by Pastor Marc Grimaldi
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was a group of wicked racists. Most of the members of the KKK ate dairy products. Therefore, to consume dairy products is to embrace racism.
Any sane person would state that the above statement is absolutely ridiculous. It doesn’t take a Logic major to recognize the utter insanity of such reasoning. Just because the KKK were wicked racists, it doesn’t mean that everything they did was racist. Indeed, they did a lot of things that most human beings do, which involve normal life activities. They ate, drank, swam, played games, enjoyed leisure activities and probably even did some morally nice things, as well. Not everything they touched took on a racial agenda. This may seem obvious on the surface, but sadly, this is the precise type of logic that many people utilize in our day, albeit, in much more subtler ways, when planting the racial stigma on various people, activities, events and ideologies.
The above (poor) logic would fall into the categorical fallacy of “guilt by association,” a very common error made in our day. A more common and realistic form of this fallacy might look something like this: “Sam and David are friends. David is an alcoholic who fornicated. Sam must, at the very least, condone alcohol abuse and fornication, if he is not, in fact, an alcoholic and fornicator himself.” There might be many reasons for Sam’s friendship to David, but to assume that he bears the same vices and faults as Sam, because of their friendship, is erroneous at best, and slanderous at worst. This type of “guilt by association” is a staple of modern day politics, media and social media.
Where am I going with all of this? The category of “racism” has grown so large in our day, that it has sadly swallowed up much good, by associating virtually anything that has rubbed shoulders with slavery and racism, as part of the overall evil of racism. And, in doing so, ironically, our culture is being forced further and further into embracing the very heinous types of ideologies that lead to setting in place, the very same evils that we are allegedly seeking to put to death! Now, what I mean by this will become very clear by the time you come to the end of this article. So, stay with me!
Introducing Shelby Steele
Who is Shelby Steele? The Wikipedia short form states the following: “Shelby Steele (born January 1, 1946) is an American conservative author, columnist, documentary film maker, and a Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He specializes in the study of race relations, multiculturalism, and affirmative action.”
My personal experience with Mr. Steele is related to one of the several books he has written, titled, “White Guilt: How Blacks & Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era” (2006, HarperCollins Publishers). Upon receiving a recommendation to read this fine work, I ordered a copy and labored through its pages, underlining various profound statements along the way. By the time I drank in the last page of this priceless treasure, I was hit with two powerful thoughts. First, I had realized that Steele had profoundly uncovered and exposed the major hindrances that have, both, stunted what could have brought about the greatest success of the Civil Rights movement, and crippled race relations in our day. Second, I thought that, if from a Christian worldview, a proper biblical anthropology (understanding what God says about the nature of man), coupled with the healing medicine of the Gospel of Christ, were brought into the equation of what Steele had exposed, we could make true progress in race relations, while pulling away from the dangerous path that even many evangelicals are trekking down today, having embracing the poisonous philosophies associated with “Critical Race Theory,” “Systemic Racism,” “White Privilege,” “Intersectionality,” and all of the other rhetoric that accompanies these divisive and unhelpful terms.
The purpose of this article then, is to bridge some of Steele’s findings with a biblical worldview, thereby, completing the picture of what I believe to be a helpful remedy to the very relevant and controversial topic of race relations.
At times, greatness can erupt on the heels of very difficult and trying circumstances.
Such is the case with the glorious gem of American freedom (“Americanism”), which has been mined from the cave of international tyranny. America, at its roots, encapsulates one of the greatest philosophies of government that this world has ever seen. Our system of checks and balances, coupled with a Constitution and Bill of Rights that aim to put the government at work for the people, is about as ideal as you can get, for promoting and building a truly free country. Is it without flaw? No, but that is primarily due to the fact that all people are flawed with a sin nature (see the section on “Biblical Anthropology” below).
America’s revolution against the tyrannical rule of England has led to the production of a system of government that grants all citizens basic inalienable rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to secure and own private property and a host of other precious freedoms, which ought to encourage and motivate individuals to work as hard as they desire, in order to live and prosper in this great nation. We enjoy the freedom to come and go, to buy and sell, and to enjoy the personal ownership of all kinds of assets, which can help serve to make our lives peaceful and enjoyable. The primary purpose of the government is to ensure that these freedoms are protected, while punishing those who seek to violate them. The term “America” has come to represent the freedoms that we enjoy, and the right to pursue our own dreams, without the interference of a tyrannical government, seeking to intrude upon our freedoms. Again, in the truly “American” sense, the government exists to serve the people.
It is by means of this philosophical system of government and the promotion of “free market” Capitalism, that America has advanced to become, in many ways, the greatest nation on earth, economically, technologically and in virtually every area of prosperity. The philosophy of the “American Dream” is an undeniably, proven philosophy, especially in contrast to such failed systems as Socialism and Communism, which have only served to greatly limit the freedoms of the people, while padding the pockets and lifestyles of their big governments. Is there corruption in a capitalistic nation? Absolutely. Again, all systems are flawed because mankind is flawed. That said, a capitalistic society does the most to preserve the freedom and rights of all people.
Glorious Freedom in the Hands of Hypocrites
If the philosophy of the “American Dream” is so great, then how do we explain slavery?
Isn’t it the case that the horrid acts of slavery mar the whole philosophy of Americanism? Is there not a “systemic” racial element incorporated in the very principles that make up the foundation of our great nation? I would answer such questions with an emphatic “no!” The system is not the problem. In fact, to the contrary, the whole concept of Americanism is antithetical to slavery! Indeed, it is grounded in the independence that we sought from the tyranny of the British. It houses the very recipe for freedom! Well again, then how do we explain slavery?
Slavery is the terrible consequence of an unapplied Americanism to one group of people on the basis of their skin color. In other words, sadly, slavery is the product of hypocrisy, as many who enjoyed the American Dream, failed to extend that liberty to others. The Revolutionary War taught us much; we found a way, but we didn’t open that way to all people. We allowed for a “less than” population to exist among us and justified supporting the African Slave Trade.
It is so hard, from a twenty-first century standpoint to grasp the mindset of early American slaveholders. I want to believe that I would have been different if I were alive at that time. But, I wouldn’t be so arrogant to presume that my naturally sinful heart couldn’t have been swept away by such cultural blindness, borrowing the excuses and justifications of the time. It’s a terrible thought, really; a thought that I hate to imagine, but I dare not tread on the soil of self- righteousness. If it can be done by humanity, then it is within the reach of all humans. Needless to say, the problem has nothing to do with Americanism and everything to do with a failure to extend the glorious privileges of Americanism to people with black skin.
One can understand, therefore, how the glory of Americanism itself is jeopardized because of this failure. People can’t help but attribute slavery and racism to the system (“systemic racism”), rather then seeing it as a failure to welcome everyone into the system. In other words, the “system” takes the bullet for man’s sinfulness, and there are many in the political realm who are happy to support such a notion, so they can push us back into the tyranny that once ruled us. The hunger for power is a disease which will always be present in a fallen world. And so, Americanism is contaminated by the failure of hypocritical Americans. It is a clear case of “guilt by association.” Now, everything that has made America great is considered racist, because after all, you can’t separate the terrible acts of many Americans from the system itself. Flags are burned, the pledge is shunned, the constitution is spurned, capitalism is vilified (add to this that there are some greedy and corrupt capitalists) and we are being pushed into the very abyss of tyranny, from which, we once escaped.
Enter the Civil Rights Era
While the emancipating of slaves was a tremendous step in the right direction, the
ongoing segregating of blacks from whites during the Jim Crow era was hardly a representation of the glory of Americanism. As terrible as slavery was, in many ways, it was during this time period that the term “Racialism” had taken on its full form. Again, the terrible treatment of blacks as “less thans” was anything but, even a remote display of the type of freedom that erupted out of the Revolutionary War. How we ever celebrated “Independence Day” with the atrocities of slavery and Jim Crow sitting right under our noses is something that is still difficult to comprehend in the present.
However, the dawn of a new age began to shine when the Civil Rights era had emerged in the mid fifties and continued into the late sixties. The potential for great change and for correcting what was grossly hypocritical and contradictory to the glory of true Americanism was on the horizon. Though not without great difficulty and sacrifice, blacks began to boldly push their way into obtaining equal status with whites, which they deserved as fellow human beings, created in the image of God, endowed with the same inalienable rights as all human beings. It was a wondrous sight and held out great promise for a future where character and not color would be that which determined the respect that any individual should receive.
So much potential flowed through the Civil Rights Movement, but sadly, certain factors crippled what could otherwise have been, perhaps, the greatest billboard for unity and freedom that this country has ever known.
The Genius of Shelby Steele
The Civil Rights Movement was a huge step in the right direction. Blacks took a stand for equal rights and whites began to recognize that blacks deserved such rights. It was the recipe for a glorious turning point in American history. However, what needed to happen, didn’t. Blacks ought to have been lovingly brought into the Americanism that made this country great.
They ought to have been brought to the feasting table of the wonderful benefits and freedoms that had come on the heels of the Revolutionary War. But, they weren’t. They ought to have been introduced to the dignity and sense of accomplishment that comes with working hard to advance in a free nation. But again, they weren’t. Everything, people like Martin Luther King Jr. had fought hard for, had been cast aside for a decoy of entitlement, which preyed upon the pride and weakness of “white guilt.” This is not to say that whites were not guilty. They were, very much so. But sadly, and to the detriment of so many black communities (right up to the present day), this became an avenue of short sighted gain, which only, ultimately, further bound blacks to another form of slavery, which still exists in the present. A slavery of relying upon “white guilt” to advance, rather than formulating a commitment to the hard work, personal responsibility and integrity, that bring people to enjoy the blessed Americanism that produces and exemplifies individual freedom, had ensued. And sadly, there are many, many politicians, who for the sake of personal and political gain, gladly feed into this subtle type of degradation, using terms like “white privilege” and “systemic racism” to perpetuate a form of slavery that keeps blacks in check, politicians in office and truly “woke” blacks (often called “Uncle Toms,” for trying to expose the lie) at bay.
Blacks, being made in the image and likeness of God, are just as smart and capable as whites (and any race, for that matter), but as long as they continue to buy into the “we are victims of white privilege,” group mentality, rather then striving to advance as individuals (with dignity and responsibility, and through hard work); as long as they are afraid to break out of the “identity politics,” which greedy politicians and false reverends keep compelling them toward, they will never prosper in the truest sense. Furthermore, no amount of advantageous programs or reparations will ultimately, ever benefit them. In fact, these will only continue to keep them back, and whites will continue to be blamed for their lack of advancement. Blacks have to stop thinking in terms of “blackness” and “whiteness,” and they have to shift gears into thinking in terms of individual humanness. And whites have to stop selfishly feeding this cancer, which has been used as an attempt to eliminate past guilt, prove that they are not presently racist, and repeatedly plant “virtue flags” for their own moral boost. Black people are not helpless animals that need to be coddled and protected by big brother, guilt-laden whites, nor are they wild beasts that need to be tamed by delectable treats (a foolish product of evolutionary thought). They are human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, with human dignity and the ability to soar in a free country, like everyone else! They must be treated like every other human being, and they must be held accountable for their actions, and they must be encouraged to thrive, like everyone else. And they will! And many have already!
Shelby Steele, who grew up during the time when the Civil Rights Movement took a nose dive into the aforementioned subtle form of slavery, had himself fallen into the same trap. But, he has since come to understand the truth (ironically, he is the one who is truly “woke”) and has written several books dealing with these kinds of issues. Steele doesn’t hesitate putting the blame for the current dilemma on both whites and black. To this end, let me share a bit of his genius with you, before moving on to consider the important and very relevant topic of seeing the need to process a proper biblical anthropology as a means of getting to the root of “race” issues.
Steele’s profound incite into understanding what has just been related above can be recognized in the following small sampling of quotes, taken from his book:
Black America faced two options. We could seize on the great freedom we had just won in the civil rights victories and advance through education, skill development, and entrepreneurialism combined with an unbending assault on any continuing discrimination; or we could go after these things indirectly by pressuring the society that had wronged us into taking the lion’s share of responsibility in resurrecting us. The new black militancy that exploded everywhere in the late sixties— and that came to define the strategy for black advancement for the next four decades— grew out of black America’s complete embrace of the latter option (pg. 58).
Authentic black militancy, of the sort that Malcom X at times seemed capable of, always embraced responsibility as power itself. It demanded only the freedom and equal treatment under the law that would allow responsibility to be the same fount of hope, power, and advancement in blacks that it was for others. If Malcom X railed ferociously against white America, he never called for a redistribution of responsibility for black uplift to whites or American institutions.
His was a self-help black militancy that was naturally skeptical about what others would actually do for blacks. You might call it “hard-work” militancy, since it was built around the difficult principles of self-sacrifice, delayed gratification, family unity, individual initiative, entrepreneurialism, and so on. If it carried an ugly theme of separatism, it more importantly focused on racial redemption through human development and nation building. What made this militancy authentic was that it truly sought to restore an oppressed people to human dignity through real development and without an enmeshment with or dependency on the guilt of whites (pg. 59-60).
Black leader after black leader argued that we could not pick ourselves up by our own bootstraps, because we “don’t have any bootstraps.” But this humiliating plea for white intervention only projected whites as powerful and blacks as helpless. So, finally, we embraced a black militancy that argued nothing more strongly than our own perpetual weakness— or, put another way, our inferiority. To be a proud and militant black after the sixties, you screamed black power in order to induce the application of white power. And you lived by an ethic that still sees full responsibility as oppression, if not racism, when applied to blacks. Still today, the best way to make a black leader mad is to say to him that black Americans are capable of being fully responsible for their own advancement (pg. 60).
The corruption of “results” -oriented racial reform is that it separates racial reform from all accountability to the actual development of excellence and merit of black Americans. The inferiority imposed on blacks by four centuries of oppression is ignored as institutions shoehorn minorities into their midst (by lowering standards) simply to get the “result” that shows the institution to be beyond racism. Preferential affirmative action, the classic “results”-oriented racial reform, tells minorities quite explicitly that they will not have to compete on the same standards as whites precisely so they can be included in American institutions without in fact achieving the same level of excellence as whites. The true concern of “results” reform is the moral authority of the institution. Minority development is sacrificed to the magnanimity of the institution (pg. 61).
No group in human history has been lifted into excellence or competitiveness by another group. No group has even benefited from the assistance of others without already having taken complete responsibility itself— complete to the point of saying that we appreciate your desire to help, but the help itself is unwelcome for the weakness it breeds. This is precisely the leap of faith that transforms people from slaves into their own masters (pg. 62).
Thus we got remedies pitched at injustices rather than at black academic excellence— school busing, black role models as teachers, black history courses, “diverse” reading lists, “Ebonics,” multiculturalism, culturally “inclusive” classes, standardized tests corrected for racial bias, and so on. All this but no demand for parental responsibility, for harder work on reading, writing, and arithmetic (pg. 64).
If white Western societies were racist and imperialistic, they were also the centers of an indisputably great civilization (one that absorbed contributions from many other races and cultures). But when white supremacy was delegitimized, whites did not simply lose the authority to practice racism. The loss of authority generalized well beyond that, so that whites also lost a degree of their authority to stand proudly for the values and ideas that had made the West a great civilization despite its many evils (pg. 109).
The loss of moral authority went too far the other way, not only denying legitimacy to the plunder of the nonwhite world but also denying it to that entire set of difficult “character” principles that bring coherence and even greatness to free societies: personal responsibility, hard work, individual initiative, delayed gratification, commitment to excellence, competition by merit, the honor in achievement, and so on... After America admitted to what was worst about itself, there was not enough authority left to support what was best” (pg. 109-110).
In the age of racism, whites said blacks were inferior so as not to see their own desire to exploit them, their true motivation. In the age of white guilt, whites support all manner of silly racial policies without seeing that their true motivation is simply to show themselves innocent of racism (pg. 126).
What is white blindness? It is a blindness to the human reality of minorities that occurs when whites look at racial issues but only see the contingency they must meet to restore their own moral authority. White blindness is an unconscious self-absorption by which whites see racial issues— and even interracial encounters— as opportunities to dissociate from historic racism. Thus, encountering the black face is more an opportunity to dissociate than to see a human being like oneself. This is blindness because it confuses the mere dissociation from racism with sight, with seeing the human reality of racially different people. The two are not the same. To see humanity across racial lines one must see frankly how people of other races live as human beings, not as members of a race (pg. 129).
In the age of white guilt, white blindness has been driven not by racism but by the white need to dissociate from racism. Whites are blind to blacks as human beings today not out of bigotry but out of their obsession with achieving the dissociation they need to restore their moral authority (pg. 140).
A 70 percent illegitimacy rate among all blacks (90 percent in certain inner cities) pretty much makes the point that there is a responsibility problem. To know this, as all blacks do, and to have to pretend that it is not strictly true or that certain “systemic” forces are more responsible than blacks themselves is knowingly to lie to oneself (pg. 173).
This is just a handful of great quotes from an excellent work by Shelby Steele. Reading them in their fuller context will do the reader a lot of good. All in all, Steele has done a fine job of identifying some of the main catalysts which have brought about the ongoing problems found in many black communities today. In summary, blacks deserve to be brought into the hardworking, responsible Americanism that made this country great from the outset. If this is going to be accomplished, whites have to let go of white guilt, accepting whatever responsibility they have had in harming the black population all along, while coming alongside of them and encouraging them to embrace everything in the American dream that comes to those who work hard to obtain it. This includes taking full responsibility for their own moral responsibilities and failures, just like the rest of us. And blacks have to be willing to sacrifice whatever it is that can still be manipulated out of “white guilt,” while learning to responsibly fend for themselves, building character and working hard to make good use of all that is available in a free market Americanism. To say that the opportunities are not there, for all races, who are willing to work hard to take advantage of them, is ignorance at best and lying at worst, especially in the present.
Recently, released video footage on social media showed black men dousing police officers with buckets of water as they were in the process of doing their job. It was a disgraceful sight to behold. And, at least in the immediate sense, the soaked cops could do nothing about it. They had to simply, patiently endure the harassment.
Police officers (and especially white ones) have been stigmatized by the media, leading a large number of black people to view all cops as racists. In truth, there are well over 700,000 policemen in our country, and but a very small handful of them, have been involved with what would seem to be the unlawful treatment (including some deaths) of minorities. But, when virtually every single news station highlights those incidents, continually emphasizing the fact that the victims were black, you would think that every single Police Department in the country doubles as a KKK meeting house. The truth is, that, by and large, the far greater majority of policemen simply do their job well, without a shred of evidence of being racist. But the media narrative has done so much to fuel racial tension that many black communities are built around the notion that cops are their enemies. And so, cops are disrespected, cursed at, disobeyed and treated like trash in such communities, creating a very dangerous atmosphere for them to do any work, in seeking to help keep the community safe (“Gangster rap” has only added to this problem, fostering a host of other significant problems, as well— treating women like “bitches and hoes” and bragging about carrying fire arms is hardly going to encourage a healthy and prosperous community).
Why does the media love to fuel racial tension, especially highlighting any and every wrong (or potential wrong) done to minorities? Because, the media is in the pocket of the left wing agenda, and maintaining the racial narrative is critical to securing the black vote for the Democratic Party, while keeping blacks under their control. All in all, blacks are given many promises, while being used and played by left wing Democrats, who, by and large, could care less about improving black communities. Politicians in general, in our day, do not work for the people. They serve their own personal lusts for wealth and power. If they do anything that leaves even a scent of “goodness,” be sure that there is a camera man nearby, preparing the inset for the next media campaign.
Now, perhaps more than ever, the stigma of being labeled a racist, is so feared among renown whites that they are constantly walking on egg shells, while “virtue signaling” left and right, doing all they can to prove that they are pro-black and not racist. To this end, many are afraid to even disagree with a minority, because the accusation of being a racist, no matter how unfounded, is always only one breath away. And once the stigma is placed on you, the media surrounds you like a pride of lions going in for the kill, as they continue to fuel the narrative that gets the politicians who support them, elected. Indeed, being stigmatized is a dangerous reality, which can strip you of everything you’ve worked so hard to obtain. Until blacks and whites, together, take a stand against the sham media and greedy politicians, this kind of nonsense will continue to breed, and race relations will never improve.
A Biblical Anthropology: Getting to the Heart of Racism
If we are going to deal with the matter of racial reconciliation in an honest and profitable way, then we must address racism at its root. This brings us to the place of understanding what God’s Word teaches us about the nature and heart of man, especially in light of the fall of mankind.
What is racism? At the very basic and most obvious level, racism entails mistreating another person (or other persons) in some way or thinking less of others in some way, because of their ethnic background which is different than yours. To this end, racism can exist in circumstances where there are different cultures, nations, tribes, languages, skin colors, and virtually different anything that involves any ethnic distinction between two or more people. And so, certainly, when there is such a visible identification as skin color, racism can and will be found, but it is not limited to skin color. You can have people who have the same skin color, and who live on the same plot of land, who yet exhibit racial tendencies toward each other.
Right from the outset then, before getting caught up in the world’s banter of racial disagreements, we must and ought to consider that which is at the root of racism. Because, melanin count (skin pigment) is not, in itself, racist. Ethnicities are not naturally racist. They are amoral. A color or a shape can’t simply hate or despise another color or shape. Rather, the mind/heart that lies beneath the color, shape and ethnicity, is what ultimately drives the ship of this problem of racism.
It is vitally important to recognize that God created all ethnicities and color differentiations. And so, pre-fall tan, black, white, yellow, brown (and every other color) are all good; they are all varieties created by a glorious God, who has designed variety (in many forms) as a means of glorifying His power and wisdom. To that end, racism is not a “race” problem, so much as it is a “heart” problem. It is a problem that finds its root, first and foremost, in the fall of mankind, where man, by His rebellion, distorted everything good that God had made, even the image of God within him, such that variety and outward beauty of all kinds, rather than being seen as various, glorious displays of beauty and design, are seen as flaws and “less thans,” because they are different than us. We might even add that pride is at the root of racism as well, because when we see ourselves as personal gods (having rejected God as our true and living God), we despise His glorious design and exalt ourselves above all else. We elevate ourselves above all others, and look down upon and despise the rest.
All of that said, it is also important to see how ethnic distinctions and biases find another critical root in the judgment that came upon man at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). Remember, following the time of Noah, when mankind began to increase through the sons of Noah, rather than repopulate the earth, man rebelled and sought to consolidate a rebellion against God, building a tower into the sky with the intent of uniting together forever, independent of his God and Creator. And so, God came down and initiated a multi-national split, confusing the languages, such that the people would scatter throughout the earth. This enabled God to set apart Abraham, and a distinguished nation of people for Himself, so as to secure a line for the Seed of the Woman, the Christ, who would later come. But, inevitably this act of judgment and preservation would create intentional ethnic tensions, and a Jew/Gentile divide. And so, in a just sense, God Himself, fostered ethnic division as a means of preserving His people until the Christ should come. “Racism” at national, local and tribal levels inevitably came about because of this.
Suffice it to say then, that racism has its roots, primarily, in the fall of man, and then secondarily, at the Tower of Babel, where God brought judgment upon mankind for his utter rebellion against Him. In both cases, we can say very firmly that racial discrimination has its roots in the fall of mankind, just like every other form of evil that exists.
American Racial Discrimination
Now, while racism, ethnic discrimination, genocide and slavery of every kind (at national, local and individual levels) have existed since (and as a consequence of) the fall, it is important that we say a few things about our own nation’s history, before working toward the only valid solution for racism. It is important that we do consider our own national failure and sin in the light of the foundation that we have just laid, especially, if we are going to pursue a working solution to secure a firm and ongoing relationship amongst our nation’s races. Suffice it to say, that politics (and a lot of what even evangelicals are presently putting forth for solutions for that matter), will not succeed, because they are utilizing a flawed, socialistic, unbiblical methodology as their main source of reconciliation. And this Christless, unbiblical method has no power or ability to do anything but create further division, which it is in fact doing in the present.
I think that we all can, and ought to say, that one of the greatest blemishes which has grossly marred the beauty of this country’s display of freedom and liberty (which we wrested out of the hands of the British), and which reflects so prominently what we have just spoken about concerning the wicked root of racial discrimination, is, of course, the lengthy period of time, within which, white Americans owned slaves. And there is no doubt, that while the opportunities are far greater today for blacks, there are still residual consequences that have trickled into the present, which have their roots in the way in which, blacks were horribly treated during that dark period of our nation’s history.
Now, this doesn’t eliminate the fact that ethnic controversies have existed and still do exist amongst the other races, but obviously, the biggest wedge formed was between blacks and whites. But again, we have to remind ourselves that the skin pigment is not the real issue, and if we lose sight of that, we will fall into the trap of trying to resolve things at a superficial level, falling into the trap of corrupt politicians who desire to use racial tensions as a means of stuffing their own pockets with wealth and retaining their power. We have to recognize that there are many people in high places who are exploiting racism as a means of securing their own personal interests and gain. And so, we have to begin by recognizing that there is nothing naturally evil about “whiteness” or “blackness” or any color. Color has never been the issue. In fact, if there were only one color in all of mankind, we would find a way to hate each other for the shape of our faces, hair style, nose size and even locational differences, if we all looked identical. Indeed, if circumstances were such that black Americans were the majority, and a white slave trade was accessible, it could very well have been the case that we would be dealing with the same issues, but with the roles reveresed. To deny this is to be grossly ignorant of the nature and power of sin that exists in all of us. The real issue then is the contaminated human heart, and we all share that same problem. Skin color just makes it easier to express such hatred and disregard for life, because it presents an obvious distinction that can provide an excuse for acting out of our proud, godless hearts.
I say all of this, not in anyway, to minimize the terrible and atrocious acts which were committed against black people in our country, but simply to highlight the real problem. The real problem is in all of us. White skinned people happened to have the advantage and opportunity to exercise the fruit of this evil, in the context of a functioning African slave trade.
This all being the case, what then is the solution to this horrific evil? What is the undoing of self-absorbed, proud, God-hating, image of God denying, racism? How is the judgment of Babel undone?
The Ultimate Solution to the Problem of Racism
The answer to this dilemma; the solution, is found in two simple, but powerful and meaningful words...Jesus Christ! The gospel, and the gospel alone, in its free and gracious fulness, is equipped to heal any and every racial divide. Consider the Apostle Paul’s words to the Colossians:
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:1-11; see also Galatians 3:26-29).
Now, what is Paul saying here, and how is this relevant to the overall topic of racism? Paul is saying that by being united to Christ (in his death and resurrection), sinners become new creatures. They are rescued out of the corruptive grip of their sin nature in Adam, to which, they were once bound. And that leads them to live differently. That leads them to now pursue God’s interests (things above) and to live in a new way, relating to God and others in a new way which now exhibits the fruit of those who are united to Christ. The old man has been put off. The new man has been put on, and they now strive to walk in this newness of life together, as one family and people in Christ. To this end, the differences that have come about as a consequence of the fall, and which have necessitated the judgment of Babel (for a time), are put away, and they are brought back together in Christ. There is no longer this separation and division of races and cultures which once divided them, but rather, they are now one culture in Christ. In Christ, there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian nor Scythian, slave nor free, black nor white, yellow nor brown, “but Christ is all and in all.”
Christ breaks down the wall of separation not only between Jew and Gentile (which was the greatest rivalry of all, separated by boundary, circumcision and all manner of dietary laws and segregating provisions), but between all races, kinds, peoples, nations, languages and colors. What separated us, has been removed and nailed to the cross! And this my friends, is the message that needs to be brought and carried to the world that surrounds us. The gospel is what bridges the gap, removing the enmity, washing away the former and present sins, so that we relate to one another anew, in Christ!
Now, let me just wrap this point up with a concluding thought, particularly for those Christians who have bought into the “Social Justice” lie. Recognize that the greatest offense of racism (in any respect), is first and foremost, directed against God, whose image we all bear. Racism is a sin, first and foremost, against God, the glorious designer of diversity and the objective image that we all bear. And if the way of peace with God is through Jesus Christ, and if He accepts us completely and totally in Christ without any cost on our part, how can we demand any cost from one another, based on former racial prejudices that once divided us? In other words, if God has reconciled us to Himself in Christ, how can we deny the reconciliation that ought to be granted between races based on that same worthy sacrifice? How can we demand more than what God demands, when He accepts the full payment of our reconciliation in Christ. To add any other demands to the gospel, as a means of securing reconciliation between any races, regardless of even the heinous sins of the past, is to add to the gospel and to require more than God Himself (who is the Most offended party) requires. And sadly, this is exactly what some Christian evangelicals are seeking to do today. Though perhaps well meaning, they are promoting a new, social gospel, which will only serve to erode the true gospel, while trampling upon the blood of Christ which secures it.
So much more can be said about this very important topic. We haven’t even touched on the theory of evolution, and how such thinking has contributed to the whole notion that certain races are inferior to other races, but time will not permit me to do so, in this paper.
Suffice it to say that the current problems which we face, concerning racial reconciliation, while complicated, have nothing to do with any “systemic” problem within Americanism, and everything to do with the sinful heart of mankind. Americanism, however, suffers by association. Unless whites an blacks address the problem biblically with both laying aside the natural propensity toward succumbing to “white guilt” (whites caving in, so as to avoid the stigma of being labeled racists and wanting to prove they are not racist, and blacks failing to take responsibility for themselves, while continuing to blame whites for all of their present hardships), we will never make headway in the area of true racial reconciliation. And unless we are all willing to expose and stand against greedy, self-serving politicians and a sold-out media which is constantly seeking to fuel racial tensions, we will never reach our true potential as a united Americas. And most of all, unless we are changed front the inside out, by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (who unites all people groups together in Him), we will always find something to hate others about, even if skin color is not the primary point of contention. Again, it all comes down to the heart, the root of all controversy and contention, which we all share. But, the good news is that Jesus Christ is the Great Physician, who is in the very business of performing heart transplants for all who come to Him by faith.
Pastor Mark Grimaldi is an elder at Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Merrick, Long Island.