The SBJT Forum: Racism, Scripture, and History -- By: Anonymous
SBJT 8:2 (Summer 2004) p. 74
The SBJT Forum:
Racism, Scripture, and History
Editor’s Note: Readers should be aware of the forum’s format. D. A. Carson, J. Daniel Hays, Paige Patterson, Ken Fentress, Michael A. G. Haykin, Anthony Carter and A. B. Caneday have been asked specific questions to which they have provided written responses. These writers are not responding to one another. The journal’s goal for the Forum is to provide significant thinkers’ views on topics of interest without requiring lengthy articles from these heavily-committed individuals. Their answers are presented in an order that hopefully makes the forum read as much like a unified presentation as possible.
SBJT: In your book Love in Hard Places you gave us some reflections on racism. Summarize some of the more uncomfortable thoughts that spring to your mind when you think about this subject.
D. A. Carson: Different people will find different things uncomfortable. In no particular order of importance, the following items would certainly be included in the list of many thoughtful Christians.
(1) In North America, racism is commonly associated with Black/White relations. World wide, however, racism has many permutations. By and large, the Japanese look down on Koreans; by and large, the Chinese look down on both of them; and the tribalism that is never too far from the surface of many African nations is, from one perspective, yet another form of racism. Indeed, where racism ends and resentment caused by differences in ethnicity begins is part of the difficulty of thinking clearly about this subject. Anti-semitism, for instance, can be interpreted as a species of racism (“Aryan supremacy”), yet it is commonly intertwined with ideology (e.g. Nazism) or even with aberrant theology (e.g. “God-killers”), and almost always with stereotypes (e.g. hook-nosed, unscrupulous moneybags) and deep suspicion of the “other,” whatever the “other” is (in this case, stereotypes of yarmulkes, men with black hats and curls, Sabbath observance, and much more of the same). To think clearly and penetratingly about racism is immensely challenging.
(2) In the American context, it is difficult to disentangle racism from the history of slavery. But some brute facts cannot be avoided.
First, until the beginning of the nineteenth century slavery was a phenomenon found in virtually every major world culture. Hittites had slaves, the Chinese had slaves, ancient Israelites had slaves, dominant African tribes and empires had slaves, the Greeks had slaves, the Romans had slaves, and so forth. Not for a moment does this excuse the barbarism of the institution. Indeed, its essential barbarism is precisely why Old Testament legislation sought to limit it (with the Year of Jubilee) and mitigate its d...
Click here to subscribe