We are going through the book of Ephesians in church, and one of the things that Paul wants to make sure that the believers in Ephesus (and in other churches, as it’s a major theme in Romans as well) know is that God is not a respecter of persons. Before Him, there’s no difference between male and female, master and slave or Jew and Gentile. Spiritually, we all have the same standing before God. There’s no question about it.
It is upon this truth that much theology is based—whether it’s equality between the sexes, the idea that no man should own another or even the pro-life message to an extent.
So it is not surprising when Dr. Albert Mohler comes out to make sure that everyone understands that the the Southern Baptist churches may have been founded by slave owners, that racism is something that is heresy. This he outlines in full at his post The Heresy of Racial Superiority – Confronting the Past, and Confronting the Truth:
I do believe that racial superiority is a heresy. That means that those who hold it unrepentantly and refuse correction by Scripture and the gospel of Christ must, as Harold O. J. Brown rightly said, “be considered to have abandoned the faith.”
Standing squarely in a different camp, Answers In Genesis (led by Ken Ham) states that there really shouldn’t be any racism if we all understood what the Bible teaches—that there’s only one race—which he outlines in his post Evolution and Racism:
There’s no doubt Darwinian evolution has fueled racism! Imagine the damage done by the public schools in the 1920s as students were taught that the “Caucasians” were the highest “race!” Had students been taught the correct account of history based on God’s Word, such racist teaching that causes prejudice would not have happened, for the Bible makes it clear there is only one race of humans, descended from Adam.
There are two arguments that one could make here. One of them is just a game of semantics—wouldn’t it be two races, since Christ is the Second Adam and those that are saved are joint heirs with Him.
We are Not All the Same
The second problem with both Ham and Mohler is that while the Bible totally supports the equality of people in their standing before God, the Scripture is also very clear that all men and women are not equal:
- The sons of Anak were tall and powerful—the Israelites didn’t want to face them coming into Caanan, and this may have been the ancestor of Goliath.
- The the parables, Jesus uses the idea that some were given 10 talents, others 5, some 1. Now I wasn’t directly given money by God, but my guess is that the passage refers to different people getting different gifts and what the person tends to do with that gift before God.
- Jesus tells His disciples that “whatever you did unto the least of these you did unto Him” when referring to how you take care of others.
- Paul infers in Romans 8 that no one has any right to brag because all gifts and talents come from God Himself.
- Paul states in 1 Timothy 2 that women should learn in the congregation and men teach because of what happened at the Creation.
- Peter calls women the weaker vessel.
The problem I have is that all throughout Scripture we are told that there are differences in people—and God sometimes caused this difference. He gave Samson super human strength, blessed Solomon with the wisest mind ever, called Elijah home, allowed Elisha to see angels, and the list goes on. While these people were the same substance as us I cannot do any of these things.
Just as today, if you measured my IQ against those around me, some would be higher and some would be lower. I wouldn’t last ten minutes on a football field (unless very well defended!) and I don’t have the eyesight or reflexes to be a pilot.
There are things that are different among people groups. Certain diseases afflict one color more than another, and there are subtle genetic differences. There’s a desire among people groups to organize by the color of their skin and align together.
That means that there are more healthy people groups on average, there are smarter people groups on average and there are stronger people groups on average. This is reality.
This doesn’t justify bad behavior—by anyone. It doesn’t give justification for fighting between people groups, or for phony self-aggrandizement. Before God, we’re all sinners in need of salvation. We’re all equally bad in His eyes, and any good that we have, any intelligence, any gift—all of that is from Him. It’s not because we’re deserving or better than someone else. It’s because of God.
So while I can condemn, with Mohler, white supremacy and all the evil that it entails, I cannot state that there isn’t a possibility that in some characters whites might be better. And while I can tell everyone that there is only one race (or two, depending on how you want to count), with Ham, I can’t say that that erases the differences either. We cannot be ignorant of reality.
What I can fully get behind is that we should be working to do as Christ said—to be His witnesses to the ends of the Earth– to all people groups. We should love as He loved, and His love didn’t know skin color, He died for all.