Race, Fear, and Virtue Ethics in South African Context

“I have no doubt it is fear in the land,” writes Alan Paton in his highly acclaimed, Cry, The Beloved Country, “which do we prefer, a law-abiding, industrious and purposeful native people, or a law-less, idle and purposeless people? The truth is that we do not know, for we fear them both.”[1] Paton’s novel, first published in 1948, is the story of an ageing pastor, the Reverend Kumalo, who embarks on a journey from rural Ndotsheni to the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg in an attempt to locate his sister and son. Cry, The Beloved Country is an acutely moving account of South African history during a very dark time, a time when imperialist and colonial sentiment was the order of the day. What is still frightful is to consider how, though laws have come and gone, the air of hostility that marked black and white relations in Paton’s pre-apartheid era, can be readily seen today, seventy years later. I have no doubt it is still fear in the land.

Black and white relations in South Africa have always been liable to hostility due, in part, to the delicate balance of white persons—who have historically and continue to hold the majority of wealth—being emphatically outnumbered by their black counterparts—who have historically and continue to hold extravagantly less wealth.[2]  In a rather chilling scene in Paton’s novel, affluent white neighbors discuss the crisis of black crime in light of a recent black-on-white murder. Paton’s narrative deftly captures the centrality of fear in the life of white South Africans: “Who knows how we shall fashion a land of peace where black outnumbers whites so greatly?”[3] The white neighborhood continue to discuss whether allowing blacks a better education would result in less crime or in their being able to “read more, think more, ask more” and “not be content to be forever voiceless and inferior.”[4] The discussion continues, “For we fear not only the loss of our possessions, but the loss of our superiority and the loss of our whiteness.”[5] Fear drives these affluent white South Africans to vacillate over how much they should concede. In the end, such vacillation results in the white neighborhood putting more locks on their doors, getting bigger dogs, holding onto hang-bags more tenaciously, hedging themselves with safety and precaution: “And our lives will shrink, but they shall be the lives of superior beings; and we shall live with fear, but at least it will not be a fear of the unknown.”[6] In rather prophetic fashion, the narrator speaks insightfully on this situation:

And the conscience shall be thrust down, the light of life shall not be extinguished, but be put under a bushel, to be preserved for a generation that will live by it again, in some day not yet come; and how it will come, and when it will come, we shall not think about it at all.[7]

What might it look like for white South Africans, particularly professing Christians, to not live in fear when it comes to race relations, and more importantly, when it comes to striving toward racial harmony? In this paper I will briefly expand on the relationship between fear and racism in a South African context. I will then briefly survey ethical approaches to racial harmony, focusing especially on virtue ethics. Finally, building on the work of Stanley Hauerwas, I will present possible narratives that the church might tell in seeking to move away from fear toward an embrace of Spirit-filled love toward those unlike us in the pursuit of more racially just relations.

Fear and Racism

Theories concerning racism abound. At its core, racism is the belief in the inferiority of others, which inevitably plays itself out in manners of exclusion.[8] Historians and scholars have long exposed the biological myth of ‘race’.[9] It is indeed a sociological construct. Matthew J. Hall and D. A. Horton state, “we must affirm that race is an idea, a public myth, and a social currency…Race is not about biology but about ideology.”[10] However, its sociological origin does not preclude theological and ethical reflection. Any Christian who takes the Bible seriously ought to think hard about how the institutions of the trans-Atlantic slavery and Apartheid became codified practices, and with ecclesial support at that.[11] Indeed the ideological basis of race, and ensuing discrimination along those lines, beckons the church to offer deep contemplation, reflection and deliberation. It is, after all, ideologies, the so-called wisdom of man, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the antithesis: “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” asks Paul (1 Cor 1:20). Remember, says the apostle, that “the world did not know God through [it’s] wisdom.” (1 Cor 1:21) Instead, God was pleased “through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” As those called to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor 10:5), such a twisted ideology, wrapped up in “human pride and lust for power”[12] ought to precisely be the focus of Christian moral reflection and deliberation.

More to the point, the predicament in the South African context before us is this: inherent in the ideology of race is the exclusion of the other, in this case, discrimination along racial lines. Initially ratified in law, why should Christians so quickly move on assuming that pseudo-scientifically constructed racial categories would not give rise to cultural and societal norms and practices, giving birth to a situated story, a narrative in which values of goodness, truth, beauty and morality are expressed in symbols of what is ‘white’? What has happened is that value, beauty, and goodness have become enshrined in the medium of color. Centuries of law and ratified policy have so shaped and formed a culture and society, in turn, shaping value systems, beliefs and practices. Unearthing narratives and their power is vital to uprooting racialist stories. We may no longer exist under the Group Areas Act of 1950, but has the narrative and conceptual world-view that gave birth to such a law been exposed, and has an alternate narrative filled its place in the Christian imagination? The fact remains that racism was upheld so as to established an unjustified superiority of one people group over another, leading to the latter’s oppression and mistreatment.[13]

What I think Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country, so helpfully exposes is the role fear plays in driving such ideology. What we today as white South Africans have inherited is a society that was largely strung together by racialized practices, enshrining power, control and dominance to a particular culture and color. The exclusion of the other, I am convinced, rests in fear of the unknown. As such, imbedded in the South African narrative is fear, fear of losing control and power, losing influence, wealth and status. After all, the white population has the most to lose, economically speaking. The laws may have changed, government may look different, but we have been shaped and formed by a very particular story: white superiority has been inculcated into our collective story and habitus. As I hope to show, holding onto such an unjust and against-God doctrine is at odds with both the story and gift of God’s love to us. In stark contrast, it is perfect love, God’s love, says the apostle John, which necessarily casts out fear, and it is, similarly, a spirit of power and love that we have received, says the apostle Paul, not a spirit of power and fear. To persist in fear and implicit tactics of control stem from unbelief, not belief.

Higher walls, bigger locks, more ferocious dogs, more high-tech security, bars, electrical fences—these are but external reflections of the fear that resides in the hearts of the white South Africans. What can save us from the misguided, heretical, and pervasive ideology of racialization? What moral vision might we be inculcated with in order to be freed from paralyzing fear and lust for control?

Ethical Approaches to Racial Justice

What follows is a brief survey of major ethical approaches to racial justice. As it will be shown, virtue ethics, particularly with its emphasis on narrative and becoming, serves as an appropriate means of pursuing a racially just society, at least as it pertains to the church’s internal teaching and public witness.

Deontology

Deontology asserts the validity of principled maxims for ethical and moral reasoning. “Only act in such a way that you could will that the maxim or principle behind your action be a universal law”[14] is the rally call of deontology. Such a moral vision advocates for moral principles such as equality, liberty, dignity as obligatory.

At first glance we might agree with this posture. Certainly the importance of maxims and principles in respects to racial justice are necessary. The biblical truth that all men and women are equally created in the image of God (Gen 1:28) is an example of such a principle that Christians ought necessarily to uphold. However, James S. Spiegel is correct to assert that in regards to formation of the individual, in shaping and being formed, deontology presents a weakness in its “lack of attention to and emphasis on moral feelings.”[15] Such are vitally “important when dealing with moral contexts calling for compassion and empathy.”[16] If my burden about the role of fear in racial justice is correct, deontology struggles to displace this feeling that has been cultivated within the white population. Whilst, “fear not” (Gen 15:1) is the most common command found in the pages of Scripture, the command lacks power without the reality and story of God’s presence in action to redeem and rescue his people. “Do not fear what you do not know” does little to change the hearts of men and women seeking to effect racially just relations.

Consequentialism

Consequentialism or utilitarianism operates on the belief that what is morally good is what secures maximal human happiness. Actions are right to the degree that they affect this happiness. What is good is then oriented toward the consequences of our actions, or actions are seen as mere utilities on the path to happiness. A noble goal, no doubt. A consequentialist or utilitarian perspective might argue that “high levels of racial discrimination within any community are ultimately bad for everyone, not just those who are the direct targets of discriminatory practice.”[17]

However, consequentialism’s weakness is the theory itself: establishing moral goodness from what brings more pleasure than pain does not infer that that act is just or unjust. Striving for “the greatest happiness for the greatest number” can, and has historically, resulted in the defense of all sorts of injustices. In this paradigm, acts themselves do not have intrinsic moral value, neither good or evil.[18]  Additionally, this moral vision is liable to a kind of pragmatism—in seeking the desired end, say, of racial harmony, but doing so in a way that might side-step the “ideological grip of white supremacy.”[19]

Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics, as Maureen H. O’Connell puts it concisely, “encourages ongoing and future-oriented transformation through a process of striving toward a vision of what one hopes to become, whether as an individual or as a community.”[20] A distinctly Christian virtue ethic centers on “being a certain kind of people,” one that entails learning to “embody a character which is defined in relation to the life of Jesus Christ.”[21] It is the contention of this paper that virtue ethics presents the most convincing proposal for shaping white South African Christians away from fear and toward faith-filled love and racial justice.

There are a number of reasons why virtue ethics is attractive for pursuing racial justice. First, in contrast to deontology, virtue ethics takes seriously emotions; in fact, transforming motivations, such and fear and guilt, are central.[22] Secondly, as I will expand below, because virtue ethics is closely tied with narrative construal, it also provides “fluid and adaptable approaches to thinking”; it dispenses an “imaginative capacity to redefine” social interactions.[23] Third, and in contrast to consequentialist aims, virtue ethics’ emphasis on becoming certain persons is to be prized over “pointing to a particular set of strategies or goals,” which can place too much emphasis on “a pragmatic point of ‘arrival.’”[24] If our doctrine of total depravity is to inform our moral reflection and deliberation—indeed our moral vision—we will be slow to suggest that we can ‘arrive’, as it were, when it comes to racial injustice. Instead, virtue ethics highlights process and gradual transformation. N. T. Wright, an advocate of virtue ethics, suggests as such: “To make wise moral decisions, you need not just to “know the rules” or “discover who you really are” but to develop Christian virtue.”[25] In regards to racial justice, we need to adopt a posture in which “critical examination replaces voluntary ignorance.”[26]

Additionally, it is Stanley Hauerwas’ emphasis on narrative and ‘the self as story’ that further girds the conviction that virtue ethics can pave a way forward. Reflecting on Hauerwas’ work for the African context, Charles K. Bafinamene has helpfully pointed out the value of Hauerwas’ emphasis on habituation and the centrality of narratives and tradition in constituting people’s lives.[27] In this moral vision, “character and virtues are related to a concept of ‘social self’, which requires a narrative construal and includes a sense of tradition and history.”[28] Indeed, as Bryan Massingale contends, if white supremacy is a culture that is learned, formative, informative, and symbolic, then we will need an alternative and re-shaping narrative that rightly accords with God’s Word, one in which fear is swallowed up in love, where a spirit of love and power engulfs fear.[29] 

As an example, O’Connell points out that racial justice cannot purely be about ‘hunting for ‘racists’, which might be the focus of a more pragmatic consequentialism. In such a case, the focus on “targeting isolated acts of racism or racist individuals and naming them as aberrations may still leave the ideological pervasiveness of white supremacy untouched.”[30]

Before moving on to how we might apply virtue ethics and stories for reversal of fear-laden postures, it would be helpful to note Spiegel’s critique of where virtue ethics may itself fall short in the pursuit of racial justice. He writes that various accounts of virtue ethics,

Assume rather than demonstrate the immorality of the vices they so carefully describe. Furthermore, virtue ethics theories generally, and these accounts specifically, being focused on personal character traits, say little to nothing regarding the rightness of particular actions, social policies, or civil statutes. Such assessments are absolutely crucial to the work of racial justice.

If virtue ethics, especially narrative construal, as a moral vision is to be legitimate, it needs to also be anchored in deontological principles and maxims, cemented in God’s revelation for what exactly constitutes a just society, just relations. Whilst Spiegel’s critique is valid, our focus is more closely centered on the role of fear in race relations and why such a posture is nefarious and ultimately stems from unbelief. That being said, hopefully this brief survey legitimizes the need for virtue ethics in providing a collective and individual imagination for an alternative reality, one in which fear does not define and shape racial interactions, one in which white South Africans can walk in the light and truth of belief and away from the darkness of unbelief.

Stories to Tell: From Fear to Love

It is my assumption that professing Christians share the same goal of racial justice, away from the reality of racialization, that is, a society in which race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities, and social relationships.[31] Such a vision would showcase a racial harmony where “the intermingling of all that is right, true, and biblical within various cultures” could be freely expressed and enjoyed—all for a “fuller expression of the glory of God in the church and in the world.”[32]


It is my assumption that professing Christians share the same goal of racial justice, away from the reality of racialization, that is, a society in which race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities, and social relationships.


As I’ve attempted to show above, historically white South Africans have been favorably shaped by a certain story, one inherently shaped by fear which acts as the stimulus for an unyielding sense of control, especially over the black majority. Having also established the usefulness of virtue ethics—specifically highlighting the power of narrative and the social self—over and above other ethical approaches to racial justice, I now wish to apply, albeit briefly, a moral vision that might arise from virtue ethics. What alternate stories might we tell and so re-shape the collective moral vision of white South African Christians?

The Story Of God’s Love

In his first letter, the apostle John writes, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (4:18) In its immediate context, the “fear” here has to do with eschatological punishment. Those who are recipients of God’s Spirit abide in God and are assured of his love. God’s love reaches its end, or fully matures when believers abide in his love, giving believers confidence for the day of judgment.

That being said, I think there is much that can be said here that speaks to our present discussion. There is an interesting phrase at the end of v. 17, which is often neglected: “as he is so also are we in this world.” In the verse before this, John has just told us that God is love. God being love offers an analogy, then, for how we are to be in this world. If this is the case, then v. 18 presents implications for the believer, not just eschatologically, but presently. Glenn W. Barker, I believe, is correct in saying that in v. 18,

The statement probably should be taken almost as a Christian truism as well as an allusion to the fear of God in judgment. Love and fear are incompatible. They cannot coexist. For the Christian love is first an experience of the Father’s love for us. That “love” is so powerful and life changing that when we know it we are forever removed from the “fear” of God…If we experience fear in any portion of our life, to that extent we deny God’s love and fail to trust him.[33]

Such a reading certainly offers a challenge to the prevailing narratives of fear in race relations. Are we more shaped and formed by the ideology of racial superiority—with its accompanying built-in fear—or the story of God’s radical love that frees the believer, not only from fear at the eschatological judgment, but fear in a wider sense of the word, so that we are, as John enjoins upon us, as God is in the world? How might our moral vision for racial justice be altered by laying hold of God’s great love that extends past the barriers of the unknown and the unfamiliar?


For the Christian love is first an experience of the Father’s love for us.


The Story Of God’s Gift

The conceptual correlation between love a fear also appears in Paul’s second letter to Timothy:

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim 1:7)

The aged apostle leaves Timothy with what is his last letter, chronologically, in the Christian canon. Paul is anxious that Timothy would “guard the good deposit entrusted” to him (v 14); that he would follow the pattern he received in Paul “in faith and love.” (v 13) In fanning into flame God’s gift, Timothy would be living out the reality that God has given believers power and love and self-control, in contrast to fear. Again, I believe this verse offers implications for the stories we’ve inhibited. Contrary to worldly ideology, it is love, and not fear, which holds true power and the ability to be in control, as it were. In being gripped by white supremacy’s ideology, believers are shaped and formed, even discipled away from true Christian piety.

Applying Hauerwas’ theory here calls believers to learn, appropriate and absorb, practise and conform their lives to the story of God’s radical love and gift to us. Indeed, “for the formation of truthful lives, Christians also need to test and continue to be tested by these stories.”[34] Stories that are in clear contrast to the prevailing narratives of the ‘other’ as it is conceived in the pseudo-science of race distinctions. To the degree that we walk in fear and ignorance, we walk in the spirit not of God, but of the world.

The Story Of Philemon

A final story that the church might tell is that of the story of Philemon and Onesimus. Again, the pseudo-science of ‘race’ as we know it today did not exist in the New Testament era. However, I believe there is a correlation between first century slavery and race relations today. Commenting on this short letter, Michael F. Bird highlights the radical action Paul was calling Philemon to in receiving Onesimus as a “beloved brother” (v 16): “Although brotherhood was known as an ideal in the Greek world, such a bond between slaves and masters would have been quite scandalous and viewed as compromising the household order.”[35] Indeed, slaves were prevented from “being legal and social equals.”[36]

Similarly, the story of race in South Africa resembles these dynamics. Historically, people of color suffered similar societal fates. Yes, the codified law has since passed away, but we cannot remain ignorant about the ways in which such laws have shaped the fabric of society, the social imaginations of its citizens. What is most telling and appropriate for our discussion, however, is the nature of Paul’s exhortation. Again Bird puts it well,

Paul does not issue a command, but rather prefers to make an appeal on the basis of love. Paul willingly forfeits the demand of obedience that his apostolic authority could rightly claim and instead appeals to Philemon’s sense of goodness and kind affection.[37]

What we have here is a wonderful example of virtue ethics in action. Paul does not offer a command or maxim, he does not seek to present some intended, pragmatic goal in directing Philemon to maturity. Instead, he appeals to love, appealing to Philemon’s heart that such an embrace across sociologically constructed barriers would be of his own free decision. Such an embrace pictures, in embodied form, God’s embrace of the ‘other’.


Yes, the codified law has since passed away, but we cannot remain ignorant about the ways in which such laws have shaped the fabric of society, the social imaginations of its citizens.


Additionally, as it relates to this paper, if virtues are to be learned and developed over time and through practices, then Philemon’s movement toward Onesimus affects a new beginning, a new story, one that, rooted in God’s love and gift to us, hopefully would itself take root in Philemon’s life. This is not in contradiction to the reality of the new birth of the believer, but rather the precise manner in which Jesus beckons us to enter into the story of new creation and so act out what is true regarding our status as new creation (2 Cor 5:18-20). It is a movement from the habit of fear to the habit of powerful love—from unbelief to belief in God’s provision of reconciliation.[38]

Conclusion

White South Africans, statistically speaking, have the most to lose in terms of economics, status and social privilege. As Paton’s novel suggests, this has shaped the collective imagination toward fear, of the unknown, of what is ‘other’.

Are bigger locks and larger dogs the solution? How might white South African Christians reach out and not cling to the things of this world, the power, wealth and status that has been afforded us by virtue of twisted ideologies of racial superiority?[39] I have attempted to show how virtue ethics, anchoring the good in becoming a certain individual that is shaped by a collective narrative —the narrative of God’s love and gift—might offer a fitting alternative to the prevailing narrative white South Africans have been molded by, a narrative of white superiority that encourages and relies on fear and unbelief in God’s provision to live morally upright and just lives. Though the above is a brief exploration in these ideas, I hope and pray that such a moral vision would capture the hearts of my brothers and sisters and so help us to live as those who have received the perfect love which casts out fear, so that as God is in the world, so we too might be in the world.


[1] Alan Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country (Cape Town: Pearson, 2015), 65.

[2] Despite 25 years of democracy, South Africa remains the most economically unequal country in the world, according to the World Bank. See Katy Scott, “South Africa Is the World’s Most Unequal Nation: 25 Years of Democracy Haven’t Bridged the Divide.” Cable News Network, May 10, 2019, https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/07/africa/south-africa-elections-inequality-intl/index.html.

[3] Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country,68.

[4] Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country,68.

[5] Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country,68.

[6] Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country,68-69.

[7] Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country,69.

[8] Sherard Burns, “A Practical Theology for Racial Harmony,” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 8, No. 2 (2004): 35.

[9] Colin Kidd puts it this way, “All theories of race—from the simplest and most obvious to the most sophisticated and contorted—are examples of cultural construction superimposed upon arbitrarily selected features of human variation.” The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600–2000 (United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 12. Likewise, Maureen H. O’Connell refers to the European and Enlightenment period’s “pseudo-scientific construction of racial categories” in “After White Supremacy? The Viability of Virtue Ethics for Racial Justice,” Journal of Moral Theology, vol. 3, no. 1 (2014): 88.

[10] Matthew J. Hall and D. A. Horton, “What Does the Culture Say?” in The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation. The Gospel For Life Series. eds. Russell D. Moore & Andrew T. Walker (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2016), 72. Ken Magnuson also asserts, “The idea of race identified by skin color, and focused on “black” and “white” is a relatively recent (late 15th century) social construct with malicious purpose in justifying race-based slavery.” “Race Relations,” draft chapter in Introduction to Christian Ethics: Moral Reasoning and Contemporary Issues. Invitation to Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2020), 22.

[11] “Although many social and cultural factors have contributed significantly to western constructions of race, scripture has been for much of the early modern and modern eras the primary cultural influence on the forging of races.” Kidd, The Forging of Races, 21.

[12] Timothy Keller, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just (New York, NY: Penguin Publishing Group, 2010), 118.

[13] See J. Daniel Hays, “What Are We For?” in The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation, 7.

[14] James S. Spiegel, “Celebration and Betrayal: Martin Luther King’s Case for Racial Justice and Our Current Dilemma” Themelios 45.2 (2020): 265.

[15] Spiegel, “Celebration and Betrayal,” 266.

[16] Spiegel, “Celebration and Betrayal,” 266.

[17] Spiegel, “Celebration and Betrayal,” 264.

[18] Magnuson, “Ethics and Moral Reasoning,” draft chapter in Invitation to Christian Ethics, 3.

[19] O’Connell, “The Viability of Virtue Ethics for Racial Justice”, 98.

[20] O’Connell, “The Viability of Virtue Ethics for Racial Justice”, 84.

[21] Stephen S. Bilynskyj, “Christian Ethics and the Ethics of Virtue” in Readings in Christian Ethics. vol. 1: Theory and Method. eds. David K. Clark & Robert V. Rakestraw (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994), 257-266.

[22] O’Connell, “The Viability of Virtue Ethics for Racial Justice”, 98. Spiegel is in agreement: “Virtue ethics also enjoins serious consideration of the role of feelings, motivations, and imagination in the moral life.” “Celebration and Betrayal,” 268.

[23] O’Connell, “The Viability of Virtue Ethics for Racial Justice”, 99.

[24] O’Connell, “The Viability of Virtue Ethics for Racial Justice”, 100.

[25] N. T. Wright, Virtue Reborn: The Transformation of the Christian Mind (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2010), 12. 

[26] O’Connell, “The Viability of Virtue Ethics for Racial Justice”, 100.

[27] Charles K. Bafinamene, “Becoming Good In Africa: A Critical Appraisal Of Stanley Hauerwas’ Ecclesial Ethic In The Sub-Saharan Context” Verbum et Ecclesia 38 (1), a1716.

[28] Bafinamene, “Becoming Good In Africa”, 3.

[29] Bryan N. Massingale, Racial Justice and the Catholic Church (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2010), 21-33.

[30] O’Connell, “The Viability of Virtue Ethics for Racial Justice”, 103.

[31] Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2000), 7.

[32] Burns, “A Practical Theology for Racial Harmony”, 35.

[33] Glenn W. Barker, 1, 2, 3 John, in vol. 12 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gæbelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982), 346.

[34] Stanley Hauerwas, Community Of Character: Toward A Constructive Christian Social Ethic (Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press: 1981), 96.

[35] Michael F. Bird, Colossians and Philemon: A New Covenant Commentary. New Covenant Commentary Series 12 (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2009), 132.

[36] Bird, Colossians and Philemon, 132.

[37] Bird, Colossians and Philemon, 131.

[38] Such a paradigm recognizes the engrained nature of sinful habits and excludes education as the means of saving us from our racial prejudices. Thabiti Anyabwile states, “If we don’t take sin seriously, we will be tempted to think that racism, racial animosity, prejudice, and bigotry are justifiable in some measure or eradicable by education alone. You cannot educate people out of racism, racial hatred, and animosity.” “What does the Gospel Say?” in The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation, 28.

[39] Magnuson sees a similar reality in race relations: “We tend to resist giving up power, opportunity, and benefits to others because we do not want to lose them. We develop rationales and create arguments to maintain the status quo, even when it is not valid. Blind spots are difficult to uncover, and we are often unaware of our own prejudices.” “Race Relations,” draft chapter in Invitation to Christian Ethics, 24. 

Comment here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s