On The Race Issue 1& 2
文 | 胡晟宇
本文作者胡晟宇（Sheng Hu）4岁半来美国。大学毕业工作几年后，于2015年蒙神的呼召就读三一神学院，获得道学（MDiv）学位；现于土桑华人基督教会英文堂事奉。本文为教会长老翻译，英文原文附后。下面的两个音频不是本文的语音资料，而是作者在本教会的英文证道信息，题目是“Social Justice”。
On The Race Issue_1
种族间的紧张关系在美国根深蒂固。从特雷冯·马丁（Trayvon Martin）的死开始，到迈克·布朗（Mike Brown），埃里克·加德纳（Eric Gardner），菲兰多·卡斯蒂利亚（Philodo Castile），最后是乔治·弗洛伊德（George Floyd），近十几年来警察的残暴执法成为公众关注和议论最多的问题。在更广范围内，种族问题当然也涉及拉美裔，亚裔和犹太裔，但问题的重心似乎位于白人和黑人之间，尤其是白人警察与年轻黑人男性之间。
从历史政治角度来看，过去几周发生的一切都是对乔治·弗洛伊德（George Floyd）被警察跪杀事件的回应。对此事件我不再做描述；建议大家亲自查看新闻及相关视频，我认为那段视频录像已经将事件说明的很清楚。该警察已被控谋杀罪，正在等待审判。弗洛伊德的死实际上只是压垮骆驼的最后一根稻草。发生的抗议活动不仅是针对这一事件，更是针对黑人社区一系列事件（包括Trayvon Martin，Mike Brown，Philando Castile，Freddie Gray等人死亡）所积累的愤怒的回应。其中最激进的声音认为，美国警界骨子里对黑人有歧视。这至少在种族问题方面成为美国社会不公正的一个典型，其他方面包括经济，教育，医疗保健，政治等。总体上，抗议者认为，美国这个国家根子里有种族歧视，她的制度无处不体现着白人优越。因此，美国的制度体系需要重建，方能消弭种族主义和对有色人种（黑人，还有亚裔，拉丁裔，犹太裔等）的不公平待遇。
What Is Social Justice?
现今，一种被炒作的政治言论就是美国从骨子里歧视有色人种。在我们讨论这个问题之前，有个重要的定义得先弄明白：什么叫种族主义？（在美国）传统上，种族主义就是因别人的肤色低看别人，把他们当劣等人种对待。换句话说，种族主义是因肤色引起的偏爱或偏见。在经济和政治领域，种族主义体现为对肤色不同的人区别对待。比如，一个肤色深的人想去某家餐馆吃饭，他愿意付账也付得起账，却不让他进，不为别的，只因他的肤色深了点。又比如，在吉姆克劳（Jimmy Crow）时期，美国南方施行两套法律，白人一套黑人一套。白人黑人肤色不同，法律的标准也就不一样。但是，1964 年《民权法案》通过后，美国就不再这样了，种族歧视是违法的。
然而，20 世纪 60-70 年代起，种族主义的定义就开始变，而且变得越来越离谱。今天，社会公正的推手们所谓的“种族歧视”更多指的是结果与权力的不均等，跟几十年前的意思完全不一样。就是说，如果一个肤色深的人在一个机构里没有获得与白人同等的地位、财富或特权，这个机构就存在种族歧视，那些在这个机构里不成比例受益的人就成了所谓的种族主义者。（译者注：照社会公正的推手们的说法，好大学不成比例地招收亚裔学生，就是搞种族歧视，亚裔学生不成比例地进了好大学，就是种族主义者；要消弭这种种族歧视，就得人为地干预大学招生，保证录取结果的均等，而不问学生的付出。)
圣经上多处谴责传统意义上的种族主义（使徒行传 10：34-35，雅各书 2：8-9）。神不允许我们用不同的标准对待不同的族群。但是，上面提到的第二种种族主义却不符合圣经教导。圣经上从来没要求一个社会必须这样构建：保证不同族群能取得相同的结果，包括特权和权力。
举个例子，以色列有十二支派，但不都有同等的权力。创世记 49 章记载，雅各临终前给十二个儿子祝福，有的得到的多，有的得到的少，圣经没告诉我们什么原因。之后征服迦南时，各支派本该按照人数多少分地（民数记 33：54），事实却非如此。但、以萨迦和西布伦三支派人多，分到的地却不成比例的小（约书亚记 19：10-23，40-46）。也许，有人说这不公平。但是，没有哪位士师、君王或先知，甚至神自己谴责这种分地的不均。另一方面，摩西的律法适用于每个支派，适用于每个人。神不允许我们偏待人（利未记 19：15，出埃及记 23：2-3）。这就是神要求的公正。祂没要求所有族群都有相同的结果。俗语说“结果不均就是不平等”，这话经不起圣经的检验。作为基督徒，我们不能容忍对“公正”一词的不符合圣经的重新定义。那样做等于称恶为善，称善为恶（以赛亚书 5： 20）。
同样的原则可以运用到其他方面。例如，黑色和黄色人种（译者注：指墨西哥裔）在大学里代表性不足。这是事实。但是，有据可查的事实显明许多黑人社区崇尚读书无用论。我们讨论黑人在大学里代表性不足的时候，不能忽略这点吧？还有，跟白人比起来，监狱里的黑人不成比例的高，这也是事实。但是，我们讨论坐监的问题的时候，也不能视而不见年轻黑人男性犯罪率高的事实吧（美国一半以上的暴力犯罪是黑人男性干的，按人口比例，这是白人的 8 倍）？不同种族在教育水平和坐监率上的差异是不是因为文化差异而造成的呢？一个人需要故意无视大量的数据事实才能大肆渲染“美国每个主要机构都故意根据肤色歧视有色人种”。
即便说美国是个不完美的社会（可以说每个国家都不完美），教会应该在多大程度上参与社会政治运动呢？我们要谨记一点：教会的使命是去让万民做耶稣的门徒（马太福音 28：19）。教会的工作就是拯救人的灵魂，不至于下地狱。唯一的方法就是让人认自己的罪，悔改，相信耶稣基督，接受耶稣做他们的救主和主。要完成这一使命，教会要去传讲福音（罗马书 10：14）。
首先，帮助穷人和消除贫困是有区别的。前者是帮助穷人有一颗新造的心，是由爱心而生出的好行为；后者是一项任务，一个目标，一项工程。耶稣当然帮过穷人，但他无意消除贫困。他医治大麻疯病人，但无意消除大麻疯病。耶稣呼唤我们要有同情心，当邻舍遇到困境，我们会自然而然地帮助他们。同时，耶稣也指出这世上会有贫穷、痛苦和苦难（马太福音 26：11，罗马书 8：18-21）。期待教会成功消除世上的不公正与苦难，就太天真了，即使尝试去做，也不会成功。
其次，耶稣所行的医治都是为了证明祂所传的道（马可福音 1：38，约翰福音 20：30- 31，使徒行传 2：22）。神迹和医治的主要目的不是为了让人在地上过的更好一些。耶稣行神迹是为了辅助祂传讲福音，帮助人相信祂就是弥赛亚。如果神迹不能帮助人建立对祂的信心，耶稣就不施行神迹了（马太福音 13：58，约翰福音 6：26-66）。今天，人们常常把追求社会公正当作终极目标，仿佛男女都无需洗心革面、只要能使这个世界变得更好就有内在价值。
最后，当耶稣再来，创造新天新地的时候，我们为这个世界所能做的一切都将化为灰烬（彼得后书 3：10，启示录 21：5）。假设你在即将沉入大海的泰坦尼克号上，船上的每个人都要随之沉没。当一艘救援轮来搭救乘客时，一个人想尽力拯救注定要灭亡的泰坦尼克号，那是非常愚蠢的。正确的做法是他竭尽全力上那艘救援轮，并帮助其他人上船。论到救恩，同样的道理。这个世界注定要被毁灭。神要创造一个新的世界，一个新的国度——一个没有罪、没有痛苦、没有苦难和死亡的世界。神呼召我们信靠耶稣，好在神的国里有份。如果我们将全部的精力用于挽救这个世界，就会同它一起灭亡。我们要做的不是修补这个世界，而是让自己和更多的人进入神的国。
On the Race Issue_1
The killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 has set in motion a series of political and cultural movements that have sparked intense debate in America about race-relations and social justice. A comprehensive examination of these topics would take far too long than I have time for, but I will seek to address some of the major issues that in my assessment pertain to Asian American Christians (AAC).
Racial tension has always run deep in America. But in the past decade or so, beginning with the death of Trayvon Martin, followed by that of Mike Brown, Eric Gardner, Philando Castile, and ultimately George Floyd, the issue of police brutality has seen the most public discussion and scrutiny. And while Latinos, Asians, and Jews are certainly part of the larger discussion of racial injustice, the center of mass seems to lie between whites and blacks, and particularly between white cops and black young males.
There are many questions that need to be addressed from the perspectives of AAC’s. 1. What is the real issue, with respect to American history and politics? 2. What is the current milieu in the church among young, mostly second-generation, Asian Christians? 3. As AAC’s, where should we stand on this issue politically and spiritually in this article, I will address the first and second question: What is the real issue? (for first-generation immigrants who do not feel knowledgeable in American politics and history). Furthermore, where do most AAC’s stand?
From a historical-political perspective, everything that has happened in the past few weeks has been in response to the death of George Floyd. I won’t belabor the event itself; I recommend you read the news for yourself with the accompanying video, I think it speaks for itself. The police officer has been charged with murder and is awaiting trial. The GF’s death is really just the straw that broke the camel’s back. The protests that have occurred are not only in response to GF, but as a response to the cumulative anger within the black community over other incidents including the death of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, and others. The most vocal noises have claimed that the American police force is inherently racist against blacks. This then is an example of social injustice in America, at least in regard to race. The argument can be broadened to include other areas of economics, education, healthcare, politics, etc. The overall premise vocalized is that America as a nation is fundamentally racist and her institutions are dominated by white supremacy. Therefore, we need to restructure the institutions of America so that it is less racist and unjust for people of color (blacks, but also Asians, Latinos, Jews, etc).
Critics of the protests have raised concerns about the riots, looting, and unreasonable demands for reform. For example, in Seattle, protesters have actually taken over 6 squares of downtown and declared themselves to be a separate nation called CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone). As well, Minneapolis has officially voted to dismantle their police department altogether, with other cities (including Tucson) having similar discussions. It is worth mentioning that not all protesters agree with the developments of CHAZ or dismantling the police. However, the voice calling for such measures seems to out-sound the more conservative voices. I think it is fair to say that most Americans, no matter what political persuasion, seem very worried about the political-cultural future of America.
Most ABC’s in my estimation seem very ill-informed on these issues. Albeit, it is a very complicated issue, I have noticed that the degree of political-cultural literacy is quite low on average. Most college students just seem to regurgitate what they hear from their professors and friends. Most social media posts are very liberal in their political persuasion. Dissenting voices are usually silenced, ignored, or canceled. And this pattern trickles down by age. The younger they are, the less they care and less informed they are.
I find that within the church, younger pastors tend to be pro-social justice, while older, first-generation immigrants tend to just not get involved at all. I myself do not subscribe to the ideology of social justice, and I find it inherently dangerous to both the church and society at large. However, most of my millennial peers do not share this sentiment. Among millennial Asian pastors, in my experience, most are pro-social justice. Lay AAC is thus mostly pro-SJ. However, this is mostly due to the fact that they trust their pastors and go along with what they say. They often have not spent too much time studying the issue for themselves. The downside to this is that, by implication, most 2nd generation AAC’s will tend to be pro-SJ. The upside to this is that, when they are presented with new information, their worldview can be more easily challenged and their minds swayed to the other persuasion. Church leaders are harder to change, for various reasons, both institutional and personal. I won’t go too much into details on this point, for fear of depreciating the authority of the pastoral office.
Interestingly enough, one issue I find quite odd is that even among conservative evangelical AAC’s, they cannot see the underlying ideologies that the SJ movement poses. Oftentimes these AAC’s are very personally devoted to the Lord. They oppose gay marriage and abortion. They are conservative in their daily lives. But then when it comes to the particular issue of race, they subscribe to abstract principles that are very inconsistent with their Christian beliefs – principles, which, if taken to their logical extremes and implemented in real life, would lead to outcomes that would hardly find acceptance anywhere. I do not say this to blame anyone – after all, discerning God’s will take time and practice (Rom 12:2). I say this as an encouragement because I believe that most AAC’s are reasonable, and with enough teaching and information, will be able to form coherent worldviews that are consistent with biblical values through and through.
Race issue - 2
Whatis Social Justice?
“Social Justice” is a rather vague term being floated around these days.The most concise definition I’ve come across is this: equity in terms of distributionof wealth, opportunity, privilege, and resources in a society. Regarding the issueof race, social justice pertains to the idea that America is fundamentally racisttoward people of color and we need to change the system to achieve more equitableresults for people of color. There are two areas of debate pertaining to this discussion.First, is it actually true that America is fundamentally racist and in need of change?Second, even if the premise is true, should the church participate in this effort?And if so, how?
Regarding both questions, I answer no.
❏ Is America fundamentally racist?
There is a political narrative being pushed today that America is fundamentallyracist. Before we address this issue, it is important to first define what we meanby “racist.” Traditionally, to be racist means to look down on someone and treatthem as inferior on account of their skin color. In other words, it is favoritismor partiality based on skin color. Racism can be manifested economically or politicallythrough discriminatory practices based on one’s skin color. So, for example, ifa colored man wanted to eat at a restaurant, he would not be allowed to eat thereon account of his skin color, even if he were a willing customer able to pay forthe food. Or, for example, during the Jim Crow era of the South, there were oneset of laws for whites, and another set of laws for blacks. There are two differentstandards for people, based on their skin color. This is no longer true in Americasince the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when discrimination on race has been made illegal.
However, starting in the 1960-70s, and more and more prevalent today, thedefinition of racism has changed. Proponents of social justice today employ theterm “racism” differently. Today, it pertains primarily to inequality of outcomeand inequality of power. That is, if a colored man does not achieve the same levelof status, or wealth, or privilege as a white man while participating in an institution,then the institution is “racist.” And those who disproportionately benefit fromthe institution are “racist” by association.
Biblically speaking, there are various texts that condemn racism in thetraditional sense of the word (Acts 10:34-35, James 2:8-9). That is, we are notallowed to treat different people by different standards. However, the second senseof the term racism is unbiblical. The bible nowhere demands that society be structuredwith equality of outcome (i.e. privilege and power) between different tribal groups.
To take an example, Israel was composed of 12 tribes, but not all twelvehave equal power or privilege. In Genesis 49, Jacob gives different blessings toeach son. Some had more blessings than others, even though it is not obvious whysome should have more while others less. Then later during the period of the conquestof Canaan, each tribe were to be allotted according to their size (Num. 33:54).However, this was not actually the case, as the tribes of Dan, Issachar, and Zebulunreceived disproportionately smaller shares of the land, even though they were threeof the most populous tribes (Josh. 19:10-23, 40-46). One may say that this is unfair.However, none of the judges, kings, prophets, not even God himself, ever condemnsthis uneven distribution of privileges. However, the Mosaic Law always applied toevery tribe, and every individual within that tribe. God is concerned about impartiality(Lev. 19:15, Ex. 23:2-3). But he does not demand that every people group have equalityof outcome. The secular mantra that “inequality of outcome is unjust” does not standbiblical scrutiny. As Christians, we cannot tolerate an unbiblical redefinitionof justice. To do so is to call evil good and good evil (Isa. 5:20).
Furthermore, even from a common sensical perspective, there is a fundamentalflaw in this type of thinking. This framework doesn’t account for human agency andpersonal responsibility. Equal outcome can only be expected if every person, orgroups of people, were exactly the same in terms of talent, intelligence, values,culture, and work ethic. Real life experience tells us that any such expectationsare absurdly unrealistic. For example, Asians are extremely underrepresented inAmerican pro-sports. Is America systemically racist against Asians? While I willnot deny that there are individual instances of racial discrimination (i.e. JeremyLin), it is very disingenuous to say that racism rather than culture accounts forthe Asian underrepresentation in pro sports. The fact is Asian people just do notvalue sports as much as other racial groups. There is an inequality in outcome,true. But let’s not kid ourselves and blame it on the system or white people whenthe reality is that most Asian families and students care more about grades andviolin than playing professional basketball.
This same principle can be applied to other issues. For example, blacksand brown people are under-represented in colleges. That is true. But what do wedo with the well-documented fact that there is an anti-intellectual culture withinmany black communities? Or regarding the example of the prison system, young blackmales are disproportionately represented in prisons compared to whites. This istrue. But what do we do with the fact that young black males commit a disproportionateamount of violent crimes (over half of violent crimes are committed by black males,which is eight times the rate of white males)? Is it possible that these culturaldifferences between racial groups account for the disparities in educational attainmentand incarceration rates? One would have to purposely ignore a large swath of datato push for the narrative that every major institution in America is purposely discriminatingagainst people solely based on their skin color.
❏ The Case Against Social Justice
Even if it can be granted that America is an imperfect society (which canbe said of every society), to what extent should the church get involved in political-socialactivism? It would be helpful to remember that the mission of the church is to goand make disciples of all the nations (Matt. 28:19). Our job as a church is to savepeople’s soul from hell. The only way that can happen is for individuals to recognizetheir individual sins, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.And in order for that to happen, the church needs to preach the gospel (Rom.10:14).
Now many people cite Jesus’ example of helping the poor and healing thesick as a model to engage in “holistic missions” (i.e. we preach the gospel andmake the world into a better place). However, a few qualifications are needed.
First, there is a difference between helping the poor and ending poverty.The former entails helping the poor out of a regenerated heart. That is, it is anatural act flowing from a compassionate heart. The latter is a mission, a goal,a program. Jesus certainly helped the poor, but he was not interested in endingpoverty. He healed lepers, but he did not seek to end leprosy. Jesus calls us tohave compassion, and compassion will naturally flow toward our neighbors when thesituation presents itself. But Jesus also affirmed that there will always be poverty,pain, suffering on this side of heaven (Matt. 26:11, Rom. 8:18-21). To expect thechurch to actually succeed in ridding injustice and suffering in the world, evenif we tried, is quite naïve.
Second, whatever physical healings Jesus performed served to authenticatehis preaching (Mk. 1:38, Jn. 20:30-31, Acts 2:22). The miracles and healings werenot primarily meant to make people’s lives better physically. Jesus worked thesemiracles to credit the gospel message he preached so that people can put their faithin him as the messiah. In cases where his miracles did not produce faith in himself,Jesus withheld his providence and miracles (cf. Matt. 13:58, Jn. 6:26-66). The callfor social justice today often times is an end in itself, as if somehow making theworld a better place has intrinsic value apart from regenerating the hearts of individualmen and women.
Third, whatever good we can bring to this world will ultimately be burnedup in the end when Jesus returns and makes the New Heaven and New Earth (2 Pet.3:10, Rev. 21:5). Let’s say you were on the Titanic as it was sinking into the ocean.Everyone on the ship is going down with it. But then another cruise ship comes alongto save the passengers. It would be extremely foolish to expend your energy tryingto salvage the Titanic from its inevitable demise. The proper response would beto spend all your energy getting onto the other ship and helping others to do thesame. When it comes to salvation, the analogy is the same. This world is destinedfor destruction. God is creating a new world, a new kingdom – one without sin, pain,suffering, and death. He’s calling us to believe in Jesus so we can have a placein his kingdom. But if we instead focus our efforts on salvaging this current kingdom,we’ll go down with it. Our job is not to patch up the current kingdom, but to getourselves and as many people as possible to God’s kingdom.
The goal of the church is to make disciples. If we can make the world intoa better place along the way, then great. But if not, then we are not to worry aboutit. When Jesus comes back, he will make all things new. Our job is to participatein the work of the Holy Spirit now and get people into God’s kingdom. Ten thousandyears from now, the church will not look back on this life and regret the temporalphysical sufferings we could have alleviated in this brief generation. However,we will regret the souls who suffer eternally in hell. In that place the worms neverdie and the fire never quenches. The damned are forever shut from the presence ofGod, without rest, without light, without hope. If you truly want to do the workof God, pray and work for the salvation of those yet to know Christ. Let him takecare of the rest.