Responding to Race

I am fully aware of the Church in America’s historical response to race, racism, slavery, segregation and the like: silent acceptance and an unapologetic, unexamined, uncalculated assimilation and application of its social truths into our theology, Christology, pneumatology, eschatology and ecclesiology.  We have allowed race to retell the creation narrative, racism to dismember Christ’s body, cultural prejudice to restrict our sacred fellowship and stereotypes to limit our commitment to Christ’s call to discipleship.  But, how are we to respond to these things today?  Is there no expiration date on its conclusions regarding humanity and human nature, no need to review and reassess what has been said in centuries past?  Has God stopped speaking?  Surely, race is not eternal as there can only be One eternal reality, One who is all- powerful for if there be two then one is not.  But, we believe and consequently, behave as if this is possible though it is not.

There is a choice to be made despite our inability to accept the vastness of God’s power and ability.  God not race/ racism has the upper hand, the final say, the last word.  God is both the Alpha and the Omega.  God is our beginning and our end.  God is greater than the creature and her or his external features (See Romans 1.25).  God does not and has not changed; it is we who have attempted to change God (Malachi 3.6).

What is our theology regarding race?  Does it remain color- coded and if so, for how long as it seems that the spiritual power of its truths (Perhaps, it was only social.) that propelled generations past is fading?  What has black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige theology done for us?  How has our socially colored God rewarded us, blessed us, protected us, kept us, moved us forward in our faith?  What has been the result of this belief system? Where is the kingdom of God and of heaven on earth?  How has it aided us in fulfilling the Great Commission, in growing in Christ’s grace and truth, in serving in Christ’s ministry of reconciliation?  And what is race/ racism/ stereotypes/ prejudice doing for the Church in America now?  I know what we have done with race and all of its uncomfortable realities but what are we doing and saying now?

Regrettably, it seems that all we have allowed ourselves to do is repeat after others and worse still, after the pseudo- scientific, self- fulfilling prophecies of racism.  There have been no new ideas or perspectives, no fresh challenges or callings, no warnings, wise counsel or admonitions in this regard.  We know that Christ offers to us several answers or responses as it relates to race/ racism: love, bless, give, hope, believe, endure, confess, rebuke, pray, forgive, accept/ deny, reconcile.  “The Way” offers us a way out of this racial cycle. But, we must choose this response.  He will not force us.  So, what do you say?

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