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Look to the One: A Divine Perspective on Racial Hate

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

Balancing Point:

As divine Creator, it is sheer mercy and grace extended onto the amenities of humanity to be formed and etched in the image of God. All of which is done in order that male and female might reflect forth His glory to the ends of the earth (cf. Gen. 1:28). Though mankind is subjected to the reign and rule of God, His dominion is not one formed upon travesty, oppression, nor despair. Rather, the King of the universe reigns in accord to His divine pleasure which expresses His infinitely primed character and virtue. Simply put, the King of the universe is a good King!


Moreover, as an image bearer, humanity’s dignity, value, and worth derives from the Creator God Himself. He has bestowed upon mankind a mantra of kingly proportion. As one author explains it, the presence of humanity “[represents] Him on the earth in all their thoughts and actions. It is the divine imprint of God in humanity that reflects His divine attributes and functions in the threefold office of king, priest, and prophet.”[1] The ethos that marks mankind is intimately woven in the One whom they image forth. Humanity, then, is to model His Kingly reign in magnifying the benevolent character and vice of the Creator God. To this end, mutual respect and honor toward image bearers, first and foremost, must flow from a proper reverence toward God Himself. To manipulate the sequential order is to forfeit the enjoyment of its fruit; that is, true and proper esteem toward fellow image bearers can hardly be realized without a genuine and authentic reverence toward the triune, Creator God. Without such a foundation all the out-workings of life will evidently surmount to a faulty manifestation of human perversion. Humanity’s balancing point, in turn, can only be found in her Creator.


A Meta-Narrative Approach:


Sometimes we can be so close to a situation that we end up losing proper perspective. Our heads can be plunged into the thick of things that our perception of up-down-right-left becomes discombobulated. We get caught up in the minute details that we forget how those pieces fit altogether. It is in those moments where wisdom would demand that we take a step back and reconfigure our posture in order to give new eyes and, thus, new understanding to the scenario. To this end, having a biblical theology, i.e., a meta-narrative, to govern all other narratives is helpful in anchoring our thoughts and, in turn, our hearts to God’s redemptive aim for creation. Without divine revelation to root us, we become figs leaves tossed to and fro by the winds of this evil age. Without God there can be no true understanding!


We Cannot Love Humanity without Loving the Triune God. The created order was put into disarray as the federal head—Adam—traversed the covenantal stipulations and passively allowed the influence of the serpent to breach the terms of the agreement. Sin, in turn, entered the world through disobedience and, thus, the progeny of Adam and Eve were marred in brokenness and despair (Rom. 5:12-21). Such travesties birthed enmity between God and man, and, consequentially, defiled person-to-person contact.


The implication of the fall, then, is the realization that humanity has moved from a God-centeredness—a stable identity that does not fixate upon the self, but rather finds fullness, satisfaction, and purpose in the Creator—to a self-centeredness that seeks to satisfy the internal longings of the heart with created things that will not and does not suffice.[2] Sin, in turn, recalibrates the purpose of humanity from magnifying God through imaging His glory to the never satisfying lure of making much of self. Yet, what is wrong with autonomy? What is wrong with loving self? The error of loving self without the context of God is idolatry! Genesis 3:5 (italics mine), “5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” God is the arbiter of truth; God is truth (Jn 14:4). Therefore, the sin that was presented to Adam and Eve was not the sheer will of intellect nor the blanket gift of understanding, but rather to have the authority to dictate and govern truth themselves. Simply put, Adam and Eve did not want to be like God; they wanted to be God. Thus, murder, violence, and destruction flow from the perversion of imaging forth the self as god rather than God as God; that is, the reason humanity steals, kills, and destroys is because we seek to build our own kingdom rather than the kingdom of God. Sheer subjectivism, then, does not consider God’s thoughts or His objective governing principle, but sees the self as the arbiter and adjudicator of truth. Idolatry, as such, seeks to serve self which leads to destruction rather than honoring the Creator God which leads to life and prosperity for all. Without right relationship with God, creation is in disarray.


We Cannot Appreciate Humanity without Appreciating the Triune God. The Scriptures clearly conveys that God is the Creator and, thus, He has creatively designed the universe to display His infinite wisdom (cf. Gen. 1:1-2; Ps. 136:5; 143:5; Prov. 30:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:3). The diversity that is unified under the umbrella of His creation does not convey enmity nor disharmony, but rather quite the contrary; it speaks to the beauty and majesty of Him as Creator. Creation, therefore, is to make much of Him. Yet, the pervasiveness of forging supremacy in one’s ethnicity, gender, race, or culture is in no way mounted upon the Creator’s intent, but rather is the perversion and corruption of humanity’s sinfulness wrought through the fall. By soaking the self upon self, humanity views creation not as a vehicle to make much of the Creator. Rather, creation becomes an object to be conquered; that is, the divinely sanctioned roles of priest, king, and prophet are demonstratively marred and disfigured. It begins to be built upon competition rather than a correlative existence toward the triune God Himself.


The Gospel becomes more beautiful and, thus, an ever-present need in a broken and depraved world. Christ is the One according to the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:14-17 (italics mine),

For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

It is in Christ where humanity can truly set their eyes upon the Creator God and, thus, be set free from the bondage of self-promotion. In the Gospel, Jesus Christ “died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15). Only in Christ can humanity be restored to her Creator and, in turn, properly love her neighbor as herself (Matt. 22:36-40; Mk. 12:28-34; Lk. 10:27).


We Cannot Make Sense of Humanity without the Sense Making of the Triune God. Humanity was created and designed to be dependent upon the covenantal Lord. This dependency should not be frowned upon nor understood with any type of disdain. Rather, it is through grace and divine consideration that humanity is woven in relational fidelity through covenantal invitation. Amid the garden, the narrative describes God as “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8). It is within this context where mankind is wrought with glorious splendor (cf. Gen. 5:22, 24; 6:9). He is united in covenantal union with his Creator, and has access to all of life, meaning, and purpose; that is, wisdom derives from the Creator Himself. As Cornelius Van Til writes, “What is true with respect to the existence of the whole space-time world is equally true with respect to the 'meaning' of it. As the absolute and independent existence of God determines the derivative existence of the universe, so the absolute meaning that God has for Himself implies that the meaning of every fact in the universe must be related to God, Scripture says constantly that the world has its whole meaning in the fact that it was created for the glory of God.[3] This corresponds with Scripture when the text says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7; italics mine). Or “all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:2-3; italics mine).[4] Without covenantal assumptions cemented within God, there can be no true knowledge of the Creator, of the self, nor of creation itself.[5] All things are dependent upon the Creator and covenantal Lord.


Thus, truncating the travesties surrounding racial tensions in American society to mere sociological constructs is to ignore the broader narrative that drives all other narratives—the Scriptures. To operate in such a way is to forfeit oneself to a worldview that is steeped amid philosophical naturalism; that is, to ignore the spiritual realm of the fall. As Craig A. Carter helpfully conveys, “There is a vertical dimension of existence because this world that is accessible to our empirical senses is not the sum total of reality. Rather, this world participates in a reality greater than itself and is only a shadow of this greater reality.”[6] To make sense of the world’s dilemma, then, is to tether ourselves to divine revelation; that is, to depend upon the knowledge and understanding of God given through Scripture.


A Longing for Redemption:


There is a deep longing for the corruption of this world to subside and, thus, to be eradicated. Such inner desires for justice, goodness, and righteousness are woven into the fabric of human design. The Apostle Paul speaks to this in the epistles to the Romans 2:14-16 (italics mine) in saying,

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my Gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Thus, the brokenness of the world is to point to the necessity of a Savior. Humanity's need is one of renewal, rebirth, and restoration. The injustices, the murder, and the corruption that shape the confines of this world will not be overthrown by human ingenuity. Rather, the establishment of the new heavens and new earth will come about by divine intervention in the work and Person of Christ (cf. Isa. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1). To this end, the church must cling to the unadulterated Gospel. She must not be taken “captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). The church, then, must look beyond the human perspective and gaze at the eternal truths of God. She must not be defined by worldly endeavors nor human determinates. Rather, she is to keep her eyes fixed upon the meta-narrative of Scripture which will guide, inform, and make straight her path toward the glory of God and the good of all creation. Soli Deo Gloria!

 

***footnotes***

[1] Benjamin L. Gladd, From Adam and Israel to the Church: A Biblical Theology of the People of God, ESBT (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic 2019), 12.

[2] This paragraph was modified and taken from my previous article called “The Covenants: The Noahic Covenant” which you can find here.

[3] Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology: Prolegomena and the Doctrine of Revelation, Scripture, and God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2007), 58.

[4] See Patrick Schreiner, Matthew, Disciple and Scribe: The First Gospel and Its Portrait of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019. Schreiner discusses the nuance of how Christ is the wisdom of God which He passes onto His disciples, particularly Matthew.

[5] I do not presume to convey that unregenerate man cannot have knowledge at all. Rather, as image bearers their knowledge is inherently tied to the Creator. Yet, to understand ultimate meaning, purpose, and intent for creation and the self is hidden in the mind and purpose of God.

[6] Craig A. Carter, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition: Recovering the Genius of Premodern Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018), 83.

 

McYoung Y. Yang (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; ThM, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the husband to Debbie and the father to McCayden (12), McCoy (11), McColsen (9), and DeYoung (5). He is a Teaching Pastor at Covenant City Church in St. Paul, MN and a homeschool dad to his four children. McYoung is continuing his doctoral studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. His ambition is to use his training as a means to serve the local church in living life through the Gospel lens.

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