What is The Witness?
The Witness is a black Christian collective that engages issues of religion, race, justice, and culture from a biblical perspective. We are changing the way Christians engage the church and the world by challenging them to think and act according to the wholistic message of Christ. We consciously draw on the expansive black church tradition to address matters of personal faith while also speaking to issues of public righteousness. We believe that the Christian message applies not only to our eternity but also to our present-day circumstances and lived reality.
Why did you change the name from the Reformed African American Network?
The change comes from a variety of factors. The original intent of the organization was to focus on people of African descent. But under the Reformed banner, the site drew attention from some white Christians who objected to conversations about race and public justice which they saw as unbiblical or beyond the sphere of the church. Writers and staff members were defending the organization’s existence and orthodoxy even more than they were addressing the concerns of black people. While The Witness exists for the church generally and people of all backgrounds are welcome to access the content, it distinctively and unapologetically focuses on black people.
Additionally, many black Christians have been reconsidering their place in predominantly white spaces and whether their concerns were being heard. The 2016 presidential election saw eighty-one percent of white evangelicals who voted pulling the lever for the current president. Ferguson and Black Lives Matter also found many black Christians explaining and defending their pain to a sometimes unresponsive white Reformed and evangelical establishment. Other events like the murders of the Emmanuel Nine, the Charlottesville rally, and ongoing debates over Confederate iconography have heightened the level of racial tension in the nation and the church. The Witness seeks to respond to these contemporary questions and issues from a black Christian point of view.
Are you still Reformed?
The Witness is, foremost, a Christian organization. The body of Christ is comprised of sincere believers from numerous theological streams. Reformed theology does not constitute the only biblically orthodox expression of Christianity. In that sense, The Witness recognizes the valuable contributions of all kinds of believers who profess faith in Christ for salvation. But The Witness is still Reformed in the sense that many of its staff members and contributing writers would affirm Reformed doctrines and are part of confessionally Reformed churches and institutions. See our Statement of Faith for more information about our beliefs.
What is a “black Christian collective”?
As a “black Christian collective,” The Witness has returned to its original mission to serve black people. The move from “African American”in the original title to “black” acknowledges this endeavor is international scope. So far the website and podcast have attracted attention from people in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and many other places around the world. So The Witness is for the entire African diaspora.
The Witness is also a “collective” in the sense that a variety of black Christians from different denominations, ages, regions, and experiences all contribute their perspectives. The Witness is not the voice of black Christians, it is the microphone that amplifies those whose perspectives often go unheard.
Are you racially segregating yourselves?
No. The Witness makes space for black Christians to express the fullness of their humanity and their faith in a way they are sometimes prevented from doing as racial minorities in America and the church. The unfortunate reality is that our expressions as black Christians are often circumscribed, even if unintentionally, by the comfort-level of the white racial majority in Christian settings. The Witness allows black Christians to convey their thoughts on a platform that respects their God-given worth and values their spiritual and intellectual contributions.
Who leads The Witness?
The Witness is a team effort Please see our staff page to learn more.
When did you change the name from RAAN to The Witness?
We changed the name from the Reformed African American Network to “The Witness: A Black Christian Collective” on October 31, 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. One of the phrases coming out of the Reformation was semper reformanda or “always reforming.” The name change signals the ongoing Reformation, especially as led by historically marginalized people groups.
How does The Witness do its work?
We offer articles that stimulate the mind and stir the heart. We give commentary on current events, music, movies, literature, the church, relationships, and more. While we welcome anyone to engage our content, we particularly seek to serve people of African descent in America. In contrast to other outlets that may give attention to black issues as a “special” topic, such concerns are a consistent focus of The Witness.
Will the Pass The Mic podcast change?
Our premier podcast, Pass The Mic, will retain Tyler Burns and Jemar Tisby as co-hosts. The name remains the same. But we do anticipate exciting changes. We are adding new shows to our podcast lineup which will introduce you to even more intelligent black Christian commentators. We are also doing a PTM Live tour in 2018—stay tuned for details! Finally, if you would like to support our podcast, please consider making a donation here.
How can I book speakers from The Witness or request live podcast coverage from Pass The Mic?
Great question! Go to our contact us page and tell us about your event.