“The ancient fathers… were concerned that the ties of kinship itself should not be loosened as generation succeeded generation, should not diverge too far, so that they finally ceased to be ties at all. And so for them it was a matter of religion to restore the bond of kinship by means of the marriage tie before kinship became too remote—to call kinship back, as it were, as it disappeared into the distance.”
Augustine; Bishop Of Hippo (A.D. 354 – 430)
City of God, book XV, Chpt. 16
At the below link we find a sermon that I was directed to by the Minister who preached the sermon. It is my conviction that it is not faithful to the Scriptures on a subject that is of grave importance. I trust that will become evident as we examine Rev. Cassidy’s sermon.
I have not transcribed the whole sermon. I provide the link in case anybody desires to examine whether I have cherry picked the sermon. I have no intent to be unfair to Rev. Cassidy or to bushwhack him. Anything I have left off from the sermon I left off because I thought it repetitive or I thought it not germane to the issues at hand.
I do not know Rev. Cassidy. I have never talked to him or interacted with him. I know one person who knows him and that person tells me that Rev. Cassidy is a good man. I will take my friend at his word. Otherwise, fine people can be mistaken on different subjects. I know I have been in the past. I would have hated for people to have completely written me off just because of some inconsistency in my theology or life. Still, this subject matter requires a response.
Rev. Dr. Cassidy (hereinafter RDC) preached,
“Paul’s attitude then, as must be the attitude of every Christian, is that of a servant towards others…. Now how can we do that — how is it possible that one can serve others, how is it possible that we can think our minds as being the servants of others when we regard our race as superior to theirs, whatever race that might be.”
First, RDC seems to assume that different views on races besides his automatically translate into some kind of supremacist attitude. We will see RDC making this connection repeatedly in this sermon. We need to insist at the beginning that this is not a necessary connection. One can affirm that God has ordained the distinct races and nations without at the same time embracing any kind of supremacism.
Second, I would ask, “why is it that knowledge of non-ontological racial superiority is impossible to co-exist with a servant’s heart.” Who can argue against the reality that when the Christian Western White man went to Africa to bring Christ to Africa that the White man’s race was superior in a myriad of ways, in a non-ontological sense? And yet clearly the White man had a servant’s heart as seen in his sacrifice to bring the Gospel to Africa.
This is not necessarily an argument that any one race is superior to another in a totalistic sense. All races have the superiorities and inferiorities when compared to other races. It is an argument insisting that thinking one’s race is superior is not inconsistent with having a servant’s heart contra to RDC’s assertion.
Albert Schweitzer, Liberal Missionary extraordinaire, spent a career in Gabon serving sundry African people all the while believing his race was superior. Schweitzer wrote in his, “The Primeval Forest”
” A word in conclusion about the relations between the whites and the blacks. What must be the general character of intercourse between them? Am I to treat the black man as my equal or as my inferior? I must show him that I can respect the dignity of human personality in everyone, and this attitude in me he must be able to see for himself; but the essential thing is that there shall be a real feeling of brotherliness. How far this is to find complete expression in the sayings and doings of daily life must be settled by circumstances. The negro is a child, and with children, nothing can be done without the use of authority. We must, therefore, so arrange the circumstances of daily life that my natural authority can find expression. With regard to the negroes, then, I have coined the formula: “I am your brother, it is true, but your elder brother.” — Albert Schweitzer
We need not agree with Schweitzer to see that he is an example that contradicts RDC’s claim that it is not possible to think one’s race as superior while still retaining a servant’s heart.
Third, Scripture teaches that all races are ontologically equal. That is to say that we are equal in our being, having all descended from a common set of parents. Scripture does not teach that all races – nations are functionally (economically) equal. In point of fact, economic equality as applied to human relations is a surd. No two men, no two nations, no two races are equal in a functional sense. Equality in a non-ontological sense is an idea imported from mathematics. Human relations are not mathematics. As such superiority is an inescapable category as can be seen in the confidence of Egalitarians who view themselves as superior to inferior people who do not embrace their egalitarianism.
Fourth, our Lord Christ himself communicated a racial superiority in Scripture when he dealt with the Syrophoenician woman (Matthew 15). Christ revealed His priority of love for His own when He referred to the non-Israelite Syrophoenician woman as a “dog,” in comparison to His people, who He referred to in His response to the woman as “the children.” Would any of us fault our Lord Christ claiming superiority while yet remaining a servant?
“The One people now become many peoples…. From this one nation (at Babel) many nations arise because of the curse of God on rebellious humanity.”
We need to slow down a little bit here. I am willing to concede that the concrete nations arise out of Babel. However, I am not willing to concede that the Nations as Nations were a curse.
When we look at Genesis 9 we get a sense of embryonic Nations that God always intended to flower. What I am saying is that the dividing of Shem, Ham, and Japheth in cursing and blessing implies, at the very least, the nations which would later arise in connection with God’s actions at Babel. Noah had to understand that by blessing Shem with early dominance, and then Japheth with latter dominance, and no blessing upon Ham except that his children would be servants, he was clearly segregating them after a fashion.
If we are going to use the language of “cursing” in reference to Babel we must at the same time use the language of “blessing.” It was the blessing of God to not allow rebellious mankind to build a unipolar world in opposition to Him. The blessing of Babel is further articulated in Acts 17 when we read the purpose of Babel was,
26 And he (God) made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.
Clearly, the division of the nations was a blessing with a salvific goal. Since God always had in mind the end he ordained from the beginning we must conclude that Nations were always intended by God.
“Come the new covenant — the day of Pentecost particularly — that curse is reversed. All the Nations (at Pentecost) begin speaking each other’s languages. And we see something significant in Acts 2, the many peoples become one people. The many Nations become one Nation in Jesus Christ. That is the Church…. they are reconciled to God and they are reconciled to one another.”
First here, I have to believe that RDC did not really mean to say “all the nations begin speaking each other’s languages. ” Clearly, the nations did not begin speaking each other’s languages. A quick perusal of Acts 2 reveals that.
Secondly, what is reversed at Pentecost is not the existence of nations. If the existence of nations is what was to be reversed at Pentecost then what we would have expected is that all the nations would have been hearing in the same tongue. Instead, Babel and the nations are sanctified at Pentecost with the differing nations hearing God’s word each in their own tongue.
So, we do not see what RDC sermonizes that we see. What we see is that each Nation as a Nation receives the Gospel in their own tongue thus teaching that the many peoples remain many peoples (diversity) but finding a unity (not uniformity) in that diversity in Christ. Acts 2 actually teaches the very opposite of what RDC preached. Acts 2 teaches that the existence of Nations as Nations remains.
Thirdly, it is true that there is reconciliation but this reconciliation is a spiritual reconciliation. The old animosities and hatreds are removed because the peoples have a oneness in Jesus Christ. However, we find nowhere in Scripture where this spiritual oneness requires an amalgamated ethnic and cultural oneness. Contemporary Reformed theologians have underscored this,
“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”
And finally, on this point, (and we will return to this point repeatedly) the presence of the Nations in the book of Revelation gives testimony that the “curse was not reversed,” at Pentecost.
21:24 By its (The Temple) light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,… 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.
22:2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life[g] with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.