Christian Racial Reconciliation, “Calvinism,” and the Unbeliever : A Clarification


[The following is yet another clarification added to our series, “What Is & Isn’t Being Said.” And please note, “Calvinism” is in quotes; I believe everything that follows is consistent with a proper understanding of Reformed doctrine.]

One of the possible pitfalls of the Christian argument for racial and ethnic reconciliation (RR), especially among those of the Reformed or Calvinistic tradition (of which I am a member), is the potential implication that only believers, i.e., those in Christ, are included in the scope of sought social equity and justice. Of course, RR advocates acknowledge that all men are created in the very image and likeness of God; that is,

the whole human being is image and likeness of God, in soul and body, in all human faculties, powers, and gifts. Nothing in humanity is excluded from God’s image; it stretches as far as our humanity does and constitutes our humanness. (Herman Bavinck)

But when it comes to the idea of “reconciliation” itself, the argument usually moves from the reconciliation between God and man wrought by Christ on the Cross to reconciliation between man and man premised on the same. In the words of the Apostle,

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Why Racism is Material Heresy and Ought to be Formal Heresy : Outline 1

Cappadocians 1

[Many, upon reading this piece, have noted that there is no formal definition of “racism” or even “race” included. This is by design, though I see that it could be confusing. Defining “racism” as such is admittedly difficult and would alone constitute matter for an essay much longer than even what appears here; and even if that were accomplished, there would still remain much disagreement. Therefore, the approach of these outlines is to target and identify specific claims that most would acknowledge as “racist,” regardless of how fuzzy the edges of the set of ideas in question may be. For example, this outline deals only with claims of superiority or inferiority between races (as per Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “myth of inferior peoples”). If one’s specific brand of racist ideology does not include nor imply a claim of superiority or inferiority, then clearly this post does not capture that specific ideology. (Though arguments of implication may often be successfully employed to demonstrate that superiority/inferiority is in fact being claimed, though not directly. For some historical definitions of “racism,” see HERE.)

Further, the concept “race” itself is not defined, but for much the same reasons. The argument of this particular outline proceeds on the assumption that if one believes and confesses superiority or inferiority among races also is assuming that there is such a thing as “race”; this does not logically imply that there is in fact such a thing as “race” (though I think the concept is legitimate and useful if handled correctly as a social construction and as colloquially employed). The reader will see below that, working with the understanding of one who claims superiority/inferiority, race would minimally (not maximally!) include common progeneration. So, rather than defining the term, given abundant disagreement, I assume only what would be minimally included by one who would employ the term to claim superiority/inferiority. (For a helpful discussion of “race,” see HERE.)

And last, the reader should note that there is no specific race or ethnicity targeted in what follows; any claim by anyone that any race can be superior or inferior to any other falls within the scope of criticism below.]

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