The following is an edited partial transcript of a youtube “sermon” against racial injustice by LCMS pastor Matthew Ryan González of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, The Bronx, New York, posted on LutheransForRacialJustice.com. His church website states: “he serves as the chair of the Atlantic District Conference Committee and as a member of Atlantic District Task Force 5 (Youth). He also is a founding member of The Unbroken Cord. He has previously served as an Adjunct Professor at Concordia College—New York, as the Pastoral Counselor to the Atlantic District LWML (2014-2018), as the Atlantic District Coordinator for the LCMS National Youth Gathering (2013; 2016), as a Guest Editor of the Lutheran Forum of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau (2014-2016), as a Bible Study Presenter at the LCMS National Youth Gathering in New Orleans, LA (2016), and as a founding member of the MOSAIC Initiative for the LCMS National Youth Gathering (2019).”
In this new gospel perpetrated by González, black people are claimed to not have a “voice.” But what is it that Rev. González or those supposedly without racial justice really trying to say? “Voice” does not signify rational thought—but raw, worldly power. Even in the video, no specific action is called for, except some vague, undefined political change—along with disrespect for our current president. Injustice is assumed, but what does that mean? Why can’t it be pinpointed and voiced clearly?
On the linked petition it states:
WE LOVE OUR CHURCH. But we have a problem. Despite presiding over the largest Protestant school system in America, the LCMS is our nation’s third-LEAST racially diverse religious body. Among the more tangible effects of our systemic issues: the Synod’s only Historically Black College has closed, black ministries have lost synodical funding, and no Black Lutherans are entering seminary this year.
Diversity as a goal in itself is extremely shallow. We are not the Holy Spirit. We do not determine the results of the Gospel—Christ does. Statistics do not demonstrate unfairness. They do not demonstrate guilt or injustice in any sense, especially a church. Did not Concordia, Portland close also? Is not the LCMS as a whole declining? The size of seminary classes have halved in about a decade—it is because of German racial suspicion, or other factors?
We have less Italians, or Chinese, or people of British origin entering seminary than people with German last names—but why should it matter? Is the Gospel itself at fault or has it been preached unfaithfully? Does it need to be changed to alter the percentages? That seems to what social justice requires: completely equal results. But Christ did not die to give equal power. He rose for forgiveness before the Father—not equal representation on earth. We need faithful people, not token pastors or ministries to make us feel better.
The true Gospel is enough for every sinner. There is no white gospel or black gospel. There is one ministry Christ calls to—to not be satisfied with it is true sin. The Spirit of God will produce the fruit if we plant the seed—but it will not be mathematically satisfying. We should not be outraged that most of the first Christians and Jesus’ apostles were of Jewish ancestory—we do not distribute people by ethnicity—that is not our sin.
All must personally repent of their own sin directly against God. I not guilty because Germans do not typically beget children of darker skin. I say this as an LCMS “minority”—since I am not of German origin. God is color-blind. He does not favor certain sinners because of their skin-color. And neither should we. All must face the guilt for their sin and impending death, repenting of actual sin, not imaginary, social ones. If we care about skin color as the world does, we as a church, will be afraid to apply God’s Word and Christ’s righteousness justly.
Note carefully how the language of Scripture is used for a secular, godless cause. We are supposed to confess for undefined sins of an institution and “system.” These are not personal sins against God that go against His commandments, but are rather the lousy substitutes of class warfare. As has been said, when they are no tangible racists to motivate, the impersonal “system” must be the surrogate. Is the doctrine of the LCMS unjust or false? Human structures, decisions, leadership, and boards on this earth will never be perfect. But God forgives us when we do not deserve it.
In the final analysis, this is a gospel of works, completely and entirely. It calls for earthly change, as if we will ever be equal in external factors. The sad truth is that this focus on our works obscures the Gospel of Christ. Christ did not die to enrage us about unfairness on earth. As Jesus said to Mary “what does this have to do with me?” Pastors are not called to give fairness and equity in this world. They cannot prevent crimes or fix policing issues. They are called to forgive all for real, personal sins against the holy God. The Word blesses us with a heavenly abode—not a voice in this world people must bow to.
Guilt by skin-color association is not real guilt. The “sin” of low percentages of pastors or laypeople of a certain demographic is not real sin. But changing the Gospel which grants Christ’s righteousness into a stick to cause division and fake outrage is an actual sin in doctrine. To misuse the holy Scriptures for this stupid, limited human justice should make us outraged. It is worldly thinking, pure and simple. It is not Lutheran or Christian. Will Rev. González, and those who publicly stand with him, be disciplined for perverting God’s Word? The voice of sinners—no matter the irrelevant color of their skin—is a poor substitute for God’s voice which condemns our particular injustices and all false teaching, such as making narrow social issues the whole truth of God. –ed.
Rev. Matthew Ryan González
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
The Bronx, New York
It’s time to say that there has been far too great systemic and institutional racism in our country for far far too long. It’s time to say that as the church, historically, we have too long been a part of that systemic and institutional racism. We have not cared for one another as the body of Christ in the way that we are called to care for one another now.
Being a Christian pastor in the Lutheran tradition–part of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod–I can tell you dear sisters and brothers in our Synod we are part of the problem. And we have been for too long not willing to admit that even in our own church body there are systems, and our institution, has had too much racism in it for far too long and we’re not bold enough to call it out; to cry it out to rebuke it in the name of Jesus. But it’s there and it is time, dear church, it’s time, it’s time, to apologize. It’s time to apologize for our failure, to act for our failure, to speak for our failure, to admit all of this wrongdoing that has occurred far too long that–that causes people to be so built up with with that frustration and anger–that the only response they can think of is violence because the peaceful protests haven’t been listened to, because they don’t have a voice.
Therefore judgment comes forth perverted. Dear Church it’s time it’s time to speak out against injustice, racial injustice, and if that becomes what we are known for that let that be not a label of shame but a badge of faithful honor and glory of God.
Dear church it’s time, it’s time to act, to move into social justice–social justice which is true justice. It’s time to move by grace through faith to be leaders and to speak to leaders–to speak to leaders in our church, in our government, in authority. It’s time that we say and speak and act in a way that shows that we are moving. That we will no longer enable brutality from elected officials and that includes a president–our president–who calls those who are who are in this pain, who desperately need love and action–who calls them thugs and promotes violence. And, yes, if you’re thinking that’s too political, well, we need to be political because we want change in system and policy.
… anyone … who is in America, who is black, I want you to hear us and to hear this first: we’re sorry we failed–the church has failed you far too often and it’s time we admitted it [and] we begged and pleaded for your forgiveness and we spoke up in a way that does something about it.
Dear black sisters and brothers you’ve suffered too greatly. You’ve endured for far too long and so we must uphold the character that you possess–the character that you have possessed in the face of such oppression for far too long. We must uphold the same character of our dear faith that you have lived for a very long time and we must stand together with you in hope. We must stand together for, we live in Jesus and we are the body of Christ, dear sisters and brothers, especially our black sisters and brothers, Jesus loves you and so do I dear church–it’s time.