Can anyone provide insight and perspective on Daniel Hill’s books ‘White Awake’ and ‘White Lies?’ I recognize the tension of race relations over several years, but I’m not a fan of someone telling me I’m racist. I’m trying to reconcile what I’m reading and something just doesn’t feel right or biblical. If anyone has actually read either book, can you provide a biblical critique? Thank you!
I’m glad you asked, Andilina. I understand exactly what you’re saying when you mention that “something just doesn’t fell right or biblical.”
I haven’t had a chance to read either of these books, but I did listen to an interview of Daniel Hill about White Awake. Are there specific concepts or quotes from these books that you would like input on?
His blessings on you, Andilina! I’m very glad that you have brought this very sensitive subject up as it is a profound source of unrest and destruction in the western world right now.
And that is because what Mr. Hill is teaching is entirely unbiblical. In truth, I haven’t read either of his books you mention, but I have listened to some interviews with him about “White Awake”. What I have heard boils down to Critical Race Theory. It’s an incredibly convoluted and painfully detailed ideology/philosophy that has become extremely prevalent teaching in our universities (perhaps even required), but I really liked the way brother Ramgoli explains it briefly:
CRT is identity politics and the sole purpose of identity politics is to divide and conquer. This article from Got Questions is also very helpful in understanding why it’s so opposed to Christ:
I do hope you find some of this helpful. My prayer for you, and all of us who believe in Jesus Christ with you, is that He will guard your heart and mind from destructive doctrines of men and women that serve only to divide and destroy us.
In Him humbly.
I receive a Daily Devotional in my email and an excerpt from Hill’s book ‘White Lies’ was presented for the devotional. I found myself hardly able to get through just the excerpt when (I don’t know) my spidey-sense…let’s call it holy-spirit sensor started buzzing. I wasn’t sure exactly what is was I didn’t like, but what I was reading seemed to parse out scripture to fit a particular narrative. It just didn’t feel right. So, I wanted to bring it to this forum and get a little more biblical feedback. I trust RZIM, the itinerant speakers, and generally the people that biblically discuss things here. I believe if anyone can help sort out a topic such as this (racism, prejudice, supremecy, etc.), then RZIM and the community of RZIM Connect can do so with a Christ focus and sound biblical doctrine.
Here is a link to the excerpt:
I look forward to the community discussion. Thanks!
Thank, Bret! That is extremely helpful! Nice to know there is a name for this destructive word-play. I’ll check out those items you suggested and hope we can bring more Christ-focused input to this topic. We need so much healing and reconciliation in western society and around the world. I’m hoping this discussion will help us do that. Thank you!!!
@Aleone1207, thanks for the extra information. I tried clicking on your link, and I only got an image. Is this the devotional you’re referencing?
Yes, that’s it. Sorry the first link didn’t work, so thank you for posting the correct link.
Fully agreed, Andilina! Our focus should be on our Lord Jesus and ideologies like this only serve to pull us away/derail us from that focus, much like the heresies of Gnosticism and neo-Platonism in the 1st century and countless others over the last two millennia. Regarding this particular modern issue, on the surface it appears to be about healing, reconciliation, forgiveness, and unification for all mankind but…when you dig even a little deeper it becomes very apparent that it’s not about those things at all. It is tyranny masquerading as virtue. It’s a humanistic religion that leaves no room for the Lord.
I’m not very articulate, though. Dr. Neil Shenvi, a Christian apologist, does a much better job of explaining things. Here’s a link to one of his classes. It’s not a quick listen. It’s about an hour and a half long, but it is very informative.
I may be wrong, but I do believe that much, if not all of this, has at least part of its roots in postmodernism, and brother Ravi, of course, explains postmodernism exceedingly articulately and precisely. Here’s a talk he did on it around 9 years ago, but boy is it still relevant today. The talk was broken up into 4 videos. This is part 1:
And part 4:
It’s alarming enough that so much of western culture seems to have been profoundly influenced by this, but what is even more alarming is that it seems to be proliferating in the body of Christ here as well. I want to assume that Daniel Hill means well and is genuinely unaware of what it is he has joined himself to and, of course, we should also be praying lovingly for him as well.
Well now! That ended up being quite the long response! ha ha My apologies if it’s too long.
Thanks for introducing this conversation, what a difficult one to have. I have not encountered Daniel Hill’s work itself, but did read the devotional posted. I’m wondering what it was exactly that got your sensor buzzing? I read a huge gulf of pain and anguish in the excerpt. I would like to raise a few thoughts that seem to take a different (biblical I do believe) perspective than I have seen here, and please, I earnestly appeal to you to hear in my words a heart of love. Try not to give it a label by which to dismiss it, rather read me in good faith and try to hear my plea. I assure you, whatever skill I lack in the words, my intent is to build love and unity, starting with myself.
When Paul calls for equality and refutes difference (eg There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus) does that mean that we should dismiss those who experience this difference through painful engagements with others? Are those who have been hurt by it the ones who are ‘wrong’ and should stop seeing difference? Are they really just imagining it? Is there any place for each of us to take a moment to reflect on how our actions may contribute to the experience of feelings less than, dismissed, inferior? In Ephesians, when Paul calls women to submit to their own husbands, he also says that husband are to love their wives and lay down their lives for them. When he calls children to honour their parents he also warns parents to not provoke their parents to wrath, he likewise balances the responsibilities of working for a master with the responsibilities for treating your servants (slaves) fairly. To me this suggests reciprocity, unity requires a coming together from both sides.
Being called a racist (or feeling like you have been accused of being a racist) is a terrible experience, it cuts to the heart. Trust me I know. I am certainly not a racist. Well, do I really have no trace of condescension, fear, distrust when a face someone not quite like me? But you see, I am a racist (on some levels, notice how I minimise), I try not to be and I hate that (when?) I am. I tell myself that many are far ‘worse than me’, but if I look objectively at myself, well it’s never pretty is it. So I ask you, are you maybe discomforted a bit by the thought that like me, you too might be more racist than you like to think?
So my thoughts are this: please try not to get caught into ideological positions and duck the challenge. Look deeply into yourself if you have the courage, remembering that it is only in Christ’s strength you can do this. The truth may really set us free to live in the love and unity we are called to, as an example to the world. My understanding of one of Paul’s key tenets is that our (personal) salvation is a gift that sets us free from the sins that prevent us living in and as a light shining (outwards) into the world. In committing to following the way of Christ I commit to letting Him change me. And I believe that my God can pull off that miracle.
More philosophically I suppose that I’m suggesting that behind this post is a real issue, and let’s not put it into an intellectual jar, but rather engage with the painful practicalities it points to.
@nicky.wolmarans, you make a good point that we need to be sensitive to others’ pain and open to what God wants us to learn. When studying topics like this, we often find truth mixed with error. My personal tendency is to get so frustrated with the un-Biblical elements that I miss what God is saying to me. God has been working on my heart this summer, moving me to be more humble and responsive to His tender direction.
I have specific questions about the Biblical nature of White Awake. I hope that as we discuss these things in love, we can name what’s untrue, discover what is true, and better serve our brothers and sisters in Christ.
My first question comes from the description of White Awake at InterVarsity Press.
Daniel Hill will never forget the day he heard these words:
“Daniel, you may be white, but don’t let that lull you into thinking you have no culture. White culture is very real. In fact, when white culture comes in contact with other cultures, it almost always wins. So it would be a really good idea for you to learn about your culture.”
Confused and unsettled by this encounter, Hill began a journey of understanding his own white identity…
Does white identity imply that we’re getting our identity for our ethnicity or culture or both? Is that where we should be getting our identity?
I’m also uncomfortable with the term racist because it seems to carry the idea of our identity being connected with what we think or do.
God wants our identity centered in Christ. The following verses come to mind:
- In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Paul told the Christians that they used to be sinners (idolaters, adulterers, etc.), but they weren’t anymore because they were washed, sanctified, and justified in Christ. Because I am in Christ, my identity will never be connected to a sin I’ve committed.
- In Philippians 3:3-8 Paul said he gave up any claim to status he had through his ethnicity or good deeds. He didn’t find his identity there.
Would you agree that discussing whiteness and calling ourselves (or others) racists could cause us to draw out identity from something other than being in Christ?
Hi Jennifer, I fully get the respect, love and integrity in your response, and return it. This is about finding our way to truth in a messy world, not about being ‘right’ for our own pride. Also, I’m pretty new to this, so I love that you are pushing me for and showing me solid scriptural argument. Bear with me as I ‘think aloud’, and absolutely call me out if my unreferenced scriptural paraphrasing is a misrepresentation.
I think there are two things going on here, we are both in the world (fallen, sullied, difficult) and yet not of the world (cleansed, made righteous in Christ). So I don’t think that I take my identity from the world by acknowledging I am still influenced by and sullied by the world. I take my identify from Christ, but also acknowledge that I am a work in progress (doing what I wish I wouldn’t in the flesh and not doing what I wish I would ). Is that consistent with the process of sanctification?
The place I find myself getting stuck if I understand you relates to what happens when we continue to sin, which we all do. By way of a somewhat extravagant example, not about whiteness, but thought an analogous idea might be useful to think with: If I am in an adulterous relationship, does my faith make me not an adulterer? That’s obviously not what Paul meant. How then does that relate to my identity? Could I still claim my identity in Christ, or does my worldly identity as an adulterer void my identity in Christ?
If you have the time and inclination I’d appreciate you thoughts.
That’s a great question, Nicky, and I’ll be thinking about it. I’m working on being “quick to hear and slow to speak” (but I fail often), so it might take a bit for me to get back to this. My question about our identity in Christ has been bouncing around in my head since I first read Andilina’s question. Your desire to seek love and unity in the Body of Christ finally prompted me to share the question. Thank you for your grace!
This is a great conversation, and I had a thought that we may need to go back to some foundational biblical truths so that we are not deceived as we talk about these things. We do need to examine ideology because it is through ideology that we can be deceived into thinking we are doing what is right when we are actually doing harm. Ideology has consequences. Accepting or rejecting ideology does not equate to dismissing people’s pain. Anyways, here is what I kind of want to get at: What does the Bible say about sin? Does it say it is bound to any particular physical trait? No. Why? Because sin is a heart issue, not a physical issue–not a skin issue. Therefore, to sequester a specific sin to a specific skin color (white=racist) is unbiblical and even falls into the category of sinful judgment. I think this is important to clarify if we want to view this topic from a biblical perspective.
Just offering some food for thought…
We are 100% in agreement on this, sister.
Hi, @Aleone1207. Thank you for bringing this up. This is a very important question and subject to discuss. I think a lot of times the Church does not want to discuss it either because they do not know how or because they are afraid of conflict or are afraid of how it will stir their own emotions. But…people are hurting, and in trying to address the pain, it is important to take biblical and right approaches.
I have not read Hill’s book, but I think self-examination is always necessary, and it is definitely biblical. When someone is hurting and tells us we have hurt them, I think it is important to be careful to not be defensive and to give the matter serious and prayerful consideration. We can sin unintentionally and be unaware of it until the Lord convicts us of it or until someone brings it to our attention. If we do that, though, and really see that we have not committed that offense, then I think it is important to be honest about that and to guard our hearts while looking for ways to help that are in line with biblical precepts.
From what I have read from the others, Hill is a proponent of critical race theory. If we care about and are concerned about racism at all, we should care about dismantling this ideology. It is divisive, and from what I have been able to gather, does not at all offer any hope of reconciliation. All it does is builds up the racism under a guise of helping the oppressed and condemns what it sees as the oppressors (whites). We know from where condemnation comes. It also ties racism to skin color. Racism is a sin, and sin is not tied to a physical attribute like skin color but is a heart issue. Therefore, saying white equals racist contradicts what the Bible says about sin and is actually itself a sin. It is wrongful judgment–judgment by appearance.
While it is important to dismantle ideologies that feed on and build up racism, division, and hatred, it is equally, if not more important, to work towards constructing a biblical way forward. Studying overarching biblical themes like sin, grace, salvation, justice, and redemption and how they apply to the situation is a good start. It will help balance out our focus so that we are not so distracted by what we feel we are being accused of that we fail to show the love of Christ by walking through this with our suffering brothers and sisters and others.
Just some thoughts that I have. I hope this is helpful in some way.
So I am interested to know what you would suggest as a way forward in all this. I think that sometimes we (Christians or the Church) can be so vocal about what we are against that we forget to say what we are for, and I can understand how that can come across as insensitive. We get out of balance and forget to care for those who have and are experiencing real, deep pain because of what they have been through or are presently going through, and I tend to neglect that at times.
Thank you for asking, Lindsay! Hopefully this doesn’t come across as lazy on my part, but you actually summed it up nicely with this:
That really is one way I would begin to go about it.
If I could change the name of this discussion, I’d call it “Loving those who hate you.”’
I appreciate all of your posts, your wise words and biblical council. Thank you all for graciously responding in what I know and sense is love. That above all is what brings me to post again. I apologize for taking myself out of the discussion for awhile as I paused to hear again from God in His perfect timing.
Don’t get me wrong, God and I talk all the time…like a running dialogue (or is it monologue ) in my head. But there are times when He takes me out of my comfort-zone to engage with others once again.
As I write this, I begin to realize what was behind the prompting for me to start this conversation in the first place.
I am afraid. Afraid of engaging with others in these and other such difficult discussions. I do it here because I feel safe to bring out my concern to those who have clearly responded out of love and concern for me and the topic posed. And because I sense Christ’s presence here in this forum.
But this is not the “real world,” so-to-speak. This is the digital world. And while people can post some really awful and nasty things online (as social media posts often do), those who are careful can more eloquently and succinctly convey their message online than they ever could in person. They can craft it in such a way that it looks well thought out and prepared. Assuming, of course, they put any thought into their post at all. I find myself doing this very thing, even now as I write.
The challenge that I/we are faced with is not only loving those around us in the real world, but loving those in the real world who hate us. And not just hate, but are openly hostile to us and perhaps even more so to God.
The civil unrest that we in the U.S. are experiencing this year is unlike anything we’ve seen before in this country. And the discernment that I and my mother are getting is that it will only get worse as time continues.
I’ve grown in my relationship with God to trust Him more and more every day as I get older. I want to believe that God is in control and that He has a good and perfect will for everything, good and bad. I find, however, that I am still afraid as, day by day, the news and happenings of the world get worse.
Let’s face it. 2020 SUCKS!!! (please excuse my foul language if that offended anyone )
I want to be brave and courageous and love them like Jesus did (those that hate me, etc.). He had no fear, no hatred…only love for those who cursed him, spit on him, beat him and killed him. His humanity in experiencing those things should give us courage to endure the same.
But it’s so hard in the moment when someone is yelling in your face, throwing things at you, kicking or beating you. I don’t know how people do it?!?! I think of MLK and the civil rights protesters in the 60s, Buddhist monks at Tiananmen Square in the 80s, and even the cops today. In those moments where anger, fear, and hatred reign, it is impossible to respond in love. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the demons of these things win out. I think this may be why so many have stepped away from protecting and serving. Without Christ, they simply can’t keep going.
While I don’t feel called to protest anything and the idea of praying in the midst of an angry mob terrifies me, I feel called to respond in love. To step out and love them like Jesus. Love those people who are hard to love and who would rather dismiss me than listen to me. Those whom Jesus reached out to more.
I have to pause again hear (that’s an interesting typo that I purposely didn’t correct), because I feel God correcting my thinking just now. Jesus reached out more to those who were hard to love because they were scorned by others. I think of Matthew, the tax collector, and the woman caught in adultry whose name is never mentioned in scripture. Even Nicodemus who had to climb a tree just to get a glance at the Teacher. Jesus responded in love to these and many others like them. To those who challenged, scorned, and dismissed Him, namely the religious leaders of the day, he had some pretty harsh words to say (see Matthew 23…ouch!)
I feel God challenging me in this “loving those who hate you” idea. There are those in my own little world of family, friends, and co-workers that don’t share the same faith or think like I do. Their views and ideas are often hostile and dismissive of God entirely. I can engage in life with them and love them well in Christ’s power without ever mentioning God. It is simply easier that way.
A DJ on KLOVE (Christian radio station in the U.S.) recently asked the question 'what is the hardest thing about being a Christian?` There were some pretty good and interesting responses to that question. For me, the hardest thing is loving those closest to me who openly choose to reject God. While I can love them and pray for them and make useful those God opportunities opened to witness to them, ultimately their salvation is between them and God. I can only do so much and I am not confident that, if they were to suddenly die today somehow, they would accept God’s invitation and He would welcome them into Heaven. This is the hardest thing about being a Christian; knowing the truth and knowing God and watching those you care about choose to openly reject Him.
It makes me wonder and think there really is a difference between sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46). The goats aren’t just those who vainly did things in Jesus’ name. They are all those who simply choose their own will over God’s will. Who reject the idea that there is an Alpha and Omega, that He is in control, that He is good, and that He has a good and perfect will for everything.
I don’t know if God is separating the sheep and goats at this time in history, but the differences between them are becoming more and more apparent every day.
I have no bible verse to share at this time, no biblical words of advice. Just an opening of a bleeding heart crying out to know how to love those who hate me and my God and how to engage in those difficult discussions with them.
For any and all who’ve made it this far in my post, thank you! Thank you for allowing me the space to express my inner self and the ramblings of a wounded but hopeful heart. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers and for loving me like Jesus. May God bless you all and heal all of our wounds, individually and collectively!
Interesting that my devotional for the evening is this - https://odb.org/2020/09/18/fixing-elevators/
Last thing for the night, I promise. I listen to the YouVersion bible app read scripture aloud before bed as I fall asleep. I like for God’s word to be the last thing I hear at the end of the day And the scripture I was on for this evening? Isaiah 43. Like Jesus was speaking directly to me.
“But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
Isaiah 43:1-2 NLT