R. Scott Clark, professor of church history at Westminster Seminary California in Escondido, California, told Campus Reform that “Dr. Thompson calls Lutherans to repent for ‘systemic racism’ and takes for granted that we should all accept this new, rather radical redefinition of racism which, in her account, entails a new, decided un-Lutheran definition of repentance.”
“Where Luther would have us repent for sins of the heart, head, mouth, and hands, of omission and commission, individual and corporate, Thompson would have us repent of systems and immutable characteristics,” he said. “This is ironic since Martin Luther himself came to public attention by complaining about Rome’s abuse of the doctrine and practice of forgiveness.”
Clark explained that “Rome had turned the grace of forgiveness into an opportunity for social control and economic advantage,” putting her definition of repentance on the “wrong side of the Reformation.”
Furthermore, “under the doctrine of systemic racism, some are doomed to a seemingly endless and graceless purgatory of self-flagellation for sins committed by no one in particular that call no one in particular to look at his heart, his neighbor, or his Savior for personal forgiveness for personal sins. Others are apparently righteous merely for being victims of a system. Is this not the very works-righteousness to which Luther objected?” Clark said.
“The Reformed Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 captures well the classic Protestant doctrine of repentance: the putting to death of the old man and the making alive of the new,” he added. “Reformation Christians seek to live their lives not under the law of condemnation (e.g., systemic racism) but the gospel of God’s gracious forgiveness of sinners. In light of that grace, in union with Christ, we seek to put to death the racism in our hearts and minds, and to love our neighbors as ourselves, whatever our immutable characteristics or theirs.” Read more»
Benjamin Zeisloft, “St Olaf Prof Echoes Call For School To ‘Repent’ Of Systemic Racism,” Campus Reform (December 22, 2020).
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