"Race and the Christian"
Dr. Anthony Bradley moderates: Tim Keller and John Piper
NEW YORK, March 4, 2012—With so much progress made in race relations in America since the 1950's, the prevalence of racism in many American churches raises the question, “why do some churches still struggle with issues of race?” Anthony Bradley, Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics, moderated a discussion between Dr. Timothy Keller and famed Christian author John Piper on the topic of race and Christianity.
The event, which was held at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, was hosted following the release of John Piper’s newest book, Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and Christian.
Piper is a pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and the author of numerous books, including What Jesus Demands from the World, God’s Passion for His Glory, and The Passion of Jesus Christ. Reverend Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and is the author of several books including The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, and The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith.
In his talk, Piper argued that racism exists “because humans are in rebellion against God... it comes from… exalting ourselves over our maker, and of course, if over our maker, over each other.” Piper’s solution was two-fold. First, Christians must realize that “redemption is not perfection” and that “the redeemed must realize their imperfections.” This will then allow Christians to place “grace over race.”
Speaking after Piper was Reverend Timothy Keller. Keller’s address focused on the importance of systemic racism. Like Piper, he argued that conversion to Christianity is not enough to cure racism. He observed that “white people” tend to have a weak understanding of “corporate responsibility,” which can blind them to systemic racism. The ability to see systemic evil, he said, is the key to improving the ability of the church to take responsibility and join others for change.
Dr. Bradley, who is author of Black and Tired: Essays on Race, Politics, Culture, and International Development, and Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and Black Experience in America, reflected on the issue, saying “racism is a vile and vicious attack on God’s covenant story of redemption.” Bradley said that, “what is amazing about the gospel is that because of our union with Christ, Jews and gentiles, white, black, yellow, red, male, and female are all members of the same covenant community… equal heirs of God’s covenant promises.”
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