In the midst of an election season filled with racial tensions and even race-related killings, an increasing number of concerned citizens, media outlets, institutions of higher education are again raising questions about the relationship between world religions and race.
In fact, Swarthmore College is offering a course this semester, entitled, “Is God a White Supremacist?” The Swarthmore College catalog says the course investigates the way religious theories sometimes justify racial domination, focusing especially on white supremacist churches. I agree with Swarthmore that the question needs to be addressed.
So, is God a white supremacist?
Absolutely not. Biblical Christianity rejects racial supremacy. This rejection can be seen throughout the Bible’s overarching storyline, and is most evident during three moments of the Bible’s story.
In the Beginning…
In the beginning, God created the world as a dazzlingly beautiful unity-in-diversity (Genesis 1). He created different kinds of vegetation, different kinds of animals, and even different types of people. The people he fashioned were different in terms of gender and, as history progressed, they were increasingly different ethnically. As the great theologian Abraham Kuyper noted, the beauty of God’s world is found in its “infinite diversity” and “inexhaustible profusion of variations.”
Even more significant is the fact that the Bible makes clear that every human being—no matter their gender or ethnic background—is created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27-28). We are made in his image so that we can flourish by living according to his moral order. Our great dignity is we are imagers of God and therefore we have worth and value. Our great humility is that we are not God and therefore cannot achieve or grasp “the good life” apart from God.
At the time of creation, humans flourished because we were rightly related to God, to each other, and to the created order; there was no spiritual, moral, or racial disunity.
At the Cross
Sadly, the first couple—Adam and Eve—committed mutiny (Genesis 3). Instead of taking their cues from God, they tried to navigate life apart from God’s loving word, apart from his moral prompts. As a result of their sin and the sins of their children, the world’s unity and goodness was corrupted. Instead of love for one another, there arose ethno-national rivalry, hatred, and even warfare.
In response to humanity’s rebellion God promised that he would send a Savior, and he remained true to his word. He sent his brown Middle Eastern Jewish Son, Jesus, to redeem us from our sins and restore our unity with God and with each other.
That is why the apostle Paul wrote, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26, 28). In other words, God commissions his Son to reestablish the relationship human beings have with him and with each other.
In the End
The Bible promises that Jesus will return one day to renew and restore the earth, and to heal and reconcile his people. In fact, the book of Revelation emphasizes the fact that in the future, all tribes, tongues, peoples and nations will gather before God as a unified diversity (Revelation 5:9). Once again, humanity will be rightly related to God, to each other, and to the created order; there will be no spiritual, moral, or racial disunity.
This unified worship will accomplish two things. First, it will reveal that God’s truth and goodness are powerful enough to evoke worship from every tribe, every language, every social grouping, and every nation. Second, it will vanquish racial supremacy once and for all by demonstrating that the ground is even at the foot of God’s throne.
In his wisdom, God caused his Son to be born in a Middle Eastern Jewish body. From there, Christianity exploded into Asia and North Africa, and to Europe and North America, and now, finally, across the face of the earth. God is not a white supremacist. He is a God-supremacist who created all humans in his image and who will one day be worshiped by a racially unified humanity.