In the light of the teaching of the Scriptures, particularly the visions of Revelation 13, we have been examining various aspects of signs of the times as they become manifest in society. We have stressed the idea that in order for the antichristian kingdom to become a reality, there must be, as much as possible, uniformity in society, and a general equality among mankind. We have looked at two social phenomena or movements that clearly point in this direction, the women’s liberation movement and the gay rights movement. In harmony with the theme of this series of articles, we now turn our attention to another factor in the growing trend toward unity in society, namely racism.
This darker side of our society (and others) is known variously as class struggle, at least when the emphasis falls upon economically-based distinctions, or sometimes as intergroup conflict. But whatever its name, racism in whatever form consists of conflict between various groups in society based upon noticeable physical or cultural differences between those groups. Though it has assumed many forms in the course of history, in our day its most common form is discrimination because of race or national origin. Thus, in America, the most common objects of racism are blacks, persons of Spanish descent, such as Mexicans or Puerto Ricans, and American Indians. Together these groups make up about 16% of our population, which makes them a definite minority, and likely candidates for discrimination. This discrimination, or differential treatment of such persons due to their characteristics, takes the form of job or employment discrimination, of educational discrimination, of economic discrimination, and sometimes of religious discrimination, as well as discrimination in housing and in the administration of justice. In all of these areas these minorities are inferior: they are usually at the bottom of the job ladder, are more poorly educated than whites, are over-represented in the category of those who are poor, have been relegated to substandard housing in big-city ghettos, and often do not receive fair treatment in the courts of the land.
That all of these facts are true has been demonstrated repeatedly, so that no lengthy proof is required here. And that all of this discrimination in its various forms has caused sometimes violent upheavals in American society is also well known. That the whole American way of life has been affected by an awareness of racism is also clear. One need only have lived during the 1960’s to be conscious of these truths; during that time especially the news media were literally full of news concerning racism and efforts to overcome it. And the same is true today, though perhaps on a lesser scale, as is witnessed by the continuing controversy over school busing in many cities across the land.
The causes of racism are many and complex. Some would argue that the distinction between classes and the resulting differential treatment of them is due to economic factors. Others argue that it is due to cultural patterns which have been ingrained through many generations. Still others look for the cause along the lines of various psychological theories. It is not my intention to try to enumerate all of these theories, or to evaluate their worth or truthfulness. Nor is it appropriate here to moralize or to preach concerning our attitude towards racism as manifested in our society. And surely anyone who knows anything about the history, causes, and manifestations of racism in all its intricacies will not attempt to offer any instant panacea for it. At bottom, of course, racism is rooted in the hatred of the natural man, hatred against God, but hatred which shows itself in maltreatment of his fellow man. And the only real cure for any form of hatred is the love of Christ in the heart.
But the significant thing is not racism itself, nor even its causes. After all, the differences between the races are God-ordained, and of long standing; the distinctions can be traced all the way back to Babel and the confusion of languages. And to the Christian the hatred that is evident in society is no surprise either in the light of what the Scriptures have to say about the nature and results of sin. The history books are full of wars, persecutions, and atrocities by one people against another, a scenario which will not change appreciably until the end of time. The conclusion must not be drawn from all of this that racism is justified (this reasoning has been used); the conclusion is that conflict between groups in society, whether within nations or between nations, is a reality of life today, as it always has been.
The significant thing in this whole matter of racism in relationship to the signs of the times is the attempt to overcome and eradicate it. To modern man racism is intolerable; it is a blot on the record of human history, and an embarrassing reminder of the failure of “civilized” man to live with his fellow man. And therefore it must be eliminated if at all possible; no expense or trouble must be spared. And particularly since the last decade, when man became highly conscious of this problem, it has occupied center stage in the drama of human endeavor. Today we hear a great deal about the relations between the developed and wealthy nations of the world and the Third World nations. The nations of the world freely give of their advice to such countries as Ireland and South Africa. Stories of genocide originate from Southeast Asia regularly. All the world knows of the nationalistic and cultural violence in the Middle East. And the President of the United States is now embarked on a campaign for human rights throughout the world.
But this same pattern may be seen in our own country. When reading history books one would think that racism was dead after the Civil War, for both by war and by subsequent legislation the- black minority was made equal to the white majority, cf. the Thirteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875. But racism was not dead at all; it flourished for almost one hundred years, especially under the doctrine of “separate but equal.” Then came 1954, when the Supreme Court decided that the principle of separate but equal was unconstitutional with specific application to educational opportunities. After this decision was enforced by the federal government by the use of the military, and after mounting pressure from civil rights groups, another civil rights act was passed in 1959 and another in 1960, both of which were aimed at protecting voting rights of all peoples. Then came the 1960’s and with them, rapid and drastic change. The black power movement arose and exerted considerable influence in American society, and various committees and organizations sprang up, all seeking equality in various ways. Largely in response to all of this, discrimination in housing, in jobs, in education, and in voting was outlawed, cf. especially the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968. Many government programs were initiated to help minorities: Medicare and Medicaid, Job Corps, Model Cities, Head Start Program, Urban Renewal programs, National Health Centers, and Neighborhood Youth Corps are just a few examples. More recently, the courts have decreed equality of opportunity and integration by means of the busing of children to various schools in the cities of the land. It is now illegal, in fact as well as in theory, to discriminate against anyone because of his race, creed, or national origin.
What is striking is that all of these laws and programs are efforts to eliminate racism. But even more significant is the underlying assumption that there should not be any differences between races. If this were not true, then there would be no reason for the prohibition of all discrimination. The goal bf man today is to make everyone equal in every way possible. And therein lies one of the signs of the times. Equality, uniformity, are necessary for the success of the antichristian world power. If all the peoples of the world are to be truly united, willingly and voluntarily, under the universal dominion of antichrist, then it is above all else needful that they be as much as possible the same. We are seeing before our very eyes an overt and flagrant attempt to bring about that kingdom as soon as possible. And in the context of the beast who had the deadly wound that was healed (Revelation 13) this attempt to overcome the God-ordained division of Babel shall be for a time apparently successful; all outward differences among the peoples of the world shall be overcome to the point that they will unite under the headship of antichrist. This ungodly union will, of course, exclude the people of God, who will be the objects of the most violent persecution in the history of the world. But according to Revelation, this spurious union will dissolve, for once more nation will rise against nation and people against people, and their hatred will culminate in the final battle of Armageddon, which will signal the destruction of this world, the return of Christ, and the salvation of His elect people.
What then should be our stance regarding all of this? As Christians, faithful to the Scriptures, we believe that there are essentially only two kinds of people, namely, believers and unbelievers. This implies that we are not trapped into some version of the social gospel, nor devote our time and efforts in cooperation with the attempts to obliterate racism in the world, but instead that we live as citizens of the heavenly kingdom. Solving the problems of the world is not the church’s business, contrary to the popular opinion today. Rather, our calling as Reformed Christians is to seek the company of believers, and to be discriminating on the proper basis of the principle of a true faith and walk. Then matters of race are of little importance, for in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek. And our calling is to read the sign of the attempted amalgamation of the peoples of the world, and in the light of the imminence of the kingdom of antichrist, to seek the heavenly country and city.