My Experience with Racism and Reformed Theology

My Experience with Racism and Reformed Theology

The Bible and the Reformed faith have been used to defend racism and slavery. But, if you take the long view, in every case, the day came when the very Bible, and the very faith, that had once condoned racism and slavery, were finally used as part of its undoing.

This was certainly the case in my own experience. It was not Reformed theology that in any way spurred or strengthened my adolescent racism. In those days I was as much against theological predestination as I was against racial integration.

For me, at least, Reformed theology was not the reason for my racism, but a great part of the remedy for it. My deliverance from man-centered, free-will-thumping, rationalistic piety went hand in hand with my deliverance from demeaning views of other races. Iā€™m not saying that the embrace of Calvinism and the abandonment of racist views go together for everyone. But they did for me.

And, not surprisingly, for centuries there have been African Americans who have found in the Reformed view of God, not an oppressive truth, but a liberating and empowering one. Thabiti Anyabwile tells some of this story in The Decline of African American Theology and, The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors

In our own day there is a kind of awakening among many black Christians to the truth and beauty of this God of the Bible. Anthony Carter has served us well with his ground-breaking book, On Being Black and Reformed: A New Perspective on the African-American Christian Experience. And he has joined nine other African Americans in describing their theological journeys in Glory Road: The Journeys of 10 African Americans into Reformed Christianity. (Adapted from Bloodlines, 132).

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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.