I read with great interest and delight "Enlightened Racism: Not from the Bible," CT's review of Colin Kidd's book, The Forging of Races:Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000.
The central premise of the book is captured in these paragraphs from the review:
Colin Kidd's well-researched, wide-ranging, and insightful book, The Forging of the Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000, demolishes such assumptions when it comes to the issue of race. Kidd's persuasive and learned monograph is no gloating work of Christian apologetics. If anything, he seems slightly embarrassed by how well orthodox Christianity comes out in his narrative, trying to tone it down with mitigating statements calculated to make the accounts look more balanced than they actually are. What are in fact the obvious conclusions from his evidence repeatedly appear coyly as questions. Kidd also has a habit of using refracted or muted language.
Nevertheless, there is no effective way to offset the decisive direction in which his evidence takes us. Even the Old Testament—that vast, stagnant pond in which all manner of offensive viewpoints are supposed to lurk—offers no support to racists. Kidd admits this candidly: "the Bible is itself colour-blind with regard to racial difference." Racists have often quoted Scripture when expounding their views, but Kidd observes that they imported these racial readings into the text rather than finding them there. The New Testament teaches unequivocally that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men" (Acts 17:26 KJV). In traditional scientific terms, this is a denial of polygenism and an assertion of the monogenesis of the human race (thus all homo sapiens should consider each other as part of their extended family). Monogenesis is by no means a self-evident hypothesis. Traditional cultures uninfluenced by the biblical narrative—in China and Japan, for example—assumed polygenesis. As Kidd puts it, "Scripture has the benign capacity to render racial Otherness as a type of cousinage or remote kinship."
Moreover, far from this being the incidental implication of a few verses, orthodox Christians have consistently recognized the solidarity of the human race as a core theme of both the biblical narrative and formal Christian theology: the image of God in humanity, the Fall, and original sin are predicated on the understanding that all human beings are bound together in a single, common origin, lineage, and family. The Christian tradition has consistently discerned that this doctrinal teaching has substantial implications when it comes to the issue of race. To take a typical example, the 18th-century conservative biblical scholar Nathaniel Lardner averred: "all men ought to love one another as brethren. For they are all descended from the same parents, and cannot but have like powers, and weaknesses, and wants … . For notwithstanding some differences of outward condition, we have all the same nature, and are brethren."
I'm very much looking forward to getting a copy of this book and slowly considering its pages. We need more scholarship of the sort that takes seriously the biblical teaching on identity and applies it to our current thinking and behavior. Thansk JT for passing on the article.