Biblically Speaking About Race vs. Ethnicity

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The maiden voyage of Exponential’s new show Biblically Speaking with Daniel Hill and Christine Chang aired this week.

The purpose of the show is to provide a Biblical framework by which leaders can contextualize conversations regarding diversity. The theological framework for the show deals with the whole confusion over diversity and seeks to use a Biblical lexicon.

The first thing that Hill identified was that the concept of “race” is not only unhelpful, but evil. When you think of the term “race,” you think of a competition whereby participants outpace one another to win.

Hill and Chang asserted that while ethnicity is a biblical concept celebrating our diversity, race was a human construct meant to advance one ethnic group over and above another.

Quoting Rev 7:9, “every tongue, tribe and nation,” Hill identified that this is the beautiful outworking of Jesus’s prayer of John 17, that we would be one amidst diversity.

Diversity after all is reflective of God’s design for humanity according to Paul’s speech in Acts 17 “from one man God made all the nations (ethnos)”.

Paul emphasizes God’s sovereignty over the diverse ethnicities on the planet.

When Jesus said, “Go to all the world” he used the word “ethnos”.

This means “all peoples of the earth” and therefore, any conversations that “flip” prejudice towards those that are privileged is also a deviation from God’s plan.

Therefore, diversity is not only biblical but ensures that no people group is held down or discriminated against, but rather, celebrated.

Biblical diversity keeps the pendulum from swinging the other way and preserves the Imago Dei in all ethnicities.

The key quote for me was when Hill remarked, “Ethnicity comes with us to heaven, but race does not.”

My main takeaways:

  • Race is a social construct of evil — with an evil intent/motive.
  • Ethnicity is the creation of God.
  • System of race comes from where you fall on the racial hierarchy rather than where you are in God’s eyes.
  • There is superiority and inferiority (perceived) from mankind.
  • The Imago Dei is in contrast to this understanding of race.
  • Ethnicity maintains the Imago Dei.

Watch the replay here of Episode 1 of Biblically Speaking.

We are better together!

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17:22-23

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