Several weeks ago, my dear friend Bishop Harry Jackson called a few leaders and discussed his plans to initiate an event to deal with the issue of the worsening racial divide in America. The result was “The Reconciled Church” event on Jan. 15 (providentially the date of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday), which was hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes in the Potter’s House church in Dallas, Texas.
One this day, about 100 national leaders representing the black, brown and white community from all political stripes came together to have an honest dialogue. To help prepare for this event, I submitted this paper for them to use as needed, so that we would have a theological and philosophical underpinning capable of sustaining long-lasting kingdom friendships that would glorify God. Regarding the subject at hand—one would have to be blind to reality if they do not think there are serious issues regarding systemic race relations in America.
What is worse is that the church often succumbs to the worldview of the world instead of vice versa! Regarding ethnic reconciliation, God is allowing the conversation to come back to the forefront in our nation, which grants Christian leaders the opportunity to frame the narrative biblically. I will try to avoid the use of the word race because its Darwinian implications connotes a theory that some races have evolved more then others—which plays into the hands of the racists.
The following are five components I believe are absolutely necessary for true ethnic reconciliation. Missing any of the following will result in superficial reconciliation that cannot weather the storms of life in the 21st century. Furthermore, as we will see, biblical reconciliation does not depend upon a person having a robust knowledge of all the facts, complete understanding and or full agreement in all the issues of the day.
1) Biblical reconciliation
Biblically, we must start off with the belief that there is only one human race—made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). That being the case, if Adam and Eve were our first parents, then all humans are brothers and sisters. God only divided the nations to stop their rebellious collaboration against Him (Gen. 11:1-9)—not because of supposed biological divergence between humans.
Our biological differences are only skin-deep. Hence, foundationally, there is no biblical case for being against ethnic integration in marriage, family, work, church or society at large. Also, to bring up the curse Noah laid upon his son Ham (Gen. 9) is erroneous, as well.
Tony Evans aptly summarizes the biblical response: “[T]he Bible says that Canaan, Ham’s son, was cursed, not Ham himself. Thus, only one of Ham’s four sons, not all four, were cursed. How then could all black people everywhere be cursed?
… The Bible places limitations on curses—only three or four generations at most (Ex. 20:5).
… The curse on Canaan and his descendants—”Now there, you are cursed, and none of you shall be freed from being slaves”—finds its most obvious fulfillment in the ongoing defeat and subjugation of Canaan by Israel (Josh. 9:23; 1 Kings 9:20-21).
… The descendants of Ham’s other sons—Cush, Mizraim and Put—have continued to this day as national peoples in Ethiopia (Cush), Egypt (Mizraim) and Libya (Put).
… God says that curses based on disobedience are reversed when people repent and turn again to obedience (Ex. 20:6). This is certainly sufficient to negate the Christian endorsement of the American enslavement of black Christians.
Furthermore, we see the biblical model played out in heaven when every tribe, nation and tongue is worshipping together before the throne of God (Rev. 7:9-10). Jesus taught us to pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done upon earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:6-9), which means that the biblical model for ethnic peoples is to be in unison as we praise and serve God.
The fact that some have also used this verse (Rev. 7:9,10) to say that the Bible teaches that the races of humans should be separate because in heaven ethnic peoples and nations still have their own distinctions is also erroneous since many of the nations in history are made up of various ethnic peoples who have intermarried. Thus, nations do not necessarily imply a so-called biologically pure ethnic breed—but a common culture, language and allegiance to a set of values in a particular geographic region of the earth. Finally, as Christians, we are to derive our primary identity in Christ—not in our ethnicity.
Although God is not color blind and created different ethnic expressions of humanity—we are all children of God when we receive Christ in which the dividing wall between ethnic groups has been torn down, and we are all one new man—regardless of skin color, gender and culture (Eph. 2:11-19; Gal. 3:28; 2 Cor. 5:17).
2) Philosophical reconciliation
By philosophical, I am referring to a view of “how we shall then live” in light of what the Bible teaches—hence, philosophy in this context is abstracted out of our biblical theology. Why take this approach? Historically, religion has always been the underpinning for the theory of life, values or the worldview of a society; this is why our first point was based upon biblical premises.
The philosophical concept also leads to the implementation of public policy since philosophy both precedes and gives birth to political theory. When it comes to ethnic reconciliation, this philosophical component is perhaps the hardest of the five to come to an agreement.
This is because of the various ways different ethnic groups have interpreted and applied Scripture due to their different cultural experiences, education and history. In spite of the inherent difficulty in having philosophical agreement, it is still important to have dialogue that involves presenting our biblical and philosophical perspectives so that we can attempt to arrive either at agreement or mutual respect and understanding.
The recent events in our society the past several months have shown the vast philosophical and ideological divide in some aspects of said ethnic philosophical views. For example, this divide was salient in the way the majority of African-Americans and Caucasians have interpreted the Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner tragedies, or the way biblically conservative blacks and whites have typically voted politically the past 50 years.
We have painfully found out that just because we believe in the same Bible, attend the same church and or serve the same Lord does not necessarily mean we always have the same philosophy, especially in regards to culture, policy, economics, law and the process and view of justice
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SOURCE: Charisma News