Rev. Paul Nulton,
I grew up in a very racist family and church. My grandfather subscribed to magazines like “The Cross and The Sword” – John Birch society rants about how African-Americans, Jews, Hispanics (all foreigners) were less human than white folk. I remember the minister ranting about Dr. Martin Luther King in sermons and how the Civil Rights movement would ruin America. This took place in the Union North with Union soldiers buried in the town cemetery. Somehow, by grace, I could not receive these influences in my early life. The Baptists were good at teaching the Bible but they made the mistake of teaching me this verse – Revelation 5:9. It became for me the prism through which I saw their venom towards everyone not like them. Church members would say these things casually in conversations with plenty of jokes belittling others. Some still did when I led the Memorial Day Commemoration in that small Pennsylvania hamlet three years ago. I was sadden to hear some of this racist talk at Northwestern College when a student there and in Consistory meetings I’ve presided over. They got some stern responses from me for thinking and saying such things in spaces where Christ is suppose to be Lord! I sometimes ask, “Why was I preserved in the midst of such childhood moral pollution and never bought into this overarching archetypical way of thinking and being? Could it be our doctrines of grace really do have a practical side and dimension?
A Baptist offered me a free ride to Bob Jones University many years ago. What a mistake it would have been to accept it. I wouldn’t have lasted half a day when I responded to what I would have seen and heard there – the righteousness of segregation. So today when encountering certain groups of Protestant Christians and hearing such sentiments I remind them of Revelation 5:9 and ask them do they really know Jesus Christ as “their personal Lord and Savior?” “Personal Lord and Savior” is not a title for Jesus in the Gospels or New Testament. Our Lord’s Saviorhood is mostly spoken of in terms of plurality in the New Testament. He is Savior of the World, Savior of God’s elect, Savior of Israel, and so on, just as Revelation 5:9 ultimately reveals and proves. To believe otherwise is simply not to believe who Jesus really is! What I write here is not personal. It is to honor Christ!