Christ understood what many of us do not – that our fundamental problem isn’t the systems or structures under which we live as a society. They are merely symptoms of the problem. Our problem is our soul. Which is why the gospel is so necessary in the first place (Rom. 1:16; Eph. 2:1-9). When all has been said and done, unless and until you and I, as individuals, begin to recognize not only that racism exists but why it exists, we will continue to regard it as an ex nihilo phenomenon produced ‘out there somewhere’, when the problem lies much closer – within us.
According to the website space.com, in science, the Big Bang Theory is, “the leading explanation about how the universe began. At its simplest, it says the universe as we know it started with a small singularity, then inflated over the next 13.8 billion years to the cosmos that we know today.”
Similar to the scientific view of the origins of the universe, there are those today who have a ‘Big Bang’ view of racism.
Like the reality of the universe itself, they acknowledge the existence of racism – though the definition of ‘racism’ varies greatly – but that existence is purely the result of uncaused “singularities” that are external to the individual displaying such a sinfully prejudiced disposition. Consequently, racism, with its myriad definitions and interpretations, is spoken of primarily, though not exclusively, as systemic or global with regard to its origins as opposed to being intrinsic or individual in nature.
This is important to note as over the past several decades, the strategies and tactics employed to ‘fight’ racism have largely been directed at the structures which many perceive to be representative of a culture of systemic racism rather than the attitudes that gave rise to those structures to begin with.
But structures are not formed from nothing. Discriminatory practices, whether institutional or not, do not come into existence by virtue of a series of serendipitous or autonomous convergences of ideological and philosophical singularities.
Like many who subscribe to the notion that the universe – with all its intricate and unfathomable complexities – was formed ex nihilo, adherents of “Big Bang Racism” believe racism to be the result of forces and influences that are external to human nature. In other words, it is the systems and structures themselves that result in people’s racist attitudes and behaviors as opposed to the other way around. Which is why many today place a higher value on transferring monuments than transforming hearts (Rom. 12:2).
The argument I am positing is often a point of consternation for Christian social justice advocates, many of whom deem it of more missional benefit to protest what is wrong with “the system” than to preach what is wrong with us. But such was also the case during Jesus’ earthly ministry.
There were people then who, convinced that Jesus was the agent of socio-political change for whom they had been waiting – and praying – made the eternal mistake of seeing Him as their king and not their Messiah, never realizing that to whatever extent “the system” under which they lived was corrupt or unjust, it was merely a reflection of the innately sinful human beings who comprised “the system”.