The Moving Word

Writer, Preacher, Bookworm, Student of the Word

Racism and Old Southern Ideas

The following is a segment of an actual letter given to me.

“I share your desire to spread the gospel. However, since you are new to our area, I feel that you should know a few things. I believe that all members of our congregation want everyone to learn the gospel. We also want our minister and his wife to be respected by all people of the community. We’re a small Southern town with some old Southern ideas. In our town it takes great effort not to offend people but there are ways of doing things without causing outrage. I speak for several members in saying that your intense work among the Blacks may have a reverse effect on the white people in our area. I would like for you to keep in mind that this is not heaven, we are not all alike, and we can see each other’s differences. None of us are perfect and it’s only in God’s eyes that we are all the same.”

I have been privy to many racially charged comments and jokes from the mouths of Christians. These comments have been from both blacks and whites. Yet, they rationalized and justified each until they safely removed the pangs of guilt.

In Galatians 2:9ff, we find Peter and Paul in an interesting situation. Peter was dining with Gentile Christians until Jewish Christians entered the room, and Peter got up to go and sit with “his people,” the Jews. Paul confronts Peter and gives us some indispensable insight when he writes that Peter and Barnabas were not being “straightforward about the truth of the gospel” when they gave deference to the people of their own heritage in 2:14.

The Gospel was for all and Peter had been the bearer of this good news. “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord your God will call” (Acts 2:39; cf. Acts 10:34-35). Peter, though, reverted to the “old Hebrew” ideas of segregation and bigotry that he had heard all of his life.

The word, “straightforward” means “to walk in a straight path signifying a course of conduct by which one leaves a straight track for others to follow” (Vine 195). Peter was to set a “straight path” in declaring all men as equal. However he gave credence to bigotry by his example.

Are we as leaders going to try to maintain the traditional Southern ideas of racism or are we going to try to fight against the grain? Are we willing to do so against a storm of opposition?

In the epilogue to the Gospel of John we find an enlightening example of how Jesus feels about the dispersion of the Gospel. In John 21 we find several apostles fishing when Jesus comes by and tells them to cast their net on the right side of their boat. True to his word, the apostles retrieved 153 fish.

Two facts are forthcoming. First, the apostles had no say in what fish entered the net. They had to take whatever came along. They could not choose which ones they liked the most, whether of size, shape or coloration. They brought all into the boat. Secondly, the net never broke. The Lord’s kingdom is a big place, big enough for all of us. The issue of evangelization ought not to be “who” but “how many.” While we are delineating between this person and that person, we are missing two souls.

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6 thoughts on “Racism and Old Southern Ideas

  1. Pingback: Racism: Standing Above the Culture « The Fellowship Room

  2. Bernard Barton on said:

    Being a YANKEE from Vermont and preaching in the south(Tn.)I see a lot of
    racial prejudice from my white Christian brethren and my black Christian brethren as well-I see where my brethren put their political views above the
    Bible teachings-they stand for what the political party stands for even if it against the teachings of the Word of God-Of course I am an outsider and don’t know how to be in here inn the deep South

  3. Bernard Barton on said:

    Yes, But they are still fighting the Civil war down here in the South
    Plus it is hard for me to get to hold meetings, lectures, etc. down here
    because I am not one of the “old boys” Southerner,but I have as much to offer as any preacher around. You talk about racism-The folks down here are raxcist toward the Northerners(Yankees)-I am a minority in this part of the country-I am glad I serve the Lord and people here

    • The Civil War has been over for 150 years. The New South is nothing like the Old one. Plus, the North was filled with racism during the Civil War. If you’ve done any study at all, you will see that the North wanted to end slavery but they still saw Blacks as less than a person. Also, there is a lot of prejudice in the North toward Southerners. Thanks for reading my blog.

  4. Bernard Barton on said:

    Ah, But I came from a state(Vermont)who was the 1st statge to oblish slavery
    I am not talking about black slavery today-I’m talking about prejedice of the southern people toward the northern people(yankees)especially people like me
    EVEN in the brotherhood-you may not agree with me, but I have been down here long enough and throughout Tenn. and I still see it evident in a lot of people especially in the little rural communities

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