Whoa. As a White Christian, I have to say the writer leaves out what was certainly my experience.
Susan Gillespie
3

Susan,

I went to seminary as well, so this issue is particularly relevant to my own work.

I think Daniel’s point (calling him “the writer” when his name is at the top of the article seems a bit problematic. I’m not judging you, nor am I saying you did this out of malice; I’m just saying names matter) is that the cost of “Christian unity” is too great when this same Christianity obscures and erases the blackness of African Americans in favor of a more generic “Christian” identity.

Your point about blacks wanting to be alone on Sundays is right; we often do. But your concern about this is misplaced I think. From my perspective, the concern shouldn’t be why black people don’t populate your churches, but rather why white Christians refuse to populate ours — or at least take the time to listen to our concerns. Moreover, you’d have to be pretty unaware to acknowledge why blacks struggle with white presence in their churches or their black presence in white churches; in the former, it comes off as zoological curiosity; in the latter, one is often forced to navigate between their blackness and their Christianity. I don’t speak in the abstract here; I speak from experience.

And, quite frankly, I doubt it’s really a mystery to many whites. The Jesus in whom you place your faith may have advocated for love; but remember Luke 4:20: Jesus came to bring good news to the poor. Jesus had no patience for the kind of religiosity that place theology over justice, and ritual over relation. Jesus hung out with the hoodlums, hookers, gangstas, and money runners; and, as an arabic Jew from Nazareth, Jesus was racially and socially the equivalent of a poor black man in America who was killed by the cops for speaking out against injustice. He told rich people to give all of their money away, and delivered free healthcare to people — two political realities that many white evangelicals and white evangelical churches refuse to participate in.

The kind of Christianity practiced in many white churches is the kind of Christianity that would obscure the nastiness of white supremacist racism in order to have an “all lives matter” approach to Christianity. It’s theological smoke and mirrors, employed to assuage white fragility and erase white guilt. In so doing, it lowers the bar for racial parity, allowing white Christians to relax in their whiteness while disavowing any responsibility to their black “brothers and sisters in Christ.”

This is a structural issue. While it plays out on the personal level, a theology devoid of social context is a theology that easily lends itself to the perpetuation of white supremacist racism.

The Christian demand to love requires that those who wield incredible amounts of privilege do one of two things: either deny that privilege (“give all of your money away to the poor”) or use that privilege to help others (feeding the five thousand; to be divine is the ultimate privilege, and Jesus used that privilege to feed the poor and heal the sick — for free).

I therefore think that your staunch opposition to “the writer’s” approach speaks less to his heterodoxy and more to your own.

And I say this in love. As Jesus demonstrated in his dealings with the pharisees and sadducees, true love is as critical as it is compassionate. I hope this helps.

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