Is the Bible a White Man’s Book?
“CHRISTIANITY was brought to us by adventurers and opportunists who gave us the Bible and took away everything.” This opinion by a radio announcer in Botswana expresses what many Africans believe. A similar viewpoint is held in other parts of the world. In Africa many blacks put it this way: ‘The Bible is a white man’s book. They brought it to Africa and used it and their religion to tame us and rob our land.’
Are these accusations true? Did white men ‘rob the land’? Was it “adventurers and opportunists” who brought Christianity to Africa? Is the Bible really “a white man’s book”?
Did White Men ‘Rob the Land’?
Taking a careful look into the pages of history, we see that in many places they did. In the 15th century the vigorous peoples of western Europe—with larger ships and improved methods of navigation—were venturing farther into the Atlantic Ocean. Why? In addition to the spirit of adventure and curiosity characteristic of Europeans, there was also, and mainly, that desire to “get rich quick” that motivated so many voyages of discovery and conquest.
For example, in 1492 Columbus sailed due west and found, not the East Indies or eastern Asia, as he thought, but the Caribbean islands, now known as the West Indies. In time Spanish adventurers like Cortez and Pizarro took possession of vast areas in North, Central and South America. Encountering, at first, primitive peoples, the Spaniards “slaughtered them, they robbed them, they enslaved them, and baptised them,” as reported by H. G. Wells in his Outline of History. Before long “a steady stream of gold and silver began to flow across the Atlantic to the Spanish Government.”
The main objective of Columbus was to find a sea route to India and the East with its lucrative spice trade and other sources of wealth. The Portuguese mariners of his day had the same objective but chose the route around Africa. In 1498 Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape and reached India. Before long the Portuguese had trading posts in East Africa (Mozambique) and were collecting gold from Zimbabwe, which they thought was Ophir—the main source of King Solomon’s fabulous gold supplies. They also had extensive trading stations in India and the Far East, including China. But, after much fighting and bloodshed, other ambitious European nations took over most of their commercial empire.
Eventually the whole of the Americas and huge areas of Asia were dominated by Europeans. “By 1900, all Africa was . . . divided between the European Powers . . . with much snarling and disputation . . . Little heed was given to the welfare of the natives in this scramble,” stated historian Wells.
Collaborating closely with the European powers were the churches of Christendom. Did they establish true Christianity in Africa and other parts of the world? They did not. How could they when they were not practicing it themselves? They brought the Bible, but they did not follow it. The “spirit” of the Bible is unity, peace and true interracial brotherhood. Its main message is that God’s kingdom under Christ is the only hope for mankind. But European nations, although claiming to be Christian, have quarreled and fought right through their turbulent history, this strife reaching a climax in this century in World Wars I and II, and now are making frantic preparations for World War III. And instead of proclaiming God’s kingdom, they look to a man-made political organization, the United Nations, as man’s only hope.
You may agree that these facts are true and still think that the Bible is a white man’s book. You may say: ‘But it was the whites who brought the Bible to Africa. Besides, the Bible was written by whites and it talks only about whites.’
However, is the fact that white men brought the Bible to Africa and other lands really a good reason to reject it? If a postman brings you a letter from a dear friend or relative, will you refuse it if the postman happens to be white? Hardly. Remember, too, that white people also brought bicycles, radios, cars and TV sets to Africa, yet almost all blacks are very pleased to obtain them.
Let us now consider . . .
Was the Bible Written by Whites About Whites?
To most blacks of southern Africa there are only three racial divisions—blacks, whites and Asiatics, and they classify Arabs, Jews and other peoples of the Middle East, not as Asiatics, but as whites. However, just as there are different nations and types of blacks so there are different types of whites. The entire Bible was written by Israelites, or Jews, who are Orientals, or people of the Middle East—but not of the white European races who conquered Africa. Interestingly, Moses, the man who wrote the first five books of the Bible, was born and lived in northern Africa until he was 40 years old.
However, the real Author of the Bible is the Almighty God himself, Jehovah, the One to whom all races and tribes of mankind owe their existence. The 66 books that make up the Bible, or Holy Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, were written under his guidance and inspiration. “All Scripture is inspired of God.” (2 Tim. 3:16) This is the vital and all-important factor. The Supreme Ruler of the universe is not a petty racialist. He is not the least concerned with the minor differences of skin and hair that mean so much to narrow-minded, small-hearted men. The Bible reports that when the apostle Peter arrived at the home of Cornelius, a Roman officer, he found a group of Gentiles, whom the Jews despised. But they were all keenly interested in the “good news.” So Peter said: “I now realize that it is true that God treats everyone on the same basis. Whoever fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him, no matter what race he belongs to.”—Acts 10:34, 35, Today’s English Version.
The Greatest Teacher the world has ever seen, Jesus Christ, accepted and taught the Bible account of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first human pair. (Matt. 19:3-6) Were our first human parents light-skinned or dark? We do not know. They may have been of some shade in between. But we do know that “Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she had to become the mother of everyone living.” (Gen. 3:20) The apostle Paul confirmed this by saying: “From one man he [God] created all races of mankind.” (Acts 17:26, TEV) This indicates that the first pair were created with the innate power to produce the different races and skin hues that now exist. According to that, we are all related and should form one worldwide brotherhood. In his book The Races of Mankind, Professor R. Benedict wrote: “The races of mankind are what the Bible says they are—brothers.”
Some might raise the objection: ‘But does not the Bible pronounce a curse on the black race?’ This view is held by many people, both blacks and whites, and especially those in southern Africa. But it is entirely false.
On a certain occasion after the global flood, Noah’s son Ham was guilty of disrespectful conduct toward his father. Ham’s son Canaan was probably involved in some abuse against Noah. Fittingly, then, Noah made the pronouncement: “Cursed be Canaan. Let him become the lowest slave to his brothers.”
In later years the Canaanites became notorious for their immorality, their very religion involving shocking sexual excesses. The prophetic curse was fulfilled when Israel, descended from Shem, subjugated the Canaanites, who later came under the yoke of Medo-Persians, Greeks and Romans—descendants of Japheth.—Gen. 9:20-27.
Since the Canaanites were of a white race, the curse had nothing to do with blacks, who are the descendants of Cush, another son of Ham. This misinterpretation of God’s Word has been the cause of much hardship and suffering upon the black race. This was especially so when the nefarious slave trade was operating under the flags of “Christian” nations. Says historian H. Fisher: “It is a terrible commentary on Christian civilization that the longest period of slave-raiding known to history was initiated by the action of Spain and Portugal, France, Holland and Britain after the Christian faith had for more than a thousand years been the established religion of Western Europe.”
The slaveowners, good churchgoers for the most part, used to justify the system by referring to the mythical curse on blacks. Today, in some places, many whites still use the same argument to try to “whitewash” discrimination against blacks.
Concerning the criticism that the Bible speaks only about whites, it is true that most Biblical events relate to peoples of the Middle East considered “whites” by many Africans. (This explains why illustrations of Biblical scenes usually depict “whites” or Orientals.) However, this is not always the case. For example, Ebed-melech, who was favored by God because he saved the life of the prophet Jeremiah, was an African. (Jer. 38:7-13; 39:15-18) Many of those who were present at Pentecost when the holy spirit was poured out on the early disciples were people from Africa. (Acts 2:7-11) The man to whom Philip preached in his chariot, as related at Acts 8:26-38, was from Ethiopia.
The Bible Condemns Evil by All Races
Obviously there is good and there is bad done by all races. But the Bible condemns all forms of evil, irrespective of the color of those practicing them. For example, exploitation of the poor by the rich has been carried out by people of all races just as the Bible says: “Man has dominated man to his injury.” (Eccl. 8:9) But the Bible also warns: “Look here, you rich men, now is the time to cry and groan with anguished grief because of the terrible troubles ahead of you. . . . Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. Their cries have reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts.”—Jas. 5:1-4, The Living Bible.
God’s Word also denounces the ugly practices of both rich and poor of all races, such as fornication, idolatry, the practice of spiritism, enmities, strife and drunken bouts. It gives notice that “those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.” (Gal. 5:19-21) Shortly, however, this all-powerful kingdom of God will put an end to the present evil setup and bring in a 1,000-year reign of peace.—Dan. 2:44; Ps. 37:10, 11; Rev. 20:1, 2.
In addition to providing this glorious message of hope, the Bible gives excellent advice concerning married life, family life and the host of problems that make living so difficult today. It brings peace of mind and offers the prospect of life in a paradise earth. For whom? For white men only? No; as the Bible itself says, it is for “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” (Rev. 7:9) Will you be among them? If so, you need to learn and apply now the counsel that Jehovah God gives to all mankind in his Word, the Bible.
[Blurb on page 22]
The Bible records a curse on Canaan, not on the black race
[Box on page 23]
Descendants of Noah’s Son Ham
(Ethiopians in E. Africa and Arabia)
(Inhabitants of E. Africa)
(White people along the E. Mediterranean coast)
[Picture on page 21]
If a postman brings you a letter, will you refuse it because he is of a different color?