Yesterday, the University of Pennsylvania announced they are removing George Whitefield’s statue from campus because of his racist words and his role in advocating for and participating in slavery.
The University said: “Honoring him with a statue on our campus is inconsistent with our University’s core values, which guide us in becoming an ever more welcoming community that celebrates inclusion and diversity.”
The University is right; George Whitefield’s character is inconsistent with their core values. Except that isn’t a condemnation against Whitefield—it’s a condemnation against the University and social justice groups.
Since George Floyd’s murder, Black Lives Matter’s biggest demands have been about defunding police officers and removing statues of apparent racist historical figures.
Essentially, the abolitionists removed (legalized) slavery from America. The civil rights movement removed segregation from America. And today, Black Lives Matter is removing statues from America?
The abolitionists wrestled against slavery. The civil rights movement wrestled against segregation. But Black Lives Matter is wrestling against statues.
That should be an indictment on the privileges and play-acting of social justice groups today. Instead, many of us have purchased front-row tickets to entertain this ridiculous façade of justice.
The abolitionists and the civil rights movement didn’t remove statues because their enemies weren’t inanimate objects. Their enemies were alive. Their enemies could talk proudly about their racist policies. Their enemies could walk proudly in whites-only areas. Their enemies were real people.
Real heroes fight real enemies, fake heroes fight statues. Real heroes cancel racist policies, fake heroes cancel people.
However, the biggest problem with cancel culture isn’t whom they’re cancelling. The biggest problem with cancel culture is who is cancelling others.
George Whitefield was a slaveowner who defended his participation in the slave trade with a form of white supremacy. But he was also much more than that.
Whitefield was a sinner—just like the people who are cancelling him. And Whitefield is a saint—unlike most of the people who are cancelling him.
Most people who want to cancel others like Whitefield advocate for and participate in worse sins. Many social justice advocates are pro-abortion activists who murder their babies.
Sinners don’t have the authority to cancel other sinners. In other words, let him who is without sin among us be the first to throw a stone at others—or let them without sin be the first to remove a statue of a sinner.
Social justice advocates today are the pharisees of our generation. They are self-righteous hypocrites who condemn others for sinning differently and lesser than they do. In fact, many of them would accuse Jesus Christ of racism and petition the government to crucify him if they had the opportunity to do so.
Social justice advocates shouldn’t have the authority to cancel George Whitefield, not because Whitefield doesn’t deserve to be cancelled—he absolutely deserves to be cancelled, just like the rest of us.
Jesus is the only person who has real authority to cancel anyone. He is the only sinless person.
And yet, Jesus hasn’t cancelled George Whitefield. In fact, Jesus has done the complete opposite for him: he’s accepted and welcomed him into heaven.
Jesus doesn’t cancel sinners who repent and trust in him. Jesus doesn’t cancel sinners like George Whitefield: he cancels their sin.
The Bible says: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Romans 4:7-8)
That’s why Jesus doesn’t cancel sinners like George Whitefield. That’s why Jesus doesn’t cancel adulterers and murderers like King David. That’s why Jesus doesn’t cancel sinners like me.
Jesus isn’t embarrassed by any sinner. He isn’t embarrassed by racists, adulterers, or murderers who believe in him. Jesus isn’t embarrassed to call himself the Son of David. He isn’t embarrassed to call himself the descendent of an adulterer and a murderer.
That’s the gospel George Whitefield preached.
So, although his presence may not be welcomed anymore by sinners at the University of Pennsylvania, that’s okay—his presence is welcomed forever by his sinless saviour in heaven.
Cancel culture says some sinners’ names should be blotted out of history books. However, Christian culture—the gospel—says some sinners’ names are inked by the blood of Jesus Christ in the book of life.
This includes names of sinners like George Whitefield, King David, and Samuel Sey.