Does Just Preaching the Gospel Kill Racism?

by | Jul 14, 2020

“Why are you focusing on politics?” 

“Systems don’t sin; people do.” 

“If you want to destroy racism, just preach the gospel.”

If you talk about race much in the American evangelical context, these are the kinds of responses you’ll likely encounter. Not every sin receives this gag-order. Churches in America, thankfully, are united and active in condemning the sin of abortion, for example, and still Preaching the Gospel.

This is not a post to explore the reason why racism provokes these questions. I want to explore whether they are true. Is preaching the gospel the cure for racism?

In one sense, it is very important to say, “yes.” We have considered the case of Tom Tarrants at some length. He was a klansman—a white nationalist and domestic terrorist. God saved Tom and turned him into a believer and champion of racial reconciliation. Only the gospel does that. We rejoice whenever and however God brings about justice in this world, but nothing compares to what God had done through His son.


To listen to our episode with Tom Tarrants, click here.


Believers passionate about racial reconciliation must take care to remember our first love as we encounter resistance to our efforts. There are no Christians without the gospel. There is no hope without the gospel.

My objection to this question about just preaching the gospel is that one little word—just.

We need to be wary of an essentialism that wrongly puts God in a box. Scripture is full of examples of God working justice in the world through unjust governments, unbelieving kings, and faithless judges. God rules over every human government, and will do with them what He wills (Proverbs 21:1). Christians should work with the government and in submission to it. It is a wrongheaded essentialism that causes so many evangelicals to scorn the public square rather than enter it. We need more thoughtful Christians involved in politics! But, as we all know, government cannot finally save or fix this world. So while the gospel isn’t the only cure for racism, it is the ultimate cure.

However, there is a way to just preach the gospel which actually undermines the gospel and our ministry in light of it. To get to what I mean, consider Jesus’ words when he commissioned the church for gospel ministry in Matthew 28. He said,

“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” Matthew 28:19-20

Faithful gospel ministry involves reaching all peoples, preaching the message of Christ’s forgiveness of sin, and then training up converts in obedience.

The gospel is, in a sense, an exchange. When the eternal Son of God became a man, he did so to live a life of perfect obedience to the Father on our behalf. He died the death we deserve for our sin. God then raised him from the dead, paving the way to Heaven for all who are united to Him by faith. God takes and forgives our sin and gives us his new life.

What a message.

But we undermine and subvert our preaching by giving quarter to sin. Christians don’t obey our way to God’s favor, but we must hate sin. Faith without works, after all, is dead (James 2). We are called to stir one another up to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). In other words, gospel ministry includes more than just gospel proclamation. King Jesus has claims on the lives of his subjects, and those claims are comprehensive. We are to obey everything he commanded.

Knowing how sinful we are, we should not be surprised that our world is full of sinful people. Sinful people create imperfect, unjust laws. We apply justice with partiality. These failures are not in some separate political category. These are questions of obedience to Jesus.

We must oppose all sin, including the sin of racism. Christians must condemn racism from the pulpit, pew, home, street, voting booth, and anywhere else we can. Racism is not the only sin we oppose, but it may never get a pass.

When Jesus offers us his new life, he demands everything we have. He will one day bring perfect justice, destroying every wicked and unjust power of this world. Christian, take special care never to shore up a wall the King has set for demolition.

So, yes, let’s preach the gospel. Let’s help each other to obey everything Jesus commands. Let’s remember that he is with us to the end. And let’s pray that he would come soon and end this evil age.


Prayer Requests:

  1. Take a minute and praise God for saving wretches like us
  2. Pray that He would save folks trapped in sinful, hellish racist ideologies
  3. Pray that Christians would stop biting and devouring each other


Recent POdcasts

Political Convictions: How We Hold Them

Political Convictions: How We Hold Them

Christians and Politics Pastor Joshua Chatman joins Austin to talk about how to be agents of unity in difficult political seasons. We learned during the last election cycle of the deep divides within the Church over politics. Josh and Austin talk about what we should...

read more
Political Convictions: What Are They?

Political Convictions: What Are They?

Political Convictions Dan Darling joins the show once again to talk with Austin and our community. It's no secret that this is a difficult political season for a lot of Christians. Without diving into the weeds of any specific issue, Dan and Austin discuss how we...

read more
July 4th Special: Black and Patriotic with Bobby Scott

July 4th Special: Black and Patriotic with Bobby Scott

Black and Patriotic Happy fourth of July! This week we are joined by special guest, Pastor Bobby Scott. "Bible Bobby" is a friend of the ministry who has been on the podcast and has written for us several times. He has a particular interest in black history and all...

read more

Upcoming Events


Click Here to View Now

Recent Articles

Repentance Is Your Superpower

Repentance Is Your Superpower

We’ve all seen the public non-apology apology. Whether it’s a college president, corporate executive, or government official caught in a misdeed or unpleasant situation, they all look the same. They acknowledge a less than favorable outcome, express wishes that things...

read more
Gospel Hope Creates Space for Lament

Gospel Hope Creates Space for Lament

I’ve noticed some strange behavior from some friends of mine. It has come up in several different relationships over the last few years. They are all intelligent, successful, and pretty happy people. I love them dearly. But these friends are not Christians.  The thing...

read more
Confidence in the Wrong Place

Confidence in the Wrong Place

In 1908, G.K. Chesterton warned Christian readers that various influences were eroding society’s ability to learn:  But what we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. . . . A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this...

read more

We’d love to hear what you think about this article. Submit your feedback by clicking here to contact us.


  • Austin Suter

    Austin is the executive director and editor for U?WP. He is a husband, father and seminary student at RTS Charlotte. Austin is a member at Iron City Church in Birmingham, AL. @amsuter

Related Articles

Stay Connected