In response to the historic, present, and ongoing discrimination against people of color in the United States of America (USA), which has been too often enabled and supported by professing followers of Jesus, the Calvary Global Network (CGN) Executive Leadership Team offers this statement on racism.
Section 1. Beliefs & Acknowledgments
Definition of Terms
Beliefs: As used in this statement, represent facts, attitudes, words, truth-claims, and/or actions, which we support and advocate for, as the CGN Executive Team.
Acknowledgments: As used in this statement, refer to historical facts, attitudes, words, truth-claims, and/or actions, which we believe are reality, but which we DO NOT necessarily support or advocate.
Please read each Belief, Acknowledgment, and Commitment closely and in their entirety with the above definitions in mind.
1. Human Dignity
• We BELIEVE that the Triune God created all people with equal value, dignity, and worth (Gen. 1:26-28; Acts 17:26-27, ESV et al).
2. God’s Omni-benevolence
• We BELIEVE that all people are universally loved and pursued by God, and are the object of His plan of redemption (Jn. 3:16; Acts 2:5-12; Rev. 7:9).
3. Kingdom Diversity
• We BELIEVE that all people are essential for the fullest expression of the beauty of the multicultural, multiethnic, multicolored, universal body of Christ (Eph. 2:11-22; Rev. 7:9).
• We BELIEVE that the ultimate goal of God’s redemptive mission is His peaceful rule with and over a unified, multicultural, multiethnic, multicolored people (Jn. 10:16; Rev. 9:7; 21:1-22:5).
4. Member Equality
• We BELIEVE people of color should be embraced as full, equal members, and essential leaders in the local church, and that our local church leadership, teachers, preachers, conferences, and corporate worship experiences should wonderfully reflect this belief.
5. Inaccurate Biblical Interpretation
• We BELIEVE that while much of the biblical accounts revolve around or take place in the context of indentured servitude, slavery, or forms of oppression, the Bible nonetheless condemns all forms of racism, bigotry, oppression, and exploitation as sin—and that Jesus put hatred on par with murder (Lk. 10:25-37; Jn. 4:1-10; Philemon).
• We ACKNOWLEDGE that many professing Christians have misused the Bible to support racist ideologies and actions at a personal, institutional, and societal level. This misuse of Scripture, and actions resulting from such hermeneutical inaccuracy, has led to the pain of many people, and the defamation of the Name, gospel, and church of Jesus Christ in the USA, and the world (Ez. 36:23; Rom. 2:24).
6. Institutional Racism
• We acknowledge racism has been an element within American history from the beginning. From the legal enslavement of black Africans to the “Jim Crow” laws and state-sponsored segregation, racism has embedded itself in many of our institutions. Sadly, the church has not been guiltless in this matter. American church history has been tragically marred by many examples of complicity with the racist policies of the state being followed by the church. Segregated congregations are a historic example of the evil presence of racism within the church.
Section 2. Commitments
In the gospel, the people of God have every motivation and power to lead the way in pursuing the relational, civic, institutional, social, and ecclesiological transformation that the world desperately needs.
As a collective voice, we believe displaying the glory and power of God in confronting and turning from racism in our personal lives, relationships, local churches, and communities in the USA, will require at least the following biblical commitments by professing Christians:
1. Gospel-centered Transformation
• We must commit, by God’s grace, to pursuing gospel-centered equality in our beliefs, attitudes, actions, words, families, personal relationships, communities, and churches.
The message of the biblical gospel is that God loves and seeks to redeem all the peoples of the world through Christ. The love of God displayed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the world’s ultimate hope of reconciliation and the highest affirmation of the dignity of every human. Therefore, the church must prioritize the verbal proclamation and relational demonstration of the transformative power of the biblical gospel (Gal. 3:28).
• We must commit, by God’s grace, to continually realign our hearts with the gospel, to root out any trace of racism in our attitudes, words, and deeds, with the help of God’s Spirit (Matt. 22:27-30; Gal. 3:28).
• We must commit, by God’s grace, to engaging in collective and individual self-reflection before the Lord in prayer, petitioning Him to, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24).
3. Intentional Listening
• We must commit, by God’s grace, to being “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath,” as we listen to the experiences and history of people of color in the United States, “for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (Js. 1:19b).
4. Humble Repentance
• We must commit to, privately and publicly, confess and take responsibility for our personal, generational, and ecclesiological involvement in Christian-supported racism in American history (Dan. 9:1-19).
5. Faithful Witness
• We must commit to glorifying God’s Name, word, and gospel, by modeling the words and ways of Jesus. We acknowledge that the reputation of God and the name of Jesus have been maligned in society, specifically due to the racist words, attitudes, and actions of some professing Christians. We commit to changing this reality wherever we have influence (Acts 1:8; Rom. 2:24).
Section 3. Concluding Remarks + Disclaimer
Because the appropriate application of the above commitments will be as diverse as the relationships, experiences, and people reading this statement, they have been written in such a way as to promote reflection and the embrace of principles, rather than directing specific actions.
This statement does not, by definition or intention, represent the convictions or perspectives of all Calvary Chapel or CGN leaders, churches, or members around the world, many of which reside outside the USA.
This statement intentionally reflects only the collective voice and unified spirit of the fifteen men who serve as the Executive Leadership Team of CGN on the sin of racism.
This statement does and is intended to represent a call to all Calvary Chapel and CGN leaders to prayer, corporate and self-reflection, and where necessary and appropriate, repentance regarding the sin of racism.
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Rev. 7:9-10).
CGN Executive Leadership Team Signatures
Brian Brodersen, Kellen Criswell, Ray Bentley, Char Brodersen, Aaron Campbell, Richard Cimino, Jeff Gipe, Nate Holdridge, Phil Metzger, Mike Neglia, Derek Neider, Jordan Taylor, Wayne Taylor, Josh Turansky, Joel Turner
CGN Members Signatures
Charlotte F. Kelly