Con or seg. There’s nothing in between

“…Regarding Cephas’ segregation from Gentile believers, Paul says that this is not walking according to the truth of the gospel. That means either separation or gospel, but it can’t be both; (2) In Rom. 3.28-29, Paul says that we reckon that a man is justified by faith without works of law, and he asks in return, “or is God the God of the Jews only?” Notice “or”! In other words, justification by faith and ethnocentrism are mutual exclusives.

Now let me ask, can a person believe in racial segregation and believe in the gospel and justification at the same time? I will say “no”. Now let me say that it is not that such a person has failed to grasp an “implication” of the gospel or of justification. The language is much stronger than that in the NT. Such a stance is a perversion of the gospel and a competing alternative to justification. A person can believe in the gospel partially and grasp justification fallibly. But a person who believes in racial segregation or cultural hegemony does not believe in the true gospel and does not grasp the true meaning of justification.

I will never forget Mark Seifrid telling me that 11.00 a.m. on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week in America. Now let me ask, is there a reason why some of the most rancorous and acidic critiques of the New Perspective derive from certain leaders in certain Southern denominations in the USA? Is it because they are happy to use justification as a stick to bash Catholics for works-righteousness, but object when that same stick is used to bash them for driving for 40 minutes across town to attend a white middle-class church when a perfectly good evangelical black church is 5 minutes around the corner?…”

Michael F. Bird,

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