Racial Reconciliation: Political Or Theological?

We should hate injustice, love good, and establish justice. Like William Wilberforce and Francis J. Grimké, we must do whatever is in our capacity to establish justice. However, we must not lose sight of the gospel. Real racial reconciliation isn’t political, it’s theological. We evangelicals are already reconciled to each other in Christ. We just have to remember that and live like it.

 

If racial reconciliation could be legislated by laws, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation would have reconciled Americans in the 19th century. If racial reconciliation could be achieved by social justice, Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream would have become a reality in the 20th century. If racial reconciliation could be resolved by politics, Barack Obama would have united Americans under his presidency.

Racial reconciliation cannot be legislated by laws, promoted by protests, or enacted by elections. Yet our conversations about racial reconciliation are almost always political. We have elevated tertiary issues into primary issues. We have moved the pulpit into political squares. Pastors have become politicians. Racial reconciliation has become a political position—that is why Black evangelicals who pursue racial reconciliation often produce racial division.

A Black evangelical recently said to me that I was an obstacle to racial reconciliation. She suggested that my position against Black Lives Matter has made me friendly to racist, conservative, White evangelicals. That was all news to me, especially since Black Lives Matter’s sympathies to Black supremacy are unhelpful to racial reconciliation. Nevertheless, in their man-centered, political pursuit for racial reconciliation, some Black evangelicals produce division by calling other Black evangelicals like me Uncle Tom and White evangelicals racists.

Some prominent Black evangelicals are even “divorcing from white evangelicalism” and openly complaining about racial integration in churches because some White evangelicals have different political beliefs than they do. Is that what an effort toward racial reconciliation looks like?

White evangelicals also bear a large share of responsibility for this division. For many of them, conservatism is Christianity, and patriotism is piety. They burn with anger when NFL players disrespect their precious flags. They talk more about making their nations great again than making their nations glad in God.

Other White evangelicals, however, are prone to virtue signalling and pandering to Black evangelicals. In so many grandstanding words about their want for racial reconciliation, they boast to Black evangelicals about just how much more loving they are compared to other White evangelicals because of their political beliefs. They are quick to protest White supremacy but silent on Black supremacy. They are politically correct and theological cowards. They protest one evil but protect the other. That is a recipe for racial division, not racial reconciliation.

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