Race Has Bewitched Us

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing the faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain?– if it really is in vain. Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law or by hearing with faith?”

~Galatians 3.1-5, Revised Standard Version

In this passage of sacred Scripture, Paul is disappointed with the Christian believers at the churches of Galatia. He has presented the gospel of Jesus Christ and they have so quickly turned to another gospel, a gospel that says that they are justified by the works of the law and not that of faith. “Who has bewitched you,” he asks? Paul’s presentation of the gospel, their subsequent confession of faith and conversion experience is different from the standards that the Galatians are living by now. The message has been changed. They have been charmed, led away in error.

The same can be said of most if not all of America’s Christians. We, too, have been bewitched, charmed by race, seduced by the power and privileges given to the social coloring of skin. Like the Galatians, we have been led away from the gospel that was presented to us. Though we know the means by which we came to know Christ, that we were saved by a confession of faith not because of the possession of a favored social coloring of skin, still we continue in the faith, living not according to the sanctification of the Spirit but of skin. But this is a false belief, a seduction of the flesh.

This is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Race has nothing to do with our spiritual formation and despite the use of the word “race” in modern interpretations of the Bible, it cannot be found in the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, the primary languages employed in the composition of the Holy Bible. There is only the use of “nation” and “people”; neither term is synonymous with race, the social coloring of skin, prejudice or stereotypes. To insert this social practice and belief would be a gross error. It would be to present another gospel. Race is not a part of our spiritual struggle but a social tug of war, evidence not of one’s divine chosenness but social favoritism.

We will be saved because of the confession of our faith in Jesus Christ not the social coloring of our skin. We are saved by faith not works of the law, including the laws of race. We are saved based on our belief in Jesus Christ and His power to save us from sin. This confession of faith is our only contribution to our salvation. We can do nothing else to be saved. There is nothing else, especially not the social coloring of skin, that would satisfy the penalty of sin. O foolish American Christians! Race has bewitched us.

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