The event “Is God Racist” was hosted by the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship on Thursday, November 5th at 8:00 p.m. in the Meyerhoff lecture hall. Eighty-seven students attended the event, approximately 50% of which were not members of IVCF.
The speaker, David Lamb, authored the book “God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist, and Racist?” in 2011. Lamb has been teaching at the Biblical Theological Seminary since 2006. His underlying argument was that God is not a racist, but parts of the Bible make it appear so. He also spoke about why those in positions of privilege must speak out about injustices (white people speaking about racism, men talking about sexism). Racism, he argues, insults God, as all humans were made in God’s image.
He opened the lecture with a picture of Mr. Burns from the Simpsons and a quote saying, “For once, the rich white man is in control.” He stated that the God of the Old Testament was “out of touch” on racial issues. He acknowledged the existence of white privilege while also speaking about the inevitability of negative experiences with people from outside one’s race, which can lead to stereotypes and generalization.
Lamb expanded on the example of Rahab the Prostitute, from the Book of Joshua. Two Israelite spies were offered entrance to Rahab’s home, as she was welcoming to people who were different from her. Rahab hid the two spies from the king’s men. She lied to the king’s men so she could be hospitable to the foreign spies. Lamb argues that this story making its way into the Bible is proof that God wants us to be kind to those different from us.
Lamb also referenced the church shooting by Dylann Roof earlier this year. In the aftermath of this tragic incident, during a Ku Klux Klan rally to protest the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capital, a black police chief gave water and shade to a Klansman who was suffering from heat stroke. This is evidence that even in the worst of cases, interracial hospitality is possible.
Some of the questions asked in the Q&A session included, “Why were the Israelites given permission to buy slaves from other areas, but not other Israelites?” to which Dr. Lamb replied, “Deliverance from slavery was the grand story of the New Testament”.
Another student said that colorblindness is justified since God has made everyone in God’s own image, and colorblindness is unfair to those currently marginalized. Lamb admitted that this was a complicated matter, stating that the Bible is not infallible or inerrant, but regardless, a true “lamp to his path.”
Said an IVCF representative, “We are hosting this event because we believe it is necessary to discuss race, in particular within our faith. Given this past year’s racial incidents and given the church’s overall silence, we want to show the campus that we care and are willing to bring up the difficult discussion.”