A raceless God-man?

March 22, 2012

Brian Bantum, a theologian at Seattle Pacific, was
mentioned in the Century's recent article on the new black theology. Readers
intrigued by that topic will be interested in Bantum's comments
on a book on racial reconciliation

written by a white Minneapolis preacher, John Piper.

Piper is a
rather unexpected figure to address this issue, being best known as an
ultra-Reformed defender of God's sovereignty, which for Piper entails insisting that God directs the path of tornadoes
and oversees the collapse of bridges.

Anyway, Piper
apparently asserts in his book Bloodlines:
Race, Cross and the Christian,
that racial differences don't matter in
God's work of electing people to salvation, and that the power of racial
difference has been overcome in the cross.

Bantum says that
Piper's theology is full of good intentions, but-and this seems a
characteristic move of the new black theology-in trying to overcome racial
difference Piper ends up denying the reality of racial difference. This means
denying the reality of the body and the particularity of Jesus' physical
existence as a Jew.

It's
decisive, for Bantum, that Piper does not take seriously the writings of black,
womanist or liberation theologians "for whom the reality of difference, as it
was forced upon them, is always a theological dilemma."

"Piper's Christ," declares Bantum, "is a raceless God-man,
focused intently on a violent sacrifice that achieves the salvation of our
souls with the happy consequence of taking our bodies along for the ride."

Bantum's
review of Piper is available here.