Powerful words from my seminary professor, Dr. Sydney Park. I’m proud to have been one of her students.
Thus far, as many evangelicals, I’ve tolerated racist attitudes and comments from other believers based on the rationale that the burden of faith and piety rested more on me than the racist believer. That somehow patience, grace and mercy on my part would serve as a “testimony” to them. And, of course, that the weightier matters of faith are salvation, faith, etc. rather than “social concerns” often labeled/demonized as “social gospel” or “liberal” issues of the Democratic Party.
I can no longer take this position. In view of Ephesians 2:11-22, any argument/mindset that advocates or silently endorses racism stands in direct contrast to what God has accomplished perfectly in Christ. Racism is not simply sin, but active resistance against that perfected work of God on the cross. [Students, remember the perfect tense (completed action in the past with continuing effect)? cf. Jn 19:30 “It is finished.”] For this gospel that proclaims Jesus has made peace for all of humanity and God (2:16-18), also proclaims that Jesus has made peace for both Jew and Gentile (2:14-15). Indeed, Ephesians 2:11-22 is rare in that Paul places peace between Jew and Gentile in 2:11-15 prior to what is indisputably the theological priority, peace with God (2:17-18). In Ephesians 2, peace between Jew and Gentile (racial reconciliation) is placed prior to peace made for all humanity and God (atonement) for emphasis. The two dimensions are not separate but of necessity coherent; there is no proclamation of peace between God and humanity without peace among all humans. In fact, there is no other gospel. For Paul, any other definition of the gospel which whittles down this radical message is “anathema,” that is, a “curse”—it is ultimately heresy (Gal 1:6-9).