We continue our critique of Brian Schwertley’s sermon series, “The Kinist Heresy.” The last several essays have dealt with Schwertley’s tenuous exegesis of Old Testament passages. As we analyze Schwertley’s treatment of relevant New Testament passages, we will find that his interpretations are even further off-base. A good amount of Schwertley’s argument is based upon purported examples of miscegenation in the Old Testament narrative, which he first misunderstands and subsequently misuses in his attempt to make a rule out of the exception. These claims are often rooted in a poor understanding of the identity of the people involved in the cases cited. At any rate, it is obvious that Schwertley hasn’t read a good deal of Kinist literature on the Old Testament, given the passages he chose to address. For example, Schwertley places great emphasis upon showing that the curse of Canaan doesn’t apply to modern-day black Africans while ignoring passages that establish Kinist principles like tribal property ownership (see Leviticus 25 and Numbers 36) and the law of kin-rule.1 His motivation is obvious: he believes he can easily make his argument, no matter how tangential to Kinist claims it is. Schwertley either isn’t aware of these superior Kinist arguments – and therefore should not be making pronouncements upon Kinism as if an authority on the subject – or he knows that he cannot refute them based upon biblical principles. Schwertley’s approach to the New Testament is to focus on passages teaching Christian unity, arguing that this principle must be opposed to the Kinist concept of national identity. He also argues that Pentecost has reversed Babel and that the Apostle Paul confronted Peter for “acting like a Kinist.” Let’s begin with Schwertley’s treatment of a particular Pauline passage.
“Only in the Lord”
The first passage that Schwertley addresses in his overview of New Testament passages is 1 Corinthians 7:39. He writes,
In the one specific passage on who a believer is allowed to marry in the epistles, Paul says that a Christian can marry anyone they want to as long as he or she is a Christian: “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39). If it were unlawful for Jew to marry a Greek or Roman or vice versa, then given the fact that many churches had both Jewish and Gentile members and virtually every substantial city in the Roman Empire had a Jewish community in it, we would expect Paul to forbid interracial marriage if it were wrong. But following the teaching of the Old Testament, Paul does not have a problem with it at all. For the apostle, the issue is faith. If Paul was a kinist, we would expect him to say, “You can marry anyone you want as long as they are a Christian of your own race or ethnic group.”
There are several problems with Schwertley’s superficial analysis of this verse. Schwertley has engaged in prooftexting based upon an isolated Bible verse without considering the context in which it is written. This verse occurs at the end of a chapter in which Paul is discussing some practical and pastoral issues involving marriage in the context of the persecuted first-century church, although what he writes is certainly applicable for us as well. Paul begins by telling husbands and wives not to defraud each other of the marriage debt, except for a time, so that each may be mutually devoted to prayer (1 Cor. 7:1-6). Paul likewise advises the unmarried and widows not to seek marriage, instructing those married to remain married, even if their spouse is not a believer (vv. 7-11), as a believing spouse sanctifies an unbelieving spouse and can bear witness to the gospel (vv. 12-16). Virgins are counseled to remain single during the present distress that the Church was then experiencing, but were allowed to marry if they were concerned about passing the passing the flower of youth (vv. 25-36). Finally, after reiterating the prudence of remaining single (vv. 37-38), Paul concludes that wives are bound to their husbands as long as they live; after her husband dies, a widow is then free to marry who she likes, but “only in the Lord” (v. 39). Paul concludes that a widow would be happier remaining a widow and not remarrying (v. 40), but elsewhere counsels that younger widows should remarry so as not to become gossips and busybodies (1 Tim. 5:11-14).
A number of observations are in order. First, we should observe that, from the context mentioned above, Paul plainly isn’t discussing race or ethno-national considerations at all. Paul and the other authors of the New Testament do address these issues in other places, but not here. It is therefore entirely unreasonable of Schwertley to insist that we’d expect a Kinist Paul to explicitly discuss racial compatibility in marriage. This is not at all within the purview of Paul’s discussion. Schwertley contends that the phrase “only in the Lord” simply refers to a fellow believer, which is how some of the more recent English translations actually render this verse. But there are several problems with this interpretation. It is quite obviously false to say that Paul is teaching that Christians “can marry anyone they want as long as he or she is a Christian,” since, among other reasons, this passage is not intended to provide an exhaustive list of enforceable marriage restrictions.
Schwertley is perfectly aware of this problem, but he also glosses over how significantly it undermines his own interpretation. He summarizes the Kinist objection as follows: “This passage does not contradict our position at all because Paul is only giving a brief statement here and is not giving a full exposition on who a Christian can marry. After all, the apostle says nothing about marrying one’s mother, or aunt, or sister or daughter. You surely do not believe someone can marry his blood relative as long as they are a Christian do you?” Schwertley seems amused that this is the best objection we can muster to “circumvent” this passage, replying that it is unnecessary for Paul to pause and give a brief dissertation on the prohibitions of marriage within the degrees of affinity and consanguinity prescribed in Scripture, since they have already been established in the moral law, specifically in Leviticus 18 and 20.
Mind-bendingly, Schwertley does not acknowledge how conspicuously he assumes what needs proven. Against the Kinist counterargument that “only in the Lord” cannot mean that all non-religious categories are irrelevant for marital consideration, Schwertley’s admits that such categories exist but denies the relevance of this admission, because “[t]he prohibited degrees of consanguinity are clearly set forth in Scripture while there is nothing at all forbidding the marriage of two believers of different ethnic backgrounds.” That is to say, he first goes back on his fundamental argument – that “only in the Lord” specifies a credible profession of faith as the sole criterion for marriage – but to somehow retain his argument, he effectively argues, “Well, Scripture supports me and not them.” This is the very point in dispute! If 1 Corinthians 7:39 can be used by Schwertley only in the event that the remainder of Scripture supports his view, then clearly it is useless for his argument considered by itself. If Paul is assuming unstated moral prescriptions that also guide marriage, then Schwertley cannot arbitrarily assume that Paul intentionally omitted ethnic concerns as if it were an argument. The incontrovertible fact is that other criteria for marriage are binding by inference, not withstanding Paul’s seemingly sole reference to religion.
Besides, it is frankly not true that one need a passage as explicit as Leviticus 18 to presuppose non-religious marital restrictions. Polygamy is a great example of this. There is nothing in verse 39 restricting the woman in question from marrying a man who is already married, provided that the man is a Christian. Schwertley cannot appeal to an explicit prohibition against polygamy, as the best evidences of polygamy’s immorality or inferiority are inferential, based on broad moral principles. The same is true for other issues as well. Could this woman choose to marry a barely pubescent boy, as long as he was a Christian or had made a credible profession of faith? Does verse 39 mean that it would be wrong to prohibit an 87-year-old man from marrying a 10-year-old girl? Of course not! In case these examples seem trivial, it should be pointed out that this is precisely where Schwertley’s interpretation leads.
Why, then, does Paul say that a woman would be free to marry whomever she chose? This emphasis on her freedom of choice is not meant to denigrate all non-religious categories of marital compatibility, but rather to describe the peculiar state of widowhood, which verse 39 specifically mentions. A widow is stated to be at a greater liberty to marry whom she will, because she has already been married and left her father’s house. Prior to this, a father would take greater initiative in finding a suitable husband for her wife, wherefore he is said to give his daughter in marriage (v. 38). The daughter living in her father’s house is required to have her vows ratified by her father (Num. 30:1-5). This would naturally have included marriage vows. After marriage, her vows required the ratification of her husband (Num. 30:6-8, 10-16). Widows and divorced women, though, were allowed to make vows and oaths without ratification, which promises would be considered legally binding (Num. 30:9). Even after leaving her father’s house, it would still be wrong to dishonor her parents in the choice of a husband, as it would also be wrong for a man to dishonor his parents in the choice of a wife. In this context, Paul is simply reaffirming the traditional basis for which vows were upheld and marriages established. He isn’t addressing interracial marriage in the least.
Pentecost as a Supposed Reversal of Babel
Schwertley asserts that, ultimately, Pentecost will counter the division of mankind dating from the Tower of Babel. He writes
A section of Scripture that speaks tangentially to the kinist doctrine is Acts 2:5-11, where God filled the disciples with the Holy Spirit and they were enabled by the Holy Spirit to speak in foreign languages that they themselves did not know. The account notes that diaspora Jews and proselytes from virtually every nation or ethnic group within the civilized world heard the apostles speaking their own language. This incident implies that the work of Christ applied in history will, in a certain sense, eventually counter the division of mankind at the Tower of Babel.
Are the divisions from Babel to be entirely undone? Is the continued existence of separate nations simply an obsolete relic of a rebellious past since the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost? Schwertley answers,
This does not mean that different languages or nations will be abolished but that the enmities, diverse worldviews and hatreds will be eliminated by the Spirit’s application of the death and resurrection of Christ to the world. The middle wall of partition has been broken down at the cross and thus we are to consider people of other races, nations and languages who are Bible-believing Christians to be our brothers. They are one with us in Christ and our relationship to them is far more intimate, precious and important than even our closest heathen blood relatives. We are all citizens of heaven while they [our heathen relatives] are children of hell.
First and foremost, I would like to point out that the account of the Tower of Babel in Genesis never mentions “enmities, diverse worldviews, and hatreds” as necessary consequences of the division that then occurred. God simply divided mankind into nations by heredity, accomplishing this through the confusion of language (Gen. 11:1-9). Hatred and enmity between nations have indeed emerged throughout history, and, likewise, nations have adopted non-Christian worldviews as well. But none of these are natural consequences of the division at Babel itself, and Schwertley hasn’t provided anything from the text of Genesis 11 or Acts 2 to that effect. A much better interpretation of Pentecost is provided by Dr. Francis Nigel Lee: “Pentecost sanctified the legitimacy of separate nationality rather than saying this is something we should outgrow. . . . In fact, even in the new earth to come, after the Second Coming of Christ, we are told that the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of the heavenly Jerusalem, and the kings of the earth shall bring the glory and the honor—the cultural treasures—of the nations into it. . . . But nowhere in Scripture are any indications to be found that such peoples should ever be amalgamated into one huge nation.”2 The passage to which Dr. Lee alludes is Revelation 21:24-26. He understands that separate nationality has a permanent purpose which is referenced, but certainly not countered, by Pentecost. In his talk on “Race, Nationality, and Intermarriage,” Dr. Lee cites the “liberalistic theologians” as the ones who believe that Pentecost “constituted the cancellation of the divine confusion of the tongues and dispersion of mankind into nations at the tower of Babel. Yet in fact, Pentecost does not reverse Babel – but sanctifies it.”
Remember that from the outset, Schwertley accused Kinists of asserting a false dichotomy: we believe that we have a choice between nations rooted in common heredity and a “one-world government or some giant humanistic empire.” But has Schwertley proposed a viable alternative? If national identity is entirely based upon common faith and common creeds, then as the nations are progressively converted by the gospel, they will gradually merge into one. This is the unbreakable inference from Schwertley’s teaching that the work begun at Pentecost will “eventually counter the division of mankind at the Tower of Babel.” Yet Schwertley also seems to equivocate in admitting that separate nations will still exist. What will be their basis of identity if they share the same faith with other nations? Will these nations be arbitrary geopolitical entities? Schwertley never attempts to answer these very important and relevant questions. We can safely conclude that if nations are based exclusively on faith, and if the nations are progressively converted to Christ, then they will eventually merge into a one-world government.
I suppose that Schwertley’s response is that this one-world empire will be Christian, not humanistic, and hence unobjectionable. Despite the numerous objections which would remain against any one-world arrangement, a central problem here is that Scripture provides no indication that this will occur. Nations are here to stay, as Acts 2 and Revelation 21 make abundantly clear. The history of Christianity also provides no basis for believing this. The progress of Christian evangelization across Europe corresponded with the breakup of the pagan and humanistic Roman Empire and the constitution of European nations along ethnic and tribal lines. Today these barriers are breaking down, precisely because we are progressing towards a godless one-world society and a giant humanistic empire. It’s important to keep this in mind when evaluating Schwertley’s interpretation of Genesis 11, which is that separate nations, languages, and cultures are a temporary accommodation to restrain sin that will eventually become obsolete with the progress of the gospel. Troublesomely, Schwertley and co. never acknowledge that the current trend towards the elimination of ethnic and racial distinctions in the name of “breaking down barriers” is occurring under the auspices of humanism rather than the aegis of the gospel.
Schwertley is, of course, absolutely correct that the progress of the gospel will eliminate hatred and enmity among nations, as well as among individuals and families. It will do this, but not because national boundaries are intrinsically hostile. National borders are not inherently antagonistic, just as the property boundaries of individual families are not. Schwertley seemingly believes that to acknowledge and respect the importance of national boundaries is to deny Christian brotherhood across ethnic and racial lines, but this is because Schwertley has a distorted view of Christian brotherhood.
Christian Brotherhood and National Distinctions
Schwertley cites several New Testament passages which mention Christian brotherhood. He concludes that these passages ultimately teach that Kinists are wrong for seeking to preserve national distinctions within the Church. Let’s examine them in turn. Under the heading “Theological Considerations,” Schwertley cites Matthew 21:43 as an example of the Greek word ethnos referring to the multiethnic church as a whole and concludes on this basis that any kind of ethnic separation among Christians is therefore sinful. In this verse, Jesus concludes a parable in which He tells apostate Jews that the Kingdom will be taken from them and given to another nation that brings forth the fruit of the Kingdom. Typically the Greek word ethnos3 denotes a group of people distinguished by heredity. The Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) uses the term to describe the multiple nations descended from Noah and organized “after their families.” Schwertley contends that in this verse, it is used to describe the Church comprised of both faithful Israelites and Gentiles from all nations. He cites 1 Peter 2:9 to support his contention.
In the first place, it should be evident that Matthew 21:43 is referring to the normal definition of nation – an ethnic outgrowth of the family. Jesus was contrasting the obstinacy of Israel with the other nations, used in the singular, which would displace them (cf. Paul’s olive-branch analogy in Romans 11). If Jesus meant to figuratively indicate a multinational church by His usage of the word “nation,” then His language of “another nation” would have made no sense, as He was contrasting the (ordinary, physical) nation of Israel with other nations, not with a figurative concept using the same term. But regardless of this argument, and even if this interpretation of Matthew 21:43 is incorrect, it’s clear that St. Peter uses a figurative definition of nation in reference to the multinational church. In 1 Peter 2:9, he refers to Christian believers as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” This description of the church comports with how Israel is described in Exodus 19:5-6. Certainly, there is a figurative sense in which the entire church can be spoken of as a nation. Nations are people grouped together by common birth, and the church is a collection of all people grouped together by common spiritual rebirth, or regeneration. However, it would be a category mistake to conclude that this is the only meaningful way in which the concept of nationhood is understood in the context of the Church, because spiritual rebirth doesn’t nullify physical birth. On the contrary, we could not have an intelligible figurative meaning of “nation” with reference to the church in the first place if we did not already have an understanding of physical nations linked by common ancestry! Furthermore, the aforementioned passage from Revelation (21:24-26) disproves this, describing multiple nations of the saved walking in the light of Heaven. By definition, these all must have been members of the church, i.e. of the one holy nation which Peter mentions. We can no more conclude from Matthew 21:43 and 1 Peter 2:9 that the holy nation of the Church replaces the concept of multiple nations in the physical sense, anymore than we can conclude that the singular household of faith mentioned in Galatians 6:10, or the household of God mentioned in Ephesians 2:19, replaces the concept of individual families. All Christians are members of the nation or household of the church in the spiritual sense, while also members of different nations and families in the physical sense. The very important realities of regeneration do not nullify the importance of physical nations or families. These remain after conversion and shall never be abolished.
Schwertley insists that Christians of all different racial backgrounds normally were and normatively should be members of the same local congregations, but he offers little in the way of evidence to support his claim. He observes that when Paul sends greeting to the Christian Church in Rome, he salutes “Herodian my kinsman” (Rom. 16:11) – and we could also add Adronicus and Junia as well (Romans 16:7). I find this prooftext comical because it is so contrary to Schwertley’s mindset. Paul acknowledges a fellow Israelite in Rome to be his kinsman! Does Brian Schwertley ever refer to individual Germans or the German people in the aggregate to be his kinsmen? My guess is that he probably doesn’t – especially given his previous assertions that nationhood is entirely constituted by a common faith, which utterly contradicts the reason for Paul’s salutation to Herodian. Paul likewise refers to the nation of Israel as his kinsmen according to the flesh, even in spite of their apostasy (Rom. 9:3), and in his salutations he greets an individual Israelite as a kinsman. This is a very ironic verse for Schwertley to use as a prooftext! Nevertheless, it does demonstrate that there was at least one ethnic Israelite who was worshiping among the Christians of Rome.
At this point, it is important to present what Kinists actually believe about the local church. Schwertley presents a strawman of Kinist beliefs, implying that we insist on absolute separation in worship, as though a white congregation should refuse communion to a fellow believer simply because he is non-white. On the contrary, Kinists do not believe that it is inherently wrong for believers of different races to worship together, especially in cases in which circumstances make this necessary or otherwise appropriate. We do believe that ethnic and racial homogeneity is a healthy attribute for the local church; we affirm that God separated the nations, which should naturally be reflected in most church congregations. Notwithstanding, churches might have ethnic and racial foreigners present for a number of reasons. In the first place, a Kinist nation would not absolutely exclude all racial foreigners from its borders. Foreigners would be present for the purposes of diplomacy, commerce, and general goodwill, with the caveat that laws such as kin-rule and native property ownership would be observed. While they are present in a foreign land, it would be natural for foreigners to worship on Sunday, and they would be welcomed at local churches as guests and visitors.
This has been the reality throughout the history of Christendom. The average local church was overwhelmingly homogeneous, especially in rural areas. In urban areas, it would not have been uncommon to encounter foreigners who were traveling, either privately or on official state business. Even then, the vast majority of those attending church in the cities would have been racially similar. Most Christians assume that the massive racial heterogeneity in twenty-first century America is normal and healthy, but even in contemporary America, most Christians still tend to worship in homogeneous congregations. So called mega-churches are the most racially diverse congregations in America, but they arrive at racial diversity by watering down their message, diminishing any sense of genuine community, and implementing informal “affirmative action” in order to showcase their “diversity” to a society infatuated with racial pluralism.
Schwertley’s evidence for widespread integration in the apostolic church is weak. It is true that there were a handful of ethnic Israelites in Rome who were acknowledged among the Christian community. However, there also seems to be a continued distinction acknowledged by the apostles in the early church. The order of deacons (i.e. the diaconate) began as a result of a conflict between the Hebrews and the Grecians, or Hellenized, Jews (Acts 6:1-7). The widows of the Hellenists or Greek-speaking Jews were neglected in the ministrations of the Church. The apostles respond by ordaining seven men to minister to the needs of these widows. Interestingly, the Hellenists did not consider their widows to simply be in a generic category of Christian widows, but maintained a conscious awareness of their kin-responsibility to them. The result was that seven men were ordained for this task, out of which the order of deacons emerged.
The apostle Paul later confirms that we have a particular responsibility to our own people. In regards to the care for widows, Paul explains that Christians should care for their relatives so that the church won’t be charged with this responsibility. Paul concludes that failure to provide for our own people, especially those of our own household, is worse than unbelief (1 Tim. 5:4-8)! It’s important to recall that Paul considered his own people to be his unsaved ethnic kinsmen (Rom. 9:3). That the Hellenists maintained a distinct identity and identified their particular people’s widows demonstrates that the early church was not integrated in the way that Schwertley contends.
R.J. Rushdoony confirms these observations about the early church:
Thus it would appear from the evidence of the law that, first, a restrictive membership or citizenship was a part of the practice of Israel by law. There is evidence of a like standard in the NT church: instead of being forced into a rigid uniformity, Gentiles and Jews were free to establish their separate congregations and maintain their distinctive character. Moreover, Acts 15, the Council of Jerusalem, makes clear that the differences in cultural heritage and stages of moral and spiritual growth made possible major conflicts in case of uniform membership. As a result, separate congregations were authorized. On the other hand, Jews were not barred from Gentile congregations, so that, while restrictive groups were valid, integrated groups were not invalid.4
While any believer could attend and fellowship with other believers in other congregations, separate congregations were definitely the rule rather than the exception.
Other Passages on Christian Unity and Brotherhood
Next, Schwertley turns his attention to Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” After correctly noting that Christian believers of all nations and races have been baptized into Christ and put on Christ, Schwertley makes some rather stunning statements. He writes, “Paul’s statement is structured both negatively and positively. The first half speaks negatively of boundaries that divided people in the ancient world. There are three contrasts of inequality. These three pairs of opposites are intended to cover the three main divisions of human life: one’s ethnicity or nationality; one’s economic status; and one’s gender.” Schwertley’s comment demonstrates just how little he has considered the logical conclusion of his argument. Schwertley commented earlier that the result of Pentecost would be to counter the separation of the Tower of Babel. If the distinctions of ethnicity, social class, and gender are all barriers to be overcome by the gospel – if they are all “negative boundaries” which “divided people” – then this leads us to the conclusion that, on his lights, gender is no more meaningful in a Christian society than race or ethnicity. Schwertley states, “What is important is not one’s birth or nationality or skin color, but one’s rebirth,” but he could just as easily have stated, “What is important is not one’s sex or gender, but whether or not one has been clothed in Christ.” If Galatians 3:28 means that race or ethnicity is irrelevant and unimportant in every respect, then it means that sex or gender is also irrelevant in the same way.
This isn’t a merely hypothetical problem, because this verse has been used by radical egalitarians with agendas far to the left of Schwertley, justifying their positions the exact same way that Schwertley attempts to justify his own. Galatians 3:28 has been used to justify women’s ordination, since in Christ, “there is neither male nor female.” Moreover, this same phrase is now being used to justify homosexuality, on the same grounds of gender interchangeability. If there is neither male nor female, how can we enforce sex-specific prohibitions on marriage and intercourse? If Schwertley believes that Christ has rendered racial differences irrelevant in Galatians 3:28, then he must accept the logical conclusion of this argument – namely, that Christ has also rendered the sexual differences of male and female irrelevant. Undoubtedly, Schwertley would be remiss to take his own argument about the irrelevancy of race to its logical conclusion. Schwertley is a complementarian when he is considering the role of men and women in the Church and in society in general.
The solution to this “problem” is to understand that Paul is speaking of Christian unity, not equality, irrelevancy, and certainly not interchangeability. This is evident in that Paul says, “ye are all one in Christ Jesus” rather than, “ye are all the same in Christ Jesus.” Schwertley seems to implicitly understand this when he writes, “It is important to note that the statement ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek’ relates to our redemption in Christ and does not mean that national borders and cultural differences are swept aside by the coming of the kingdom.” The problem is that Schwertley believes that ethnicity and race remain only incidental aspects of our identity which don’t have any ultimate importance. He tries to simultaneously treat them as meaningless and ongoing. The reality is that both racial and gender distinctions remain, not as mere incidentals, but as meaningful and substantive aspects of our identity which are sanctified in Christ. This is clear from other passages in which Paul speaks of national boundaries. Paul speaks of national boundaries as being erected by God so that the nations will grope for Him and find Him (Acts 17:26-27). We should also remember that men from different nations heard the gospel preached in their own language on the day of Pentecost, rather than in one uniform language, and that this indicates that separate nationhood has a legitimate basis under the proclamation of the gospel. As Dr. Lee states, separate nationhood is not something that we will outgrow with the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Schwertley’s confusion continues in his treatment of what Paul writes about the “middle wall of partition” in Ephesians. Schwertley cites Ephesians 2:14-16 as though these verses were opposed to Kinism. He correctly identifies that both Jews and Gentiles are saved by faith, and that the ceremonial distinction between Jews and Gentiles has been removed by Christ. I haven’t met a Kinist yet who disagrees with what Schwertley has proposed here. However, this verse is often abused as though the middle wall of partition refers to national boundaries as such. The reality is that the middle wall of partition was a physical wall in the Temple itself that separated Gentiles and ritually impure Jews into an outer court apart from the inner sanctuary.5 The apostle Paul is not speaking of the abolition of national boundaries in Ephesians 2, or anywhere else for that matter. He is speaking of the enmities that had arisen because of the influence of the Judaizers, who insisted that Gentile converts keep the ceremonial law such as the law of circumcision. Paul concludes that both Jewish and Gentile believers have access to the Father by one Spirit (2:18) and are united in the single household of faith (2:19).
Earlier, we discussed that the singular holy nation of the church mentioned in 1 Peter 2:9 does not negate the equally true reality and relevance of multiple nations in the physical sense. Likewise, the singular house or family mentioned in Ephesians 2 and Galatians 6 obviously does not negate the reality or relevance of individual families. Individual nations in addition to individual families have a continued, vital role to play in Christian society. Schwertley’s error is his presupposition that any separation is rooted in hatred and bigotry. Schwertley equivocates when he acknowledges that national boundaries will continue to exist, but denies them any important role or function in a Christian society. If national distinctions and boundaries will continue to exist, as Schwertley admits on various occasions, then there is simply no reason not to assign them the same role that they are given in the Law. If Schwertley believes that the sole basis for national boundaries in the Law was to form a religious barrier and that national identity is rooted solely in a common religion, then he naturally must accept that he is advocating for the eventual blurring and ultimate erasure of existing national boundaries. He cannot have it both ways.
Schwertley repeats this same error as he treats several different New Testament passages pertaining to Christian unity. He cites verses that state that all nations will be represented in Heaven (Revelation 5:9, 7:9, 21:24, and 22:2), and insists that only those who do not repent from their sins are excluded from Heaven (21:27). Kinists agree that people are not admitted into Heaven on the basis of race. Schwertley states that Christians are to be united in separation from the world, citing Galatians 1:4, 13; 1 John 2:15; and Hebrews 11:10-16 as supporting texts. Schwertley also insists that all Christians share citizenship in Heaven, as though this somehow nullifies the Kinist belief in national identity. Being a Christian does not conflict with being English, German, Japanese, or any other national identity. Schwertley cites verses that establish that Christians are all part of God’s household. Again, this does not contradict Kinism at all, since a Christian is a member of God’s household, as well as a member of his own blood family.
These are all category fallacies. It is true that the Church is to be separate from the world, as these verses maintain, but this doesn’t preclude the geographic separation inherent in national boundaries. National boundaries still exist and should still be maintained in the same sense in which boundaries still exist between individual families. If Schwertley wants to argue that the separation proper to national boundaries somehow violates Christian unity, then he must argue the same for individual families. If Schwertley takes his view that the separation of national boundaries violates Christian separation from the world to its logical conclusion, then he might as well argue that Christian families living in separate households on separate properties also violates his conception of Christian unity.
Schwertley has impaled himself on the horns of a dilemma. The solution to this dilemma is to understand that Paul never speaks of the erasure or the diminished importance of national boundaries whenever he speaks of Christian unity. When the apostle Paul says, “there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek,” he prefaces this statement by saying “whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed,” and he further qualifies this statement when he says, “the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” Paul concludes that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Paul is not saying that there is no difference between Jews and Greeks (or any other ethnic groups) in any sense, as though these differences meant nothing. Paul is actually teaching that God accepts those who believe from every nation, despite their real and substantial differences – differences which are important in non-soteriological contexts. Similarly, Paul speaks of the covenant community as an olive tree in Romans 11. In this passage, Paul compares the covenant to an olive tree. The natural branches, the tribes of Israel, were cut off through unbelief, and wild branches, Gentile nations, were grafted onto the olive tree. The natural branches that were cut off are able to be re-grafted back onto the tree through faith. While all believers from all nations can and will be grafted into the olive tree that is the Church, Paul still refers to them as separate branches. Paul is not teaching that to God there are no differences between nations whatsoever, but that national identity does not determine our salvation. Christian unity between all Christians of all nations should certainly exist, but nowhere does Paul suggest that this unity nullifies the importance of national identity itself.
Schwertley’s errors with the New Testament are arguably worse than his Old Testament errors, as these ones concern broader and more fundamental theological principles, which are necessarily more far-reaching in their implications elsewhere, as opposed to the details of historical narratives. He promulgates egalitarian interpretations which, if taken to their logical terminus, are explicitly liberal and antichristian. For example, when he argues that “a Christian can marry anyone they want to as long as he or she is a Christian,” or when he speaks of Galatians 3:28 as eliminating racial differences, he plays directly into the hands of the feminist and sodomist agendas, with their view on the sexes’ interchangeability and meaninglessness. In the next article, we will continue with Schwertley’s other New Testament arguments.
- See also “A Biblical Defense of Ethno-Nationalism” and “Samuel Rutherford on Kin Rule” for more information. ↩
- Dr. Francis Nigel Lee. “Race, People, and Nationality.” 2/2/2005. ↩
- See Strong’s Concordance, G1484 ↩
- R. J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, pp. 99-100. ↩
- This article does a decent job demonstrating that what Paul has in mind in Ephesians 2:14-16 is not a barrier ordained by God’s Law, but rather a manmade ordinance which arbitrarily separated people who should have otherwise been united in their common covenant with God. ↩