Conversations Series Follow-Up: Affirmations and Rejections

September 1, 2020

This year has certainly been a trying time for our world, our country, and Oak Pointe Church. Our country seems more divided than ever on so many issues, with one of the most prominent being racial injustice. Oak Pointe Church has not been insulated from this. The Conversations Series has sparked a wide range of emotions and opinions based on diverse perspectives from the congregation. The members of the elder board have heard the thoughts and hearts of so many of you over the past few months. We have listened, researched, and discussed the issues at length, while staying focused on what Scripture teaches on these topics.

As stated in the Elder’s August 11 letter on the status of our review of the Conversations Series, we decided to start by simply listing what we affirm and what we reject as a church as it pertains to the wider racial injustice issue. We have also found it necessary to address certain topics that were not part of the Conversations Series but were raised by people who thought they were related to the discussions.

We thank you for your prayers for the elders, Oak Pointe Leadership, and the Church as a whole. We hope that our statements of affirmations and rejections are a positive first step in leading Oak Pointe Church toward unity on issues surrounding racial injustice.

We affirm:

  • Everyone is created in the image of God with equal dignity and worth (Genesis 1:26-27)
  • Sin distorts the image of God in all people (Romans 3:23) and is the root cause of all personal suffering and societal problems, including oppression and racism.
  • Jesus came, first and foremost, to save us from our sin which was accomplished through His death on the cross and His resurrection (Matthew 20:28; Luke 19:10; Romans 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:15).
  • After responding to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, we are called to love God and others by pursuing righteousness and justice in our relationships and social structures (Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 12:1-2, Psalm 89:14, Micah 6:8).
  • Oppression is a sin. Oppression is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. Oppression can operate intentionally or unintentionally, on an individual, institutional, or cultural level. Examples of God’s concern about oppression can be seen throughout Scripture and human history (Exodus 1:8-14; Exodus 3:7-10; 2 Kings 24:14; Ecclesiastes 4:1; Ezekiel 22:9).
  • The Church has the responsibility to defend, stand with, and speak up for the oppressed (Proverbs 31:8-9; Isaiah 1:17; Zechariah 7:10; Micah 6:8; Matthew 22:36-40; 1 John 4:20), including those oppressed by racism wherever it exists.
  • Racism is a sin. Racism is a belief that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race often resulting in prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against an individual (James 2:1-13) or a group (John 4:7-9). Racism can affect structures, systems, policies or practices that create or perpetuate disadvantage for people of a particular race.
  • Christians should seek to understand the plight of those being oppressed and be empathetic and compassionate about the minority group’s historic and current pain. We can do this by listening, learning, and lamenting (James 1:19; Romans 12:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, Phil 2:4, Proverbs 1:5).
  • Black lives do matter. While we do not agree with the tenets of the Black Lives Matter organization, we do agree with the statement “black lives matter.”
  • The police force is a vital and necessary institution in our society, and we respect and value its officers as members of our communities. We believe that governing authorities have been established by God for our good and that anyone disrespectfully and sinfully rebelling against that authority is rebelling against God (Romans 13:1-5, Titus 3:1-2).

We reject:

  • Liberation Theology and Critical Race Theory.
  • The idea that oppression is our primary problem. We believe sin to be our primary problem and oppression to be an outgrowth of sin (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10).

It should be noted that it was not the intent of our guests during the Conversations Series to suggest that oppression was the primary sin of humanity, but rather to highlight that oppression is very real in the past and present experience of people of color in the United States.

  • Non-Christ-centered beliefs of the organization known as Black Lives Matter (BLM). While we do not endorse the organization, we do endorse the affirmation that black lives do matter.

It should be noted that the phrase Black Lives Matter was not discussed during the Novi Conversations Series, but the phrase was mentioned in Canton’s Conversations Series and was the subject of a Sozo series. Because the term is prominent in the cultural discussions of our day, it seemed best to provide more clarity on our position on the organization vs the phrase.

  • Use of violence in protest.
  • Use of excessive force by government authorities wherever it exists.

While this list is not exhaustive, it does cover what we affirm and reject on many of the issues related directly or indirectly to the Conversations Series. We still have much to learn as we address the issue of racism in a way that brings honor to God.

Other terms and concepts that surfaced during the Conversations Series, such as “White Privilege,” “Whiteness,” “White Fragility,” and “Silence is Violence,” are still undergoing diligent study from a biblical framework. Please be in prayer for the elders and pastors as we take extra time on these topics before providing our thoughts on these terms and concepts with grace and truth.

Thank you for your generous, heartfelt, and Christ-centered engagement in missional work, both locally and around the world. Addressing the problems of our world with humility and biblical justice and mercy (Micah 6:8) in Christ’s name continues to be an important aspect of our ministry at Oak Pointe Church.

We believe that God is calling us to unity among the body of believers on the issues surrounding racial injustice. As we seek the truth of God’s Word and respectfully listen to one another, we pray that doors would open to “know Jesus and make Him known.”

In Christ,
Elders of Oak Pointe Church