16.5.14

Should Christians Support Multiculturalism?


Dr. Morton H. Smith was a Presbyterian minister and professor at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He is considered one of the most important Presbyterian leaders of the late 20th century. He published this article in the October 1964 issue of the Presbyterian Guardian as the nation faced questions about segregation and race relations.

'The Racial Problem Facing American'
Dr. Morton H. Smith
Presbyterian Guardian - October 1964

'As one studies the origin of man in the Bible it is evident that all men descend from a single pair of first parents...

On the basis of this unity of mankind the integrationist teaches that we are all brothers, and should thus ignore all external differences and mix as one race. There is a plea to forget racial and national differences and simply to amalgamate into one common brotherhood. It should be noted, in passing, that the biblical teaching on brotherhood is not primarily that of physical unity, but rather it is reserved for the spiritual unity that Christians, who know God as Father through Jesus Christ, have with one another.

It is rather striking to see that the very verse used by the integrationist as supporting his position also speaks of the diversity of peoples. The verse reads: “And He made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26). Notice that the verse not only teaches the basic unity of the human race, but it also speaks of the diversity of mankind in different nations and groups, whose bounds have been set by God. Granting that this may be speaking primarily of the national distinctions as being under God’s sovereign control, one who believes in God’s sovereignty over the history of the world must also grant that racial distinctions have arisen under his plan and control. . . .
 
It should be observed in connection with the event of the Tower of Babel, that we have a divine intervention which broke up the unity of the people. Mankind was seeking to remain together, thus disobeying the command of God to replenish the whole earth. Prior to the flood the human race had demonstrated what it would become if allowed to develop as a single people. Thus God, by a judicial action, intervened, confused their tongues, and scattered the people. Though this was an act of judgment, it was also gracious on God’s part, for it prevented a repetition of the development of sin by the unified race in the proportions of the pre-flood situation. Thus God, by his common grace intervened, and by his act of judgment intensified the diversity or pluriformity that was inherent in his creation.

If from this we may conclude that ethnic pluriformity is the revealed will of God for the human race in its present situation, it is highly questionable whether the Christian can have part in any program that would seek to erase all ethnic distinctions. That such distinctions may be crossed over by individuals may be granted, but it is at least questionable whether a program designed to wipe out such differences on a mass scale should be endorsed by the Christian. It is this line of argument that the average Christian segregationist uses to back his view. He fears that the real goal of the integrationist is the intermarriage of the races, and therefore the breakdown of the distinctions between them. Many who would be willing to integrate at various lesser levels refuse to do so, simply because they feel that such will inevitably lead to intermarriage of the races, which they consider to be morally wrong. . . .

There is to be found in Paul’s writings a recognition of the continued differences between Jewish and Gentile Christians. Some of the Jewish Christians continued to observe Old Testament practices, such as Sabbath observance and temple worship (Rom. 14:5-6; Acts 18:18; 21:23-29). Paul himself practiced certain Jewish observances at times, thus becoming a Jew to the Jews, and a Gentile to the Gentiles. It seems evident therefore, that Paul does not teach that the church should be a distinctionless mass, but rather the individuality of each person is recognized with all of his diversities. . . .

Again, if diversity is God’s revealed way for mankind, one wonders about any program that advocates the intermarriage of the diverse races in a way which will eradicate the differences that God has established. Though the present writer has been raised in the South, and personally feels that the intermarriage of persons of two races is something most undesirable, he must admit that he is not able to find any clear teaching of the Scripture that would condemn individual intermarriage as such, except between the Christian and the non-Christian. (The practice of endogamy is Scripturally normative. Dr. Smith would have done well to considered the following verses: Genesis 24:3-4, 27:46 – 28:9; Exodus 34:15-16; Leviticus 21:14; Numbers 25:1-9; Deuteronomy 7:3-4; Joshua 23:12-13; Judges 3:5-6, 14:3; I Kings 11:1-6; Ezra 9:1 – 10:44; Nehemiah 10:30, 13:23-27; and Ezekiel 44:22 ~ Mickey Henry)

The mass mixing of the races with the intent to erase racial boundaries he does consider to be wrong, and on the basis of this, he would oppose the mixing of the two races in this way.... the Bible seems to teach that God has established and thus revealed his will for the human race to be that of ethnic pluriformity, and thus any scheme of mass integration leading to mass mixing of the races is decidedly unscriptural.'