A Biblical Answer for Racial Unity – Book Review

The issue of race has experienced no small stir in recent days. It’s for that reason that I’m thankful for the recently released book, A Biblical Answer for Racial Unity, by Kress publishers.

The book is the result of nine biblical expositions and one biographical survey on the topic from the Truth in Love conference held at Founders Baptist Church in Spring, Texas about a year ago. Authors include Richard Caldwell, H.B. Charles Jr., Danny Akin, Juan Sanchez, Jim Hamilton, Owen Strachan, Carl Hargrove, and Christian George.

Right away I knew that I was going to like the book. Dr. Caldwell begins by escorting the reader through the two twin pillars which must be entered through for any right thinking about the issue of race; the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the sufficiency of Scripture. The finished work of Christ in the Gospel accomplishes the greatest reconciliation in the universe; something far more than any horizontal, or Jew-Gentile conflict, but a vertical, man-God conflict. Before cultural analyses and such, this is where we must begin. “Through that saving work, peace replaces chaos, love replaces warring, compassion replaces pride, God brings order out of disorder” (11).

Next, Caldwell takes us where every discussion of racial issues must begin; the sufficiency of the 66 books of Scripture. Besides various insight throughout the book, this is probably the most refreshing point of the read.

The sufficiency of Scripture cannot be overstated in this issue. Most Christians, if not all, would profess belief in the sufficiency of Scripture. But we often functionally abandon it when our talk of sin, reconciliation, and unity are not anchored in biblical terms and definitions. Caldwell fleshes it out for us a bit in the context of racial issues:

“We must be convinced that we don’t need any more cultural commentators-we have enough. We don’t need any virtue posturing or virtue signaling: ‘Oh, let me let everybody know how culturally sensitive I am, so they’ll all think better of me’” (12).

The true and great authority on racial reconciliation is no man, but the word of God. No one has the moral or cultural upper hand here. Scripture is sufficient. To the degree we drift here is the degree to which we will err. Caldwell writes, “Preachers need to stop trying to be profound. Rather we need to be clear and recognize what is truly profound preaching…What is profound is the Bible” (14). When it comes to racial issues, or any issue for that matter, man’s attempt at profundity over biblical clarity does not improve and clarify the issue, but dilutes and confuses.

H.B. Charles contributes two excellent chapters titled, “The Biblical Strategy for Racial Unity” and “The Peaceful Solution to Racial Unity.” Both chapters are undergirded with the Gospel of Christ and the sufficiency of Scripture.

Charles calls God’s people to hold highest their God-given identity in Christ. He writes,

“The church cannot adequately address racial issues by trying to be something it is not. The church must be the church. The church must keep the main thing the main thing. [It] overcomes racial tensions by maintaining spiritual priorities” (21).

Charles exhorts Christians to keep the word of God central in their ministries, regardless of cultural hot-button issues. He writes, “The challenge for predominantly black churches in the United States is to make sure we do not transform the church into some civil rights organization where the gospel is lost” (24). The biblical gospel, the word of God, and the call for humble obedience are to remain central “even the face of ethnic and cultural differences and problems” (24).

God’s people can experience a mission confusion here. We can get distracted in the sense that the social can replace the spiritual in these issues. “Christlike servanthood is the strategy for racial unity” (25).

Further, these issues can distract pastors from the main work of the ministry; the word and prayer. “This is why the enemy would have pastors do a hundred different wonderful things, if he can stop them from praying. A spiritual leaders can only minister effectively when we pray consistently” (28).

Charles teaches that civil rights action brought some benefit, but it does not meet man’s greatest need. “I am the beneficiary of those who marched [and] protested…Yet human activism will never change sinful hearts, as the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement had demonstrated” (37).

If Christians are to think rightly about unity, Christ, not melanin, must be central. The person and work of Christ is the sole basis of and motivation for unity.

“Racial dynamics, gender differences, or cultural issues do not define us as Christians. In Christ, we have become a whole new race… It is impossible for us to be one if we are focusing on anything but the Lord Jesus Christ” (38, 39).

Danny Akin warns similarly: “We can begin to allow our differences to influence us more than our unity in Christ” (70).

The book concludes with a mini-biography of Charles Spurgeon, filled with related tidbits of his life which I did not know. Christian George writes how Spurgeon’s sermons, despite selling profusely elsewhere, were shamefully the fodder for fire in the 1860s-South, due to his opposition of slavery.

Overall, there is one thing that encouraged me most about the book: when addressing racial issues, the writers used lots of Bible. One would think that is a given. However, among many professing believers, while there has been much discussion of social issues, there seems to be less Bible in the mix. When that’s the case, we have gone astray. I’m thankful, however, that A Biblical Answer for Racial Unity is an exception, thus living up to its title.

Source: The Cripplegate | Eric Davis