Southern Evangelical Seminary President Dr. Richard Land: The Bible Condemns Racism from Beginning to End
On Issue of Racial Reconciliation in America, Land Turns to Holy Scripture First, Then to Words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
June 8, 2020
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—As the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has gripped the nation, Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) President and Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land is addressing the matter in a new column for The Christian Post, where he serves as executive editor.
“Why am I speaking out on this issue now? Hasn’t enough been said?” Land asks. “I believe it is every American’s responsibility to declare their outrage at this atrocity. However, I do have one added incentive. Whenever I feel compelled to speak, or am asked about issues of racial reconciliation in America, I automatically first go to the Holy Scripture—and then to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a hero of mine ever since I was a teenager in the early 1960s. Dr. King said, ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’”
Land said that, like almost all of my fellow countrymen, he was “nauseated and repelled” by the video of George Floyd being murdered by a uniformed police officer while three other officers—all now charged—failed to intervene.
“For any human being to do that to another human being is an atrocity of unspeakable barbarity,” Land said. “However, when the perpetrator is a police officer, it is even more heinous. The police are the most visible representation of what the Apostle Paul tells us is the divinely authorized civil magistrate, tasked by the Almighty to punish those who do evil and reward those who do that which is good (Romans 13:1-7). When a police officer acts in such an unspeakable way, it is even worse because he is involving civil government in his crime because he is a symbol of the state. In short, when officers behave this way, it is nothing short of blasphemous. Let me be as clear as I can possibly be. Every American who claims to be a decent part of the human family has a moral obligation to condemn the grotesque murder of George Floyd and demand that the perpetrators be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
“When I watched the infamous video segment where Derek Chauvin, in the midst of strangling a helpless George Floyd, stared directly into the camera, I had an immediate flashback in my mind to a picture that appeared in Life magazine in the early 1960s,” Land recalls. “It was a picture of the ‘lawmen’ who had killed the three Civil Rights workers and buried them under a dam in Mississippi. Then, as now, I was staring into the face of pure, unadulterated evil.”
Land continues that the Bible condemns racism from beginning to end.
“Genesis tells us that ‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him’ (Genesis 1:27) and ‘Adam called his wife’s name Eve: because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20),” Land notes. “Consequently, there is only one race—the human race. Scientific research is now confirming what the Bible told us all along—we all come from one common ancestor.
“Furthermore, in the New Testament we are informed that ‘God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him’ (Acts 1:34), and ‘He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth (Acts 17:26). And finally, of course, we have the all-encompassing language of the best-known verse in the entire Bible, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16).”
Land says that when he turns to Dr. King, he finds him never wavering from his deep commitment both to racial reconciliation and non-violence.
“Recently we have seen media try to rewrite Dr. King’s history by repeating this quote, taken entirely out of context: ‘A riot is the language of the unheard,’” Land says. “In that interview with Mike Wallace in 1966, he was explaining why the riots were taking place, not condoning them. Even as Dr. King became more politically progressive in the last years before his tragic assassination, he continued to denounce violence. ‘So I will continue to condemn riots, and continue to say to my brothers and sisters, that this is not the way.’”
Land also noted that in the incandescent 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King explained, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Why? Dr. King understood that “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Whenever injustice occurs, all of us are impacted, de-sensitized and diminished.
“Also, the violence is counter-productive,” Land adds. “It further rends the social fabric into which we are all woven, and it rends it in ways that are far easier to rend than they are to mend. As Dr. King so astutely observed, ‘Every time a riot develops,’ he warned not long before his murder, ‘it helps George Wallace.’ Sad, but so very true.
“When people are forced to choose between order and chaos, a majority will choose order every time, even at the expense of justice.
“Once again, let me be unmistakably clear,” Land continues. “The right to peaceful protest is guaranteed by the First Amendment, and I will defend that right to the death. I will tell any American, ‘I disagree with everything you say, and I will defend to my death your right to say it without fear or intimidation.’ However, when you start destroying people’s homes, businesses and neighborhoods, and when you start injuring and killing people, you have crossed the line. You have no ‘right’ to do that, and you are diminishing every human life and wounding our society in ways that even if and when it mends, will leave painful scar tissue.
“As for me, and my house, we will never abandon Dr. King’s mesmerizing dream that our nation will fully live up to the promises of our founding documents,” Land concludes, “and we will produce a country where people will be ‘judged not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.’ While I draw breath, this dream will never die.”
Headlines and issues that grip the nation are part of the fabric of Southern Evangelical Seminary’s curriculum, with the thread of ethics interwoven into many courses, and with entire departments, such as philosophy, grounded in natural law. Learn more about SES classes here or visit ses.edu/apply.
SES has announced its 2020 National Conference on Christian Apologetics (NCCA), set for Oct. 16-17 in Charlotte. The seminary will focus on the theme of “Hold Fast” for the 27th annual conference by welcoming some of the nation’s top apologetics speakers. The early bird deadline for tickets is Aug. 1, and SES is offering a free apologetics Bible to early ticketholders.
To interview Dr. Richard Land of Southern Evangelical Seminary, contact Hamilton Strategies, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or ext. 102.