Monday, September 04, 2017

Some Notes Toward A Theological Rebuttal of White Supremacy That Shouldn’t Have to be Made

I've been working on a response to the rise in white supremacy in our country and why it makes no sense as a follower of Jesus. I wanted it to be brilliant, but it never quite got there. Maybe my head is jumbled because I can't believe I'd even have to write such a post. But that's the world of 2017...

Question to answer: How much do we as Christians stand against racism generally and white supremacy specifically? Or do we stand for it?

It seems like every thoughtful Christian I know is trying to put together our President’s indulgence (or minimally, equivocation) toward white supremacists with his widespread support among some religious conservatives. I suppose we’d like to think that our country has learned something since 1865 or so about how to interpret the Good Book without supporting racism. 
So I returned to my Bible, and, as a theologian, I tried to figure out if there’s a case to be made for presuming one race has God’s favor over another.

I started with the first book and with creation: Genesis 1:26 clearly tells us the first humans, Adam and Eve (almost better translated as “Dusty” and “Life”) are created in God’s image. However we understand these two, creation means that we are all one in this pair. Paul in Acts 17:26 proclaims that God "made from one he every nation [ethnos in Greek, as in "ethnic group"].

I flipped to the New Testament and found that redemption has some strikingly universalistic (and need I say "non-racially segregated"?) themes. John 3:16 sets out that “God so loved the world” that God gave his Son, and In that same book (12:32), Jesus declares that “When I am lifted up from the earth”—in John’s Gospel, this means both being raised on the cross and in the resurrection—“I will pray all people to myself.” It’s not very nuanced, to be honest. Sort sounds like everybody.
What about the end of time or the consummation? Revelation 21: 24 sets out, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.”
That is, all the kings of the “nations” (again from ethnos) will bring their tribute God and the Lamb on the throne. By this time, I was running out of books to read….
All this means I couldn’t do it. I could not figure out how to read the Bible and be a white supremacist. Do those who take this book seriously believe that all are created in God’s image, that Christ came, taught, and died to redeem all, and that Christian hope is all tribes from all the ethne, will bring their tribute? The clearest conclusion is that white supremacy--any kind of racial supremacy--is supremely unbiblical.
Maybe there remains one easier solution—the religious conservatives who voted for and support Trump are white evangelicals.

I certainly hope that’s not the answer.

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