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Doug Wilson and I seem to manage having good conversations about difficult things. In all my online interactions, Wilson has consistently done two things: fairly represent me and graciously challenge me. I know he takes a lot of hits from a lot of people. And, frankly, I think some of them may be deserved. But I can’t say he’s unwilling to engage. In fact, with me at least, he’s been willing to engage in a way that brings light along with the occasional sparks.

And, there’s a side of me that likes talking to Doug because he stands flat-footed on what he thinks. Now, I find him incorrigible at points, but I can’t ever say he’s written to me with anything other than honesty and an owning of his position, even (especially!) the positions he knows most others find reprehensible. Say what you like, he’s been an honest discussion partner thus far and I have no reason to expect anything different in any future exchanges we may have.

So, let me start with something that given our history of exchanges is easy to do. I want to apologize for misunderstanding Doug’s reference to “Chicago” in his last post. I’ve heard “Chicago” mentioned as an indictment of Black people from so many white professing Christian evangelicals that my instinct is to assume the worst whenever someone fitting that profile uses it. The Black citizens of Chicago’s toughest, hurting neighborhoods are now, it seems to me, the favorite trope and retort of some conservatives wishing to “prove” Black pathology, dysfunction, irresponsibility, and to absolve themselves of any complicity or Christian charity in the struggles of Black communities. I confess. When I read Doug’s mention I filled in all those things in my reaction. In doing so I assigned motives and thoughts that weren’t warranted. Doug, for that, I am sorry and ask your forgiveness.

Wayne, Doug, and Me

Now, in the last week quite a number of people have mentioned Wayne Grudem, Doug Wilson, and myself in the same breath. It’s a long breath because I have a long polysyllabic name. But it’s understandable. Dr. Grudem and I fell off opposite sides of the horse on the whole Clinton-Trump contest. Many people have said he and I are “doing essentially the same thing” in choosing “the lesser of two evils.”

Now, I reject the notion that we are doing the same thing at every point. And Doug’s post responding to Grudem tells you why. I have consistently expressed my disdain for both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump as candidates and for their positions on various things. If you even skim my posts, you’ll find me repeatedly saying, “I think they’re both representing evil positions, and am not using the term ‘evil’ as hyperbole.” I am not calling evil good or calling black white. And that is what I think my brother Wayne Grudem has done in calling Mr. Trump “a good candidate with flaws.” For me, that’s a fundamental difference in our starting points, and I want to make that clear.

Ending Odds

Doug’s recent post also clarifies another point where I misunderstood him. He writes:

I believe that this state of affairs is very much the judgment of God upon us. I do not believe that we have the luxury of trying to "manage" a judgment. Our response to judgment ought to be the kind of response that God calls for in Scripture. Preachers ought to stop apologizing for the Bible, and take the law of God the way we take our whiskey, which is straight, and having done so, we need to preach a hot gospel. There is no other way out for us. There is no Savior but Jesus. There will be no cultural restoration without a massive reformation.

I answer a hearty “Amen!” to all of that. So Doug and I are not at adds about what has befallen the country in this election or the urgent need for true gospel preaching in this time. Again, amen!

Returning the Favor

Now at this point, I should also clarify my position lest I continue to be misunderstood. Judging from the comment section of my last post and Doug’s last reply, some people think I’m saying:

Vote for Mrs. Clinton if you want to slow the progress of evil.

Taken that way, I understand why people might think I’m a special multi-flavored variety of insane. If you oppose abortion, for example, who could believe that Mrs. Clinton would be a friend to protecting unborn children or that she might flip flop mid-term to call for an end to Roe?

I certainly don’t believe that. So let me state what I am saying in what I hope is greater clarity. I’ll offer it in staggered phrases because each phrase matters.

In an election with two evil choices and destructive outcomes likely to follow . . .

. . . where one candidate is conventional and rather predictable . . .

. . . and the other candidate is, to put it mildly, nuts and shows no signs of being influenced by reason or law . . .

. . . and your side is better and practiced at defending against the conventional candidate . . .

. . . it makes sense to me to vote for the conventional candidate you can effectively limit or oppose so that you at least slow the progress of evil.

Now, in this way of thinking, I’m most certainly not trusting Clinton. I am, rather, putting a modicum of trust in the governing process itself and in “our side” to build road blocks, tear down trees across the path, and generally sabotage things along the way. Frankly, I think such stonewalling, sabotaging, and subversion is the one thing conservatives/Republicans/Evangelicals and the like are still good at.

Now, if any of those points proves untrue, then the whole chain of reasoning falls down. I get that. I hear people when they say that. I do indeed consider those opposing views and push back. But that’s my estimate right now.

What I’d say to those who lean Trump is merely this: What if I’m right about Trump? If the good guys line up with a bad guy like Trump, where will the credibility, power, or even will exist among the co-opted to halt his evil? I think it would be gone, and a fair amount of it already is. And this is why I better understand the third party voters and the abstainers more than I do the Trump supporters. But that’s just me.

Finally, I am only talking about the act of voting with all of this. I don’t take any of us to be addressing all the other actions more substantive than voting that should be taken to discourage and finally end abortion, racism, and the like. Some seem to think a guy who hasn’t voted in the last few elections has come out of hiding to put all his hopes in voting or a president. I assure you that is not the case. A vote is a rather precious privilege with rather little promise for bringing the eschaton.

What Wilson Gets Right about Slavery

I wish Doug would understand a number of things about slavery better than I think he does. I’ll mention one in a moment. But first, it needs to be said that he does get one thing correct that everyone else should admit with greater frequency. The infallible, inerrant, sufficient and authoritative Bible we Christians all claim to love does have some rather awkward texts addressed to slaves and masters. If we take our Bibles seriously, then we have to address those texts seriously. And since quite a number of those texts are in New Testament epistles, we can’t hide under Old Testament covers. We gotta face the light. On that Wilson is correct.

And, for the record, I regularly have email and phone correspondence on the subject with well-meaning people--Black and White. People are wrestling with the texts in a proper context.

So let me pick my nit. Doug sees how these texts have been brought into the service of people wanting to jettison biblical morality at certain points in our culture. They say “what about slavery” as a way of undermining the Bible so they can go on unimpeded in their rebellion. He’s right about that tendency among some. What I wish he saw or perhaps sees and would be more careful about are the legions of African Americans for whom the topic of slavery is a stumbling block to even considering the claims of Christ. Slavery is an everyday apologetic issue we face in our community. It’s not merely a hermeneutic slope on which some people slip. It’s painful family history, a living legacy, an exploitation with lasting consequence. There are no shortage of people who read American policy toward African Americans as first exploit through enslavement, then export back to Africa, failing that exclude from Civil Rights, and now exterminate with guns, drugs, and incarceration. That’s American history read in tooth and claw by people who know the lacerations of teeth and claws.

So I wish Doug wrote in a way that attempted to disarm that audience so that those of us serving in those fields would have a slightly easier time offering an apologetic against slavery’s historical abuses without having a co-belligerent in the gospel seemingly giving contemporary credence to the evil.

As I said before, I take Doug at his word when he says he is no fan of slavery and is glad for its abolition. I just wish he didn’t wrestle with that issue with African Americans when we are wrestling with other issues--like voting. I wish he wouldn’t insert it where it doesn’t belong, and would more often allow us to decide where it doesn’t belong. For unless we put slavery in the title of the event, you can be sure that most of us aren’t looking to talk about it and will be offended when someone seems to be justifying it on any level. It’s hard to give a hearing when shackles rattle in your ears.

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32 thoughts on “Apologies, Clarifications, and Slavery”

  1. Ryan Sather says:

    I don’t understand how it is possible to take Wilson at his word that he is not approve of racism. He may say it, to cover his backside in my opinion. But he also says things about the sweet racial harmony slavery created in the south, and that one could be an obedient follower of Jesus back then and own slaves in that evil, race based, mam stealing system.

    I’m sorry, I think in your desire to be gracious, you aren’t calling a spade a spade. What Wilson supports is racist. And it’s really the worst kind, because it’s packaged in the name of Jesus.

    Wilson, by his words, proves himself to be racist. He should be called to repent of that.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hey brother,

      I appreciate your comment and challenge. But I’m on the receiving end of a fair amount of accusations and mischarecterizations of my views. I’m called a racist, a baby-killer, and a host of other less p,rasa the things, none of which I own and all of which build upon directly ignoring what I’ve written or pretending to read my mind. So I’m not inclined to do that to others.

      As I suggested in this post, I find Doug’s views problematic and, if nothing else, good fodder for racists and supremacists. But the only way for us to break the log jam is to actually trust we mean what we say. If we can’t do that, then we should stop talking to one another because we don’t have a good faith partner. But if we’re going to talk, we have to believe the best and work hard to understand. We will likely continue to disagree, even sharply, but that doesn’t mean we have to label and condemn.

      I hope you know my love and respect for you. And I cannot express my gratefulness for the ways you show solidarity.


      1. Zach Hurt says:

        Pastor Thabiti,

        As a former member of Doug’s church, and a current member of another CREC church, I have a great deal of respect for the man, and have benefited greatly (both directly and indirectly) from his ministry. However, I do think his discussions of Southern slavery are not helpful from an apologetic standpoint, and not very important from an historical standpoint. What slavery actually was like 160 years ago has little or no impact on the realities of the black-white relationship in America today.

        With that, I constantly find myself at a loss in trying to understand the proper Christian approach to those realities. What is helpful for white Christians like myself to be saying and doing to improve the state of things? Obviously, the transcendent nature of the Gospel is the only true remedy for human (racial, political, theological) factionalism, but what must we do in the interim period between today and the eschaton?

        Growing up in a middling sized city in Virginia, I saw first hand the general plight — at least in the types of cities like mine — of urban black America: poor, poorly educated, often fatherless, more prone to crime. Although I never personally observed any current, active oppression of black people in my city, I do not doubt that the condition of the folks in the “black part of town” (a result of the fascinating phenomenon of tacit apartheid) finds its origins in the historical racism against and actual oppression of blacks in America, and their consequent impoverishment. That dark legacy is undeniable, but sheds little light on the problems confronting black Americans that are more immediately the result of individual sin, not institutional oppression. How can white people talk about those issues, and more general race issues as well, without being dismissive of the historical and contemporary racism people like me don’t have to deal with?

        I realize that’s a little jumbled, but that’s sort of the point. I don’t really know the right questions, and have no clue as to the right answers (excepting the ultimate one).


    2. Chris Taylor says:


      I know this trope doesn’t play well with those quick to call foul, but ‘my best friend growing up is black.’ His dad, a janitor in Wheaton, was ‘my black dad’. My buddy stood up as witness to my wedding in College Church as one of my groomsmen. There aren’t many black kids in Wheaton, but they feel the ‘isms’ of white parents when the girls they ask to prom are not allowed to go with them for no good reason. I saw all this first hand. I hate racism in all it’s ugly manifestations.

      And yet, I love Doug Wilson. I’m sending my kids to his college and my oldest daughter was a guest in the Wilson home for many months in a row, eating meals with his family everyday. Doug is not a racist. His language is not racist. His heart is not racist.

      Thabiti may have a point that Doug’s highlighting America’s hypocrisy on abortion, in light of slavery, may not help the black or white communities think these issues through clearly, since such issues are so dreadfully wicked, destructive and guilt-ridden, but that doesn’t give you a right to falsely accuse Doug of something anathema to him.

      What you have written appears so unkind, that I would encourage you to pay closer attention to how these two men, Thabiti and Doug, interact in a respectful and peaceful way, and seek to emulate them.


      Chris Taylor

  2. Scott says:

    Brother Thabiti,

    Excellent article- thanks for writing it. One question- toward the end you mention how now African Americans are being exterminated with guns, drugs and incarceration but you don’t mention abortion. I don’t want to read into this missing from the list so i thought I would ask why it wasn’t included. It seems pertinent especially in light of Brother Wilson’s recent article. Thanks!

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Would have been good to include. I was thinking primarily in terms of the apologetic issue we sometimes face, which frames the issue in terms of white oppression of Black people. In the minds of most, abortion isn’t framed that way though it should be. But no reason beyond that.

      1. Scott says:

        That makes sense. Thanks again!

  3. Curt Day says:

    I understand why many people, not just Christians, base their votes on choosing the lesser of two evils. But we should note one thing about ourselves when we vote that way: voting for the lesser of two evils gives evidence that we are suffering from an acute case of political myopia for we are only thinking about the current election, we are not thinking about future elections.

    The reason why we consistently find ourselves in the position of having to vote for the lesser of two evils is that we have let our political myopia go untreated. And such a condition is easy to remedy. All one has to do is to vote for a third party candidate that best represents their convictions.

    To some, voting for a third party candidate is a wasted vote. For others, such a vote is a way of voting for the worst of two evils. But consider that most change takes place incrementally. Thus, to wait for an electable third party candidate before voting for a third party candidate is to ensure that we will always be voting for the lesser of two evils.

  4. Jeff says:

    In giving respect and honor where it is due, your name comes to the top of the list. Can’t thank you enough for engaging in the tough issues, your clarity, your wisdom and your empathy for all parties involved in the issue. The way Christ is glorified in you life, your words, your passions, and your actions.

    John 3:8 b … The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

    Jeremiah 5:1
    “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.

  5. Patrick Lacson says:


    You said

    I am, rather, putting a modicum of trust in the governing process itself and in “our side” to build road blocks, tear down trees across the path, and generally sabotage things along the way.

    Do you think that the other side has been successful in blocking and slowing down the sabotage of this current president? Clinton’s policies are Obama 2.0 with more gusto on the abortion issue as a woman’s right. I believe that fact alone would be her recurring rhetoric, “why are all these men telling me what to do with my body.” If we could not stop Obama on providing federal funding to PPA and requiring AFCA abortion services how much more will “our side” be able to slow down or stop Hillary?

    You are right, Clinton will be more predictable. But she will be predictably against family, marriage, abortion, supreme court justices etc.. Trump on the other hand **may** have some level of predictability for the side of life and supreme court justices.

    I am no Trump supporter nor will I vote for either. I just want to point out the level of control our government will have on Clinton is unrealistic.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Patrick,

      Thanks for joining the conversation, friend.

      Question: Do you remember the name of President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy left by Scalia?

      My guess is a lot of people would have to do a google search to recall. Do you know why? This current GOP leadership, as weak as it is in some ways, effectively shut it down before it even got started. Shut. It. Down.

      I don’t think opposition to Pres. Obama has been as weak as some people have suggested. He certainly does feel that way and there’s good evidence that his entire eight years has seen some of the most obstructionist behavior any president has ever faced.

      It’s a sad kind of faith, but I have faith that anti-Clinton forces will show up in full force, and it won’t be negligible.


  6. zsmcdonald says:

    Pastor, I am thankful for the charity you have had with one another and exemplifying Christian love and unity in the midst of disagreement. Also, I must say, although I disagree with your conclusions, you are phenomenal writer!

    To the issue. If I understand your argument correctly, you are saying, in short:

    Both candidates are evil. Hilary is an evil we understand and are used to. Given this, we are better trained and ready to fight against this kind of evil. Therefore, let us take steps to ensure we have to deal with the familiar evil rather than the unfamiliar.

    If I am representing you correctly, this helps me to sympathize with your position. However, I have one caveat. I believe it is clear that both candidates are “nuts and shows no signs of being influenced by reason or law ” The only difference is, in what way and what will the end result be? The answer, I believe is, in all sorts of different ways and how can you really know?

    So I guess I simply don’t see how you can come to the conclusion that we can better handle Hillary because she is a conventional and consistent nut rather than being a confused and creative one. It seems to me that no matter how you slice it, a nut is in office and I am better off not taking part in the electoral process so as to keep my conscience clean when the results of the elections begin to manifest themselves and folks start asking me why I didn’t vote for the other candidate who may have brought about “less” evil. Now of course, people will ask the inverse “why didn’t you take part in the election at all, you may have been able to help keep so and so out of office” to which I would have to respond with the hearty “what? so the other nut job could sit on the throne? how do you know they would have been any better?” Answer, you don’t. You’ve got someone who is professional at their wickedness and someone who is confused about it. Which is worse? Both.

    The car is going to fatally crash regardless of our decision. It is useless trying to discern which actions we can take to lessen the damage and insurance damage. But the fact of the matter is that you can’t know, and either way, the car is totaled. It is better to start figuring out how to clean up the mess.


    1. zsmcdonald says:

      I forgot to mention that I am also thankful for your taking the time to read and respond to comments.

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Hey friend,

        Thanks for joining the conversation and leaving such kind encouragements. I appreciate it.

        Two quick replies. First, while it’s true we can’t predict the future with anything near certainty, we do have to make our best judgments. Those judgments, of course, will vary depending on how an individual sees things.

        Second, not every conscience is wired the same way. There are weak and strong consciences, sensitive and seared, etc. So, your conscience won’t let you vote and mine won’t let me abstain. In those matters we have to show that kind of charity that refuses to try binding the other’s conscience to our own. We have to embrace the liberty we have and worked to inform our consciences as best we can by God’s word.

        By the way, I think you represent my position pretty well. Thank you for that! It’s a kindness in an age where people seem to get glee from twisting your words and extending your meaning well beyond anything you’d ever said or written, much less thought.

        Grace to you,

        1. Michelle says:

          “Second, not every conscience is wired the same way. There are weak and strong consciences, sensitive and seared, etc. So, your conscience won’t let you vote and mine won’t let me abstain. In those matters we have to show that kind of charity that refuses to try binding the other’s conscience to our own. We have to embrace the liberty we have and worked to inform our consciences as best we can by God’s word. ”

          I like this. It is very convicting. I wish more of us Christians (myself included) would consistently think this way. So many of us have done much damage to the cause of Christ by openly scorning how other’s consciences have led them.

  7. Andrew Shaver says:

    Thabiti, without wishing to comment on the views espoused, I would like to say how encouraging and refreshing it has been to be following a genuine debate between believers who treat each other with respect and are not just talking over each other. This is a wonderful example. Thank you.

  8. Brian says:

    Thabiti, you apologize for assigning unwarranted motives to Doug Wilson. But is that reaction ever warranted? How does it benefit the interaction? Isn’t that part of the problem we deal with in the race discussion? I don’t normally follow your posts but I would be curious to read anything you have written in response to the comments about Chicago you refer to above. This post, by the way, was encouraging and I hope you and Doug can continue to be a good example for the rest of us. Thank you!

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Brian,

      Thanks for commenting, friend. I’m not sure I understand where you’re coming from with your questions, but let me offer a couple of quick answers. If you want to follow up or clarify, feel free.

      1. No, assigning unwarranted motives is never warranted. Thus the apology.

      2. Generally, it doesn’t benefit any interaction. Again, thus the apology.

      3. This is often a problem in conversations about “race.” But I find it’s a problem found in equal measure among all the “sides” in the discussion.

      I’ve not written much about the comments about Chicago. It all seems fairly useless. So I’ve usually moved on to other, more fruitful conversations.

      Thanks for the encouragement. Be blessed!

      1. Brian says:

        Thank you. I possibly misread your apology above, but you seemed to offer it only because Doug clarified that his reference to Chicago was only because of its numerical population. But what if he did have in mind some of the larger problems of the black community present there. Would your apology still apply? Shouldn’t the statements themselves be what is responded to, even if your opponents motives aren’t pure? That was my point, sorry for not making it clear before. And I agree with #3 above, that’s why I think motives in general should be left out of the discussion. I recognize that as a pastor understanding motives is important, but in discussions like these they’re best left unquestioned. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

  9. Joseph Hession says:

    Pastor Thabiti,

    Thank you for clarifying your position and providing us with a Godly witness of how to debate and disagree with one another in a way that demonstrates a desire for Christian unity and love. Your position It is refreshingly clear now that you have provided those helpful chain of statements, especially in how it is distinguished from Wayne Grudem’s argument. There are a couple of points in your chain of reasoning that I would like to challenge you to consider further (and I know you will continue to do so up until the vote is cast).

    . . . and the other candidate is, to put it mildly, nuts and shows no signs of being influenced by reason or law . . .

    I don’t mean to suggest that you haven’t studied all this objectively, but a think there is understandably quite a lot of subjectivism with people’s evaluation of Trump, such that I believe many people are finding it hard to accept that there are objective reasons to think that Trump’s candidacy would be far more predictable than you believe it would be. That, to me, was the crux of Grudem’s argument actually. He spends a great deal of time on the objective indicators (e.g. Veep pick, Judge list, etc…). Grudem also argues that his policies are likely to be what he has stated him to be. Many people have trouble believing this, but I think Grudem may be right here. The one major area where I have seen presidents do serious about faces after election is in regards to warmongering, and that generally applies to Democrats, because they usually claim they will end wars and keep perpetuating them instead, whereas many Republicans are clear that they intend to “make the sand glow.” But I don’t mean to get off topic. What I am saying here is that I think we should take Trump at his word and evaluate the policies and plans he has outlined and judge them objectively, good, bad, or evil. I really don’t think the argument that we have no idea what Trump will do holds up to scrutiny. True, he says such things as, “We’re going to fix this or that,” without providing any substantive details. But all candidates talk in vagaries to our soundbite generation. I think people are unwilling to go to Trump’s site, do their due diligence, and read the policy descriptions he has provided. In summary, people are subjectively-driven by their estimation of a Trump presidency. It’s fair to disagree with Grudem’s characterization of Trump as a “Good candidate with flaws”, but let’s just put that aside for a second. I think he makes a convincing case in the rest of his post that Trump is a known quantity, and that there are some important objective goods that we can reasonably expect. I think many people don’t understand Trump’s behavior, but his targeted invectives are demonstrably neither irrational nor unpredictable. As demonstrated during the primary process, they are his effective means of defeating opponent. Secondly, they are his strategy in procuring the best business deal he can get. His success in business would not have been possible if he were truly irrational. Love it or hate it (I hate it. It is sinful.) his style is simple. Before the deal: “This person is terrible!” After the deal: “This person is great!” It’s his strategy for getting the best deal. But it is folly to argue that we have no idea what he’s negotiating. Let’s take an example: “I’m going to build a wall and the Mexican’s are going to pay for it.” Is he really going to build a wall? Expect him to try with all his might. Is Mexico going to pay for it? Probably not all of it, but if I were a gambling man, I would put money on it that he will get Mexico to pay for some of it in some way. This is simply how he makes deals. Ask for the absurd and settle to your advantage. In summary, Trump is unconventional, but not unpredictable. And if he is predictable, he is a known quantity. The reason people keep getting surprised is because they simply refuse to acknowledge in their own minds that his unconventional approach is effective. While I don’t like his approach, if he uses it effectively to reverse some present evil, that is objectively better than the conventional opposition.

    . . . and your side is better and practiced at defending against the conventional candidate . . .

    Now, you might think I have undermined my own argument. If we want an easier time of blockading our President’s evil machinations, then wouldn’t we want the less effective Hillary over the more effective Trump? A few comments. First, my argument above is simply that he is predictable. And though he is effective, I will side with you in saying that predictability is easier to oppose than unpredictability. That’s one of your primary reasons for voting for Hillary. My only point above was that Trump and Hillary are equally predictable, and so predictability should not be a primary factor that would swing to a Hillary vote. As to your next quoted phrase above, we should be careful not to confuse practice and familiarity with effectiveness. I kindly challenge you to spend some time taking a hard and honest look at how effective the Christian opposition has been overall. You do state a good example of success in shooting down a Supreme Court Justice pick, but our failures to block the evils of the last 8 years (and the last 8 years before that for those of us believers who felt that Bush was evil) is prodigious. Need I even list them? It boggles my mind that Hillary has been caught red-handed lying to the FBI regarding her opening our nation up to additional security threats and she gets off Scott clean. Every time she gets away with things like this (and there have been many) she will be ever more emboldened to keep doing bad things and people will be used to her getting away with it. Given the history, some people may even be too discouraged to mount an opposition to try and hold her accountable. A President Trump, on the other hand, would have every little grievance noted ad nauseam by the press. Nothing would go unnoticed. This post has gone on too long. Sorry! My point is simply that I believe you are too optimistic about how well we have and will be able to oppose Hillary’s Cabal.

    Hold your nose and vote Trump or don’t vote at all. When you see the vast evil that Hillary will achieve as president, you will regret having cast your vote for her. Why not avoid an almost certain-to-be crisis of conscience?

  10. Ryan P says:

    Hey Pastor Thabiti,
    First and foremost, thank you so much for your graciousness and humility. I simply have one question, and I hope that it will highlight the issue from the “white evangelical” side and why there’s so much backlash (I’m sure there will be no startling revelation here):
    I can no sooner vote for a candidate who is pro-choice, and perhaps pro abortion, then I could vote for a candidate who is pro-choice regarding slavery. I hope you feel that. Take care brother.
    BTW I will not be voting for either.

    1. Ryan P says:

      Forgive me for misspeaking, that was a statement, not a question. Take care.

  11. I have been taking the third party/don’t vote position. But your interchange with Pr. Wilson has stirred the conviction that I may be folding my hand before the flop. Presuming that Pres. H or Pres. T would prove as bad as as predicted, which would be the more regrettable mistake on the part of the Christian voter? A courageous vote for H or T that proved in the end to be foolish, or a cowardly abstention that at least was backed by a good conscience? It’s the servant who buries his talent in the ground that is condemned. But Paul boasted of a clean conscience. So, it seems a toss-up. Ideally, I hope that Pr. Wilson and others in that camp reveal a more practical, proactive course of action for us third-party-ers. If our third party vote remains mere symbolic dissent, your view has more weight.

  12. Thad Riley says:

    Pastor Thabiti,

    I have to say I love your posts, especially since I often come on the other side of what you’re saying. You make me pause and consider it, and I’m grateful for how you get us there. I disagree with you often, but truly respect your opinions. I have a question.

    We have seen so many statements, articles, and videos from so many Christian leaders, but not a ton of unity right now. For example, two friends of mine who are fairly well known Christians posted opposing views in articles they wrote appearing back to back in my newsfeed. I thought it was a joke, and they weren’t linked, which made it even more interesting. One Christian leads culture change from a National perspective (he wrote why we can’t vote for Trump) while the other leads politically as a consultant previously for Ben Carson (he wrote the reasons we MUST vote for Trump). The divisions are incredible, and I think they make us better in the sense of not becoming voting zombies and just clicking the same part boxes every time. From that perspective, it’s great.

    But now, with the some of the statements flowing from the mouth of Donald Trump and the bizarre ongoing problems with the law Clinton faces, things seem to be going even faster downhill. The media, obviously, is digging in and digging up everything, but there’s no scenario any of this should be happening from either candidate. They’re ridiculous at best sometimes. I hate to be disrespectful, but I watched a lot of the Sentate proceedings involving emails and Benghazi, and have watched a lot of Trump’s rallies.

    Sorry, here’s my question. Can we unify as Christians, find a young King David out there, rally behind him and get him into the White House? I have to believe there is someone out there who can lead this country into repentance and into a new era as a country. Could you and other Christian leaders and voices hold your own thousand person meeting like Trump did, but do it without candidates and come out as one voice and change the tone of this election? Maybe you’re our Samuel? Have you considered you might be, or he might be a good friend of yours?

    I guess I believe if we dig in with 2 Chronicles 7:14 we could do something. I’ve been writing about this on blog if you’re ever bored enough, but I think our Christian leaders could find us a David, What do you think? (My blog is

    Grateful for you!


  13. Geoff says:

    It’s interesting to me to see a prominent Christian essentially making the argument that it would be just plain wrong to vote for Trump, but at least defensible to vote for Hillary–even though both are (in the words of the apologist) “evil.” If you cast your vote for Hillary, own it.

  14. Jared says:


    I know I’m late to the party but I was very glad to read this clarifying post from you. I know understand your position regarding voting for Hillary (vote Johnson!) whereas previously I did not. And I am encouraged to see where you have commended Doug and apologized where you misunderstood him. Additionally, your challenges to him are needed and I think will prove to sharpen many of us who are watching, and maybe even you and Doug! :D

    Your talk at T4G 2008 changed my life and set my on a trajectory to try and truly understand race relations in America in light of our gospel call and national history. I have not arrived, but I am better for your voice on the matter (even if it drives me crazy sometimes!).

    Keep gospel-ing forward!
    Jared Olinger

    P.S. I would love to hear your thoughts on the current BLM movement. I tried to be sympathetic to their calls back in 2013, but I fear the movement has been hi-jacked by some violent extremists who are unwilling to have honest dialogue and clear calls to action. And now the more moderate voices who are actually working towards solutions aren’t being heard. That is my take, I’d love to hear your perspective and see if it has changed with the movement at all. Grace to you!

  15. Ron says:

    Instead of trying to put into my own words what I believe is a better argument for how to decide who to vote for come this November I will instead just provide a link to an article that I was lead to by Dr. Jim Garlow:


  16. Deborah Neisch says:

    I just wanted to make 2 comments about your post. The first is: I believe that Jesus’ comments about slaves and masters was meant as a way of encouraging those bound in slavery. It was a fact of life and protected by Roman law. We are to obey the government, but a slave who knew he was free in spirit could carry on in difficult circumstances. I don’t see those verses as condoning slavery, but as a spiritual strengthening for slaves. My second point is:, this, quite frankly, I am terrified that Trump will become president. At least Hillary has some experience from being First Lady and Sect.. of State. She has successfully negotiated with world leaders. I fear that Trump will lose his temper and start WWW IIII. From what I have sern, the man is not rational.

    Thanks for your post, I have a dear college friend who is black. She always saw situations through the eyes of racism. If she didn’t like what a professor said to her, it was because of her race. There was a huge chip on her shoulder and we often had to explain to her the more likely reason for behavior she saw as racist. I can’t imagine growing up with that kind of racial legacy.I thank God for every milestone on the road to racial justice!

  17. Brian K says:

    Thanks very much for the fair but also strong posts, Pastor Anyabwile! What a blessing to have you (and Wilson) as a church leaders with the strength of their convictions in this day and age.

  18. Joe H says:

    Pastor Thabiti: I know I’m late to the party, but thank you for your insight here. I’m probably not going to cast a vote for president either way. I don’t always agree with you, in fact on some issues I don’t get where you are coming from at all, but I still appreciate your patience and willingness to engage. I also appreciate your ministry very much and benefit from your books. Our experiences and family history do shade our perceptions though, don’t they? When you write about “extermination” and “guns, drugs, and incarceration,” as something being done to African Americans, I just don’t see it. What I see is people freely making choices to engage in wickedness and reaping the consequences of those choices. Your verbiage, meanwhile seems to imply the lack of moral agency on the part of those guilty of crimes. Can you tell me why I’m wrong to think so?

  19. Jack Brooks says:

    I’m going to comment on what your column was actually about.

    I understand (I think) what you’re saying. But a black Christian voting for Hillary Clinton still seems self-destructive, because of her ideology (pro-infanticide, pro-homosexuality). She is, however, monotonously predictable, and unlikely to say or do things that would cause a war. Unlike Trump, who is a vile, ignorant dog., and doesn’t deserve a vote for dog-catcher I’m voting third party, as a protest vote. Not for Johnson, though. The weed is strong with that one.

    Wilson can be charming but I think he’s trying to be John Calvin and P.G. Wodehouse simultaneously. But that’s just me — his style, which some people find delightful, I find precious and arch. I don’t see him as a good exegete at all (actually, I can’t recall ever reading him doing exegesis — he just plays with positions like Wonka juggling brightly colored balls). He enjoys being a provocateur, which I used to find entertaining but now tires me.

    Grudem’s essay was wretched. It combined major white-washing of Trump’s crummy character (which, if sincere, is severely deluded), with the naive belief that anything Trump says can be trusted (which empties out the relevance of the Trump policy points; since he is a treacherous man, then his promises to follow those policies can’t be trusted either).

  20. richard walker says:

    I appreciate your writing. It is reasoned, self aware, biblical and free from the vestiges of “Modified American theology” developed in the 18th and 19th centuries, which is still influencing believers and enabling the spiritual decay of our nation. There is a version of Christian theology which appears particularly designed to enable the secular aims of our country. It is this theology, somewhat Christian, that was exposed in the recent election that you also wrote about eloquently. It is also directly related to the need to justify Christian participation in the slave industry. The above link is to a brief blog I wrote on the New Testament commentary on slavery and its applicability to that “peculiar institution” in America. Thanks

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Thabiti Anyabwile

Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

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