Racial Reconciliation

We affirm that at the heart of the gospel is the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

However, we recognize that our world is torn into divisive factions often based on historical injustices and continuing systemic violence between those of differing races.

Therefore, we urge first of all hope. If even sinful humans have been reconciled to a holy God, it is possible for reconciliation in all areas of life, no matter how hopeless it seems. Secondly, we urge conversations and actions of humility, forgiveness, and patience as the only fitting response to God’s humility, forgiveness, and patience towards us.


Thesis Background
--Joel is a student at Princeton Theological Seminary pursuing ordination as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA)-- In America we are in the midst of a jarring transition. For awhile, we thought that we had moved from a period of slavery to freedom, and then from a period of racism to a new post-racial reality. However, recent developments have shown this to be far from true. Racial tensions are mounting as new vocabularies and languages such as microaggressions, the New Jim Crow, and intersectionality have helped to open people’s eyes to persisting problems. As our scope widens to include these smaller, yet still potent realities of racism, it seems increasingly hopeless to view racial reconciliation as a possibility. Indeed, it was never in our power to obtain this reconciliation on our own. As regards the historical and ongoing racial injustices it may be fitting to say that “all for sin could not atone”. No amount of legislation or reparations can undo what has been done. Left to ourselves, oppressors will seek to retain their powers and privileges while even victims may seek to remain as victims so as to leverage pity and guilt for benefits. Our only hope is in Christ; that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free” (Galatians 3:28), that in Christ there is neither Black nor White, neither victim nor oppressor. Only in light of what Christ has forgiven in oneself, could a victim ever hope to be able to forgive the historical racial injustices, and continue to keep forgiving into the future. Only in light of what Christ had to die on a cross for in order to save oneself, could an oppressor ever come to realize the true gravity of their sinful actions, and come to daily seek to repent of their misdeeds. Only in light of the miraculous reconciliation of even sinful humanity to a holy God could we have the hope and the theological imagination to see a new world of racial reconciliation where a great multitude from every tribe and nation comes together to worship the Almighty (Revelation 7:9).

2 comments

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  • This is an important thesis, and addresses some of the central relational problems in our society. I would like to see something more specific attached to this, that helps communities plan a way ahead, something focusing on relational thinking perhaps?
    • author
      I think relational thinking is something that would be key to this, but something not in my area of expertise. One thing I was thinking about that might relate to this is how the topic of race often sticks to issues of skin color rather than issues of cultural difference. I think many of the issues really do come down to this intercultural/cross-cultural ineptitude (something I see in myself as well). For example, the solutions towards racial segregation within churches are influenced by the emphasis upon skin color over cultural difference as perhaps the majority of multicultural churches are seeking to have people of all skin colors, but within a worship context that is culturally uniform: white worship culture. There needs to be a tension between recognizing that it is natural for both sides to prefer to be within cultural settings they are more familiar with and yet still having each side challenge themselves to do the hard work of learning how to engage within a different cultural atmosphere. There also needs to be a tension between recognizing that cultural differences are good and have many non-moral differences that add to a healthy diversity, and yet a recognition that culture holds a set of religious and philosophical worldviews that can be morally applauded or critiqued; every culture has both holy and demonic aspects to it, thus both sides should not just celebrate the other's culture, but challenge them as well.