Here’s how D. A. Carson introduces J. Daniel Hays’s From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race (ed. D. A. Carson; New Studies in Biblical Theology 14; Downers Grove: IVP, 2003) in the series preface (pp. 9–10):
This volume combines fine technical scholarship on complex matters of history and race with a prophetic call to Christians to abjure racism. On the one hand, it traces out much of what the Bible says about the diversity of races and cultures, against the background of Ancient Near Eastern social history (its treatment of the ‘curse of Ham’ is particularly penetrating and convincing); on the other, it exposes some of the glib, unbiblical, and frankly immoral stances that not only characterize a fair bit of Western scholarship, but continue to surface in our attitudes and relationships. Dr J. Daniel Hays is able simultaneously to make us long for the new heaven and the new earth, when men and women from every tongue and tribe and people and nation will gather around the One who sits on the throne and around the Lamb, and to cause us to blush with shame when we recognize afresh that the church of Jesus Christ is to be already an outpost of that consummated kingdom in this fallen world. This book deserves the widest circulation and the most thoughtful reading, for it corrects erroneous scholarship while calling Christians to reform sinful attitudes. If the book is sometimes intense, it is because the problems it addresses are not trivial.
Hays concludes with seven “main synthesizing conclusions” that summarize the book (pp. 201–5):
- “The biblical world was multi-ethnic, and Blacks were involved in God’s unfolding plan of redemption from the beginning.”
- “All people are created in the image of God, and therefore all races and ethnic groups have the same status and unique value that results from the image of God.”
- “Genesis 10 and the Abrahamic promise combine to form a theme that runs throughout Scripture, constantly pointing to the global and multi-ethnic elements inherent in the overarching plan of God.”
- “Racial intermarriage is sanctioned by Scripture.”
- “The gospel demands that we carry compassion and the message of Christ across ethnic lines.”
- “The New Testament demands active unity in the Church, a unity that explicitly joins differing ethnic groups together because of their common identity in Christ.”
- “The picture of God’s people at the climax of history portrays a multi-ethnic congregation from every tribe, language, people, and nation, all gathered together in worship around God’s throne.”
Related: Cf. the most recent issue of the Criswell Theological Review, which is devoted to interracial marriage and includes the following articles:
- Reprint, “Statement About Race at Bob Jones University.”
- J. Daniel Hays, “A Biblical Perspective on Interracial Marriage,” Criswell Theological Review 6:2 (2009): 5–23.
Hays concludes (pp. 22–23),
So what theological conclusions should we draw? I would suggest that interracial intermarriage is strongly affirmed by Scripture. Marrying unbelievers, on the other hand, is strongly prohibited. The criteria for approving or disapproving of our children’s selected spouses should be based on their faith in Christ and not at all on the color of their skin. This theological affirmation should have profound implications for the church today. White families frequently rise up in arms when their children want to marry blacks, regardless of how strong their Christian faith is. On the other hand, white Christian young adults can marry other whites with little opposition even if the faith of their selected mate is virtually non-existent. Such behavior reflects the church’s weak theological understanding of Scripture on this subject.
Furthermore, the common cultural ban on intermarriage lies at the heart of the racial division in the church. White Christians who say that they are not prejudiced but who vehemently oppose interracial marriages are not being honest. They are still prejudiced, and I would suggest that they are out of line with the biblical teaching on this subject. In addition, this theology applies not only to black/white interracial marriages, but equally to intermarriages between any two ethnic groups within the church throughout the world, especially in those regions where the church has inherited strong interracial animosities from the culture at large.
The theology derived from the marriage of Moses to a black woman corresponds well with the rest of biblical theology. Genesis 1 taught us that all people are created in the image of God and have equal status before God. Paul tells us in the NT that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile but that all Christians are brothers and sisters in the family of God. Marrying outside the family is forbidden, but the clear biblical definition of family is based on faith in Christ and not on race or descent. Interracial marriage between Christians is clearly supported by Scripture.