An Open Letter to White Christians

The following letter is posted permanently to this page for posterity. I hope it adds meaningfully to your own thinking and dialogue regarding Christianity and race as a white North American follower of Jesus.

Sincerely,

Christopher

An Open Letter to White Christians by Christopher Hopper

  • Steve Adriance

    Christopher, I can tell from reading your paper that you are passionate about civil justice. Your appeal to “white” Christians is bold, yet misdirected. As you well know there are so many generational forces at play here. I hope you know, although I don’t always agree with you, I continue to love and support you and your vision for the church.

    What if the modern embodiment of the “German State Church” is not who you think, but are the very groups that you presently believe you resonate with?

    Many times you mention “right-wing” without any reference to “progressive” points of view and its part in sysyemic bigotry. Honest scholarship would realize that progressive leadership has largely been in place across our nation (and chirches) since LBJ’s ‘Great Society’ was proposed in 1965 yet our nation suffers more today from racial divide than it has in decades. Where’s the progress? In fact, in the south, LBJ depended primarily on Republican members of Congress to pass his civil rights legislation when more liberal members of the Democrat Party refused.

    Since moving to Kentucky in 2008 we’ve lived in an urban neighborhood, where we are the ‘minority’; much different than our upstate New York experience. You wrote that we should ask our neighbors “how they feel”? Believe me, my Latino friends who were born elsewhere have a very different perspective about America than my black friends who were born here. And the Hatian family that lives across our circle are so grateful to be in the US. My black friends who grew up in Appalachia had a very different experience but say that so much has improved for them, and now their children, since the 1960’s.

  • Steve Adriance

    Christopher, I can tell from reading your paper that you are passionate about civil justice. Your appeal to “white Christians” is bold, yet, I believe, misdirected. As you well know there are so many generational forces at play here. I hope you also know, although I don’t always agree with you, I continue to love and support you and your vision for the church.

    You write about “conservative commercial media” without acknowledging how progressive points of view promote systemic bigotry. Honest scholarship must admit that progressive leadership has largely been in place across our nation since LBJ’s ‘Great Society’ began in 1965 yet our nation suffers more today from racial divide than it has in decades.

    Living for nearly ten years in an urban neighborhood I’ve learned a great deal about the struggles people of color have as part of the this ‘melting pot’ called America. You are correct to write that it is an advantage to be white in this country. It was an advantage to be a Hebrew in Isreal and Jesus certainly taught us through His actions toward the “woman at the well” that we must rise above race and religion.

    Although I agree that the white western church has fallen far short of its calling, I believe you are being too quick to resonate with groups such as “Black Lives Matter” who, I fear, do not have the advancement of the black community as their primary charter.

    You summarize Bonhoeffer by writing “It was the church’s failure to protest the signs of evil, as well as their error in esteeming German nationalism in the guise of Christian ethics above their call to be Christ followers, that aided the 3rd Reich’s rise.”

    What if the modern-day embodiment of the “German State Church” is not who you think, but are the very groups that you presently resonate with?

    • Steve,

      First off, thanks for reading the essay before commenting. It’s more than many have done.

      || “…although I don’t always agree with you, I continue to love and support you…”

      That’s deeply appreciated. I remember a breakfast at the Queen Diner many moons ago, and being very opposed to your Calvinist doctrines, yet love still ruled the day. You’ve sown that, and that should be reaped.

      || “…without acknowledging how progressive points of view promote systemic bigotry.”

      My audience doesn’t need to be convinced of this; they already believe that.

      || “You are correct to write that it is an advantage to be white in this country.”

      And then some.

      || “…[who] do not have the advancement of the black community as their primary charter.”

      And some churches do not have the advancement of Jesus as their primary character; this does not mitigate the fact that the congregants are gathered to worship Christ. Even if BLM is skewed yet remains to have noble ambitions and noble participants, then it is one organization – among many – that I am for, flaws and all. This was covered pretty extensively in the paper.

      || “What if the modern-day embodiment of the “German State Church” is not who you think, but are the very groups that you presently resonate with?”

      My resonation (or lack thereof) is not the litmus test.

      The GSC was supporting a regime that publicly promoted German elitism and nationalism to a corporate psyche that had been humiliated and emasculated by the Treaty of Versaille. To achieve their goals, they adamantly promoted the systematic oppression of outsiders and the eradication of Jews. I will continue resonating with the same groups that those who are oppressed resonate with; again, argued pretty thoroughly in the paper.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Blessings to you and Paula,

      CH