EDITORIAL - Worked Up Over Nothing

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

The ultraliberal paper, Mission, has done it again. They seem to be able to make mountains out of mole hills. They can get all worked up over nothing, and yet are unmoved at some of the real spiritual tragedies in Israel. They seem unconcerned at the plight of spiritual Israel. Rather than chopping away at the taproot of our trouble, they seem content to march around the tree and snip at tiny matters of unimportance.

In the August, 1971 issue of Mission, Truman R. Clark, Assistant Professor of History at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, and graduate of Abilene Christian College wrote under the title, "Godliness is Next to Nothing." In this article he said, "One of the valid criticisms of American Protestantism (including the Churches of Christ) is that they have for~ too long been identified with Christian racism, or the idea that, 'My physical features  Caucasian - are next to godliness.' "

Even one with the most superficial knowledge of the scriptures knows that there is no ground for any kind of racism in the Bible. Paul said that we are "one man in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). Both Paul and Peter taught that "there is no respect of persons with God" (Rom. 2:11; Acts 10: 34). Peter added that God would accept the obedient of "every nation" (Acts 10: 3 5). The grace of God hath appeared unto all men (Tit. 2:11-14).

The thing that has our brother worked up, and that causes him to charge us with "Christian racism" is the fact that we have some songs that speak of blackness of sin. Specifically, he cites the song that says "One day when sin was as black as could be" as being racist in nature. Another "Christian racist" song, according to our brother, is the one that says "I long to be whiter than snow." These songs, our brother suggests, are offensive to black Christians.

However, in defense of the terminology of such songs, it needs to be pointed out that both the blackness of sin and the whiteness of righteousness are scriptural concepts. The prophet Isaiah said: "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isa. 1: 18). It seems never to have occurred to our mote-picking brother that the expression "white as snow" could be referring to spiritual cleanness, as contrasted with the blackness of sin. Our brother also should remember, that the Revelation letter depicts some who had on "white robes," and these are said to be those who come out of the great tribulation, "and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:14). When a brother becomes too sociologically sensitive to use the very terminology of scripture, indeed he has become too sensitive.

Numerous passages compare sinfulness to the blackness of night. The influence of a Christian is compared to one who is seen as a "light in the world," in the midst of the world of darkness (Phil. 2:14-16). There is as much contrast between the faithful Christian and the world as there is between light and darkness. The conversion of a sinner is said to be a turning "from darkness to light" (Acts 26:16-18). Persons called by the gospel are said to have been called "out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I Pet. 2:9, 10). The persons who can see any kind of "Christian racism" in such passages has on a strange kind of colored glasses. Yet our brother states that some have made the "basic assumption" that "black probably is ungodly." I have made no such assumption. The man who walks in sin, be he white or black, is walking in the blackness of night. He needs the light of the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ to shine upon him.

If a brother were going to get upset because sin is depicted as being black, and sinlessness as being "white as snow," there are several others who should be offended at the gospel. You will note that Isaiah also said that "though your sins be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." I guess that since sin also is said to be "red like crimson," the Indian people should all be offended. And I suppose us Caucasians were offended by the words of Jesus too. After~ all, he said the Pharisee hypocrites were "like unto whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness" (Matt. 23:27).

How absurd can a man be I Peter taught that we ought to speak "as the oracles of God" (I Pet. 4: 11). If I use the very words chosen by the Holy Spirit to describe a condition, the man who respects God knows those words cannot be improved upon. If the very words of scripture are offensive to some, whether black, red, or white, I am sorry. But we must continue to preach Christ crucified, 66 unto Jews a stumbling block, and unto Gentiles foolishness; but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (I Cor. 1: 23-24).

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 47, pp. 3-4
October 7, 1971