I've been extremely disappointed at the discourse over the deaths Michael Brown and Eric Garner in the mainstream press and within the Protestant space (including Calvin-loving evangelicals). Eric Garner's wife said that she believed race was not a factor in his assault and death. I believe her. Eric Garner became a non-person that day; that's why his breathing didn't matter. Most Americans can only assert that #BlackLivesMatter but they can't tell you *why*. "Black lives matter" as a slogan is throwing sand into wind unless we can explain why. What's more important is #WhyBlackLivesMatter. Blacks lives matter because black people are persons--that's been the struggle since 1619 on this country's soil. If you can't explain *why* black lives matter, your protests won't bring about any sort of structural change in law enforcement or in America in general. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew this, but today's protestors aren't starting there. This is why I want to have a conversation about "why black lives matter."
And for you conservative evangelicals who want to use, "it all starts with the gospel" jargon, American history proves you wrong. Knowing "the gospel" and believing "the gospel" does not, and never has meant, that people are going to have good applied theological anthropology. Jonathan Edwards's applied theological anthropology is a terrible model, for example, as he dehumanized the slaves he owned. Evangelical Presbyterians and Baptists in the South for more of US history have been terrible models applied theological anthropology as Southern Baptists and Southern Presbyterians promoted slavery, endorsed "the Curse of Ham" and supported Jim Crow on "biblical" grounds. "The gospel" does not magically translate into right applications of human dignity in Western Christianity. In many cases, if you don't point people to anthropology people will not understand the difference the gospel makes in civil society. Let's have a more dynamic and robust conversation that includes multiple doctrines and principles in the Christian tradition. . . .
In response to all of this I wrote an op-ed title, Why Do Black Lives Matter.