Volume 9, Issue 1: Disputatio
Christianity and Race
Douglas Wilson and Charles Weisman
Are white people the chosen people of God? Does Scripture prohibit racial intermarriage? Or are white racialists devoted to modern idols of science and history? The issues of race and race relations are broadly discussed today. But is Scripture clear on the issue? In our current debate, the editor of Credenda/Agenda, Douglas Wilson, and Charles Weisman discuss whether white racialism can be supported from Scripture. Charles Weisman is an author, researcher, and publisher on subjects such as law, government, history, race, Judaism, Bible studies and theology, money, and taxes. Some of the books he has written include: The Origin of Race and Civilization; America: Free, White and Christian; A Handbook of Bible Law; The De Facto Government of the United States; and Who is Esau-Edom.
DW: While white racialists often make their appeal using scriptural terms and names, they tend to argue from an appeal to the modern idols of "history" or "science." In this respect they have a great deal in common with the leftist secularists of our age. Careful exegetical handling of Scripture is, to put it mildly, not their strong suit. For example, Moses had a black wife descended from Cush, the son of Ham (Num. 12:1). Miriam objected to the woman's presence in the camp, and God chastised her sharply for it. And although her resultant leprosy made her a good deal whiter than she had been before (v. 10), this was hardly taken as a blessing.
CW: God's creation was "kind after kind" and He called it "very good" (Gen. 1). The term "kind" means species or race. While all of nature verifies this principle, the opponents of Identity desire to ignore God's word and work and develop their own humanistic order. We thus often hear them say things like "Moses had a black wife" (Num. 12:1). Bible authorities know that "Arabia" is spoken of in this verse (see Matthew Henry's Commentary). When Moses lived "the present Ethiopia was unknown and uninhabited" (Lamsa, Old Testament Light, p. 15). The wife of Moses was from the original Ethiopia in Mesopotamia (Gen. 2:13; 2 Chr. 21:16). She thus was of the same race as Abraham.
DW: The issue is not the woman's latitude and longitude, but rather the basis of her race--her ancestry. The Hebrew makes it plain that she was a Cushite--descendant of Cush. The Septuagint renders it as Aithiopisses, which is a compound word referring to dark faces. This makes me even more interested in the grounds you have for identifying the "kinds" of Genesis with evolutionary taxonomy. In Genesis the word for "kind" is miyn, and is applied to the creatures and their ability to reproduce. According to your understanding of Genesis, do a black lab and a German shepherd belong to different kinds, or the same kind? They sure look different, at least to me.
CW: In biblical exegesis, it is important to understand that words, meanings, languages and nations change with time. The Greek word for Cush possessed the connotation of "dark" and referred to people south of Egypt. But you cannot apply a more contemporary Greek definition to ancient Hebrew words. The word Cush never meant dark in Hebrew, and was "connected to Kish in Babylonia" (Unger's Bible Handbook). How many Negroes were in Babylonia at the time of Moses? None! Therefore location and time periods are relevant in the question of race in Num. 12. Words must be put in their proper historical context. The word "species" existed long before the concept of evolution, and is a well understood term.
DW: You are correct that "species" is a well-understood term. But you cannot have it both ways. Asked about black labs and German shepherds, you appeal to the generally-understood definition of the word. Then, dealing with Caucasians and Negroes you want to use the word in an entirely unique sense. Which way do you want it? Are white men and black men members of different species or not, and how can you possibly show this from Genesis? In context, Genesis establishes "kinds" according to reproductive capacity. And by the way, the woman Moses married was named Tharbis, princess of an African city on the upper Nile named Saba (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book II/Chap. x).
CW: That the word "kind" means "species" is undeniable (see Strongs, Gesenius, Youngs). Species means a specific type or entity created by God regardless of its similarity to other types. It is equivalent to the term "race." There are species of man and species of dog. I have never used the term any other way. Species or kind does not refer to reproductive capacity, any more than do the terms race, tribe or clan. The term describes a biological type, not a biological function. It was only God's intent that the kinds He created reproduce with their own kind. Reproductive capacity is not a test of species. Also, the wife of Moses was named Zipporah (Exod. 2:21).
DW: Okay, so the "term describes a biological type." Please show from Scripture the criteria and boundaries of such types. You hold that blacks and whites belong to different species, with no scriptural support given thus far. If the standard is not reproduction, which is clearly mentioned in Genesis (e.g. 1:11-12), then what is the standard? Please distinguish (scripturally) whites and whites with a black great-grandmother. What standard for "biological types" are you using? If it is scriptural, then give the exegesis. If it is not scriptural, then my original charge stands, i.e. that you appeal to modern idols of history or science. So Zipporah was a Cushite in your reckoning? Here I thought she was a Midianite.
CW: God commanded Israel not to mix or hybridize the different kinds (species) of plants and animals (Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:9). He also told them not to mix with other racial types or alien women (Deut. 7:1-3; Ezra 9:1-2,12; 10:10-11). This proves that different kinds can reproduce but that it was not God's plan. Hybrids are the doing of man, not nature. God created black and white and said all of His creation was "good" or appropriate as is (Gen. 1:31). It is the humanists, antichrists, United Nations, etc., which want to disrupt God's order and have all races be as "one," reminiscent of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:6). What is your standard for having the different races be as one?
DW: When one can't answer a question, he can still ask a few of his own. Please note first that you have not given us scriptural criteria for defining the boundaries of species. God told them not to marry outside the covenant; race was not the issue. When false gods were rejected, intermarriage was acceptable--see Rahab (Matt. 1:5), Ruth (Matt. 1:5), Zipporah (Ex. 2:21), and a beautiful captive woman (Dt. 21:1-14). Without scriptural criteria, how do you know that God created white and black at the very first? The bluehelmets want one world under their tomfool gods. We preach one world under Christ, our only standard. In Him, every nation comes together (Rev. 5:9).
CW: Zoology and ethnology are common Bible subjects. The Bible lists by name many species of plants, animals and humans. The Israelites knew what the "boundaries of species" were and we know today. Negroes are not mentioned in Scripture, but you apparently want someone to show you a verse that says Negroes and whites are different kinds or you are not going to believe it. By that reasoning one cannot say gorillas and chimpanzees are different species because Scripture does not mention them. That's nonsense. What do you think is the origin of the races? The issue is race, not covenants. Israel could not marry Hittites because they were of a different race, as archeological records attest.
DW: Identifying a biblical distinction between gorilla and chimpanzee is not necessary because no ethical claims are connected to it. But all ethical requirements must be supported by Scripture. Scripture does not prohibit racial intermarriage the way you do, and Scripture does not give criteria by which the "prohibited" races may be identified. Following your example I could, on my own authority, forbid the intermarriage of natives of Canada and the United States. The races originated because God confused human languages at Babel, and people began to marry within their own language group. If the issue is race, not the covenant, then how do you explain the scriptural examples of intermarriage which I gave earlier?
CW: If a chimpanzee and a gorilla are different creations of God, then it would be unethical for us, pursuant to Leviticus 19:9, to cause them to intermix and produce a hybrid primate. There is no evidence that "Rachab" of Matt. 1:5 is the "Rahab" of Josh. 2:1. Many Moabites at the time of Ruth were racially kindred to the Israelites. Deut. 21:10-14 pertains to captives in wars among Israelites (i.e. Judges 20 & 21) or kindred types. Notice the contrary directive given in regards to other races in Deut. 20:16-18. If God somehow caused the different races at Babel by giving the people different languages and separating them from one another, what is your ethical grounds for undoing God's order by integration and interracial marriage?
DW: I am glad to see you have better success distinguishing the chimp and gorilla than you did with the black lab and German shepherd. The hybrid laws are in the same category as the dietary laws, i.e. part of the "law of commandments contained in ordinances" which were abolished in the cross (Eph. 2:14). So why do you oppose biblical integration? The church at Antioch was integrated in its eldership (Acts 13:1). One of their elders was Simeon called Niger, or Simeon the Black. But this integration was done freely, organically, in Christ. So we oppose all humanistic coercive integration. The great blessing at Pentecost was God's reversal of Babel. Only the Lord Christ brings unity.
CW: Matthew Henry states that the "ordinances" (Eph. 2:15) were "the ceremonial law," which did not include the food laws and hybridity laws. The basis for these laws is grounded in nature, and will never change unless God changes the nature of the things involved. That Simeon was called Niger no more makes him a Negro than does Peter's name make him a rock. If Pentecost was "God's reversal" of what you said happened at Babel, then all races became "one" race again. The whole idea is preposterous as languages have nothing to do with race. Pentecost was a gathering of Israelites dispersed in other lands. Peter addresses them as, "Ye men of Israel" (Acts 2:22). Pentecost was not a multiracial assembly.
DW: The ceremonial law does not include the dietary laws? But when God declared unclean animals clean, He makes the very point you contest. You call unclean what God has declared clean (Acts 10:15). To make matters worse, in keeping the dietary restrictions, you have erased His picture of cleansing both Hamites and us Japethites. What next? Are you going to say our bacon is really the ten lost tribes of beef? When a stone is thrown into a pond, the waves move outward concentrically. Pentecost was that stone, and the waves moved through Judea (Acts 2), to the Samaritan half-breeds (Acts 8), and to the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 10; Mark 16:15). Glory!
CW: The function of ceremonial law was to point to Christ and His atoning sacrifice for sin. When the antitype came, the types were no longer needful. Neither the food laws nor hybridity laws were typical of the salvation, redemption or justification perfected by Christ. In Acts 10, Peter is tested for his willingness to preach to the nations. He tells of a vision he had of different creatures which represent the nations. That men are the subject is clear from v. 28. It is not about actual food! All of this causes me to wonder why so much truth (history, science, God's laws, Scripture) must be nullified or distorted to support the humanistic concept that all races are one.
DW: The method you have employed throughout our discussion is this: you appeal to a common definition of a word (e.g. species), and use that common understanding as the reason you do not have to answer any questions about it. That accomplished, you then use the same word with a completely unique definition. This is the fallacy of equivocation. You are quite right that men are in view in Acts 10. Are blacks not men? The dietary and hybridity laws were typical of salvation--the key distinction between holy and profane was taught in them. You deny God has made from one blood every nation among men (Acts 17:26). This is the fallacy of not believing God.