Earlier this week, Rev. Joseph C. Parker Jr. of David Chapel Baptist Church in Austin, addressed the Charlottesville alt-right rally and the response of the Austin Christian community. He lamented that our “deafening public silence has been disconcerting.” Parker specifically urged his white evangelical brothers and sisters to “speak your voices for the good of all of us.”
As one of those white evangelical brothers, I hear his call. Though we have addressed issues related to race within the congregation I pastor, I want our entire community to hear what we’ve said to one another—in particular how God has spoken. What follows is the briefest summary of God’s words on race. These are four foundational principles of the Christian faith that all Christians should affirm. These principles ought to guarantee there are no more fervent opponents of white supremacy and every form of racism than evangelical Christians.
First, Christianity affirms our shared origin. From the first pages of Scripture we read that the entire human race descended from one couple that God created. God made all humanity in his image, without exception. Jesus himself testifies in Matthew 19 and Mark 10 that the Genesis account is accurate.
Second, Christianity explains our shared problem. In Genesis 3, we learn that the two people God created soon rebelled against him. They thought they could make a better life for themselves than God designed for them. Their rebellion brought God’s curse on the earth and damaged human relationships. Their first son even murdered their second. No one had to teach that son to hate. Romans 5 interprets the story that all human history tells: “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” That first man’s sin has infected us all.
Third, Christianity points us to a shared solution. Jesus taught that our deepest problem isn’t our circumstances, bad luck, or other people. It’s not anything outside us. The truth is, our problems spring from inside us—from our hearts. Jesus lived, died, and rose again to address that problem. He came to cleanse human hearts and make them new. He even addressed matters of race and ministered to society’s outcasts. Paul explains in Ephesians 2 that Jesus reconciles people not only to God, but also to one another, uniting people from every ethnicity together into his new people. Jesus promises cleansing to all of us—including white supremacists—if we’ll turn from rebellion to depend on his righteousness rather than our own.
Finally, Christianity offers a shared hope. The last book in the Bible, tells us that Jesus died for every tribe, every language, every people, and every nation. That’s every imaginable way of confirming that no ethnic group is excluded from Jesus’ redemption. People at the Charlottesville alt-right rally chanted, “Jews will not replace us.” I’m not exactly sure what they meant by that, but when I read my Bible I see that one Jew actually died in our place, in order to make a place for us. In Revelation 7, an innumerable crowd from every ethnic group gathers around God’s throne in Heaven to praise him. As someone said, God’s Heaven is a white supremacist’s nightmare.
Now, you may reject the Christian message and still vehemently oppose white supremacy. I’m glad we agree on that point, at the very least! I don’t mean to suggest that only Christians can oppose racism, though I’m convinced Christianity offers the best argument against it. Rather, I call on my white Christian brothers and sisters to live what we profess, without deflection, hesitation, or reservation. My fellow pastors, let us speak with boldness and clarity, with conviction and kindness.
So I thank you for your challenge, Reverend Parker. May the deafening public silence you’ve observed be drowned out by a thundering chorus from every tribe, language, people, and nation—on earth today, as it will be in Heaven.
Ben Wright pastors Cedar Pointe Baptist Church in Cedar Park.