A growing evangelical backlash against racism at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville is developing. Here is the latest report by our coorespondent on the grounds of the University of Virginia.
By Bill Bray, Campus Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (September 8, 2017) – InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) has issued a statement, which is co-signed by six other evangelical campus ministries here at the University of Virginia, denouncing white racism.
It calls racism, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy anti-Christian and is seen as part of a growing evangelical response to the resurgence of racial violence here that began last month.
According to the news release issued by the Madison, Wisconsin national headquarters of IVCF, campus ministries say, “Racist ideologies and systems (including white supremacy and anti-Semitism) deny Scripture’s affirmation of the equal value and dignity of all people who are created in God’s image.”
Christian ministries here continue to be torn by controversy following the violent race riots August 11-12 which began on the grounds of the University of Virginia and spread off-campus to the city. The violence left three dead and 35 hospitalized.
Tom Lin, president of InterVarsity, said, “Nearly one half of the students involved in InterVarsity’s campus ministry are people of color and international students. Every day we witness the reconciling power of the gospel to overcome every barrier. We are absolutely passionate about the work of reconciliation and adamantly oppose anything that impedes that work.”
InterVarsity is a national organization that is sponsoring Urbana 18, the largest national gathering of Christian students of the year in St. Louis next December.
The statement was signed by several groups which belong to the Grounds Fellowship here at the University, including: Coalition for Christian Outreach, Collegiate Church Network, Campus Ministry of Cru, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, The Navigators, Reformed University Fellowship, and Young Life College and University Fellowship. The Grounds Fellowship will meet again Monday Morning, September 11, to discuss their united response to racism at UVA.
A similar statement is being drafted by the Charlottesville Pastors and Leaders (CPL) Round Table by the Rev. Mark Beliles of The Global Transformation Network. The Round Table is meeting on Wednesday mornings at a local restaurant to consider an evangelical response.
Clergy involved with the CPL are planning a Prayer Walk and Gathering Event in downtown Charlottesville later in the fall according to Dr. Beliles.
The draft “Statement by Evangelical Campus Ministries On Racism, Anti-Semitism & White Supremacy” was made available by the student ministries group on Wednesday, September 6:
1. As Christian ministries called to reach the university with the gospel of Jesus Christ, the recent demonstration on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville compels us to publicly denounce racism, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy as sin.
2. Racist ideologies and systems (including white supremacy and anti-Semitism) deny Scripture’s affirmation of the equal value and dignity of all people who are created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27-28) These ideologies expressly deny Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:31). Therefore, we reject and condemn every ideology and system which teaches or supports the supremacy of one race or the inferiority of another. We believe, without reservation, that racism, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy are sin, being abhorrent to God and deeply contrary to Scripture’s command to walk in both truth and love. (3 John 1:4; Ephesians 5:2)
3. Racist ideologies and systems set themselves against God’s intention to reconcile diverse people to one another in a united community, even as he reconciles that diverse community to himself. (Ephesians 2:14-16) The Church is, and will be, composed of people from every tribe, nation, and language. (Revelation 7:9). Therefore, we reject and condemn every ideology and system which divides people from one another based on ideas of racial superiority or ethnic purity. We affirm our essential unity as a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multinational people united in Christ.
4. We recognize, with grief and repentance, that Christian churches, ministries, and individuals have promoted, participated, or passively benefitted from our racialized society. Too frequently, many of us have stood silent and failed to confront attitudes and actions which have disenfranchised and suppressed minority people and cultures. We recognize our own complicity in this area. We depend upon the work of the Holy Spirit and the grace of other Christians to guide us in all truth as we continue to reflect and repent. (John 14:26)
5. With grief and love, we invite those who hold racist ideologies to repent and to conform their thinking and lives to the teaching of Scripture. (Romans 12:2)
6. We commit ourselves to both pray for and act toward a more robustly biblical ministry of reconciliation and restoration in Jesus Christ which reflects these beliefs.
7. As students return to campus this academic year, we stand committed to extend hospitality and comfort that comes with the good news of Jesus Christ who will reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross, (Colossians 1:20).
Photo captions: 1) White racism at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. 2) White nationalist (pictured on right), feuds with counter protesters on the UVA campus in Charlottesville on Friday, August 11, 2017. The nationalists marched with torches through the campus. (Photo: Mykal McEldowney, IndyStar via USA TODAY NETWORK). 3) Students protest against white racism. 4) Bill Bray.
About the writer: Bill Bray is a Christian journalist who specializes in missions and student ministries. He frequently reports on campus controversy and has followed the situation in Charlottesville for ASSIST News since the racial violence began August 11-12. He is the author of, Called to All: How I discovered the power of a yielded life. He welcomes interaction with our readers and can be contacted at email@example.com
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