John Piper's Book, "Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian". Tackling Racism or Something Else?

First I will admit I have not read the book so the question currently remains open in my mind. However, from the excerpts and Piper's past work I have formulated somewhat of what I anticipate (remember, anticipate, I could err and happily hope so) in responding to the issue in the comments section at http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/ Justin Taylor's blog where notice of the book was posted under the heading, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/09/14/tim-kellers-... Keller’s Foreword to John Piper’s “Bloodlines” .

Here is my response to someone's asking about loving our neighbors in lieu of my earlier and more brief concern that this book might reflect the shortcomings of Evangelical understanding regarding race, culture, ethnicity and the varying contexts such as social, political and spiritual ones in which such issues, per the Bible, are not regulated identically nor may be impose upon them, morally, in the same way in all cases. What are your immediate concerns if any or praises?

My response:

Quote:
For the Christian, loving our neighbors as ourselves, does impact all our decisions. However, it appears that this assumes many things that I believe it should not. And with these assumptions comes, what I believe, is a reflection of the misunderstanding by Evangelicals, modern Evangelicals, with regard to race, ethnicity, culture and community and the differing contexts such as social, political and spiritual, in which they may be found and the regulative (or lack thereof) Biblical principles for each.

Frankly I do not anticipate Piper giving a deep treatment, rather, for the most part as he normally writes, I expect a treatment of what he considers the obvious and then an exhaustive sermonizing about their evils. In my view, one of Piper's greatest weaknesses is his lack of rigorous testing of the prescriptive soundness of his assertions and I expect to find this in this book. Of course it is always with the hope of being wrong.

But let me give you a slight taste of what I mean by Evangelical misapprehension on the matter. Suppose you encounter a society that regulates itself by excluding women from certain social events. For example, voting with regard to publicly elected officials.

Does the Bible require us to commend or condemn this? Well, neither.

And now suppose a country decides that it wishes to regulate its population by bloodlines and all those who cannot demonstrate genetic relationship are not given citizenship. Does the Bible require us to commend or condemn this? Neither. In fact, take an Indian tribe such as, say...the Cherokee Nation who recently removed the voting rights of certain black slave descendants based, just on this issue, a lack of genetic relationship or genuine relationship. These were black slaves owned by individual Cherokees but not the Cherokee Tribe or nation itself. And a treaty after the Emancipation Proclamation between the US and the Cherokee Nation gave these Freeman (the now freed slaves and their descendants) Cherokee Indian status. The CN just voted them out. Does the Bible require inclusion of these people or not? Well, again, it does not have a binding protocol but some would seek to misuse the Bible to force a protocol and condemn the Cherokee Nation. They are in great error.

One might respond with the earlier context such as, "How is this not loving your neighbor as yourself?". This question assumes, then, that loving your neighbor as yourself means changing public policy to reflect your own wishes and not that of the your collective neighbors who might actually prefer this. Would you want your neighbors to consider your desires and wishes? Right, so then you would, in order to love them as yourself, actually might need to silence yourself, not assert yourself.

Now, in spiritual contexts and without dispute, we all know that the Bible forbids favoritism or exclusion or any kind of preferential treatment with regard to one's operation within the body of Christ. So I won't deal with that since it is, really, without dispute though some issues of surreptitiousness might arise.

And I believe this is but a smidgen of the kind of consideration that is lacking in crusader issues within Evangelicalism. Racism is an opportunity for posturing and crusading and all too often this is the disappointing kind of rhetoric I find when essays and books are published on the matter. We'll see.

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Two boys were playing in the sandbox. As their mother watches from the kitchen window, one boy throws a handful of sand in the other's eyes and breaks one of his toys.
Mom kicks the thrower out of the sand box and gives his toy to the other.
Exclusion? Favoritism?

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

I believe that would be someone excluding themselves and the appropriate authorities enforcing boundaries. They are not excluded because of their person but because of their behavior. So even more precisely I should add:

Quote:
Now, in spiritual contexts and without dispute, we all know that the Bible forbids favoritism or exclusion or any kind of preferential treatment with regard to one's person and its valid operation within the body of Christ. So I won't deal with that since it is, really, without dispute though some issues of surreptitiousness might arise.

And precision is essential or we come to inconclusive ends as demonstrated. Thank you.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Nobody is really talking about preferential treatment, anyway, probably. We'll have to see the book to know.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Nobody is really talking about preferential treatment, anyway, probably. We'll have to see the book to know.

I am not sure what you mean by nobody talking about preferential treatment, my understanding that this is a feature of some of the concerns of racism though not exclusive.

Some contents of the book are available online so one can get a healthy idea of what Piper has released in his desire for potential readers to understand his general trends and approaches. I will have the book in my hands next weekend and begin a thorough examination.