4 Reasons Why Racism is Heresy
You don't have to be a Christian to be against racism, however, I would argue that the Christian faith has the best intellectual and moral foundation for rejecting prejudice of any kind.
Not only do we have a very diverse history and cultural spread on every continent, we also have doctrine - the teaching of the church from the Scriptures. Doctrine allows us to draw boundary lines on the basis of revealed truth in such a way that some beliefs and practices are clearly in the right, while others are clearly in the wrong. I can think of four examples of how the church labels racism of any kind as heresy.
1. Anthropological Heresy (The Doctrine of Man).
The idea that any group of person is by nature superior to another is an insult to the doctrine that all human beings are created in the image of God and possess innate dignity and worth from their Creator (Gen. 1:27). Racism has no place in our "doctrine of man" in the church. It's an insult and afront to the dignity God has given all human beings.
2. Christological Heresy (The Doctrine of Christ):
Racism goes against the incarnation. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14) What flesh did Jesus assume in his incarnation? In particular, the flesh and blood of a Jewish man. However, more widely speaking, he has embraced the flesh of all people in his incarnation, so that through his death and resurrection he might redeem the bodies of all people.
3. Ecclesiological Heresy (The Doctrine of the Church).
The New Testament teaches through clear statements and a multitude of examples that the church is an open community to all who repent, believe the good news, and are baptized. For example, read the book of Acts. The book of Acts has a number of themes within its chapters, but one is that the love of God welcomes people from all nations and social classes into the family of God. Racism is often tied to national identity, but at times it will also hide behind a bastardized version of "God and country" religion, which has nothing to do with the Christian faith. But for the church, baptism is for "all nations" (Matt. 28:19-20).
4. A Violation of the First Commandment.
In the First Commandment, we are prohibited from having any other gods. Luther says, "We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things." Extreme forms of nationalism, especially those based on race, are a form of idolatry. They make race and nation - "blood and soil" - into objects of worship. Jesus, on the other hand, calls us to "seek for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness."
As the church, we stand with any who speak against racism. However, I do believe that our convictions are built upon a more solid intellectual and moral foundation. Our belief in human dignity is rooted in the authority of God rather than the authority of human beings. Without the command of God behind our dignity, all we have left is opinion. And, as history shows repeatedly, the opinion of those who are in power is the one that prevails.
Pastor John Rasmussen - Our Savior Lutheran Church - South Windsor, CT