Should We Abandon the Language of ‘Racial Reconciliation’?

Duke Kwon | October 3, 2017

The phrase “racial reconciliation” is increasingly being questioned and then abandoned in favor of the alternate term “racial conciliation.” But should it be?

Reconciliation” presupposes a preexisting unity, the argument goes, and our nation has never enjoyed true racial harmony and equity at any point in its history. While “conciliation” has been used in academic literature for decades, the term has recently skyrocketed in popularity among evangelicals, due in part to the compelling work of various Christian writers and speakers.

To be sure, the view that “reconciliation” is a misnomer deserves careful consideration. We can affirm that our shared history is riddled with grievous racial sins, particularly against Natives and African Americans; that false historical narratives regarding race relations have been perpetuated in American society, even in and by the church; and that there’s no prior Golden Age of racial righteousness to which we can or should return. In this regard, “conciliation” may be the more precise term for our civic efforts to achieve racial healing and justice in American society.

But how about in the church? Should Christians abandon the language of “racial reconciliation” in our local churches?

In short, no.

Creational Unity, Not National Unity

While the phrase is used broadly…

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