This post is the fifth in a series regarding racism in evangelicalism. The first 3 focused on why racism might defeat evangelicalism. The last post focused on the reason why evangelicalism might defeat racism. I discussed the importance of understanding and living out the whole gospel to fight and defeat racism in evangelical spaces. This post focuses on the important role of evangelical black churches in fighting against racism.
In American history, one doesn’t need to look very long or far to see black churches have always had to think about the intersection of the gospel and racial reconciliation. The historic birth of black churches came in a context of white supremacy, and the support of white evangelical terrorism against black people. Thus, black Christians began to form their own churches and denominations to provide spaces where they can be treated with dignity, and to experience their full humanity as they worshiped Jesus.
Though some black churches have departed from their strong biblical and theological heritage (just as many white churches have done the same), many black churches still preach, love, and live out the biblical gospel as they continue to live in a world that still marginalizes black people. But unlike many of their white evangelical brothers and sisters, black Christians and black churches historically couldn’t separate their preaching and living of the gospel from their existential suffering of racialization in an unjust and racist society.
Although the civil rights movement was a diverse religious and racial movement, many of its faithful participants were members and pastors of black churches (e.g. Dr. King). Many of the important meetings for equal rights took place in the space provided by and for black churches. Black churches in many ways have provided a bright example of how the gospel should move Christians to care for the human dignity of all people, especially black people who suffered legalized racism and terrorism at the hands of the majority white culture in the south.
Certainly, black churches are not perfect—no church is, regardless of race. And, yes, there are things we need to critique about certain black churches—just as there are things we need to critique about certain white churches, other mono-ethnic churches, and multi-ethnic churches.
But one reason certain evangelical churches might defeat racism in their evangelical spaces is because of the gospel health of certain black churches that love, preach, and live the gospel in church and society. These churches should also intentionally strive to love and minister to all people in their communities and churches, and plant churches in their cities to reach the different tongues and tribes as the Lord enables them.
Wherever there are black evangelical churches preaching, living, and loving the gospel and planting gospel-centered churches that seek to reach all people and needs in their communities, there will be a constant reminder of the importance of fighting against racism with the gospel. Black evangelical churches have a great opportunity and a very important role to play in defeating racism by seeking to unify all things and all people in Christ in their communities and in their cities.
My next post will focus on the important role and need for minority-led, multi-ethnic churches in defeating racism in certain evangelical spaces and in society.