The following post is another excerpt from my new book, The Bible and Racism. It is available on Amazon and is a 200+ page exploration of what the Bible teaches about race and Jesus’ call for His church to be fully unified – every tribe, tongue, color and nationality worshiping together on earth as in Heaven. I would be honored if you would take a look at it! Here are 5 more powerful quotes from Chapter 14 of the book. I especially appreciate Tony Evan’s challenge that one must be a follower of Jesus FIRST – before one’s nationality, ethnicity, sex, etc. I also think C.S. Lewis’ warning that a ultra-nationalism can easily lead to racism, wars, and other atrocities.
Note: Here is Part 1 – 10 Quotes on Race and Racism.
6. For example, here are four pieces of the worldview, all of them undermining racism. First, at creation, all of us created in his image, all of us in his image. There are cataclysmic implications of human beings in the image of God — every kind of human being. Second sin and fall. We are one in our corruption. We are deep in solidarity in sin. You are so sinful and I am so sinful, we’re right there together. There is no exalting of another above another if we are both dead-bent rebels together on our way to hell. How vain is the exaltation of self, one sinner over another sinner? Third, the cross. Christ died to reconcile us both talking about Jews and Gentiles at that moment — in one body to the cross, to Christ through the cross to God, or you were slain.We say to Jesus in Revelation 5:9, “You were slain and by your blood, you ransom people for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation and you have made them a kingdom, one kingdom and priests to our God.” Why? I said it’s more than a social issue. Whenever I get to talk on this, I want to say to all conservative white folks who fear the social gospel, it’s not a social issue. It’s a blood issue. By your blood, you ransom them, all of them. You die to pull them together, Revelation 5:9. And fourth, faith. Not of works, and I think works means not only anything you do, but any distinctive you have does not commend you to God. Faith commends you to God and faith is a desperate I can’t help myself, which puts you in line with everybody. Therefore, the way into the family is designed to remove all ethnic barriers. (Source: Pastor John Piper Sermon, Race and the Christian, preached in 2012. http://www.desiringgod.org/)
Here, in just under three minutes, pastor John Piper is able to easily and systematically undermine racism with just a few logical and Scriptural points. As Piper says, there are “cataclysmic implications” in the truth of the Imago Dei – that humans are made in the Image of God. One of these implications is made clear in James 3:9, “With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. my brothers, these things ought NOT be so” James :3:9 forbids Christians from cursing anybody with the rationale that ALL are created in the Image of God – I suggest that beating, kidnapping, and forced enslavement would also be banned under that understanding of humans being made in the Imago Dei.
7. The third ingredient [in love of country] is not a sentiment but a belief: a form, even prosaic belief that our own nation, in sober fact, has long been, and still is markedly superior to all others…I once ventured to say to an old clergyman who was voicing this sort of patriotism, “But, sir, aren’t we told that every people thinks its own men the bravest and its own women the fairest in the world?” He replied with total gravity–he could not have been graver if he had been saying the Creed at the alter–“Yes, but in England it’s true.” To be sure, this conviction had not made my friend (God rest his soul) a villain; only an extremely lovable old [butt]. It can however produce [butts] that kick and bite. On the lunatic fringe it [ultra-nationalism] may shade off into that popular Racialism which Christianity and science equally forbid. (Source: C.S. Lewis, the Joyful Christian, p. 189)
Lewis is absolutely right here, if a bit colorful. Nationalism – love of country – is not always a bad thing. It can be a very good thing, but when it becomes an ultimate thing, it gets very, very ugly. It must be remembered that Christians are not first and foremost American, or English, or Laotian, or Korean…but they are first and foremost aliens and strangers in the world, citizens of Heaven. (1 Peter 2:11)
8. We are operating on illegitimate standards that are not rooted in God, but rooted in culture, rooted in history, in background. And all of that may be facts but the question we must ask is: Is it the truth? You can have facts, but it not be the truth. The truth is an objective standard by which reality is measured; it’s God’s point of view on any subject. Just because you were raised a certain way. Once how you were raised disagrees with what God says, how you were raised was wrong! …If our pulpits were right we would have solved this problem of racism a long time ago. Slavery would have been solved, Jim Crow would have been solved, segregation — all of this would have been solved. But because the pulpits were anemic and allowed to take the place of the evil in America, we are still fighting that evil today! Because pulpits were silent biblically on this issue, maintaining a manifest destiny ideology that was in contrast to biblical theology! But that also explains why the Civil Rights movement was able to change it, because the church got out in front of it…Truth overrides tradition! Truth overrides color! Black is only beautiful when it’s biblical! …You must be Christian first. If we could get enough Christians to be Christian before white, Christian before black, Christian before Spanish … it doesn’t take 240 years to fix this. It takes about two minutes and 40 seconds…(Pastor Tony Evans, July 2016 sermon. Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=KbhNCTJ-dUI)
Powerful words here from pastor Tony Evans. Though it is a bit of hyperbole to think we could fix racism in under three minutes, I agree that one of the things that have exacerbated racism is anti-biblical, and less than biblical, preaching on race from the pulpit.
9. These representatives of the saints in heaven are said to be around the throne. In the passage in Canticles, where Solomon sings of the King sitting at his table, some render it “a round table.” From this, some expositors, I think, without straining the text, have said, “There is an equality among the saints.” That idea is conveyed by the equal nearness of the four and twenty elders. The condition of glorified spirits in heaven is that of nearness to Christ, clear vision of his glory, constant access to his court, and familiar fellowship with his person: nor is there any difference in this respect between one saint and another, but all the people of God, apostles, martyrs, ministers, or private and obscure Christians, shall all be seated near the throne, where they shall for ever gaze upon their exalted Lord, and be satisfied with his love. They shall all be near to Christ, all ravished with his love, all eating and drinking at the same table with him, all equally beloved as his favourites and friends even if not all equally rewarded as servants.Let believers on earth imitate the saints in heaven in their nearness to Christ. Let us on earth be as the elders are in heaven, sitting around the throne. May Christ be the object of our thoughts, the center of our lives. Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
Not only did Spurgeon proclaim the equality among saints, but unlike some of the Puritans (who believed the same), Spurgeon’s understanding of equality among saints actually had practical implications that caused him to be an abolitionist and enemy of Victorian racism in England.
10. Go back to 1 Timothy with me. We read over this pretty quickly when we were walking through the first part of 1 Timothy, but I want to take you back there so you can see where Paul has already addressed this kind of slavery in 1 Timothy 1. Look at 1 Timothy 1:8. We will get to it in verse 10, but see the set up. 1 Timothy 1:8-10 says, Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, (ESV) What’s the last word? “Enslavers …” the word means literally “man stealers” or “slave dealers.” Anyone who kidnaps people for sale is unholy, profane and is denying the gospel. So, I want you to see very clearly that the Bible condemns, denounces physical abuse and human trafficking. I want to emphasize that for two reasons. One, if these two truths about physical abuse and human trafficking from both testaments … Old Testament and New Testament alike … if these two truths had been embraced by Christians in the 18th and 19th century, slavery would never have existed like it did in the South. The Bible explicitly denounces and condemns the kind of slavery that took place in the Southern United States, and pastors and church members who used this Word to justify their practices were living in sin. (Source: David Platt, “What about Slavery, Paul?,” in David Platt Sermon Archive (Birmingham, AL: David Platt, 2011), 3176.)
An excellent observation, by Southern Baptist IMB president David Platt, that Paul absolutely condemns “enslavers,” which were men that took other men and forced them into slavery. As that practice was at the very heart of the chattel slavery practiced in the United States and United Kingdom, the slavery found in those countries was outlawed biblically. Tragically, Confederate pastors and many other slavery apologists chose to turn a blind eye to passages like this in the Scriptures.