Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Racism in American Presbyterianism
Over at The Institute, Anthony Bradley drops some bomb shells from Peter Slade's book Open Friendship in a Closed Society: Mission Mississippi and A Theology of Friendship, that documents pro-segregationalist policies in the PCA, First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, and RTS. It ain't fun discovering that your grandaddy was a racist, but that's how it looks for some southern Presbyterians. I have no idea what recognition there has been of this soiled past in these southern Presbyterian places or if there has been any act of contrition and repentance for what went on. But if there hasn't been, then there should be. I think it would be a just and noble act if the moderator of the PCA, the senior minister of First Presbyterian Church, the Presidentof the RTS all made a joint and public statement denouncing racism and pro-segregation beliefs in their institutional history. If ya think this is unwarranted, then read Bradley's other post "American Reformed Christianity: a comfortable safe haven for racists?".
I cannot resist one point. Maybe if some Reformed folks had a more biblical understanding of justification as having a horizontal element (note, not just horizontal) that recognized that God's declaration of "righteous" also creates a new people comprised of Jews, Greeks, Barbarians, Africans, Arabs, Americans in the church of God who are all one in Christ Jesus, then maybe they'd discover that justification by faith is more than a stick to bash Catholics with, it's a stick to bash racism with! But then again if you accept Peter Lillback's view of social justice as the official Reformed view of southern Presbyterian churches, i.e., it's a bad thing and church's shouldn't go around preaching against evils like racism (esp. not in its own domain), then sadly we cannot expect too much from them can we! The lesson to be learned here is that a concern for social justice does not necessarily lead to the advocation of a social gospel!
Good string of comments too in Bradley's post! Note esp. Ligon Duncan's comments that give some cause for hope!