SPECIAL TOPIC: RACISM

I. Introduction

A. This is a universal expression by fallen mankind within his society. This is mankind's ego, supporting itself on the backs of others. Racism is, in many ways, a modern phenomena, while nationalism (or tribalism) is a more ancient expression.

B. Nationalism began at Babel (Genesis 11) and was originally related to Noah's three sons from which the so-called races developed (Genesis 10). However, it is obvious from Scripture that humanity is from one source (cf. Genesis 1-3; Acts 17:24-26).

C. Racism is just one of many prejudices. Some others are

1. educational snobbery

2. socio-economic arrogance

3. self-righteous religious legalism

4. dogmatic political affiliations

II. Biblical Material

A. Old Testament

1. Gen. 1:27 – Mankind, male and female, were made in the image and likeness of God, which makes them unique. It also shows their individual worth and dignity (cf. John 3:16). 

2. Gen. 1:11-25 – Records the phrase, ". . .after their own kind. . ." ten times. This has been used to support racial segregation. However, it is obvious from the context that this refers to animals and plants and not to humanity.

3. Gen. 9:18-27 – This has been used to support racial dominance. It must be remembered that God did not curse Canaan. Noah, his grandfather, cursed him after awakening from a drunken stupor. The Bible never records that God confirmed this oath/curse.  Even if He did, this does not affect the black race. Canaan was the father of those who inhabited Palestine, and the Egyptian wall art shows they were not black.

4. Joshua 9:23 – This has been used to prove one race will serve another.  However, in context, the Gibeonites are of the same racial stock as the Jews.

5. Ezra 9-10 and Nehemiah 13 – These have often been used in a racial sense, but the context shows that the marriages were condemned, not because of race (they were from the same son of Noah, Genesis 10), but for religious reasons.

B. New Testament

1. The Gospels

a. Jesus made use of the hatred between the Jews and Samaritans on several instances, which shows that racial hatred is inappropriate.

(1) the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)

(2) the woman at the well (John 4)

(3) the thankful leper (Luke 17:11-19)

b. The Gospel is for all humanity

(1) John 3:16

(2) Luke 24:46-47

(3) Hebrews 2:9

(4) Revelation 14:6

c. The Kingdom will include all humanity

(1) Luke 13:29

(2) Revelation 5

2. Acts

a. Acts 10 is a definitive passage on God's universal love and the gospel's universal message.

b. Peter was attacked for his actions in Acts 11 and this problem was not resolved until the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 met and came to a solution. The tension between first century Jews and Gentiles was very intense.

3. Paul

a. There are no barriers in Christ

(1) Gal. 3:26-28

(2) Eph. 2:11-22

(3) Col. 3:11

b. God is no respecter of persons

(1) Rom. 2:11

(2) Eph. 6:9 

4. Peter and James

a. God is no respecter of persons, 1 Pet. 1:17

b. Because God does not show partiality, then neither should His people, James 2:1

5. John

a. One of the strongest statements on the responsibility of believers is found in 1 John 4:20

III. Conclusion

A. Racism, or for that matter, prejudice of any kind, is totally inappropriate for God's children.  Here is a quote from Henlee Barnette, who spoke at a forum at Glorieta, New Mexico, for the Christian Life Commission in 1964.

"Racism is heretical because it is unbiblical and unchristian, not to mention unscientific."

B. This issue gives Christians the opportunity to show their Christlike love, forgiveness, and understanding to a lost world.  Christian racism shows immaturity and is an opportunity for the evil one to retard the believer's faith, assurance, and growth.  It will also act as a barrier to lost people coming to Christ.

C. What can I do? (This section is taken from a Christian Life Commission tract entitled "Race Relations")

"ON THE PERSONAL LEVEL"

•  Accept your own responsibility in solving the problems associated with race.

•  Through prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with those of other races, strive to rid your life of racial prejudice.

•  Express your convictions about race, particularly where those who stir up race hatred are unchallenged.

"IN FAMILY LIFE"

•  Recognize the importance of family influence in the development of attitudes toward other races.

• Seek to develop Christian attitudes by talking over what children and parents hear about the race issue outside the home.

• Parents should be careful to set a Christian example in relating to people of other races.

• Seek opportunities to make family friendships across racial lines.

"IN YOUR CHURCH"

• By the preaching and teaching of biblical truth relating to race, the congregation can be motivated to set an example for the entire community.

• Be sure that worship, fellowship, and service through the church is open to all, even as the NT churches observed no racial barriers (Eph. 2:11-22; Gal. 3:26-29).

"IN DAILY LIFE"

• Help to overcome all racial discrimination in the world of work.

• Work through community organizations of all kinds to secure equal rights and opportunities, remembering that it is the race problem which should be attacked, not people. The aim is to promote understanding, not to create bitterness.

• If it seems wise, organize a special committee of concerned citizens for the purpose of opening lines of communication in the community for education of the general public and for specific actions in improving race relations. 

• Support legislation and legislators in the passing of laws promoting racial justice and oppose those who exploit prejudice for political gain.

• Commend law enforcement officials for enforcing the laws without discrimination.

• Shun violence, and promote respect for the law, doing everything possible as a Christian citizen to make sure that legal structures do not become tools in the hands of those who would promote discrimination.

• Exemplify the spirit and mind of Christ in all human relationship.

 

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