The Gospel and Race: A Pastoral Letter

In the coming days I will be posting the pastoral letter approved in 2004 by the PCA on “The Gospel and Race” in serial form.  Here is the preface, helping to set the stage.


To: Teaching and Ruling Elders of the PCA
From: the 32nd General Assembly

“The Gospel and Race: A Pastoral Letter” was adopted by the 32nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. This letter is commended to our churches to clarify the position of our denomination on very important issues relating to racism in the past, present, and future. It is also intended to provide guidance in examining our own hearts with respect to this issue and lead the flock the Lord has entrusted to our care.

The letter seeks to provide a definition of racism, a theological perspective on racism, pastoral responses to racism and discussion of pastoral issues relating to racism. Racism is an explicit or implicit belief or practice that qualitatively distinguishes or values one race over other races. From a biblical perspective, it is the position of the General Assembly that racism, as it is defined in the letter, is sin, and that repentance must follow both individually and corporately.

James reminds us that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26b). We call on each elder, session, presbytery, committee, and agency of our denomination to study this letter and seek to turn from the sin of racism even in its most subtle of forms. You are strongly encouraged to engage the leadership of your church in examining this issue with the objective of developing specific actions you will follow to lead your congregation in conviction and repentance of this sin, whether in its most subtle or most overt form.

It is the prayer of the General Assembly that our Lord Christ will be glorified and that His grace will be poured out upon each of us as individuals as we struggle daily with sin and as we rest in the promise of reconciliation found in His Gospel.