The Biblical solution for racism
Racism is discrimination or prejudice against a people group. “People group” includes grouping according to skin color, nationality, citizenship and ethnic or national origins.
Racism has justified slavery, colonialism, apartheid, forced sterilisations and annihilations of peoples. It has been the basis of the Nazi ideologies and of the programmes to exterminate Jews and other “inferior peoples”. According to Wikipedia, “Racism has played a role in genocides such as the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the Rwandan genocide, and the Genocide of Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia, as well as colonial projects including the European colonization of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the population transfer in the Soviet Union including deportations of indigenous minorities.”
The origin of different people groups
According to the Bible, all human beings are descendants of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:20). Therefore, there is only one race – the human race. All peoples can freely interbreed and produce fertile offspring. This shows that the biological differences between the people groups are not very great at all. All humans belong to the same species and, therefore, it makes no sense to talk of “races”. Human races don’t exist in Scripture or in genetics. That’s why the term “people groups” is used in this post instead of “races”.
Scripture distinguishes people in terms of people-groups. Egyptians, Babylonians, Israelites, and dozens of others had different customs and religions, but they were not different races.
The Bible also says that each person is “made in the image (and likeness) of God” (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6; Jas. 3:9NIV). As all people groups share this characteristic, they are equally valuable. All people, regardless of people group, gender, culture or ethnicity, have intrinsic value.
Paul said, “From one man [Adam] He [God] made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands” (Acts 17:26). Because we are all descendants of Adam, we are all related. We are all part of the same family no matter what people group we are in. God is sovereign over us all. He planned the exact times in history when nations would emerge and decline. He also planned the specific area to be occupied by each nation.
But after about 1,660 years (about 2350 BC), the wickedness of mankind was so great that God sent a great flood that destroyed all mankind except 8 people (Noah and his three sons and their wives). This bottleneck in the population of the earth means that all people are also descendants of Noah and his wife (Gen. 9:19).
After the flood God told them to, “be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1, 7NIV). So they were commanded to spread across the earth and repopulate it.
What happened next is described in Genesis 11:1-9. The descendants of Noah and his wife “had one language and a common speech” (v.1). They built a city in the plain of Shina. At this time (about 2240 BC), there was only one people group on the earth.
“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’” (v.4). They were rebelling against God by trying to make a name for themselves in one place instead of spreading across the earth. What would God do about their disobedience?
The Bible says that God said, “‘Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth” (v.7-9).
Instead of one language there were now many languages – there are about 7,000 languages in the world today. And instead of one people group there were now many people groups. Because they couldn’t communicate with each other they stopped building the city and the tower. Instead of staying in Mesopotamia, they scattered across the earth. So different people groups now lived in different parts of the world, each with their own language. The areas they spread to around the Middle East are given in Genesis 10.
So in the beginning, God created Adam and Eve with the ability to communicate via language. From then up until building of the city of Babel, there was only one language. Then at Babel He caused different people groups to speak with different languages. Since then, there have been many different people groups.
Today the people groups are scattered across the world on continents that are separated by vast oceans. But how did people migrate across the world from Babel?
How did these people groups migrate across the world?
Though the flood lasted only one year, its effects on the climate lasted for centuries! Hot underground water was a major source of flood waters, so even after they retreated back into the oceans, the water stayed warm. Also, massive volcanic eruptions would have poured ash into the air, which blocked out much sunlight over the land. So the land would have been much cooler. Then some of the warm water evaporated into clouds which then dropped much snow over the cold land. Over centuries, this packed into huge ice sheets covering a third of earth’s land in the Ice Age.
Based on the cooling of the oceans (due to evaporation and reduction in volcanism), the Ice Age lasted for about 700 years reaching glacial maximum in about 500 years. And it took about another 200 years for the ice sheets to melt to their current positions.
Lower sea levels during the Ice Age allowed the migration of people from the Middle East to distant continents now separated by water. As there would have been no ice caps after the flood, the sea level would have been about 70 m above today’s level. During the Ice Age the sea level dropped about 130 m (to 60 m below today’s level) forming a land bridge between Asia and North America and Asia and Australia. This allowed people and large animals to spread across the earth. After the oceans had cooled sufficiently and the volcanic activity began to wane, the ice sheets melted and the land bridges disappeared beneath the rising ocean water, ending the migration. God provided the land bridges and removed the bridges via the Ice Age.
So God used the Ice Age to enable people groups to migrate across the world from Babel. Since then different people groups have lived in different regions across the world. And history records many conflicts and disagreements between them. But after Jesus Christ lived on earth about 2,000 years ago a message of peace and reconciliation spread across the world. Was this a solution to racism?
A message to all people groups
When the church (which comprises followers of Jesus Christ) was established on the day of Pentecost, God caused a miracle that reversed the confusion of languages at Babel. The Holy Spirit enabled the 120 believers to “speak in other tongues [languages]” without learning them (Acts 2:4). The miracle was speaking in a foreign language without learning it. At that time there were people in Jerusalem from people groups all around the Middle East and the Mediterranean Sea who had come to celebrate the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. They came from all over the known world. And they were bewildered because “each one heard their language being spoken” (Acts 2:6). They were amazed and asked, “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? … we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:7-11).
Peter explained that this was similar to a prophecy in the Old Testament (Joel 2:28-32) – they both involved an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In this case the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers. And it showed the Jews that God had launched a new economy, the dispensation of the church.
It also showed that the message about Jesus was for all people groups, not just the Jews. These people were multinational, multicultural, and multilingual. Peter told them that Christ had risen from the dead. When they were convicted that they had crucified the Messiah, they asked “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter told them to repent – change their mind about Jesus and be reconciled with God. To change from rejecting Christ to accepting Him as the Messiah. This is the first step to the Bible’s solution to racism.
The good news about Jesus was preached to all people groups across the Roman Empire (Rom. 1:8; Col. 1:23; 1 Tim. 3:16). Likewise, today it is for all people groups across the world.
Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations [people groups]” (Mt 28:19). The good news about Jesus was to go to all people groups, which was different to the fact that while He was on earth, Jesus targeted Jews and not Gentiles (Mt. 10:5-6).
Faith in Christ is the first step to the Bible’s solution to racism.
The church for all people groups
Originally the Christian church was comprised of Jews and Jewish proselytes. At this time Jews considered Gentiles (non-Jews) to be unclean and inferior (see Appendix A). God used three visions to show Peter that Gentiles who trusted in Christ were acceptable in the church (Acts 10:1 – 11:18). Peter learnt not to call anyone impure or unclean (10:28; 11:9) and that God does not show favoritism based on people groups (10:34). And God confirmed this when they received an outpouring of the Holy Spirit (10:44; 11:15).
So amongst believers, the barrier between Jew and Gentile was removed. This is described in Ephesians 2:11-22. Jews and Gentiles that are reconciled with Christ, should be reconciled with one another. Jesus removes hostility and brings harmony and peace to relationships. Likewise, Christians from all people groups can be reconciled with one another because of their common faith. God does not distinguish between different people groups in the body of His church. All Christians are members of God’s household (or God’s family). That’s why sometimes they refer to each other as “brother” or “sister”. In an age when the culture is increasingly secular, it is beneficial to be in a family of like-minded believers.
Paul says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:3-6). The Holy Spirit unites all believers. Unity is about oneness of spirit and harmony between people, which rests on these doctrines. The attitudes that enhance unity are described in the previous verse, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).
Christ’s death paid the penalty for all the sins of “persons [who accept this payment] from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). They are from all people groups, none is excluded. The context of this phrase shows that heaven will have a diverse community.
Likewise, those saved out of “the great tribulation (Rev. 7:14) are “from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Rev. 7:9). They will also be from all people groups, none will be excluded.
When the Holy Spirit controls a believer’s life, He produces “the fruit of the Spirit”, which “is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). This is the character of Christ which produces harmony between different people groups. The unity between believers in a church is the second step to the Bible’s solution to racism.
Discrimination is sin
The Bible teaches that believers “must not show favoritism [or discrimination or partiality]” (Jas. 1:1). After giving an example of favoring the rich, it says, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers” (Jas. 2:8-9).
As racism is discrimination or prejudice against a people group, the Bible says it is sinful. Racism is a real sin that should be repudiated by all Christians. Because sin separates us from God, God does not fellowship with those who discriminate against others.
What other ways are being promoted to solve racism?
Critical race theory (CRT)
CRT emerged out of postmodernist thought in USA. Critical race theorists hold that racism is inherent in the law and legal institutions of the United States insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and non-whites. Like global warming, they think it that requires big, structural changes.
CRT claims that white people are inherently racist and assumes that whites always oppress others (Appendix B). It seeks to eradicate racism in all its forms, including the dominant power structures of society, government, church, and family. It assumes that racism is endemic to American society because of the way society is structured, and that there is a permanent struggle between the oppressors (white) and oppressed (non-white). CRT is at heart a revolutionary movement.
CRT seeks to address systemic racism (also called structural racism or institutional racism), which is defined as “systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantages African Americans”. In practice most procedures or processes are set up to ensure equality. But as this doesn’t eliminate disparities, they seek affirmative action for people of color.
According to Colorado Christian University, “CRT critiques society through the lens of racial oppression. It denies a biblical view of human nature and sees everything through racial categories. One is either a racist or a victim of racism. Selectively, it makes whiteness the foundation of evil. Being white and non-racist is impossible.”
Black lives matter (BLM)
The BLM website says their “mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes’.
They “affirm the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum”. They “are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise.” And they “affirm our humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” Like CRT they assume “white supremacy” and black “oppression”.
BLM is largely rooted in black feminist theology, black liberation theology, and CRT.
The real issue
Got Questions says that, “The issue is the sinfulness of the human heart. All sin separates us from God, and all sin must be atoned for. This is why Jesus died on the cross, to pay the penalty for our sin and to redeem a people unto Himself.”
“All forms of discrimination are the result of the fall of humanity into sin. No doubt discrimination will continue as long as sinful people reside upon the earth. Christians should acknowledge the problem of discrimination and work to counter it, but lasting change can only happen through the life-transforming power of Christ. Movements that seek to divide people along racial, gender, or class lines; that create victim groups; or that seek retribution through ever more autocratic policies are not truly benefiting society. Christians should be peacemakers working to unite people in the truth rather than divide people or stoke feelings of resentment.”
“Racism is the result of sin. Until the sin problem is dealt with—until people become new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)—the problem of racism will never be eradicated. Only in Christ can racial reconciliation be found: ‘For He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility’ (Eph. 2:14).”
When will racism end?
Can you image a world without racism or injustice or poverty? As these are the fruits of sin, they will remain until God judges the sin of mankind. After Christ returns to set up His millennial kingdom there will be peace and harmony between all as described in these passages.
“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isa. 2:4; Mic. 4:3).
“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. they will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain” (Isa. 11:6-9).
Christ’s millennial reign will be the third step to the Bible’s solution to racism.
Different people groups is God’s idea. He used it to repopulate the earth after the flood. The good news about Jesus is for all people groups. And the church is for all people groups. As Christians should have the best attitude towards other people groups, the best place for peace and harmony between all people groups is in the Christian church.
Christ unites people from different backgrounds. He does not divide and discriminate as in CRT, which is why critical race theory is anti-biblical. The CRT worldview is a false religion.
CRT and BLM are not radical enough – they only address the needs of one people group. It’s much better to look after the needs of all people groups. There are needy people in all people groups. It’s better to address poverty and injustice in all people groups than to address racism against one people group. And they fail to address the universal problem of our sinful ways by acknowledging our need of forgiveness and the provision of this by Jesus Christ.
CRT and BLM promote ethnic discrimination by promoting discrimination against white people (for example, in affirmative action). The affirmative action of CRT disadvantages white people who are in need. So while they are trying to reduce discrimination for one people group, they are increasing discrimination for others. In this way they are it is racist! How ironic.
CRT and BLM have no moral basis for their concerns – the theory of evolution (the atheistic creation story) is based on survival of the fittest, and not on protecting the needy and weak. Also, CRT and BLM lack the means to solve racism; they promote conflict rather than harmony, peace and unity.
BLM is incompatible with Biblical Christianity because it seeks to dismantle the Biblical definition of family, it champions the celebration of homosexuality, and supports transgender. BLM opposes God’s created design of biologically based gender, “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). Gender confusion is an attack on the image of God. And BLM calls for violence and is pro-abortion.
As Christians, we believe that all human life is precious from conception to natural death, regardless of ethnicity, economic status, or any other variable. This is because humans, unlike animals, are created in the image of God.
What can you do to show love and kindness for all mankind – rich and poor, famous or obscure, regardless of their people group?
Racism is the result of sin. But the Bible says that all people are equally valuable because they are all descendants of Adam and Eve, and they are all made in the image of God.
The Bible describes the origin of people groups and how they can be united through accepting the good news about Jesus. This is the first step to the Bible’s solution to racism. The good news about Jesus is to be preached to all people groups across the world.
Christians from all people groups can be reconciled with one another because of their common faith. The unity between believers in a church is the second step to the Bible’s solution to racism.
Christ’s millennial reign will be the third step to the Bible’s solution to racism.
Appendix A: Temple exclusion
A Greek inscription was originally mounted on the fence separating the court of the Gentiles from the rest of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in the 1st century AD. It read, “Foreigners must not enter inside the fence or into the forecourt around the sanctuary. Whoever is caught will have himself to blame for his ensuring death”. The good news is that in Acts the good news about Jesus is proclaimed to all people groups, including foreigners.
Appendix B: Principles of Critical Race Theory (CRT)
Christopher Watkin states that “we can understand CRT in terms of eight principles” listed as follows:
1. Racism is structural and permanent;
2. There is no neutrality;
3. White people are incapable of helping black people;
4. Only black people have the right to speak about racism;
5. Only white people can be racist;
6. Change must be revolutionary not incremental;
7. Equality is measured by outcome, not by opportunity; and
8. Final victory is impossible.
Written, October 2022