Tag Archives: race-less theology

Happy 6th anniversary!

Image result for happy anniversary

Today, my blog turns six and she remains my baby.  While I have been graced to write for several other outlets and to even become a published author, this blog is my greatest accomplishment.  It was here that I took the risk to share the race-less gospel of Jesus Christ and I remain committed to this message.  To celebrate, I will work harder to spread this truth that God is not socially colored beige, brown, black, red, white or yellow– and neither are we.

Happy anniversary to me and to you.  Thanks for reading, writing, sharing, supporting, recruiting and following me along this race-less journey.  Let’s go another year!

Questioning Race during Advent

IMG_0103.JPGChrist has come! This first Sunday of Advent reminds us that power was found in a cradle– not a crown.  Like persons in Jesus’s day, we are guilty of looking for him in the wrong places and among the wrong people.  As outlined in his stories, Jesus came to rearrange and change the order of things, beginning with himself.

The first will be last (Matthew 20.16). The greatest will be the servant (Matthew 23.11). Love your enemies (Matthew 5.44).  God becomes a human being.  A virgin will give birth to God.

In order to bring salvation to the world, God runs to a woman’s womb– not for office. God is with her.

Creator God becomes “Infant God” as described by Francois Mauriac in his book The Son of Man. So, how is it that the Divine is capable of such humility and we are not?  The only supreme power, God did not need skin, the social coloring of it or a cultural affiliation, because it is not needed for the image of a God.

The Word became flesh; the transformative power then rests with the Word and not the flesh.

God did more than meet us where we are; in Christ, God became one of us.  So, how is it that we are so different?  God is divine and yet, without obstacle in maintaining a relationship with us. Still, we cannot seem to get around race.

If God is with us all, then why do we use race against “them”?  Jesus came as the Savior of the world so what about us allows for self- segregation? Coming in the flesh to save us, why do we continue to deny the humanity of our sisters and brothers who can only be human?

God is with us, looking on and listening in as we make some people invisible and unheard of. Why do we do that despite the fact that Christ has come?

 

Making God in the Image of Whiteness

Image result for god as a white man imageHow did the invisible, immortal and eternal God become a blonde haired, blue eyed socially colored white man?  Who approved of this gross social reduction and theological diminishing of the Divine?  And why do we continue to go along with it?

Why do we worship whiteness as if the God of the Christian faith?  Why do we look to those we have made socially colored white as saviors and deliverers?  Why do we place our hope in them?  Why do we celebrate this image above all others– even God’s?  And why does the Church cherish, celebrate, form its doctrines, write hymns, start churches, do missions based on this idea?

I have so many questions as to why whiteness became the answer to the human condition.  Why do we believe that whiteness is the solution to all of our problems?  That whiteness is the cure and our saving grace?

Surely, if our hands are too short to box with God, they are not long enough to paint God white.  So, it is our imagination.  In our minds, God is ‘a white man.’  But, what does this private confession mean for the practice of our faith, the nature of fellowship, the command to love and live as Christ did?  How does our belief in whiteness impede our conversations about God and with God?  How has the social construct of race gotten in the way of our relationship with God?

Now, if we think that God is just fine with this arrangement, then our assumption is false.  God is self- existent; consequently, our attempt to paint God in, to hold paint brushes, crayons and markers as if we can not only see God face- to- face but know exactly how it looks (or perhaps, should look), goes against this truth.  Because God is self- existent, God can and does live without human needs, especially the human and acutely American one to identify with a race.

God is not made in the image of whiteness because God is not made with human hands, that would be a reversal of the creation narrative.  This attempt to describe God in colors suggests that we have a kind of insider knowledge about the Divine, that God is really one of us.  But, this is simply not true.

God is not white because we are made in God’s image; God is not made in ours.  So, God is not coming back for a “race” of people, a particular culture, only one country or continent.  Color may dictate our will but not God’s.  It may be a part of our imagination but that has no bearing on the image of God, where God can be seen and who God walks with in the world.

Making God in the image of whiteness blinds us from seeing God altogether.

If we think that God is ‘a white man’

Image result for God is a white man“God is a white man.”  This is not a new declaration but an old reduction made by persons who argue against a belief in the God of Christianity because in the name of this God, persons have stolen, enslaved, sold, raped, murdered, pillaged and annihilated indigenous cultures of the earth.  They surmise, God must be white because they are not being punished but are getting away with it.  It is a judgment against God, now viewed as giving them a pass and their privilege, labeled whiteness.  I suppose that many of us are looking for an Old Testament demonstration of who God is for and who God is against.

But, as Christians, it is not whiteness that saves any of us but the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Our belief in whiteness suggests that there is within some of us, literally and quite physically on us, the ability to save us. Our faith in the deliverance of whiteness nullifies the salvific work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  It is whiteness– not his blood– that makes the difference.

“God is a white man.”  This is also a statement of faith for those who believe that they have a divine right to dominate, oppress and colonize other people, that “the earth is theirs and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24.1).  It is the belief that socially colored white people were made by God to dehumanize other people.  This is a faith that denies the inherent worth of all human beings and the unconditional love that God has for all people.  And it is about the goodness of people, particularly socially colored white people, not Jesus and the two are not synonymous.

“God is a white man.”  If we think this is true, then we are saying that God is in cahoots with the socially constructed white race, that those who oppress are all- powerful because it is usurped from a divine source.  If we think that God is a white man, then God created some and not all in the Divine image.  The rest of us are rejects, having no place with God or humanity.  It also suggests then that God has a holy ax to grind against “them” and we are being used to cut them off– because they are not the right people because they are not white people.

But, while there is social support for this idea, there is no scriptural support for this confession.  God took on the form of a human being but God is not a human being.  Consequently, when we say that God is a white man, we are in fact interpreting God through the lens of race, making God one of us, writing another salvation narrative: “For God so hated socially colored beige, black, brown, yellow and red people, that God sent socially colored white people into the world.”

That’s not the gospel of Jesus Christ and that’s not the God of the Bible, of history, experience and revelation.  That’s our racialized imaginations running wild.

Your god might be race if…

Image result for false idol christianityWhat motivates and inspires me in this sacred work is the unconscious idolatry practiced, the investment of belief, the gut- level faithfulness exhibited toward race in the practice of the Christian faith.  I have been called to separate race from God, to erase the color line in our churches and to do the groundwork for the ministry of reconciliation.  I don’t like that we have allowed the social construct of race such access into our spiritual lives and the practice of Christ’s life and ministry in the world.

I realize that there is a lot invested and there is quite a bit of history and tradition associated with the partnership between race and Christianity.  We might think that there is too much to lose, that we won’t recover or come back from this.  But, I would remind us that we are the resurrection people and the promise of being a new creation far outweighs the comforts of the old way of being the body of Christ.

I am tired of the same old stereotypes and prejudices.  I want something more than a racial identity.  I want to be like Christ.

Along with our pride and sinful inclinations, our allegiances could hold you and I back.  This carnal, self- centered and in the case of race, social attachment could prevent this spiritual transformation.  And if you are having trouble letting go of who race says that you are and they are, then maybe the image of God is not what you see at all.

Maybe there is an competing image.  Maybe you have another god.  If you’re not sure, consider these descriptors.

Your god might be race if…

You believe that race was in the beginning with God, an honorary member of the Trinity, offering counsel and techniques during the creative process;

You believe that race is a part of God’s plan, that God created us based on the stereotypes of race and categorized us according to races;

You believe that God sees, loves, cares for, blesses/ curses, chooses us according to the social coloring of skin;

You believe that God’s will is prejudicial and therefore, no mystery, choosing based on physical appearance and not the condition of the heart (First Samuel 16.7);

You  believe that the social construct of race is used by God to “separate the sheep from the goats” and not our confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Matthew 25.32), that salvation is based on the social coloring of skin (i.e. appearance);

God must be on your side (versus you being on God’s side) and fulfilling your will;

God must be a member of your race and in effect, made in your image;

You cannot accept the gospel of Jesus Christ without the inclusion of the social construct of race;

Any and/or all members of the Trinity must come in your social color and must come in a social color; and,

The social coloring of your skin is more important than your identity in Christ Jesus.  Please note that the two cannot be combined.