Ten Questions for Advocates of “Racial Reconciliation”

Christian apologist James White is certainly no stranger to debates and he presently finds himself engaged in an ongoing debate (I wouldn’t necessarily call it a dialogue) on the extremely divisive topic of race.  I won’t rehash the story here, but suffice to say much ink has been spilled on the subject and especially within Reformed circles.  One writer from the Reformed African American Network (RAAN) issued a response/rebuke to Dr. White and then he came back with a rejoinder.  I doubt this will be the last we’ll see of the back and forth.

The title of this post puts the phrase “racial reconciliation” in quotes for a variety of reasons, though not to be disrespectful or flippant.  I put this in quotes because in my view it has yet to be defined. They aren’t scare quotes.  Even those who say they advocate “racial reconciliation” don’t like to use the phrase because they don’t think it accurately conveys what they’re doing but they acquiesce due to its popular usage.  The advocates of “racial reconciliation” are those who are represented in groups like RAAN and who place a great emphasis upon this subject in their respective ministries.

I’ll be writing more about this topic in the near future because of how much it’s being talked about in the broader church, but before I do so I want to ask a number of basic questions.  In particular, I want to ask the advocates of “racial reconciliation” some specific questions which I believe lay the foundation for future discussion.  They are as follows:

1. Are all racial/ethnic groups guilty of committing the sin of racism?

2. Does every racial/ethnic group possess its own set of privileges within the broader society?

3. Is the Word of God sufficient for dealing with the problem of racism?

4. Biblically speaking, what is the solution to the problem of racism?

5. What does repenting of the sin of racism look like practically speaking?

6. Does the trend of specifically planting multi-ethnic churches constitute a form of mission drift?

7. Do people of a particular racial/ethnic group bear the sin/guilt arising from specific actions of their ancestors?

8. Has certain political baggage affected the way in which racial issues are discussed within the church?

9. Should individuals from a particular racial/ethnic group be prohibited from speaking factually about another racial/ethnic group?

10. In the process of addressing these racial concerns, is there a tendency to promote a new legalism within the church?

I’m not asking these questions to provoke a debate of my own or to stir up strife of any kind.  All of the above questions are asked with the utmost sincerity.  I seriously want fellow Christians to comment with their own answers to them.  We need to be able to discuss this issue openly and frankly.  I have no idea how many comments I’ll get (if any), but I welcome those who wish to respectfully and charitably engage.  Whatever our answers may be to these questions, I trust that we answer them with a healthy degree of biblical self-examination.

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4 Responses to Ten Questions for Advocates of “Racial Reconciliation”

  1. WHY ASK the questions? it assume a problem that I fail to see in the Church, I’m not talking about outright racism, the hatred of others because of the colour of their skin, personally, if such people exist in the church they should repent or be excommunicated.

    If Christ has reconciled sinners with sinners in His body, since Paul writing under divine inspiration, if it’s believed that they are a new creation in / through Christ, then what’s the problem. This makes me wonder if they truly believe in the unity of the body of Christ.. This makes me wonder if they are importing their old sinful reasoning into the gospel.

    Php 3:13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, Php 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

    What counts is a new creation Gal 4:19; Php 3:12-21; 2Co 5:11-21; Gal 6:14-15; Eph 2:11-22; Eph 4:17-24; Col 3:1-17; Rom 12:1-5; Rev 21:1-8;

    Timestamp 40 minutes to 42 minutes..
    The Ethnic Gnostic is in grave theological danger if they claim to be a Christian…The great danger is when your ethnicity, your race, your culturalism becomes the first primary lens through which you view everything else….The first primary lens must be the scriptures, the gospel, your relationship to God, who you are as his creature that must be the first lens. You must look at everything else including race secondary only through the gospel, if you don’t’ do that you’re not doing it as a Christian. And if you have your culturalism, your racism as your primary lens looking at everything else you will end up perverting the truth……
    By Dr James White,
    FROM: Dividing line, Ethnic Gnosticism and the Gospel, Streamed live on Mar 22, 2016

    Timestamp 46:50 – 47:21…
    Make sure that is clearly understood, there’s grave danger when you place as your primary interpretive grid something other than that which is provided by the word of God and the Spirit of God first and foremost.
    By Dr James White,
    FROM: Dividing line, Ethnic Gnosticism and the Gospel, Streamed live on Mar 22, 2016

  2. I’m genuinely looking forward to hearing more about this topic from the Reformed community outside of RAAN so I’m looking forward to more of your writings.

  3. Eric Gambardella says:

    Josh,

    I think this is an incredibly helpful list of questions. I’ll take a moment to briefly respond to them. I would like to respond more thoroughly, but that will just never happen. Honestly, I shouldn’t be doing this now, but I want to.

    Let me give two quick things: 1) I’m only vaguely familiar with the James White brouhaha. 2) I would call myself an advocate of Racial Reconciliation.

    Your questions:
    1. Are all racial/ethnic groups guilty of committing the sin of racism?
    Depends on your definitions. Some define racism as “prejudice plus power,” which means that only the group in power can be racist. I would say that all racial/ethnic/cultural groups are guilty of prejudice–in our sin we fear the “other” even when we are gospel-enlightened and do not want to.

    2. Does every racial/ethnic group possess its own set of privileges within the broader society?
    Sort of. Yes–in the sense that nobody can speak to a group like someone in that group. So technically I’d say yes, because x people (dis/ability, ethnicity, culture, education status, denomination, etc…) can speak to x people better than y people. But No in that not all privileges are created equal. Think about the privilege of seeing people “like you” doing certain things. (Note, it should not be an insult to be called privileged, it’s just calling reality a reality.)

    3. Is the Word of God sufficient for dealing with the problem of racism?
    Yes and No. The Word of God alone tells us how we can find forgiveness for our sin/s (intentional and unintentional, known and unknown), but it does not address the minutia of every issue. Ie: what steps should a Korean take in bringing healing to the Korean-Japanese hatred. What steps should/could I, a white American take. The Bible doesn’t address those DIRECTLY, hence the “No.”

    4. Biblically speaking, what is the solution to the problem of racism?
    Well, we must distinguish between racism and prejudice. But Acts 6 comes to mind–it tells me to listen to the complaints of a group that I’m not a part of and trust them until given reason otherwise.

    5. What does repenting of the sin of racism look like practically speaking?
    Depends on your issues. If your racism/prejudice is overt/aware then you need to believe that the “other” is made in the image of God and stop supporting overtly racist acts (i.e.: cross burning). If it’s more subtle, unaware, unintentional, and prejudicial I would say it begins by doing a lot of listening to folks from other groups. It means LOTS of prayer for God to show me if I’m racist/prejudiced even if I’d like to believe I’m not.

    6. Does the trend of specifically planting multi-ethnic churches constitute a form of mission drift?
    I don’t see how that would be possible if the gospel is central.

    7. Do people of a particular racial/ethnic group bear the sin/guilt arising from specific actions of their ancestors?
    Sort of? We are only liable for our own actions and not our parents. But we do bear the burden of inheriting the ‘situation’ we inherit. Easterners feel deeper connections to their people than individualistic Westerners (think the South Korean president apologizing to Americans/our President when a Korean killed students at VT). So no, I’m not held accountable for my grandfather lynching someone, etc… but I do think we cannot brush off the past as quickly as we might like.

    8. Has certain political baggage affected the way in which racial issues are discussed within the church?
    I have no idea what this question is even going at/how to answer it.

    9. Should individuals from a particular racial/ethnic group be prohibited from speaking factually about another racial/ethnic group?
    No, but we should be very skeptical about what we are about to say–as we’re talking about a situation we only know from without. i.e: there are things I can/will say about folks “in the LGBT community” (which itself could mean a thousand things), but I’m always interested in hearing what folks in that community/formerly in that community think about what I’m thinking/saying, not so that I can soften my position out of fear of man, but so that I’m accurate.

    10. In the process of addressing these racial concerns, is there a tendency to promote a new legalism within the church?
    I don’t know what this is talking about.

  4. Jeff says:

    I answered base on my thoughts,

    1. Yes; however, the sin of Pride is more likely the root.
    For Pride is identified as incorrectly believing that one is essentially better than others, failing to acknowledge the accomplishments of others, feeding one’s own mind with delusional and selfish thoughts that make one feel way more self-important than one really should, extremely inflated and foolish and irrational self-importance, and excessive admiration of the personal self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God); it also includes vainglory, which is unjustified boasting.

    2. Yes, see answer one.

    3. No, Man must Act on it.

    4. Man turning away from the Sin of Pride and repenting.

    5. Pride, that some factor, trait (Natural or Manmade) is better than other factor, trait (Natural or Manmade), Thus the lower factor, trait make those with it less human.

    6. Yes, The Word of God should influence Mankind, not Mankind influencing God. In other words the Church cannot say that “Mother, womb, Child equals Father, Son, Holy Spirit”.

    7. No, doing so is a form of racism.

    8. No, God has not changed. Yes; However, political views (manmade traditions) have influence man to speak more in line with their manmade traditions to the Church.

    9. No, that would be an act of racism.

    10. Yes, a manmade one.

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