Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 14, 1970

Race Prejudice

David Lipscomb


We see in the Christian Preacher, a notice of the fact that a colored man presented himself for membership into a congregation of disciples worshiping at McKinney, Texas, and that some of the brethren objected to receiving him. We are not told how the church acted in the case, but it has been in our mind for some time to say a few things on this subject and we make this the occasion.

A principle lying at the foundation of all true service to God and discipleship to our Lord Jesus Christ, is that we must accept God's law, provisions and institutions just as He gave them to us. To induce men to do this has been the aim of all His dealings with and lessons to humanity. Humanity learns this lesson slowly. It seems to have learned it sometimes and to be willing to apply it in some particulars and at some points, when in another particular or at another point, the same individuals will recklessly and presumptuously ignore the lessons and trample the principle under foot.

Now many who have learned the lesson in reference to an entrance into the church, and strenuously insist that God will punish any one who rejects the law of Christ in all its parts, just in the order in which God has laid it down, will yet freely and presumptuously set aside His law in other things just as suits their whims or prejudices. In this matter of church membership they frequently do these things. Nothing is more clearly taught in the Bible than that Christ came into the world to break down middle walls, family prejudices, natural animosities, race antipathies, and to unite the different kindred, tongues and tribes into one undivided and indivisible brotherhood.

Prejudice In New Testament Days

The race prejudices in the days of the Savior and of the apostles were just as strong as they are today. The Jews regarded the Gentiles as "Gentile dogs;" they had no dealings with those of other nations. The feeling of prejudice was so strong that a miracle was wrought to induce Peter to go out and preach Christ to the Gentiles. Another miracle was requisite to convince the six Jewish brethren who accompanied him that the Gentiles ought to be received into the church.

This prejudice was so strong that Peter after this dissembled, and for fear of the prejudices of the Jewish brethren refused to eat with the Gentile Christians, to whom he had opened the door of the kingdom under the guidance of God's Spirit.

The race prejudice was as strong with them as with us. Did Christ or the Holy Spirit tolerate those who objected to association with the Gentiles who believed? Not once. All were accepted by Christ as brethren, and were required so to live. There was nothing of having two congregations in the same community for the distinct races. Such a course would have defeated the very ends of Christ's mission, to make of twain, one new man. So making peace.

Separate Churches?

We believe it sinful to have two congregations in the same community for persons of separate and distinct races now. The race prejudice would cause trouble in the churches we know. It did this in apostolic days. Not once did the apostles suggest that they should form separate congregations for the different races. But they always admonished them to unity, forbearance, love and brotherhood in Christ Jesus.

We believe it sinful to do otherwise now. To reject the Negro from association in the congregations of the white, is to deprive him of the instruction and of the influence for good of which he stands so greatly in need. It is to drive him off into ignorance, superstition and degradation. For the whites to reject the Negro is to make the whites self-righteous, self-sufficient, exclusive and unchristian in spirit.

The Nature Of The Gospel

Again, Christ commanded His gospel to be preached among all nations, to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. And the Lord added the saved to the church. Now the Lord saved them through their hearing His word, and obeying that word. He added them to the church by directing them to meet with, to engage in the worship with the disciples. He does the same thing now. Under His direction the gospel is preached to the nations. Every one who hears His law of order and submits to it, God saves from his sins. God saves the Negro equally with the white man when he believes in Christ and puts Him on by being buried with Him in baptism.

When a Negro, or an Indian, or a Chinaman, or an Englishman, or an Irishman, or a German hears the gospel, believes in that gospel, testifies his faith in Christ and demands baptism, where is the man or the woman who does call her or himself a Christian and objects? I had as soon think of the worst blasphemer in the land, steeped in the vilest of crimes being saved as a man or woman who would stand between that individual and his obedience to God. He sets at defiance God's law, assumes to be greater than God, and is guilty of a presumptuous sin in the sight of God, for which we can hardly believe pardon can be found.

God saves the believing Negro or White through his obedience; and can one claiming to be a child of God say no? But often the individual has been saved by God. God proposes to add him to the church or assembly of His people, by requiring him to worship and serve Him. And men, claiming to be followers of God, presumes to say, "No, God, you cannot add this child to your family." That is the meaning of it. He simply says God cannot add those whom He has saved to his own. How dare any man assume such power and authority? How dare a church tolerate such blasphemous assumption of power in one professing to be a Christian?

The individual who assumes such a position shows a total unfitness for membership in the church of God. A church that will tolerate the persistent exhibition of such a spirit certainly forfeits its claims to be a church of God. It permits in doing it, a poor man full of wicked self-conceit to set at defiance the will of God, and itself is governed by a very wicked spirited man instead of by Christ.

We mean simply this, a church which cannot bring an individual to see his rebellion against God in such a course, ought to withdraw from that individual as one who with a heart full of pride, bitterness and treason fights against God. For our part, we would much prefer membership with an humble and despised band of ignorant Negroes, than with a congregation of the aristocratic and refined Whites in the land, cherishing such a spirit of defiance of God and His law, and all the principles of His holy religion.

But it is never those of gentle blood, refined feelings, cultured hearts or educated minds; never those who have imbibed the spirit of Christ that object to God's adding those whom He saves of all nations to His church, even if they are the most degraded. It is the unrefined, narrow-minded, low-born and ill-bred whose coarse prejudices and unrestrained passions rule them, that feel a kind of consciousness that if they come in contact with the degraded themselves will be contaminated by the contact.

The well-bred man or woman or the cultured Christian never feels that his standing depends upon such grounds as mere outward association. The gentle-blooded man or woman, the cultured gentleman and lady, the refined Christian, feels that he has inherent, intrinsic merit, on which his or her claims to respect rest, and that it is rather heightened than lowered by efforts to raise the downcast, and lift up the helpless and fallen, the poor and the sinning. "What God hath cleansed let no man call unclean;" let not man dare to reject what God accepts.


God has not given man the right to decide who shall or who shall not come into His church. The man or woman who objects to the fellowship of the humblest, the vilest outcast of God's creatures who comes in accordance with God's will, through Christ, only proves thereby his own unfitness for membership in God's kingdom or fellowship with His Spirit or brotherhood in His family. The best man that lives is a child of hell until saved by grace, the grace of God as manifested through our Lord Jesus Christ. He is no better in the sight of God than the humblest sinner he scorns. Christ came to save the lost, enlighten the ignorant, to lift up the down-trodden, the off-cast, the outcast, and unless we have His Spirit we are none of His.

The church was established to help the lowly, the fallen, the sinning, the outcast and the degraded. They have the first and most sacred right in the aid of that church. He who would prevent their enjoying this right is an enemy of man and is guilty of treason against God. The viler the sinner the greater the claims he has upon the help, the aid, and the friendly offices and tender regard of every servant of Christ.

Our treatment of the Negro at best, is that of criminal indifference and neglect. To discourage and repel him when despite that cruel neglect on our part he seeks membership in the church of God, is an outrage that ought not for a moment to be tolerated.

Gospel Advocate, XX (February 21, 1878), 120-121.