The Minnesota Council of Churches is corralling its member denominations to begin a ten-year "truth and reparations" initiative, putting its energy into social justice in the Gopher State.
The Minnesota Council of Churches has 25 mainline denominations as members, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Together the denominations will tick all the social justice boxes, including confronting what they say are their troubled histories of racism.
Christian apologist Dr. Alex McFarland acknowledges that it's possible the group is doing Kingdom work.
"People listening, people talking, people building relationships – that's always wonderful," McFarland offers. "And to the degree that these are Christians, like Paul – being all things to all people so as if, by any means, I might win some – I applaud that."
But he also argues that trying to understand things that happened two centuries ago might not be possible – or beneficial. That includes some churches and seminaries that have promised to pay reparations to decedents of slaves.
"Reparations? No living person in America right now owned slaves," he points out. "So, money is not due a victim [and] money is not owed by a perpetrator."
The Christian author and educator offers what he considers a better idea for an initiative that will really bring peace to the region and heal whatever racial wounds exist in Minnesota.
"While they're planning a decade of racial healing and reparations, why not plan what would really benefit people: a ten-year plan to obey Christ's Great Commission and win lost souls to salvation?" he suggests.
But a statement by Minnesota Council CEO Rev. Dr. Curtiss Paul DeYoung at an October press conference makes no mention of that – and in fact sounds more political than spiritual:
"We envision a truth-telling process … that makes public the contested histories and history of harm that racism has produced. Our ultimate goal is to get at the systemic change that needs to occur – so as we do this work there will be efforts to connect with the legislature and the state and local municipalities."