Let’s Move Beyond Diversity
Beyond Diversity, created by a partnership of Barna Research with Dr. Michael O. Emerson and the Racial Justice and Unity Center, is a must-read for every Christian. It is the most comprehensive study concerning race relations in the Church. I participated in some of the research and sat in on the webinar reveal a few weeks ago. The findings are bleak.
According to the study, “After the racial reckoning that occurred in the summer of 2020, the proportion of practicing Christians who are unmotivated to address racial injustice increased by 13 percentage points.” In summary, twenty years ago, practicing, Bible-believing Christians were about 100 yards apart on issues of race. We are now 110 yards apart. With findings like this, why bother with racial reconciliation?
When doing racial reconciliation work you must believe all of Genesis 3. The world we live in is a far cry from the one God created. The fall broke everything, and the good earth that God created is marred forever until Christ returns. We live in a fallen, broken world and the idea of race has been used by the enemy viciously for decades. Race does not exist biologically, but it does sociologically.
I’ve worked for racial reconciliation for 30 years and I’m convinced of three principles that move a practicing Christian beyond diversity. The principles are countermeasures to the biggest challenge that must be overcome, which is the effect of racialization. According to Dr. Emerson, a racialized society is a society wherein race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities, and social relationships; and allocates different economic, political, social, and psychological rewards to groups along racial lines. Therefore “colorblindness” is not the answer but following these three principles is:
- Proximity. Those who “get it” are those whose life experience is multi-racial in a major way. They have lived in diverse communities, served in the military, played on multi-racial athletic teams, etc. They have enough examples in their life experience to counteract the often-negative narratives consistently put out by media outlets to be able to see the benefits of racial groups living in harmony.
- Knowledge. Do you know what the Bible says about race? Nothing! Because during biblical times, the idea of race was not dominant in the way it is today. However, ethnocentrism operated in the same fashion as racialization. We can use Scripture to address racialization by applying Scriptural principles concerning ethnocentrism. We also need to learn from resources like the research found in Beyond Diversity.
- Advocacy. Maybe the biggest barrier to racial reconciliation is the constant attempts practicing Christians engage in to try to explain away injustices experienced by people of color. The Book of James is very clear: faith without works is dead (James 2:26). As a witness to our broken world, we should be very active in trying to right the wrongs that have been done in the name of race.