Biblical Perspective On The Race Issue

A Biblical Perspective on the Race Problem, by Thomas O. Figart (Baker, 1973, 185 pp., $1.95 pb), and Break Down the Walls, by Johannes Verkuyl (Eerdmans, 1973, 168 pp., $2.95 pb), are reviewed by Patricia Wright, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Both Thomas Figart, head of the Bible-theology department at Lancaster (Pennsylvania) Bible College, and Johannes Verkuyl, head of the mission and evangelism department at the Free University, Amsterdam, confront the arguments of segregationists with biblical teachings that seem to indicate the Lord’s desire for the unity of mankind. Verkuyl does so by pointing out that ha-Adam of Genesis 1 and 2 is a species name rather than a personal name, thus distinguishing the Genesis story from tribal or national myths. Also, by comparing Pentecost with the account of Babel, he shows the reconciling ministry of the Gospel: language is used to create a fellowship of believers rather than erect barriers and disperse peoples. Finally, he reveals Jesus as the one who breaks down the walls of hostility between races and who calls us to help build the Father’s kingdom, God’s ecumenopolis, where justice dwells.

Figart approaches the portrayal of the unity of man by concentrating on matters that Verkuyl often describes as beside the point or introductory. He dwells on the origin of the races, discussing whether or not the dispersion at Babel caused gradual or immediate anthropological changes along with the abrupt linguistic multiplication. He examines the Noahic curse on Canaan, concluding with Verkuyl that no racial overtones are implied in the passage, though Figart stresses that the Canaanites were Caucasoid, not Negroid, and Verkuyl that the term Canaanite referred ...

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