My Racist Past

John Piper, a major Evangelical leader in the Reformed tradition recently released a new book “Bloodlines” dealing with his own sin of racism.  You can download the book for free here.

In conjunction with the video Crossways has released this short documentary in which Piper revisits his home in South Carolina and discusses his history with race and racism.

I’m proud to see Piper name racism for what it is and to make such a public confession.


8 thoughts on “My Racist Past

  1. I think we can all agree that this was never doctrine, that Piper cherry picks his Bible verses, and that apologies are not necessary because the racism is so far in the past. At least that’s what I’ve been told in other internet conversations.

  2. Oh, and that no apologies are necessary because he was simply a child of his social circumstances. Again, at least that’s what I’ve been told in other internet conversations.

  3. I hereby pledge to watch the video and then avoid all online Mormon conversations for at least two full weeks as penance and to engage in spiritual formation.

  4. I enjoyed watching the video. Since I’m from almost the same generation as Piper, it made me think of the attitudes and experiences I grew up with re race. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest (I’m white), I don’t recall the types of attitudes that Piper talked about. In fact it seemed strange even then to think that there were parts of the country where was legally enforced segregation.

    I’m not saying there was no racism — interracial marriage was still seen as a bad thing, although the reasons were usually couched in terms that the resulting kids would be looked down upon, and there was skepticism toward the civil rights movement. But mostly there was a lack of familiarity with people of other races; although I certainly did see black people before then, the first time I specifically remember seeing one was when a black singer performed at an assembly when I was in junior high (in those days, we often had education-oriented assemblies). I remember being surprised how white the palms of his hands were. Black people (or Asians, for that matter) were seen as “others” more than as inferiors.

    As far as I recall, it wasn’t until high school that I actually met a black person; a friend of mine in college often had a black friend come home with him on weekends, and he participated in our church activities. I went with my friend and the black friend one time to Seattle’s central area (I remember that we went into a small restaurant and ordered “soul food”) and I remember that I was surprised to see how run-down everything was and a little taken aback that people would voluntarily live in a place like that.

    There’s no real point to my ramblings here; the video just triggered some memories.

    I do think there was racism those days in the North, but it was more subtle than that of the South. These days, I tend to see classism as a bigger problem than racism per se, although they obviously overlap, as in our debates over immigration policy.

  5. Piper is one of those people that I disagree with in so many ways – yet can’t help but really like him and appreciate his passion and integrity. This adds to it. Thanks for sharing.

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