic thugs, 60 businesses were burglarized, and scores of people were arrested for partipating in the economic mayhem. Then the violent protests spread around the nation to other major cities.

Why?

Because the post-modern worldview of “self-referential” people –meaning I will decide my own truth regardless of God, evidence, justice, juries, or other people’s property rights–is growing in our nation.

Selfishness reigns. I am my own truth. I don’t care about the facts and I don’t respect your private property. I will burn you and loot you with impunity if I don’t get my way. 

In the biblical worldview, Jesus (God’s Word) says, “I am the truth (John 14:6). In the post-modern worldview which we saw unleashed in Ferguson and other places, fallen human beings say “I have my own truth and will do what I want.”

Let’s call post-modernism what it really is.

Paganism. The spirit of anarchy that comes from Lucifer himself.

It is life without God, his rules for living, his character and self control, his love and grace.

And if the pagan/postmodern worldview is not exposed and repented of in American life, then the prevalence of violence and anarchy looms large in our future.

Revelation Two – Biblical Morality Brings Peace and Blessing

When my family faced injustice forty-five years ago, I could have gotten mad, bitter and even violent. Our family had been destroyed and my dad had been taken away. 

If I’d had a notion to be post-modern or pagan, I could have burned up the whole neighborhood to get “justice for my dad.”

Instead, I began a pursuit of God which led me and much of my family into being born again, discipled in his character, filled with his love and forgiveness, and set free to serve others.

We never blamed the prosecutor, the jury, the state, the medical establishment or anyone else. Yeah, we had our pity-party moments, but the greater reality was allowing God to work in our lives and help us overcome injustice with his goodness and grace.

We learned to turn the other cheek, work hard, accept some bad decisions and circumstances in life, try to make it a better world thorough peaceful means, and put final justice in hands of the only One who can handle it.

God.

He became our reference–not our twisted, angry human pride.

Dr. Martin Luther King did the same thing in the 1960s regarding African-American civil rights. He shared the truth, preached non-violence, and left the verdict in God hands and a biblically-based nation that responded to the facts and removed some chains of discrimination.

In the past fifty years we’ve made great racial strides through referencing the God of MLK and his ways. Let’s not go back to self-referencing and the chaos and destruction it produces.

Benjamin Watson, an African-American tight end for the New Orleans Saints, has it right when he says about Ferguson:

I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.” 

“I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn.” 

“BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel.” 

“So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.”

Amen, Benjamin.

You’ve gotten the revelations.

 

 

 



 

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