Foundations for Thinking About Race

Echoes of Sunday, January 14

1. God designed all ethnic groups from one human ancestor.

Acts 17:26 [God] made from one, every nation (pan ethnos = every ethnic group) of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.

2. All members of every ethnic group are made in the image of God.

Genesis 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

3. In determining the significance of who you are, being a person in the image of God compares to ethnic distinctives the way the noonday sun compares to a candlestick.

4. The prediction of a curse that Noah spoke over some of the descendants of Ham in Genesis 9:25 is irrelevant in deciding how the black race is to be viewed and treated.

Genesis 9:24-25 When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.”

The prediction is that the Canaanites will eventually be overpowered by the descendants of Seth and Japheth, which they were when the Israelites took possession of the Promised Land. Canaan is the one son of Ham who is not the ancestor of African peoples (Genesis 10:15-18). So the curse doesn’t fall on the African peoples, but on the Canaanites.

5. It is God’s purpose and command that we make disciples for Jesus Christ from every ethnic group in the world, without distinction.

Matthew 28:18-20 All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

6. All believers in Jesus Christ, of every ethnic group, are united to each other, not only in a common humanity in the image of God, but even more, as brothers and sisters in Christ and members of the same body.

Romans 12:4-5 Just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

1 John 3:1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are.

7. The Bible forbids intermarriage between believer and unbeliever, but not between members of different ethnic groups.

1 Corinthians 7:39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

This is the New Covenant application of the Old Testament warnings about intermarrying with the pagan nations. For example, Deuteronomy 7:3-4:

You shall not intermarry with [the nations]; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you.

8. Therefore (Initiative #3), against the rising spirit of indifference, alienation and hostility in our land, we will embrace the supremacy of God’s love to take new steps personally and corporately toward racial reconciliation, expressed visibly in our community and in our church.

(For a fuller explanation of these theses you may listen to the Sunday Morning Message from January 14, 1996, “Racial Reconciliation: Unfolding Bethlehem's Fresh Initiative #3").

Pursuing our Fresh Initiatives with you,

Pastor John

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