'Weapon of massive racism' worse than ISIS threat, Black preacher says

by Dante Wright , Guest Columnist |

COMMENTARY

ROUND ROCK, Texas (Christian Examiner) -- Just when we thought our common enemy of yesterday was slowly fading away, its evil and divisive spirit has come back to open up old wounds and haunt our hills of today. The greatest threat against America today is not ISIS or weapons of mass destruction, but in my humble opinion, the greatest threat against America is the weapon of massive racism. There is no subject that can be more troublesome, emotionally explosive and divisive than a discussion about race in America.

Just reflect back on recent events with Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo.; Eric Garner and the police department in New York City; and Tamir Rice and the police officer in Cleveland, Ohio. The prophetic words of Billy Graham, still ring true today, "Racial and ethnic hostility is the foremost social problem facing our world today."

The awareness of racial division in America has been communicated by many observers in our society. Michael Emerson, in Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race, said, "For race is intimately tied to the American experience." Other nations have also observed the racial problems in our nation.
The astute Swedish scholar and researcher, Gunnar Myrdal, described America's racial problem as, "an American dilemma."

However, the great racial divide is not a "skin color" problem but a "sin" problem. Racism and hatred are blatant denials of the solidarity that we have in Christ. In Christ there is no partiality based upon one's race or status.

Racism scars the soul because it is an ugly, evil attitude that often leads to the commission of ugly, evil acts. Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he said, "We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools." The deadly poison of racism has infected this country and its citizens far too long. Its epidemic consequences have touched the entire country. The question yet lingers, what is the antidote for the racial divide in our nation? The antidote is the total reliance upon the infallible Word of God to lead and guide us toward ethical and moral behavior, and to live out a cross-shaped life.

One of the issues of our crumbling culture is that we refer to, or rely on, other books and human wisdom before we seek the Word of God as an antidote for our crisis. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul declares, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

Paul presents a basis for reconciliation that overshadows black theology and white theology because it is God's theology. The infallible Word of God, when interpreted correctly, brings us together instead of dividing us, as 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 expounds. Paul helps us to live out a cross-shaped life, in our own vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationship with others. Let us not be found on the wrong side of history by having a vertical relationship with God and not having a loving horizontal relationship with others.

If all ethnic groups in America would try harder to become ambassadors for racial reconciliation, America could experience a great awakening of spiritual racial harmony. As ambassadors for racial reconciliation, Christians must admit, submit and commit. Christians must first admit that sinful acts have scared one another. We must submit to the Word of God and allow it to be a blueprint to heal our racial divide. Michael Battle said, "Genuine reconciliation can only come if people, both black and white, commit to a view of their sisters and brothers of different contexts, seeing all people created in the image of God and of infinite values to him."

Christians must also commit to developing stronger relationships with others who are of another race. J. Deotis Roberts wrote, "Any meaningful relationship between blacks and whites at this time will need to involve a give and take relationship of mutual cultural enrichment." What I advocate as an ambassador of Christ, is a Christian theological approach to race relations that will lead us beyond hypocritical tokenism to liberation and genuine acts of reconciliation between equals.

Dante Wright is pastor of Sweet Home Baptist Church in Round Rock, Texas.

[The article first appeared in the Texan online, a newspaper of the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, and is used with permission.]