Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Church and Race

What would you say to a church leader who argued for geographical seperation of different ethnic groups because of the inevitable tension between them?
Who argued that the church's vision is spiritual and not social?

At the moment a bunch of us are thinking through the shrinking of the Anglican church in Sydney's south west.
Part of that has been looking at attitudes to race and immigration.
Both these attitudes above, and a support of limited immigration can be found in a short article on race by D B Knox.

While Knox is arguing that justice is the primary category that we need to defend, I wonder what his defence of racial separation has done for Anglican churches?


byron smith said...

I'd suggest that they need to read some St Paul.

byron smith said...

Now that you've added a little context, I'll add a little to my answer.

• Knox was (like all of us) a creature of his time, sharing some of the blindnesses of an earlier age (and we share many of our own). This is part of the reason for including interlocutors beyond our cultural and temporal location in our theological conversation - so that our respective blind spots can be (somewhat) mutually correcting.

• A policy of limited immigration is not in itself problematically racist. That said, most racists support very strict limitations on immigration.

• Regarding inevitable tension, I say (a) tension is not always bad. Hot conflicts are not necessarily worse than cold ones. (b) Reconciling racial (and other) tensions so that very different people can sit at table together and share a meal in the name of Christ is part of the mission of the church.

• Spiritual and social are not mutually exclusive categories.

• Dr Knox needed to read more St Paul. :-)

Anonymous said...

thanks Byron, sorry for adding a bit without notifying you.

I'm not sure I'd want to knock knox too much either.

Yet he was an influential figure in anglican land which hasn't been too successful at reaching migrants.

Racism is just too loaded a term anyway, and isn't worth using. It demonises in a way that blinds us to the ways we fall short of God's vision in more nuanced ways.

Thanks again for the thoughts, and sorry again for the post updating

byron smith said...

No apology necessary, though it was nice to know who you were talking about.

I agree with your point about "racism" usually being too blunt.