From the colonial era onwards Americans viewed themselves as the vanguard of Christendom extending Christ’s kingdom into the western wilderness. Americans also developed a clear understanding of the racial aspect of this struggle, and they were very careful to erect social and legal barriers to prevent racial mixing with the Indian natives and the Negro slaves. Yet despite this racial tension, American Christians felt a heavy burden to bring the Gospel to the non-whites around them. This effort to evangelize non-whites was not restricted to periods of security, as Americans frequently sought to preach salvation even to those hostile non-whites who threatened the white man’s very existence on this continent.
This traditional American attitude is illustrated quite well by both colonial New England and the antebellum South. These situations are striking because in both cases white Christians were uncertain of their own security. The first half-century of colonial New England saw starvation, disease and wars with the native tribes. Previous European colonies in the New World, such as Roanoke, had been completely wiped out, and the long-term success of the Puritan settlements was far from certain. In the antebellum South, especially following the failed revolt of Nat Turner in 1831, whites lived in fear that many of their numerous slaves might violently turn against them. Southerners also faced increasing agitation and the promotion of violence by Northern abolitionists who saw the likes of Turner and John Brown as heroes. In both situations white Christians never lost sight of their duty to preach the Gospel to all of those around them, no matter how hostile or dangerous they might be.
The English Puritans formed plans for the conversion of the American natives before departing from Europe:
“As they prepared for the long trek to America…the Puritans did not think of the American Indian as an enemy to be rooted out, but as an unfortunate heathen who deserved the saving grace of the Gospel. While they shuddered at the native’s uncouth nakedness and primitive habits, they saw in the red man a potential Christian in custom and conscience, capable of education and civilization as well as conversion…The Puritan’s reliance on the Bible had another important effect on their attitude towards the Indians. Almost without exception the Puritans of the seventeenth century–at least those who recorded their opinions–believed that the red man was descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel and therefore was especially in need of the Gospel of Christ…[F]rom the days of earliest colonization to King Philip’s War , the Puritan’s remained convinced that the Indians were probably Jews and that all Indians were born white; there was no doctrine of racial inferiority to blind the Puritans to the desirability of civilizing and Christianizing the American aborigines.”
(Alden T. Vaughan, New England Frontier: Puritans and Indians 1620-1675, Little, Brown and Company, 1965, pages 19-20)
It is interesting to consider that the Puritans did develop an understanding of racial reality over the decades as they learned from their interactions with the Indians. The development of Puritan racial attitudes completely undermines the notion that belief in racial differences is based on “prejudice.” The term “prejudice” literally means to pre-judge, or to judge before having all the facts. The Jewish Left frequently tells us that “racial hatred” can be overcome by becoming more familiar with people of a different race, when in reality the exact opposite is the case. The Puritans were actually prejudiced in favor of the Indians when they first arrived. At a time when they had minimal personal experience with the Indians, the Puritans held that the Indians were racially equal and were capable of achieving white levels of civilization. They had made a judgment about racial reality without having all of the facts about the Indians. After decades of experience with the Indians, during which time the Puritans tried and failed to raise the Indians to the English level of civilization, this old prejudice of the Puritans began to fade away.
The Puritans did not stint in their efforts to bring the Gospel to the natives. They appropriated significant funds for the mission to the Indians, including the printing and distribution of Bibles that had been painstakingly translated into the native languages. The Puritans raised funds for this missionary activity by sending agents back to England to petition on behalf of the heathens in the new world in need of saving grace (ibid., page 252). The high priority that the Puritans both in England and in the colonies put on the conversion of the heathen can be seen by the fact that even during the bloody English Civil War, in which the Puritans fought for their very survival as a political and religious force in their native land, the Puritans continued to support missionary activity amongst the Indians.
A similar concern for the eternal welfare of hostile non-whites is evident in the antebellum South. White Christians in Dixie spent considerable amounts of time and money to create carefully thought out missionary programs to their African brethren. They viewed the Negro slaves as fully human, and even gave them considerable freedom when it came to religious matters. These Christians viewed personal conversion as the work of the Spirit, and they felt that this conversion could not be brought about by force. On Sundays many Negro slaves were free to attend the church of their choice, even churches which their masters did not attend (Charles F. Irons, The Origins of Proslavery Christianity, The University of North Carolina Press, 2008). There was even frequent collaboration between white and black Evangelicals who worked to bring the Gospel (although not temporal manumission) to the enslaved. There are even instances of independent black churches in the antebellum South voluntarily seeking membership with white denominations:
“[Black church leader] Gowan Pamphlet…sought representation for his African Baptist Church in the Dover Baptist association in 1791 and gained acceptance to that association in 1793. It is impossible to construe the admission as a strategy for social control on the part of whites, because black members of the Williamsburg church initiated the process themselves…Pamphlet himself served as a delegate to the association at least twelve times between 1793 (the year he received his freedom) and 1807.”
(ibid. pages 81-82)
This passage shows that enslaved blacks, such as Gowan Pamphlet, were allowed to start independent black churches even when they themselves were still enslaved. These black Christians had enough trust in the sincere Christian motives of Southern whites to seek church fellowship with them. Although these black Christians certainly supported the eventual abolition of slavery, their stance on this issue was not enough to condemn their white brethren as being outside of the faith.
Throughout the last decades preceding the Civil War white Evangelicals in the South continued their efforts to bring Christ to the slaves. The fear and uneasiness caused by Nat Turner’s attempted rebellion in 1831 only inspired more intense missionary activity. White evangelists wrote catechisms specifically aimed at instructing slaves and joined hands across denominational lines to bring about the conversion of Negroes:
“African American Virginians’ continued preference for Baptist churches in some ways necessitated cooperation among denominations in the commonwealth. In 1860, an estimated 90 percent of Virginia’s African American evangelicals were Baptists…Though white Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Methodists became more and more interested in attracting black Virginians to their respective traditions, they generally conceded that their most important role came in attracting slaves to evangelicalism in general, not to their particular churches. As Presbyterian William Gaines explained of his own efforts to convert slaves on his plantation, ‘We have not endeavored to make Methodists or Baptists, or Episcopalians, or Presbyterians, or Reformers–but we do try to make Christians of them. ‘Tis true that every one would have his heart delighted, that his servants when they become Christians should join his own Church; but our aim is to make them Christians; and then leave them to their own choice.'”
(ibid., page 180)
The language used by William Gaines is hardly that of a vicious “white supremacist” intent on debasing and exploiting those under his authority. A man who “would have his heart delighted” by one of his slaves voluntarily joining him in religious worship and fellowship is surely someone with a genuine burden for all men, regardless of race.
The history of race and evangelism in America does much to demolish the contemporary view that belief in racial hierarchy is somehow contrary to the Gospel. Contemporary Christians have accepted the racial attitudes of Cultural Marxism, and they have attempted to mix this egalitarian poison together with Christian doctrine. This grotesque hybrid of divine and satanic teaching that is found in our churches is surely the source of a great many of our problems. The Bible nowhere condemns slavery or racial hierarchy. On the contrary, the Bible presupposes these things. By God’s grace the New England Puritans and the Southern slaveholders were given the opportunity to witness to many non-whites who were without Christ. These Christians combined a firm conviction in God’s sovereign power to save with a clear, rational understanding of the God-ordained differences between the races. This full acceptance of God’s revelation in his Word and his created order is necessary if we desire God to favor our nation again. History and experience clearly teach us that while God desires the Gospel to be preached to all men, this missionary activity will be most fully blessed when white Christians are in positions of authority. Self-identifying non-white Christians have a difficult time putting their faith into practical action and avoiding the seductive promises of leftist revolutionaries. This is evident from the fact that white Christians are the only group that will vote Republican specifically because they believe that abortion and sodomy are condemned in the Bible, while non-white Christians will continue to vote Democrat even if they share the same views (source) on abortion and sodomy. This is because their child-like faculties prevent them from putting God’s truth above the supposed worldly advantage of leftist wealth redistribution. Non-white Christians need the reinstitution of racial hierarchy in order to act in accordance with their own professed faith.
I can say without any doubt that the spiritual welfare of blacks in America is in a lower state today than it was prior to the Civil War. There is much talk today about how “black lives matter,” but not nearly enough talk about the eternal fate of black souls. The further away we get from a clear racial hierarchy, the more debased black souls become. White Evangelicals today often talk about their great zeal for ministering to non-whites, but we can with justice say that they have a zeal that is not according to knowledge. Their zeal is mixed with Marxist ideas about political liberation and humanistic ideas about self-esteem and self-fulfillment. Accepting the Gospel is about recognizing our own status as sinful creatures in need of God’s mercy. It is therefore a great disservice for white Evangelicals to tell blacks and other non-whites that they deserve greater political power and greater economic prosperity, and that the insidious sin of “racism” is the only reason why they are being kept from their just reward. This leftist teaching does not help bring souls to Christ, but rather turns souls towards worldly desires. To have a true Gospel burden for the salvation of non-whites is to desire a return to the racial hierarchy on which our nation was founded.