A Theology of Race-lessness
Aracial theology. Pre- racial theology. Pre- racial (liberation) theology. A race-less gospel of Jesus Christ. I have referred to my writings under all of these terms. They did not come to me all at once and neither did this idea of racelessness. It all started with a strong dislike for race. I just couldn’t accept race, its terms and conditions for living in American society despite all of my attempts to.
I wasn’t trying to create something new or different. My writings were not an attempt to challenge the theologies that had been created in response to American slavery/ race/ racism/ white power/ black power/ prejudice/ stereotyping/ segregation though they, too, did not satisfy me. I tried to talk to persons about how I was feeling about race but the conversations were all the same. No one could offer me a way out of race; for them, it just wasn’t possible or feasible. It didn’t make sense to them what I was proposing. So, I began to write.
I filled journal after journal with my questions and ruminations, articles and newspaper clippings on the origin and history of race. I wanted to know race intimately and deeply. I wanted to know race for myself apart from the experiences of others though this is where I found myself initially. I read countless books on American slavery, lynching, abolitionism, Jim Crow segregation, eugenics, white privilege, genocide/ ethnic cleansing and the like. I then needed to discover my story with race. How had I met race? How had this social construct been introduced to me? How did I come to be known as black and did I want to continue my relationship with this social identity?
Due to these questions and so many others, I found myself in an unfamiliar place, in unknown territory. I was already committed to writing the blog when I realized what I wanted to say, what I needed to say, what I had to say. But, I was so afraid of what it would mean for me. Was there life after race? Did I have to be black or was there some other way of being in the world?
Praise God that I rediscovered this truth: “For in him, we live, move and have our being” (Acts 17.28, emphasis added). I am in God. I exist in God. I happen, I occur in God. There is not only a way of living (i.e. Christlike) but there is also a means by which I exist and it is not dependent upon race. I had read this scripture many times but I had yet to be gripped by its truth. When I could no longer hold onto race because I had come to realize what it really was, then and only then was I was able to grasp it.
A second scripture that contributed to my awakening to the reality of racelessness was Galatians 3.27-28: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (emphasis added). If I am clothed with Christ, then my flesh, its power and powerlessness can no longer be seen/ used/ acted upon.
A third scripture is that of Second Corinthians 5.14-19: “For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore, all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us” (emphasis added). As Christians, we are to no longer relate to each other from a human perspective.These sacred scriptures and others have formed and informed what is now a theology of racelessness, which also influences my proclamation of the raceless gospel of Jesus Christ.
What is this theology of race-lessness? The theology of race-lessness is a theology of a socially colorless God and in turn, Son of God and Spirit of God. It asserts that God is not made in the social colors of race. Thus, there is no black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige God and there is no black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige power but “all power belongs to God” (Psalm 62.11). The theology of race-lessness teaches us that God cannot be subjected to the power and authority of race save our imaginations, believing that the divine community that is God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, are not revealed in, through or by race. It seeks to undermine the authority of race through the use of Christian theology and its sacred narrative that is the Holy Bible. This theology is not born of social oppression or privilege but seeks to promote the regenerative work of God and God’s ministry of reconciliation through Christ’s redemptive work on the cross for all believers.
The theology of race-lessness also asserts that race is purely an evil imagination, a social invention, an American idol that is not a product of the creative power of God neither is it apart of God’s redemptive plan for humanity. Race is not an expression of Christian identity. It should not define the Christian experience and it should not be employed in the practice of the Christian faith. Consequently, there is no black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige church; there is only Christ’s Church.
Our theology needs to liberated from race and its progeny. This is one such attempt.