Monday, December 15, 2014

Is Racial/Ethnic/Cultural Harmony Guaranteed or Necessitated in the New Birth?


Recently in the discussion both nationally (if not globally) and ecclesiastically (that is, in the church or the body of Christ) race/ethnicity/culture has been a hot topic for some obvious and immediate reasons but as well, for some long-standing reasons. With respect to the body of Christ and the ongoing discussion, much of the dialog can be monitored online and my observation has been with great pain, frequently.

It is as if, for many theologians and students of the Bible, the spiritual construct of the body of Christ and all of its implications simply either do not exist or are not grasped (for understandable to reproachable reasons), thus, are by-passed in how the issue is approached in the body of Christ. Unfortunately, this includes some rather astute men.

And so, in following this discussion, I was brought to a blog by a Reformed Bible teacher and theologian, Doug Wilson. The reason I am highlighting this is because of a statement he made which I believe captures precisely the fundamental misstep of the Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist world on the matter of race and the presumed racial/ethnic/cultural harmony that somehow must follow when one becomes a Christian and then begins interacting with Christians of differing races, ethnicities and cultures.

I posted a comment at Wilson's blog (as a side note, he holds do a grave error called Federal Vision, but I am not stopping to discuss that at the moment). Whether he permits it or not is not germane. I am only glad that the statement he made exists and I can provide a response, here. Thus, you can read his post here. Following is my response to that.

Wilson's Statement
I want to go straight to the terms of my peroration first, so that there is no mistaking the direction. Outside of Jesus Christ, racial harmony is a pipe dream. Apart from Christ, racial reconciliation is not going to happen, but rather the opposite. In Christ, racial harmony is a theological necessity, a doctrinal requirement, and an eschatological hope.
My Response
You are close but still off. There is no racially (sic) harmony in Christ. You are missing the properties of the construct of being in Christ. It is a spiritual construct. Christians of all races/ethnicities/cultures do not have, as a biblically stated objective, such anthropological properties harmonized or reconciled. In fact, they are actually reduced to anecdotal properties and are not necessitated. Rather, the harmony is Christ and his doctrine. Those who share the DNA of Christ and his doctrine are harmonized outside of their race/ethnicity/culture constructs and into Christ. Racial/ethnic/cultural differences are not remedied, rather they are removed.
Our racial properties, ethnic properties and cultural properties do not suddenly all get on the same page, instead there is a new page that does not have any of this in view. Yes, we are all on the same page but it is not because our race/ethnicity/cultures have been harmonized but because in the body of Christ there is a new DNA and doctrine which is followed.

Now, outside of the body of Christ in other anthropological constructs (such as race/ethnicity/cultural/nationalism, etc...), sure, you can seek some harmonization, if possible, but the Bible does not require that. However, mainly because of their distinctiveness and particularly ones that are very foreign to one another, rarely are they able to be brought into harmony. But in Christ, in the spiritual construct of Christ, our harmony is because we identify as Christian, as those born from above and share the same doctrine, i.e., Christ's.
Being in Christ does not assume a de facto racial/ethnic/cultural harmonization or a de facto by-product. The harmony is because we are in a new and phenomenal paradigm that does not consider anthropological properties. Our harmony is spiritually based.
Concluding Comments

Above I have two illustrations, one picturing human racial harmony and the other spiritual harmony of those from different races/ethnicities/cultures. Wilson's statement represents the critical but nuanced misunderstanding by much of the church.

We, Christians, are not harmonized racially, ethnically or culturally, when we are saved. We are harmonized because we fellowship on another plane, in another construct, or based on a different paradigm. I do not embrace you because of anything you possess anthropologically, rather, because of what you possess spiritually, both in the new man who has been resurrected and the doctrine to which he holds, that of Christ's.

Does it mean that I am free to be completely ignorant of your context in life? No, but nothing in Scripture requires me to reconcile or harmonize myself to it. Rather, that our harmony as brothers and sisters in the Lord are based in our identification as a new man or new creation which identifies his/her DNA as that of God's via the spiritual rebirth in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), our new Adam and fellowships based on his doctrine, i.e., the Word of God.

No comments: