Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Relevance is a Black President for the Southern Baptist Convention?

By Pete Garbacki

Unfortunately, it is very relevant for this day and age that the Southern Baptist Convention elected Pastor Fred Luter, Jr. as its first black president.  However, there are several faults I have with this being a major deal.

First, it should not matter the color of one's skin.  Rather, as Dr. Martin Luther King dreamed, his children would "one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."  In all the years since that speech in August of 1963 what progress have we made?  In some ways, we have made a great deal of progress.  In many ways we have made no progress at all.  For all the politically correct phrases we are supposed to use, people are still not judged by the content of their character way too often.  For the fallen world, this is to be expected.  For the church, this is a crime against God.

The Bible is clear in Galatians 3.27-29, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." (ESV)  In other words, we are not limited by our differences when we are in Christ.  We should see past skin color.  We should see past cultural differences.

Again, in Ephesians 4.1-6 Paul writes, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (ESV)  We are to walk in the manner worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus.  He continues that Christians are of the same body, Spirit, Lord, faith, baptism and God.  There is no black god, or Hispanic god, no Anglo/Euro god.  There is one God over and within Christians.  We should, "regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer." (2 Corinthians 5.16 ESV)

Additionally, there is not a variety of races.  There is one race- the human race- all of us effected by Adam's choice to sin in the garden of Eden ("Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned..." Romans 5.12 ESV)  DNA points to this fact.  All the differences between "races" are very shallow. (See article: Do Races Differ? Not Really, DNA Shows -NY Times 8.22.2000)  

All humans are related through Adam and Noah's family.  Some people teach that the curse of Ham is where dark skin came from, others teach the mark of Cain is dark skin.  These are two dangerous and ridiculous teachings that do not square up with Scripture.  

Also, there is no black and white.  Everyone is a shade of color.  Some darker than others.  Different features can, doubtless, be traced to the scattering at the Tower of Babel.  When families left to different areas of the Earth, they brought their characteristics with them.  Their environment had an effect as well.  

I remember hearing that a "mixed race" marriage was wrong.  That is wrong.  When the Bible talks against a mixed marriage, it is regarding believers and unbelievers mixing, not cultures or skin colors mixing.  That part is, quite frankly, no one's business other than those in the relationship.

So, despite the fact that the skin color of the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention does matter, for Christians it should not matter at all.  Pastor Luter is my brother in Christ and a fellow citizen of Heaven.  ("...our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." (Philippians 3.20-21 ESV)


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