My friend Ken Camp’s article on the tragic racism of Baylor’s founders reminded me of another article I read recently about Alexander Campbell published in the Christian Chronicle, an international publication of Churches of Christ.
The article presented historical evidence that Campbell, despite his strong faith and visionary achievements, was a racist. I was saddened but not surprised. The blunt fact is almost all Anglos were racists in Campbell’s day. It doesn’t excuse it, but it does give it a context. Nor does it require us to ignore all of Campbell’s many achievements.
Campbell and Judge R.E.B. Baylor were good men who nonetheless were flawed. But doesn’t that also describe David, Peter, Paul and every other hero in the Bible except for Jesus himself?
Perhaps some pertinent advice on the subject can be drawn from Jesus’ words from John 16:12—“There are many things I would tell you, but you cannot bear them yet.”
Learning life-changing truth always is incremental. The divine message is complete and perfect, but learning the mind of God always takes time. And time has a way of educating and humbling us.
If we can show grace to present-day imperfect people, perhaps we also can offer grace to well-meaning but imperfect people from the past, warts and all—even if their names are written in history books or engraved in buildings. To quote another saying, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” It’s still pertinent.
Grand Prairie, Texas