Army urges reconciliation
by Claude Nikondeha –
For several years, The Salvation Army has nationally promoted racial reconciliation during the week before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. As Salvationists, how do we understand racial reconciliation?
We have concentrated the last two years on building multicultural ministries—through these we can find our definition of racial reconciliation. I call this ideology “reconciliation theology.” Its origin comes from the work of black Christian activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Tom Skinner and John Perkins.
The first principle of reconciliation theology is that since Christ calls us to love each other, members of different races must make deliberate attempts to interact with each other. The story of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4: 1-26) provides scriptural evidence of this principle. Jesus realized that intentional efforts to create interracial interactions are necessary to deal with the historical hatreds and mistrusts that developed between Jews and Samaritans.
Only by spending time together do we learn how to relate to each other, to build trust, and to establish new relationships of equality. Honest and open dialogue helps us overcome historical forces of separation
A second principle of reconciliation theology is the opposition of social structures of racial inequality. God’s hatred of oppressive social structures is evident. Isaiah 1:18 is often quoted as an example of how God will wash away our sins and make us as white as snow. What are these sins for which we need God’s mercy? In the next verses we learn that God wants us to defend orphans and to help widows. In other words, to aid those who are the poorest and most disenfranchised in our society.
We need our corps to go beyond superficial racial platitudes to make the Body of Christ an instrument that de-velops healthy, close and reconciled racial relationships.