Race, Gospel, and Justice, part 5: A Conversation with Esau McCaulley

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Discussing how to address issues of race and justice with an African American New Testament scholar.

Ed: I come from a law enforcement family. I know they want to see the bad cops weeded out. What are your thoughts on police, service, training, etc.

Esau: I want to recognize that law enforcement, along with military and any other public service, is an incredibly difficult job. They often see humanity in broken situations.

I am very hesitant to give policy recommendations because I’m not a policy maker. But that’s the reason why God created the body of Christ, so that Christians can go into politics and make laws that are just.

I can say this, though: This is where a church can come on. All of those churches who publicly support our military and police officers and the fire department, I wonder how much we value that in actual local communities. Do we want our sons and daughters to become police officers, or do we like police officers in the abstract?

Are we as churches saying, “We need Christians in these areas who understand the gospel and who understand what a human being is, who can then be salt and light in those professions.”

I think that what we encourage instead is our children to go into safe middle-class, comfortable jobs. One of the things that the church can do is actually not simply publicly support people who are police officers, and simply vote for candidates who use that rhetoric, but actually join the police force, and encourage it as a public good. And begin to provide counseling and resources and ministry to those people.

You have to understand what it must mean to be a police officer, and to go into communities week after week, and see people in very difficult situations. What kind of pastoral care does that person need in order to continue to return to that community, and still see the people, …

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