When I became director of the Offices of Race Relations and Social Justice in 2017, I had no idea what issues of race would surface during my tenure. Through the informed work of friends, I was made aware of a Christian Reformed minister who preached and espoused kinism in his Michigan church in 2019. Kinism teaches that the races should be kept separate in racially pure “religio-ethnic states,” meaning kinism also forbids interracial marriage. I was shocked by the pastor’s social media posts and was curious why his views were not exposed sooner.
As part of my own work, I visited the church and heard the pastor’s views for myself. I began working through the denominational system to make this pastor’s views known because the Christian Reformed Church maintains that “to be in Christ is to be reconciled with one another as a community of racially and ethnically diverse people of God” (God’s Diverse and Unified Family, p. 8).
I also worked within the denominational system to address the issue of kinism. Two churches, Washington DC CRC and Hope Community Church-Riverside in California, worked marvelously together to shape overtures to synod inquiring about the heretical teachings of kinism and asking if CRCs in other regions had heard these teachings.
Once at synod, the synodical advisory committee handling the overtures asked me to share my story. I saw thoughtfully engaged members who were concerned that kinism had gained a foothold by using Reformed theology as the basis for preaching and teaching American apartheid as sound doctrine. The chairperson granted me time at synod to share my thoughts when the overtures came up for deliberations.
On the floor of synod, I heard many church leaders confess that kinism was unbiblical and not in keeping with Reformed theology as we understand it. As I watched these brothers and sisters express their shocked anger about this heresy, I was moved to tears.
I was heartened by the overwhelming response that kinism has no place in our pulpits, classrooms, or homes. I came away feeling as if our processes for dealing with tough, complex issues do really work if we give them a chance. No outcome is guaranteed, but the processes do provide a forum in which the Holy Spirit can show up and change minds.
I have two takeaways from the experience. First, I am still perplexed that kinism found fertile ground in any church. Maybe we shouldn’t hesitate to expose behaviors that contradict our biblical and theological principles. This takes courage. All darkness shrinks from the light of truth. Second, we can trust that our assemblies do take seriously the issues before them and deliberate with care and prayer. I believe if given the chance, our processes can produce a church after the heart of God.