Prominent New York City megachurch pastor A.R. Bernard is offering solutions on how to combat injustice in churches and the wider society.
The senior pastor of the Christian Culture Center spoke with The Christian Post for an in-depth look at the history of racism in America and how it informed the Western church.
“There are those who want to not look at the history and move forward. They say, ‘Well, can we just start from here and build in the future?’ But look, if you don’t understand yesterday, you’ll be confused about today and you will repeat the past tomorrow,” Bernard said.
Racism, he said, “is a human social construct” that “goes back to 600 years of European imperialism.” In America, slavery was an economic system and “racialization was necessary in order to create a class system that had the white power elite on top,” he noted.
“I understand that when you have an economic system that’s based upon a forced labor of slaves and all of that is taken away from you, that is devastating. And that was the major issue for the South. They sought to recapture that by other means. So organizations re-formed like the Ku Klux Klan and other organizations to make the transition of Africans into American society difficult,” he explained, citing Jim Crow and vagrancy laws.
In his interview with CP (watch below), Bernard also discussed: how the founding fathers did not have “black and brown individuals” in mind when writing the Declaration of Independence and yet God providentially used their words to promote equality; the Black Lives Matter movement and why he has been able to separate the movement from the organization; white superiority and classism; and the role of white evangelicals and how they interpreted Scripture with regard to race.
“The evangelical community that developed out of conservatism and who subscribe to the apocalyptic vision and rejected progressive social reform, they developed a hermeneutic of segregation that reinforced that in this nation,” he explained. “So if you have a hermeneutic of segregation, it means you have a lens that sees the Bible as God endorsing the separation of races, the subjugation of what you deem inferior people.”
The 66-year-old pastor, who was named one of NY’s 50 Most Powerful People in Brooklyn in 2018, further pointed to what he argued is “the deficiency in the doctrine of sin,” where many evangelicals believe that “sin is only in the individual” and getting that person “saved” would resolve all problems.
“Sin manifests itself in the individual but it also manifests societally in societal systems, structures, codes, policy, laws that have to change,” he stressed. “So if we don’t deal with sin not only in the individual but in social systems and structures, then what happens when the person gets saved? Things don’t change within that society.”
While much change is needed, he sees at least one big difference between now and the ’60s — white pastors have been calling him, expressing empathy and asking what they can do following the death of George Floyd, who died on Memorial Day while in police custody.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jeannie Law