Christianity could be a major force for racial reconciliation, yet it's track record isn't so hot. Scripture and doctrine have been used to perpetuate and justify racism, and there are consequences for our modern witness.
We are all familiar with the practice of cherry picking verses to hijack the bible into defending our own views. Certainly, racialized agendas are no exception. It doesn't help, though, that the bible provides no explicit condemnation of slavery, while providing a litany of guidelines that seem to condone the practice. The general scriptural take-away seems to be, 'if you are going to have slaves, here is how you should do it,' which opens the way for statements such as this one:
Although Christians were certainly sold into slavery in the early church, it should not come as a surprise that we preferentially unfettered ourselves as we gained global influence.
"[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God...it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation...it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts." Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America
Genesis 9:25). Eventually the Canaanites did indeed become slaves to the Jews, so end of story, right? Nah...
"Oh, precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus"
I am not claiming that these verses are the origins of modern racism, nor should we deny/ignore their existence in scripture. Instead, we need to put them in their proper context and have a sensitive understanding about how they are heard with modern ears. Their original meaning is very much in line with the Kingdom, but their current use may not be so in line with God’s will.
|Our default, white, Jesus|
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