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White Heresy

• Greg Boyd
Guest Panelists: Osheta Moore, Delon Smith

Why did Jesus die on the cross? The common response—to reconcile us to God—is only half of the answer. The other half, which is usually not preached in the white church, is to reconcile us to one another and creation.

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In this sermon, Greg asks and addresses the question: Why did Jesus have to die? In most Protestant circles, the answer is some variation of “to reconcile people to God.” While this is true, it only tells half of the story. Jesus died to reconcile us to God, but also to one another and to all creation. Colossians 1:19-20 says that God is working to reconcile all things in heaven, earth, under the earth.

The white American church has always been big on reconciling people to God, but not so much on reconciling people groups together or reconciling with creation. The failure to preach and live out the entire reconciling message has greatly contributed to race conflict in America today.

In Ephesians 2, we read that we are brought near by the self-sacrificial love of God on the cross. Among humans, this looks like Jews and Gentiles coming together. It is the formation of “one new humanity in Christ.” The cross has torn down ALL walls dividing humanity, making a new start with a new humanity.

This is best understood within the context of the sweep of the entire Scriptures. If we go back to Genesis, we see that alienation from God brings conflict between humans. In Genesis, the violence of humans brings destruction on themselves and nature, to the point that God starts over. This leads to the call of Abraham, out of whom God would raise up Israel as his chosen people. They were chosen to be the means by which God reached the entire world and reconciled the entire world. Israel is called to be a blessing to the nations, reuniting humanity, a point that is reiterated throughout the Old Testament.

Jesus is the embodiment of Israel. The people-versus-people hostility, the walls of judgment and the centuries of conflict come to an end through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Reconciliation is central to the biblical narrative. It is part of the atonement, which means that it is on same level as Jesus dying to reconcile us to God. To fail to preach and live out reconciliation is as heretical as not preaching or practicing forgiveness of sins.

Why have so many white Christians never heard this truth? In America, it was predominately white Christians who conquered and wiped out the indigenous population, enslaved millions of Africans, and promoted strategies to keep black and brown people out of power. It has been missed for the same reason that white leaders thought it was self-evident that all “men” are created equal. To them that meant “all white men.” It was self-evident that non-whites and non-males were not equal. Their Gospel was held captive to an assumed ideology of white supremacy.

It is time for the white church to repent. We must confess the failure of white church to proclaim and live out one of the central things for which Jesus died. This failure has fed the principality and power of white supremacy for 450 years in this land. It’s time for every predominantly white church to explicitly renounce this racist past and commit to moving in the opposite direction. This is not a liberal thing, a politically correct thing, or a trendy thing. It’s a Bible 101 thing!

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Topics: Controversial Issues, Kingdom of God, Reconciliation

Sermon Series: Race Conciliation

Downloads & Resources

Audio File
Study guide
Group Study Guide
Racism & Reconciliation: Learning Resources
The MuseCast : June 9

Focus Scripture:

  • Ephesians 2:11-18

    So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.

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6 thoughts on “White Heresy

  1. Dave says:

    I’m curious what your thoughts are on protesting abortion. Seems to me you could use the same argument that you laid out for your courageous stand in protesting. I’m all in with your message but in the last 10 years of podcasts you have not mentioned the murder of the unborn and born.

    1. Paige Slighter says:

      Hey Dave,
      Here’s how we feel as a church: While not endorsing any particular political position or politician as a Church, we affirm on the basis of Scripture the preciousness of life in the womb. On this basis we commit ourselves to encouraging and assisting women to go through with their pregnancy, while also committing ourselves to graciously assist in the healing process of women who have chosen otherwise.

      Greg gives some more personal insight here: https://reknew.org/2012/10/qa-what-is-your-stance-on-abortion/

      Thanks for your question.
      – Paige from the Communications Team

  2. Ron says:

    Greg, I love your heart and I love your ministry. I really appreciate the compassion you have for all men. I wish more people where like you in that regard. I can’t say how deeply I’m saddened and sickened by what happen to George Floyd. His murder is inexcusable and those officers need to punished to the full extent of the law. No human being should ever have to go through that kind of abuse especially from the police who are charged with the mandate to serve and protect…it’s so painful, as all injustice is. However, as we all digest this, I do wonder where your outrage is of how under the “Black Lives Matter” movement our streets and our cites have become war zones! Why don’t you at least mention the pain that has been caused by this movement? As you address the injustice that’s been done to our black and brown brothers and sisters, (that breaks my heart) shouldn’t you also spend a little time recognizing those business owners who have been beaten, bloodied and even killed! How about the police officers who have been beaten and maimed for life and even killed! Doesn’t their lives matter too? How about the small business owners who’ve had their family businesses burn down to the ground and destroyed and will never be able to recover. Don’t they too deserve a mention and as you give penance to the white mans past? This isn’t the first time this has happened in our streets and all I hear from you on these issues is crickets it seems! When will we hear from you and your pastoral staff both white and black that the melt down of the American family, the lack of personal responsibility being taught within the home, fatherless and the poor education systems in black and brown communities have actually lead to so much of what we’re seeing in the streets today. This uprising isn’t so much about our past sins as horrible as they were. It’s much more about our present ones! The fact is, we will never move ahead looking back! We need to face the day we are in and make some real changes right now. I’d love to hear a sermon that takes into account the importance of personal responsibility for our own personal state and condition. A sermon talks about building a strong spiritual foundation in your children at an early age and the importance of accountability within the home! Talk about the consequences of letting children raise themselves and hanging out in the streets! If we had done this, much of what we see today would be nonexistent in many communities in my humble opinion. Also, shouldn’t every believer in Christ be taught their identity and worth isn’t in their skin color but in Christ alone! Shouldn’t they be taught that they died with Christ and are new creations now in Christ ! That they are all sons and daughters of Almighty God! And if that’s the case, then why on earth is race an issue at all within the church? It shouldn’t be! The bible knows nothing of a black church or a white church or a brown church, that’s some concoction that men have created for their own advantage and desires. The bible only recognizes new creations. That’s what the book of Acts is all about, the struggle of learning to see all believers in Christ, not by race or gender! We need a more balanced approach here. Sometimes our pain can shew our perspective and cloud our message. We all need to represent the kingdom of God, period! The Church is a place of refuge for all men. And in the church we no-longer are identified by our past or our ethnicity but by our union with Christ alone! Now that’s good news! It’s so refreshing and so liberating!
    Love you brother! Keep up the good work! Love your books!

    1. Emily says:

      Hi Ron,
      Thanks for your feedback. We created a FAQ page (whchurch.org/race-conciliation-faqs/) that helps elaborate our perspective. We hope this helps address some of the issues you raise.
      -Emily from the Communications Team

  3. Ron says:

    2 Cor. 5:16 (NKJ) “16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.

  4. Matthew says:

    As a white male, I´m just wondering how for so many years I really missed this point. I was actively involved in evangelical and mainline churches of different sorts for years and never did I ask myself why I can only remember one person of color out of all the people I came to know in those circles. I just started asking this question a few years ago. I´m beginning to get some answers. Thanks Greg.

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