Casual Racism and an Unreturned Book

I’ve finally got around to reading it. Lent to me in AD 2000 by a member of Bridge Street Pentecostal Church, I’m not sure whether its owner is still with us, nor how to return it. That, however, is the least of my problems. There’s something in this book that I find really quite revolting, and I’m not sure I’m able to finish it. The book is The Love that Will Not Let Me Go, by G.F. Dempster. Dempster wrote other titles including Touched by a Loving Hand and Finding Men For Christ. He seems a very spiritual man with a burden for the lost. So what’s my problem?

In Chapter two, he begins by saying he was visited by a black man. He writes “I had seen many ugly specimens of coloured humanity in my years of contact with other races, ugly both in character and in physical features. But the black man now facing me was repulsively ugly”. To be fair, he goes on to say that he had a disfiguring wound on his face. Having given him the benefit of the doubt on this one, he continues further down:

“They [black people, especially ones from Zanzibar] do not generally accept without much evidence that the Christian white man is a really superior being”.

That, Mr Dempster, is because the ‘Christian white man’ never was, nor even shall be, ‘superior’. He goes on to recount the African’s conversion, but casually refers to him as ‘the darkey’.

The book was first published in 1937. Back then, I began to assure myself, such sentiments were not so unusual, and might even be expected of an Englishman whose empire covered 25% of the planet. People were not as enlightened as we are. But when one considers events occurring across the North Sea in Germany and Austria in those years, Dempster’s careless racism becomes all the more ominous. He does seem to have been a really useful man for Christ, and yet sadly he apparently drank a little too freely from his own time and culture. May our world-views come from God’s word and not the prevailing wind.

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.

Acts 17:26

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay