BreakPoint: A Biblical Case against Racism

More Work to Do

We’re called to speak the good news into every area of human life, including the dark corners of racism.

Despite the tremendous strides America has made in pursuing racial reconciliation and equality in recent decades, once again overt racism has reared its ugly head.

This is a stain on our nation’s character and an obscenity in God’s world—therefore we Christians must redouble our efforts to speak His truth about race.

While some have twisted the Scriptures on this issue, particularly in the time surrounding the Civil War, here is a biblical case against racism.

Right at creation, Genesis chapter one states that we are all created in God’s image. As Paul told the philosophers in Athens, “And [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth. . .” When you get right down to it, there really is only one race—it’s called the human race. In that sense, we’re all brothers, equal in dignity and intrinsic value.

From God’s plan of redemption, we see that all human beings, though created in His image, “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The good news is that, as John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Just as we’re all equally shattered vessels, we are all equally candidates for the Lord’s mercy and grace.

Indeed, despite our outward differences, the Church is to be a spiritual and visual display of our essential unity in Christ. Let’s not forget that the early church was multiethnic, with Jews and Gentiles. Just take a look at the list of those present at Pentecost in Acts 2! Remember that Africans such as Simon and Lucius of Cyrene, and the Ethiopian eunuch, played prominent roles in the body. And as Galatians 3:28 tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

That’s no accident. God’s unshakeable and irresistible goal is for people of every tongue, tribe, and nation to worship His Son, Jesus Christ. Revelation 7:9 says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”

That verse alone ought to be the death knell of racism! God is glorified when people of all races worship His Son. It is a picture of the coming heavenly kingdom that we can glimpse right now.

From church history, we see a growing recognition that the universal human dignity taught by a Christian worldview is totally incompatible with slavery. Historian Rodney Stark has documented a long history of anti-slavery sentiment in the Church from the seventh century onward, culminating in Papal bulls against slavery and the slave trade in the 1400s and 1500s.

Now of course we all know of the monstrous evil of race-based slavery, which grew like a cancer in the West. Greed, prejudice, and misguided interpretations of the Bible paved the way for many Christians to join in, or just to look the other way. What a shame.

But the redoubtable William Wilberforce led the movement to abolish the slave trade across the British Empire. Christian abolitionists in the United States bravely made the case against racism and slavery, although the latter was settled only by civil war.

In more recent times, others—Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement; Jackie Robinson, who took the heat in professional sports; Billy Graham, who integrated his crusades; and Rosa Parks, who refused to go to the back of the bus—all these heroes and more condemned and fought against racism in word and deed.

Sadly but clearly, that task is not over. Especially for the Church.

 

A Biblical Case against Racism: More Work to Do

As individuals and as congregations, Christians have the opportunity and the responsibility to actively engage in racial reconciliation. Check out the links in our “Resources” section for specific examples.

 

Resources

Charlottesville, Racism, and the Gospel: Responding to Darkness with the Light
  • John Stonestreet | BreakPoint.org | August 15, 2017
Racism and Repentance: One Church’s Story
  • Chuck Colson | BreakPoint.org | April 16, 2010
Racial Reconciliation 2.0
  • Rudy Carrasco | Christianity Today | August 18, 2014
The Truth About the Catholic Church and Slavery
  • Rodney Stark| Christianity Today | July 1, 2003

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  • ah.1960

    Eric does a good job of laying out the Biblical case against racism. I agree that racism has no place in the church and that some Christians in the past have wrongly twisted Biblical passages in an attempt to justify racist beliefs or behaviors.

    But does that mean the only cure is to keep talking about race? Why do I get the sense that my choices as a white man are to 1) admit I am wrong just because I am white or 2) be considered a racist?

    Rev. Martin Luther King’s answer was to stop talking about race completely. If it as non-factor, then let’s treat it as a non-factor rather than highlighting it as the most important thing in the world (either that I look down on others because of their race or that I grovel before others because of their race to show that I am not a racist).

    As Christians we are to condemn any kind of prejudice when we see it. We are not to judge others based on these external factors that none of us can change (race, gender, physical appearance). Instead as we seek to simply judge others based on “the content of their character,” I need to be certain that I also judge myself based on the content of my own character.

    • Gina Dalfonzo

      Can you show us where Dr. King said to stop talking about race?

      • ah.1960

        Dr. Martin Luther King: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

        In other words, he thought skin color should be a non-issue, and he was right.

        • Gina Dalfonzo

          Also Dr. Martin Luther King: “I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: ‘Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.’ In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: ‘Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.’ And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.”

          Doesn’t sound like a non-issue to me.

          • ah.1960

            You seem to be co-mingling or confusing issues. Dr. King’s statement was that a person’s skin color is not important but that a person’s character is. That is the gospel issue.

            Terms like “racial injustice” or “economic injustice” are not biblical. God only deals with justice and injustice. He does not make special categories of justice that apply differently to different groups of people or different areas of life.

          • Gina Dalfonzo

            Of course Dr. King was making that point — but why did he need to make it? Because there were people who WERE judging him and his children and all other black people NOT by the content of their character, but by their skin color. And there still are people who do that. So we still have to be willing to call out that attitude and behavior and say that it’s wrong, whenever and wherever we encounter it.

          • gladys1071

            i agree with you Gina, but at the same time i think the pendulum has swung to far into victimhood now. Now everybody is a victim of racism, even if it is not true.. Human beings are sinful and if you treat people like victims they end up becoming monsters, whether it be about race or any other issue. Human beings need to be treated with dignity and respect, not like a victim.

            When the fight against racial injustice swings too far, it ends up overcompensating and now you create a whole class of “victimhood” that will cry racism for any little reason, and that is the problem that we have now in this country.

            Because we are human beings, their will always be people that will be prejudiced, that is part of the human condition which is sinful. This world is an ugly world with all kinds of injustices, we cannot right every wrong that has been done to everyone, only God can do that.

          • ah.1960

            Which is exactly what I said in my original post. So now can we quit talking about a person’s race as though it were the most important thing in the world?

          • Jani Dych

            I’m a white female. I raised 4 kids alone. I was discriminated against because I am SINGLE and a female.
            We are here today. All of us. Slavery for blacks had ended.
            But we are all prone to be slaves to something. Can we just please stop looking for only the things that match the description of being racist against black?

          • Gina Dalfonzo

            Respectfully, Jani, it’s not a case of “looking” for racism. When the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis are marching together out in the open and chanting racial slurs, we don’t have to go “looking.” It’s found us.

  • America is the least racist country in the history of the world. Please tell me where is all this evil racism in America today? It gets so tiring when well-meaning Christians accept the leftist/progressive/liberal mantra that America is an evil, racist country. It isn’t!

    • Phoenix1977

      Really? When you go to work, what race are the janitors and cleaning ladies there? And what race the executives and upper management?
      When you go to a hospital on pretty much any American city, what is the skin color of the doctor seeing you? And which color does the woman who sells coffee have?
      Check the ethnic make-up of any university in the US. Look at the school system at any level and cross reference the number of graduates with the number of non-whites and you will find them to be inversely proportional to one another.
      And we can go on like that for a while, like the number of black men in jail, or the chance of a black man getting shot by a white police officer while the other way around it never happens. Or the level of poverty in blacks and hispanics compared to whites. Etc. etc. etc.
      I have traveled around quite a bit over the years and so far the only country that is more racist than the US is Japan. And the Japanese at least admit openly they do not take non-Japanese kindly.

      • Just One Voice

        Phoenix, I’ve been meaning to ask if you’ve ever been a resident here in the U.S.? Obviously you travel a lot. Have you lived in the U.S. permanently to any extent? Or have you lived mainly in The Netherlands?

        Just clues to the puzzle 🙂

        • Phoenix1977

          “Have you lived in the U.S. permanently to any extent? Or have you lived mainly in The Netherlands?”
          Why does that matter?

          • Just One Voice

            Like I said, just clues to the puzzle. Trying to understand what has shaped your worldview, and what’s made you who you are today.

            And, well, it also matters because, if you’ve never lived over here for any extended amount of time, then that nullifies practically anything you say about our country.

            One cannot truly know a place until he/she has lived there for a while.

          • Steve

            Look at the response to Houston flooding and you will see what the country is about.

          • Phoenix1977

            “Look at the response to Houston flooding and you will see what the country is about.”
            Look at the respons of Obergefell vs. Hodges or the shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando and you see something quite different.

      • Steve

        In my hospital there are many Middle Eastern doctors. One of my surgical partners is black, 25% of our group. The cleaning people in our hospital are white.
        What does that matter?
        Do you think that there should be certain numbers allotted for each group? That sounds like you are judging people by their skin color.
        If you had a brain tumor and went to a neurosurgeon would you care what skin color they are? No, you would look at their reputation, their experience, their outcomes, etc.
        In other words, you would be more interested in their competence.
        You paint a pretty broad stroke when you say the US is racist because of disproportionate distribution of skin color.
        That is implying that people are chosen for certain jobs because of their skin color?
        Of course, their is more poverty in African American communities. Much of this stems from the “Great Society” program started in the ’60s that has suppressed this group with welfare disincentives and has destroyed the family. In the ’50s African American families were intact on par with Caucasian families. That has been shown to increase prosperity and decrease crime, unemployment etc. There is plenty of data to support that.
        Don’t go around calling entire countries racist. You know not of what you speak.

        • Phoenix1977

          “That is implying that people are chosen for certain jobs because of their skin color?”
          No, that is implying the color of one’s skin dictates the chances someone has in society. 25% of the surgeons in your hospital are black. Sounds great. Until you hear the absolute numbers, which means there is only 1 black surgeon in your hospital. But how many blacks are there in your hometown?

          “In the ’50s African American families were intact on par with Caucasian families. That has been shown to increase prosperity and decrease crime, unemployment etc.”
          Really? In a period in American history where blacks were not even allowed to drink from the same water tap as white people they were just as prosperous as the white population? In a period of history where blacks were not allowed to take the same classes as white people they had the same chances in life to become doctors, engineers, politicians, lawyers, etc.?
          Let me ask you this: do you actually believe that yourself or are you so hellbound to argue against my statements you simply decide to forget racial integration was not a policy in the US until the 1960s?

      • Jani Dych

        In my own primarily white neigborhood, my doctor is white and female, like me. But I prefer the foreign doctor associate (i dont even know his nationality)who is male because he seems more helpful and he is who I trust more. It has nothing to do with him being male, or foreign. Nothing to do with her being white or female. I just find he has helped me more in this profession where i seek medical advice. That’s how I view this. It’s about people, what their like, what they do, their morals and ethics. Not the color they are, etc… My female doctor who is white is probably spot on to certain patients.
        Can we please just stop looking at ONLY the reasons to validate racism?? If that’s all you look for that’s all you see.

    • gladys1071

      i agree with you, i think the pendulum has swung to far in the other direction and is creating victimhood now.

      • Just One Voice

        Victimhood, precisely! I couldn’t agree more.

        You reminded me of Eccelesiastes 9:11-12. Whenever I’m tempted to play the victim, I recall that passage: “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them. (English Standard Version, emphasis mine)

        • gladys1071

          I love Ecclesiastes, their is so much wisdom in Solomon’s words.

  • James

    I believe Acts where it says that God has made all men of one blood. I also believe all the places where God says that He is not a respecter of persons, and His people should do likewise and not commit the sin of being a respecter of persons.
    That is a wonderful ideal, and goal to shoot for as part of a serious program of social and moral progress. But it is downright foolish suppose that we can have racial peace and harmony just by wishing it in to existence. I dare say that it is also a wicked hateful sin to send your young child into a black urban neighborhood at night all by himself, no matter what color he or she is, but especially if he or she Asian.
    This is a matter of practical reality, not hypothetical spiritual values. If you love someone, you don’t send them to their death just to virtue signal and prove what a non-racist you are.

    • Gina Dalfonzo

      I’m trying really hard to find where Eric recommended sending any child of any race into any neighborhood alone at night, James. I’m not finding it.

      • James

        The issue and problem of race relations is very complex and does not lend itself to intelligent sound bites, so you have to bring a little bit of intellectual imagination to the table if you don’t want to be functionally stupid about the subject. My point about dangerous neighborhoods was to express my beliefs about the limits of anti-racism. It’s wrong and downright sinful for white or Asian parents to tell their kids that black and Hispanic kids are not dangerous to them in many circumstances. If it’s racist to tell white and Asian kids the truth about the violent hostility that many blacks and Hispanics feel toward them, then racism is a necessary fact of life if they want to survive. Of course, that’s the issue: Liberal Marxists don’t want white and Asian kids to survive, just ask Susan Sontag. See, there it is, I believe liberals and Marxists are the real problem, not blacks and Hispanics and Gypsies and even Muslims. Liberalism/Marxism is the true cancer in Western Civilization, not people of race or ethnic diversity.

    • Just One Voice

      Clearly, you see some things in this article that I do not see. ‘Cause I am just horribly confused by your comment, heh!

  • Steve

    Boston is hardly representative of the U.S. Phoenix.

    • Phoenix1977

      You would probably have said that about any other place as well.

      • Steve

        Don’t go making assumptions about things of which you do not know. Living somewhere for 6 months? Please….

        • Phoenix1977

          Than let me turn the question around. How long have you lived in the Netherlands before you thought about having an opinion about my country?

          • Steve

            I don’t have an opinion about your country.

          • Phoenix1977

            Sure …

  • Jani Dych

    This just erks me to tears!
    If I go and ask a group Of kids to hold down the noise because it’s disrespectful to be out banging around, yelling and such at 12 am that seems legit. But since I am white, if the group I say that to are of another race… well then we have a problem. It will be about race or Color alone. Forget about the fact it’s 12 am…
    Heaven forbid it can’t be as simple as being about the noise and respecting others.
    Our society turns every thing about being human into anything perverse or racist it can come up with.
    If this group I ask to hold the noise down are white like me… they may throw eggs at me, Tell me off, ignore me…but it will be because they are rebellious teens and they may get into trouble for the curfew violation. Like they should. But this will only happen in this society if they are white and I am too??

  • James

    A lot of people seem to not understand my comments, so let me put it this way: Anti-racism has become nothing but Marxist Kumbaya BS nowadays. Anti-racism has turned the truth of God into a lie, which is a Biblical concept, not one that I pulled out of my arse. Remember how the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act turned sobriety into a worse evil than drunkenness? Well, anti-racism is exactly like that, a cure that is worse than the disease.