New Podcast: Esau McCaulley | Justice & the Bible

A common refrain at BioLogos is “you don’t have to choose,” and usually it is in the context of the Bible and science. Esau McCaulley, assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, was presented with a different choice, one between the Bible and racial justice. But this too is a false dichotomy.

The Bible is a good place to turn in times of confusion or questioning, but whether it is science or issues of injustice, it is important that a reading of the Bible be informed by the perspectives of other people and other cultures. McCaulley’s new book, Reading While Black lays out the case for a Black Ecclesial interpretive tradition. He shows how asking questions of the text that grow out of the reality of being Black in America, helps to give us a fuller perspective on what the Bible has to say about things like race, governing authorities, and justice.


I’m so excited you got Esau McCaulley as a guest!

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Me too! This episode is so so so good. (in my humble opinion)

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It was a really good podcast. His accent reminded me of many other black men and when he said he was from alabama I was confirmed that it’s what I was thinking. That slight southern drawl or Deep South accent.

I really liked the example he used about divorce. It was very helpful and definitely a lens I’ll have try to remember when I reread through the Bible. Not that I was unaware of the issue concerning divorce, but taking a step back and using the concept that god seemed to accommodate humanity due to their evil (hardness of heart as well ) highlighting to me that though god hates sin and evil, his love for humanity is stronger. The way he tied it together with how he viewed slavery begin to kick in was cool.

I’ll definitely have to add his book to my list which ties into something else I wanted to ask but will save it for it’s own thread on book recommendations.

It’s always angering to hear about the various racist people in power though. Which I guess should be the normal response and he brought up a great point that I’ve heard a few times over the last 10 years or so back to Trevon and it’s that some people seem to face more on the angry reactions of people who was harmed than to focus on what lead them to being so angry in the first place. Which is something I’ve done before as well.

I look forward to reading his book sometime this year.


I don’t get him, or the left. When you separate the world, and justice to black and white, you’ve planted a line of division. Racism has the same cause as every evil. Sin. Sin cannot be legislated away.

Of course when you throw out Adam and Eve, then who was the original sinner? God.

Out of curiosity did you listen to the podcast?

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But not all sins have the same forms of redemption. Not all sins are enshrined in the legal systems of countries. Racism is. Systemic problems must be addressed by advocating for more just policies, not just raising awareness or pushing for personal repentance.


Part of it. I haven’t finished it yet.
edit: I read the transcript Friday and Saturday.

And when you are down to systemic (we know it’s there but it isn’t actual policies or laws we can point to) racism, that is just looking for reparations or changing the definition of racism while denigrating those who built this country.

Feagin’s theory and all of the research he and many other social scientists have conducted over 100 years illustrate that racism is in fact built into the foundation of U.S. society and that it has over time come to infuse all aspects of it. It is present in our laws, our politics, our economy; in our social institutions; and in how we think and act, whether consciously or subconsciously. It’s all around us and inside of us, and for this reason, resistance to racism must also be everywhere if we are to combat it.

But we can point to actual policies and laws. This area is fairly well-studied.

Nope not true. And calling out the white supremacy in our past and acknowledging the harm done to Black people and other people of color is just honesty, it’s not “denigrating.” I also call BS on the idea that it was exclusively White people who “built this country.”

Agree 100%. You realize this is what Black Christian leaders have been trying to get us to hear and act on for years right?


So do I. Why is that the first thing you thought when I said “those who built this country”?

The second quote is from the article listed below it, and illustrates my problem. Anything that all-inclusive cannot be fixed without totally transforming mankind. It was bolded because it’s completely wrong.

Because I don’t see how anyone other than White people are “denigrated” by calling out racism.

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Humanity isn’t really the problem, it’s our particular culture and society. And cultures and societies can be changed.

I work with a Native American group in rural Mexico. Their culture and society has a history of systemic misogyny. Up until a few decades ago and still to some degree today, women were treated as the property of their fathers and husbands. It was typical for girls as young as nine or ten to be sold into marriage, sometimes to total strangers from other areas and they would never see their families again. Even in more loving families, fathers would expect a bride price to arrange a marriage with someone from the village, and since the young men often felt the fathers expected too much, it became common to kidnap girls, rape them and then negotiate a discount price to take them off their father’s hands, since they were no longer virgins. This practice became so normalized that the idiomatic expression for “get married” in their language literally translates to “steal a little girl.” Domestic abuse is very common and it was expected that men beat their wives and children to make sure they stayed obedient. Until fairly recently, no schooling past elementary was available for girls, and there was no way for women to earn incomes. If young women ran away to the city to try to find different opportunities, they often became the victims of human traffickers.

If someone were to look at the culture and society and say, “Well, this is a sin problem and all we need to do is teach individual fathers and husbands to treat women better” it would not address the societal-level issues that the whole community has allowed to take deep root; lack of education and economic opportunity for girls, a misogynistic system of marriage where brides and mothers have no consent, lack of society-level recourses to escape abuse or hold abusers accountable, constant danger for young girls of being kidnapped and raped by others in the community. It would not change the customs or ideas of justice to give women any more rights or standing in the community. Systemic cultural problems require systemic changes.

Things are gradually becoming better for women. The government has opened schools so girls can now get an education through high school without leaving the community. The government has started programs that help women run small cottage industries so they have some economic independence. Development organizations have done lots of awareness raising about domestic violence and health care providers have begun reporting when they see signs of abuse in their patients and parents and husbands are being held legally accountable for harm. The church has started emphasizing that good fathers protect and provide for their daughters and wives as people who belong to God not just their family. Now no one who sells his daughter to a non-Christian or has a son who steals another man’s daughter can be in church leadership. They have emphasized to young men that marriage should involve both the consent of the family and the consent of the young woman, and that husbands should love their wives like their own bodies and not hurt them. The church has started asking men to wait until their daughters are 15 or 16 to arrange marriages, so that they are less likely to die or suffer harm in childbirth. Slowly some of the most tragic customs are giving way to new norms that value women more and respect their human rights more.

The moral is that “humanity” did not need to be fundamentally transformed for these changes to start. People had to recognize there was a problem and start pressuring people to change the way things were done by the whole community. That is what people advocating for systemic change to address racial justice are asking for. Asking individuals to deal with personal sin doesn’t change inequities in sentencing and incarceration rates. It doesn’t address disparities in wealth caused by centuries of biased lending, hiring, buying, and selling. It doesn’t deal with substandard education and healthcare in many minority communities. It doesn’t address the rampant brutality that minorities face at the hands of law enforcement. It doesn’t change unjust racial profiling. It doesn’t address the fact that testing in schools and research in medicine is normed against a White standard. Addressing these societal-level issues are very reasonable goals and do not require “transforming humanity.” It does require changing attitudes that the status quo is fine or inevitable.


It’s probably too much to hope that you educate yourself someday and move beyond these racist, nationalist views. Please don’t continue to promote them on our platform .

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When it comes to something as complex of a systematic racism I believe what’s beneficial is to bring up specific ways it’s happening as detailed as possibly. Such as is there a police brutality issue? Depends on what you’re asking. Do most cops shoot and kill people? No. There is around 1,000,000 full time and part time law enforcement agents. There was roughly 1,000 police shootings a year resulting in death. I’m not sure how many did not. That’s 0.1%, not 1.0% or cops shooting and killing someone. I believe out of those 1,000 deaths around 230 was black. The majority was white. I’m not sure if the racial differences with the police. I’m sure the data is out there.

So if the person is thinking if police brutality as just death rates it’s extremely low. Even if you numbers were off by 300% it’s still extremely low. Statistically, a cop is more likely to be killed than for someone to be killed by a cop.

But police brutality expands well beyond that. Such as ex husbands stalking ex wives, it happens, but it still very low. The majority of cops never shoot anyone and never kill anyone and never beat anyone. The majority mostly writes tickets. If it was a risk assessment it would be statistically unlikely to be killed by a cop when you are obeying lawful orders.

Another aspect though is that most people don’t report issues of abuse I imagine. Especially prior to cell phones , phone cameras, and live feed and internet being standard. Seems like many of these stories often happen when there was less accountability. Now says cops have to be more aware of them being on camera. But even now most people being harassed by a cop probably does not pull out a cellphone. I get stopped by cops often because I’m hiking along ditches looking for plants or pulling over by bridges to go river hiking despite there being places to do it. So I’m legally in the ok. I’ve had cops threaten me because I was hiking through a river that went through someone’s private property and the person mistakenly believes that they own the river and don’t know water way laws. I’ve had guns pulled out on me twice because I had to get my ID out of my backpack. I’ve been handcuffed several times snd held for 30 minutes on the side of the road while my backpack is searched because a dog “ gestured” I had drugs despite me not doing them. I don’t even smoke cigarettes. I’ve been brought back to police stations and end up in jail for over 24 hours because they thought it was illegal to possess aminta mushrooms. It’s not. So if those situations was abuse of power by cops and not lawful except for suspicious detainment despite then being wrong.

But when talking about cops, often people mean the entire judicial system. This is where data really shows societal racism. Have you ever looked at men of each race getting arrested for similar crimes with similar backgrounds? Difference in sentencing. Have you ever looked at things like the historical use of laws?

Historically, and by historically I mean even within my lifetime, there was clear racial issues. Each generation you step back you see more and more problems.

This is not even including many other things I’ll share later. Busy.

I will not apologize for nationalism. I love this country. If you’re a globalist, I hope you’re not American, too.

But to accuse me of racist views. You need to check your own biases, because they’re badly out of whack.

If that is true, you will also acknowledge its several faults (more than several, throughout its history) and not engage in whitewashing.

How many times did Paul condemn Rome or engage in politics? Oh, never. Jesus? I would have no trouble thinking of either as a globalist.

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What is the difference between nationalism and patriotism? I am strongly against nationalism. I don’t want america doing great at the expense of other nations. I prefer win win moves.

I am very much against nationalism because to me nationalism means putting your country first above the rest regardless of how it affects them. It’s a very inside looking only inside type of concept.

Why patriotism is similar, it seems to be less focused on tearing down others. It’s about being willing to defend your country and keep your country great. But it’s not about doing it at the expense of other nations. You can be very patriotic and still not support destabilizing other nations.

Also being patriotic does not mean looking out for just your “ birds of a feather”. It’s about caring for all citizens.

For example. White people have been owning land in USA for a few centuries. African Americans could not really start owning a lot of land just over 100 years. But… and there is some buts, white Americans could own land essentially anywhere they wanted but due to segregation laws African Americans could only own land in certain spots. That did not really start to change until the 60-70s. Many people in here were alive then. You potentially were. Once segregation ended , African Americans had a bit more freedom of where to buy land. However, since they are significantly outnumbered by white Americans, and there was still a lot of very violent open racism black families felt safer living around other black families. They did not want to be the one one black family surrounded by angry whites families. Since segregation was over, but plenty of racists were still wielding plenty of power they begin to manipulate things.

I’m sure right now you’re aware of districts. Kids who live in district A has to go to schools in district A. Kids in district D goes to schools in district D. Or kids living in city A must go to schools in city A. So you ended up have segregation still taking place because 95% of black families lived in this or that district and so they had to go to school there. That allowed some districts to receive more funding (since there was more students there) than other minority districts.

So in the last 50 years you’ll notice a lot of black families still all live together in the same areas, tend to make up the bulk of those schools demographics in those areas and have to attended those specific schools. Those minors schools received less funding. It’s not like the segregationist disappeared.

So you can see how societal pressures resulted in African Americans living in segregated areas ,owning less land. You can also see how city zoning regulations were used as well to bring discriminate.



In most contexts today, nationalism is “the policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one’s own nation viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations.” In short, nationalism is a kind of excessive, aggressive patriotism.

Modern nationalism is rooted, in part, in French and American revolutions that fought for the sovereignty of their people over monarchies. This historic nationalism is generally viewed favorably, a cornerstone of Western liberalism and democracy.

Win win is not always possible. Sometimes it’s necessary for a country to choose to defend the best interest of its citizens over those of other countries.

Now you’ve moved from nationalism to racism and cliques. Care to add misogyny?

You should look up studies on why this happens. It’s not only among blacks and whites, but many people from different cultures, ethnicities and religions choose to live together, given the choice.

It must be disheartening to view America and history through the lens of liberal guilt.

They were not reformists or zealots either. It’s a full-time job to reform people’s hearts, and that was their job. Supposedly ours too.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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