Blog Posts on Racial Harmony

The Black Poet as Prophet

John Piper

Today is Langston Hughes's Birthday (1902-1967). He was one of the 20th century’s most notable African-American poets.

These two poems seem to catch the pilgrimage that has led to the White House. If he could have lived to see what the line would mean: “I too am America”!

Mother to Son

Well, son, I'll tell you:

Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

It's had tacks in it,

And…

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Christianity Is the Best Explanation

John Piper

Yesterday I said I’d share Mark Noll’s explanation of America’s successes and failures in the matter of race. Here is his summary which penetrates to the bottom of the “both-and” nature of the God-loved, God-cursed world we live in.

To explain the simultaneous manifestation of superlative good and pervasive malevolence in the history of race and religion, neither simple trust in human nature nor simple cynicism about American hypocrisy is…

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How the “Fierce Caucasian-Gentile-Visigoths” Flunked

John Piper

Mark Noll attempts a theological explanation of the “conundrum” of America’s successes and failures in regard to race in his book God and Race in American Politics. To set the stage for the explanation he quotes Walker Percy’s book Love in Ruins.

Noll says Percy “got it right”:

What a bad joke: God saying: here it is, the new Eden, and it is yours because you’re the apple…

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Noll Wisely Risks the Un-sensible

John Piper

In his new book, Mark Noll says that “a sensible historian would now end with a summary as follows...” (176). Then he coolly summarizes, in a single paragraph, the historical observations.

I am thankful that Noll was “promoted to move beyond historical interpretation” in the conclusion of his book. He calls it a “Theological Conclusion”—un-sensible, I suppose, for a historian. But wise and helpful as a human being willing…

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Just When You Die for Them, They Lynch Your Nephew

John Piper

Mark Noll’s new history of God and Race in American Politicsis permeated by the paradoxes of his theme. Nothing in history, it seems is simple. There is always another side. Every silver lining has a cloud.

Just when you think you are seeing virtue, the underbelly of sin exposes itself. Just when you think wickedness has fully triumphed, some upright soul takes a stand. Just when you think the…

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Agonizingly Both-And: God and Race as the Inauguration Approaches

John Piper

It is fitting as the inauguration of the first African-American president approaches that we highlight some history in a theological context. Remarkably, a newly published book helps us do this. The book is Mark Noll's God and Race in American Politics: A Short History.

Mark and I graduated together from Wheaton in 1968. He was my Resident Assistant during my senior year. I admired him then; I admire him…

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The Birmingham Church Bombing

John Piper

Birmingham Church BombingToday, 45 years ago, four little black girls were killed in the Birmingham church bombing.

Those were the days when black people could buy things at the stores, but they couldn’t use the restrooms, or sit at the lunch counters, or get a job at the cash register behind the counter, or drink from the push button drinking fountain. The ubiquitous signs said, “Whites Only.”

This was the South I…

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Remembering Elder D. J. Ward

John Piper

Elder D. J. Ward, pastor of Lexington's Main Street Baptist Church for the past 19 years, died of complications from lung cancer Friday at Hospice Care Center at St. Joseph Hospital. What the Lexington Herald-Leader did not say about this amazing African-American is that he was a powerful spokesman for the glorious God worshiped through the wall-to-wall window called Calvinism.

I thank God for the one conference we had together.…

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When MLK First Met God

John Piper

On this 40th anniversary of his death, I thank God for the life and cause of Martin Luther King, Jr. It was not the first day that he had met God. Twelve years earlier there was another meeting:

He put his head in his hands and bowed over the table. “Oh Lord,” he prayed aloud, “I’m down here trying to do what is right. But, Lord, I must confess that…

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