Testimony 165.Racism and the Gospel of Christ


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Gideon Pastor Timothy Keller mentioned in the book “Generous Justice” that when he was studying in a seminary, he met a black classmate named Ellis. At one point, they were having dinner together, and Iris said to Keller, “You know what, you’re a racist. Well, you don’t mean to, and you don’t want to, but you are. You can’t help it. for example, being black When you do things a certain way, you say ‘Well, that’s your culture’, but when white people do things a certain way, you say ‘That’s the right way to do things’. You don’t realize that you are Also in a culture, many of your thoughts and practices are also cultural.”

The Selfish Gene
Later, Iris became Keller’s good friend. Keller said Iris was “kind and outspoken” and helped him understand the realities of injustice in American culture. Keller recognizes that, in many ways, each of us may be inherently racist: We use our cultural values ​​to judge other things as good and bad, and then use them to judge people of other races; In our hearts, we feel that they are not as good as us, or even worse than us-although we may not say so. Elevating the value of one (or some) race in thought, feeling, and behavior while devaluing other races is the standard definition of the word “racism.” The racism that looks down on “other races” is a common and insurmountable problem in human nature.

Racist thoughts beget racist behavior. In our society, all kinds of discrimination exist very widely. However, discrimination based on race may be the most common, and it is also most likely to be expressed and implemented in the form of unspoken rules, institutionalization, and structure. When we ourselves are racially discriminated against, we tend to be sensitive and feel “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people”, but when we discriminate against others, it is difficult for us to be self-aware. In many cases, racist awareness is subtly spread through new media or entertainment programs. For example, a TV skit program during the Spring Festival this year, there is to promote the rise of China and African people’s love for China, but the content caused a lot of controversies because there was a Chinese actress with a blackened face, playing the role of a black aunt” Give China a thumbs up”, with a monkey next to it, played by an African actor.

Overseas, many people commented that this is a blatant racist expression, but some netizens in China seem to have a much calmer reaction to this matter. Many people think that elevating criticism to the level of racial discrimination is a big deal. Some people say that overseas people are overly sensitive because they have been brainwashed by “political correctness” for a long time.

In European and American societies, there is indeed a situation where “political correctness” goes to extremes, but now the anti-“political correctness” has overcorrected and gone to another extreme. Racial discrimination has revived and becomes public again. Some people even justify and open up racism.

A netizen on Zhihu said in a column: “In fact, each of us can be regarded as a racist.” But he thinks this is a “very natural” thing, and there is no need to deny or criticize it. He said: “From the bottom of our hearts, each of us will value ourselves more than others, and value people who are similar to us more than those who are very different from ourselves. This is human nature determined by survival genes. Extending to race and ethnicity racism and nationalism is a very natural phenomenon. This kind of judgment has the scientific basis of evolution and genetics. In the words of Oxford University biologist Richard Dawkins, it reflects “genetic Selfishness'”. He actually made a rational defense for racism, and his defense was based on naturalistic evolution (atheism). Starting from this naturalistic presupposition, racism seems to be very “scientific”, reasonable, understandable, and even beneficial to human progress.

The Image of God
However, such Darwinian atheism is completely contrary to the Christian faith, so it is impossible for Christians to agree with such a defense. According to Christian belief, people of different races are created by God. Because man fell after rebelling against God, sin entered the depths of human nature. Selfishness or self-centeredness is one of the many sins (sins) of human beings. It is human nature polluted by sins, not the “nature” that God created man should have.

Pastor John Piper pointed out that racism is born of pride and a companion of greed, fear, and lust. According to the Bible, pride, greed, fear, and lust are all sins. In the era we live in, these sins are deeply rooted in society, cultural entertainment, advertising, business, academia, and partisan politics. You and I are immersed in them, and our minds are easily shaped by them, so we are easily unconscious. Or being racist “by nature”. 

Therefore, Christians oppose racism for reasons based on our faith. The Bible says that everyone is created by God in his image (refer to “Genesis” 1:26), so everyone has uniqueness and has the value and dignity given to him by God. The “image of God” does not distinguish between high and low. God wants us to learn and know that He created us to take care of each other and to respect the dignity and worth of every human being.

Although Christians have historically misused the Bible to endorse racism, the fact is that racism is running counter to biblical values. Although racism has also occurred in the history of the United States, the anti-racism civil rights movement in the last century was based on Christianity (rather than atheism) as its spiritual pillar. In fact, racial equality is also an important part of the “original heart” of the “American Dream”. The founding fathers of the United States were deeply influenced by the Bible, so their “American Dream” is closely related to the theological concept of “the image of God”.

Many Jews in the Bible have a very strong sense of national pride, and even look down on “Gentiles” because they are “God’s chosen people”. But God told the Israelites through the mouth of the Old Testament prophets that they were chosen not because they were more righteous than other nations (see “Deuteronomy” 9:5). The Israelites are also a people who often rebel against God, so they become a “model” that no one can be saved by keeping the law, and they also testify to the gospel of Christ from the negative side.

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament emphasize that “God is no respecter of persons” (see “Romans” 2:11), and his love pervades all nations. So, racism is evil. Christians should resist all forms of racism, including fighting institutional and structural racism in nonviolent ways.

the gospel is the cure
The general idea of ​​the entire Bible is that God will bless all nations and peoples through the nation of Israel. God’s ultimate intention is for all mankind to be redeemed and to receive grace. The kingdom of heaven brought by Christ, or the kingdom of God, is composed of “all nations, tribes, tongues, and peoples” (refer to “Revelation” 14:6) that are justified by faith. The Gospel of Christ is the universal “good news” that “God loves the world”. Therefore, the Christian Gospel transcends race, nation, and nation. In the church of Christ, because we believe in Christ, we become children of God and brothers and sisters to each other. The Bible says that “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, free or slave, male or female” because we are “in Christ are all one in Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

Because of this, the theologian and biblical scholar DA Carson (DA Carson) believes that the issue of race is not just a cultural issue, but essentially a “gospel issue”: “The purpose of God’s redemption is to bring different languages, tribes, and nationalities together through the cross. and nation men and women lead to God Himself, the Church is the new creation of humanity, composed of Jews and Gentiles. This trajectory begins at Creation, as all men and women are created in the image of God; it looks forward Look to God’s promise to Abraham that through his descendants all peoples on earth will be blessed. Salvation ensured by the Christ of the Gospel…bringing repentance, spiritual health and love for brothers and sisters to the Christian community.” 

Therefore, I believe that opposing racism is not only in line with the Bible but also must be based on the foundation of the Gospel of Christ in order to “treat the root cause” and fundamentally change the hearts of racists, rather than just relying on the system, culture or “political correctness” to suppress racist behavior.

Pastor Keller mentioned another thing in Generous Justice. After graduating from seminary, he went to the church to pastor and became a young pastor. There is a brother named Shelton in the church. One day, the brother suddenly said to Pastor Keller, “You know what? I’ve always been a racist.” Keller was surprised because he hadn’t spoken specifically about racism in the church. But the brother had listened to Keller’s preaching of the gospel of Christ a lot, and he understood this point himself. He told Keller that his previous understanding of life was moralistic, but he became self-righteous like a Pharisee and looked down on others. But when he began to understand that his acceptance of God’s salvation was based on the free and undeserved grace of Jesus, his heart changed. He abandoned self-righteousness and began to experience the warmth, joy, and confidence of a renewed life, and he also realized and abandoned the racism in his heart.

Pastor Piper said in the book “Bloodline” that the gospel of Jesus Christ can dissolve the sins that lead to racism and lead people to the kingdom of God composed of people of different races and cultures. In Christ, the blood of the different races is washed clean by the blood shed on the same cross. Jesus Christ shed blood and died for us, and resurrected for us so that we can become brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God.  The Gospel of Christ is the antidote to racism, and only the Gospel of Christ can dissolve the demons of racism.

I think of the life testimonies of some missionaries who moved us in history. A missionary is a group of people who have overcome and transcended the “selfish gene”. They could have enjoyed success and affluent life in the world, but they left their hometowns, traveled across the oceans, and went to strange foreign lands, dedicating their youth, energy, and even life to care for and serve those who are humble, weak, incomplete, and regarded as “Backward” “non-my race”. This is not because they are “people made of special materials (genes)”, but because the gospel of Christ has changed their lives, enabling them to cross the gap between race and culture, and live a life of “love your neighbor as yourself”.

Today, there are still tens of thousands of Christians whose lives have been changed by the gospel, bearing the same testimony with their actions. Whether it is an American Christian doctor who went to Africa to rescue the Ebola virus epidemic or a Chinese Christian teacher who went to Miaozhai, Guizhou to teach and help minority children, they all uphold the same spirit as the missionaries, and they have witnessed Christ together. The power of the gospel to transcend racism.

Yes, each of us can be a racist. On our own, we not only cannot overcome racism, but we are not even aware of its existence. But the Gospel of Christ can reverse our values, subvert our inner self-righteousness and pride, and give us new life, making us not only free from the racist virus but also able to transcend racial barriers and care for people of different races, to Christians who evangelized them.