Hermeneutics and racial prejudice

N.C. BAPTIST PODCAST
March 6, 2018

This podcast was recorded at the Disciple-Making Conference breakout session training and focuses on the Bible and its relationship with race in the church. In the hands of the wrong person, like a young child or an evil movie villain, a sword can do a lot of damage—to self or others. The same could be true about the Bible, which is likened to a sword in Ephesians 6. The Word of God has changed the world because of what it says. But throughout time, people have used and misused its content to deal with racial issues. When people read the Scripture, their biases and cultural narratives matter and inform how they interpret it. Courtlandt Perkins highlights some common passages from God’s Word that can be used and those that have been misused to have discussions about race and the church.

Here is an excerpt from this podcast:

Ephesians 6 gives us this imagery of the Word of God being a sword. I think this is a helpful picture to keep in mind, as we think about hermeneutics, or biblical interpretation because swords are dangerous. We would hate for a 6-year-old to wind up with a sword, playing around in the garage. But we also would hate for the evil villain in any movie that we’re watching to have a sword. The reason being, we know that that 6-year-old, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s going to hurt himself. And we know the villain has intentions to hurt somebody else. I think the same is true about the Bible. This Book, unlike any other book, has literally changed the world. But throughout time, people have used and misused its content—and as we’ve just affirmed, swords are dangerous. I want to highlight some common passages from God’s Word that have been used and misused to have discussions about race. I think we often forget, or maybe we’re not aware of the fact, that racial supremacy and racial equality both use the Bible as their primary source material. And as Bible-believing Christians, we have to pause and think: How can the same Bible support such opposite agendas?  One of the realities I want us to come to understand is just how embedded we are in our cultures. Often we read the Bible and we assume that if I observe the text right, I interpret it using my Greek and Hebrew skills and then I apply it appropriately in context, then I can be completely objective in my Bible reading. However, we cannot escape the fact that we all come from particular places that we bring to the Bible when we read it.


by Courtlandt Perkins  /  Kingdom Diversity Content Strategist  /  Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

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