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Our theology

To start, see the summary of "Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair" by Duke L. Kwon and Gregory Thompson LINKED HERE.


Scriptural Authority

And if thy brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today. — Deuteronomy 15:12–15 

A rich tax collector recognizes the need to pay reparations for harm done by others

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through town. A man there named Zacchaeus, a ruler among tax collectors, was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.” So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus. Everyone who saw this grumbled, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.”Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. The Human One came to seek and save the lost.” — Luke 19:1-10



Reparations to the Descendants of Slaves

The Torah gives an example of reparations paid to former slaves: “The Israelites had done as Moses told them; they asked the Egyptians for the jewelry of silver and gold, and for clothing, and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so they let them have what they asked.” (Exodus 12:35-36). The restorative justice that the Egyptians paid was also for the descendants of slavery. Only two of the original slaves (Joshua and Caleb) entered the promised land. The other people who entered the promised land were descendants of slaves. However, they carried silver and gold with them (Deuteronomy 8:7-18).


Then he must confess his sin that he has committed and must make full reparation, add one-fifth to it, and give it to whomever he wronged. — Numbers 5:7


Of all the most holy offerings reserved from the fire this will be yours: Every offering of theirs, whether from every grain offering or from every purification offering or from every reparation offering which they bring to me, will be most holy for you and for your sons. — Numbers 18:9

Reparation and Forgiveness for Unintentional Sins

Notes and excerpts from "Reparations Are Biblical" by pastor and author Thabiti Anyabwile:

If you sin by breaking any of the Lord’s commands, but without realizing it, doing something that shouldn’t be done, and then become guilty and liable to punishment, you must bring a flawless ram from the flock, at the standard value, as a compensation offering to the priest. The priest will make reconciliation for you for the unintentional fault that you committed, even though you didn’t realize it, and you will be forgiven. It is a compensation offering. You have definitely become guilty before the Lord. — Leviticus 5:17-19

In Ezra 6:6-12, King Darius (who wasn’t even born when Israel was conquered) ruled over an empire that wasn’t even in existence when the exile began, yet he passed a law decreeing that taxes be paid by people who did not conquer or abuse Israel in order to restore Israelites who themselves were not alive during the Babylonian conquest of Israel. Darius decreed, “The cost [of rebuilding the house of God] is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River” (Ezra 6:8). In fact, those citizens “from Beyond the River” were themselves a people who were at some point conquered and swallowed up by the empire. In other words, Darius, as head of state, compels his citizens through taxes to pay a reparation to Israel even though those citizens did not commit the offense and those Israelites did not directly suffer the offense. What had been stolen was returned and then some as the province was commanded to give “whatever is needed” to restore temple worship and offerings “day by day without fail”.

"So it seems to me that the “innocence,” “unharmed” and “generational tax” objections all fail in this historical example. If God, who is just and only does justice, has acted in this way then it cannot be unjust for nation-states to voluntarily repay its own citizens for crimes suffered at its hands—no matter when the crimes occurred."

Other Theological Resources

"The justifications for reparations in the Bible are many" - Rev. Alfred B. Holt, The Miami Times

"Using the Bible to Debunk 10 Myths About Reparations" - Michael Woolf and Michael C.R. Nabors, Sojourners

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