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Ask Brandon Cleaver (July 20-24, 2020)

Hello, @Interested_In_Ask_RZIM fam!

This coming week, we have the immense privilege of interacting with USA-based itinerant speaker, @Brandon_Cleaver. Each week we know that there are various apologetics questions to ask, however, for this particular week, Brandon and our team would encourage you to especially ask any questions you may have about racism, ethnicity, and justice.

In fact, if you haven’t caught his recent conversation with @Nathan_Rittenhouse and @Cameron_McAllister on the Thinking Out Loud podcast (linked below), I would highly recommend it!

Brandon graduated from Michigan State University with a major in journalism and minor in sociology. He recently completed a master in Christian apologetics from Biola University and is currently working toward a master of divinity with a specialization in interdisciplinary studies at Moody Theological Seminary.

Brandon enjoys speaking on topics such as slavery in the Bible, culture and Christianity, ethics, urban issues, and various worldviews. For several years, Brandon served as Co-Chapter Director for the Wayne State Ratio Christi chapter. He served on the Stephen Ministry leadership team at Kensington Community Church and occasionally serves alongside Inner City Detroit Cru. Also, he currently serves on the Rochester University Spiritual Formation Advisory Group.

Do reply below with your questions for him! :question: :arrow_down:

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BrandonCleaver ,
What do you make of the fact that in a very short period of time from the 50’s to today the struggle to end racism has gone from one that once went forward in the complete recognition that with God as their shield and defender, & led by Godly men of the church,( Dr. Martin Luther King ), even in the midst of the most brutal and dire circumstances the calm of heaven was their possession, and thru Him their purpose remained unshakable & destined to succeed in the keeping of His commandments, to present the day where unbelief, the throwing off of God altogether , and possession of the violent apprehensive soul of the sinner seems to be the new standard for public participation in the struggles present form?
What were the factors involved that led to this devolution of the movement in your opinion ?
Thank You for your devotion to God and to RZIM, Mike
" Keep me O Lord, from the hands of the wicked, preserve me from the violent man…"
( Psalm 140:4 )

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Hi Brandon! I would like to ask, as Christians, should we be vocal about the injustices happening in the society nowadays through social media? In our country now there are lots of people who start to hate the government for their decisions like prioritizing their own plans rather than the people. I know we are called to honor those in authority and to submit, but at the same time to shed light on these issues. Should we use our social media platforms as a means to voice out what is right and call out those who are doing wrong things?

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Hello Mr. Cleaver,

Thank you for taking our questions, especially about this topic of race relations, tensions, and reconciliation.

What advice do you have for those of color who are heartbroken, discouraged, and disillusioned by the responses received from the church, regarding the recent protests, and out cry about racism? Many responses have either downplayed it, been critical, or just plain silent. For many of color in the church, this has been very overwhelming, and some have walked away from dealing with the church overall on this topic due to the strong hurtful responses, gaslighting and stonewalling. It’s also painful when received from other minority Christians, too. What would you say, to them?

What do you say to those who say that being a Christian means removing your racial culture out of the picture? Or, that talking about these problems would lead to preaching a social gospel, and that the church can’t, and shouldn’t address social issues because it “takes away” from the gospel. I don’t agree with this assertion however, I’d like to know your thoughts on this, please.

Third, I am the only Black person at my job, and the only Christian. It has been extremely difficult for me to know how to handle myself as a Christian,
and also as a black person who is in pain about the recent racial injustices that has been brought to public light, and the off base, and/or tone-deaf, response to it; especially the response from my job, which was along the lines of performance activism, and overall out-of-touch unawareness/ignorance. (those at my job consider themselves to be progressive and thus, qualified to speak regarding racial injustice.) The atmosphere at my job is generally racially insensitive, and there is a blatant lack of value placed on the black experience, and input, regarding what we do, due to the lack of representation on the staff. What words of advice do you have on how to deal and work with my office, while reckoning with the pain that I often feel inside at the blatant racial injustice at work? It has become increasingly more difficult to pretend that I’m not hurt, especially when they held a diversity meeting with a consultant,
that should have lasted about two hours, but was crammed into one hour. No one really had time to speak during the meeting, and I didn’t feel like anyone wanted to speak about their real feelings also, because I was present in the meeting. As a Christian however, am I supposed to put on a happy and strong face, despite my embarrassment and pain? Should I be the “Christian pillow” that absorbs it all, smiles and turns my work without any care? How should one approach this as a professional, Christian of color? P.S. they aren’t fond of Christians too, so, this further complicates my position.

And last, do you have any resources to refer me to to learn more about the Arab slave trade? I remember listening to an RZIM Q&A, and this topic was brought up, however the book that was mentioned is no longer being offered for sale.

Thank you for your time, Mr. Cleaver.

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What would you like to see the Church do more/less of around this topic, and what would you like to see the general public (for lack of a better term, outside the walls of the Church) do more/less of?

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Hi Michael, thank you so much for your question! I’ve recorded an answer to you that you can view here:

Please forgive the abruptness with how it ended, my phone was having issues :slight_smile:

Blessings!

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BrandonCleaver,
Hello and God’s Blessings to you.
Thank you so much for thoughtful response to my questions, and also for being being able to so accurately perceive the gist of what I was asking about where I may have not been completely clear .
Looking back at my questions I can see where I could have been a little more specific .
What got me thinking about this quite some time before the most recent racial unrest we are going through, was a presentation that I attended on a MLK holiday a couple of years ago .
I expected to be shown some of the same old scenes that are quite familiar of Dr.King’s speech in Washington which by it’s very location was a quasi political event, but was surprised to be presented footage of some obviously much smaller gatherings of people in much more rural settings preparing
to begin the determined assent to full freedom in marching.
What immediately struck me was that they were preparing the night before in churches .
Their church was their base of operations and they were getting deep into the word of God to prepare
them for what they were to face the next day .
I guess the reason this so intrigued me is that , at least in my opinion, the reliance upon God within the civil rights movement has never been given it’s full due in the popular media .
They obviously prefer the emphasis on the political rather than spiritual .
And I think there was definitely intent , by white media & white politicians, to take ahold of & turn what was largely a movement whose reliance was on the Mighty Fortress of Faith in God into a movement dependent on politicians for their own purposes .
The white politicians had their “eyes on prize” , their " prize" being the black vote .
Which if you go back to the very end of slavery you can see it is always going to be a political issue when left up to the white politicians .
That is how you first got a black man legally counting for only 2/3’s of a vote .
Not much spiritual consideration in counting a Black man as only 2/3’s a man for voting purposes .
White politicians from the get go figuring what they could do with freed slaves in terms of using them for political advantage .
For me this taking things over by Godless whites politicians is where the movement largely stalled, and has inched along ever since .
And I largely see this process repeating itself once more .
Black Lives Matter being largely a white political organization put together by white college educated individuals.
Also an organization overtly anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and anti-Family.
For me as a Christian racism is sin , and only through the Love of God can the ultimate defeat of sin be accomplished .
God’s own people had been overcome and carried away by their enemies at one point.
But God had not forgotten them .
Their years of servitude was His way of training them for their future high mission among all the nations .
Through the mountain of bondage they had discovered a more spiritual view of God .
Thank You Again Brandon & God Bless + Mike

  " I will make all my mountains a way ."  ( Isaiah 49:11 )
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Hi, Anna. Thanks for your question! My reply is below. I would love to read your thoughts on some of my reflections or if you have any personal stories to share about social media interactions in regards to issues of injustice I’d love to hear about that, too!

Thank you for sharing some of the background information that went into your question, Michael! These are insightful reflections. There are no doubt differences in the various movements for civil rights through the ages. Some more explicitly undergirded by Christian values than others. Despite the nuances of each movement, the very word injustice, or justice, are theologically rich terms that our amazing God has a lot to say about :slight_smile: And, brother, I agree, ultimately only the blood of Jesus can remove the stain of sin that permeates all of our hearts, including the sin of racism that continues to be quite an insidious one. Let us all display the love of Christ not only with words, but with deeds and truth. Thanks again for sharing, Michael. Such a pleasure to interact with you!

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