The Bible, Race and Charlottesville
The events of the past weekend in Charlottesville, along with the national discussion about racism is troubling. There is no room for the view that one race is superior to another or that there are even races and people groups who are deemed “inferior.” The Bible is quite clear that all people have inherent worth simply based on their existence – God created them, hence they are valuable. Furthermore, as John writes in Revelation, Jesus makes their worth infinite because not only does He give them breath (Colossians 1:16), but also His life – “…with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9)
As followers of Jesus, we can encourage our brethren, along with those who do not have a relationship with Christ, to remember the value of people regardless of their skin color. Further, it is a worthwhile thing to call out aberrant views, such as white supremacy, for what it is, sin.
The brethren in Christ represent a wide range of skin tones and we, as part of the Body of Christ, need one another, as Paul reminds us (1Corinthians 12:12, 27). Furthermore, if we consider the significance of 1Corinthians 12, the spiritual gifts are given for the common good of the Body. Examining these gifts, how much more do we need our diverse brethren when we take into account that the manifestation of these gifts is affected by such things as our cultural background, country of origin, and life experience based on the color of our skin. Case in point, the gift of service or teaching will be expressed differently across cultures (whether Canadian, Czech, Thai, Colombian, wealthy, impoverished, college-educated, illiterate, male, female, black, or Native American, etc…). In the diversity of the Church, Paul tells us we need these “others” to grow in Christ (Ephesians 4:16).
There are many reasons to be offended by the notion that one race or group of people are better than the rest. The only offense Christians should affirm is the cross of Christ, which makes a diverse people one (1Corinthians 1:18ff; Galatians 3:13-14). Racism’s stand against biblical diversity is a good reason to be outraged, especially if offenders try to present their cause as something that represents God’s heart. It clearly does not.
For further reflection, my colleague, Dr. Paul Metzger, offers an additional perspective on the events in Charlottesville.
This post was written by Dr. Derek Chinn, Dean of Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
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