Richard Rohr recently wrote an article entitled ‘How the Trinity Dissolves Racism’,1 where he says, “The widespread Christian failure to understand and experience God as Trinity has provided a breeding ground for both implicit and explicit racism.” I think Richard Rohr was well intentioned with this article, but misguided. We may break down the logical consequences of such a statement into the following:
(1) person A’s intellectual misunderstanding of the trinity makes them highly more probable to be racist than a person who does understanding the trinity, or (2) a continuous experience with God will dissolve racism, and one needs to have an intellectual grasp on the trinity to experience him, or (3) a person who disbelieves in the trinity is literally prone to racism from that disbelief.
Now, out of the three options, (2) is most plausible. However, (2) still faces problems. One is that God continuously works with people where they are at and if someone happens to not believe in the trinity because they have had no exposure to the belief, God will not hold that against them. Take for instance the first followers of Christ, the disciples, they were asked by Jesus, “whom do you say that I am?”, and all but Peter were silent. Peter responded, “You the Messiah”. Jesus replies, “my Father revealed that to you Peter”. Thus, up to this point none of the disciples really knew who Jesus was and it is plausible that many of them still weren’t sure that he was God. But there they were experience God in the flesh and didn’t even realize it. No conception of the trinity yet, perhaps no conception of God becoming incarnate, yet he was there right next to them. God clearly can give experience of himself without us having the right intellectual beliefs. Furthermore, in James it says, “You believe in one God—Good! The demons believe too, and they shudder!” What a proclamation that is. Surely these demons knew of the trinity and had an experience with him. Yet, they are literally the essence of racism.
I think, what Mr. Rohr would have been better off saying is, “the trinity provides good reasons to not be racist” and the rest of his article would have followed nicely still. But to say, “a disbelief in the trinity provides a breeding ground for racism” is absurd. I left out the word ‘experience’ in this paraphrase because it is not clear how a non-Trinitarian and a Trinitarian would experience God differently. I am certain there are plenty of people who believe in the trinity who are plenty racist and plenty of people who disbelieve in God and the trinity who are not racist. We may see there are still clear reasons to not be racist in otherworld views such as Unitarianism and Atheism. In Unitarianism there is only one person and one God. But God still would be the creator of us all, still all made of dust. If everyone is made of the same substance and we were all going to be held accountable for our deeds before the creator. Then there is good reasons to not be racist. Most explicitly is that everyone has the same standing in creation. The same thought process can be applied to an atheist world view as well. There are simply no good reasons to think once race is better than the other. In fact, we have reasons to believe when we learn to work together and corroborate with people who are different, we will be more successful.