Oct 17, 2017 by Will Maule

John Piper Suggests Mandela Quote On Racism Is Biblically False

The most shared tweet of all time came from Barack Obama following the horrific racial violence in Charlottesville earlier this year. "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion..." Obama tweeted. It has since received almost 2 million retweets. The quote originates from a piece of writing from Nelson Mandela:

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

But is this Biblically accurate? John Piper explains that every person is born sinful and with the ability to develop racist views. "One form this sinfulness can take is hatred toward people who are different from us. This attitude can become bigoted and angry, wanting to create as much separation as we can. But another form our selfishness can take is a way of relating that wins the praise of others by doing helpful things for others — even others who are different from us," Piper wrote at Desiring God.

"There are many vain, selfish, anti-God people who have learned to treat others with decency and respect because there are very significant advantages to living that way, especially if there's a group of people that you care about — a group of people who praise that behavior very highly, and thus build up your ego while you treat people that way," he added.

So what does it really mean to be 'taught to love' in a Biblical sense? 

"Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:3, 'If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.' So the love that the Bible cares about is not merely giving our goods to the poor or being willing to sacrifice our bodies. Love, as 2 Corinthians 8:1–2 describes, starts with being overwhelmed by being loved by God and being overwhelmed by the grace of God to us in our guilt and our lack of deserving," Piper writes.

"Then, overflowing with joy in God, we meet the needs of others and draw them into sharing our joy in God, which doesn't just last for 80 years but for 80,000 years. This love goes out to people unlike us — in fact, especially to people not like us. Jesus says we give love to our enemies. We pour out that kind of love."

"Every one of us has a fundamentally self-exalting heart, which, to be sure, will do many things that benefit others. But that heart has no expression of submission to God or desire that others find their joy in God."

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