Thursday, May 14, 2009

North Idaho Racism

We live in the Pacific Northwest where unfortunately there is a lot of redneck white racism. 
Now it should be acknowledged on the outset that not everything which passes as racism is necessarily bad. As
Anthony Browne points out in his book
The Retreat of Reason, a person can get categorized as a racist simply for making generalizations about an ethnic group even if those generalizations are statistically accurate and non-pejorative. One can also fall foul to the charge of racism simply for taking pride in one’s culture and ethnic traditions, if the ethnicity in question has not achieved minority status.
But real and genuine racism, which seeks to divide people on the basis of their race or which assumes an inherent superiority of one race over another, is a functional denial of both the gospel as well as the doctrine of the image of God and remains one
of the most repugnant of all vices into which a Christian may fall. It is a denial of the gospel since the gospel is the good news that all people – Jew or Gentile, Slave or Free, White or Black – have equal access to God through Jesus Christ, with the corollary that all these groups belong to the same common table, both literally and figuratively. In this regard, it should not be overlooked that Paul’s great discussion of justification in his letter to the Galatians emerged out of his discussion of the divided table in Antioch when the church had broken down into petty factions. Paul saw these divisions as a functional denial of justification by faith in Christ alone.

Christianity is a truly international movement, rescuing us from the fleshly divisions and petty rivalries which characterized non-Christian society. Tom Wright puts it well in his book What Saint Paul Really Said:

“The critical thing is that the church,
those who worship God in Christ Jesus, should function as a family in which every member is accepted as an equal member, no matter what their social, cultural or moral background. The very existence of such a community demonstrates to the principalities and powers, the hidden but powerful forces of prejudice and suspicion, that their time is up, that the living God has indeed won the victory over them, that there is now launched upon the world a different way of being human, a way in which the traditional distinctions between human beings are done away with. That is why we find in Ephesians the climactic statement: the purpose of the gospel is that ‘through the church the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 3:10). The very existence of a community of love, love where before there was mutual suspicion and distrust, is the crucial piece of evidence that tells Paul that God’s spirit has been at work (Colossians 1:8).”

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