A clip of Dr. Tony Evans has been circulating Twitter. In it, Dr. Evans is passionately preaching on the supremacy of the Bible over all other books. Specifically, Dr. Evans takes aim at books that focus on racism and social justice. He argues that people are quicker to pick up White Fragility than they are the Bible. Comments of “Amen!” and “Preach Dr. Evans!” flow behind the clip. I take issue with Dr. Evans’ argument for a number of reasons.
First, I do not understand who Dr. Evans is addressing. The number of people within the Church reading about racism is sadly minimal. While there was a surge of anti-racist reading this summer, the number of people continuing their education has dwindled. Furthermore, I can think of not one person in the Church who has read White Fragility and tossed away the Bible in response.
So who is Dr. Evans talking to? I have to believe that it’s people who are still talking about racial inequality. As if the time to talk about inequality has passed and we should all move on. Or maybe he’s read the numerous articles about Christians walking away from evangelicalism and is concerned. In reality, most of the people who are leaving the [white evangelical] Church are not rejecting God. They are rejecting the shallow, simple god that more churches are trying to present. Whether Dr. Evans is talking to people who are still in the Church or who have left the Church, I believe that he’s missed the point. As I read and learn more about racism, my faith in God is not threatened — my faith in the Church is. Dr. Evans is angry about a problem that does not exist.
Secondly, Dr. Evan’s speech argument is…stupid. It’s as if he’s saying that the Bible is all we need to fix racism, inequality and division. If we were in God’s perfect kingdom, that would absolutely be true. But that’s not where we’re at right now. In fact, that’s never been the case. America was founded in a time when the Bible was highly regarded as a source of authority. Left in the hands of sinners, the Bible can easily be twisted to fit any agenda.
Dr. Evans said that the Bible should “sit on top” of all other books. Sure. But really, I think that the Bible should be the foundation in how we approach all other books. Gleaning knowledge from a book besides the Bible is not heretical. This is not an either-or thing. If that were the case, we should immediately stop buying books from Dr. Evans and other Christian authors because the Bible is all we need.
Finally, I’m pretty sure that Dr. Evans knows what he is doing. When it comes to topics of race, Christians love to hide behind the Bible. In his argument, he briefly speaks of the inherent benefits of learning about racism. He immediately diminishes that by reiterating the supremacy of the Bible as if that somehow negates the goodness of reading other books. This argument is lazy at best and dismissive and problematic in its true form. I am confident that Dr. Evans understands that racial justice and equality is a complex and nuanced issue. When people came to Jesus with questions about true faith and how they should live, he never responded by solely saying “read Scripture”. He engaged with them, started conversations, and asked questions that got to the heart of the issue. To question someone’s faith for having differing convictions is deeply wrong.
Dr. Evans’ argument is one of bad faith. While he attempts to question my faith and the faith of people like me, he only causes me to question my faith in the larger Church. My pastor is one of the people that retweeted Dr. Evan’s tweet with a hearty “Amen!”. I am struggling to understand what that means. A few months earlier, he was emphatically pointing saints to books like the Color of Compromise, I’m Still Here and even White Fragility. As far as I can tell, there haven’t been any drastic changes within our church. No one has left our church or given up their faith to become a “social justice warrior.” So what is this chorus of “amens” actually about?
If hard conversations and discussions are going to continually be met with bad faith arguments such as Dr. Evans, then the Church is in trouble.