I have great fellowship with some Christian Identity advocates. Nevertheless, certain forms of CI teaching are not only false, but harmful to us as racially self-conscious Christians. Furthermore, the sheer arrogance and vitriolic rhetoric from many in the CI movement, begs for a response.
What is Christian Identity?
It’s hard to define Christian Identity because there is little consensus about it in the CI community. There are different versions with differing beliefs inherent in each.
They teach God has chosen one race of people in all of history for salvation. This race is thought to be the white race (however “white race” might be defined) which is usually considered to be descendents of Shem and Abraham. As such, whites are the sole benefactors of God’s covenant promises.
In short: only whites are going to Heaven. Everyone else is either going to Hell, or will simply cease like the rest of the animals.
How to argue against it?
CI proponents use a biased hermeneutic. Whatever verse is appealed to in an attempt to refute them will be filtered through this hermeneutic (it will be interpreted according to their overarching narrative) and returned to you with incredulity. “That verse doesn’t mean what you say it means!” is a common refrain heard when debating a CI proponent.
As an all encompassing hermeneutic, therefore, CI must be dealt with at a presuppositional level. The theological implications of the system must be deconstructed and shown to be fallacious (or at the very least, inconsistent).
The following argument is aimed at a particular sort of CI belief that says non-whites are not born of Adam. This is the most offensive form of CI (to most Christians) and also the easiest to refute.
Those CI advocates who believe all humans, even non-whites, are descended from Adam, but who, nevertheless, believe only whites will receive salvation, must be treated separately. Different arguments (and perhaps, a different approach) must be used with them. For the rest of this article however, I will be referring to the various Dual Seedline versions of CI as simply “CI” with the understanding that some CI do not fit into this camp.
The Incompatibility of CI with the Christian Doctrine of the Imago Dei
The Imago Dei (or the image of God in man) is a doctrine that all Christians believe in. Scripture clearly teaches that God created humans in His image (Gen. 1:26).
Christian Identity advocates want to believe that all humans are created in the Image of God, but they want to claim that only white people are human. As a result, they have to come up with some way to confine the Imago Dei, solely to the white race. This, I will argue, reduces their position to absurdity and therefore, the belief that the Imago Dei is “unique” to white people, must be given up.
The argument is as follows:
1. All Christians are obligated to believe in the Imago Dei
2. CI advocates are Christians.
3. CI advocates cannot consistently be CI advocates and believe in the Imago Dei.
Conclusion: CI advocates must either give up Christianity or give up CI.
Usually, premises 1 and 2 are uncontroversial (though, I have had some CI advocates contest 1).
Premise 3 is the focus of CI disagreement. Most CI folk that I’ve encountered, are not systematic in their CI views and see no problem with simply affirming two contradictory beliefs.
However, some have tried to show how their CI and the Christian doctrine of the Imago Dei can be consistently held together. All the attempts I’ve either thought of, or heard, seem to fail. So, in the end, it seems there is no rational way to believe these two doctrines consistently.
I’ve classified the attempts to reconcile the two doctrines into three broad categories, each of which will be briefly described and criticized:
1. To reconcile the two doctrines, the CI advocate might claim the Imago Dei is somehow related to, or equated with, actual genealogical relation with Adam.
This move allows them to restrict the Imgo Dei to all descendents from Adam without making the “Imago Dei” a physical thing. Non-adamic descendents would not be made in the image of God, no matter how similar their physical bodies are to Adam, since they do not have a physical descent from Adam.
This trivializes the Imago Dei. It would mean there is nothing different between those with God’s image and those without, other than the accidental fact that one group happens to descend from Adam, in which case the Imago Dei is nothing at all, other than an arbitrary declaration of God.
It also seems nonsensical to claim that the Imago Dei is a genealogical descent. Anyway, it’s the individual man that is made in the image of God, not a characteristic shared by an aggregate of men.
There are other considerations to be thought of: does the Imago Dei pass through the mother or the father? If the father, then we have to wonder if Christ was made in the image of God. Further, supposing in the near future, children are manufactured in a test tube, without mother or father. It seems they would still share all the same characteristics of a human, but the CI advocate would have to say they were not made in God’s image; a seeming absurdity.
This attempt must be rejected.
2. The Christian Identity advocate might appeal to substance dualism.
He could say only white people have souls, and the “soul” is the image of God. In this way, the image is not something physical (which leads to absurdity – see argument 3) but is nevertheless, restricted to the white race which is presumably the only race with souls, on the CI view, thus excluding all non-whites and successfully reconciling the doctrine of the Imago Dei with CI teaching.
However, most all philosophers and theologians have rejected substance dualism because of seeming insurmountable difficulties. If the CI advocate tries to argue this way, he runs the risk of pinning his entire theological scheme on a shaky philosophical premise (Alvin Plantinga, being an exception. He argues for substance dualism. Nevertheless, it seems undesirable for an entire theological position to hinge on this one philosophical topic. The CI advocate would be penned into living or dying on substance dualism).
But even were we to grant this premise, there are further problems which ultimately rend the attempt unsuccessful. What does it mean to say that the image of God is a “soul”? Would that mean part of man is created in the image of God and the other part of him (the non-soul part) is not? That seems odd. Also, souls are created things. To maintain the traditional Christian understanding of the Creator / Creature distinction, we cannot give God created properties. So, no matter what “spirit” turns out to be — it would be a restricting “form” of some sort, which cannot be applied to God. The “Imago Dei” must be a set of non physical characteristics.
And if the Imago Dei is a set of non physical characteristics, then we can easily see that all people (the world over) share the same characteristics, regardless of race – characteristics like intelligence (even though they have it in varying and unequal degrees), sense of humor, rational thinking, language, etc.
3. This leads to the third, and most popular way CI advocates attempt to reconcile the doctrine of the Imago Dei with their CI position. As racial realists, we all acknowledge certain physical differences among the various races. (At least, when the pagan white nationalists classify race, or when racially self-conscious geneticists classify race, they always talk about it in purely physical terms).
Usually, it’s said that a “race” is simply a population group with a statistically relevant pattern of genes. So “whites” have a particular trend / pattern of genes that are unique to them. Negros have a pattern that is unique to them, Asians have a pattern, and so on.
The CI advocate wants to claim that somewhere, inherent in that statistically-relevant gene pattern unique to whites, lies the Image of God.
By way of criticism: claiming the Image of God is a physical characteristic of man necessarily leads us to conclude that God has some sort of physical characteristics, which is theologically absurd.
Long ago, theologians believed the Imago Dei was man’s ability to walk upright, but after reflection, this position was rejected. It would have meant God walks upright. Furthermore, if a man is disabled and loses the ability to walk upright, it didn’t seem right to claim that he was no longer made in the image of God.
To avoid this problem, the CI advocate might try claiming that the Image of God is not patterned after the non-human aspects of God, but rather, is based on the physical nature of the Incarnate Christ who, presumably, was also a white man (so the CI advocate will claim).
This seems arbitrary and lacks Scriptural warrant, but supposing it were granted, then we’d be stuck claiming that only those who have the exact physical features of the Incarnate Christ, are made in His image. Supposing Christ had brown hair and a brown beard, then those with blond hair would be out of luck.
What is the Right Answer?
It’s not my intent to outline a Kinist view of the Imago Dei. Suffice it to say, however, that the Bible obligates us to believe that all men are created in the image of God. And while there is little consensus over what the Image is exactly, most Christians believe it is some aspect of the moral and/or rational nature of man. As Rushdoony believes, it is the “knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and dominion” of man.
These things (knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and dominion) are unique in varying degrees, to all humans (be they white, black, red, yellow, or what have you). All “races” of men share these characteristics.
Only by rejecting the “Dual Seedline” view, can we reconcile the Bible’s teaching about the Imago Dei with our views about the common humanity of both regenerate and unregenerate.