Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Ricardo Graham Responds to White Supremacist Violence

The following statement was published today by the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists featuring Union President Ricardo Graham:

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS Elder Ricardo Graham President, Pacific Union Conference

A young woman is dead in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her name is Heather Heyer. She was killed while protesting against a gross corruption of the American vision. She was protesting against hatred, against the idea that America belongs to one race, the white race, and one religion, the Christian religion.

Seventh-day Adventists everywhere mourn her death, while applauding her courage and convictions. That same day, a young black man, Deandre Harris, was beaten to within inches of death by a group of white supremacists wielding poles. The beating was captured by a photographer, whose image went viral.

Heyer’s final Facebook post read: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” I agree. There is a cancer growing in our land. And I can assure you it is not the spirit of Jesus Christ that divides people by race, that foments hatred and violence, that builds walls.

In churches throughout our land, our children learn a simple song: “Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight.” This song captures the spirit not only of the gospel of Jesus Christ but of what has made America truly great. Abraham Lincoln invoked this spirit when he described what our founding fathers had done as creating a nation “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Today, I would add women.

The gospel is the great equalizer. The apostle Paul declares: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, NKJV).

America is a land of free speech, but that doesn’t mean we can’t condemn racist and intolerant speech that attacks Jews and Blacks. Christians owe an enormous debt to Jews for the gift of the Scriptures and even for our Messiah, Jesus. There is no place for anti-Semitism in the heart of a Christian.

In the dark days of the depression, America’s folk singer Woody Guthrie penned a famous anthem declaring, “This land belongs to you and me.” From California to the New York Island, this land is your land, this land is my land.

Growing up in 1960s Detroit, racial unrest is far from foreign to me. But never could I have imagined that 50 years later not only would our racial wounds have not healed, but they have further deteriorated in many ways. As a Christian leader, I now call first on all who name the name of Christ, but who have been nurturing the spirit of division, to repent. If you are indulging the spirit of racial division, the spirit of anti-Semitism, you must repent. There simply is no place for hatred among followers of Christ. No place for racism or intolerance.

To those who make no profession of faith, I offer my sincere apology and repentance on behalf of Christians who have offended you, who have promoted bigotry and racism and anti-Semitism and intolerance in Christ’s name. On behalf of those who have hated in Christ’s name, who have been violent and even killed ostensibly in Christ’s name. With you, I mourn for those, like Heather Heyer, who have been murdered, and for those, like DeAndre Harris, who have been brutally beaten.

I call on Americans everywhere to stop remaining silent in the face of an ideology that proclaims our nation belongs to some, but not to all. Silence in the face of evil is sin. By voice and deed, do all in your power to be a peacemaker, to build bridges not walls, to reach out your arm and bring people in instead of excluding them.

Today of all days we need to meditate on Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are those who mourn, For they will be comforted. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:4, 9, NIV).

Elder Ricardo Graham is President of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8170

Thank you dear brother for reminding us what authentic Christianity should embrace; your message being akin to ‘a bridge over troubled waters’.

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I agree true Christianity doesn’t embrace any racial division or groups that create them therefore it doesn’t embrace Antifa, BLM, KKK or White Supremacist Neo- Nazi’s.
Obviously a wonderful girl that died.
However in a secular society all have the right of free speech UNTIL they break the law like ALL the above have historically done at times. Trying to physically muzzle the other groups only results in more violence and that appears to me as to be what happened Saturday when many were bused in an anti-protest movement. BOTH sides came ready to fight and did. One hyper-extremist decided to take it too the next level and it resulted in death and severe injury. What a horrible outcome that should be prosecuted with the full extent of the law.
Regards,
Pat

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ptravis338Patrick Travis said:
Trying to physically muzzle the other groups only results in more violence and that appears to me as to be what happened Saturday when many were bused in an anti-protest movement. BOTH sides came ready to fight and did.

This is not true. This is the President’s mistake. There is no moral equivalency here.Moral equivalence is a form of equivocation and a fallacy of relevance often used in political debates. It seeks to draw comparisons between different, often unrelated things, to make a point that one is just as bad as the other or just as good as the other. Patrick you need to be better informed.When egregious claims of moral equivalence are made between (say) the US Government and Nazi Germany; or between a labor union and Stalinist Russia; seekers after truth should not just reject the claim. They should address false moral equivalence as an issue in itself. It should be pointed out that those who are in the habit of claiming baseless equivalence are not primarily interested in solving problems or addressing issues – they are interested in winning an argument through the use of shallow rhetorical devices.
You and the President were wrong.

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In my opinion the Charlotteville confrontation illustrated that there is actually a continuing gradual lessenning of the influence of Nazis -type racist posturing in America. The real Nazis of 70 odd years ago actually exhausted all aspects of the known racist platforms they set out to exploit and had to drop racist theories one after the other : Nordicism, Aryanism , social darwinism and so on. Most of the Charlotteville racists would have been regarded as inferior whites by the Nazis who had a rating system of superior and inferior whites such as1 longheaded Nordics 2. Roundheaded Alpines and 3. Meditteraneans (race-mixed with African bloodlines). They could nit bexplain why the race-mixed white meditteraneans created the most highly regarded Euro civilisations , and so ALL the racist theories collapsed. They could not fathom how the most impressive buildings on the planet(the Pyramid complex) were located in Africa and tried to cover embarassment by saying other civilisation built them, and so on. B UT the " eye of Horus" apperars on the dollar bill, and the home of masonry was in North Africa. Africans also enslaved Europeans and tra`ded in nearly 2 million Euros when they conquered Europe , occupying portions of it from AD 711 for the mext 700 years till driven out in 1492. They demanded war tax of 100 white virgins per annum fvrom the larger towns, and therefore created a THIRD RACE(Mulattos, even George the Third’s wife Queen Charlotte) which Euros sometimes even joked about. The point is Blacks in America have made tremendous strides in influence in the body politic over the past century, so now is not the time to become disheatened and throw one’s hands in the air in despair.Face the foe with bravery and resolve. Some will fall as heroes as did MLK jr but the struggle continues. Hopefully America will be able to right itself before open race-war splits this great nation. Take courage Pastor.

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We read the elegant statement of Ricardo Graham. We listen to the words of Senator Tim Scott, who states that Donald Trump’s “moral authority is compromised.” The words of Senator Bob Corker remain in our minds: “[Donald Trump] also has recently not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation.” We also see that the business community has rebuked Trump, forcing him to disband his business councils.

In contrast to these many voices of moral clarity and discernment, there is the Benedict Arnold we all know so well. Ben Carson calls the controversy about Donald Trump’s response to Charlottesville “little squabbles” that are being “blown out of proportion.” Carson also echoes Trump’s equating of the white nationalist hate groups with the counter-protesters. I guess none of us should be surprised. When Trump attempted to foment public opposition against Seventh-day Adventists, Carson did not lift a finger to defend us. Instead, he jumped aboard Trump’s bandwagon. As easily as Carson has betrayed us, he has found it comfortable to betray a people who have suffered unspeakable pain at the hands of white supremacists.

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just one perspective, for what it’s worth:

Education has failed this population - for decades. My parents educated me early in order to give me clarity as I grew into adulthood. They experienced an actual war - with bombs and bullets; and they endangered their own lives to remove me at an early age, from the chaos . But the chaos has predictably spread, and is now threatening the entire globe. Evil has no boundaries. The ideologies that have produced wars throughout time, have not died - only the voices and faces that promote them.

Things never are what they seem to be. The evil ideologies know how to masquerade as other things in order to gain control - case in point: the “Russian” narrative. The evil of communism is not dead; and the leader of that ideology is still hoping to revive and spread it. Putin is from the “old guard”, and has hopes of reviving the “hammer and sickle.” The plan is predictably obvious for those who know history (not many these days). The game plan is to infiltrate problem areas of the globe. The US has suffered with its racial issues; and, is the ideal problem to use - to spread the chaos that acts like yeast producing a subversive ideology.

Did the Russians hack the US elections? No, it has hacked US culture. The universities are filled with “far left” ideology that presents itself as multiculturalism and racial egalitarianism. It has produced another racial war in this country, pitting one race against other - a perfect chaos to use for its own purposes - all based on a lack of education. While we are marching with flags and posters, we’re playing right into the hands of those who drive busloads of agitators to every rally, for whatever cause, to hijack it and make sure the problems fester.

The US is the cradle of freedom which is also its most dangerous ideology, because under the banner of freedom, all manner of subterfuge can grow - a catch-22. Nobody has promised this world - peace.

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This quote needs elaboration. How is the gospel the great equalizer? What does it mean that the gospel makes all one in Christ Jesus. What does “in Christ” mean? What is the process? How does it happen? Going from the gospel to Gal 3:28 is a stretch.
Ask anyone in church , including the pastors, what the gospel is and watch the variety of responses.

Also…how can one judge any wrongdoing when almost all of Christianity teaches/believes that a person can NOT stop sinning…even with the riches of God’s grace and His omnipotence.

Yes. I have stopped sinning for as long as 50 millisecond durations. I am now working on stopping for lengthy 100 millisecond spans!

sigh… So many gospels…so little time.

Have you stopped sinning? If not…why not?

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While I applaud this statement, this does not go far enough. We need to reclaim a prophetic role. Maybe more like:

To those who make no profession of faith, I offer my sincere apology and repentance for our indifference and silence regarding those claiming a Christian faith but whose attitudes and actions are antithetical to the Gospel of Christ. Too long have Christians tolerated the hijacking of a biblical faith by those who seek to marginalize and oppress people according to race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, and economic status.

We all share a common humanity and a common assurance that God has provided, through Christ, salvation for the entire world. Those appropriating the name of Christ and yet express hatred and supremacy do not represent the Gospel of Biblical Christianity, and with absolute moral clarity, we condemn the abhorrent attempts to normalize racist and supremacist values.

Then Elder Graham, we need to double-down on addressing our institutionalized racism and oppression of people according to race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, and economic status.

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I’m am amazed at the intolerance displayed by the moderators here. I just finished reading a very good and balanced post and it vanished before my eyes. Apparently truth is neither welcomed nor appreciated here.

It is no stretch at all, because the gospel Paul expounded in Galatians was in the context of the Jew/Gentile divide. That those divides were part of the old order of things, which the law/Torah marked out. The new covenant/ gospel community of Christ and his Spirit was no longer to be defined by such distinctions and status, based on religion, ethnicity, gender, or class.

This is no addendum to the gospel, it is to be the visible manifestation of it on this earth. IOW, the gospel, and righteousness by faith are all about community, God’s new creation, a united and equal humanity in Christ Jesus, that seeks to practice the type of self giving love that Jesus himself displayed.

An individualized gospel, that privatizes faith and stresses interior experience over other centered love and community relationships, and largely treats sin as discreet, personal bad habits to be mastered, totally misses what Paul was preaching and dealing with in a letter such as Galatians. In short, it trivializes his gospel.

It is this individualized American version of the gospel that enables people to say that Jesus is their personal savior, while excusing or participating in systemic racism without batting an eye. An Adventist version, that stresses Sabbath observance, food laws, and belief in EGW and peculiar doctrines as the identifying marks of God’s people, over against this type of Christ like community and love, equally misses the mark.

Christians, whether in the church, or in relation to society, cannot stand for anything different, and say they are walking in line with the truth of the gospel.

Thanks…

Frank

@gideonjrn

Your initial reaction to the article was to say that there is a gap between the gospel and Galatians 3:28. I’ve given you a concise description of how that isn’t so. I’ve outlined briefly how the gospel and its implications in Galatians is integral to a Christian response to what we now face in our society…the tragedy this article addresses. I’ve also been specific about how distortions of it can and have possibly contributed to the underlying problems within the church regarding racism.

You’ve given nothing positive except a negative response about so many different gospels, and flip comments about personal sin. Why not respond with something substantive and positive, rather than a continual stream of negativity? How does your understanding of the gospel give direction and power to believers and the believing community to respond effectively to what we are facing?

Frank

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Ricardo Graham is one of the kindest, gentlest men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He has certainly come to the office he holds as President of Pacific Union conference for such a time as this. With his usual grace and love he has offered some words of great spiritual depth and reconciliation to those who have been wounded by hate, intolerance, and racism, even at the hands of some who wear the mantra of Christianity.

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Folks - we must act fast to wipe out segregation within Adventism! This statement along with the “I am not OK” appeal from the Charlottesville SdA pastor, are vivid reminders that the time has long past for Seventh-day Adventist Church to find ways and means to quietly reorganize so that there are no longer the racially segregated “regional” local conferences. It is only a matter of time before their existence will become a very embarrassing news story and the work of the Gospel will by stymied around the world.

I know it can be done in the Atlantic Union without even selling the conference office for the “regional” Northeastern Conference, just by splitting Greater New York into East New York City, and West New York City local conferences (both of which would still be larger than other local conferences in the Union).

The saddest part of all this is that most of the so-called “white” conferences have become among the most racially diverse and functionally integrated organizations in the United States. What a shame if the existence of racially segregated conference structures were to erase this fact from view.

Let’s eliminate this racially based stumbling block for those millions who need our Adventist message in these last days. If we don’t, the courts and outraged public opinion will do it for us!

Save us from Egypt the neo Nazis.
Imagine Israel in the bible complaining or did they ?
About egypt or various ruling authorities.
The over use of the term neo nazi is like everyone wearing a che guevara t shirt without any idea why they wear it .

My point is there are lesson from both sides
These comments and tone seem one sided is that christian ? Understanding ?
seems like hate and dividing we should be avoiding divisions ?
Its crazy to watch on tv people with nothing to do but clash in the streets .

Only if we spent time on 3 ANGELS MESSAGE AND EGW instead of thinking we can fix world social issues .

I wish Elder Graham’s statement was short and to the point. I think it would be more effective, less like a sermon.