The actual accomplishment of racial reconciliation

May 19, 2014

In my previous two blogs on race and racial reconciliation, I briefly defined my understanding of race and discussed the need and provision for racial reconciliation. In the first blog, I proposed that race refers to “otherness” in the biblical word and that the category should not be limited to skin color. In addition, I stated that racism refers to the alienation that comes to all groups of people (Jews and Gentiles) because of the historic fall of Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, racism fundamentally exists because of sin. In the second blog, I argued that God’s solution to racism and his provision for racial reconciliation is the gospel of Jesus Christ that centers on the cross and resurrection. In this third and final blog on racial reconciliation, I will propose that Jesus’ death for all sins and his resurrection from the dead actually (not hypothetically) accomplished reconciliation for all who trust in him by faith. This post will also suggest that racial reconciliation can be experienced and must be intentionally pursued by Christians. Paul’s remarks in Ephesians 2:11-22 will guide my discussion.

Ethno-racial alienation

In Ephesians 2:11-12, Paul reminds the Ephesians that their race excluded them from Jewish blessings. He offers a startling litany of things from which Gentiles (i.e. non-Jewish people) were excluded prior to their faith in Jesus. He asserts that they were uncircumcised (Eph. 2:11), they were called uncircumcised by Jews (Eph. 2:11), they were without Christ (Eph. 2:12), separated from the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2:12), strangers of the covenants of promise (Eph. 2:12), and they were without hope and without God in the world (Eph. 2:12). However, Paul’s remarks dramatically shift in verse 13 with the words “but now.” Before faith in Christ, Gentiles were excluded from the people of God and (just as fellow Jews) they were dead in transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1-11). But now by means of the death of the Christ (the Jewish Messiah), Gentiles have been incorporated into the people of God, because his death has killed the enmity that separated Jews and Gentiles from one another thereby recreating Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians into a new race. Paul confirms this throughout the rest of the text.

In verse 13, Paul asserts that Jesus’ death has brought the Gentiles into the people of God. He then declares that Jesus is peace (i.e. ends hostility) for Jews and Gentiles because he put to death and shattered by his death the dividing wall of the law between Jews and Gentiles with the result that he recreated two groups (Jews and Gentiles) into one new race and with the result that he reconciled them both to God and to one another. In Ephesians 2:18-22, Paul expresses that Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians both have access to the one God who is the father of both groups, they are both fellow citizens in God’s new economy of the people of God, they are both being built up as one people upon the same prophetic and apostolic foundation, of which Jesus Christ is the cornerstone, and they are both being built up as the temple of God in which God himself dwells by his Holy Spirit. God and Jesus killed the ethno-racial division and racism that sin brought into the world and that is still present throughout the world because of sin. In other words, at the cross of Jesus Christ, God and Jesus actually accomplished racial reconciliation by killing enmity for all races that trust in Jesus by faith.

The practical pursuit of racial reconciliation

If the above is true, perhaps readers might be thinking: why is racism so prevalent in Christian churches and in Christian institutions if God and Jesus killed it by means of the death of Jesus? I think the answer is that sin and the devil keep many Christians from fighting against the evil of racism and from fighting for racial harmony in both church and society. In other words, racial division continues to exist in many Christian circles because too many Christians are unintentional to pursue racial reconciliation.

Racial reconciliation is not automatic. Yes, Jesus’ death has actually accomplished it. But Christians must responsibly pursue it with intense rigor or else they will not experience it in their churches or in their circle of influence. By way of analogy, eating healthy and exercise will help one lose weight, but one must actually practice the habits of eating healthy and exercise if the desired goal of weight loss is to be achieved.

One way Christians pursue racial reconciliation is we must all acknowledge that we all are born into this world as racists because Adam is our dad. We all have racist attitudes toward different people groups or maybe even toward those within our own ethno-racial groups. Thus, we must intentionally strive to fight against these attitudes that arise in our hearts by confessing them to the Lord as sin and by looking intentionally for ways to live out the gospel of racial reconciliation in both church and society.

Just as Christians fight against lust, pride, greed, and other sins, so also we must intentionally fight against racism and fight for racial reconciliation. To clarify, my proposal is not a spiritualized version of Affirmative Action. Instead, I am proposing a gospel-centered, God-centered, Christ-exalting and Spirit-filled fight for racial reconciliation that is motivated by love and service to one another in Christ and that is grounded in the gospel of the crucified, resurrected and glorified Christ, who died to accomplish racial reconciliation. By God’s grace, may he allow Christians and gospel-centered Christian churches from the confederate south to the remotest tribe in Africa to believe, love, live, preach and pursue gospel-centered racial reconciliation in both church and in society.

Previous blogs: 

The need for gospel-centered racial reconciliation

God’s provisions for racial reconciliation

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24