You’re probably aware of the shooting at the hands of a self-described white supremacist that took place at a Buffalo, NY supermarket and who killed nine black people and two white people. And you’re probably also aware of the many opinions, from social media to mainstream news, permeating the waves. Worse, you’ve probably heard several Evangelical leaders use this tragic incident to trash conservatism, nationalism, and even the Church for fostering an environment conducive to this kind of behavior.
I want to offer a few thoughts of my own on this and the hope is that we will be able to ground our thinking in sound logic and biblically-informed reasoning.
First, here are a few examples of Evangelicals using this tragedy to trash the conservative movement within the Church. Here, Gavin Ortlund, a well-known pastor, Evangelical author, and TGC contributor, attempts to tie the shooting to a version of “white supremacy” which he says that we cannot assume that the Church is against.
And, of course, there is the notorious Southern Baptist race-baiter, Dwight McKissic, who accuses the conservatives in the denomination of being unwilling to condemn white supremacy.
Let’s go ahead and put McKissic’s accusation to rest immediately. White supremacy is evil. Actual real white supremacy, as we saw in the Buffalo shooting, is wicked and detestable. Any form of ethnic superiority is detestable and should be condemned by all believers.
But McKissic is correct, we do refuse to say “Black Lives Matter,” not because we don’t believe they matter, but because we understand that this chant is representative of another form of wickedness—black nationalism. And the Black Lives Matter form of black nationalism doesn’t desire equality among the different ethnicities, instead, it seeks to enslave white people to a system of perpetual penance for the wrongdoings of ancestral white people for no other reason than the color of one’s skin.
But back to the shooting. It is clear that the shooter, Payton Gendron, is a white supremacist. He begins his manifesto by stating that “White birth rates must change.” He continued, “Everyday the White population becomes fewer in number. To maintain a population the people must achieve a birth rate that reaches replacement fertility levels, in the western world that is about 2.06 births per woman.”
Gendron’s white supremacist ideology is rooted in a hatred of other ethnicities that some have dubbed the “Great Replacement Theory.” We need to first distinguish this from another issue that conservatives talk about which is the idea that Democrats are using illegal immigration and open borders as a means and method to secure Democratic votes in the future—a point that is matter-of-factly true. However, as Megan Basham of Daily Wire put it, “The great replacement theory, which the shooter cited, refers to the racist idea of white ppl being replaced with racial minorities. It is not discussions of how immigration impacts voting behavior—something pundits on both left and right routinely discuss and debate.”
No doubt that Evangelical progressives have used this incident, and the shooter’s citation of the great replacement, to tie this tragedy to conservative Christians who listen to right-wing pundits such as Tucker Carlson who has spoken about the Democrat’s strategy to undermine our legal voting system for years. Understand that when these progressive Evangelicals do this, they are exploiting this tragedy as a means to advance a progressive political movement while undermining the conservative movement—and they’re doing so dishonestly.
So, here are a few points to ponder as we digest this tragedy. First, understand that white supremacy, or any form of ethnic supremacy, is not conservative in any way. It is, in fact, a form of violent leftism. As Christians, we understand that the Scriptures themselves are the standard of conservatism. There is nothing more conservative, further right, than the Scriptures. Anything that deviates from the Scriptures can only move to the left.
The shooter’s manifesto affirms this when he states that “On the political compass I fall in the mild-moderate authoritarian left category, and I would prefer to be called a populist.” But let’s be real, there are plenty of shooters who claim to be right-wing, conservative, and even Christian. We must understand that simply because someone makes this claim doesn’t make it true. And as conservative, bible-believing Christians, we must demonstrate from Scripture that these actions are incompatible with Christianity and conservatism and despite their claims to conservatism, they are actually leftists.
A deviation from God’s law is a deviation from the right to the left—God’s law: thou shalt not murder.
Second, we must not allow progressives—whether Evangelical or secular—off the hook for attempting to claim that it is conservatism or Christianity that leads people to commit such atrocities. Often, these talking heads will assert that conservatism breeds an environment of “hate” directed at certain groups of people that causes some to “take action” against those they believe are violating their ideologies. This is patently false from a conservative biblical perspective. There is not one instance in Scripture nor is there a single conservative principle that even remotely suggests that we enforce our ideology violently. Christianity teaches that we win people with the gospel—but it also teaches that our ideology is spread through intellectual persuasion, logic, reason, and working within the system of law and order. We should outright reject any attempt to discredit our conservative movement based on the wicked deeds of those who have been given over to sin.
And third, we must also not allow progressives to equate legitimate conservative movements such as nationalism to “white supremacy.” Nationalism, in and of itself, is not only biblical but has also been the basis of stability in the world for centuries. Without nationalism, there would have been no civil progress and advancement of our quality of life. Nationalism is simply the idea that nations selectively allow immigration based on our own national interests. In other words, we only allow people into the country who have demonstrated that they are willing to become positive contributors to our society as opposed to societal parasites who will ultimately drain the nation’s resources and ultimately destroy our nation altogether. That is not beneficial for our nation nor is it beneficial to the world.
But we must understand that nationalism, despite what the progressive pundits like to say, is not based on race. They will often attempt to describe nationalism itself as “white nationalism” because they believe, as Jarvis Williams of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary stated, “whiteness isn’t about biology, it’s about an ideology.” To them, “whiteness” is defined as conservatism. Understand that it is conservatism that they actually hate, so they tie it to “white supremacy,” which they will then use to undermine the conservative movement.
There are no two ways about it. Actual white supremacy is evil, and wicked, and must be condemned by the Church. Murder in any form, from mass shootings to abortion, must be condemned by those who stand on the Word of God as our foundation of truth and standard of morality. But understand that because you hold to a conservative biblical worldview, you are the very antithesis of white supremacy—or any form of supremacy. We submit our hearts and minds to the supremacy of the only Supreme Being in the universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God who created all things and upholds the universe by the Word of His power. The God who spoke all things into existence and the God who was and is and is to come, who died and, behold, is alive forevermore and who has the keys to death and Hades.
It is this God who commands the nations to maintain law and order and who commands everyone everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. And believing this does not make you any kind of supremacist—so don’t let those who hate God convince you that it does.