27 August 2014

Theology vs. Racism - a primer

by The Late Frank Turk

In 2008, Thabiti Anyabwile spoke for about 66 minutes on the theological problem of using "race" as away to see our differences, and someone ought to review those 66 minutes as soon as possible.  I'm embedding that talk here, unabridged, for your edification.  Also: so that person who ought to review it can find it easily.

We have an obligation to minimize us and maximize Christ.  It is to be displayed in the local church.

6 problems that are not immediately apparent to us when we trade in race:

1. The abuse of people and scripture in the name of "race". The category causes us to treat God's word and other people with the wrong assumptions.
2. It's a short walk from positing "race" to practicing racism.  It leans to into racism.  It assumes that I love people (only) like me.
3. It hinders meaningful engagement with others. It is inherently Ad-Hominem, against the man.  Ethnicity is permeable and subject to change; race is non-negotiable and an impasse.
4. It undermines the authority of Scripture. Race (as biology) denies that Scripture defines us and establishes our identity.
5. It causes us to resist the Holy Spirit.  It creates a barrier to sanctification and illumination.
6. It undermines the Gospel.  If we deny our common ground in Adam, how can we ever find our unity in Christ?

Our fundamental objective is not to build ethnic shrines.  Our project in Christ is to be living monuments to the living image of Christ.


Keith said...

Given his recent blog post on the fears he has for his son's safety in the US, I'd say that "someone" is Thabiti Anyabwile.

Andrea said...

"The Late Frank Turk"

Michael Coughlin said...

I apologize if this is obvious, but I don't understand the phrase "trade in race." So unless it is explained in the audio, I cannot understand how your points below relate to the action.

jbboren said...

I remember being absolutely mesmerized by this talk the first time around. Still worth studying.

APM said...

Is Frank new here?

DJP said...

APM - he's NWOP.

(New Writer On Probation)

A Wheeler said...

I was wondering if someone with a louder blog voice would take this up. Kept waiting & it seems that on the same day I try, team Pyro steps up.

Frank Turk said...


I think that naming names like that is not helpful at this time, and I think you application of my suggestion is not helpful at all. It seems to me that brother Thabiti understands the symptom here far better than most people do, and his loathing of that symptom needs to get a full hearing.

I also think that many of us need to review this post at a now-dormant blog and ask ourselves: how often are we forgetting that what we say is frequently measured by those we say it to by what we are somehow callous to?

Frank Turk said...


I was branded this on Twitter about 2 weeks ago, and I'm keeping it. It's exactly what I want to say.

Frank Turk said...


"to trade" = "to traffic in; to make an exchange; to capitalize on for an unfair or unwarranted advantage."

Hamas trades in human lives for the sake of political gain.

Feminism trades in materialism for the sake of destroying virtue.

Politicians and Con Men trade in race for the sake of personal gain and creating enemies where there are none.

Frank Turk said...


Not new: renewed.

Frank Turk said...


We have been asked by Darrin Patrick to step up and talk about theology and race here. I'm still on hiatus until 15 Sept 2014 (a week in which I will make 2 posts here plus reveal a surprise for the world), so I thought I would link to the best discussion of the topic from a theological perspective made in the last 20 years.

This will do until I am really back.

Michael Coughlin said...


A Wheeler said...

Yes, this does fit the bill nicely and I will try to patiently wait until 9/15, Lord willing.

Ken Rawlins said...

As a Christian who happens to be black, I find the definition of trading in race to be appropriate. If there is no benefit to the traders, they offer no opinion. Case in point, why no hue and cry about what's going on in Chicago that matches the noise about Ferguson. The staggering number of shootings and murders by blacks against blacks doesn't seem to get the same attention. Do we have racial issues in this country? Of course we do. But we have to realize that the root cause of all of this is our fallen condition. What is needed from the African-American segment of the church is not knee-jerk, emotional reactions, but a thoughtful, reasoned and biblically sound response. We must never lose sight of the fact that the Word of God trumps race, ethnicity and gender when it comes to hot button issues like this. The Church has to see moments like this as a great opportunity to proclaim the Gospel, the only thing that answers our fallen condition. I look forward to more from Team Pyro on this subject.

Brad Mason said...

What happened at Ferguson? I'm still trying to figure it out and it all depends on who I listen to. Does Mr. Anyabwile know?

I live in Stockton where we have plenty of crime and near the Bay where there is plenty more and these stories come up all of the time and I'm left feeling racist if I believe any story telling me that the police might have been justified. So I'm left just being quiet or hating the police. It is becoming absurdly frustrating!

I live well with my neighbors, none of whom are white (wait, there is one family) and it's like hand cuffs get thrown on me if I engage mentally in any national discussion of the issue when I never really encounter a racial problem or tension in my real day to day life. It seems there is really nothing for anyone to say either way that won't immediately bring guilt when you're talking to anyone but your own neighbor. Arrg. I can talk this through right now with someone in my actual neighborhood and neither one of us will leave wanting to leave evangelicalism behind!

I think the police deserve the real scrutiny in any case when they take a life; in any case. I also believe that you can't have a country that tolerated slavery of a race (even many of the "great" ministers! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nWQAOppTQE )as well as nasty segregation, and expect it to just all get better in a couple generations. I get all this. But who do we believe? I hate it. I wish we could just all wear hijabs and sun glasses.

Brad Mason said...

And, Mr. Moderator, I get it if that is unpostable. I get the whole kit and kabootle. It is what it is. Maybe I'll just turn off the news and live in my community.

Frank Turk said...