Free abortions on demand. The twisting of God's marriage covenant between a man and a woman to support contractual marriage between members of the same sex. An anti-Israel stance. Those all seem to be the positions of at least one of the Justice Conference 2015's keynote speakers.
For the past two years I've attended the Justice Conference. In 2013 I attended a simulcast at Friends Church in Yorba Linda. In 2014 while some of my friends attended the simulcast at Hillside, a Gospel-centered community church, I made my way to the live event at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. Both times I went wanting to learn more about "biblical" justice. Both times I left deeply concerned about the indoctrination of mostly young adults into an extremely short-sighted political system. And, I wondered if either Hillside or Friends or many of the other churches around the nation simulcasting these messages recognized that some of them don't correspond to historical Christianity.
This year when I saw the name of Dr. Cornel West as a keynote speaker, I wondered if the great divide among people who call themselves Christians might increase to the point where it can no longer be bridged. So I decided to see what I might discover about West's actual beliefs and how they correspond to God's Word.
A theologian friend advised me to start with West's faculty page at Union Theological Seminary. Nothing clear there, so I proceeded to check out the school's mission and vision.
Education at Union Theological Seminary is deeply rooted in a critical understanding of the breadth of Christian traditions yet significantly instructed by the insights of other faiths [emphasis mine.]
Interesting. So is the reality that the school champions an actual coming together of the various world religions/
Union Theological Seminary also fully supports gay rights and condemns those who do not, which means not only do they ignore the clear violation of Scripture when it comes to homosexuality being sin, they also ignore the biblical admonition to seek unity among the body of Christ. To exchange the covenant of marriage described in the Bible for the government contract of marriage is deeply troubling to many evangelical believers including me.
With the liberal agenda of West's workplace, it would seem he must agree with those positions. But wanting to be certain of his own views, I dug a little deeper. West had posted the following video on his Twitter feed.
Education at Union Theological Seminary is deeply rooted in a critical understanding of the breadth of Christian traditions yet significantly instructed by the insights of other faiths. - See more at: http://www.utsnyc.edu/about/history-mission/mission-vision#sthash.sdjobljc.dpuf
Though all of us might love to see a utopian society where if we laid down our arms, so would terrorists, that's not only impractical it's just plain stupid when dealing with evil. Hamas uses terrorist tactics. Like it or not, Israel is God's chosen nation. When they didn't fight back against Germany, they were slaughtered like cattle. Unfortunately as a member of P.E.T.A., West might care more for cattle than he does for the Jewish children who would be destroyed should Hamas have their way. If Hamas would lay down their arms, it would save all the people in Gaza, yet West presents such an oversimplified erroneous position, it's far more than disturbing. It's illogical and unthinkable.
So is abortion without apology, supported by Dr. West, who is the honorary chair for the Democratic Socialists of America. Yes, that link is to a petition (under West's name along with other supporters) to "stop forced motherhood," and you can sign it if you want. But first consider that there's an easier way than murdering unborn children made in the image of God. No one is forced to be a mom. Most of the time a woman can choose not to have sex. And if she is raped, gets pregnant, and doesn't want the child, many couples are clamoring for babies. Babies that according to Ps. 139:15-16, God knew in their mothers' wombs. He also ordained their days--Jesus had all the qualities of Jesus the moment He was conceived. So, too, was Paul known by God in the womb (see Gal. 1:15). Also consider that we will be held accountable by Almighty God Himself for what we do "to the least of these," as the Justice Conference organizers are so quick to point out. I can think of no one more vulnerable and voiceless than a tiny embryo endowed with every feature of being a human being; even viable by the 6th month of pregnancy.
At the two Justice Conferences I attended, I learned some good things I didn't know. But I also recognized a politicized agenda, the oversimplification of ideas, and the deficiency of complex thought that leads to solid biblical solutions under the authority of a sovereign God. To resolve injustice, we must consider the breakdown of the family and how fatherless children are much more susceptible to poverty, criminal behavior, and the lies of human traffickers. Abortion and the devaluing of human life that has led to the serious oppression of Hispanic (see p.7) and African American women, horrendous disrespect for women and girls and even gendercide. The immigration of thousands of undocumented children, who having been made orphans by the appeal of coming to America are being placed at extreme risk for modern-day slavery.
That's why I support attending an alternative conference. The Freedom Summit promotes "justice flowing out of discipleship." From lives transformed by God, genuine hope comes for the oppressed to be set free. And all the power of the Bible's living God is unleashed when believers come together in community. Human trafficking epitomizes injustice. It is the result of broken families, poverty, ideology, a broken foster care system, and the violation of the right to life and dignity from conception to the grave--biblical issues on which there must not be compromise.
Will there be people at the Freedom Summit who hold the same positions as Dr. West? Quite likely. Many people hold those positions. And where there are differing views (instead of indoctrination into one political agenda), dialogue can take place that leads into a deeper understanding of the issues. On July 10th and 11th, this conference in Orlando, Florida will offer insights on how to engage as a community, how to come together as the people of God to offer hope and healing in Jesus name--Name above all names; the only name by which we can be saved.
Part 2 will explore some of my perspective on Ken Wytsma's Pursuing Justice. Wytsma is the founder of the Justice Conference and president of Kilns College in Bend, Oregon.