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  • Writer's pictureKrista Bontrager

The Gospel's Answer to Racial Caste Systems

Guest: Dr. Joe Miller; Key to Overcoming Racism: Historical Adam

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Interview with Dr. Joe Miller

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Tonight we had a thoughtful conversation with our friend and colleague, Dr. Joe Miller. Dr. Miller is the co-founder of the Center for Cultural Apologetics; he's an expert in ethics, a professor, an apologist, and a member of the CFBU Academic Advisory Council.

This is definitely an episode that you will want to bookmark and watch through several times. Dr. Miller helped us better understand the development of racial caste systems. Here are some of the important highlights:

What does it mean to say that race is a social construct? How does this concept relate to the idea of a racial caste system?

Race isn't something we see in the Bible. It wasn't given to mankind as a way to separate people out; instead, people are distinguished by ethnicity. The concept of race was man-made to be able to keep people separated, whereas ethnicity/ethnic groupings we see in the Bible were a part of boundary lines.

There is a big cultural conversation happening right now and the assertion is being made that our country was founded on white supremacy and black slavery. How can we respond to this?

This claim has been popularized by the 1619 Project, developed by Nikole Hannah-Jones. Although she won a Pulitzer Prize for this New York Times project, most historians have recognized that it is full of problems and errors.

Problem #1--The slavery claim: This is erroneous because there was no United States in 1619. Slavery has existed on every continent and every culture, amongst every people, regardless if they were black, brown, white, etc. Saying it is a unique thing that Western Civilization invented is historically not factual.

Problem #2--Claims of the US being founded on white supremacy: This is not true! The social construct of race did not exist at the founding of the US, but came along later in the late 18th Century and early 19th Century with Kant and Hume, namely Kant who developed the concept of race.

When did slavery become a system of white supremacy that was used to specifically oppress black people and target them?

Slavery has dominated many civilizations for thousands and thousands of years (the idea of "tribalism" or "the other"), but it wasn't based on race/skin color. Concepts of race didn't really take shape until the middle of the 19th Century, with a particularly big turning point in1835 when the system of slavery became focused on race.

After the Civil War and after slavery in the US ends, what's the setup that contributes to the ongoing racial hierarchy/racial caste system where white people are looked upon as being higher in the hierarchy than darker skinned people?

Certainly, there were abolitionists during this period, such as Adam Sedgwick, Charles Sumner, Samuel Wilberforce...they believed God's Providence would one day put an end to African slavery. But, most whites, even abolitionists like Abraham Lincoln, believed that Blacks could never overcome their inborn disadvantage, the "scientific" perspective believed at the time, which all goes back to Charles Darwin. Darwin used science to ground this belief in racial hierarchies.

To learn more about this, be sure to check out our previous episode with Dr. Miller where we discussed scientific racism, eugenics, Margaret Sanger, and related topics.

To what degree did Christians participate in the train of thought that Blacks are less intelligent, less capable?

Dr. Miller cited several authors who pushed back against the racial hierarchy viewpoint. James Beattie (1770) and Rev Dr. Thomas Smyth (1850s) were Christians who believed the truth of Genesis, that all people are created in the image of God and are descended from Adam.

How does the belief in a historic Adam and Eve play into racial unity?

Belief in a historical Adam and Eve as the sole progenitors/first humans who all humans are descended from, provides the most coherent foundation for rejecting racism and, ultimately through Christ, achieving racial reconciliation. In Dr. Miller's research, he found that when people abandon the core doctrine of a historical Adam and Eve, they ended up embracing some form of racial hierarchy or racist beliefs.

CFBU holds to a belief in the historical Adam and Eve. To read more about our doctrinal positions, click here.

The two-pronged approach to defeating racism and achieving reconciliation through a solid Biblical worldview:

1. Genesis 1:27: All people were made in the image of God

2. Ephesians 2: In Christ, God has broken down the dividing walls and has made us all one


Dr. Miller mentioned several authors, articles, and books based on his extensive study on the topic of race:

More from Dr. Miller:

Do you have a teenager or young adult? Impact 360 has a variety of phenomenal programs that will ground young people in their Christian faith and apologetics. Check out the video to learn more and visit their website to sign up!

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