Questions Regarding “I Can’t Breathe” (and Related Matters) Article by J. Parnell McCarter
Dr. David Murray is a professor at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and a minister of Free Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. His recent article, entitled “I Can’t Breathe. But I Must Write”, is found at http://headhearthand.org/blog/2014/12/04/i-cant-breathe-but-i-must-write/?utm_source=HeadHeartHand+Blog&utm_campaign=34982f2548-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5efef10d9e-34982f2548-110849305 . I have written the following communication to Dr. Murray, and I am making it public here:
Dear Dr. Murray,
You have recently written an article entitled "I Can't Breathe. But I Must Write.", alongside other articles related to race relations in America. I have various questions regarding such, which I am also making public. Obviously, you are under no obligation to engage me in discussion concerning them. I also should add at the outset that I have expressed concerns publicly that excessive use of force may have been employed against Mr. Garner, although I do not believe he should have resisted arrest by a police officer.
1. In your article you state: "But there are other situations where similar problems have been overcome. In Northern Ireland, the police force was largely Protestant, and therefore hated by the Roman Catholic community. Part of the political settlement of “the troubles” there was the formation of a new police force with a commitment to much greater Roman Catholic recruitment. It’s nowhere near perfect, but much progress has been made and can surely be a model…" Do you believe your statement on this matter is consistent with the Westminster Confession which states: "There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God"? Do you believe your statement on this matter is consistent with the Belgic Confession which states: "the government's task is not limited to caring for and watching over the public domain but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry, with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist; to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere; to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone, as he requires in his Word" [the Antichrist here referencing the Roman Catholic Papacy]? If this is the model of bridge-building you advocate, is it possible it could lead Protestants back into reunion with the Pontiff ("bridge builder") and his church?
2. Do you still
profess fully to subscribe to the Westminster Standards as adopted by the
Church of Scotland in the 1640s and the Three Forms of Unity as adopted by the
Dutch Reformed Church in the
3. You repented of and apologized for earlier comments you had made negative of "Holy Hip Hop" (http://headhearthand.org/blog/2013/04/11/my-biggest-blogging-mistake-holy-hip-hop/). You are a professor at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, which purports to uphold the principles of 17th century Puritanism. Do you believe "Holy Hip Hop" is wrong or not? Do you believe "holy hip hop" is consistent with 17th century Puritanism as it relates to worship? Do you supply any evidence that 17th century Puritanism would have tolerated the incorporation of "holy hip hop" in the worship of God?
4. After you delivered your sermon on "diversity", I authored an examination of it found at http://www.puritans.net/articles/murraydiversity.htm . What is your response to that examination?
5. The Apostle Paul made this statement regarding the Cretans: "One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true." Can we deduce from this that not all racial generalizations, including negative ones, are morally improper? Why or why?
6. Could it be that your article is inciting sinful responses in American racial minorities rather than providing wise advice to them and the nation? Are you sufficiently weighing the effect that your words can have on African Americans and others in the “minority” community?
7. You write in your article: “I was deeply shocked by the callous insensitivity of Officer Darrin Wilson when interviewed on TV last week. He said he had a clean conscience, would change nothing about what he did that day, and would not apologize to the family. Even though he was acting in self-defense, his words and attitude struck me as incredibly revealing and frightening. Change nothing?” In this statement you are essentially charging Officer Wilson with a grievous sin, but I fail to see where you have made the case based upon the moral law of God (summarized in the Ten Commandments) where precisely he sinned. Why do you expect Officer Wilson to apologize if he did nothing wrong? But if you believe he did something wrong, I see nothing in your article that proves he did wrong. Can you please make your case for it very precisely, clearly, and with evidence to back up what you are stating? If someone charged you with insensitivity towards saying that about Officer Wilson, how would you respond?
8. You describe yourself in the article as a a “Fox-Newser”. As a reformed Christian theologian, is a “Fox-Newser” an appropriate affiliation, given that Fox News is owned by a wicked secularist and its perspective is humanistic and secularistic? In asking this question, I am not asking whether it is wrong to get information from Fox News along with other sorts of news outlets of a non-reformed nature.
9. You express significant outrage at Sean Hannity for his lack of sympathy to the families of those that died. But do you think that such really is Mr. Hannity’s gravest sort of error in his reporting? Should there not be even more outrage at his rank Romanist errors?
10. Would you acknowledge or deny that in general the more given to violence a people are, the more heavy-handed their government’s use of force tends to be? For example, does that help explain the greater degree of heavy-handed government in Muslim nations? If that is the case, could it be there is some relation between the degree of violence in the African American community and the degree of violence perpetrated by police officers patrolling them? I am not saying wrongs done by police officers are justified under such circumstances, but is not this question pertinent to how we realistically must go about seeking to address the current situation?
11. In your article you distinguish between the white [American] community and the black [American] community. In your sermon on “diversity” you referenced the various “families of the earth” spoken of in Genesis 10 and elsewhere. Would it therefore be fair to say you believe the white [American] community is a distinct “family” from the black [American] community? This same word is translated “nation” in Galatians. In Revelation we read how these nations will exist and bring their glory to Christ. So are not Christian ethnic homeland nations our eschatological destiny? What do you think of the website http://www.puritans.net/homelands/ advocating such, given its various and sundry caveats eschewing errors like absolute segregationism and unequal civil protections under the law by race?
12. In your article you call for "a massive increase in black police officers"? Are you in effect calling for even a further degree of "affirmative action" hiring in the nation's police force? Please explain how "affirmative action" programs are just, because I believe they are Biblically unjust. How can our nation afford hiring so many more police officers without preference to black police officer candidates over white police officer candidates? Would such perhaps even further exacerbate racial tensions, without fundamentally correcting them.?
13. Your article suggests some measures to improve the situation, like hiring more black police officers and reforming the grand jury system. What do you think of an alternative I have offered at http://www.puritans.net/articles/plan.htm?
J. Parnell McCarter