People of God: Segregation

NickImageRead the series so far.

In the Old Testament, the terms people and nation are used interchangeably. Both terms have a significant ethnic component in their definition. In normal usage, a people or nation is constituted at least partly by its descent from a mutual ancestor. Assyrians descended from Asshur. Moabites were the children of Moab. Ammonites were sired by Benammi. Whatever other factors might enter into the description of a people or nation, its solidarity rests in its union with a common forebear.

Identifiable nations developed as a consequence of the division of languages at the tower of Babel. Prior to Babel, humanity functioned as a single people (Gen. 11:6). God used the division of languages to separate humanity into family groups that were divided, not only linguistically and ethnically, but also geographically (Acts 17:26).

These observations have sometimes been used to support a policy of racial segregation, often expressed in terms of a ban against interracial marriage. If this policy were limited to the Ku Klux Klan or the Posse Comitatus, it would hardly be worth noticing. Significant portions of evangelicalism and fundamentalism, however, have occasionally attempted to use Acts 17:26 and the division of nations at Babel to justify racial separation. For example, early editions of the Dake Annotated Reference Bible included a list of thirty reasons for segregation of the races after Acts 17:26. During the early 1960s, Bob Jones, Sr. preached (and his university subsequently distributed) an entire sermon justifying segregation, with Acts 17:26 as his pivotal proof text. Similar arguments were heard from supporters of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College when, under the presidency of Joseph Rammel, that school enforced a ban against interracial dating.

Peter spoke about people who twist or distort the Scriptures (2 Pet. 3:16). Certainly the use of Acts 17:26 to authorize segregation (or to prohibit interracial marriage) constitutes a distortion of Scripture. While the Bible does understand a people or nation as an ethnic unit, it is not possible to argue from this perspective to racial segregation.

In the first place, the modern use of the term race is not equivalent to the biblical use of the terms people or nation. The modern concept of race revolves around imprecise combinations of characteristics such as hair texture, bone structure, the concentration of melanin in the skin, and geographical distribution. At most, however, defining race by features of this sort produces a kind of ambiguously sliding scale that allows no sharp differentiation between races. The weakness of the system is illustrated (e.g.) by the inability of anthropologists to agree upon a racial classification for the Dravidian peoples. Even if these classifications could be tightened up, however, they do not correspond to anything in Scripture.

Second, the only division that God imposed directly at Babel was a confounding of languages—a process that is still going on today. If, as racists argue, the changes that follow Babel are divinely intended, and if it is invariably wrong to reverse these divinely-imposed separations, then a reversal of the linguistic division ought to be the most serious sin. In other words, it should always be wrong to learn a foreign language or to translate a text—including the text of the Bible.

Third, Acts 17:26 specifically mentions that God decided ahead of time which lands the nations would occupy. In other words, geographical boundaries are part of God’s purpose. No one infers, however, that a shift in national boundaries is always and everywhere a violation of God’s purpose for humanity. The world—including the biblical world—has witnessed ceaseless migration. What Paul is saying in Acts 17 is that God’s eternal purpose has already taken account of when and where the movements of entire peoples would occur. God does not prohibit people from moving from one place to another, but He has providentially determined when those movements will occur.

Fourth, while recognizing a diversity of nations, Acts 17:26 strongly emphasizes the unity of humanity. Even after the division into “languages, families, and nations” (Gen. 10:5), the oneness of the human race remains far more important than its divisions. This oneness is particularly significant when contrasted with the mutable and secondary characteristics that anthropologists and others have employed in attempting to distinguish races (in the modern sense). These characteristics exhibit the tremendous capacity for diversity with which humanity was created, but they do not introduce any new genetic information into the one human race.

Finally, the Bible itself exhibits no irrevocable pattern of ethnic segregation. Quite the opposite: Scripture imposes ethical or theological separations, but never purely ethnic ones. The children of Israel were forbidden to marry idolaters, but they were permitted to select believing spouses from other ethnicities. The family tree of David, and eventually of the Messiah, includes an ethnic Canaanite (Rahab) and a Moabite (Ruth). By marrying into Israel these women became part of Israel.

Even Moses married a Cushite woman—almost certainly a black African (attempts to argue otherwise have to be strained almost to the breaking point). When Moses’ sister, Miriam, complained about this arrangement, God struck her with leprosy. The text carefully notes that Miriam became white “as snow.” So much for pride in the color of one’s skin.

To say that a biblical people or nation has an ethnic identity is not an argument for racism. It provides no foundation for any version of racial segregation, including any prohibition against interracial marriage. Furthermore, a correct understanding of the church as a people of God provides one context in which the older ethnic distinctions are simply obliterated. That consideration, however, merits separate examination as part of a separate problem.

The larger problem is this. If a people or a nation finds its identity in its solidarity with an ancestor, then how can the church be understood as a people at all? How can a body that comprises individuals from all sorts of ethnicities be viewed as a people in any sense, let alone as a people of God? This important question will occupy our attention next.

When Jesus Wept
William Billings (1746–1800)

When Jesus wept, the falling tear
in mercy flowed beyond all bound;
when Jesus groaned, a trembling fear
seized all the guilty world around.

[node:bio/kevin-t-bauder body]

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There are 30 Comments

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Great little study on segregation vs. Scripture... couldn't be more clear.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Bauder makes the common mistake of treating racial segregation and racism as synonyms. Secondly it appears he switches back from social or governmental policy to ecclesiastical policy or protocol as if they are bound by identical biblical protocols, they are not. Finally he argues that the oneness of humanity is more important than its divisions. The human family is the most basic corporate division and is a divine institution and it is not in competition with the oneness of humanity but without its genetic and legal distinction, if such a dichotomy is to be invented to argue the issue, the social structure of humanity would be obliterated. He is sincere in his arguments but I believe its construct has issues to answer

Barry L.'s picture

"...but without its genetic and legal distinction, if such a dichotomy is to be invented to argue the issue, the social structure of humanity would be obliterated."

 

Do you mean that the genetic makeup of the family is of primary importance to a healthy social structure in society?

 

 

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Barry

To answer your Q?:

More specifically, the human family (speaking by way of its divine design as an institution as revealed in Scripture) is identified and/or made up of proprietary genetic distinctions and specific legal distinctions. These have implications, in my view, with regard to certain discriminatory and segregative freedoms for society/humanity which may be viewed as falling within Biblical morality and liberty as groups form governments and various social groups. But let me be clear that within the body of Christ the order and protocols change with no reference to genetics to be a member and enjoy all of the spiritual blessings in Christ.

Joel Tetreau's picture

I think we have found your gift. Dude - you do some of the most creative "deep dig" on literature (or we'll just call it "writing") I've seen in my life - all 44 years. You get the blue ribbon my man. I have never seen anyone do what seems to me to be a kind of "second-guessing analysis" on people's post like you do. It just never occurred to me to differentiate between racism and racial segregation vis-a-vis Bauder's point. The same with the governance issue. Alex - I don't mean to be rude here but (speaking only for myself) without accusing you of anything specific - I just wonder if you aren't re-inventing the "authorial intent" of the posters here at SI. There is no doubt that I am not the sharpest pencil in the box - but I try to just understand what people are saying. This makes me one of the happiest pencil's in the box! Just take people at face value. I will admit I have failed here a time or two - but I try to just take people at face value. OK - look, I could be wrong here. It may be that you really are trying to take people at what they say - and you are trying to understand - and you are trying to help us all be consistent. I certainly have been wrong before and I could be wrong here also. If you are really genuine than maybe you need to do a "remedial" sub-script for we who are a bit more - simple. Thank for your patience!

Straight Ahead Alex!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Andrew K.'s picture

I'm really having a hard time following what you are saying. Could you clarify? Bauder has laid out his position; could you do the same?

神是爱

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Andrew

Instead of laying out a great deal of information and still possibly missing what it is you are not understanding from me, may I Suggest that you ask very specific questions regarding what I said. As I said I could post 3 paragraphs and still not hit the target with regard to what it is you're unsure about. Joel, Feel free to consider that a response for your post is well.

Thanks

Andrew K.'s picture

These have implications, in my view, with regard to certain discriminatory and segregative freedoms for society/humanity which may be viewed as falling within Biblical morality and liberty as groups form governments and various social groups.

I think I get your critique, after rereading; I guess I'm simply a bit curious about the implications behind it, as mentioned here.

While from a purely logical perspective you are correct in asserting that racial segregation and racism are not synonyms, I suppose it's simply hard for me to imagine a scenario in which racism isn't the rationale behind any segregative practices.

神是爱

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Andrew

I believe the sample of the human family presents the best illustration of genetic segregation with exclusive and special benefits to a genetic sub-group. The exclusivity of the human family as a genetically identified thus socially segregated unit is not bases on the view of inherent genetic superiority (that is one group is more human than another -racism) but as the means by which human perpetuity is achieved, first through family government with its special and unique responsibilities, privileges and benefits and then through national government, if so formed.

And we have seen the growth of families into nations such as the Cherokee Nation which requires genetic properties for membership aside from the exception of legal entrance. The oneness of humanity does not give an inherent right to demand entrance to another family, whether as a single unit or as a nation, of so formed over time.

And to argue against such a nation is to argue against its principle upon which the human family has been designed by God to be formed.

dmyers's picture

Alex, I still don't understand much of what you're saying, but let me boil it down to one question.  The particular mis-application of scripture Bauder was rebutting was the prohibition of interracial dating and marriage in the earlier days of some of our prominent fundamental colleges (which was still in force, stupidly, while I was at BJU 1978-82).

Do you disagree with Bauder on this point?  Do you understand the Bible to prohibit interracial dating/marriage or not?

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Andrew

After giving it some thought I believe it's only fair and prudent to pursue clarity on already covered material rather than to answer additional questions seeing that the "already covered material" may have some bearing on my response to further questions. So I will ask what specifically did you not understand in my response in post #10.

Andrew K.'s picture

Alex

The last question wasn't from me. I think I understand you well enough in post #10, and can agree to a point, but would not myself extend it to an issue like interracial (were there a clear and precise human category one might refer to as race, the existence of which I myself do not accept) marriage.

In my perspective, the ability of an interracial couple to naturally produce children is itself proof of God's blessing on such a relationship (as an archetype, not referring to specific situations), whereas other illicit unions are disqualified and rendered "unnatural" by the same.

神是爱

B-Lowry's picture

Is the use of the Cherokee Nation intended to show that families becoming 'nations' is the only category God uses (or, at least, condones)?  If that is the case, what about the various words used to describe humanity in the book of Revelation (some refer to the lost, some to the saved)?  

And, Alex, are you using the term "race" to mean an ethnic group, somewhat along the lines of "Irish race," "English race," "Italian race," and so on? 

Finally, is this sentence, "The oneness of humanity does not give an inherent right to demand entrance to another family, whether as a single unit or as a nation, of so formed over time," part of your argument against "inter-racial" marriage, as usually understood nowadays?

dmyers's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Andrew After giving it some thought I believe it's only fair and prudent to pursue clarity on already covered material rather than to answer additional questions seeing that the "already covered material" may have some bearing on my response to further questions. So I will ask what specifically did you not understand in my response in post #10.

Answering my question in post # 11 will provide "clarity on already covered material."  Not answering my question seems to me to be the opposite of pursuing clarity.  Pursuant to your last sentence, what specifically I did not understand in your response in post # 10 is your position on interracial dating/marriage.

Thanks.

rogercarlson's picture

Alex,

You have asserted alot of unbliblical silliness over the years.  But, I think you may have even outdone yourself here.    

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Alex Guggenheim's picture

dmyers wrote:

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Andrew After giving it some thought I believe it's only fair and prudent to pursue clarity on already covered material rather than to answer additional questions seeing that the "already covered material" may have some bearing on my response to further questions. So I will ask what specifically did you not understand in my response in post #10.

Answering my question in post # 11 will provide "clarity on already covered material."  Not answering my question seems to me to be the opposite of pursuing clarity.  Pursuant to your last sentence, what specifically I did not understand in your response in post # 10 is your position on interracial dating/marriage.

Thanks.

I made no reference to interest interracial dating in #10 but thank you for noticing I was responding to your post though I mistakenly addressed it to Andrew, apologies to both.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

B-Lowry wrote:

Is the use of the Cherokee Nation intended to show that families becoming 'nations' is the only category God uses (or, at least, condones)?  If that is the case, what about the various words used to describe humanity in the book of Revelation (some refer to the lost, some to the saved)?  

And, Alex, are you using the term "race" to mean an ethnic group, somewhat along the lines of "Irish race," "English race," "Italian race," and so on? 

Finally, is this sentence, "The oneness of humanity does not give an inherent right to demand entrance to another family, whether as a single unit or as a nation, of so formed over time," part of your argument against "inter-racial" marriage, as usually understood nowadays?

Cherokee is an anthropological designation stemming.g from self-identification based on genetic properties. It is a family or a group of families that became its own nation. God does not "use" that term since he has not assigned himself the duty of forming human governments, man has that responsibility. The Bible does refer to saved and unsaved and so should we but that is a spiritual classification, not an anthropological one.

Yes, I am referring to race based on a broad to narrow scope or taxonomy (example you mentioned: Caucasian to Irish to specific family).

No to the the last reference about the oneness of humanity not having an inherent right to demand entrance into a family is not an argument against IR marriage. But it is an argument against any one insisting that integration of any group with another is a basic human right stemming from this so-called oneness of humanity. Those decisions and actions are to be voluntary in nature and nothing in Scripture requires otherwise (I am speaking of social contexts and not spiritual ones of course).

Barry L.'s picture

But, I believe Dr. Bauder, was not arguing for the disallowance of natural segregation, but arguing against the biblical insistence of racial segregation.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

At the risk of piling too much on Alex, when you look at what Bauder's thesis is and how he supports it, Alex's initial post (or later ones as far as I can tell) doesn't assert anything relevant to the argument.

But I did wonder how long it would take for someone to object to his use of "racist." From reading Kevin's posts regularly for some years now, it's become clear to me that he chooses words with a precision that sometimes, paradoxically, leads to confusion... because nobody else is using the terms that precisely.     In our culture, "racism" has become a hate word... not only used to accuse people of being haters but also used to express hate. There's just about nothing uglier you can call someone than a racist.

Anyway, all that to say that I don't think KB is using "racist" here in the popular sense of "somebody we should all hate because he hates minorities." It's more the idea of "one who highly values distinctions between races and acts to preserve those distinctions." That's my take FWIW. The section the term appears in--indeed the entire essay--is about making distinctions among groups of people that we really ought not to make.

I would not use the word 'racist' for that myself. The term's too loaded.

But having said all that, it has no bearing on the argument of the piece.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

It maybe in your view that Bauder is careful with his choice of words and that you may be correct. But even that is irrelevant to this singular case what are he uses the word racism or racist as an antecedent to racial segregation. They are not synonyms and he treated them as such.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Barry L. wrote:

But, I believe Dr. Bauder, was not arguing for the disallowance of natural segregation, but arguing against the biblical insistence of racial segregation.

Yes I see that he is arguing against a limited number of arguments for biblically insisted segregation. But he goes beyond that in my view and argues against the biblical liberty (and as I pointed out in the case of family, which has extended into national identity, the imperative of genetic segregation) of governmental and/or social order based on genetics properties.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Andrew K. wrote:

Alex

The last question wasn't from me. I think I understand you well enough in post #10, and can agree to a point, but would not myself extend it to an issue like interracial (were there a clear and precise human category one might refer to as race, the existence of which I myself do not accept) marriage.

In my perspective, the ability of an interracial couple to naturally produce children is itself proof of God's blessing on such a relationship (as an archetype, not referring to specific situations), whereas other illicit unions are disqualified and rendered "unnatural" by the same.

Andrew

I would rethink the principle you are using to argue the ability to "naturally produce children" is "proof of God's blessing". It fails prescriptive examination seeing that there are several conditions under which children can naturally be produced in which God condemns the relationship. Mind you, I have not stated my views on the matter as of yet and am not arguing for or against here, I am simply pointing out that you may not want to use this argument with a larger audience or for too long seeing it is not prescriptive.

Andrew K.'s picture

I would rethink the principle you are using to argue the ability to "naturally produce children" is "proof of God's blessing". It fails prescriptive examination seeing that there are several conditions under which children can naturally be produced in which God condemns the relationship. Mind you, I have not stated my views on the matter as of yet and am not arguing for or against here, I am simply pointing out that you may not want to use this argument with a larger audience or for too long seeing it is not prescriptive.

Alex,

Naturally there are relationships under God's condemnation that may produce children. Hence my parenthetical reference to an archetype rather than a specific situation. And yes, I would use this particular form of argument sparingly, since few would see the value in it (archetypal arguments, that is)--in fact, I wouldn't use it as an argument at all, which is why I prefaced it with the phrase "In my perspective..." 

I think there is value to it, however: certainly there are illicit relationships where children may be born, such as incest, but is there a genetic mechanism that would prevent such births from occurring naturally? Certainly it seems God could have created one, but it's hard to imagine how it might function. In the case of "interracial marriage," though, it would be simple enough: a union could produce sterile offspring, or manifest an inability to produce offspring at all, such as in the case of bestiality or homosexuality.

That is what I meant.

On a side note, I find it interesting that though many traditional societies may frown on marriages outside their particular tribe or ethnic group, most that I am aware of have a means of adoption by which an outsider may enter that particular society, provided he or she take on the identity, regardless of genetics.

神是爱

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
It maybe in your view that Bauder is careful with his choice of words and that you may be correct. But even that is irrelevant to this singular case what are he uses the word racism or racist as an antecedent to racial segregation. They are not synonyms and he treated them as such.

Still not relevant to what the piece is about. Might be good to refocus.

Thesis: people use Acts 17 and the Babel event as grounds for racial separation and they shouldn't do that.

KBauder wrote:
 Significant portions of evangelicalism and fundamentalism, however, have occasionally attempted to use Acts 17:26 and the division of nations at Babel to justify racial separation.... [It's a twisting of Scripture]

Argument

1. "In the first place, the modern use of the term race is not equivalent to the biblical use of the terms people or nation." So we can't uses verses about "peoples/nations" to make points about "races."

2. "Second, the only division that God imposed directly at Babel was a confounding of languages" ... So if we use Babel to argue for a separation it would have to extend to linguistic separation.

3. "Third, Acts 17:26 specifically mentions that God decided ahead of time which lands the nations would occupy. In other words, geographical boundaries..." So using Acts for a separation/segregation position would mean claiming national boundaries should never change.

4. "Fourth, while recognizing a diversity of nations, Acts 17:26 strongly emphasizes the unity of humanity." ...so the passage really argues better against segregation than for it.

5. "Finally, the Bible itself exhibits no irrevocable pattern of ethnic segregation."   I.e., we don't find this idea anywhere else in Scripture and so we have even less reason to think we're seeing it in Acts and the Babel event.

Were we all so inclined, we could concede that "racism" is not the right word to use in the piece. This would have no bearing at all on what the essay is about--whether there is any biblical basis for segregation/whether segregation is right or wrong.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
It maybe in your view that Bauder is careful with his choice of words and that you may be correct. But even that is irrelevant to this singular case what are he uses the word racism or racist as an antecedent to racial segregation. They are not synonyms and he treated them as such.

Still not relevant to what the piece is about. Might be good to refocus.

Identifying those who practice or believe in racial segregation for various reasons as categorical racists is quite relevant because it inserts a moral posture and argument that is unproven. But it is also simply incorrect to use "racist" or "racism" as a categorical antecedent for those who practice racial segregation. It can be but it is not synonymous as already illustrated by earlier arguments.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Thesis: people use Acts 17 and the Babel event as grounds for racial separation and they shouldn't do that.

KBauder wrote:
 Significant portions of evangelicalism and fundamentalism, however, have occasionally attempted to use Acts 17:26 and the division of nations at Babel to justify racial separation.... [It's a twisting of Scripture]

Argument

1. "In the first place, the modern use of the term race is not equivalent to the biblical use of the terms people or nation." So we can't uses verses about "peoples/nations" to make points about "races."

2. "Second, the only division that God imposed directly at Babel was a confounding of languages" ... So if we use Babel to argue for a separation it would have to extend to linguistic separation.

3. "Third, Acts 17:26 specifically mentions that God decided ahead of time which lands the nations would occupy. In other words, geographical boundaries..." So using Acts for a separation/segregation position would mean claiming national boundaries should never change.

4. "Fourth, while recognizing a diversity of nations, Acts 17:26 strongly emphasizes the unity of humanity." ...so the passage really argues better against segregation than for it.

5. "Finally, the Bible itself exhibits no irrevocable pattern of ethnic segregation."   I.e., we don't find this idea anywhere else in Scripture and so we have even less reason to think we're seeing it in Acts and the Babel event.

Were we all so inclined, we could concede that "racism" is not the right word to use in the piece. This would have no bearing at all on what the essay is about--whether there is any biblical basis for segregation/whether segregation is right or wrong.

The fundamental problem with all of Bauder's arguments is that he is treated the Scriptures as if they are a handbook for anthropological classification and social order. I don't disagree with everything he said but his conclusions are based, in my view, in a rather selective reading and application of Scripture.

Frankly, though, this point:

Fourth, while recognizing a diversity of nations, Acts 17:26 strongly emphasizes the unity of humanity. Even after the division into “languages, families, and nations” (Gen. 10:5), the oneness of the human race remains far more important than its divisions.

I find to be a leap of logic. It says quite specifically in Genesis 10:5 that people were not divided only by languages but by family and national identification. If there ever was a de-emphasis on the "oneness of the human race" here it is but Bauder just asserts that what is right in front of you, really isn't right in front of you.

No, actually here is a case for language, family (genetic) and national distinction.

The oneness of humanity is not in competition with human distinctions and their consequences or with other principles of human segregation given by God as a principle of social and/or governmental construction. The oneness of humanity, at best, can only be valued with respect to its limits which are that we are all human, not that our distinctions cannot be a source for national or social organization.

Bauder may have an argument against something in the past but he errs in forming a conclusion on the matter entirely.

And in his concluding statement he displays a rather significant blind spot in understanding the distinction and Biblical protocols between anthropological constructs and the spiritual construct of the body of Christ:

The larger problem is this. If a people or a nation finds its identity in its solidarity with an ancestor, then how can the church be understood as a people at all? How can a body that comprises individuals from all sorts of ethnicities be viewed as a people in any sense, let alone as a people of God? This important question will occupy our attention next.

A nation is a group of people who have formed a national entity with a government. It has no bearing on the church. The church of God is not dependent upon anthropological designations and/or formations for its identification. Nations are anthropological structures, the church is a spiritual construct. A church can have one or many genetic groups but their identification is based on the spiritual DNA of Christ.

A nation can be formed however it wishes. It has no impact on the formation of a church. The church is formed by those born again without reference to anthropological properties.

 

 

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Andrew K. wrote:

On a side note, I find it interesting that though many traditional societies may frown on marriages outside their particular tribe or ethnic group, most that I am aware of have a means of adoption by which an outsider may enter that particular society, provided he or she take on the identity, regardless of genetics.

This point cannot be understated and I am glad you brought it up. Here is the legal exception to the genetic distinction of many groups. It is not merely their genetics but the expression of its properties and the subsequent culture, with its duties, privileges and benefits which such groups have in mind with respect to their segregative practices. Thus, if one is willing to embrace and practice this value system and identification, then you are right, there is a legal and usually social, acceptance.

However, in order for a particular group to maintain its integrity, these usually have to be exceptions rather than rules, if indeed they have a very definitive identification since part of their existence with all of their properties is one based the intent of perpetuity and rightfully, in their minds, they must protect against an erosion of their way of life. Unfortunately, some seem to want to make it the rule which destroys unique cultures and peoples.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

List #26 in the latter portion reads:

He displays a rather significant blind spot in understanding the distinction

It should read:

In not understanding the distinction

He may indeed understand that distinction I suspect he does but he did not articulate that And that distinction is not well maintained in his argument

PSFerguson's picture

The BJU argument is based around the Tower of Babel incident. They state, "At the Tower of Babel, God used language to disrupt man's plans for a one-world government. As a result of this disruption, the people were scattered, and the races were polarized…. One thing is clear: God wanted a divided world, not a federalized world. Based on this biblical account (Genesis 10 and 11), the University wishes to give God the benefit of any doubt and avoid pursuing any direction that would give assistance to the renewed efforts of man to create a one-world community consisting of one religion, one economy, one government, and one race.”

The Genesis account was a division based upon language not skin colour. In fact, “race” or "skin colour” is never implied or mentioned. So if BJU were consistent in their hermeneutics they would have forbidden any attempt of intermarriage between Americans of different linguistic descent and cultures such as those of German and English origin irrespective of any closeness in skin colour. Indeed, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis points out another fallacy in the BJU argument as, “there has been so much mixing of people groups over the years, that it would be impossible for every human being today to trace their lineage to know for certain from which group(s) they are descended. ” The Bible only condemns unequal yoking and contains many precedents of “interracial marriage” of heroes of faith such as that of Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Uriah, Ruth, Rahab etc. Indeed, the genealogical line of Christ has a number of such listed within it including a Hamite and a Moabite. Ironically, BJU could be accused of being at the forefront of promoting globalization of the “one world community” by teaching the new lingua franca of the English language in foreign countries.

I applaud the action by Dr Stephen Jones to move BJU back to biblical ground on this issue. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Alex wrote:
The fundamental problem with all of Bauder's arguments is that he is treated the Scriptures as if they are a handbook for anthropological classification and social order. I don't disagree with everything he said but his conclusions are based, in my view, in a rather selective reading and application of Scripture.

This misframes the debate. The reality is that advocates of segregation in Christian ministries as well as society have attempted to make a case for their view from Acts and the Babel event. The essay takes that case apart--successfully. In other words, the thesis here is not "The Bible proves segregation is wrong" (which would require a different kind of argument). Rather, he is pointing out the absence of biblical support for segregation.

The counterargument that the church is not society fails on multiple counts. First, the piece is clear that Christian ministries are in view, not just social policy. Second, Christianity is not and has never been a faith that has no relationship to social policy. The faith is strongly relevant to how we try to influence our society. Third, the thesis again is that Scriptural support for segregation is lacking. There is no way to make church-society distinctions relevant to that question.

Alex Guggenheim wrote:

Andrew K. wrote:

On a side note, I find it interesting that though many traditional societies may frown on marriages outside their particular tribe or ethnic group, most that I am aware of have a means of adoption by which an outsider may enter that particular society, provided he or she take on the identity, regardless of genetics.

This point cannot be understated and I am glad you brought it up. Here is the legal exception to the genetic distinction of many groups. It is not merely their genetics but the expression of its properties and the subsequent culture, with its duties, privileges and benefits which such groups have in mind with respect to their segregative practices. Thus, if one is willing to embrace and practice this value system and identification, then you are right, there is a legal and usually social, acceptance.

However, in order for a particular group to maintain its integrity, these usually have to be exceptions rather than rules, if indeed they have a very definitive identification since part of their existence with all of their properties is one based the intent of perpetuity and rightfully, in their minds, they must protect against an erosion of their way of life. Unfortunately, some seem to want to make it the rule which destroys unique cultures and peoples.

None of the above even enters the ballpark of relevance to what's being debated here. Nobody is disputing the right of ethnic groups to marry within their own groups if they want to. That is not what segregation was about  (... do I really have to point this out?!)

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Aaron

The last portion of your post deals with a response I gave to Andrew which you protest does not even enter "the ballpark of relevance to what is being debated here".

You are right and no one imagined otherwise but you, apparently, because the comment of Andrew's to which I was responding was quite specifically categorized by Andrew, thus my response, as a "side note" (need this be pointed out?)

Per the remainder of the post, as time permits I have a few points to share.

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