Racism is not over and done with in America. Although Brown vs. Board of Education is long past, although Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is in all the history books, and although the 18th amendment was ratified in 1870, this nation still has pockets of fierce, staunch, and hateful racism.
And, as Christians should know, racism is a sin.
Because racism is alive and well in this country (not to mention the world as a whole), it is vital that Christians recognize racism, understand its roots and causes, and respond with a gospel-centered approach.
John Piper, a self-confessed former racist, recently released a book called Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian (Crossway, 2011). This is a book review of Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian by John Piper. It was the gospel that rescued Piper from racism. The book serves to chronicle Piper’s journey from racism to redemption, and to explain how the gospel defeats racism.
Although there are many features of the book that make it a must-read, I will highlight just two points here:
- Piper interacts with the historical, sociopolitical, and financial factors that bear upon a discussion of racism. Though the book is not intended as a scholarly treatment of racism, Piper nonetheless engages with the authorities and figureheads on the issue of race—Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Cosby, Shelby Steele, Juan Williams, Barack Obama, and Richard John Neuhaus. Though it may seem odd for an older white man to write a book on racism, John Piper is qualified. He unleashes a torrent of in-depth research, and brings in his own life experience within a multiethnic neighborhood and as the father of an adopted African-American girl.
- The book is rooted in Scriptural teaching. Piper views life through the lens of the glory of God. Bloodlines provides the answer for racism in this biblical truth: “Blood-bought ethnic and racial diversity and harmony is for the glory of God through Christ.” Piper is well-known for his ability to exegete Scripture and he does not disappoint in his treatment of racism. Though some non-reformed readers will take issue at Piper’s framework for this treatment (the so-called “five points of Calvinism”), they will still respect the solidly biblical way that Piper addresses the issue.
Is the book “balanced?” A balanced book on racism is a contradiction in terms, and no, Piper’s book is not balanced. It is highly biased in favor of radical, gospel-centered racial integration. So is the Bible. If you are a racist, you will either respond in repentance or rage. If you are not a racist, you will be encouraged and exhorted.
The right way to view racism in yourself or others is to truly understand that “the achievement of the cross is reconciling all ethnic groups through faith in Christ.” The Christian’s response to racism is rooted in”reverence for the cross and our love for the glory of God.”