Biblical perspective on racism requires discernment and courage
ONTARIO, Calif. -- Submitting to the authority of God’s Word is a challenging task in a world steeped in political and social turmoil, said Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary during his fall convocation address on August 26.
Citing the importance of functioning in a diverse ministry environment, Iorg stated, “At Gateway, about 65% of our students are non-Anglo. We work every day in a diverse environment where people capitalize on, not divide over differences.”
“We want everyone associated with or produced by Gateway Seminary to be committed to living under biblical authority and bringing a biblical worldview to bear in every life situation,” Iorg said.
There are several obstacles that complicate this pursuit, but one contemporary problem stands out: the conflation of social justice issues.
Iorg specifically referenced the example of the Black Lives Matter organization and its strong stance against racism in all its forms. Many Christians, Iorg included, share the organization’s opposition to racism because of the biblical conviction that every person bears the image of God. However, Black Lives Matter also has publicly stated interests in “changing how society defines gender, sexual identity, morality, and family in ways contrary to biblical Truth,” Iorg said.
“At stake is not denominational distinctions, but convictions about the foundation of God’s revelation relative to his creative order.”
“On one hand, we stand against racism and support others who share our outrage,” he said.
“On the other hand, we cannot simultaneously compromise our convictions about so many other issues which strike at the core of what creates healthy relationships, communities, and even countries.”
Believers must be courageous and discerning to sort these issues and withstand intense cultural pressure to join movements antagonistic to orthodox Christianity. He said partnering with, financially supporting, and even leading secular organizations for social good are acceptable endeavors for Christians “as long as their goals do not contradict, oppose, undermine, or detract from your commitment to living under biblical authority.”
“Do not allow culture-shaming, virtue-signaling, social media bullies to intimidate you into compromising foundational issues of your Christian worldview,” he said.
Iorg provided six principles to help Christians live under biblical authority while addressing pressing issues like racism.
First, Christians must commit themselves to biblical truth. “Settle the question once and for all – absolute Truth exists and is revealed in the Bible,” he said.
They must also uphold orthodox Christian positions at any cost. “Make no mistake about the implications of this choice,” he said. “The cost of upholding biblical convictions in this generation will be a higher price than any time in American history.”
Another principle is to carefully evaluate culture through the lens of biblical revelation. “Christian leaders must resist a herd mentality and have the courage to think insightfully about what is happening in our culture,” he said.
A fourth principle is to develop cross-cultural, multi-ethnic, or multi-racial relationships to better understand their perspectives and the unity found in Christ. In Jesus Christ, we have found the Person who transforms us, unifies us, and gives us the capacity to rise above our selfishness and prejudice,” he said.
Fifth, they must consider the problem of racism from a global perspective; beyond what is currently happening in the United States.
“Racism is currently expressing itself through rapes, murders, insurrections, and open warfare in multiple cultures and countries,” Iorg said. He referred to the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Dinkas and Nuer in South Sudan, Uighars in China and more as examples of racially-motivated violence occurring around the world.
“As Christian leaders with a global worldview, we must denounce racism in all its forms and in all locations.”
Finally, believers must rely on God’s sustenance during increasingly difficult times.
“Trust God to sustain and advance his kingdom – not your life, community, culture, or country.” he said.
Each generation of believers face the same essential question as Adam and Eve in the garden Iorg said. “The serpent asked Eve, ‘Has God said?’ How you answer that question, just as it did for Adam and Eve, will determine your destiny.”
“God has spoken. We believe that and we will live it – no matter how hard it may be.”