Racism and the Great Commission Resurgence

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A few weeks ago, I told the folks in my congregation to forget all the pictures of white people they’ve seen in their childhood Sunday school Bible story books. The only white people in the Bible were lepers.

But white supremacy dies hard.

The Texas Baptist Standard newspaper recently published an article about trans-ethnic adoption, and about the ways our Lord is using orphan care to break down barriers of racial division. Buried within the story, though, is an anecdote that ought to get all of our attention.

The newspaper says that a missionary couple were forbidden, by official church action, to speak in some churches because of the fact that their Tanzanian-born children are of a different ethnicity than the people church.

Now, let me say first of all, I cannot independently verify that this actually happened. All that I know is what I read in the newspaper, in this case. But the very question ought to make us think.

When Joel Rainey, a church planting strategist from Maryland, read the article, he posted the following on my Facebook wall: “The church that refused to let this couple speak because of their racist ideology should be disfellowshipped at the associational, state, and national level.”

He went on to say that white supremacist churches (or, I’m sure he’d agree, black supremacist churches, for that matter) are no different than congregations disfellowshipped for supporting sexual liberationist ideologies, “disobedient to Scripture in order to appeal to the darker elements of culture.”

I could not agree more.

As I’ve written so many other places that I’ll not reiterate it here, white supremacy is idolatrous and not consonant with a gospel that finds us in Christ Jesus, a gospel that reconciles us to God and to one another (Eph. 2-3) and that crucifies every ounce of pride in the flesh (Phil. 3).

If we’re going to be missional, if we’re going to resurge together for the Great Commission, it will mean first recognizing that racial bigotry isn’t just “politically incorrect.” It’s of the spirit of antichrist, and must go.

And, by the way, let’s also change our Sunday school storybook Bible pictures.

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.