A Christian View of Race in Historical Context
Who are we? And who are they? We are children of God - nothing more, nothing less. If our worth comes only from God, all people are equal in the sight of God.
Whose side am I on? As Christians, we are citizens of heaven not Earth. Jesus warns us that we bear the guilt of our ancestors if we continue their sins. We don’t need to defend or be bound by our culture’s role in history.
Old World / New World Asia, Europe, and Africa are connected by land, accounting for about 60% of world land area. That’s the “Old World.” The “New World” – the Americas (31%), Australia (6%), and other islands – were physically disconnected.
Europe conquered the world In the past 500 years, European (white) countries either conquered or controlled nearly every country in the world. Guns, Germs, and Steel is a book that brilliantly explains how that happened.
What color are the continents today? In Africa and Asia, the indigenous people mostly survived since they already had immunity to European diseases. In the “New World,” the indigenous population was mostly killed by Eurasian-African diseases and European oppression. The Americas, Australia and islands are now populated mostly by descendants of European conquerors, along with
- surviving indigenous people,
- descendants of slaves brought by those conquerors, and
- more recent immigrants.
Colonialism is recent! The oldest people today were born during the peak of European world domination. World War II brought the end of European colonialism (mostly - there’s still Guam). If you’re white, it’s likely your parents grew up in a neighborhood where black people were stopped from buying homes. I grew up in one of those towns.
Racism is a hangover from European conquest It’s no mystery why sinful, natural minds from any culture might be pro-white racist. Whites ruled the world for 500 years!
What would Jesus do? Just like Jesus warned the Pharisees they would be guilty of the sins of their ancestors who killed the prophets if they held those same attitudes (Luke 11), we are guilty of the sins of colonialism if we hold the same attitudes as our ancestors.
- Embrace the equality of all people before God,
- Recognize the moral danger of using power to put down weaker people, and
- Collaborate to restore the status of historically oppressed people.