Document addresses racism, casteism, tribalism, and ethnocentrism
Published on: 09-16-2020
The following statement was voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative Committee in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, on September 15, 2020, and made available on the Adventist Church official website. —Editors
ONE HUMANITY: A HUMAN RELATIONS STATEMENT ADDRESSING RACISM, CASTEISM, TRIBALISM, AND ETHNOCENTRISM
The moral duty of declaring biblical principles in the treatment of fellow human beings has become paramount as the world increasingly recognizes the lingering scourge of racial injustice, tribal conflicts, and caste system bigotry suffered by millions of persons in every society and world region. God “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26) and Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:39). The Seventh-day Adventist Church acknowledges the important responsibility of making its commitments and compassion clear to a world expecting both words and deeds in harmony with the teachings of Jesus. Our commitment flows from our mission to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to “every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Rev. 14:6) in our troubled world as we recognize only Christ can change the human heart.
Seventh-day Adventists are committed to the unchanging biblical truths which reveal that human beings are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Based on the creation account in the book of Genesis, we believe in the God-given and immutable equality of all persons in all times, all places, and all circumstances. We are all descended from Adam and Eve, our original ancestors, who make all humanity one family (Gen. 3:20). Even the tragic results of human choice to rebel against God have not erased the enduring relationships between all human beings. Distinctions of race, ethnicity, caste, and tribe are used to sinfully segment and divide the fundamental unity God intended all human beings to experience with Himself and each other.
We maintain our allegiance to the biblical principles of equality and dignity of all human beings in the face of historic and continuing attempts to use skin color, place of origin, caste, or perceived lineage as a pretext for oppressive and dominating behavior. These attempts are a denial of our shared humanity and we deplore all such aggression and prejudice as an offense to God. Still, we acknowledge that many members of our worldwide Church fail to uphold this biblical truth about the equality of all persons. Contrary to the teachings and example of Jesus, many believers and church organizations have absorbed sinful, dehumanizing ideas about racial, tribal, caste, and ethnic valuing that have led to practices injuring and wounding the human family. These ways of thinking, and the practices resulting from them, undermine the very truths we have pledged ourselves to live and teach. We apologize where in the past we may not have spoken or acted boldly enough on these matters.
Seventh-day Adventists are members of a diverse, global Church and are committed to being agents of peace and reconciliation in society by modeling and advocating for the biblical truth about our shared ancestry. “For the love of Christ compels us” to regard people from His point of view and to be His “ambassadors” in this divided world with the “word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:14, 19, 20). We will support and nurture those marginalized and mistreated because of their color, caste, tribe, or ethnicity (Matt. 25:40). We believe those who abuse and mistreat others should, in accordance with biblical principles, be appropriately brought to justice and will ultimately face divine judgment (Eccl. 12:14; Heb. 9:27). We will teach and urge that God’s truth about human origins and equality as taught in the Bible is the wisest foundation for all human relationships.
God places a special responsibility upon those who have responded to His gracious salvation for all (Gal. 3:28) to demonstrate our commitment to equality, fairness, and accountability in all human relations. God created each person unique, and His powerful influence in our lives results in a celebration of differences that respectfully values each person’s human heritage and culture. We recognize the ultimate solution to the sins of racism, casteism, tribalism, and ethnocentrism is the transformation of individual lives and relationships through Christ and His saving power. We accept and embrace our Christian commitment to live, through the power of the Holy Spirit, as a Church that is just, caring, and loving, grounded on biblical principles.
God invites everyone, everywhere to join the remnant Church described in Bible prophecy (Rev. 12:17) in proclaiming the everlasting gospel which focuses on the righteousness of Jesus Christ encapsulated in the three angels’ messages (Rev. 14:6-12). These messages are to be given to “every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” culminating with Christ’s soon return (Rev. 14:6, 14). We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth when “there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).