rebelling against low expectations

Charleston, Racism and Tragedy: A Christian Response


It’s been almost a month since the Charleston shootings, almost a month since that night of June 17 when nine lives were claimed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

It’s been almost a month since nine of our brothers and sisters were killed for their faith and their race.

Yet we’re still grieving.

The shock and the tragedy are still fresh and the families of the victims will continue to grapple with this pain for the rest of their lives.

Our minds are still reeling at how this injustice could be done — today, in America, in 2015. As Christians, we need to know how to process evils like this. What is the right response to the injustice and racism and murder that took place at a Bible Study in South Carolina last month?

To provoke your own thoughts in answer to this question, we’ve compiled a few resources that we think will assist and bless you as you consider this tragedy in light of the gospel.

What Charleston Should Remind Us About Forgiveness and Justice • June 26, 2015 • Russell Moore

When we forgive, whether in the wake of an enormity such as this one or in the more mundane ways we have been hurt, we are not saying vengeance is not due. We are saying that vengeance is God’s, not ours (Rom. 12:19). We don’t need to exact justice from one who has sinned against us, because we know that God will judge every sin either at the Judgment Seat or, more hopefully, at the cross as the offender unites himself to the One who is “the propitiation for our sins and not for our sins only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2).

That sort of forgiveness frees us to work together for justice, including justice against murderers and terrorists, because these matters remain matters of public justice, not of personal payback. More importantly, though, such forgiveness frees us from being enslaved by the one who has hurt us. We don’t have to store up bitterness, keep a record of wrongs, or try to dream up means of retaliation.

Keep Reading →

10 Reasons Racism is Offensive to God • June 25, 2015 • Kevin DeYoung

Charleston is a beautiful city and there have been beautiful gospel scenes broadcast from that city in these last days. But obviously all is not beautiful in South Carolina, just like all is not beautiful in Michigan, and all is not beautiful in the human heart.

I’ve grown up my whole life hearing that racism was wrong, that “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior” (to use one of the first definitions that popped up on my phone) is sinful.

I’ve heard it from my parents, from my public school, from my church, from my college, and from my seminary. The vast majority of Americans know that racism is wrong. It’s one of the few things almost everyone agrees on. And yet, I wonder if we (I?) have spent much time considering why it’s wrong. We can easily make our “I hate racism” opinions known (and loudly), but perhaps we are just looking for moral high ground, or for pats on the back, or to win friends and influence people, or to prove we’re not like those people, or maybe we are just saying what we’ve always heard everyone say. As Christians we must think and feel deeply not just the what of the Bible but the why.

If racism is so bad, why is it so bad?

Keep Reading →

Families of Charleston Victims Forgive the Killer and Call Him to Repent • June 20, 2015 • Denny Burk

This is one of the most gut-wrenching and beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Through tears and raw emotion, the families of Charleston victims forgive the man who murdered their loved ones, and they call him to repent. I can hardly imagine how difficult it must have been for them to offer these gracious words. Even more unimaginable is how they will maintain this grace in the long days ahead. The Lord will sustain His people.

This testimony needs to be seen far and wide.

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Answering Evil • October 1, 2013 • R.C. Sproul

I don’t think God has revealed to us a full and final answer to the problem of evil and suffering. However, that doesn’t mean that He’s been silent on the issue. Scripture does give us some helpful guidelines:

First, evil is not an illusion — it’s all too real. Some religions teach that evil is unreal, but the Bible never minimizes the truth of misery and pain. Moreover, the biblical characters show us that a stoic detachment from evil is not the right response. They tear their clothing, offer up lamentations to God, and cry real tears. Our Savior Himself walked the Via Dolorosa as the Man of Sorrows who knew our grief.

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Photo courtesy of David Goldman and the Associated Press.


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About the author

Jaquelle Crowe Ferris

is the former editor-in-chief of The Rebelution and author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway). She's the co-founder of The Young Writers Workshop and hosts a podcast for youth called Age of Minority. She's married to Joe and lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.


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    • Now that being said, the whole Confederate flag banning spree that happened afterwards was just plain dumb imho. It’s not a symbol of racism. At the start of the Civil War, Union General Ulysses S. Grant owned slaves but Confederate General *rest in peace* #southerner Robert E. Lee did not.

      • Yeah but honestly people cared more about the banning of the flag than the people in the shooting, honestly my feed was full of that flag and not a single prayer for those families. That’s all I got to say about it.

  • Jaquelle, I just want to thank you for posting something on this. At my church, no one has really addressed it and some people don’t even think that it is a problem. This is how we should respond as Christians. Thank you so much!

  • Thanks so much for sharing these. I think Russell Moore’s biblical definition of forgiveness is one that a lot of us need to think about. Unless we recognise the sovereignty of God, situations like this will never make sense.

  • I heard a short sermon about racism recently, and one of the main points that really stuck with me is that first and foremost we should recognize that it was a tragedy that our brother(s)/sister(s) were lost because of it. A lot of the time, the media discounts the death(s) and simply focuses on how wrong and evil the murderer was. So I think that’s something we can definitely work on as a church because the more I think about it, I realize that a lot of the time we focus more on the injustice of whoever did what rather than what was lost, since culturally, that’s where our minds are trained to go. But we have to remember that God will bring justice.
    **however I am not saying that we shouldn’t fight for justice, I just think we need to really think about WHY we are truly fighting for it before we begin

  • Honestly, racism makes me so mad! Especially since i live in a state that was on the edge of the northern and southern lines so opinions can still run pretty strong. Some of my favorite people are african-american, asian, and so on. Even World War l and ll were very much based on racism. I found it amazing that should Hitler (everyone’s hissing, right?) had continued his plan to “purify” I probably wouldn’t be here today, just because of my nationality or even disability. So this is an issue that should be addressed, but because its stupid it should even be an issue and also because there is nothing to make one race more superior than the other.

    Okay, there, I vented!!!! (now you know me when I’m mad)

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Amen, sister! I live in rural Florida, like the breeding ground of racism. It seems like everyone around me has some kind of bias against black people, not because they know them, not because the people ever did anything to hurt them, but just because they look different, talk different, dress different, or listen to different music. So people down here hate other people because they are different, and they think they are better than people based solely on the color of their skin. Yeah, despite me living in the midst of it, with some racists in my family, I hate racism. I don’t hate the people, just their mindsets, the evil that calls itself racism. I think the worst part about it too is that a lot of these people go church and call themselves Christians. Just shows how ugly people can use church as a mask. I think it’s time for a lot of prayer for those people.

      • oh I know! I live in Ohio, so you think it would be better, but some people seem to think that the african americans are low-downs. Even some members of my extended family make sarcastic comments or whatever. White people can be low-downs too!! It makes me so upset. And I agree, prayer is one of the only things that can change it!

  • The tragic incident in Charleston should be handled no differently than other tragedies. These seemingly endless shootings that people want to add a title to is no less than evil personified. Our hearts should break not only for those families impacted, but also for the lost souls that have been capitivated by evil. We need to look at the situations rightly and not be surprised by them. Our society now is permeated with evil, and it’s increase of intensity can be very unsettling, but expected. Since we live in such perilous times, the love of Christ for all people should be evidenced in our daily lives. And I believe that if we keep our eyes steadfast on Him and His Word that our responses to these tragedies will be appropriate and produce good fruit of His glory.

  • Down in my church people were more worried that the Confederate flag got so much heat than the shootings. Seems like people care more for the flag of a defunct militia more than they do their brothers and sisters today…

  • I don’t care what ‘color’ of skin somebody has, but people are always mention how racist ‘white’ people are, but every people group has some raciest (wish none did though). I really like how Ken Ham explains it: We are all brown, different shades, but still brown.

  • Ok so I watch a church in South Carolina, and they have a campus in Charleston. Here is what the pastor had to say in a blog post on the Confederate Flag and Racism and I LOVED it!:

    I don’t care either what color skin someone has. Personally I don’t see what the big deal is at all. So what? They look different and you point is………?

    And I also loved how the families were able to forgive him and present the gospel to him! The world is watching and they want to know why these Christians aren’t fighting the same way the world fights! What is different with them? (Ok maybe it isn’t the biggest discussion out there, but hey a couple people are probably pondering it!) 😀

    Bit of a scatter brain post!

  • the confederacy was more than a defunt “militia”… it was an nation.. a free nation, opreseed by a tyrant..and we should not destroy its memories…. we even resent the fact that stonewall Jackson and Robert e lee were open oposers of slavery

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →