Christianity,  Theology/Bible

John Piper Takes On Jim Crow

I have been listening to John Piper’s annual Martin Luther King Day sermons for about thirteen years now. What I have found most compelling about these messages are the moments in which Piper delves into his own background as a boy raised in Greenville, South Carolina during the Jim Crow era. He has told about his home church’s vote to bar blacks from their worship services, about his mother’s heroic actions to escort black guests at his sister’s wedding when the white ushers refused to seat them, about growing up across the tracks from Jesse Jackson, who is roughly the same age as Piper and who also grew up in Greenville.

Every time Piper tells these stories, I am always left wanting to hear more. That is why I couldn’t be happier to see that Piper’s new book will contain such stories and more. The book is titled Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian, and it is Piper’s own take on racism and the gospel. Part one of the book deals with natural bloodlines (issues related to racism and his own experience), and part two deals with a new bloodline stemming from the shed blood of Jesus. Piper says that, “What we will see…is that the world we live in is a world where only the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring the kind of racial and ethnic harmony that we were made to enjoy” (p. 28).

I am really looking forward to this book. Bloodlines is already available for pre-order from While you wait for the release, you can read the introduction here and watch the trailer above.

(HT: Justin Taylor)


  • RD

    Thanks for the heads up on this book, Denny!

    I grew up in Atlanta during civil rights days and our church, likewise, had a very closed attitude toward integration. I’ve never been able to understand how so many of the members of my church could seriously point to scripture to defend their attitudes about race. They could point to specific texts and verses as a defense of their belief, but they could never see that there was an overarching spirit of unity in the scriptures that superceded those biblical examples of ancient cultural norms. In the Chrisitian community of my youth, civil rights was decried as an assault on biblical authority. Sad sad.

    I’m anxious to read Piper on this subject.

  • Gus

    Its too bad that our own Southern Baptist churches are so segregated. And even if they were–to a degree–integrated, the leadership in these churches remains predominantly white. How often do you see an African-American, Hispanic, or Asian male functioning as an elder or pastor in a predominantly white church? Not very often, I assume.

  • Paul

    Gus – what’s the old saying? The most segregated part of America is the church pew on Sunday morning.

    Then again, remember that there are cultural differences at play here too. Black church, in many instances, is just different than white church, in terms of preaching style, presentation and what’s allowed and/or expected of the congregation.

    Now, one could ask all sorts of questions of why we have culture barriers that just so happen to pop up along racial lines, and there, we could say that the racism that existed (and exists) has helped erect those walls. And I think you’d make a really valid point. But now, through time, those cultural differences do exist, and people are more comfortable around those that they share common ground with. And Sunday mornings, like it or not, are all about comfort for millions of American churchgoers.

    • Gus

      Paul, are you saying that we should simply accept the status quo? That is, white churches for white people and black churches for black people, for example?

      • Paul

        No, I’m not. What I am saying is that the differences in the churches go a lot farther than just skin deep and to lament the lack of black folk in white pews or vice verse based solely on the amount of melanin in one’s skin misses the point.

        If you brought you average suburban white family into your average “urban” church, they’d all have heart attacks on the spot. Conversely, if you brought your average “urban” church-going family into the white suburban church, they’d likely wonder why the pastor has no passion for God, why there’s no potluck and why the service is only an hour long.

        If you want to get “diversity” in your church, you’re going to be fighting the cultural battles well after the simple matters of skin color are resolved. THAT’S what I’m saying.

        The worst part is, we did it to ourselves.

  • RD


    I think you make some very valid points. Clearly, there are cultural differences that exist between almost all groups of people. The critical point, though, is whether people of color are welcome to worship in white churches and vice versa, should they so choose. Is there a spirit of inclusiveness?

    In our church we have a married couple where the husband is white and his wife is black. This has created a stir among many (sadly). I can’t tell you how many people have made comments to my wife and I concerning the sinful nature of this relationship. (They invariably fall back on the scripture that admonishes us not to be unequally yoked.) It’s amazing that we’re already over a decade into the 21st century and, still, so many people have attitudes and opinions reflective of the 18th and 19th century.

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