How Should Christians View Race in Light of the Gospel?

HOW SHOULd Christians View Race in light of the Gospel?

Alexander Jun     |     May 7, 2019     |    2 MIN READ     |    4 MIN WATCH

Note from SOLA: This video was recorded during The SOLA Conference 2019. Below is a transcript of the video. It has been lightly edited for readability.

I want to begin by asking what is colorblind ideology or colorblind theology?

Because I attend a Korean church or a Korean-American church that worships in English, I've had white brothers and sisters say to me, for example, “Alex, why do you go to a Korean church? We should all be the same.”

My natural response is, “That's wonderful. When are you going to come to my church?”

What's revealed in their response and their surprise in [what I said] is that when they ask, “Why can't we all be all be the same?” they really mean, “Why can't you be like me, rather than me be like you?”

So because of this idea of white normativity and American normativity and some assumptions that we make, I don't believe there's a thing called colorblindness or colorblind theology. I would say we have to be color conscious.

I don’t believe there’s a thing called colorblindness or colorblind theology. I would say we have to be color conscious.

Now the reality is people did not create diversity. God did. God created diversity when he made animals of different shapes and sizes and species, when he made birds of the air of different species, when he made woman and he made man. So diversity is something that God has created.

But I think the challenge is especially if you're in a minority ethnicity in the United States and by extension Christians in the United States, a lot of minority Christians will assume that to be colorblind or to have a colorblind theology means assimilation. I need to divorce myself from my ethnicity from my heritage and my culture.

Well, if you’re divorcing yourself from that, there is no acultural approach, there is no anti-ethnicity. It would be the dominant group [approach]. So we would default to the dominant majority or we’d default to the dominant majority ethnicity, which would be a white Christian American ideology and Theology.

That's a real challenge for us because I think for years for a lot of Korean Americans, and I can speak for myself, you struggled with self-hate. Anything that I associated with my Korean heritage — the language, the culture, the food, the smells — I wanted to divorce myself from. The reality, of course, was God made me this way.

If I'm quite honest, there was a time in my life where I felt very angry for being made Korean. I had no choice in the matter — the way I looked, my hair, my eyes, all of these things. And I was angry at my parents (it wasn't their fault). I was angry at God. It took me years to come to this realization that God blessed me. He made me in His image — Imago Dei.

It took me years to come to this realization that God blessed me. He made me in His image — Imago Dei.

It’s also important for us to recognize that sometimes we go to an extreme that being race-conscious or racially aware somehow then supersedes our Biblical understanding. And I'm saying we need to recognize that ethnicity and our race and our social positions do matter. It's not everything but it's not nothing.

Alexander Jun, Ph.D., is Professor of Higher Education at Azusa Pacific University. Alex conducts research on equity and justice in higher education around the world. A TEDx speaker in 2012, Dr. Jun was also a Global Fellow with the Center for Khmer Studies (CKS) in Cambodia in 2010, an International Research Fellow at Curtin University in Perth, Australia in 2016, and a 2018 Scholar in Residence at Belmont University in Tennessee. Jun currently serves as Associate Editor of the Journal of Behavioral and Social Sciences. A Ruling Elder at his local church, Alex was elected Moderator for the 45th General Assembly for the Presbyterian Church in America in 2017. Alex is happily married to Jeany, and they have three children.