Letter to the Editor: Response to Dr. Litfin

by Stephen Kott correspondent

I strongly disagree with what was written by Dr. Bryan Litfin in the last issue of The Moody Standard.

Dr. Litfin claims that the term “white privilege” is inflammatory, yet the only ones I see that use it to inflame, or are inflamed by it, are Caucasian. I agree that, as Dr. Litfin says in the letter, the “real topic goes unheard because of the offense.” Unfortunately, I feel that his letter is evidence of this very thing.

My responses to his five arguments are below:

  1. The phrase “white privilege” implying a corporate responsibility for others’ sin: I think that this is essentially a personal and defensive reaction on the part of the majority culture. “White privilege” is about the day-to-day real-life situation for many in our culture. It is not about assigning blame.
  2. The term being an unloving use of the power of naming: The experience of “white privilege” in our society (for a Caucasian, race being not a barrier but an advantage) is a problem, and we need to address it. The reality is unloving; giving it an identification is neutral.
  3. The term contradicting God’s approval of the very things that convey historic privileges: How could God be pleased that people made in His image are treated differently based on race? “White privilege” is not conveying a positive idea for Caucasians as much as a negative idea for others, who face obstacles in life simply due to race.
  4. Displaying a critical spirit that highlights the negative: Yes, it is negative, but it is reality. Dr. Litfin writes that “the doors are not entirely shut to minorities today” which infers the very problem he seemingly wants to ignore. Would he write “the doors are not entirely shut to Caucasians today”?
  5. Blinding us to the cry for justice for Caucasians: Who would suggest that whites should be ignored due to their race? Only someone who treats (or thinks about) others differently based on their ethnicity. Which is why white privilege is a problem our society continues to have.

I don’t have to consider how my race will affect me day to day. When I go shopping, I don’t have to be careful because someone might think I’m shoplifting, or wonder where I got money to buy a higher-priced item. If I do something rude, I am not concerned that it will reflect negatively on my race. These are small examples, but the reality runs both deep and wide.

So what can we do? Look into our hearts — all of us. I recently recognized and confessed to God a sinful behavior (differentiating my perceived safety based on the race of the person I was passing in the street). I continue to confess whenever the Holy Spirit convicts me of my heart going astray. Let us look to our own hearts and ask God to reveal our sin.

Also, let’s engage each other. Ask others what their experience is. To my Caucasian brothers and sisters, I encourage and challenge you to engage at least three people who are a different race than you. Listen openly and humbly. Do not let your experience color how you hear them — do not excuse or defend. What you will find is that at Moody — yes, at Moody — discrimination is alive. Do not, because you do not have to overcome your race each day, let that make you think that you can dismiss the claims of our dear brothers and sisters who, each and every day, face situations that are an express result of the color of their skin.

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    2 Comments

    1. Kyeong Sook Park

      April 29, 2015

      This response is right on point. Well done, Stephen. Responses written by the students/correspondents are more accurate historically speaking, more holistic biblically speaking, and more astute academically speaking. Good job!!! And I’m more hopeful now.

      Reply
    2. Jeff Gudim

      April 30, 2015

      Dr. Litfin’s Letter to the Editor does not necessitate a response to his personal views. Having initially published a brash and misguided post via social media, Dr. Litfin has now clarified his views on the subject. Further argument over either Craigen or Litfin’s personal views will only serve to widen the gap in the debate. As Christians, we do need to discuss this issue, among many others. However, unneeded responses like this one only foster an incredibly unhelpful and divisive “Craigen vs. Litfin” mentality throughout the Moody community. Such debates lead nowhere, and are the product of human pride and fruitless discussion.

      I would kindly posit that the Moody Standard publish only those articles which serve to build up the body, rather than tear down individual members. When we elevate ourselves to the position of speaking down to another member of the Church based on our own understanding, we place ourselves dangerously close to gnostic pride.

      Reply

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