Sunday, March 1, 2009

Can a Racist be a Christian?

One of the debates I have been involved with online in the past few weeks is whether or not R.L. Dabney was "the greatest Southern theologian" of his century.  It was never my intention to defend the man or get into a debate online about whether or not Dabney was a "great theologian".  However, the comment that one lady made to me that he could not have been a Christian got me to thinking.  (Waves to Linda!!)

The following quote is from a John Piper sermon I listened to yesterday (regarding the recession) :

The book of Job in the Old Testament begins, “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). But in the last chapter of the book, Job says, “I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). He was “blameless,” but later he repented. What does that mean?

It means that the most godly people in the world are like a clear glass of water with a sediment of sin hidden at the bottom of the glass. And when the glass is struck—with Job’s suffering, or with our recession—the sediment of sin is stirred up and exposed, and the water becomes cloudy. 

John explained, "The most pure, holy, blameless saint on the planet has a sediment of sin lying quietly at the bottom of the beaker, while we look at the clean, clear water called holiness.  You bump him, and he gets cloudy!  Job got bumped, big time."

The most pure, holy, blameless, godly, faithful, committed saint has a sediment of sin.

Abraham did.  He headed down to Egypt when the going got tough, then lied about his wife, Sarah, out of fear.  He did not trust.  He did not have faith.  Yet God called him His friend.

David did.  He sent one of his faithful soldiers to the front of the line, commanding his comrades-in-arms to draw back, effectively having him murdered.  He was an adulterer.  Yet God called him a "man after God's own heart".  

Peter did.  He boasted that he'd never leave the Lord, and would even die for him, yet wouldn't acknowledge him to a girl who questioned his background.  Yet Jesus called him "the Rock".  

The most pure, holy, blameless, godly, faithful, committed saint has a sediment of sin.

And that includes you.  And me.  And . . . Dabney

Whether the "sediment of sin" is murder, or pride, or adultery, or lying, or anger, or gossip, or denial of Christ, or racism... the most pure, holy, blameless, godly, faithful, committed saint has a sediment of sin.

I honestly don't know if Dabney was a Christian, because I cannot look into his heart.  I know the One who can.  

1 Chronicles 28:9   David's Charge to Solomon

“And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. 

Jeremiah 17:10 I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

I do assume Dabney was a Christian, because of the Systematic Theology book he wrote.  Only the Lord knows for sure.

But my point is this:  The most pure, holy, blameless, godly, faithful, committed saint has a sediment of sin.  And that sediment can take all sorts of ugly forms.

The great lesson here is that God came into the world to save sinners.  Even murderers, adulterers, and Christ-deniers.  

Even racists.


  1. Yup. As difficult as it is to believe a Christian could be a racist, we have to remember that it ought to be difficult to believe a Christian can lust after someone, or lie, or be angry, or murder, or steal, or any number of sins. ALL sins should be abhorrent to us. ALL sins should be avoided. Not just the "big ones".

    I'm as bad as Dabney for my own sins, and I needed a Saviour just as much. The grace of God is big enough to cover all sins.

    I heart you too.

  2. Oppression comes in many forms. Racism in and of itself is a very small element of the big picture. SIN - in all its forms - and our behaviour towards it, or because of it, points us all to our need of a Saviour.

  3. I agree. Even if I choose not to read it. ;)


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