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2015 proved a momentous year for the church and the world. Every week events played out in unpredictable and jarring ways. RAAN contributors had the privilege of responding to current events, cultural phenomenon, and theological dilemmas–all with the goal of addressing the core concerns of African Americans biblically. Based on the volume of traffic, here are RAAN’s top 15 posts of 2015. Thank you so much for reading, and we hope you keep coming back for more in 2016!

1. Black Christian Leaders Respond to SCOTUS Ruling on Same Sex Unions – Jemar Tisby

“This ruling is an eye opener and a reminder to American evangelicals, who have sometimes confused being American with being a Christian, that this world is not our home. This ruling is a demonstration of just how blind we can be and how easy it is to call what is right, wrong and to call what is wrong, right.” –Wy Plummer

“The ruling will sharpen and clarify the difference between the church and the world, and sometimes it will do that between true churches and false churches following the course of the world. This is a sad development to the extent that it hardens people in their sin. This is ultimately a good development to the extent it purifies and strengthens the church. But nothing fundamental has changed for those who love their Bibles and obey their Lord in the most intimate of matters.” –Thabiti Anyabwile

2. Why I Married a Black Woman – Phillip Holmes

“People who claim not to have preferences are as comical as people who claim color-blindness. Yet the Christian’s preference must never trump godliness or degrade the beauty and value of other ethnicities. Ethnic and culture similarity are fine preferences, but it takes so much more to make a marriage last.”

“Celebrate black love, but never feel that you’re less than black if you choose to marry someone who is not black. Choose your spouse because they’re biblically qualified to fulfill that role and you love the unique person God has created. Ethnicity becomes somewhat trivial once you’re married, but willingness to die to self is imperative.”

3. Dangerous Obsession: Hip Hop and the Illuminati – Tony Stone

“Scripture shows us there is no such thing as a group of people who actually control the world — only a group of people who think they control the world. I’m not saying there isn’t a super influential group that we don’t know about. What I’m saying is that even if such a group exists, to use Martin Luther’s idea, they are God’s illuminati — God’s using them, ultimately, to accomplish His sovereign will.”

“If the illuminati do exist, they are under the hand of our sovereign God. He’s using them. Whatever may go bump in the night is a weak tool that only exists in God’s world for God’s purposes to God’s glory.”

4. Open Letter to Right – Wing Evangelical Christians – Ariel Bovat

“If you want to get to the root of the abortion problem, get to the women having abortions. It’s gonna get messy and hard. I plead with you: pray earnestly, get creative, and start somewhere.”

“I agree with you the Planned Parenthood videos are the epitome of evil. The evil of seeing dead baby parts as commodities for “research” is just too much to bear. I mourn with you, and for the babies. I also mourn for the women that have had abortions.”

5. Do We Alienate Our White Brothers and Sisters? – Keith Echols

“The racial conversation in America is extremely exhausting for Blacks. We have a right to be frustrated and angry, and a right to express these feelings. But could it be in all our expressions, we create tension with our white brothers and sisters?
I am not advocating our white brothers and sisters get a free pass from hearing our feelings and concerns. I am saying it is possible the rhetoric we use to discuss issues impacting our community is also language that alienates our white brothers and sisters.”

“When we come to Christ, we do not check our ethnicity at the door. But we do commit to our ethnicity becoming a secondary identity to our identity as a follower of Christ.
We do not have the right to say the perspectives and feelings of our white brothers and sisters do not matter, just as they do not have the right to say as much to us. We are all members of the Body of Christ.”

6. Amidst Racial Tensions, Lecrae Asks, “Can You Help Me Understand?” – Jemar Tisby

“All Christians, in fact, have the opportunity to stand for the unity in the midst of diversity the Bible teaches. Instead of accusing each other of not caring for this issue or that issue, perhaps we can weep with those who weep. Maybe we can walk with one another through the valley of suffering. Perhaps we can be co-laborers for the kingdom.”

“Is it possible to openly advocate for one issue of biblical morality without being accused of not caring about other issues? Can Christians who are passionate about abortion and Christian persecution be just as passionate about racial injustice? Why does it seem like the people who say, “What about life in the womb and Christian suffering worldwide?” have trouble saying, “What about race in America?”

7. Why Ben Carson Got It Wrong – Earon James

“The color of our skin and texture of our hair does matter, because every shade of skin and every hair texture displays the creative brilliance of almighty God. Our ethnic distinctions exist for the glory of God.”

“It is time we leave behind the false hopes of a colorblind utopia. Scripture tells a different narrative. God’s saving grace enables us to build healthy relationships, not by looking past ethnic distinctions but by dignifying them.”

8. The False Teacher: Creflo Dollar – Tim Challies

“In the end, the biggest problem with prosperity theology is not that it promises too much, but that it promises far too little. The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers salvation from sin, not a platform for earthly prosperity.”

“The foremost concern with the prosperity gospel is in all its emphasis on financial prosperity, the deep need for spiritual prosperity is inevitably displaced, and eventually lost altogether. In this way, a relationship with Jesus Christ becomes little more than the key to unlocking temporal wealth and abundance.”

9. Why White Christians Should Listen to Black Christians – Jemar Tisby

“White evangelicals are being unceremoniously shoved to the margins of popular culture. Words like “bigot” and “backwards” get hurled at them from secular elites and the masses that move behind them. And many white evangelicals don’t know what to do.

But African Americans, particularly Christians, have been living life at the margins for centuries. It’s time for white evangelicals to listen to the theological and spiritual voice of Black Christians. If believers of African descent in this country have anything to offer it is a way to deal with suffering and disenfranchisement.”

10. SAE and the Lynching Tree – Dr. Jarvis Williams

“Lynchings were painful reminders to blacks in this country of their legalized inferiority to whites in a society in which laws affirmed, supported, and justified violent actions against blacks to keep them in their so-called “place” in a racist and white supremacist culture.”

“Silent evangelicals and evangelicals who do not see racial reconciliation as a gospel imperative hinder the cause of gospel-centered racial reconciliation.”

11. The Enduring Effects of White Supremacy on American Culture – Dr. Jarvis Williams

“Although the racism of white supremacy has often historically manifested itself by means of violence and terror—as we’ve seen with the Nazis, slavery, lynching, Jim Crow laws, the KKK, and the devastating Charleston shooting—the ideology of white supremacy is still present in America, even when unaccompanied by violence.”

“Only the life giving power of the gospel of Jesus Christ will turn white supremacist hatred, and all racist hatred, into Christ-centered love.
The Church of Jesus Christ must in fact state loudly and clearly that God has provided redemption from the evil ideology of white supremacy and from all forms of racism.”

12. Race Matters – Dr. Jarvis Willams

“It’s very difficult at times for some white evangelicals to talk about race, or to admit these discussions are an important and necessary step toward gospel reconciliation. Some even wonder whether talking about it is helpful at all.”

“It’s easy to be pro-black and brown at big conferences, or when a clear example of injustice exists. But it’s difficult when your white daughter says she wants to marry a black or brown man.”

13. Chasing God: An Interview with Joseph Solomon – Jasmine Holmes

“The main message is that I do have a desire for the gospel to be shared, and for people to see different topics in a gospel-centered light. The Lord has gifted me with a personality that draws people, and I wanted to use that for his glory.”

“Ultimately, God determines how large or how small your platform will be. We should be grateful for whatever He gives. The best thing you can do for those listening to you is to not neglect what you’ve been called to offstage/offline, like holiness, worship, discipleship, community, and evangelism. The fruit of that will show in public.”

14. 3 Unhelpful Ways African Americans Talk about Race – Jemar Tisby

“All people should strive for biblical wisdom, but no amount of respectability will shield African Americans from racism or relieve racists from their responsibility for pursuing wisdom as well.”

“When Blacks claim to be colorblind, they often become blind to the ways racism has affected us in the past and continues to affect us in the present. More importantly, it is a denial of the glorious variety with which God made all people. Skin color, culture, and context aren’t ultimate, but they are important.”

15. An Open Letter: Justice is Not Blind – Mike Higgins

“As we sit together on Sunday mornings, we are tearing down the historical segregation of the American church, and working towards true unity. But we cannot stop there. We must pursue “the elimination of racism in all its forms”.

Let’s attack division in all its forms, together. Let’s sit together in each other’s homes. Sit with me during a traffic stop, sit with me at the Rib Shack in north city; sit with me when people think it’s weird that you have a black pastor; sit with me when people think it’s weird so many of the people I serve are white.”

“The Constitution says US citizens are innocent until proven guilty, but as a black man I am treated as if I am guilty and have to prove my innocence. The Church knows this tension — more than anyone.”

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