Does the Bible say anything about ethnocentrism?

Ethnocentrism is defined as the belief in the inherent superiority of one's own ethnic group or culture, or the tendency to view other groups from the perspective of one's own. According to this definition, ethnocentrism is another name for racism. While it may seem at times that the racism based on ethnocentric beliefs is unique today, in reality it has plagued humanity for centuries and has caused the deaths of millions.

Ethnocentric attitudes are contrary to Scripture and displeasing to God. The Bible makes it clear that ethnocentrism is sin. Human beings of all races, colors, and ethnic origins descended from one man and one woman. As such, we are all brothers and sisters, made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27; 9:6). Certainly, that image is corrupted by sin, but it still exists.

No other part of creation is made in the image of God. Black, white, yellow, brown, male, female, American, Chinese, Bolivian, etc. — all human beings share equally in God's image. No one is superior to another in God's eyes. It is because we are created in His image that God does not show partiality or favoritism (Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34). He is not partial to one race or ethnic group over another. He shows no favoritism to one group over another. Neither should we.

The proof of God's impartiality is shown in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for the salvation of all of mankind. Jesus did not die for one race or ethnic group. Rather, by His death He "ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). Jesus came to save the world, both Jews and Gentiles. Paul bears this out by saying, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28) and "there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all" (Colossians 3:11).

In addition to saving people from all nations and ethnic groups, Jesus also destroyed all barriers of race and ethnicity with His death on the cross. "For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility" (Ephesians 2:14). The barrier Paul refers to is the one dividing man from God, the barrier of sin. The "two" which He made one are Jews and Gentiles. By His death, He destroyed the wall dividing all people from God.

Ethnocentrism, on the other hand, attempts to raise the same barriers that Christ destroyed, pitting one group against another and resulting in discrimination, bigotry, and racism. Instead of seeing ourselves as part of one humanity, ethnocentrism divides and separates us from one another.

There is no room in the hearts of Christians for ethnocentric attitudes, which are contrary to God's Word. Jesus commands His followers to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34), and we cannot obey that command when we hold ethnocentric attitudes toward others.

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