Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Speaking with Equal-Handedness

On the Together for the Gospel Blog for Memorial Day, Mark Dever reminded us that we need to not only remember the faithful who sacrificed for our country, but we need to be mindful of the faithful who sacrificed for their faith in God. According to Dever, this rememberance must extend to those African-Americans who faithfully lived and died in faith. Few of us really endeavor to know them. And yet, all of Christianity is the poorer for the neglect of the faithful among African-American Christians.
Thanks Mark, for your thoughtful and challenging post. You reminded us that God's dealing with His people is far more glorious and diverse than most understand or will readily admit. It is an undeniable demonstration that God does not have a problem with diversity, we do. However, I do lament that we have yet to get to the point where we speak of Christians with equal-handedness. Indeed, I can only pray for the day when we speak of Black Christians in the same way as we speak of White Christians. I mean, how often do we recount the story of a White Christian from history and have to tell people that he was a White man? Yet, when we tell of the life of Black Christians, we always have to give the designation of them being Black. It makes it seem that being White and Christian is normative and being Black and Christian is an anomaly. Unfortunately, we have not attained to the place where we need to be. Yet, we have moved from the place we were. I commend you Mark, for continuing to move us along the path to God's glory in diversity.

5 comments:

ChristMyLife said...

You wrote: "It makes it seem that being White and Christian is normative and being Black and Christian is an anomaly." This "appearance" is especially true among Christians who are theologically conservative. And I wonder if this "appearance" (i.e., "it seems") is more than an appearance, but reality.

African-American Christians who are theologically conservative face a real dilemna. Do they seek to become "acceptable" to their white Christian brothers or rather do they focus on impacting the African-American community with the gospel of Christ. In an ideal world the answer would be both because White Christians need to know that Black Christians are on "equal footing" and the African -American community needs the gospel like all communities. Yet, I fear that a choice between the two options has to be made.

It is wonderful that certain African American Christians are being "recognized" by godly men like Piper, Sproul, MacArthur, Dever, etc. Yet, it seems that those who receive this endorsement can possibly lose sight of their initial burden for reaching the African-American community with the word of God.

Personally, I feel it is tragic when the African-American Christian community loses valuable "resources" to the White-American Christian community. I pray that the day will come that these "resources" are so prevalent that it will not matter where they are used. But the sad reality is that that day has not arrived and the African-American community is in desperate need of them.

These are just some things that are on my heart. I am not pointing my finger at anyone, but simply pointing out the dilemna facing the African-American Christian who is theologically conservative.

Michael Mewborn said...

Great blog Anthony. Thank you for bringing this discrepancy again into our world. And christmylife, I appreciate your comment in saying, "Personally, I feel it is tragic when the African-American Christian community loses valuable "resources" to the White-American Christian community. I pray that the day will come that these 'resources' are so prevalent that it will not matter where they are used. But the sad reality is that that day has not arrived and the African-American community is in desperate need of them." A keen awareness indeed. I am reminded of much from this timely and well-spoken comment. You are on accord with many, black and white. Keep going. How did Charles Wright say it, "Express yourself."

ajcarter said...

Indeed, my brothers. I echo your sentiments. We can confidently say that no one will reach African-Americans as effectively as African-Americans will. Let us be true to biblical reformed theology and practice, even as we seek to contexualize these truths.

Anonymous said...

Anthony,

i'm not sure i understand your "lament." What is wrong with mentioning the race/ethnicity of a fellow brother in Christ? Could the designation not be added simply to provide context? Doesn't Scripture make such designations? Surely this is not only done when speaking of black Christians. We have all heard stories recounted of Christians from history where mention was made that the particular brother was Scottish (Chalmers), Welsh (Lloyd-Jones), English (Bunyan), Dutch (Kuyper), etc. At least i have.

So, is it "color-blindness" that you long for?

i'm really not challenging your post (yet), i'm honestly seeking understanding.

-christopher

ajcarter said...

No, Christopher, color-blindness is not what I am after. I don't recall saying that it was wrong to speak of someone's race or ethinicity. I do believe the point was "equal-handedness." Nevertheless, I must say that your references do make for quite the affirmation of my lament. You make reference to the use of heritage in referring to figures in history that are Scottish, Welsh, English, Dutch, etc. Yet I have never heard any of my brothers refer to Jonathan Edwards as a "white" Christian pastor, or to Warfield, or Hodge with this designation either. The issue really comes to light when one considers the dynamics of American Christianity. Notice, all of your references are foreign. Perhaps I should have said that in America, white and Christian seems to be normative while black and Christian is the anomaly (historically and relatively speaking, of course). But something tells me that Black Christians in England would echo my sentiments. Can't say this is true for sure, but I have a strong intuition that it is. Call it a black thang :-). Yet, be encouraged, my friend. I am. God is not through with us yet.