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Texas Pastor on 'White Privilege' and What Needs to Be Done to Solve the Racial Divide

"I think it's extremely dangerous to assume..."

Pastor Matt Chandler of the Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, isn't shy to say what he thinks about one of the more contentious issues of our time. According to him, white privilege exists and Caucasians have a hard time recognizing it.

Chandler has taken some heat in recent months after publicly embracing and touting the existence of white privilege — the notion that the majority culture has certain benefits that are unavailable to minorities.

Matt Chandler (Image source: The Village Church) Matt Chandler (Image source: The Village Church)

Here's what he had to say about the theory in a blog post last August:

The challenge with white privilege is that most white people cannot see it. We assume that the experiences and opportunities afforded to us are the same afforded to others. Sadly, this simply isn’t true. Privileged people can fall into the trap of universalizing experiences and laying them across other people’s experiences as an interpretive lens. For instance, a privileged person may not understand why anyone would mistrust a public servant simply because they have never had a viable reason to mistrust a public servant. The list goes on.

The pastor — whose five campuses stretched out across the Dallas-Ft. Worth area include 10,000 members — believes some people might not understand exactly where he's coming from on these issues, which has led to some contention.

"I've taken some shots from people who I think don't understand what I'm talking about … we're a more diverse church now," he said.

But while Chandler said he believes there are systematic societal problems that put some citizens at a disadvantage, he also contends that solving the greater issues at hand requires looking at solutions to both the system and personal responsibility.

"There's no question that both have to be addressed and there has to be accountability for both," Chandler told TheBlaze. "If you don't attack both you're not even solving this."

The preacher noted that the apostle Paul was clear in 1 Timothy in the New Testament that personal choice and responsibility are paramount.

In fact, 1 Timothy 5:8 reads: "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

"The Bible clearly teaches personal responsibility, but at the same time throughout the narrative of scripture what we see happening is those with privilege — those with wealth — they're going to have a tendency to protect the perks that come from that," Chandler said.

That's why the Texas pastor had a tough time during the recent "A Time to Speak" panel discussion on race understanding why his fellow panelist Dr. Voddie Baucham, senior pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, flatly rejected the notion that there are large-scale systematic problems that negatively impact African Americans.

"I was just trying to understand," Chandler said, noting that he has known Baucham for quite some time. "I was just trying to understand and I think that I agree with most of what he's saying up until he rejects systemic injustice as a category."

As TheBlaze previously reported, Baucham didn’t place predominant blame on social structures during the panel, going on to say that when people simply assume that there was injustice in cases like Michael Brown's shooting death, it creates division, which he said is “part of the problem.”

As for the Brown and Eric Garner cases, Chandler seemingly agreed, telling TheBlaze that making assumptions about motivations can be a dangerous thing, especially when it comes to claims that the police officers involved in those incidents were motivated by race.

"I think it's extremely dangerous to assume along those lines," he said, though he did claim that these events do appear to be happening more of African Americans, which is what is creating the conversation and debate surrounding the incidents in the first place.

Regardless, Chandler said it's important for believers to strike a balance when it comes to police and injustice.

"There's got to be … a way to ask questions about race and justice, while at the same time loving and supporting good police officers who do extremely dangerous jobs," he said. "I have met with several of them just trying to get in my heart, in my head all that it is that deal with."

[Watch TheBlaze's Jon Seidl interview Chandler earlier this year below:]

Chandler also admitted that some people will most certainly hide behind the systematic argument as an excuse for not taking action to change individual circumstances.

"Sinful people will often times use anything they possibly can to justify their own sinfulness," he said. "There are lazy, sinful people who it will always be the system's fault and never theirs and that goes across color lines. There are going to be those who want everything handed to them."

Chandler said that he feels that "A Time to Speak" was successful overall, but that he wishes there was more time spent discussing the practical steps that can be taken to push dialogue and action forward when it comes to mending race relations.

Chandler is hoping to see churches host roundtables with police officers and community members to discuss these difficult issues.

Still, he says he's "encouraged" after the panel discussion.

"I'm extremely encouraged. I think that most of the subjects that we hoped to cover and the conversations we wanted to start … we encouraged the conversation and continued the conversation," he told TheBlaze. "We accomplished that for sure."

One last thing…
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