A new generation of evangelical Christians is on the verge of racial reconciliation and economic justice in its churches, said John M. Perkins in the Julius Brown Gay Lecture on Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Oct. 27.
“We’re at a pivot place in history,” said Perkins, 84. “This is the first generation of people who are beginning to understand that and values diversity. There’s an underlying movement today that now people are wanting to do mission with people, and they want to learn from people, and they see human beings different as a value in life.”
The Julius Brown Gay Lectures are among Southern Seminary’s most prestigious lectureships, dating back to 1895. The lectures have brought some of Christianity’s most significant figures to the seminary campus, most notably Martin Luther King Jr. in 1961. Perkins said the opportunity to deliver the lecture at Southern Seminary was “one of the honors of my life” as the culmination of his life’s work.
The civil rights leader lectured on “Theology and Race in American Christianity” to a standing room-only crowd of Southern Seminary students and African-American pastors with the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He stressed that racial reconciliation and justice are fundamental aspects of Christ’s redemptive work.
“Anything outside of developing a multicultural church is a disgrace to the gospel,” said Perkins. “It belittles the gospel to have a church based on race. It’s a slap in the face of a God who created from one human being all the nations that reside upon this earth and a gospel that its intention was to reconcile people to God and to each other.”
Perkins suggested that the solution to racial divisions is to “come back to the Bible and totally believe it.” He emphasized the need to understand the reconciling work of Christ in the incarnation with a sense of economic justice rooted in the creation account.
“The big issue is an economic issue. Justice is how we manage the earth’s resources,” Perkins said. “There is no biblical trace that God gives us ownership. The earth is the Lord’s, and he gives it to us as a stewardship.”
SOURCE: S. Craig Sanders
Southern Baptist Theological Semianry