Committee On Problems Of Race

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church: Against Racism by Shane Anderson

racism opc.png

In 1974 the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) received the report of its Committee On Problems Of Race.

This report, the Bible (which is the OPC’s official primary standard), and the Westminster Confessions and Catechisms (the OPC’s secondary standards) all reject the sins commonly referred to under the term “racism.” Additionally, both the good news of Christ which is for all people and nations and the law of God, given in creation and again summarized plainly in the Ten Commandments, call all Christians to love our neighbors as we love ourselves and to live in such a way that the world can vividly see the love of Christ by the way we treat people.

Studying the people, doctrines, and practices of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, one will see that the overarching question for this small communion of Christians has been, by God’s grace, “how can we be faithful to God according to His Word and so bring Christ glory?” This impulse fueled the work of the 1974 Committee On Problems Of Race, and the General Assembly’s concern that the churches live out this mission of faithfulness in matters of race relations:

Although there are marked distinctions and even divisions among men, including those of race, mankind, according to the teaching of the Bible, has a single origin. Later distinctions and divisions are indeed significant and may not simply be pushed aside; nevertheless, the Bible clearly teaches that the gospel is universal in its offer and its call. All those who are in Christ are united together with Him as their Head in a new humanity, in which the distinctions and divisions that otherwise separate men are transcended in a new unity. This is also true of the divisions occasioned by race. True, the distinctions mentioned in the Bible as having been overcome in Christ are not primarily those of race, nor does the Bible think along lines that correspond with the distinctions of race as we understand them today; nevertheless, racial distinctions and divisions as we know and understand them today certainly fall under those things that have been transcended in Christ. How, then, is the new unity in Christ to be expressed in the communion of the saints today as it bears on the question of race?

In a world marked by violence, bigotries, self-centeredness, injustice, anger, and all manner of sins surrounding matters of race, the Bible presents an ethic of love for God and neighbor according to his law. This law has never been followed perfectly in Christ’s church, and it sometimes has been directly contradicted by what Christians (including Presbyterians) have taught or done. But, let it be clear to the fair observer, the Orthodox Presbyterian church is no refuge for those who want racial strife, but it has been a refuge for those who want to live lives pleasing to God and good for our neighbors.

Also See: Mark Robinson’s article in the OPC New Horizons magazine “Four Theses for Reforming Race Relationships”

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