Is There a ‘Third Option’ for Racial Reconciliation? Interview With Miles McPherson

By Sean McDowell Published on September 12, 2018

Racial tension is a massive issue facing both the society and church today. Sometimes it can feel hopeless and overwhelming.

Enter Miles McPherson, pastor of the Rock Church in San Diego. I have been a friend and fan of his for a long time. He is one of the boldest and most prophetic voices in the Church today. He is teaching truth and living it.

His new book The Third Option is simply a must-read for all Christians. It is insightful, honest, and convicting. Please think about getting a copy and discussing it with a friend. As Miles says below, we can (and must) each make a difference. 

Sean McDowell: At this point in your life and ministry, why did you choose to write a book on racial reconciliation?

Miles McPherson: I wrote this book because of the belief that God had given me the experiences and upbringing to communicate a message of hope to all people. In addition, for my entire life, the racial division in our country has burdened my heart and I want to equip people to build bridges with those they feel distant from.

McDowell: How has your personal experience — growing up and as a pastor — influence how you think about this issue?

McPherson: I grew up in a diverse family compromised of Black, White and Chinese. I lived in a Black neighborhood and went to elementary and junior high school in a White neighborhood. I experienced discrimination from Whites because I was not White enough and from Blacks because I was not Black enough. However, I had great friends in both neighborhoods and heard them speak about each other in ways inconsistent with the truth.

Now that I have a church where I see a diverse group of 20,000 people get along and serve our city everyday, I know that it is possible. I wrote this book to provide our culture with insights on how to heal the racial divide.

McDowell: Your new book is titled The Third Option. What is this “third” option and how is it unique?

McPherson: Racism has developed an “us” versus “them” culture where you are forced to choose from one of two options. The “third option” rejects being limited to the first two options and focuses on a third option of honoring that which we have in common.

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Not only are we 99.5% genetically identical, we were all made in the image of the same God. His image is not inferior or superior in one person over another. If we can focus on our God-given ability and responsibility to live in a loving relationship with God and each other, we will be able to lean into being honoring and loving versus trying to avoid being racist.

McDowell: What do you think is at the heart of racism? And what can each of us do to make a difference?

McPherson: Racism is based on pride and the felt need to exercise superiority over another group based on their ethnicity. It is based on the false idea that in order for someone to win, someone else must lose. People can also express it out of resentment for being discriminated against.

The Third Option

We can express “The Third Option” by first acknowledging that our self worth and provision is given to us by God and cannot be taken away by man. Because all of us are biased in some way, we can begin to make a difference by acknowledging our personal blind spots and how we may be racially offensive, even when we do not know it.

Even though there are people who are racist, we must accept that a person can be racially offensive and not actually be a racist. This is critical to know, because often people believe that if they admit that they were offensive, they are also admitting to being a racist. If you deny the possibility of being offensive, you will also deny the opportunity to learn.

McDowell: What does the Christian worldview uniquely have to offer to racial division today?

McPherson: The Bible clearly instructs us to love our “neighbor” as ourselves but let me point out an important component that often gets overlooked.

Because of the negative impacts of racism, we tend to label people something less than our “neighbor” and consequently apply an inferior level of love toward them. In other words, if they are not truly our neighbor, we give ourselves permission not to love them like our real neighbor. It can often be a love void of justice or humility.

It can be a love that allows it to be expressed at a distance. Therefore the Christian love that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 22:37-40 can wipe out racism if it truly moves us to label everyone as our “neighbor,” thus moving us to love them as we would our own family.


Originally appeared at Republished with permission.

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  • Trilemma

    Referring to people who happen to have a light shade of skin color as “Whites” seems racist. Referring to people who happen to have a dark shade of skin color as “Blacks” seems racist. It’s not likely you will be able to get everyone to think of everyone else as their neighbor. I’d be happy with apathy. If everyone simply didn’t care about other people’s skin color.

    • The irony being that the “white” and “black” rhetoric are subversive labels from your kind.

      you would be happy if everyone was a nihilist blob who was incapable of caring or thinking. Therefore your “revolution” would finally be possible. In another thread you even said that people “identify” as whatever race they want.

      • Trilemma

        Biologically, race is an illusion in humans. Race is a social construct that humans have imposed upon themselves.

        • you said this exact message to me in another thread. Do they not give you multiple rhetoric variations on the memos you get?

          People are different genetically depending on where they are from, the body functions much differently depending on where your ancestors are from.

          • TheSaint4JC

            Hey num quat, human is still human, no matter the variations… just as a Chihuahua and a Great Dane are both dogs…. That’s Trilemma’s point… skin color and other variations shouldn’t undermine this basic fact.

            And, we are all genetically decedent from Adam, the first man.

          • Doesn’t change biological differences beyond “social construct.”

            For example, black people retain salt at such a level that they don’t need any in their diet at all.

          • Trilemma

            All people require salt in their diet. Please provide a source for your claim that certain people don’t need any salt in their diet at all.

          • Those descended from Africa produce salt in their bodies naturally. There is a reason otherwise healthy black people get diabetes and glaucoma even though they are healthy: it is because even the reduced amount of salt is too much for them.

            your attempt at turning people into nihilist blobs is killing people, and that is just one example. It isn’t the first time you have tried to exterminate people though.

          • Trilemma

            Please provide a source that supports your claim that people from Africa can produce salt in their bodies naturally. Please provide a source that supports your claim that salt causes diabetes or glaucoma.

          • Look up books on the oft unlearned science of blood pressure medicine.

          • Trilemma

            Diabetes can cause high blood pressure. High salt intake can cause high blood pressure. But salt doesn’t cause diabetes.

          • It can with weight gain caused by excess salt

          • Trilemma

            Every person is genetically unique. But the genetic variation you mentioned is not enough to make humans have different biological races.

          • Yet people of different races have distinct biology, inside and out. I get you think reality bends to your ego, but it doesn’t.

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