Dylann Roof’s Fatal Mistake

Dylann Roof visited a church last Wednesday night for the worst reason imaginable. He was welcomed into a Bible study where he sat with the congregants for an hour before he acted on the unthinkable evil he came to do. Later on he would tell the police that he almost didn’t go through with it because the people were so nice to him.

And the people of Emanuel AME Church, the families of the victims, have responded with the most staggering grace I’ve ever seen in my life. Families stood in a courtroom, watching the murderer of their beloved ones on video, and told him that they forgave him. They challenged him to repent, to trust in Christ for the forgiveness of his heinous sins and be spared from the wrath that is surely coming upon him.

My heart wrenched as I heard one family member speaking about the Bible study that fateful night say “We enjoyed you…”

You see, Dylann Roof made a fatal mistake. He was on a hate-fueled mission to destroy a race he deemed inferior to his, to start another civil war, to “do something” about African Americans who “rape our women” and are “taking over our country.”

What an absolutely depraved, evil and asinine thing to say. He didn’t just seek to kill their bodies, he sought to destroy their souls with words so demeaning, so deplorable, the mention of them makes anyone with a conscience cringe.

His mistake, which proved fatal to his every effort, is that he chose a group of African American Christians.

Not just any Christians, but ones who were gathered on a Wednesday night to study the Bible, ones who gladly, joyfully welcomed a stranger much different than themselves into their midst. Ones who put the generosity and hospitality of Christ on display.

And then, he killed them. Massacred them. In cold blood.

But their families, they were Christians too. Two days later, after their very worlds were upended in unthinkable ways, they stood in a courtroom and said words like “I forgive you” and “I pray you repent.”

They did not start a war. They did not retaliate. They responded with an unnerving grace—a superhuman-like feat that made viewers and newscasters alike well up with tears, faces warm and wet with unbelief and awe.

Dylann wanted to start a war, but he made a crucial mistake. He sought to kill people because of their race, not realizing that these brothers and sisters no longer saw their biological race as their primary identity.

He did not kill African Americans–he killed Christians who also happened to be African American. Christians who saw themselves first and foremost as citizens of heaven, part of a new and beautiful multicolored race of redeemed ones Jesus is creating on the Earth.

What Dylann failed to realize is that killing one of us won’t start a war, because we forgive. If you want to start a war, you’ll need to pick a different target. The Christians of Emanuel AME Church know that they’ve been forgiven for far too much to treat even bitter enemies with vengeance. They know they have a heavenly Father who promises to take vengeance, so they don’t have to.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  -Colossians 3:12-14

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  -Romans 12:19

Dylann Roof wanted to start a war, and the war he got was a war on the very things he stood for, on racism, hate and evil. He caused a city and a state with deep and festering racial wounds to link arms together, to gather in a church together, to sing gospel hymns together, to declare war on a symbol of oppression that has far too long hung over government grounds.

He wanted a war, and he got one that he didn’t see coming.

And the joke is on him, because he killed people that are going to live forever–beautiful and redeemed souls that will dance on the graves of hatred and racism for all eternity. He declared war on a people that you can’t conquer, murdered people that you can’t ultimately kill.

People that will inhabit a city of all colors and nationalities for ever and ever, united as family by the precious blood of Christ that courses through all of their beautiful and multicolored veins. People that met his hate with grace, his evil with good and his war with the peace of their Savior.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  -Revelation 7:9-10

Above all, Dylann Roof failed to realize that declaring war on the apples of God’s eye is declaring a war on God Himself, and He’s not someone you want to be at war with (Rev 19:11-16).

For he who touches you touches the apple of his eye.  -Zechariah 2:8

He hoped to fan the dying flames of white supremacy in our state, and the exact opposite occurred—many white Christians came to the realization, following the beautiful lead of the people of Emanuel AME Church, that their primary identity is not a white American or a Southern American or even a Confederate flag supporter, much like this member of my church so beautifully stated:

I grew up with the opinion that the Confederate flag was “history, not hate,” and that the Civil War was not just about slavery (which all forms of slavery are absolutely wrong and unjustifiable, and I am so thankful that chattel slavery in America was abolished), but was also about state’s rights, and the Federal government extending its power beyond what the Constitution allowed (which I also believe it has done, and continues to do, but that is neither here nor there). Because of that, I have been going back and forth about the issue of the flag being flown at the SC State House, and I didn’t want to support it being taken down just because “everyone else is doing it.”

But I know that my attributing one non-nefarious meaning to the flag doesn’t take away the fact that it represents hatred, fear, oppression, and dehumanization to my African American brothers and sisters. And I also know that if I or my family were enslaved, oppressed, or terrorized under a particular flag, I wouldn’t want to see that reminder flying every day in front of the building that represents my state government. And my African American brothers and sisters ARE my family. So all of that long-windedness to say, this article makes a great and biblical argument for the flag being taken down from the State House, and I now support it 100%. Jesus’ grace gives room to grow and freedom to change our minds, and I’m so thankful for that.

Did you catch that, Dylann?

“And my African American brothers and sisters ARE my family.”

That is a Christ-centered response to something like the Confederate flag if I’ve ever heard one. A response that understands that as Christians, our primary identity is not other white people, other black people, other Americans, other conservatives or other liberals. All other flags bow to the banner of Christ and the unity that He alone brings.

I am not a southern white Christian—I’m a Christian who just so happens to be white (and also southern). And if my black brothers and sisters are harmed by something I think is worthwhile (I don’t, but for argument’s sake) then WHO CARES about my rights, my history, my heritage? Is my history more important than theirs? They are my family, so it’s coming down.

Because ultimately the history that we share is our most important history, and the future we share is our most central future. All others pale in comparison, not even coming close.

Dylann Roof tried to divide us, and he ended up uniting us more than ever. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more clear picture of “What you meant for evil, God meant for good” in my lifetime.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. -Genesis 50:20

Dylann Roof, you have failed and you have failed miserably. What you meant for evil God has already taken and caused good to spring forth. What you meant to separate God will use to heal and unite. What you meant to bring death God will raise from the ashes and breathe new life.

You picked the wrong people to mess with—people who have a much deeper and eternal family than those with whom they share a skin color.

You planted a grotesque seed of hate and the Christians of Emanuel AME Church said, “No, no, no son…that will not grow here.” 


Add yours →

  1. Their response in the courtroom was the most inspiring example of grace in action I’ve ever seen. Honored to call them brothers and sisters in Christ.

  2. so, does this mean to say that if they were Jewish, Protestant, or Atheist, the families would have not reacted in the same manner?

    • Emmanuel AME Church is a Protestant church, Traci. If it would have been a Jewish or Atheist gathering (or any other religion), the people certainly could have responded with grace and forgiveness (as many have in the past). I was simply pointing out the specifically Christian motivation that the Christians of this church and their families had (forgiving as Jesus has forgiven us as Christians).

    • Eve Blumenstock June 25, 2015 — 10:11 am

      I don’t think “this article” means to say that but to answer your question, No, I personally don’t think that atheists would respond in the same manner. See, what we have witnessed here is a by-product of our faith in God and His grace and mercy. Atheists, although many are good hearted, kind people, they don’t have those fruits of the spirit living within them; those come from God when we seek Him and grow with His word. So, no, they would not be able to freely forgive a man that has just murdered family in cold blood. We are all sinners by nature and our first reaction or instinct would be to want to get revenge or see him tortured to pay for what he’s done. That’s not what God wants from us though. He wants us to leave the judgement to Him and we just need to worry about forgiveness and loving the unlovable.

      • I disagree. There are many who forgive the unforgivable simply because it’s the right thing to do. Many have an internal compass that allows them to act in a way that I am sure Jesus would be proud of, even if they did not believe in Him.

        • Just because a person has morals doesn’t mean they are saved. Salvation is the goal! Living a good and moral life won’t get you to heaven, only surrendering your soul to Jesus will. It’s by His blood, His sacrifice and His love that we can live righteously and become sealed in the Spirit.

          • What does any of this have to do with how an atheist would respond?

            • Nothing. Atheism has no connection to Christianity at all. I’m not sure why anyone would bring it into this conversation except to attempt to be controversial.

              • Well said, Sharon! A valid point, and respectfully delivered. I agree entirely. 🙂

        • “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” Hebrews 11:6

          Even if someone who didn’t have faith to believe Jesus is Master of everything and that God raised Him from the dead could find it in themselves to forgive someone for murdering a loved one… No, Jesus would not be proud. Because if they do it outside of faith in Him, they are still relying on their own righteousness (all our righteous acts are as filthy rags Isa. 64:6) to make themselves deserving of Heaven. I get behind Sharon’s preaching of the Gospel.

          • So you are certain with all of the numerous human interpretations of the Bible, God meant that “all our righteous acts” pertains to every righteous act and not all of the righteous acts of of Israelites at the time? God inspires Isaiah to warn Israel that all their “righteousnesses are like filthy rags,” since their sinful attitudes pollute their deeds. The impurity of their motives taint all their prayers, sacrifices, offerings, and praises.
            Also, Jesus was not proud of the disciples before they believed he was the son of God? You know for certain that Jesus is not proud of the actions of billions of people on this earth who have not been exposed to his teachings? And do me a favor, not to be rude, please do not quote another verse from a changed version of the original bible (wrote in ancient Hebrew) by humans numerous times over countless years saying Jesus will be shown to everyone unless you know each ones circumstances.

            • I don’t have to know. Under both the Old and New Covenants, we are specifically told that outside of faith in Christ, any amount of good by anyone’s definition will be insufficient to garner the affection of God. Paul was speaking to a Jewish audience in Hebrews 11:6… But when he says, “None are righteous”… This is written to Romans, so clearly not limited to just Israelites.

              As to Bible translations? It’s essential that the Bible be translated into the vulgar (common) tongue of every reader. Do you not believe God to be powerful enough to preserve His intended message to humans throughout those changes? If He can’t, then we have much more to be worried about… For if He cannot accomplish this, then the salvation this Bible speaks of would SURELY be beyond His ability. If you stand firm, then I am compelled to ask… How, then, would you have His children know His will? How should they study Him? What writing should they use instead?

              I’m always surprised when people tell me debate is pointless because only God can change minds… When 98% of the time that He works His will in the earth, He uses humans to do it… Example: the entirety of Scripture was written by flawed, though godly, men. The prophets were men. The disciples were men and women…

              Accusing someone of being rude in an open debate brings emotions to the forefront instead of logic. If you have an argument, present it. If you must rely on attributing negativivity to what has been said… Well, that’s not really an argument at all.

              • You misread what I said about being rude. There are numerous interpretations of the Bible not just your way or not just mine. The danger comes when people think their interpretation is the only right one. Have a good day.

                • The danger is when people think there IS NO RIGHT interpretation. Then all the truth in Scripture becomes subjective… Even the clear and simple commands to…abstain from pre/extramarital sex and non-Biblical sexual unions, drunkenness and gossip, or to spread the Gospel, help others, esteem others higher than our own selves… All of that is just, ‘true if it feels good or fits your personality’.

                  And without a single right interpretation, which no one person has in perfection, Scripture might as well be any other book. If there is no real objective truth in the Bible, there’s no point. But the Bible itself says all Scripture is good for doctrine, correction & reproof….

                  Am I right about EVERYthing I believe Scripture teaches? Besides the core doctrines, the fundamentals, the irrefutable commands? Of course not… But that’s a display of my imperfection, not some lack of truth in God’s Word.

                  • Thank you for speaking on this so eloquently! I love you, sister. We’ll hold hands in heaven one day. 🙂 God bless you!!

                    • He has indeed blessed me, most recently with your love and encouragement. I look forward to our meeting in His presence.

                      In Christ,

                  • “And without a single right interpretation, which no one person has in perfection, Scripture might as well be any other book” is very confusing to me. Objective is a perfect truth. A non-perfect truth leaves room for subjective interpretation.

                    Look. I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I just disagreed with the statement that atheists would not “act” in the same manner as the Christians who were forgiving. To think only Christians can act that way is arrogant and not Christ-like behavior as I see it. That’s all.

                    • If that had been your only assertion, I probably wouldn’t have replied. It would be futile to try and objectively prove that statement wrong.

                      However, you claimed that Jesus would be proud of any person for behaving as these people have done. Yet the Jesus whose story is told in the Bible, is not proud of any action, no matter how good, because outside of faith, it is impossible to please Him.

                      Then you began to address my “interpretation” of that verse in Romans (which is explicit and needs no interpreting), making the claim that it is dangerous for me to assume my interpretation is correct.

                      To the comment you say you don’t understand:
                      If everyone’s “interpretation” is equally valid, equally right or true, then none of them are. If you tell me I can’t, in context, apply a verse of Scripture to what you or anyone believes because it’s just my interpretation, then there’s no point in even knowing what Scripture says. You make the truth of the Bible subjective, if you say that everything I believe is just my interpretation. It’s either God’s truth, objectively, or its my truth and that means I can’t ever disagree with or correct anyone’s actions or beliefs because to do so is just shoving my subjective standard of right and wrong on them.

                      It’s a plain teaching that you can’t please God unless you have faith to believe that Jesus is Master of everything and that His raised Him from the dead. If you disagree, you do so in contradiction of Scripture, not of me.

                    • Have a blessed day.

                    • Sorry, I misunderstood, then I read it out loud and finally got it. You said, “Objective is a perfect truth. A non-perfect truth leaves room for subjective interpretation.”

                      But I didn’t say the TRUTH wasn’t perfect, I said no one perfectly has it. Meaning, no one knows all the truth all at once. Some truth, even alot of truth is attainable to an imperfect human, but not all of it. To say I could know truth perfectly would be like saying I could know and understand God in His entirety. If I could, that would make me His equal. I am imperfect, so I can’t fully understand and know the Perfect.

                      So, in my imperfection, I know only some, not all, of the Perfect Objective Truth of God’s Word, but again, that’s because of a problem I have, not because it’s not there.

      • Interesting. i identify as atheist, and have spent more time and money to support those less fortunate, along with forgiving those who have wronged me in the past so could move on in life and not give them power to control my emotions. Uninformed right wing Christians are the scariest people of all. And no one seems to want to admit to the fact that no was was ever started by an atheist and war and violence in general is perpetrated by Christians and the land they think they have a right to.

  3. That flag was absolutely designed as a symbol of hatred… also defiance. Both directed at the Union…..not black people. It’s just common public opinion now that the stars and bars stand for racism, so it’s easier to take it down and strip people of a public display of their Confederate heritage rather than educate the ignorant. What’s the purpose of black history month? Why does tolerance only go one way? I think it promotes racism if one heritage is honored and another silenced.

    • Ted, I’m not sure if we have the time or the space to fully address your questions here in a comment section. I may write more in the future addressing your questions. Just quickly I’ll say that others have already addressed what you are asking in some ways, so I will link to them below.

      And the purpose of black history month is that for too many years many schools and even government institutions would not recognize or teach it. Things like that are not one way tolerance or education, they are making up for very significant past slights and abuses of power. Whites have been the majority of our country since it was founded and still are to this day, so our very cultural norms tend to be white. In that sense, every month is white history month. On the other hand, African Americans have been an oppressed minority for most of our country’s existence, so it makes perfect sense to give voice and space to a culture that was silenced for far too long.


  4. Lenora Whitaker June 25, 2015 — 7:42 am

    This is the best article I have ever read! Amazing!

  5. Great article, though you could have left out the politics regarding the flag debate.

    • The flag issue is very much an important part of the unifying response that South Carolina has shown.

      • Kat, I agree with Liz. For Christians I would argue it’s actually a spiritual issue, not a political issue. It’s a symbol that is very divisive and hurtful to our spiritual family, and therefore we get to care more about them than ourselves and advocate for taking down a symbol that slaps them in the face.

  6. Agreed. Best article I’ve ever read too!!

  7. I am from South Carolina and have felt utterly stricken since the murders. In my 60 years I have seen incredible changes for people of color, women but I wonder why so many South Carolinians are still opposed to taking down a symbol of hatred? Many of those, I am sure , go to a Christian church. I think they are fearful of the future that they cannot understand? But the shift to a more just and spiritual future is happening and will not be stopped. I hope you can help you parishioners to see that. Just think, 100 years ago women could not vote in this country.

    • It baffles me too Mary. I pray that Christians here are growing to care about others’ rights and concerns more than their own.

      • Paul became all things to all men… but yet he held to his rights as a Roman Citizen so that he was not handed over to people who desired only to kill him. He exercised his political rights to save his own life. Rights are important, and advantageous to the spread of the Gospel when used by anyone according to what rights God has given each individual. I’d forsake my rights to spread the Gospel, but only my own personal rights. I can’t tell anyone else how to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling” because “Who am I judge another man’s servant?”

        Don’t be so quick to give up ground on your rights, if they are at risk (which they aren’t here unless the flag will be removed by edict instead of vote) unless you don’t want your children to enjoy the freedom you’ve enjoyed. If you think evil men will stop at outlawing a flag, if they can, with or without a fight, you are quite mistaken.

        There is room for movement on both sides. People who are offended by a flag could try to be more objective and less emotional. People who want to display a flag they know is misinterpreted by alot of people should absolutely make a priority of living in such a way as to dismiss outright the very notion that they are racist… Because what matters more? How I actually treat you one on one, or my Obama/Biden bumper sticker, my Jesus fish, my confederate flag license those?

        If I have the God-given, not government-given right to display any of those things, then no one can make a negative moral judgement on me because I do. I have the right to, & do in fact, own a gun. This is super offensive to MILLIONS of liberal Democrats. I’m not going to get rid of it though, and that’s not a lack of love or spiritual problem in me, at all.

        • I’m liberal and I don’t care if you have a gun, Lisa. You misunderstand the feelings that people have about the gun violence that kills 30 people a day, many children who pick up their feckless parents’ guns.. I wish gun owners would join in trying to see a way to educate people to lock their guns up. Proud gun owners like yourself should feel some responsibility towards that end.
          Re: what you said about Chinese Americans. Yes, I see your point. My late father fought in the Battle of the Bulge. We took our children to see the memorials in Belgium. There are many and people still feel very strongly about the war, understandably. It was very moving. I would have been terribly upset if a Nazi flag had been displayed. They lost the war. Their flag but there are neo-nazis who revere it still, sadly. So why are men “evil” for outlawing a flag as you say? I am sure that no one is outlawing the Confederate flag at any rate. You seen to miss that important point. People can even have Nazi flags if they want to. I don’t think it’s a God given right to do so as you seem to say. But it’s our government given right. Our rights are protected, even to be hateful.

          • If the government gives your rights, they can take them away. That’s why the men who fought to protect our freedom with carefully worded documents included the phrase that all men are CREATED equal and ENDOWED by their CREATOR with certain rights. They knew that some day, as people got comfortable, dull, began taking freedom for granted, that some control hungry people would begin to try and alter the list quietly, subtly… Soooo by asserting that the rights are inherent to life, not stemming from any person or group, that sober & vigilant people would see this happening and work to stop it. Freedom, real freedom, means your neighbor could be the most offensive person in the world, but as long as he didn’t interfere with your exercise of rights (enumerated in the Bill of Rights), he is free to do as he wishes.

            As to “evil” men, you missed my point. They’re not evil for wanting to remove the flag, they’re evil if they violate our rights to do so. If your rights are violated by the government restricting/banning any flag/symbol/item in the private sector, or by force in the government sector, instead of leaving it up to people to vote, they are evil men and they won’t stop there. Evil men want control. Why do you think the Federal government has regulations that extend into your everyday life? They mess with your paycheck, with your job, your healthcare, your children’s education, everything. If you think their intentions are pure, they just want to help – you’re wrong. It’s about control. That’s why it gets bigger, not smaller.

            I didn’t say my gun offended every liberal, but it does offend alot. However it’s my God-given right and I’m proud to live somewhere where I’m free to exercise those rights.

            You only have stats that support restrictive gun laws because you don’t research the stats which clearly indicate gun laws are both useless and dangerous.

            Gun violence kills 30 people a day? So, in a year, 10,950? Compare that to 65,000 – 250,000 DEFENSIVE uses every year (claimed to be a myth, that was then debunked by more research). If this is an argument for tighter gun policies, there’s other problems, as though this one alone wouldn’t destroy the notion we need the government to take away our guns. The areas with the strictest, must liberal gun policies are the ones most overrun by gangs and violence… Think, Detroit, practically a third world country at this point. Like alcohol in the prohibition. Making guns illegal only removes them from the hands of people who obey the law ALREADY. It does NOTHING to stop people who are ALREADY breaking the law.. It’s just one more law they’re breaking, on top of illegal drugs, illegal scams, illegal breaking and entering…

    • If the Confederate Flag is a symbol of hate because a race was enslaved while it flew, then I’d like to hear you be equally indignant about flying the American flag in the face of all the wonderful Chinese-Americans wise ancestors were enslaved under that flag to build our railroads.

      The Confederate flag is a symbol of a states constitutional right to secede from the Union, and it’s inhabitants’ willingness to die to defend that right. Ironic the only thing people remember is slavery, an issue not raised until well after the war began.

      Even more ironic. Nearly every country in the world abolished slavery peacefully. The very idea that an entire war would be necessary for that is ludicrous. In refusing to peacefully let South Carolina secede, the Union created such racial tension and rage as to fuel fires of hatred for generations. Without the war, the states would have abolished slavery like everyone else – peacefully.

  8. I’ve never ever met a black man or woman in my 36 years that complained about the Confederate flag. .. I’m glad you show love However taking the Confederate flag down does not change history. The flag was not a issue at all until Dylan shot 9ppl and had a rebel flag pictured with him. .. Soooo this man gets satisfaction because all of a sudden your giving him attention. It’s not the kind he originally seeks yet trying to start a big issue over a flag he’s certainly getting satisfaction because this has started a HUGE UPSET. .. I hope and pray the flag remains where it stands Because allot of soldiers white and black died under that flag and they DESERVE to be respected.

    • Wrong. The confederate flag has been a problem for a long time. This just set off the current motion to have it removed.

    • Tania, just quickly–the flag has been an issue for a long time. 46,000 people marched in Columbia in 2000 to take it down. It comes up every few years. The outcry about the flag is not a distraction, it’s “Hey we have a very divisive symbol that encouraged this terrorist flying at our state Capitol. We can at least do something about that.”

      And if you’ve really never heard an African American express hurt over the Confederate flag I would assume you don’t know many African Americans or don’t know them well enough for them to trust you with their honest thoughts. In my experience the percentage is exceedingly high, almost universal. Which makes perfect sense.

      • You think he was inspired by the flag? Only if the only things represented by the flag are hatred and racism. That couldn’t be less true. Proud African American men, as well as Caucasian, served and died under that flag to defend the right of South Carolina to secede from the Union. This is the reason for the War, not slavery, which wasn’t even mentioned by the current president until two years after the war began.

        Anyone who gets upset about a flag that represents a part of history is looking for a reason to be upset, UNLESS it only represents hatred and racism. The American flag flew during the enslavement of the Chinese who built our railroads, but they aren’t insisting we change our nations flag or remove it. Because it represents more than JUST the wrong things that happened while it flew.

        Is a Nazi swastikas offensive? Yes. And I will defend to the death the freedom that allows anyone to wear or display it. You should all have the same attitude. If you only want freedom for the people you agree with/like, you don’t want freedom for yourself.

        As states go, the people can vote to accomplish anything within that state, so long as it pertains to the state, not private industry. But if this is handed down to every state no matter how people feel, that’s a problem.

        The Federal government’s job isn’t to protect our feelings, it’s too protect our borders. The states have sovereignty within themselves to make decisions for themselves so that the desires of the people living there are accommodated. So, of the population of any state wishes to remove any symbol from any state businesses, that’s within their scope. But don’t make it a moral issue unless you’re ready to start protesting the American flag on behalf of the Chinese, which you won’t. Abandon the idea or push to make others have the idea, that it is wrong, in a moral sense, to display any symbol that means anything.

      • LaChelle Williams June 25, 2015 — 7:59 pm

        Let’s just remember that many Germans and Jews died fighting under the Nazi flag and it is a huge part of their history but you won’t find it flying in Germany, you’ll find it in museums where you can learn about it.

  9. Courtney Bradley June 25, 2015 — 11:48 am

    I just posted a link to your blog on mine. I am glad I found this. Your voice is refreshing and needed.

  10. Karen Gray Krauskopf June 25, 2015 — 12:36 pm

    Well said. This is NOT only about religion. It’s about Unity. Whether it is in the name of God, in the name of Jesus, or in the name of America…we all unite together when someone hurts our own. Please don’t post such negative things when this is supposed to be an uplifting article.

  11. I really enjoy reading this article. With me being from SC and being in interracial relationships all my life I have first hand witness how this flag affects African Americans. First of all, yes it has something to do with racism and hatred along with hertiage. White supremacies took that flag and turn it into something that meant hatred and racism. So folks now days see it as just that. Just like how Aldolf Hitler took a symbol from a flag and used it for the Nazis to represent hatred and racism. I personally think that the flag should be down and since everbody is talking about history put it in the state museum where everything else that is historic is it. The only flags that should be flown on state grounds is the state flag and the American flag. We wouldn’t fly the Christian flag for the fear of offended someone of another religion so why fly a flag that means hate and racism to so many??? And the situation with the families forgiving Roof for all that is the Godly thing to do. It clearly states in the Bible (King James Version) from Genesis to Revelations to forgive. How can you call yourself a Christian and expect to get into the kingdom of Heaven when you have hate in your heart and haven’t forgave those who have done wrong to you? It is not our place to judge one another for the sins they commit that is God’s job!!!!

  12. Kimberly Addison Walker June 25, 2015 — 9:57 pm

    I was incredibly disheartened by these words: “Dylann wanted to start a war, but he made a crucial mistake. He sought to kill people because of their race, not realizing that these brothers and sisters no longer saw their biological race as their primary identity. He did not kill African Americans–he killed Christians who also happened to be African American. Christians who saw themselves first and foremost as citizens of heaven, part of a new and beautiful multicolored race of redeemed ones Jesus is creating on the Earth.”

    How can we speak for these victims? Were they asked if being African American was no longer “their primary identity”? Can it really be said that the victims “happened to be African American”? Accepting Jesus as one’s personal Savior and becoming a Christian is a choice made of free will. Being African American involves no such choice. Is there Scripture that supports the requirement that individuals relinquish “their biological race as their primary identity” in order to become Christians? Finally, let us not forget the history of how AME churches came to be. They were born out of necessity when African Americans who wished to worship with white brothers and sisters were discouraged from doing so because of “their biological race.” Praise God that today we have church bodies that reflect our multicultural identities and diverse backgrounds! However, to not acknowledge this history in light of recent events, to assume that we are now a part of one huge melting pot of Christians without a history of divisiveness and racism, is to ask for a premature moment of kumbaya.

    I found your words to be bold assumptions and broad generalizations of what it means to be African American and Christian. Unless of course, there is a relationship between you and those who lost their lives that I have missed.

    • Very well said.

    • Actually, Scripture teaches that, as you do not choose your ethnicity, you don’t (can’t) choose God because you are spiritually dead and a dead soul, like a dead body, can’t make choices. People who believe they are somehow involved in their own salvation take credit from God for His mercy because they say, literally they say this, that SOMETHING about them made them worthy (perhaps some future action or past deed)… And if God saves you because you were worthy, even in part, then you are better than people who aren’t saved (clearly not worthy). Funny thing is, people who believe they choose God and that He won’t ‘force anyone to do anything’ consistently pray for His intervention in the lives of people who reject and hate Him, have said this aloud, even. They ask Him to SAVE other people by causing them to choose Him if just by changing their minds first… but how could He, if changing them at all would be force since they don’t want to be changed?

      And to your question about primary identity… Scripture does teach that you leave everything behind when you come to Christ. If He commands a follower to ‘hate’ his own family (Luke 14:26), also something God gives, not that you choose…then how much more so should any follower be willing to relinquish their love for ANYTHING in pursuit of Jesus. It’s a requirement in the sense that it happens naturally the more and more you love Him.

      • If one “leaves everything behind,” then I would think that includes clinging to 150 year old civil war relics. You have to show some compassion and heart and all one reads into your letters is anger and perdition. The middle ages passed by- but not before Christians had killed other Christians for translating the Bible into English, or saying that the earth was not the center of the universe. Many were burned from fear and hatred but times still passed by. Slavery ended although many churches preached that it was in the Bible and the same thing happened regarding women voting and blacks getting to go to decent schools which they didn’t when I was a child. I think some people are so fearful of the future but God is already there.

        • Christians never killed other Christians. Roman Catholics in their syncretized pagan works based religion killed Christians who dared to share a true and unperverted Gospel, or make the Bible readable, thus threatening their stranglehold on people. By keeping people blind to the truth in His Word, they were free to add penance, purgatory, saint worship, idolatry – all of which are still their doctrines today.

          We do leave everything behind… But we are blessed by God to live in a country that protects our God-given rights. And, put simply, we have the right to say or display just about anything, so long as we don’t interfere with anyone else’s rights (as enumerated in the Bill of Rights). Paul, an apostle, a righteous man, lived long enough to write the bulk of the New Testament because he took advantage if his rights as a Roman Citizen, appealing to their court system, which kept the Jewish leaders from killing him. So, exercising your rights can’t be immoral, inherently.

          Slavery is in the Bible, but the Bible is written in and to some very immoral cultures. There’s no indication the Bible approves of slavery under the New Covenant. Just because ignorant people taught otherwise, means nothing. It still remains that war to abolish slavery only served to make matters worse, instead if just peacefully overturning the practice like every other country did. No other country where slavery has existed experiences the racial tension and hate crimes that the U.S. does.

          I’m not angry. If you read that into something I’ve said, we’ve had a misunderstanding, and I apologize.

    • Kimberly, I understand your pushback. I do not know the specific victims that were killed, but I do know many African American Christians whom I’ve had this conversation with. The reason I feel comfortable making those claims that disturbed you is because they are claims the Bible makes about all Christians, which is obviously the ultimate authority a Christian has placed themselves under.

      To answer your question, yes there is Scripture that teaches that Christians are called to relinquish any other primary identity. Jesus says that relationship with Him and His people takes precedence over any biological family that we have (Mark 10:29, Luke 14:26, others). Paul says that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). All three of those distinctions, and especially Jew/Gentile, were massively divisive differences in biblical times, and the Bible says that for anyone adopted into God’s family, they have a new identity that unites them that runs far deeper than anything that could divide them, whether that be ethnic background, gender, social status, skin color or anything else.

      So while I never got to ask the believers that were killed if they saw their Christian faith as their primary identity, the fact that they were gathered on a Wednesday night to study the Bible when they could have been anywhere else, the overwhelming grace that has been shown by their families and their church–everything about the situation and what I’ve heard about the victims all points to the fact that they obviously saw their faith in Christ as the most integral part of their lives (again, because any Christian will grow to do so if they are submitting their lives to the leading of Christ, even if they don’t at first). I feel comfortable making these statements primarily because they are true of all Christians who have submitted their lives to Jesus and the teaching of the Bible. But also because I don’t know how the response of the victims’ families and the church could have been the same if they as a community did not believe their first and foremost identity is that of someone whom Jesus has forgiven, rescued and adopted into his family. My generalizations about what it means to be Christian come from the Bible (the only place they can come from) and not my opinion or experience.

      I realize this may sound crazy, that being a Christian is biblically a much deeper identity than anything else, and I realize that our culture does not understand that and many who claim Christianity certainly do not. But it is exactly what the Bible says, the same Bible that the victims were reading and being taught from when their lives were taken.

      And I in no way wish to forget the history of African Americans, the oppression that they have faced (and continue to do so in many systemic ways). I care about all of those topics deeply, they just were not the central focus of this post. I know we have a history of divisiveness and racism, and my point in this post is that as Christians Jesus and what He has done to unite us is the answer to that, not some kind of light-hearted kumbaya.

      Thank you for your thoughtfulness and concern.

      • Kimberly Addison Walker June 26, 2015 — 2:45 pm

        Thank you for such a direct and thorough response. Upon reading your article last evening, I engaged in conversation with my family and found that we were more divided on your words than perhaps the African American Christians with whom you spoke. It is my belief that on issues of diversity and inclusion it is important to remember that each of our identities is multifaceted. I respect that the focus of your article was on the fact that the Charleston victims were Christians and not the history of oppression, divisiveness, and racism, particularly in their relationship to the church. Unfortunately, Christians will take articles such as this and use it as a defense against furthering the conversation on these topics of racial injustice. In fact, that’s how I came upon this piece, as it was shared with me by one such individual. I am encouraged that this was not your intent.

        The verses from Mark, Luke, and Galatians certainly support your stance on primary identity as pertains to Christians. There is no refuting the Biblical basis for your piece, and for that I am most appreciative. Given your responsiveness, I see you as an ally in extending this message, so that the conversation does not stop here. If I were to lose my life, I don’t doubt that my Christian family would respond in a manner similar to that of the Charleston families currently mourning the loss of their loved ones. However, while I profess to be a Christian, I know that being African American has made me more of target as I move through the world and has affected the trajectory of my Christian experience and posed great challenges to my Christian walk. It has systemically altered the conversations and needs in my African American church community, and we do not have the privilege of ignoring or laying this focus to the side as we seek to glorify God. Our primary identities do not shield us from these challenges, as was the case in Charleston. For that reason, I think that we are bound by Christian duty and current events to highlight these issues. I hope that you are encouraged to do the same.

        • Absolutely, and I certainly value what you are saying. Such an important and necessary conversation. Thanks so much for your graciousness and thoughtfulness Kimberly.

  13. Beautifully written! And so very true, too!

  14. This was an amazing write Brandon… “THANK YOU!!”. It was a heart opening read for me to be honest. Your article was well composed and written … and a glorious thing his forgiveness makes it all happen. All we have to do is seek it and as Christians those church members did *exactly* what they were supposed to and it makes me weep. God love them!! Can we all say the same?!

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