Why Racism and Nationalism are Contrary to the Gospel

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you (Rm. 11:17-21)

Racism and nationalism–they are two of the most natural of vices, and they also are two of the most wicked. For all men have a tendency to embrace that which is most like them and to despise that which is unlike them. It as a product of the sin of comfort, and chiefly it is a product of the sin of pride. For all men esteem themselves as better than their neighbors, and thus it is natural for them to regard the race or nation to which they belong as the chief among all races and nations and, in turn, to look upon other races and nations with disdain as though they were inferior.

Racism and nationalism have existed since the time that Noah’s children went their three separate ways, and both have thrived without ceasing to this day. It was seen in the oppression of the Israelites by the Egyptians at the time of Moses, it was seen in the Jews’ abhorrence of the Samaritans, it was seen in the Crusades, it was seen in the Holocaust, and it was even seen in the apostle Peter’s struggle with preference for the Jews. It is seen today in America between blacks and whites, and perhaps now more predominantly between all American races and Hispanics, and it seen throughout the world on every continent. I have even heard of racism existing between two African tribes where an outside race would look in and not be able to distinguish the two, and the only way that they distinguish one from another is by the width of their noses.

And despite the efforts of tolerance that seem to be combating the ingrained tendency of humans toward racism and nationalism, the two will never be extinguished, because the root of pride still exists. Indeed, those who claim to be tolerant are just as prideful in their supposed tolerance as those who do not claim such, for they are intolerant of and boastful over those whom they deem intolerant.

However, despite the natural tendency of men to despise other races and nations, Christians have no foundation on which to make such boasts. For by God’s ordinance in this age, Christians are by and large those who are not of Jewish descent but are those who come from other nations. And this is what Gentiles means literally, namely Nations. And since we who have believed upon Christ have no physical claim to the lineage of Abraham (he who was given the Covenant), when God through the prophet Hosea declares, “Those who were not my people, I will call my people; and her who was not beloved, I will call beloved” (Rm. 9:25), we should tremble with awe and adoration at the great mercy of God who saw it fit to call his people from the Nations (cf. Is. 60:4).

Despite this great truth, we who are Christians are so far removed from the time of Christ that we often cannot comprehend the magnitude of our present faith. For prior to Christ, God’s people were strictly the Israelites, and we are merely given glimpses of God’s grace to the Nations in Rahab, Ruth, and the Ninevites. It is for this reason that even the apostle Peter was perplexed by his dream concerning the Gentiles, and why he had to command the leaders of the early church to baptize the uncircumcised Gentiles on whom the Holy Spirit fell with power (cf. Acts 10).

And what is this to say but that there is no race or nation which has any grounds on which to boast except for Israel, and even Israel cannot boast, for God has demonstrated that even they who are of Abraham can be cut off from Christ because of their unbelief (Rm. 11:20). For John the Baptist declares to Israel:

Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father,” for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children of Abraham (Mt. 3:9).

And Christ declares to the Jews:

If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did…. If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires (Jn. 8:39-41, 42-44).

It is for this reason that the apostle Paul declares, “For their no distinction [between Jew and Gentile], for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift” (Rm. 3:22-24), and concerning the purpose of God, “God has consigned all [both Jews and Gentiles] to disobedience so that he might have mercy on all” (Rm. 11:32).

Therefore, if our boast is in Christ and in the salvation he gives, we cannot be racists or nationalists. For he who is our Root is not of our race and not of our nation (cf. Rm. 9:5), and if we boast in him, we by that boasting turn away from our own race and our own nation. For despite our unholy images that we create of Christ, Christ–the greatest man who ever lived and will ever live–was neither white, nor black, nor Hispanic, nor Asian, but he was Middle-Eastern and Jewish. Therefore, if we are to follow this Christ, we must deny all boasting in our pedigree and turn from it to the most despised race who has ever walked the earth.

Likewise, we cannot because of the ridiculous doctrines of dispensationalism declare allegiance to a nation Israel who is not Israel (cf. Rm. 9:6). Many of us think it holy and right to despise and to disdain the Arab world because of their conflict with the nation labeled Israel, and in doing thus, we neglect the declarations of the prophet that God will call his children from all the sons of Abraham, even the Ishmaelites (Is. 60:6, 7). We are given no reason to fight for the cause of national Israel save in that we pray that they turn from their idolatry to Jesus Christ. Rather than turning with hate upon the Arab and Muslim world, we should turn to them with the same Gospel to which we turn the rest of the world. For if God is able to make sons of Abraham from stones, he certainly can make sons of God from Arabs and Muslims.

My exhortation to you, Christian, is that you remember at all times the Gospel that gave you life though you were unclean and cut off from God. For all men are of a single descent, namely Adam, and to claim superiority, be it by the color of one’s skin or by citizenship, is contrary to the Gospel. For whether you know it or not, the United States is not the greatest country which has ever existed, nor is there any greater substance found in those who are of European or African descent. All men are made in God’s likeness, and God will call forth his children from every tribe and every tongue. Your rebellious arrogance will only bring you to humiliation and destruction.

Categories: Theology

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