A Glossary of Terms

June 12, 2020 by Gregg DeMey

In order to have a productive conversation, it’s essential that parties have a common understanding of the concepts being discussed and definitions of the words being used.

We are at a moment in society and the church where it is essential for us to speak about matters of race, justice, and righteousness. It’s crucial that we define our terms with loving precision so that we can make Kingdom-of-God progress rather than descend into the misunderstanding, frustration, and the loud emotion that the enemy would paralyze us with.

To this end, I’d like to share a short glossary of terms over the following week to define terms like, “Systemic Racism,” “Social Justice,” and “Black Lives Matter.” We’ll start with the latter.

Black Lives Matter.
Definition: The life of every black person is to be recognized, valued, and promoted.

I hope that this definition can be embraced by anyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ! Our core Christian truths that (1) all people are made in the image of God and (2) that the blood of Jesus is strong enough to bring salvation to anyone ever born are more than enough to affirm this statement. The global body of Christ is more beautiful because of the diversity of faces, races, ages, languages, and cultures that comprise her.

The fact that black people’s lives matter is important to say and repeat right now because of the narrative evidence that unfair treatment has been part and parcel of the African-American experience for too long in the USA, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

As one of Elder wisely put it to me, “Black PEOPLES’ lives matter.” Yes and amen! Adding that little word, “peoples” keeps the conversation on the ground of personhood and distinguishes the phrase “Black Lives Matter” from its secondary political definition.

Black Lives Matter or BLM
Definition: BLM is an acronym for the political movement also known as “Black Lives Matter.”

As a political movement, BLM is only six years old and still emerging in terms of finding its voice and platform. Already, however, there are several planks of BLM’s platform that are troubling to me as both an American citizen and as a Jesus follower. For example, I find the current chorus to either #defundthepolice or even #dismantlethepolice naive about human nature and deeply disrespectful to our police and law enforcement officers. This is my personal political opinion, open for critique and discussion, not something that I will preach or recommend in the midst of a Sunday sermon!

If you should hear “Black Lives Matter” from the mouth of a pastor or leader around ECRC, please do not jump to the conclusion that we are commending every part of the BLM platform without reflection. We are desiring to affirm the truth that “Black people’s lives matter.”

Because of the horrible blemish of slavery and Jim Crow on America’s history, and because of the pain that still exists in our African-American brothers and sisters, I would urge us to affirm and repeat the words, “Black lives matter.” As a theological statement, this is a powerful truth!

Next Up: Social Justice…

I pray peace and precise speaking for you and yours!

Pastor Gregg

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Can We Agree?
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A Glossary of Terms, Part 2