Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Around the Blog in 80 Seconds: Race & Christianity

In God's providence, it seems that a number of blogs have featured in the past week some thinking about race and Christianity. Have a look at:

Pastor Ronald Kalifungwa's feature contribution to the current issue of Reformation 21: Biblical AntidoteS to Racism (One and Two).

Mel Duncan at River and Rhett tips us to a rather unfortunate instance involving one church forbidding African-American Christians to join.

A new brother to the blogosphere, Mark Robinson at Post Cogito, is thinking about the mystery of the gospel and multi-ethnic communities.

Phillip Way spends some time in Ephesians considering the truth about ethnicity--natural and spiritual.

I'm encouraged that increasingy race is less taboo in Christian and Reformed circles. I pray that the Lord would be pleased to heal us of the sins and divisions that have marred the body of Christ when it comes to race. I pray He would renew our minds and hearts and make us that one new man in Christ that He purposed us to be. Happy reading!


Shawn Abigail said...

Good points, but what should we do if our local church does not reflect the racial diversity in our community. I think race is a non-issue within the local church I attend (i.e. To talk about racial tolerance is to imply that there is anything to be tolerant of. Race is irrelevant.). But perhaps for historical reasons our congregation doesn't reflect the large number of people from the Middle East, India and China who are in our community. With a couple of exceptions, our congregation is entirely white. Should we simply accept this as the way it is, and give the same welcome to all who visit our church regardless of race? Would reaching out to certain racial groups smack of tokenism? I've prayed for several years that our church would reflect the community we are in, believing that this is one sign of a healthy church, but so far there is little change. Your suggestions are appreciated.

Glennsp said...

Everyone should read 'One Blood' by Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis.

jul said...

I recently heard an excellent and convicting message regarding racial diversity in the church. If you're interested , it can be listened to here: http://www.chesapeakechurch.com/messages/20060820.mp3

Anonymous said...

Reply to Shawn Abigail:

Every church and every person has a culture. Most people are not comfortable going too far outside their own culture. Here are some things I've learned over the years:

1. It's not wrong for us to enjoy worshiping in our own culture, but it is wrong for us to freeze others out.
2. Only certain people are gifted at reaching across cultures. Those people are useful in breaking down walls. They may invite outsiders and may make it easier for outsiders to move into the church, or they may themselves join or plant a church in a different culture. Such people are essential to missions.
3. Most of us are blind to the oddness and to the flaws and sins of our own culture. For example, most Americans don't see how our culture (even our church culture) approves of obesity, devalues children, is not very hospitable, and is materialistic and sex-obsessed, when compared with many other cultures around the world.
4. As we mature in Christ, cultural barriers will be less of a problem.
5. A church can reach out by holding events specially geared to those of other cultures, or by trying to look at itself through the eyes of another culture and remove barriers. For example, many people around the world are more comfortable eating rice than eating potatoes.
6. One way to reach into another culture is to find one mature Christian in that culture who is cross-culturally gifted, and then to put that person into a leadership role in your own church. If your church wouldn't want someone of that culture in a leadership role, then why would very many people of that culture want to be part of your church?

One book that might be of use is "Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally," by David Hesselgrave. I'm not sure whether it's still in print.

FellowElder said...

A good read on the subject of "race" is Daniel Hays, A Biblical Theology of Race in the IVP biblical theology series edited by Carson. He interacts well with a range of ideas on race as well as biblical and historical texts.

FellowElder said...

I'm not sure I understood your comment. On the one hand, you suggested race was not a problem in your church. On the other hand, you stated that failing to mirror the ethnic composition of the neighborhood (which your church does not do) is a sign of poor health in a local congregation. I couldn't quite reconcile those two statements. Little help?

Shawn Abigail said...

When I say "race is a non-issue" I mean that I believe the Christians would welcome anyone regardless of race. Whether Black, East Indian, Oriental, Hispanic, Aboriginal or White, I think all would be equally welcome. But the fact is that most of the people in our church are White. I think a church reflecting the racial composition of their community is a sign that we have reached out to our community, and thus a sign of health. But even if we reach out, would people who are not White feel uncomfortable in a mostly White congregation? I just don't know. I suppose a real emphasis on outreach would ensure people from all races getting saved, and a real manifestation of Christian love would keep people coming even while the congregation doesn't reflect a lot of diversity. Does this seem reasonable, or is it only part of the answer.