Finis Jennings Dake (1902–1987) was a very influential figure in the charismatic Pentecostal movement in the middle half of the twentieth century. This post should not be considered in anyway an endorsement of the Charismatic movement, premillennial eschatology, dispensationalism, or Dake’s personal failings. Rather, I’m posting this for two reasons. The first is as a continuation of the theme we’ve been laying out recently: the unanimous voice of pre-1960 American Protestantism, by which all who believed in the Bible as the literal, infallible, unchanging Word of God supported racial segregation and opposed miscegenation. Whether they be evangelical, Presbyterian, Baptist, or, in this post, Pentecostal. Show me someone pre-1960 who disagreed with this mainstream view, and I’ll show you a communist at war with the orthodox view of the authority of Scripture. And secondly, this case is especially enlightening in explicitly showing how this near-unanimous agreement entirely reversed its course by the 1980s and 1990s.
The Dake Annotated Reference Bible, published in 1963, represented the first Pentecostal study Bible. Dake’s study Bible has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and, despite the controversy surrounding it, has helped shape Pentecostal thought, both as a foundation and as an influence on later Pentecostal preachers such on Benny Hinn and Jimmy Swaggart. The Dake Bible continues to be popular with over 40,000 copies sold each year by the Dake family ministry.1
In the following points, you will notice there are doctrinal differences between the biblical basis for racial separation presented here at Faith and Heritage and some of the reasons cited by Dake. The relevant point is that despite varying biblical exegesis supporting racial separation, conservative Christians agreed on the fact that racial separation was a biblical imperative. Here is what Dake had to say in his notes on Acts 17:26, entitled “30 Reasons for Segregation of Races.”
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (KJV)
- God wills all races to be as He made them. Any violation of God’s original purpose manifests insubordination to Him (Acts 17:26; Romans 9:19-24).
- God made everything to reproduce “After his own kind” (Genesis 1:11-12, 21-25; 6:20; 7:14). Kind means type and color or He would have kept them all alike to begin with.
- God originally determined the bounds of the habitations of nations (Acts 17:26; Genesis 10:5, 32; 11:8; Deuteronomy 32:8).
- Miscegenation means the mixture of races, especially the black and white races, or those of outstanding type or color. The Bible even goes farther than opposing this. It is against different branches of the same stock intermarrying such as Jews marrying other descendants of Abraham (Ezra 9-10; Nehemiah 9-13; Jeremiah 50:37; Ezekiel 30:5).
- Abraham forbad Eliezer to take a wife for Isaac of Canaanites (Genesis 24:1-4). God was so pleased with this that He directed whom to get (Genesis 24:7, 12-27).
- Isaac forbad Jacob to take a wife of the Canaanites (Genesis 27:46-28:7).
- Abraham sent all his sons of the concubines, and even of his second wife, far away from Isaac so their descendants would not mix (Genesis 25:1-6).
- Esau disobeying this law brought the final break between him and his father after lifelong companionship with him(Genesis 25:28; 26:34-35, 27:46; 28:8-9).
- The two branches of Isaac remained segregated forever (Genesis 30; 46:8-26).
- Ishmael and Isaac’s descendants remained segregated forever (Genesis 25:12-23; 1 Chronicles 1:29).
- Jacob’s sons destroyed a whole city to maintain segregation (Genesis 34).
- God forbad intermarriage between Israel and all other nations (Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:5-6).
- Joshua forbad the same thing on sentence of death (Joshua 22:12-13).
- God cursed angels for leaving their own “first estate” and “their own habitation” to marry the daughters of men (Genesis 6:1-4; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6-7).
- Miscegenation caused Israel to be cursed (Judges 3:6-7; Numbers 25:1-8).
- This was Solomon’s sin (I Kings 11).
- This was the sin of Jews returning from Babylon (Ezra 9:1-10:2,10-18,44; 13:1-30).
- God commanded Israel to be segregated (Leviticus 20:24; Numbers 23:9; 1 Kings 8:53).
- Jews recognized as a separate people in all ages because of Gods choice and command (Matthew 10:6; John 1:11). Equal rights in the gospel gives no right to break this eternal law.
- Segregation between Jews and all other nations to remain in all eternity (Isaiah 2:2-4; Ezekiel 37; 47:13-48,55; Zechariah 14:16-21; Matthew 19:28; Luke 1:32-33; Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5).
- All nations will remain segregated from one another in their own parts of the earth forever (Acts 17:26; Genesis 10:5,32; 11:8-9; Deuteronomy 32:8; Daniel 7:13-14; Zechariah 14; Revelation 11:15; 21:24).
- Certain people in Israel were not even to worship with others (Deuteronomy 23:1-5; Ezra 10:8; Nehemiah 9:2 10:28; 13:3).
- Even in heaven certain groups will not be allowed to worship together (Revelation 7:7-17; 14:1-5; 15:2-5).
- Segregation was so strong in the O.T. that an ox and an ass could not work together (Deuteronomy 22:10).
- Miscegenation caused disunity among God’s people (Numbers 12).
- Stock was forbidden to be bred with other kinds (Leviticus 19:19).
- Sowing mixed seed in the same field was unlawful (Leviticus 19:19).
- Different seeds were forbidden to be planted in vineyards (Deuteronomy 22:9).
- Wearing garments of mixed fabrics forbidden (Deuteronomy 22:11; Leviticus 19:19).
- Christians and certain other people of a like race are to be segregated (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 6:15; 2 Corinthians 6:14-15; Ephesians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-16; 1 Timothy 6:5; 2 Timothy 3:5).
A few, like 11 and 14, are a stretch, and we can perceive dispensationalism’s Talmudic influence, but overall this is a good, solid exegesis of the relevant Scripture on the issue.
Nothing groundbreaking here, and I might not have posted it at all considering Dake’s belief in such things as a pre-Adamite world, except for something I found when doing research into Dake. Dake’s biblically sound but politically incorrect views on race offer the clear, concise, and comprehensive case study I’ve not heretofore encountered, illustrating how and why the American church changed its view on racial segregation and miscegenation. On the Dake website, there is an article entitled “Answering the Charge of Racism,” put up by his family who continues to run Dake Publishing. This article seeks to address the “racism” of the passage from the Dake Bible quoted above.
First note that until twenty-five years ago, those thirty notes were practically undisputed as biblical truth.
In the 27 years between 1963 and 1990, only three people ever questioned us about the possibility of racial implications in some of the notes.
So they were well aware of the contents of the notes, and even three years after Dake’s death, they didn’t make any changes.
In 1990, however, a few individuals did express concerns. . . . [W]hen this note on page 159 was brought to our attention from the perspective of those who were offended by what they thought was racism, we began immediately to address the issue.
As I pointed out, it is extremely unlikely they didn’t know what was there. What changed was public awareness, not the Dake family’s awareness. And note that the complaints were based on the appearance of “racism,” not any claims to the falsehood of what was written.
We knew that Finis Dake was not a racist.
Like most people in the past few decades, they use the ideas of racial separatism and racial supremacy interchangeably under the blanket term “racism,” even though they simply aren’t synonymous. By all indications, Dake wasn’t a racial supremacist; we at F&H are not either. However, we openly claim the position of racial separatists, and it’s obvious from Dake’s notes that he was as well.
Therefore, we were concerned at first only with the wording of the notes. We started by substituting “separation” for the more racially charged “segregation” throughout the Dake Bible. . . . We also used “nation” instead of “race” where it offered clarity.
The problem is that the offense, despite whatever rhetoric might have been used by the complainants, wasn’t over the terminology, but over the underlying ideas. The Marxist, in his war on Christianity against godly distinctions, doesn’t care whether you call it segregation or separation or whether you call them races or nations.
But as we moved further into the 1990s, more negative reactions to such notes began to surface, and we realized that certain notes were a stumbling block for some whose hearts were already wounded from their experiences of racial prejudice.
Showing weakness to these people never works; they simply smell blood in the water and redouble their attacks. Re-read the last half of that quote again, as this is the crux of the matter. What is the core issue here? Did they realize that what was stated in the notes was untrue or unbiblical? No. They don’t even make a pretext of that being the case. The core issue is that people’s feelings were hurt over biblical truth and that the Bible must change to accommodate their feelings.
And so, in the fall of 1996, we discussed the matter as a family and made a unanimous decision to edit or remove any note that could possibly be misconstrued as a racist comment.
There’s no room for biblical truth when your worldly reputation and book sales are on the line. No attempt at a biblical rebuttal of Dake’s views, just a simple business decision to whitewash the previous generation’s views to remove those parts which the pagan culture at large now found offensive. But of course, even this did not satisfy the Marxist crusaders. It is not enough for them that someone rejects their forefathers’ views; it is not even enough that someone goes back and attempts to edit their forefathers’ views. The fact that their forefathers believed the Bible is a debt that can never be paid down.
In spite of these efforts on our part, on February 16, 1998, Dake Publishing learned that Dr. Frederick K. C. Price intended to devote at least 30 weeks of his series on “Race, Religion, and Racism” to the original notes on page 159 of the New Testament.
Price is a black pastor who unironically pastored an African Methodist Episcopal church in California for two years before moving on to a TV ministry, reaching millions each week and telling guilty white people that race doesn’t matter. Shocked that Price would do such a thing after their whitewash attempts, the family contacted Price, prostrating themselves and maintaining that Dake was in no way a white supremacist – all while, once again, ignoring the sound biblical arguments for racial separation. Price rejected their pleas, for like the curse of God on actual sin, the cultural sin of racism must be visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
Do you have any idea of how many people have bought and studied the Dake Bible from 1963-1998 (35 years)?. [sic] People who have these Bibles must be informed that these particular notes must be discarded.
In your letter you mentioned, “We wish to express our sincere regrets and apologies for any commentary in The Dake Annotated Reference Bible that has been interpreted as being supportive of slavery, racism or discrimination.” To me this issue is not personal, however, I for one would be the first to say to you, apologies accepted! But, the fact of the matter still stands, the notes are already printed and have been circulating for the past 35 years. It has to be fixed! I see two ways by which this can possibly be done. First, when automobile manufacturers, Ford, General Motors etc. find a flaw in their product, they do a recall at their expense. In other words, they fix or replace the faulty part; are you willing to do that? Thirty-five years of printed material …that’s a lot of “parts”. Secondly, someone has to point out the faulty parts, so people can avoid them. That is a part of my assignment with this series on “Race, Religion, and Racism”….
Price then used their letters to attack the Dake family during his first sermon of the series. The article goes on to attempt to defend the Dake family and clarify the issue.
When we speak of racism, we do so according to its definition in Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary.
Yes, that’s right, the definition of this “sin” is based on a dictionary, not the Bible. Dictionaries can of course be helpful, but the basis for determining sinfulness must come from the Bible. The assumption of sinfulness based on a pagan cultural standard is a distinctly unchristian and anti-scriptural principle.
- Define the concept based on Scripture.
- Prove from Scripture that the concept is a sin.
- Apply that definition to real-world situations.
That is the biblical method, whether you’re dealing with rape, theft, lying, pride, or anything else. You most certainly don’t start with the pagan culture and a dictionary definition and work backwards from there to impose that standard on the Bible.
And for those who believe we’ve compromised somehow in the changes we’ve made, we hope the necessity for such changes is now evident.
A necessity for continued book sales, certainly.
However, it is on this one issue alone that we feel changing the Dake Bible was for the greater good of the body of Christ. The remainder of Dake’s extensive teachings will be preserved.
Until the homosexuals or feminists start being offended and kick up enough of a fuss to warrant their own special editing and whitewash.
It should be noted that the article tacks on a seventeen-point “anti-racist” message from the pastor who wrote Dake’s biography. The points address racial supremacy (2, 3, 6, 16), explain the spiritual nature of the church (9, 13, 15), directly contradict other passages of Scripture (4, 5, 17), or lack relevance for the issue of racial separation (1, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14).
While this is dealing with a specific Protestant sect, everything I’ve seen indicates that this is representative of the American church overall. Hopefully this is illuminating for people who, like myself, weren’t old enough to experience the change and are left wondering how we got from thirty reasons for segregation of races to seventeen anti-racist points in less than forty years.
The older generation who believed in racial separation, like every generation before them, died and were replaced in leadership by their children. Unfortunately due to the older generation largely failing to protect their children from the poison of public schools and the mass media, this new generation was on far shakier ground in their commitment to unpopular biblical truth. When the attacks began, these children attempted to weasel their way out of it by claiming such views were “from a different time” or tweaking the wording in offensive material, but still maintaining the basics. When this failed and the attacks intensified, they folded like wet paper bags and did a complete overhaul of their own views, abandoning biblical truth for the Marxist standards of morality. When even this failed to appease their assailants, they went a step further and started rewriting history to deny that their fathers and grandfathers ever believed such horrible things. This is where we are today, and this is why Faith and Heritage is forced to post these articles, calling them on their bald-faced lies.
This same process has already begun for homosexuality and feminism in the modern church, so don’t worry, we’ll get to experience this firsthand.