“The Javanese are a different race than us; they live in a different region; they stand on a wholly different level of development; they are created differently in their inner life; they have a wholly different past behind them; and they have grown up in wholly different ideas. To expect of them that they should find the fitting expression of their faith in our Confession and in our Catechism is therefore absurd.
“Now this is not something special for the Javanese , but stems from a general rule . The men are not all alike among whom the Church occurs. They differ according to origin, race, country, region, history, construction, mood and soul, and they do not always remain the same , but undergo various stages of development. Now the Gospel will not objectively remain outside their reach, but subjectively be appropriated by them, and the fruit thereof will come to confession and expression, the result may not be the same for all nations and times. The objective truth remains the same, but the matter in appropriation, application and confession must be different , as the color of the light varies according to the glass in which it is collected. He who has traveled and came into contact with Christians in different parts of the world of distinct races , countries and traditions can not be blind for the sober fact of this reality. It is evident to him. He observes it everywhere.”
‘Common Grace’ III XXXII
“The good that is given to each culture comes by the undeserved blessing of God. The bad, of course, comes only from sin and to the curse.
Now, it is true that we can say that some Nationalities have produced some aspects of culture that are superior to others. There are (not that the race is superior, not that a particular ethnicity is superior) we can say, we have to rightly acknowledge that there are some aspects of culture that some Nationalities have excelled at advancing.
For example, think of the Germans. The Germans are known to have made a better car than the Irish. But the Irish are known for making better whiskey than the Germans. Fair enough. But see we also have to keep in mind on the negative side that the Irish drink way too much of their whiskey and the Germans drive their cars way too fast. Alright? So you’ve got good and you’ve got bad. But be that as it may, before the eyes of God — and this is the point — all Nationalities, all races stand condemned and each and every one of these races are totally depraved. You see sin becomes the great leveler of humanity. It’s not like we can find a race in the world that is morally superior to another, that is perhaps only 90% depraved, or that we can find a race of Ethnicity in the world that is only 70% depraved. No, all the people of all the nations are 100% depraved. That is what our doctrine of total depravity teaches us.”
I am confident that RDC is mishandling total depravity.
When Calvinists speak of humans as “totally depraved,” they are making an extensive, rather than an intensive statement. The effect of the fall upon man is that sin has extended to every part of his personality — his thinking, his emotions, and his will. Not necessarily that he is intensely sinful, but that sin has extended to his entire being. So, total depravity is extensive, not intensive. Not all total depravity looks the same. People and / or Nations can remain totally depraved and still be morally superior to other people and / or Nations who are also totally depraved. Total depravity does not mean that everyone is equally depraved, in the sense that everyone is as equally wicked as they could possibly be. Total depravity most certainly is not the moral leveler that RDC contends. People and / or Nations who are totally depraved can be morally superior though that moral superiority lends no salvific aid.
Dr. Loraine Boettner put it this way,
This doctrine of Total Inability, which declares that men are dead in sin, does not mean that all men are equally bad, nor that any man is as bad as he could be, nor that any one is entirely destitute of virtue … What it does mean is that since the fall man rests under the curse of sin, that he is actuated by wrong principles, and that he is wholly unable to love God or to do anything meriting salvation. His corruption is extensive but not necessarily intensive.
Further, God’s common grace can be more abundant to one people group than another people group so that the former group is indeed morally superior than the latter group. That common grace, in the end, makes the former group more ripe for judgment but total depravity does not make all men, cultures, or races, functionally or morally equal. Who would ever contend that the cannibal Korowai tribe from Indonesian New Guinea is on the same moral level as Victorian England? Yet, outside of Christ Victorian England perishes in its sins as much as the Korowai tribe does.
Now certainly when it comes to salvation sin levels us all in the sense that it makes all, outside of Christ, fit only for hell. However, total depravity does not mean that all people, nations, and cultures are equally functionally wicked.
“Now that doesn’t mean that any given people or any given nation is as depraved as it can be by God’s restraining grace. We know that sin is held in check but sin nevertheless does reign in each of us extensively. So where then could be our boasting? Sin becomes the great leveler of humanity.”
I quite agree that any boasting of any superiority, as if that superiority is not all of grace, is an indictment writ against the one doing the boasting.
“Sin is the great equalizer. We are all 100% depraved. What kind of deep-seated arrogance then, what kind of deep seated pride does it take to think that we, or our particular ethnicity, or our particular culture, or our particular language (whatever it is) is superior to another? You see sin, being the great leveler, renders all men under sin…. We are all equally depraved.”
The fact that all unregenerate peoples are depraved and so equally, spiritually shut out from God does not translate into all Nations are functionally equal. Japanese culture, as one example, is certainly superior to the Bush Men culture of Irian Jaya. Now, as outside of Christ, they are equal in being without God and without hope but that is not the same thing as saying that because of sin they are leveled in terms of ethnicity, race, or culture so that one is not superior to another.
RDC’s reasoning seems to make total depravity the handmaiden of cultural relativism. Total depravity, per RDC, is the great leveler of race, nations, and culture, therefore, no culture is superior or inferior to any other culture. The Reformed doctrine of total depravity does not teach functional egalitarianism.
There seems also to be a kind of double speak here again. On the one hand, sin is the great leveler, but on the other hand, earlier RDC admits that the Irish can be superior in making whiskey. The confusion here may be found in the fact that RDC keeps jumping the shark on categories. It is true that spiritually speaking all unregenerate people stand condemned before God but then there are times RDC wants to apply that category broadly so as to say, “therefore there is no functional superiority in terms of race, ethnicity, nations, cultures or languages.”
“The Gospel is also a great equalizer…. The Gospel teaches us that Christians especially must never regard themselves as …. superior over others. That is because the Gospel teaches us that was rent asunder at Babel has now been brought together and healed. What is more, since the Gospel means that God is the one who saved us, then we Christians stand on the same footing with one another before God, for we stand on Jesus Christ and in this sense there is equality…..”
Yes, we are equally saved by grace alone in Christ but that does not mean that are races or ethnicities are functionally equal. This would be to teach cultural or racial relativism. Cassidy has confused categories here. He wants to make a Redemptive equality of outcome in terms of any people and / or person looking to Christ to translate into a Creation equality of outcome in terms of culture and / or race. This is a category confusion. Many are the people that have come in from comparatively backward cultures and who will be in the New Jerusalem but that doesn’t mean their comparatively backward cultures, in the present, are equal to other clearly superior cultures.
RDC is correct when he says, in that last sentence above, “in this sense there is equality.” If he had stuck to the idea that Paul presents in Galatians 3:28f that temporal position or status doesn’t advantage or disadvantage one in terms of Redemption he would have been fine but RDC constantly wanders from that wonderful truth and seeks to apply it into functional realities.
Because RDC has muddied the waters earlier it makes his statement about “the Gospel being the great equalizer,” suspicious, if only because historically it has been the Anabaptists who were known as thoroughgoing socio-cultural “levelers” and “equalizers.” Historically the Anabaptists have believed that Jesus Christ is our great High Priest and Chief Leveler. Historically, the Reformed have always spoken out against Anabaptist socio-cultural levelers and equalizers.
And RDC is wrong about Christians never thinking themselves superior. Clearly St. Paul is making the case of his superiority of the more inferior false Apostles in II Corinthians 11. Now, Paul thinks it is folly that he is forced to do so, but there is no doubt that he is making a necessary case for his superiority in that passage.
The fact that Babel has not been brought together and healed the way the RDC thinks has been dealt with earlier, but I will note again here that all those nations walking around in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21-22) testify that the Church is a nation of nations and not Babel restored.
“God forbids that we would segregate in the Church. Peter tried that and Paul was very upset about it. We do not separate the people of God based on race or nationality. Ethnic churches while in one sense understandable are far from ideal. What is glorious however is when we see the people of God gather for worship and we see among the people of God many nations represented in her midst. That is Pentecost.”
1.) In Galatians., Paul was the one in favor of segregating in the Church. The Judaizers and Peter were arguing that in order to be justified one had to become a soci0-cultural Jew and keep the same laws. Paul, on the other hand, was reasoning that one could remain an ethnocultural Gentile and still be Christian. The Judaizers and Peter were the ones trying to force an integrated uniformitarian Church and Paul resisted them to their face and insisted that one could have a Gentile diet and be justified … Gentiles could be segregated and have their own Church. (see also Acts 15)
2.) Quotes that contradict RDC’s claim that “we do not separate the people of God based on race or nationality;
a.) (See opening quote by Abraham Kuyper)
b.) “Scripture, as I read it, does not require societies, or even churches, to be integrated racially. Jews and Gentiles were brought together by God’s grace into one body. They were expected to love one another and to accept one another as brothers in the faith. But the Jewish Christians continued to maintain a distinct culture, and house churches were not required to include members of both groups.”
“Racism, Sexism, Marxism”
c.) “As a matter of fact, the early church was segregated. First of all, in New Testament times it was segregated between the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers. And there was… a good reason for that. The Jewish believers were so far superior that to integrate the two would have meant more often confusion. And when you realize that in, say the Corinthian church, they didn’t even know that fornication or adultery was a sin because in the Greek world there was nothing wrong with that. After all the chambers of commerce in Greece and Corinth and elsewhere… in Corinth, the chambers of commerce maintained regularly around two thousand prostitutes for all visiting businessmen. It was a manufacturing town and so on… and no one thought there was anything immoral about that. Or about men having relations with prostitutes. This was all taken for granted. So in the Gentile churches, the moral standard was pretty low. It was a lot of hard work for a couple of generations and more to bring them up to any kind of standard. Well, the Jewish congregations represented a far higher moral standard and Paul saw nothing wrong with that, nor did any other apostle. So the principle of segregation was present there from the beginning.”
R. J. Rushdoony
Audio – On Segregation
God does not forbid segregating in the Church.