Share with your friends


The opening plenary session of the November 2012 Facing Race conference reveals the danger of seeking racial justice without first seeking God.

The opening speaker, Rinku Sen, is the publisher for, “a daily news site where race matters.”  I stumbled across the website and the Facing Race conference they host because I’m interested in what people outside of Christian and Reformed circles are thinking about race.

Her opening speech, “We Are the Majority and We Demand Justice“, came just days after President Obama was elected to a second term.  In the midst of this milestone in racial history, she struck a note of empowerment…

I think that we [racial minorities] can be actual full human beings, and I think that we can change the way that human beings see each other. Not by applying some bankrupt concept of colorblindness that has no grounding in reality, but by demanding what we really want which is the taking apart of the racial hierarchy.

We are so well equipped to do this. We are such good strategists. We know how to run campaigns. We do this work with so much heart and so much humor. We have so much resilience. We can survive anything. We can do this, we can take the country and the world closer to a new humanity.

Rebuilding the Tower of Babel

While her words may be inspiring, Ms. Sen’s rallying cries for racial justice remind me of another time when humanity gloried in its own potential for progress.

In the days preceding the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9), humankind has disobeyed God’s mandate to spread across the earth (Gen. 1:28), and instead aspires to build a tower as their attempt to create heaven on earth apart from God.  The motivation for their undertaking is their unity, particularly their united language (Gen. 11:1).

The use of humanistic, positivistic words is modern humanity’s attempt to re-create a universal language and reverse the confusion of languages God caused at Babel (Gen. 11:9).  Rinku Sen and others use jargon like “change”, “heart”, “resilience” and “we can do anything” to inspire the belief that human potential is limitless.  But as Dr. Bruce Waltke says in his book An Old Testament Theology, “[These words] are symbols of humanity’s vain effort to reunite and secure peace apart from God’s gift of the Prince of Peace.”

The Gospel of Unity

The only truly unifying language is the language of the Gospel. The Gospel teaches us that although He scattered the nations, God’s blessing will come to all people through Jesus Christ.

[Tweet “The only truly unifying language is the language of the Gospel.”]

The very next chapter after the Tower of Babel incident describes God’s promise to Abraham.  God would make of Abraham a great nation and through him all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:2-3). That promise is fulfilled in the coming of the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ.

In dying on the cross, Jesus Christ broke down the dividing wall of hostility between believers and God (Eph. 2:14). So racial unity is possible not because of human will or effort but because Christ has already secured our unity with the Father.  Therefore, no language, race, ethnicity or difference of any type can ultimately divide the household of God (Gal 3:28).  We are one new nation under God.

[Tweet “No language, race, ethnicity or difference of any type can ultimately divide the household of God.”]

Racial Justice Depends on God

Christians may share Rinku Sen’s passion for racial reconciliation, but the hope for a better future depends on God, not us. So we have to be careful when we talk about racial justice. Any efforts for positive impact apart from reliance on God are humanity’s prideful attempts to rebuild the Tower of Babel.

[Tweet “The hope for a better future depends on God, not us.”]

It’s a glory issue then. If human beings rely on their own strength to pursue racial justice (as if true justice were even possible without God) then they get the glory.  But all glory belongs to God, so even our attempts to make the world a better place must be done by faith in the God whose strength fuels our efforts (Col. 1:29).

As Christians pursue the righteous cause of racial justice in the world, let us be careful to do so in the strength God provides so that God gets the glory.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped..the Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed” (Ps. 28: 7,9).

Privacy Preference Center