Well, I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared about writing a blog post. Last week I allowed my fear to silence me about Ferguson. But here I am, sleepless at 3.30am, deeply troubled about Eric Garner’s homicide and irresistibly burdened to write.

I start with hardly any idea about what to write, but I do know why I ‘m writing. I want to stand with my African American brothers and sisters. More than that, “I’m all in” with them.

And that’s why I’m scared. Because I know that for many people, that automatically puts me “outside.” It puts me on the other side. It makes me suspect. It makes me soft. It makes me left-wing. It makes me anti-police. It makes me pro-thug.

And I could defend myself as Paul did when he said, “I am a Hebrew of the Hebrews, concerning the law, a Pharisee.” Similarly I could say, “I am a conservative of the conservatives, concerning the law, a Fox-Newser.”

But this is not about me. Me must be sacrificed at times. And this is such a time.

Disgusted with Hannity
I think what pushed me over the edge was Sean Hannity. I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to listen to him since the Trayvon Martin case. Some of his bullying interviews with Michael Brown supporters last week were repulsive. But when I turned on the radio yesterday to hear his commentary on Eric Garner’s murder, only to find him aggressively blaming New York’s excessive taxes on cigarettes for Garner’s death, that was it. There wasn’t an ounce of sympathy for Garner or his family. There was only diversion and distraction from the real issue. I was sick to my core.

And remember, I’m coming at this with the strongest possible default in favor of the law, the police, the courts, etc. If Hannity and Fox lose people like me, they’ll lose everything.

But, and I think this is what I really want to say here, I believe good will come out of all this personal pain and national distress.

Previous cases, like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, were never strong enough to challenge the majority white community’s worldview. The Brown case actually just confirmed it. But Eric Garner’s case is different, very different, different enough not just to challenge our worldview but change it. As I said last night on Twitter, “I see a cloud about the size of a man’s hand. Aslan is on the move.” God’s wise providence is being worked out here as He sovereignly moves in and through these events.

What possible good could come out of this? I see four goods.

End of Denial
First, white people can no longer deny the problem. We have it in technicolor on Youtube. The Michael Brown case was escalated by Brown. We sat back and said, “Well that’s what you get when you rob a store, threaten a shopkeeper, assault a police officer, try to grab his gun, etc.”

Sure, there were some things that disturbed us even about this case. For example, I was deeply shocked by the callous insensitivity of Officer Darrin Wilson when interviewed on TV last week. He said he had a clean conscience, would change nothing about what he did that day, and would not apologize to the family. Even though he was acting in self-defense, his words and attitude struck me as incredibly revealing and frightening. Change nothing? Wilson did a lot of damage to the police in that interview.

Garner’s homicide is impossible to excuse or explain away. When Hannity’s strongest defense is an attack on New York’s tobacco tax, you know you’ve got a strong and persuasive case. It’s strong enough to bear the weight of worldview challenge and change.

More Black Police Officers
There is no solution to this problem without a massive increase in black police officers. Few white people realize how strongly communal the black community is. There’s a solidarity and a togetherness that more individualist whites cannot fully understand. That’s why it’s so important for far more black police officers to police the black community. The problem is that the police are now viewed so much as the enemy that to join them is considered an act of betrayal among many blacks.

But there are other situations where similar problems have been overcome. In Northern Ireland, the police force was largely Protestant, and therefore hated by the Roman Catholic community.

Part of the political settlement of “the troubles” there was the formation of a new police force with a commitment to much greater Roman Catholic recruitment. It’s nowhere near perfect, but much progress has been made and can surely be a model for re-constituting the make-up of American police forces over the next several decades.

This is also going to take strong and brave leadership from African American leaders to persuade African Americans that these forces have changed and that they should join.

Grand Jury System
It appears that the Grand Jury system is not so grand. America is practically the last country in the world still using this as part of their legal system. While it may have had its good uses, I don’t think many Americans realize just how bad it looks to outside observers.

As has often been said, “It’s not enough that justice is done, it must be seen to be done.” The problem is that secret justice can so easily become injustice, or be perceived as such.

Recent grand juries do not seem to take into sufficient account the “public interest” aspect of justice, with too much focus on technical legal terms like “probable cause” etc. I don’t see how it’s possible for public trust to be rebuilt in the justice system without it becoming a much more public and accountable system.

Christians are stirring
Christians are discussing these things more than at any time in recent history. On the whole, the tone has been civil and constructive. And I hope that continues. Most of us are on a journey here, and we sometimes take wrong turns and say wrong things. But with continued patience and Christian love, we will hopefully all arrive at a better place. 

We’re also listening to voices, Christian voices, outside our own churches and communities. We’re learning about other people’s lives and problems, seeing things from different perspectives, letting go of prejudices and faulty presuppositions. The greatest hope of reducing violence and persuading people to pursue change through peaceful means is to convince them that we are listening…and changing.

We’re praying for police officers as never before. It must be extremely frustrating for the majority of good officers who have devoted their lives to fairness and justice, to be tarnished as racists and have their own lives endangered because of the actions of others. If it was hard to be a police officer before Michael Brown and Eric Garner, then it’s ten times harder now. I can hardly imagine what it must feel like to get up in the morning or go out at night and know that you’re moving into communities that are extremely hostile and dangerous to your life. I know I couldn’t do it (although my son is hoping to) and have the utmost admiration for those who do.

Above all, we’re hoping for Gospel transformation. We’re looking to Christ and the power of the Gospel to break down walls of hostility between black, white, and every color in between. If God can reconcile sinners to Himself, and Jews to Gentiles, then he can reconcile every color of American through the blood-red sufferings of THE barrier-breaker and bridge-builder.

  • God & Culture

    Thank you David for a thoughtful and gospel centered response. The spin produced by Fox News and the Conservative media machine is far too often accepted as *gospel* by the community of Christ. I abandoned Hannity, O’Reilly, et al a few years ago in an effort to sincerely hear what those who hold opinions opposite my own are saying.

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  • Andy

    “Garners homicide is impossible to excuse or explain away”

    Dr. Murray I was reading this and had a question or two. I thought this was a curious statement and I’m not challenging your thoughts on this at all because, frankly, you’re a really, really smart person and I’m merely a 49 year old high school graduate and not all that bright. Anyway, I’m still trying to put all of this together for myself. Mr. Garner had been arrested over thirty times for similar offenses. Stupid stuff, selling single cigarettes and other such silly crimes. Where I’m missing with this and Garner’s death is tragic and awful and my heart bleeds for our brothers and sisters in Christ and all of those who face injustice. The implications of our fallen world are enough to drive all of us to our knees in prayer daily. Where I’m disconnecting is that as christians we know God will hold us accountable for our sins unless repent and turn to Jesus Christ. We listen to the implications of that not happening. We pray for others, we listen to preachers warn of the danger of hell fire, we read, we study, we pray for others who’ve not accepted Christ as their Savior. It’s all about personal responsibility. At the judgement every one of our actions, every one of our thoughts will be reviewed. There will be no excuse for us. It will only be us, God, and imputation of the righteousness of Christ. Praise God! What I don’t understand is Mr. Garner is quite responsible for his actions in this. How can I not reconcile this? If we preach that a man will be accountable for his sin how can we not accept that Mr. Garner was not responsible for his choices?

    • David Murray

      Andy, if my son would steal something from me, I would hold him responsible and accountable, but given my far greater position and power I would be even more responsible and accountable if I were to put him in a chokehold for that in a way that would lead to his injury or death.

      Mr Garner is responsible, yes. But Daniel Pantaleo is even more so.

      • Richard Smith

        Why is Pantaleo more responsible than Garner? You might also consider that while you are bigger and stronger than a young son, Garner was far larger than the policeman. The officers were charged with subduing a man who was resisting arrest. Did the officer choke him to death? No. Was the officer choking the man in a way that the man could not breathe at all? No. As long as a person can complain about being choked, the windpipe is not completely shut off. Please take the time to actually read why the Grand Juries did not indict before you take off on an unsubstantiated rant.

  • Steven Birn

    Race isn’t a factor here, which is part of the problem. In 2012 there were 123 blacks killed by the police, that year there were 326 whites killed by police. Those numbers aren’t exactly disproportionate. The police aren’t hunting down black men to kill them, despite the leftist media narrative. If anything is disproportionate it’s the crime rate. In 2013 blacks were responsible for 5,375 murders (90%+ were of other blacks) while whites were responsible for 4,396 murders. Keep in mind blacks account for only 13% of the US population, whites 63%. Considering the crime level in black neighborhoods it’s amazing that more blacks weren’t killed by the police.

    My issue with the Garner death is that the police were enforcing tax laws rather than trying to enforce God’s law. Having seen the video it’s clear he was resisting arrest. He’s a big guy and it’s not exactly a surprise that it took four guys to take him down. I feel bad for Garner’s wife and family members. However the problem here isn’t the police, it’s the crimes they’re being ordered to investigate. Apparently New York’s tax revenue is more important than actual crime.

    • Steven Birn

      For the record I agree with you about Hannity. I ditched him on election day in 2004 when he spent his entire radio show in complete panic mode. I’ve been a lot calmer since ditching him. :)

    • Mark N.


      You said: “Having seen the video it’s clear he was resisting arrest”

      How do you define “resisting arrest”?

      You said: “Race isn’t a factor here”

      I don’t think that is evident.

      Even if your statistics cover the whole picture (which I don’t think they do)…. In terms of police malpractice, incarceration, and stops…. blacks are targeted disproportionally (even adjusted for differences in offense rates)

      Are you seriously saying that black’s aren’t disproportionally targeted for things like “stop and frisk” and incarceration?

      • Steven Birn

        Garner tried to push the cop, that’s resisting arrest. While they’re tackling him, he’s fighting back which is by definition resisting arrest. Put yourself in the position of the cops, if they don’t take him down for all they know he has a gun and will use it against them.

        Race isn’t a factor simply because the cops are white and the perp is black. If a cop is going to be accused of racially targeting someone, there needs to be actual evidence.

        As for blacks being disproportionately targeted, perhaps more blacks per capita get arrested because more blacks per capita commit crimes. Most crimes committed by blacks have a black victim. Rather than viewing police action negatively, there is a positive way to look at it. Per capita more blacks are protected by the police and more black victims per capita see justice. Putting the Garner situation aside, when the police spend more time paroling high crime black neighborhoods they’re trying to protect the innocent from criminals. Those innocents are almost all black. The only people who hate the police are criminals and those who buy the lie that the cops are racists.

    • Jeff Kessler
    • Steve Peterson

      25% of people killed by cops in the US are black; 13% of people in the US are black. Sounds disproportionate to me.
      The question to ask in Mr. Garner’s killing is: were a poor white man selling individual cigs, would that law have even been enforced. I doubt it. THAT is where the racial factor is in his homicide.

      • Steve Peterson

        (sorry, miscue on posting)
        Seriously, all white Christians need to take stock, step back and try to understand where our black brothers and sisters are coming from, rather than hiding behind the rule of law. And I am all for the rule of law. But it is overridden by the law of love (ex. Jesus and the prostitute in front of the Jewish crowd)
        A good first step: Quit getting talking points from Fox News. They do NOT represent you Christian, they are pandering to you.

        • Steven Birn

          I’m an attorney by trade and don’t require the media to shape my opinion for me. As a practical matter I don’t watch Fox News very much and resent being accused of simply following whatever their opinion may be.

          I don’t understand why we should assume that if garner had been white the police wouldn’t have confronted him in the same manner. There is absolutely no evidence that this is the case. In fact, the police are just as likely to kill a white suspect as they are black. The statistics prove this.

          I agree that a lot of black people believe that white police are out to get them. Rather than blaming whites or the police, perhaps we should question whether this is a valid position for blacks to take in 2014. If it is not, we must ask why black churches push this view. Obviously there are historical issues at play but Jim Crow has been dead for half a century. Social justice, which unfortunately dr. Murray is pushing in this piece, hasn’t served anyone well. Lastly we need to ask who benefits most from continued racial strife.

  • Anonymous

    You really need to stop your irresponsible blog posts, and begin to be more responsible, more well-read, and gain a greater ability to evaluate and construct arguments, as well as maybe considering to have your scripture application and culturally contextualizations reviewed by someone who actually studied the subject. This post is one of the worst I’ve seen anywhere.

    • Nick Napier

      Don’t you think it’s actually rather cowardly for you to jump on and post without disclosing your name? At least Dr. Murray is wrestling with the issue with his name on his post.

      Further, you know nothing of his reading—perhaps he’s reading lots. We know nothing of your reading; perhaps you’re reading biased Aryan Nations material. Who is to say that you have “actually studied the subject?” No one knows, because you’re hiding behind a cloak of cowardice.

      Those things being said, who do you recommend that he read? You haven’t written anything substantive; you’ve merely given us a nice ad hominem and made some appeals to other unnamed authorities.

    • Robert

      Ad hominem and unhelpful, sir. We need less of this kind of response. I thought the post was heartfelt and in tune with the relevant social and religious considerations. Either way, anonymous insult hurling is beyond unhelpful; It’s malicious.

      • Richard Smith

        There is a difference between being heartfelt and being true. How is what the poster doing anything worse than your calling him malicious? I certainly agree with him regarding the post and I sure don’t see how he was malicious in it.

  • Bill Noonkesser

    Good Job David. Probably the best thing Christians could do is to turn off talk radio and look at the issues confronting us through the lens of the Love of God rather than the talking points of the increasingly god-less conservative wing of media. When you feel aggravated and agitated or even angry by what you are listening to or watching perhaps it would help to clarify by asking yourself why? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness etc. If we are angry or agitated perhaps we should step back and evaluate. We may have the facts correct, we may even be right in our conclusions but are we right in our spirit, in our heart attitudes? Does our desire to confront flow from anger and self-righteousness or love and sorrow for sin? Is it a political solution we are looking for or are we on our knees in brokenness? These are questions we should all ask. In the end of the day we need to remember that we are not talking about paper people but real, complex, sinful, needy, sinners just like us. If we lose sight of this we lose everything.

    • bccomment

      Thank you Bill. Praise God for your heart in this struggle to grow together in unity.

    • Steve Peterson

      Bill – right on! As I said in an earlier comment – Fox News does NOT represent Christians, they pander to them for their money and influence.

  • Mark N.

    Thanks for writing this David, I appreciate your perspective.

    You said: “I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to listen to [Hannity]”

    I’m glad to hear it! I’m troubled at how easily many Christians “swallow” what he and others are saying.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Fred Wright

    Well done, David.

    • David Murray

      Thank you for the kind words, Fred.

  • Eric Moerdyk

    Dear David, I don’t question your compassion, courage, or intentions. But I do wonder about the accuracy of what you posted. First to call it a murder is to borrow the inflammatory rhetoric (unwittingly, I am sure) of the race hustlers. That inflammatory rhetoric has a very real and lamentable influence on race discussions in the US. Murder implies deliberate intention to kill. At worst, this is negligent manslaughter. I am also not convinced that Garner was killed because of the colour of his skin, but because he was a large man resisting arrest. I agree that this situation bothers me as well. It is the one illustration of the ones you mentioned that upsets me. Not because I think it is per se an illustration of racism, but because it is a tragic example of using too much force by police. Having said this, when you are arresting someone as a cop, with the adrenaline pumping you sometimes do foolish things. Especially when in the back of your mind is you getting hurt in previous encounters with someone. I am saying, look at it from the perspective of the cop too. All Garner had to do was to allow the arrest instead of resisting it – he bears some responsibility in this too.

    I am with you that the grand jury system has flaws and needs some revamping. In fact I have my doubts about the whole jury system, given how it is manipulated and lawyers preselect people based on their likeliness to sympathize with their point of view rather than with their ability to do justice.

    The most thoughtful and helpful book I ever read on racism was by Randy Alcorn – it is a novel, but very well researched. I think the name is dominion, it is about a black reporter.

    • David Murray

      Hi Eric, just on the use of “murder,” I was basing that on the New York City Medical examiner’s Aug 1 determination that the death was a “homicide.” There is debate about whether that can be translated as “murder” but Gregory Davis, president of the National Association of medical examiners defined homicide as “someone’s intentional actions that led to the death of another person.” But as I don’t want the discussion to get hung up on that word in a diversionary way, I’ve changed it to “homicide.”

      • Eric Moerdyk

        Thanks for the clarification. It does help me somewhat. I guess I am not yet convinced that I am living in denial by questioning whether race is a factor in this death. I don’t think the video proves race is a factor unless you assume it while watching.

        I must say that I am growing increasingly weary of the shrill inflammatory rhetoric on this issue from both the right and left in the U.S. I admire Martin Luther King as a great man and am thankful for much of what he achieved in this country. But those who claim to carry on his work today I find obnoxious. For example, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Farrrakan are race hustlers. They swoop with the race card every time a black person is killed, but silent when a white is killed. Facts don’t matter to them. The white person is automatically wrong, the black right. They are racist too. And when I listen to them speak, I hear them pour oil on the fires. Where are they when racial minority shop owners in Ferguson watch their shops burn? Too busy urging more protests to care.

        I didn’t hear the Hannity radio clip, just the news video, and there he did offer condolences to the family and the black person interviewed actually appreciated much of what he had to say. His point about the tobacco laws was that it creates a class of petty crime which led to this arrest and indirectly to this death. He did say this death upset him.

        I long for the day when America becomes truly colour blind racially. I fear that current rhetoric from the right and left hinders this. I will gladly stand with my black brothers and sisters against racism, but will not let myself be roped in by the agenda of race hustlers.

      • Eric Moerdyk

        Another thing I appreciate about your post is that it facilitates conversation on this important and sensitive topic.

        One thought that just crossed my mind – the picture last week of the white cop hugging the tearful black boy is in my mind just as representative of the race situation in America as the protests. More so in fact.

      • wvkeeper

        It needs to be clear, just for clarification sake, that in the case of a Medical Examiner’s report “homicide” does not strictly mean a “murder” (in a legal sense) has been committed. http://criminal.lawyers.com/felonies/blogs/archives/2977-the-legal-difference-between-murder-homicide.html

  • Guest

    David, I appreciate your willingness to write on this. Maybe it is because like you I am a Brit, I agree with pretty much all you write here brother. Having lived through the troubles of Northern Ireland from 1989-2003 your analogy of the police there is spot on even although like you I am a strong law and order guy, there were things happened and done that ought not to and things needed addressing. America is 50 plus Northern Irelands with a Federal element and a sinful media on both sides stoking it all up. I see Ferguson and NYC as two very different situations but not disconnected simply due to the reaction of a particular constituency in our nation. I may not agree or like the reaction but I cannot ignore it and hope it goes away. I must seek to understand it and work for Christ’s sake to hear and interact with it as God enables me. Like you I see these as days of God’s sovereign hand working in the great experiment that is America. I believe His purposes will succeed and be made plain in the months and years ahead and the church must engage with this. May the Lord grant us courage and wisdom.

  • Robert Briggs

    David, I appreciate your willingness and courage to write on this issue. It is guaranteed to get you into hot water. However as we know all it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing
    Whilst I am not yet convinced homicide is a valid charge for the tragic case of Eric Garner, I am perplexed and troubled that no indictment has occurred, it may be that as a Brit I do not understand what was possible in the NYC Grand Jury system but it is a deeply troubling situation that should at least cause every Christian to pause and ask questions.
    I do believe like yourself that America has a problem that needs addressed, but it is not one-sided. It is evident that a section of the black community seriously distrusts law enforcement in America, I have no idea of the actual percentage and the media is untrustworthy to help. Coupled however to the distrust is the issue of authority and this section of the community relate to law and order. I understand they ‘feel’ oppressed and mistreated, yet the levels of criminality in these communities is not something that can be ignored or justified and that also needs to be addressed if we are to see any real progress in this festering sore.
    The media in America is a disgrace, be it Hannity or Maddow, be it Fox or MSNBC. My appreciation for the BBC has risen exponentially since moving here 11 years ago and even that at times leaves something to be desired, but it is far better than the media here. Everyone is governed by fear and self-interest and divide along political and racial lines far too quickly.
    The church is in need of participating in this issue but alas even it is divided due to the same issues mentioned above regarding the media. Voices of reason and wisdom are being raised and this is good but we are a long way from really dealing with this due to false doctrine and the infiltration of the world’s ideologies like critical race theory and political correctness. All of this needs discussing in the present context. That is a tall order but important nevertheless.
    I appreciate your spirit brother, I share it. Alas how to engage and play a helpful role is something that is challenging. Thank you for being willing to put yourself in the firing line. May The Lord have mercy upon us.

  • Shawn Anderson

    Your post made me reflect on a lot of things, but one I wanted to share was based on your suggestion of having more black cops. It’s not the same situation, but considering Acts 6, it has always been interesting to me that when there was an ethnically-sparked debate between the Gentile widows and the Jewish widows, the Jewish apostles ordained the 7 Gentile-named men to serve tables. I wonder if there isn’t a principle to distill from that passage regarding the current ethnically-sparked debate.

    Thanks for the post – I hear your love in the truth you are seeking to communicate.

  • Thomas Kidd

    As a Christian who is a former assistant prosecutor and current defense attorney, this is excellent and (after reading the comments of your audience) brave, Please keep being prophetic. We, white Reformed folk, need to hear it.

  • Andy Webb

    David, Serious question, why are American Christians outraged, eager to
    discuss and debate, and willing to press for immediate and radical
    action and change when a white policeman accidentally kills a black
    suspect, but unwilling to discuss or do anything about ending the
    wholesale slaughter of black Christians in Nigeria or decades of
    genocide and enslavement of black Christians in Sudan?

    Boko Haram kill more of our black brothers and sister in Christ in ONE MONTH, than all
    the police forces in the USA in an entire year, yet while you have
    to search persecution oriented websites or African media to hear about
    Christian genocide in Africa, but the Garner and Brown cases are
    EVERYWHERE. It seems to me that our hash tags should read
    “#BlackAMERICANlivesmatter”. Just to drive home the point, I respect you
    deeply brother, and have learned much from you but I can’t remember you
    writing a single impassioned article calling for us to end our silence
    about Nigeria, why is that?

    • http://4christcrowncovenant.wordpress.com/ Angela Wittman

      Dear Pastor Webb, I understand where you’re coming from and I generally wonder the same about the genocide of preborn black babies in America. But in all fairness, there is so much evil in the world, one must address it as the good Lord brings it to our attention or lays it upon our hearts. A good first step to ending apathy or lack of concern for blacks in Nigeria, Sudan and those being slaughtered in the womb is to help folks see there really is a problem of racism behind much of the killing. I remember as a young, naive, Christian conservative activist being told by another conservative that they didn’t want abortion outlawed or to end because it helps keep down the black population. We really do have a problem with racism in America and I am very happy Pastor Murray wrote this piece. I pray the good Lord will use it to prick the consciences of His people. Amen.

  • bccomment

    Thanks David for sharing this. YOU HAVE NO IDEA how much it means to read this. I can’t imagine the fear that paralyzed you, but I’m glad that our Lord hasn’t given us a Spirit of fear and that you prevailed and spoke with great boldness. Believe it or not as a 35 year old pastor (12 years in the “young, restless, and reformed” movement :-D) with deep relationships in the same crowd you’re in, I have found myself paralyzed with a similar fear. I’ve been gripped by what those brothers and sisters who I love dearly would think of me if they knew that I was hurting too? I was suspicious too? Would they say I deserved it if I shared with them how many times I’ve been pulled over and let go without an explanation? Would they call me a “left-wingist”, if I told them that my upbringing testifies that the deck is not as equal as we would like to believe and that in the same way wealth can leave an inheritance for generations so can poverty, devaluing of education, and broken families? Would they just brush off my tears as liberal “overreactions” and my cries for justice as “race-baiting”?

    What I’ve come to realize in all of this was that I had no choice but to move forward in the conversation and share my heart, not because I’m some sort of civil rights leader, but because if I can’t share this than I’ve fooled myself into believing we have TRUE UNITY when in all actuality, it is only ASSIMILATION. ASSIMILATION that causes me to wear one face in the presence of my white reformed brothers and my true face in the presence of my black reformed brothers. ASSIMILATION that fears bringing in too much from my ethnic/cultural distinctives because I don’t want to be “that guy”. ASSIMILATION masquerading as UNITY. Sanitized and easy, but inauthentic and unhelpful in fulfilling the John 17 vision of our Lord. TRUE UNITY can only be had when people can bring their heart’s cries to the table and not necessarily have their opinions affirmed but nevertheless still be embraced as “brother” and listened to. TRUE UNITY allows us to weep even when we don’t understand simply because we see our brothers WHO WE LOVE weep. TRUE UNITY isn’t concerned if all of our opinions can be aligned with our favorite radio or news channel “talking heads” (many who are so obviously biased and motivated by causes that have nothing to do with Christ). TRUE UNITY is concerned with whether the brother that stands in front of us is aspiring to LOVE THE LORD GOD with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength and LOVE their neighbor as themselves.

    I’m grateful, David, to know that for the 1st time in my young adult life, I sense that this particular generation of believers collectively seem to be interested in that type of UNITY.

    I’m grateful to have you and so many other brothers weeping alongside me. I’m grateful that I feel like I can actually be myself, bringing my fears, my hurts, and my distinctives with me, and still be embraced.

    May the Lord in His marvelous providence continue to use these troubling times to do the miraculous work of tearing down the dividing walls (both seen and unseen) that exists amongst us.

    • Eric Moerdyk

      dear brother, thank you for sharing. I gladly or perhaps the better word is sadly bear your pain with you. I do not intend my comments below in any way to minimize your pain or the generational bitter legacy of racism.

      What do you think are some ways to move towards a truly colour blind society. I welcome your frank assessment of my comments earlier in this discussion.

    • Eric Moerdyk


      Is this the kind of thing you are talking about? I tried to make it a link, but couldn’t. people will just have to copy and paste.

      I wish I lived close enough to invite you over for supper and an evening of conversation/fellowship at my home, but I live in western Canada. I would however be happy to phone you and have a conversation that way if you would care to share your perspective with me. My email address is: emoerdyk5@gmail.com If you email me your phone number, I can call you next week some time convenient to you.

      • bccomment

        Hey brother,

        Thanks for engaging me. This is a little long, but I don’t know who else is interested in this conversation so I decided to present it here. I’m emailing you my phone number right now brother and would love to take this conversation further if you would like to.

        1. Yes, this is precisely what I’m talking about. Often what is missed in these discussions, is the compassion and affirmation of human dignity and personhood of the subjects. They just become characters in the “more important” story of liberal takeover and dominance. We decry fatherlessness but rarely ask ourselves, “is there a way I can make a difference?” or “Can I show them a father that they’ve never seen” or “How can I engage them?” or “How we can we help them see the dignity and worth that was originally established in all men and women as a result of being created in the imago dei and more importantly how is it being recovered in those who embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and become God the Father’s adopted sons and daughters!” In all of the politcal jargon that’s what black people often don’t hear.

        Even as so many are quoting Doug Wilson (who I have great respect for) here, they never understand why his thoughts on issues related to race fall on deaf ears to many black reformed brothers and sisters. It is because he very casually mentions the times of confederate dominance as a good thing (you know SLAVERY days), that it wasn’t “that” bad and that black slaves should have just simply “rested in God’s sovereignty” in that. Those comments are detestable to a community that listened to their grand parents and great grand parents share the stories of abuse at the hands of good Christian white people. A community that has done the hard work of unearthing their history through books and accounts that American schools typically have no interest in bringing to the forefront.

        In other words, it is not simply just…”they’re liberals and don’t care”. It is often a perception that a person’s plight and struggle is not cared for and a perception that that person’s dignity and value is not prized. This is what sometimes lies behind the cries you hear from black communities. Obviously, I can’t speak for all black people so please don’t take my words to be the Gospel here. Just one black man’s opinion.

        The title of this article is extremely controverisal and I don’t blanket endorse everything here, but the author captures much of my concern and the concern of a host of authors of my ethnic background here…http://www.alternet.org/most-white-people-america-are-completely-oblivious…The embedded links that take you to other articles are extremely helpful as well. I would love your thoughts on this brother.

        2. As it relates to what we can do to truly move towards a colour blind society, please don’t take this as me being smug or sarcastic because that is not my intent (hard to translate tone through blog comments). I don’t believe a lot of people really want color-blindness. I think what we really want is color-sensitivity, color-acceptance, color-affirmation. Allow me to explain…

        Color blindness is mostly likely unattainable, because everyone brings their cultural and ethnic experiences to the table when joining with other people groups. We see it even in scripture. Typically what ends up happening with groups that say they don’t see color is that one of those colors’ experiences, cultural distinctions, and needs has been established as the dominant and all the others have been deemed (many times subconciously) inferior, less important, less necessary, less biblical, and therefore not needed. So in those communities, people have just decided to forsake everything about them that made them unique. They ASSIMILATE on all things for the sake of “UNITY”.

        For example, we can stumble across countless scriptures where we see loud instruments, shouts and wails, dancing, and rhythm as a vaild part of the biblical worship experience, but sometimes in my experience where the dominant group does not have that in their collective experience, they will muzzle any one with that in their background deeming it less Holy, less necessary, less biblical and less needed. And so people with that in their experience for the sake of UNITY will simply ASSIMILATE, instead of laboring to find a place and time in which that experience can be shared with all who they have joined with. The best illustration that I’ve been able to come up with is that much of our current unity in the church is like a large potluck that everyone is invited to but certain people are simply asked to leave their dishes at home because we don’t have a taste “for their kind of food.” Is it UNITY because everyone is there even though we’ve asked them to leave behind those things that make them who they are?

        TRUE UNITY HONESTLY works all things through biblical filters and doesn’t run away from the reality that God, in fact, has people who worship and live holy lifestyles that exist outside of our own experiences.

        The beautiful thing that I see Paul and the other apostles do to combat this is they literally neutralize cultural importance and dominance in the establishment of the Church. In so doing, they make room for the church to take on the appearance of different sizes and shapes. It is something that IRRITATES the heck out of many of the Jewish folks around them, but it makes Christianity the most beautiful and superior of the faiths in the world. It is one of the clear evidences that God designed it, because man simply would have never made up such a thing. Man wants his own experiences, his own culture, his own background to be the right one. God kills our pride yet again, by showing us that people from all races, experiences, cultures, and backgrounds can bring worship of Christ to His altar. What I see often (on all sides) is that we want to pick that battle back up when in reality God has removed it from the discussion.

        So, in a color-affirming, color-accepting, color-sensitive world, we don’t run from our distinctions, but we don’t despise them either. We leverage and learn from each other, passionately and deeply searching for the creative beauty in all the cultures around us, taking from each one and incorporating into a brand new culture within our own local church expression.

        In this ideal world, we see everyone not as colorless, but not absent of personhood and dignity. In other words, we see them as a different shade or hue of OURSELVES! We see them as brothers not because of our similarities but because we are created by the same God, all made in His image and likeness.

        That is what I’m praying for and pursuing, brother! We’re obviously not there, but we can hope :-D

        Looking forward to chatting with you soon.

  • Kevin Boling

    David, I have to respectable disagree with you on this one. I am not sure why you see it as a case involving some sort of racial injustice. I don’t see anything to indicate that Mr. Garner’s race was a determining factor in his arrest and subsequent death. Just because one person in a case is white and another is black does not automatically mean that racial issues are involved. Additionally, the sergeant on scene of the arrest (who as the authority to dictate to the other officers how the situation should or should not be handled) was a black female.

    Those who see this as a case being about the excessive use of force, in my view come closer to accurately assessing the situation. Although I do not think, an excessive amount of force was actually involved in this case. Mr. Garner was an extremely large and powerful man who was becoming increasing agitated with the police and actively resisting arrest. I thought the police showed a reasonable amount of restraint in making the arrest. Note: there were no batons used. No pepper spray. No tasers. No shots fired. Just a concerted effort by a team of officers to subdue someone who was resisting arrest. For the officers involved it was by far the least desirable and personally dangerous way to handle the situation.
    The tragic death of Mr. Garner was due to combination of factors. Including his medical condition, the necessity of multiple officers involved in subduing him and yes, the decision to use a choke-hold during the arrest.
    Therefore, I think the Grand Jury made the right decision based on the facts of the case. And I strongly disagree with the suggestion that they should take anything else (like public interest) into consideration. However, I do think there are grounds to pursue a wrongful death case (which is something outside of the scope of what the Grand Jury was considering).

  • Kevin Boling

    Sorry, that should read “Respectfully”

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  • Jeff Kessler

    After an incident like this, it is predictable for Fox News and usually talk radio to be criticized. I almost never watch Sean Hannity, but I do listen to talk radio. But before Hannity is criticized too much, it should be noted others as varied as Senator Rand Paul and Douglas Wilson have blamed the nanny state and its multitude of petty laws as a major contributor to this tragic situation. And although the policeman in this situation was white, his immediate superiors were black. So until and unless racism is proven to be part of the problem in this case, it would be wise to not to.

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  • Mike Waters

    David, I am thankful for your post (though I admit, I do not fully agree with it), but your gentle and sincere heart are always evident. I have provided a link to a very insightful book that provides an important perspective in these matters. It is well worth your read (I am not sure if the author is Christian, but if he is not, he has a large amount of common grace and insight).

    Blessings, brother.


  • Jeff Kessler


    I’ve earlier mentioned Hannity is not the only making this point. I’ve posted a link to Douglas Wilson’s post. This one is from Jonah Goldberg and in it, along with his own thoughts, he quotes Senator Rand Paul.

    Mr. Murray, you say the following: “here was only diversion and distraction from the real issue.” I’m not at all wanting to defend Hannity’s lack of sympathy or his bullying interview techniques, but he was almost certainly correct about the cigarette taxes and coupled with other information it was not about race.

  • Bob

    I would encouraging you to read Doug Wilson’s post on this subject entitled So the Punk is New York City. It would be very helpful for your perspective on this subject.

  • Mike Moore

    Your fear is unbecoming of a Christian. Christ does not give a spirit of fear. And fear of “being on the outside”? If you act like Christ enough, you will have every Christian and church in the neighborhood lining up to crucify you. Try it. You’ll see.

  • http://whatfoodisfor.wordpress.com/ RStarke

    David, you have often spoke graciously and boldly difficult topics, and this is no exception. Thank you for speaking up boldly and not giving in to what feels more and more like ideological blackmail from some corners of the Reformed blogosphere. God bless you, brother.

  • Andre-Hope Taylor

    Thank you for your boldness in sharing this!

  • Les

    A “good” cop story, the kind the national media mavens won’t carry:

    We don’t need more Black police officers. We need more officers who empathize with the public and we need more adults who can reciprocate that empathy.

    I can’t advocate changing our legal system simply because people don’t like the results. The grand jury system has worked well and I shudder when I think about what system might ‘replace’ it, ditto for changing our constitution.

  • Shaiem

    Well Said sir!

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  • Alastair Manderson

    Dr Murray, I would appreciate your clarifying whether or not you support the Anti-Protestant legislation impacting the Police Service of Northern Ireland and in particular whether you believe this ought to continue?

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  • David Murray

    I’d like to thank everyone who commented for their input. I do appreciate the feedback and the pushback and hope the discussion and debate helps us all think, listen, and communicate better.