A Biblical and Cultural Study of the Problem of Racism -- By: Larry A. Mercer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 153:609 (Jan 1996)
Article: A Biblical and Cultural Study of the Problem of Racism
Author: Larry A. Mercer


A Biblical and Cultural Study of the Problem of Racism

Larry A. Mercer

[Larry A. Mercer is Administrator of Buckner Baptist Children’s Home, Dallas, Texas, and Adjunct Professor in Urban Ministries, Criswell College, Dallas, Texas.]

In a pluralistic society like that of the United States the issue of race relations can become a matter of tension and misunderstanding. While most Christians would like to think they are not prejudiced against peoples of other races, the attitude of racism may be present nonetheless. Racism, according to Websters Dictionary, is “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capabilities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

How should Christians view this problem, and what should they do about it? What does the Bible say about the subject? These are crucial issues that call for attention, evaluation, and action.

Doctrinal Issues and Racism

A Christian perspective toward the problem of racism should begin with an understanding of basic Bible doctrines concerning man and God.

The Nature of Man

Though many anthropologists say the human race has developed by an evolutionary process,1 the Bible states unequivocally that man was created by God (Gen 1:26–31; 2:7). Human beings therefore are the direct result of God’s creative work, made in the

image of God (1:26–27) and blessed by Him (v. 28). All that God made “was very good” (v. 31), including mankind.

Adam and Eve were created “in the image of God” (v. 27) and since every human being has descended from them, all are in God’s image (cf. 9:6), and therefore are of equal value and importance to God. Common ancestry means racial unity, which in turn should rule out racial prejudice.

The common ancestry of all in Adam has an important ramification in relation to racial prejudice. Paul says that God made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth and determined the bounds of their habitation (Acts 17:26). Since all people are of the same blood and God’s offspring by creation, there can be no superior or inferior race of people.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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