Will Newly Segregated Churches Help Racial Reconciliation?

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Segregated church services? Yes—that seems crazy but it’s real. Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in California and author of the bestseller The Purpose Driven Life, recently hosted an exclusive online church event only for “black” (but no one is truly black or white, but more on that below) members of his church.

The announcement stated:

We don't want to be a church that just talks about love, that just studies love, that just defines love, that just prays about love. It's not enough to just say we love people. We have to show love.

I can't wait to share with you my vision for next year, and how we're going to continue loving and serving people who are in pain. But right now, before the year is over, we're starting with our Black brothers and sisters.

So if you are an African American and/or Black member of Saddleback (and spouses, no matter your ethnicity), you are invited to a special Zoom gathering . . . We want this to be a safe space for our Black brothers and sisters to heal and be fed mentally, emotionally, and spiritually by their church family heading into the new year.

For everyone else in our church family, I invite you to pray . . .

Is segregating people by so-called “race” really “showing love” to those in his church? Is assuming that every “black brother and sister” in the church is a “person who is in pain” just because of their ethnicity really “showing love”?

Here’s what God’s Word has to say about this idea of segregation in the church:

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. (Galatians 3:28)

I think that verse bears repeating again:

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. (Galatians 3:28)
Segregating people by their ethnic background is the direct opposite of what Christ came to do when he came and died once for sinners.

In Christ Jesus, any barriers that separated us are broken down—we are all one in Christ Jesus. Segregating people by their ethnic background at an event like this is the direct opposite of what Christ came to do when he came and died once for sinners. He came to adopt all who believe into his one family and grow them in grace, truth, and maturity together—not apart. When we all stand before the Lamb and worship him, we won’t be standing in our ethnic groups, family clans, or any other modifier—we will all gather around the throne and worship the Lamb who was slain to purchase us for God:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)

The only segregation in eternity is those who are saved being separated from those who are not!

We need Christ and his redeeming work on the cross that first reconciles us to God and then reconciles us to each other.

As well-intentioned as Warren may be, we don’t need race relations—we need grace relations, as my friend Dr. Charles Ware says as detailed in our co-authored book One Race, One Blood. We need Christ and his redeeming work on the cross that first reconciles us to God and then reconciles us to each other.

Pastor Warren seems to assume that his church members aren’t showing enough love to their brothers and sisters with a darker shade of skin. So if that is indeed true, here’s what the members of Saddleback Church need to understand:

  • We are all one race. All are descended from Adam and Eve (see Genesis 1, 2, and Acts 17:26).
  • We are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
  • We are sinners. Racism, partiality, and discrimination are sins against God and against those who bear his image (see James 2), and if we show partiality, then we need to repent. As I often say, “Racism is not a skin issue: it’s a sin issue.”
  • Different ethnicities exist because of the event of the Tower of Babel. The human population, after the flood, was gathered together in rebellion. God confused their languages, forcing them to spread out and fill the earth. As people were isolated from one another for a time, the unique genetic variations each group took with them became prominent within their groups, resulting in different ethnicities or people groups—not different races (see Genesis 11).
  • The external differences between us are minor—from a genetic standpoint in the range of 0.01 percent! (So these external differences used as a basis for so-called races only constitute 0.01%!)
  • We’re not truly “white” or “black”—we all have varying levels of the brownish pigment melanin and are therefore different shades of brown.
  • Jesus, a descendant of Adam, fully God and fully man, came and died on the cross to save sinners. He took the penalty of death we deserve on himself when he died. Then he rose from the grave and offers eternal life and forgiveness to all who will believe.
  • If we have trust in Christ, we’re adopted into his family. We’ve been forgiven of our sin and given Christ’s robe of righteousness, even though we don’t deserve it. Scripture is clear: this should compel us to forgive and love others as Christ has forgiven and loved us.

The members of Saddleback Church—in fact, any church—don’t need segregation. They need the refreshing truth of the true history in God’s Word and the unifying gospel of Jesus Christ!

To learn more about the biblical answer to racism, I encourage you to start a free seven-day trial to Answers TV where you’ll find our 2019 Answers for Pastors conference, One Race, One Blood, the videos from our One Race, One Blood curriculum, and more. I also encourage you to watch Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson’s A New History of the Human Race—this scientific exposé will completely change how you view the idea of ethnicity and so-called “race.” Visit Answers.tv. We also have a book for children to give them a biblical perspective on this important issue, One Blood for Kids.

Lastly, visit our two attractions, the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum, to see our exhibits on the origin of all the people groups and the best way to fight the sin of racism.

Get More Answers on Answers News

I discussed this item today on Answers News with cohost Roger Patterson. Answers News is our weekly news program conducted here at the Creation Museum and broadcast on my Facebook page and the Answers in Genesis Facebook page. We also covered the following topics:

  • Was Helen Keller privileged?
  • Why don’t wildebeests have wheels?
  • Should puberty be optional?
  • And more!

Watch the entire episode of Answers News for December 28, 2020.

Be sure to join us each Monday at 2 p.m. (ET) for Answers News. You won’t want to miss this unique news program that gives science and culture news from a distinctly biblical and Christian perspective.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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