4.6 Romans -- Contra Racism

In these passages from Rom 3-5, Paul articulates the Christian opposition to racism, and it is twofold:

 

         a. as we saw in Romans chapter 2,  God revealed Himself to Jews through the Law, and to Gentiles through nature and conscience.  So both have access to God, though the Gentiles have been limited till now.  However, with the coming of Jesus Christ, all prior revelations (Law, nature and conscience) have been surpassed by the offer of righteousness through faith.

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         b. despite the limited witness of God in Law, nature and conscience, all mankind is under the power of sin.  We have enough light to see that we are in darkness.  This is the true source of human unity. The modern humanist or universalist opposes racism because it denies the "spark of the divine" in every man and woman, and the fundamental goodness of all men and women.  In contrast, Christianity opposes racism because it denies the universality of sin (Rom 3:23). The difference is simple: racism assigns different worth to different racial groups, humanism assigns an equal positive value to all racial groups, Christianity assigns an equal negative value to all racial groups.

        

This differentiation may offend many people today, and it certainly outraged Paul's readers who valued their Jewish heritage. The reappraisal of racial worth exists as a perennial subtext to the major theme of salvation in the Book of Romans.  Most commentators concentrate on the mechanics of justification by faith -- atonement, propitiation, expiation, the blood of the covenant.  But just as radical an innovation was that Paul put all men and women on the same plane: salvation works the same for everyone, everywhere, at any time.  "God does not show favoritism."  
    
         So we must be aware that it is not merely a new mechanism of salvation that has appeared in Jesus Christ, it is also a new scope of redemption.  Antiracism is not an "add-on," a consequence of Christian ethics, like chastity.  Instead, it is built into the very core of the New Covenant.  As you and I were "of one" in our prior condition outside of Christ, so now each believer is not only joined to Christ through faith, but is linked to every other person who has been born of the Spirit, regardless of gender or ethnicity.  We are now even more "of one" -- because our oneness is not the depravity of the natural man, but the indwelling of the same Holy Spirit.