These discussions have only been increasing because of false prophets, but they are not new. There is a long history of debate in the Church over issues of race in America. What is unfortunate for the Church is that she has not yet properly grasped the complexity of the issues, nor understood her role in them. This has often made her a faithless witness to the unbelieving world.
Your questions in this post are not all of the same nature. There are some that are only relevant to America. There are others that have to do with a theology of nationhood and ethnicity. I think it is important to separate these two things. Americans have a hard time thinking through issues of race because of our legacy of slavery. Our theology is intrinsically tied to the historical development of race relations in the United States. Or to put it in another way, our first conservative formulations of race theology came as a result of slavery and as white justifications for it. Our theology did not develop in a vacuum. We did not sanction and institutionalize race based chattel slavery because of theology. Rather, we had a practice of chattel slavery which we tried to justify after the fact with theology. All discussions of race in the America since then, for both believers and unbelievers, has been tainted and warped by those facts.
I am mixing up the order of your questions.
Let’s focus in on America a bit.
Is sympathy to the Confederacy and embracing the Lost Cause racist?
There are two questions here, one about the Confederacy and one about the Lost Cause.
There is also the issue of the word “racist”. This word has become fluid in meaning. If we don’t define what this word means, as best as we can from Scripture, then all discussion of race is bound to result in confusion. The false prophets have desacralized language everywhere. Christians have to fight for the sacramental nature of language and its objectivity if we want souls to come to the Word of the Father. Fighting for words in the context of race is just a subset of this larger battle.
Defining “racist” is not fun. The definition of the word is always going to have built in references to all sorts of philosophical and theological ideas. I can’t spend all day giving a history of the word’s etymology (of which I have not done enough study). For the sake of this forum let’s simply define a “racist” as a person who believes that one’s ethnicity makes one intrinsically virtuous or sinful. This definition itself could be problematic and probably is.
Now, what about the Confederacy?
I always find it helpful, when studying history, to treat our fathers as the sinners that we ourselves are. I always try to put myself in the position of the most wicked people, especially when those people are the people of God. It is the tendency of sinners to think of themselves as righteous compared to their dead fathers. We look down at the Israelites for their petty rebellions as if we are not like them. A humble man, though, knows that given the right situation he would do the same as any other sinner would.
The southerners were wrong on slavery. I believe they were wrong in their theology as well. This is easy to say, living in the world we live in now.
What is difficult for me to admit is that I would have been tempted to support the southern cause over the northern one. I’m saying that as a Christian.
The north was full of enlightenment philosophy and all sorts of encroaching liberalism. Many abolitionists were not heralds of conservative Christianity. They were those who wanted no gods and no masters. They were those who questioned and doubted the inerrancy of Scripture. The southerners, in many ways, were the rightful heirs and stewards of the mysteries of God. These said they believed that the Bible was the literal word of God. The southerners, at least in theory, were the preservers of a rich and robust Protestantism.
It’s easy to see how white conservative Christians would have supported the south given these circumstances. Even the godly abolitionists in the north sympathized with southern concerns about the liberalizing of theology in the north. What this resulted in was the tying together of orthodox Christianity to a belief in segregation. This theological union found favor among orthodox Calvinists. A similar union occurred in South Africa, with Dutch Calvinists there becoming the perpetrators of apartheid.
This union of orthodoxy to a belief in segregation, apartheid, racial discrimination, and chattel slavery would substantially weaken orthodox Christianity after the war. Southern loss would give validity to the liberalizing theology of the north. White conservative Christians in the south would not respond by reevaluating their theology of race, but by doubling down on core tenants of it. The Lost Cause is an example of this.
No doubt there are ideas in the Lost Cause that should be carefully considered. There is no disputing the fact that the black man was not ready to bear the full responsibilities of citizenship and freedom. I could care less about some of the other tenants of the theory. The war was, contrary to protest, about slavery.
Does sympathizing with the Confederacy make someone a racist?
Do racists and bigots sympathize with the Confederacy?
There is a massive difference between these two things.
Is making generalities about different groups’ behavior helpful or harmful?
All Cretans are liars, evil brutes, and lazy gluttons.
All whites are racist, oppressive, and privileged.
Some generalities are helpful and some are harmful. But wisdom is always justified by her children. Generalizations about groups should be used to communicate truth and point people to repentance. Generalizations are not given to us by God for self-righteous indignation. A good rule is to first know how to generalize your tribe’s morality before you try to generalize someone else’s.
Is it sinful to have a special interest in people who share your skin color as long as morality and justice are applied to every group without partiality?
The rest of your questions, including this one, I will only briefly comment on. There is no way to answer all of these questions with a simple yes or no. Since the Church has not yet systematically developed its theology of nationhood and ethnicity it is difficult to answer without also inadvertently misstepping Scriptural boundaries at times. As with all doctrine, but especially right now with race, we see and know in part.
It is natural for people to have affection for their own tribe. God made us this way. The apostle Paul refers to this when he speaks of “natural affections” in Romans 1. Paul’s love and special interest for his brethren, the Jews, is not sinful. Notice, though, that the apostle Paul never let his inclusion in the Jewish community prevent him from advocating on behalf of the Gentiles. When the Jews sought to enforce an apartheid between them and the Gentiles in the new covenant community the apostle Paul vehemently denounced it. Paul’s warning to the Gentiles about being cut off for being arrogant against the Jews is also noteworthy.
If you’re white and live in a community that is predominantly white there is nothing wrong with taking an interest in your specific community. If you’re black and live in a community that is predominantly black there is nothing wrong with taking an interest in your specific community. If you live with a mix of people an obligation to one’s own tribe also obligates one to care about the interests of those of the other tribe. In a diverse community not caring about the interests of those who are not of the same ethnicity as you is akin to not caring about the interests of your own. If your black neighbor is terrorized by a white racist neighbor of yours you can have no communal peace until you stand up for the interests of the black man. If your white neighbor is being harassed by critical theorist mobs under false pretenses there can be no peace until you stand up for the reputation of your white neighbor. Justice, in the way we carry it out as non-civil magistrates, must always strive for impartiality.
Should whites specifically be seeking solidarity with other white people (Christian or not)?
The Christian should seek solidarity with Christians, regardless of color. My solidarity is with Christ and all those nations and tribes that He is saving. When my union with any ethnic group prevents me from calling that group to repentance then I have loved father and mother more than I have loved Jesus.
I know that’s a trite answer. I just can’t expound it on it without also getting bogged down in a broader discussion about segregation.
Is it a double standard that minority groups are encouraged to have have racial and ethnically focused gatherings and organizations while white people who do so are considered racist?
What are people gathering about and for? I’m opposed to the gathering together of any ethnic group if their purpose in doing so is the prevent themselves or other groups from believing the Gospel and bearing the fruits of righteousness which cause the prosperity of bodies and souls.
Black mobs that gather together to rob the black man of godly patriarchy are evil. White mobs that gather together to trumpet the filthy rags of white righteousness are evil.
Double standards abound everywhere.
Is there a “war on white people”?
Yes. But no.
It’s more accurate to say that there is a war on a people who God blessed with His Law and Gospel and who have now thrown it away through arrogance and privilege. One of the ways they threw away their covenantal blessings was by doing all that they could to make sure that the black man never got to share in these blessings. Freely they had received, freely should they have given. Now a war against white people is waged by the almighty God through pagan blacks and sodomites and women. White rage can’t deter it. Nothing can stop it but sackcloth and ashes.