I read this book at the same time as reading The Help, which was a great move. This book is as timely in 2012 as it would have been in 1800 or 1964 as our issues have only slightly improved, but haven’t been radically changed or resolved. The book is moving as it tells John Pipers personal story of the racism he carried in his heart growing up in the South.
He begins the first few chapters by discussing the two-sided coin of personal responsibility (changing your life and culture with jobs, improved morality, etc…) and structural intervention (civil rights, government, etc…) when it comes to addressing the problem in this country. He quotes many people on both sides of the responsibility fence, including Juan Williams and Bill Cosby, as well as many academics. But after discussing the very large and present problem and just what everyone thinks we should do about it, he offers one and only one solution to the Christian for dismantling racism in the heart and in the culture: the Gospel.
Some may argue that there are other solutions to eradicating racism. Some things are beneficial and can advance love and acceptance of other races. Activism, education, social awareness, diversity in our schools and neighborhoods and churches can all benefit us. But the Gospel is the only thing that can, in an instant, change a person’s hate to love.
John Piper argues for the Gospel as the answer by presenting at least 9 different ways the Gospel is powerful against racism. I’ll give you #1 as an example. The Gospel is the only thing that has power against Satan and the workings of the evil one. You and I are not stronger than he is. He loves racism, loves hatred. He wants to see races continue to be segregated and separated by hate and fear, misunderstanding and ignorance. So if we, with all of our hope and personal responsibility and all of our structural intervention, aren’t stronger than Satan, there is no way that any of our programs or attempts will eradicate anything.
Read the book for reasons #2-9 that the Gospel is powerful against this issue.
You may not think there is anything to eradicate in your life or heart. You may not see yourself as a real racist. If you are white, you are the majority (at least for now) in this country. Imagine what you would feel and live like if you moved to Nigeria. Growing up as a minority may create a different outlook, different speech in your home, etc… Ask yourself a few questions: Do you ever tell racial jokes? What would you think, deep down in your heart even, if your daughter married a black man? What if there were only African-American people on TV shows that you watched? What if you eventually are the minority in this country? These questions need to be addressed personally and then find their answer and their resolve in the Gospel.
Bloodlines is available for free in PDF from Desiring God.