Editorial: The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation -- By: Stephen J. Wellum

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 08:2 (Summer 2004)
Article: Editorial: The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation
Author: Stephen J. Wellum

Editorial: The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation

Stephen J. Wellum

Stephen J. Wellum is Associate Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Wellum received his Ph.D. degree in theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has also taught theology at the Associated Canadian Theological Schools and Northwest Baptist Theological College and Seminary in Canada. He has contributed to several publications and a collection of essays on theology and worldview issues.

Francis Schaeffer often summarized the implications of Genesis 3 in terms of a fourfold alienation: first, a vertical alienation between God and human beings; second, a cosmic alienation in that the whole universe now lives under the effects of the curse; third, an inward alienation in that we as human beings are schizophrenic at heart; and fourth, a horizontal alienation in that sin has brought about serious divisions in the human race. Viewing the effects of sin in this way certainly underscores the awful distortion it has brought to every aspect of our lives.

Thankfully, in Christ, the glorious news of the gospel is that this fourfold alienation has been dealt with in the cross work of our Lord, who has already won the victory and who will, in the end, consummate all things when he comes again in glory and power. In the meantime, between the comings of our Lord, we, as Christians, are to begin to live out the reality of sin’s defeat: justification before our great God; efforts to fulfill the creation mandate in the midst of this fallen world; substantial healing in our own personal lives as we grow in grace; and reconciliation with one another, both personally and corporately. In this edition of SBJT, we are particularly interested in exploring this last relationship, especially in regard to the issue of race, even though it is impossible to divorce it from everything else Scripture says about salvation in Christ.

Racism, from a biblical view, is always wrong. Genesis 1:26–27 is absolutely clear at this point. Because all human beings are created in the image of God, no one race is superior either in terms of value or significance. Sadly, sin has distorted and twisted God’s good creation, including racial relations, and it is only the power of the gospel which can bring true healing and transformation. Unfortunately, however, the church has not always lived up to the truth of God’s Word. That is one of the reasons why the issue of racial reconciliation needs to be addressed afresh. What is true of every era is especially true of our own: the church needs to proclaim and live out the beauty and power of the gospel so that we will clearly wit...

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