We continue to examine this article of Timothy L. Cho
Cho, produces the Image of God as Scriptural proof that “Racism” is not biblical. Cho in this proof finally gives us a definition of “Racism.” Cho offers,
“1. THE IMAGE OF GOD
In the opening verses of the Bible, we learn that the Creator of all things uniquely created humanity in His own image (Genesis 1:27). Inherent to humanity is image-bearing. It is actually inaccurate to say that people have the image of God, as though it’s something we have rather than who we are. It is more accurate, according to the Bible, to say that we are the image of God. What that means is that nothing can strip a person of that inherent dignity. Further, any attempt to ignore, hide, or demean that image-bearing is like smashing a portrait of God Himself. Racism is “a system of advantage based on race,” as Beverly Daniel Tatum states. Such a system directly attempts to contradict the inherent dignity that is due equally to every person. It is replying, “No, He didn’t,” to the Bible’s statement that God created humanity in His image and likeness.”
First, let us deal with Mr. Cho’s definition of “Racism,” as borrowed by Beverly Daniel Tatum, “a system of advantage based on race.” With this definition we learn that all love for family is an example of “Racism.” Think about it. A Father earns his paycheck. At the end of the week he buys shoes and groceries for his family (and not for every other family on the block) and so provides for his family. At that point per Choiand Tatum the Father is now a committed “Racist.” Family, and for that matter Marriage, is a system of advantage based on blood (Race). This definition is ridiculous and if genuinely serious is an attempt to completely destroy the family. So, we see that Cho’s definition of “Racism,” is obscenely vacuous. If this is the true definition of “Racism,” then all men should plead daily that God would grant them the gift of Racism.
Second, we are happy to conceded that all men, regardless of their race are image bearers of God.
Third, since Cho and Tatum’s definition of Racism is utter nonsense we therefore reject the idea that people who are of the same race are denying the inherent dignity of other races when families prefer their kin over and above the stranger or the alien. Indeed, Scripture requires that men uniquely provide for their own distinct people,
I Timothy 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Keep in mind that by Cho’s definition of Racism, St. Paul is a Racist given what he wrote to Timothy above.
So, the first Scriptural proof that Cho produces as proof against “Racism,” is utterly bankrupt.
Cho continues with his hilarious proofs from Scripture that “Racism” is sin,
2. MOSES’ CUSHITE WIFE
readers of the Bible fail to realize is that when God liberated the
Hebrews from their oppression in Egypt, many non-Hebrews joined them
in their sojourning (Exodus 12:38-39). This multitude was ethnically
distinct from the Hebrew people, and among them was a Cushite woman
whom Moses took as his wife (Numbers 12:1). “Cush,” in that time,
regularly referred to a large mass of land south of Egypt, meaning
that Moses’ wife was likely a Black African woman. Miriam and Aaron
speak against Moses because of this interracial marriage, but in
response, God curses Miriam with leprosy, making her “as white as
snow” (Numbers 12:10). The play on words is intentional and
striking. It’s as if God is saying, If you have a problem with the
Cushite woman’s dark skin, I’ll make you as white as snow,
Miriam. This account in the Bible is where the rubber really hits the
road. Often, a test of racism is how integrated you are willing to
have your life with those different from you. God’s curse on Miriam
is a clear sign that interracial marriage is not only approved in His
eyes but that any attempts to argue against it and an integrated life
are fundamentally cursed by God.
Mr. Cho’s exegesis suspect. The above turns on how we understand
Numbers 12. There we find that Moses marries a foreign wife but when
his sister and brother speak against Moses, God strikes Miriam with
leprosy and Aaron is not punished. How do we make sense of this? John
Calvin’s Commentaries provide the answer and helps us understand this
says Miriam (mentioned first in verse 1) stirred up her brother Aaron
and the two spoke out against Moses out of jealousy for the special
relationship their younger brother, Moses, had with God. God rebukes
them, for He chose Moses for a closer relationship than all the
prophets, as seen by God speaking face-to-face with Moses rather than
by visions. Rather than challenge Moses’ place, Miriam should have
instead been thankful that she was gifted to prophesy and Aaron
should have been thankful for the priesthood given to him and his
sons — both gifts given to them because of their relation to Moses.
God cursed Miriam with leprosy for instigating the rebellion and had
mercy on whom He would have mercy (i.e. – Aaron), perhaps because
of the priesthood. Seeing his sister’s leprosy, Aaron recognized the
punishment upon both himself and his sister (“us” verse
11). He was also forced to acknowledge the place of his younger
brother, Moses, by crying out to him for mercy: “my lord.”
was the foreign “Cushite” wife Moses married?
notion that Moses took a second “Cushite” wife comes from
the historian Josephus (Antiquities Chapter 10). Josephus claimed
that a young Moses living in Egypt had married a Ethiopian/Cushite
woman named Tharbis prior to fleeing Egypt and marrying Zipporah.
Irenaeus quotes Josephus here.
says “the Cushite” was not a second wife but Moses first
and only wife, Zipporah, the Midianite (descended from Abraham, Gen
25:2). Habakkuk 3:7 mentions together the “the tents of Cushan,”
and “the land of Midian,” showing the close relationship
between the names of those living in the region of Arabia. Augustine
and the many other commentators agree with this view. Cho is just in
error and this passage does not approve that Christians are more
noble if they have lots of minority friends above those dirty racist
Christians who only have friends from their own race.
appeals to Ruth as a Scriptural proof that Racism is a sin,
RUTH THE MOABITE
story of Ruth is often told like a Hallmark movie, but we miss out if
we neglect God’s love story underlying the love story between Ruth
and Boaz. It was the duty of Israelite men to act as
kinsman-redeemers when their relatives were found in dire straits.
Because of the death of Naomi’s husband and both of her
sons-in-law, both Naomi and Ruth were in a highly vulnerable state.
When the closest of kin is asked to act as kinsman-redeemer, he at
first agrees, but then changes his mind when he realizes that this
would involve marrying Ruth, a Moabite
woman. This man replaced the command of God to be a kinsman-redeemer
for his own ethnic comfort.
Boaz stands in his place as someone who loved God more than personal and social discomfort. The ending of the book tells us as well that in three generations in the line of Ruth comes King David (Ruth 4:18-22). This is profound because of a previous law that stated that no Moabite or any of their descendants for ten generations may be admitted to the assembly of the LORD (Deuteronomy 23:3). This tells us two things. First, the prohibition of Moabites entering into the assembly of God’s people was temporary, likely to ensure that God’s people would not commit heinous idolatry. Second, and most importantly, God intentionally bent His own law in order to prove the point that ethnic superiority is contrary to His will. Ruth – in all of who she is – is listed not only within the genealogy of the great King David but also the Greater King Jesus (Matthew 1:5).
Here once again Cho misinterprets Scripture though we will allow that this passages is hotly contested among scholars as to the exact identity of Ruth.
First, this is supposed to provide a proof against “Racism,” and yet even were Ruth a Moabite she was still of the same race as Boaz. They were both Shemites. They would’ve been of different ethnic lines within the Shemite race but they were of the same race. Therefore, even if Ruth and Boaz were married as Moabite and Hebrew their marriage would not have provided a proof against Racism.
Second, nowhere in the account of Ruth is the closest relative who refused Ruth condemned as being unfaithful to God or involved in sin by refusing Ruth or as someone who loved his comfort more or God less than Boaz.
Third, there are scholars who contend that Ruth was not even an ethnic Moabite. This claim may be counter-intuitive but there is biblical history which suggests that the Mobabites had long been destroyed before Ruth showed up in the land that was formerly Moab’s. In the history of this land Amorites under their King Sihon, wiped out the Moabites and occupied their land sending the Moabites into captivity (Number 21:29-30). At a future time Israel then pushed out the Amorites from this land just as the Amorites had earlier pushed out the Moabites (Numbers 21:33-35; Dt. 2:30-34). Israel then crossed the Jordan leaving to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh the land which had belonged to the Amorites and before that to the Moabites (Deut. 3:12-16; 29:7-8; Josh. 13:32) as those tribes requested land inheritance (Nu. 32). What all this tells us is that by the time of Ruth’s lifetime the Moabite people who remained were landless vagabonds. The land which had once belonged to the Mobabites remained known as the “land of Moab,” but the inhabitants were ethnic Israelis. This would mean that Ruth was, in point of fact, a descendant of Israel.
Then there are several passages in Ruth that would seem to confirm the idea that Ruth was an ethnic Israelite. In Ruth 2:20 we read,
Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!” And Naomi said to her, “This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives.”
This language seems to point to the reality that Ruth was not a Moabitess for how could Ruth have a close relative in Israel if she was a Moabitess? How could she have a Kinsman-Redeemer if she was not kin to Israel?
Ruth 3:13 Stay this night, and in the morning it shall be that if he will perform the duty of a close relative for you—good; let him do it. But if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the Lord lives! Lie down until morning.”
was a close relative of Ruth as was another man who had first crack
before Boaz. This forces us to say again that Ruth was not a
Moabitess since if she had been a Moabitess Boaz could not have been
her close relative.
Then there is the commandment of God that
Moabites were not allowed into the Temple to the 10th
generation. If Ruth was a Moabite then King David could not have
entered the Assembly since Ruth was only 3 generations prior to King
Deut. 23:3 “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever.
All of this is just to say that what Cho has provided does not prove that Scripture speaks against a system of advantage based on race (Racism).
Cho plods on to prove that the Bible speaks against a system of advantage based on race (Racism). Cho puts forth Jonah as his text proof,
4. JONAH’S RACISM “Jonah believed he knew better than God, but in this way, he demonstrated that he was deficient in knowing how much he himself needed grace. His ethnic protectionism blinded him from the scandal of grace.”
story that is well-known is that of Jonah. Though many may emphasize
Jonah and the big fish, what is often missing is the fact that
Jonah’s disobedience to God was at least in part racially
motivated. Jonah knew that God would be gracious and compassionate
and stop His hand from destroying the land of Nineveh if they
repented (Jonah 4:1-3). Nineveh was the capital of oppression to the
Israelite people. They were known for their immorality, tyranny, and
heinous actions against God’s people. In Jonah’s eyes, they were
beyond forgiveness. They were not only non-Israelites, but they were
anti-Israelites. If he followed God’s command to preach in Nineveh,
there was a chance that God would forgive them and they would be
brought to equal footing with His own people. To prevent what he
thought was the greatest nightmare imaginable, he disobeyed and ran.
Jonah believed he knew better than God, but in this way, he
demonstrated that he was deficient in knowing how much he himself
needed grace. His ethnic protectionism blinded him from the scandal
Contrary to Cho’s
are points for not calling Jonah “Racist.”
sin is not found in his putative “racism” but in his falling into
the sin of Rationalism. Jonah lifted his well intended reasoning
above God’s Revelation. God had told Jonah to go to Nineveh. That
is all Jonah needed in order to go. Instead Jonah reasoned that God
would be dishonored by his going to Nineveh and by the Assyrians
repentance. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh because he knew that
God would give repentance to Assyria (Nineveh) and Jonah reasoned
that would detract from God’s glory if the God haters who were not
God’s people repented while the Northern Kingdom who Jonah labored
in calling to repentance did not repent. Jonah understandably
believed that if those who were not God’s people repented it would
blacken God’s glory because those who were God’s people (Northern
Kingdom) did not repent. Jonah had labored all his life in Samaria
among his own people calling for repentance with no fruit. Those of
the Northern Kingdom were God’s people. It was there that
repentance should have been expected.
Jonah did not want “to be the instrument that God would use to
bring Nineveh to repentance, because such a action would make Jonah
look like a traitor to his own people. The rabbis held a similar
position. According to M. Avrum Ehrlich, many rabbis concluded that
“their actions (Nineveh’s repentance) would show the Hebrews to
be stiff-necked and stubborn.” Another Midrash explains that
“Jonah… chose to disobey God so as to save his own people.”
contrary to Cho’s modern evangelicalism’s knee jerk insistence that
Jonah was a racist, we might instead see Jonah, whose sin was not
Racism, as committing a sin of a rationalism that found Jonah lifting
his own ratiocination above God’s explicit command. Jonah’s sin
was born of two instincts gone wrong,
wrong headed desire to protect God’s glory that defied God’s
2.) A desire to protect his own people, born
of love now misguided, from being shamed
great affection of Jonah’s for his people is something that was
shared by others in God’s Revelation. Paul could say in Romans 9,
1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness in the holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness, and continual sorrow in mine heart. 3 For I would wish myself to be separate from Christ, for my brethren that are my kinsmen according to the flesh,
And Moses uttered this same desire, that somehow his death may be the propitiation for his people when he said in Exodus
32:32, “Therefore now if thou pardon their sin, thy mercy shall appear: but if thou wilt not, I pray thee, blot me out of thy book, which thou hast written.”
Will we also accuse St. Paul and Moses of Racism?
if we are going to fault Jonah, let us fault him for the proper
reason. Jonah’s fault was found not in some kind of 21st century
version of racism. Jonah’s fault was that he loved his conception
of God and God’s glory above the God of the Bible. Jonah was
zealous for God’s glory according to his fallen human reason as
opposed to being zealous for God’s glory according to God’s
command. Secondarily, Jonah’s fault was that he loved his own
people, just as Paul and Moses had done, above loving God’s
command. Jonah’s sin was the sin of a wrongly directed love.
Jonah’s sin was not the sin of a wrongly directed hate. Not wanting
to go to Nineveh had to do with Jonah’s falling into the same kind
of Rationalism that Adam and Eve fell into when they lifted their
reason above God’s command.
Jonah’s sin was not racism. Jonah’s sin was rationalism. Cho’s handling of the Jonah text is a mishandling of the text. Cho gives us eisegesis and then calls people who don’t agree with him “Racist.”
In part III we will conclude dismissing Timothy L. Cho’s charges of the Church’s “racism.”