Disclaimer: I am a white millennium male.
I struggle with blurring the line between culture and theology. The two-kingdom distinction tells us that while Christians can work towards the general welfare of those around us, we are not held sway by its influence (this should be a one-way street). See Dr. Horton’s comments on a “tale of two kingdoms:”
“Consequently, each city [kingdom] has its own polity, serving distinct ends through distinct means. Although some of its citizens are converted to citizenship in the city of God, the earthly city is always Babylon. Like Daniel, believers pray for the city, work in the city, contribute to the city’s general welfare, and even fight in its armies. However, they never forget that they are exiles and pilgrims. Babylon is never the promised land.”
By utilizing the two-kingdom distinction we don’t wash our hands of racism but learn how to speak the gospel into racism without compromising the gospel. I think we do this by showing and modeling that the freedom we have in Christ redeems the cultural definitions of race and elevates them into God’s kingdom where race can be used to glorified God via diversity. It is the diversity of talent that helps the church speak the gospel into the culture.
Our challenge in the church is to see what race looks like when elevated to God’s kingdom and celebrate the diversity. A few ways this is done in my church is through using hip-hop in worship services. Another way is done through vignette videos highlighting “God at Work” in a variety of people’s lives (variety in many ways: racial, socio-economical etc.). We even combined with a predominantly black church (we are predominantly white) and went to each other’s homes to eat meals together… as Christians reconciled to God. Also, diversity of Elders and Deacons. But all of these things are done, not out of a desire to redeem race but out of a desire to elevate God through race.
My pushback to all of this is the idea that the cultural issues of our day are speaking into our theology rather than our theology speaking into our cultural issues. Isaac challenges us to “consider our whiteness” and argues that it will result in deeper racial awareness that will result in an eagerness “to honor the good ways God has made us different. It ought to result in zeal to lay down the status and comforts your ethnicity gives you for the sake of the gospel.” He is drawing this revelation not from our gospel identity but from our racial identity. The road is reversed and now we have the culture speaking into our theology.
The motivation is wrong. The motivation is of the earthly kingdom in our two-kingdom approach. If we are arguing about the status of the church it must fall on gospel soil, not American soil. Paul said there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free for we are all one in Christ Jesus. Paul is calling us to one body. He is not calling us to conform to one mold, but he is calling us to one body. That should be our aim.
I submit this out of humility and a desire to be gospel centric. If I was hurtful in my words, please know it is not my intention nor desire.