Yesterday, this article caused something of a stir on twitter. The author is a black evangelical who has reached his limit: he’s had enough of the BS and is calling it quits on the SBC, the largest evangelical denomination in the country. Of interest to me is one response in particular that surfaced on my feed. One responder focused on some of the author’s last words in the article, “I love the church. But I love black people more.” Her response to this statement went something to the effect, “I’m glad Paul did not feel the same way about his own people. Heartbreaking.” For lack of additional information, I will infer at least that what is heartbreaking is the author’s prioritizing his ethnic heritage over the church. I want to show how this is weak logic.
- False equivalence/dichotomy
- Comparing a black man in America’s love for kinship with Paul in the first century is a false equivalence/dichotomy. For one reason, Paul was a Jew, which was a religious identity, whereas a black man is a part of a racial group (for lack of a better word).
- Further, it is erroneous to infer a modern understanding of one’s ethnic group in the past, for, unlike Paul and the Jews, the modern invention of race is indeed novel.
- Another reason which is significant is that Paul was talking to Jews. That is, although ethnic heritage was a common denominator, the Jews were also a religious group. And at least rhetorically, Paul expresses the level to which he loves his own people, even to the point of being willing to give up his own salvation for their sake.
- Red Herring
- By making this kind of equivalence, the argument in the article remains unanswered, and therefore still stands. The SBC is not off the hook, but our attention has been instead directed elsewhere. It is perhaps heartbreaking that one has to come to a point where he must choose between his allegiance to his people and the church. But that is not a priority for discussion until the argument about the particular institution is resolved.
- Lastly, this strategy of laying the burden of proof on black people is very common. That is to say, by pointing to the black author’s attitude and decision, it becomes a situation where the author, and not the SBC, has to explain himself.Rhetorically, to return to the example of Paul, the burden of proof was on the Jews, not himself or Christians. But there are a number of difficulties with making this equivalence because so many variables have to line up, and he would have to have the burden of proof. Again, here, black folk are the ones who “don’t get it.”
Ultimately, I refer to the tweet as an argument* because it really isn’t an argument, because there’s no space to make one. I am inferring the argument embedded in the text, and I could be wrong, but I am willing to stick to my intuition and invite dialogue.