Can Racial Reconciliation Happen Without Racial Justice Being Achieved First?

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As Christians consider how to heal racial wounds and pursue racial justice, one debated question is how reconciliation and justice are related. Must justice be served first, before talk of reconciliation can even be taken seriously? Or is reconciliation the groundwork that makes the collective pursuit of justice possible? Should evangelicals stop talking about the need for “racial reconciliation” unless they’re actively addressing racial injustice? Or is the theological value of reconciliation—and forming meaningful relationships across racial lines—what will ultimately empower diverse communities to address injustice together? 

These and other related questions are addressed in this debate between Darryl Williamson and George Yancey. Williamson and Yancey share their arguments and engage in a discussion moderated by Jim Davis, teaching pastor at Orlando Grace Church.

This debate is part of The Gospel Coalition’s Good Faith Debates series. When we keep the gospel central, we can disagree on lesser but still important matters in good faith. In the Good Faith Debates, we hope to model this—showing it’s possible for two Christians united around the gospel to engage in charitable conversation even amid substantive disagreement.