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In Theory:

Dealing with intolerance

June 20, 2009

Last week’s shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., exposed that the nation’s virulent strain of racism and racial hatred continue decades after the civil rights movement. What role should religion play in the ongoing effort to stamp out racism? And how, if at all, have churches failed in that effort so far?

The central message that God has given Christians to proclaim to the world is called “the Gospel” (literally “the good news”).This simple message to every ethnic group on Earth proclaims that Christ died for our sins, he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day.

When anyone has authentic faith in this message, which is proven by a changed life and a desire to follow Jesus Christ, God makes him a new person, with a heart to know and love God, and to love others as well.

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The gospel message extinguishes racism in a number of ways. It relies on the truth that God made us all in his image for the purpose of knowing and loving him. It reaches back to when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, the parents of every human being alive today. It describes our common need to be reconciled to God because of our universal proclivity toward sin, which when acted on separates us from him. It points us all to one redeemer and mediator between God and mankind, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The gospel describes how God so loved the world (that is, all people of all ethnicities) that he gave up his son for us all, a perfect and once-for-all sacrifice that pays our debt to him.

The gospel, properly understood and faithfully preached, eliminates racial hatred. Every person who receives it enters the family of God, where all are loved and accepted through Christ our Lord.

PASTOR JON BARTA

Valley Baptist Church

During the past several weeks, shootings have occurred at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., a church in Kansas, and a military recruiting center in Arkansas. Each shooting was senseless and again has brought to the American public’s attention the struggles surrounding racism, abortion and religion in this country.

In fact, these shootings have filled newspapers, television, radio and the Internet with news, analysis and commentary on why they occurred and who or what is to blame.

As a country, we face many moral issues, some of which go to the very core of our country’s foundation.

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