Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Hurried Theological Condemnation of Segregationism/Kinism

Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is a thirty minute stab at giving the beginning of giving a theological rebuttal to the kind of theologically couched teachings on segregation that some men in the PCA are still defending. It grieves me that we would still have to fight for this ground.
The teachings that were promoted in Southern Presbyterianism concerning the God-ordained separation of the "races" constitute a peculiar and unfortunate path in Christian theology and were largely an outgrowth of the need to justify first slavery, then Jim Crow and finally the last vestiges of formally legalized segregation. These views strike at the heart of the Gospel, which is not simply forensic justification, but the reconciliation of humanity, Jew and Greek, slave and free, men and women into one holy race, the church. Paul argued that the outward fruit of this reconciliation should be actions of oneness between church communities drawn from different ethnic background (such as the Macedonians giving to support the Jews in Jerusalem), learning to live in single congregations with one another in peace (such as the Romans and Jews in Rome), and even the planting of distinctively cross-cultural churches - such as we see in Philippi.

Redemptive-historically we see this in pouring out of the Spirit in Acts 2 where in the age of the Spirit, the curse of the tower of Babel (which Christian segregationists, or "kinests" as some of them refer to themselves, wish to maintain) is reversed and the beginning of reuniting the people's under Christ's Lordship is moving forward. We are grafted into the same olive tree (Rom 11) and our destination is worshiping God as one people from every tongue and tribe. This universal kingdom is NOT YET, but it is also ALREADY. The kingdom of God is breaking through as men are reconciled to God and each other and live together in his Church, and churches, as one people.

Historically, especially in the primitive church, this was a great scandal. Romans very much believed in a segregated society and saw the uniting of peoples in the Christian church as a sign of the weakness of Christianity.

So much for content, let's look at purpose (at which I've already hinted).

The purpose of the Good News of the Kingdom of God is the reconciliation of people to God, so that they may be adopted into a single worshiping family, the church, which in its local manifestations show forth holiness, righteousness, love and unity (across lines of class, sex, language, ethnicity and national origins). This manifesting of God's people into churches reflects the eschatological end of God's purpose - one people/one bride.

Segregationists/kinests wish to say, in the face of the previous 1500-1600 years of church history, that the division of peoples at Babel (or even flowing from Noah), is God's prescriptive intent for humanity until the Day of the Lord and therefore Christians should work at maintaining the divisions/separations. The unity between Christians across races according to them is purely spiritual and not physical. I find these claims not simply errant, but antithetical to the purposes of the Gospel itself.

In addition, segregationism/kinism is a barrier to people of color hearing and receiving the Good News. As Paul wrote in Romans 2, "the name of the Lord is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Since the same theological tradition which vigorously supported slavery and gave it theological justifications, along with denying the Gospel and sacraments to Blacks for many generations, still has involvement (much lessened) in promoting segregationism and has been loathe to condemn its past sins, people of color are suspicious of Reformed Christianity. Sometimes this suspicion is part of the dynamic where men reject religion altogether for paganism and worldliness, sometimes it is used by the promoters of other religions to convince men to stay away from "white man's religion" (such as Nation of Islam), often it guides men away from Reformed Christianity into churches which are less biblical in doctrine and/or polity. In this sense, segregationism/kinism work against the purpose of the Gospel.

The loss is not just for the men who have not received the Gospel or have not joined with Reformed Churches, but OUR LOSS, as we miss out on the gifts and blessings of those we are supposed to reach and receive.

Comments accusing me of denying God's sovereignty with this post will be ignored. I affirm God's sovereignty in reaching or excluding any he wishes. Often what we mean for evil God means for good.

No comments:

Post a Comment