Theological Imperialism and the Black Community

It’s an increasingly common experience: a young African American learns to love Reformed theology because he believes the Bible teaches God’s sovereignty in all of life, including salvation. He’s frustrated that his historically African American church didn’t help him understand the beauty of this teaching about God’s unshakeable love for his Son and the elect. He grows in a gospel-centered understanding of the Bible and finds great joy in telling others about Jesus’ death and resurrection for sinners. Yet his exuberance to teach the Scriptures and correct errors provokes friends and family to accuse him of theological imperialism. They charge him with abandoning the church of his people and adopting the theology of slaveholders.

Lecrae, Trip Lee, and Eric Mason have all felt the sting of this critique. “I’m in search of truth,” Lecrae responds, “and I’m going to get it wherever I can find it.” Fellow hip-hop artist Trip Lee doesn’t wave the Reformed banner. He directs critics to the Scriptures and invites them to see the truth for themselves. Pastor Eric Mason of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia cautions young men not to discount everything they learned growing up but to recognize that even when black preachers used different terminology they sometimes taught the same gospel truths.

Watch to see more of how these three men address the disconnect between historically black churches and gospel-centered theology.

  • Chris E

    This would be easier if there weren’t people within the Reformed community who are perfectly happy to soft-pedal the racism of theologians like Dabney – rather than calling it what it was, a grevious sin.

    • John

      that’s right. Dabney’s defense of slavery was disgraceful.

  • Don Sartain

    Interesting discussion guys. Obviously, I’m a little out of the loop when it comes to understanding the context driving this video (other than feeling like black men have to reject their culture to embrace Reformed Theology). I guess, what about their culture to they feel they have to reject? And how can those of us who aren’t black communicate Reformed Theology in a way that doesn’t lead toward this conclusion?

    • j.o.s.H.

      @Chris how do you apply the gospel to that? I really believe approaching that from a gospel centered perspective would help you view that in a more healthier way. Racism exist, yes but the gospel smashes that completely. @Don I don’t think this video was meant to come across in that way, I found it very helpful actually which I’m pretty sure you did too. You’re distinguishing between our culture and Reformed Theology when good theology has been embraced by our culture already. Don’t reject our culture but we must accept the truths of the Scriptures and reject false teaching that’s centered on man instead of Christ. Then we must help others who may not have this understanding by walking them through the Scriptures.

      • Chris E

        Josh –

        I’m not sure what your point is. Yes the Gospel is antithetical to racism, but we are discussing the perception of the Reformed community from those outside. That’s not helped when those who allegedly have a ‘better handle’ on the Gospel soft peddle racism in those they consider fathers of the faith.

  • David Biel

    Really love getting exposure to this reality. Call me naive but it still rattles me a bit to hear it is so common that the greatest hang up for a black would-be Christian is they simply wont accept the teaching because it comes from a white teacher. I hope there is more from them in the future cause I only have more questions after that video. Like, Lecrae said the white church’s attitude was that he would be the ambassador to the black church, and I think he said this as a bit of a negative toward the white church. But he also, in a roundabout way, said the black man wouldnt accept the white Christian’s teaching anyway, and that their common way of presenting reformed truth is apart from the white teacher its coming from. Unless i misunderstood? I think it is in the heart of so many western Christians today to see this imbedded racism that keeps white churches white and black churches black go away for the sake of the banner of Christian. Thank you John Piper for Bloodlines. I pray it would be a part of this work of the Holy Spirit.

    • Carlos

      While I was attending college in Arkansas, I decided to join a predominately white congregation. A member who worked with our college ministry came up to me after service one day and told me that another member had asked her why I joined their church and wouldn’t I be more comfortable in an all-black congregation?

      I think that I told her that I got so much more from the teaching and preaching there than the one that I used to attend. Her question did make me a bit sorrowful though.

      • David Biel

        I cant imagine a Gospel-hearted believer saying that. I have heard a similar account from a really close Black Christian friend of mine when he was stationed in Mississippi. The members plain out wouldnt even acknowledge his family. So in addition to my first comment, I do suppose it is not a work being responded to in EVERY Chrisitan heart…yet

  • Owen

    Trip Lee: Boyce College student. Love it.

    What an encouraging discussion. These brothers are modeling maturity and graciousness in connecting traditions that have not always been united. Not everyone out there likes rap, but this kind of conversation should encourage many folks.

    Of course, if you can’t see the talent of Lecrae and Trip, I don’t know where to begin with you…

  • thesispieces

    “That house dude” HAHA! YES. Thank you so much for this video! As a young African American reformed person, you have no idea how encouraging it is to see other folks actually openly discuss this stuff. Praise God for you guys.

  • Luke

    Please, let’s see more of this!! I think the contributions of Thabiti and Eric Mason, John Piper and culture-makers like Lacree and Trip Lee will go a long way to healing wounds that have festered for hundreds of years. I still hear them, even in the comments, which means we’re not there yet. Let’s make this a priority so the Gospel can come into sharp focus in local churches.

    • David Biel

      I pray this with you, in fact, convert your comment to a prayer and know that we are praying it with you!

  • Anthony Forrest

    This is encouraging to see this topic publicly displayed and discussed. I have, for years, had to deal with most of what this discussion is about within the church. I think the only difference would be that in my experience with historically black communities and churches there hasn’t been much to hold on to. It’ll be a slow progression, because the churches in my area (not all, but MANY) seemingly want to do the exact opposite of what some healthy congregations do and teach. And it looks like they do it mainly because they want to avoid being “taken under” by other cultures and ethnicities.

  • yesweretogether

    A very interesting and important conversation. Thanks for posting.

  • RobertMar

    I believe this is one of the best GC videos posted so far. Contextualization is a word abused in many facets, but I believe this video touches on an important aspect of it, and I hope those reading this can understand: Contextualization is not changing truths, or pandering, or making the gospel attractive outside of itself (as many are guilty of doing, essentially making it another sales pitch,) it is overcoming your own bias and pride. It is looking beyond your own culture towards the head of the body, Christ. These young men had to, as I had to, look beyond their own culture and bias towards unity in Christ…I pray those of us in the Reformed (white predominantly) churches would do the same. We are required to do so as Christians, but, sadly, this is not always the case in any denomination. Nonetheless, we are all a part of a heavenly community, the already and the not yet, bound in love with one another under the authority of Christ. May we all look past ourselves and meet with each other at the table, neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free…but under Him.

  • Derek


    I am very sorry that you had that painful experience. It sucks that of all places, you were treated that way in a “Bible believing, gospel teaching church.” I myself am Mexican American and I live in Los Angeles and even though I have never experienced anything like you experienced I have encountered moments of covert racism from time to time. When I went to T4G 2010 in Louisville I got a couple of, “you look like you’ve never seen a Mexican before” looks. I’m glad that this video is being shown and that men like John Piper who happens to be my hero, is addressing this issue.

    • Wayne Roberts

      Hi Derek,

      I hope your T4G experience did not leave you with a bad taste for Louisville. We actually have a pretty large Hispanic population in and around Churchill Downs.

  • cory Wilson

    Rebuke the spirit of confusing, the devil trying to bring up the past, we must forgive to move on.

  • David Robinson

    I’d have to say that much of what was conveyed on this video was my experience and is a burden I carry now still. Once I embraced biblical teaching, I remember feeling a bit angry that I missed out on the intricacies of the gospel and its implications growing up in a African-American Baptist church in Houston, Texas.

    I can honestly say I never heard exegetical teaching until I joined a predominantly white church. Then I began to wonder why “we” weren’t bent on exegeting the Text and allowing that to mature our understanding and worship. Historically, I do think the racism and segregation of the 60’s and eras before prohibited blacks from getting solid seminary opportunities. But that is no longer the case now, and the problem still plagues us.

    Like Lecrae, I am looking for the truth to be exposed and that’s where I will feast, but there is a great need to saturate deficient churches w/in the African-American community with solid biblical teaching. However, this must be done skillfully as Trip alluded to.

    I praise the Lord that there is a growing contingent of African American pastors who are committed to declaring the biblical gospel and writing helpful books to aid in “our” understanding, while absorbing criticism from traditionalists. May they bear much fruit!

    Praise the Lord that He is raising up faithful leaders for His sheep from every tribe, tongue and nation!


  • Matt Hauck

    Wow, realizing how little I understand about the large cultural gap that exists without many of us (white) even realizing it. (You’d think I might know this from living in Taiwan for a few years now, but I’m pretty dense!) I totally had the same thought as commentator above: “Call me naive but it still rattles me a bit to hear it is so common that the greatest hang up for a black would-be Christian is they simply wont accept the teaching because it comes from a white teacher”

    Reminds me of a comment Keller made recently, at Christ+City I think, that white people are at a disadvantage in the city because everyone else knows cultural differences exist, but white people think everyone is like them.

    • Steve

      Matt, it really is not that uncommon. Living in Brooklyn we have many Black Muslims who follow Louis Farrakhan, we have Black Israelites. It is not all that unusual to have some of them come into the service and disrupt the meeting calling other black people uncle toms because they attend a church with “the man” a white pastor. Young kids here these guys preaching on the street corner and buy into the lie. This even affects some Christians who criticize other black Christians for going to a church with a white pastor. But it works on both side. I am Italian and I have heard more than once from Italian Christians that I know who say to me, “Oh you go to that church with those “brothers”. I know exactly what they mean by that. And when I call them out they try to play dumb. I tell them not to worry though. God is merciful, He would never want to offend them. So they will probably end up in hell because God would never want them to be in heaven where they would feel uncomfortable around “those people”. That usually ends our conversation :)

      There is nothing new under the sun. Paul had to deal with this racism within the church in his day as well. Peter and Barnabas even got caught up in it. It shows that we all need the Gospel every day. That is why I enjoyed this video and am excited to see people talking about it in a Christ glorifying way.

  • eve

    Matt, David, and others, it’s a little disconcerting that you don’t see why some Black would-be converts would be hung up on race, but I sincerely appreciate your candor. When it comes to issues like this, it’s helpful — VERY helpful — to really dive in to the cultural sociohistorical context that such a person comes from. Being African American, I’ve never had such hangups because though I’m very aware of the history of some white “christians” toward Blacks, I grew up in midtown Manhattan and have interacted with enough diversity to not have these kinds of barriers to seeking Truth. But some people who do have those hangups may not have been so fortunate.

    So in the interest of looking for a genuine understanding of their perspective, I think it would be helpful to answer a few questions that include …

    * If you were part of a marginalized minority group in a society where the “majority” represents “power” and you share the ethnicity of the comparatively dis-empowered, how quick would you be to listen to someone from that group teach you anything? What might intercept your ability to maintain basic regard for such relatively empowered folks?

    * If you were part of a disenfranchised neighborhood where historical and contemporary inequities breed a distrust for the majority (and have so since the 1600s) would you be ready and willing to embrace what a person of that untrusted group has to say?

    * If you lived in a neighborhood where groups such as the Hebrew Israelites and the Nation of Islam taught week in and week out that christianity is the “white man’s religion” and it didn’t make sense to you geographically but you heard that many of your ancestor’s “owners” including Jonathan Edwards claimed to be bible-believing christians, would you jump at the chance to embrace that same christianity?

    Of course these questions are rhetorical, but it’s difficult for you (or any other member of a majority) to step outside a context and experience what it means to be a severe minority (12%) in a society where the “other” represents prosperity and “you” represent poverty (no matter how numerically untrue such assertions are).

    And this is exactly why all of us should be deliberate about connecting with people who are economically, ethnically, regionally different than us. Otherwise we’ll live in our little bubble and fail to understand why other people think as they do. We may even reach unfair conclusions that simply aren’t based on the context from which another person springs.

  • Alex Guggeneheim

    Quit identifying self with race within the church and this won’t be the problem it is. Peter is quite clear, we are a Royal Priesthood, Holy Nation and Holy Priesthood and so on. And first and foremost our spiritual identity is centered around Christ, not our humanity which is for other divine institutions such as family.

    Quit allowing yourself to refer to these men as “black Ministers” and quit calling their churches “black churches” because there is no such thing. They are spiritual ministers of Christ, their race is irrelevant.

    Quit treating them like objects but like spiritual brothers who are gifted to teach all men. It might be an anecdotal point that some of the congregations are made up of blacks by majority or great majority, so what? It isn’t a black church, it is a spiritual body.

    The more you use this unbiblical construct and assign to these Ministers unbiblical categories, the more you exacerbate the problem.

    And to these men:

    Stop seeing yourself this way. You are a Minister of Christ of the tribe of Christ. Your human identity is not the source of your spiritual identity. Stop with this humanism, now. You were saved into Christ and identify with Christ in your doctrine. Your race is incidental, anecdotal and irrelevant to your spiritual identity. When the Bible presents the believer’s spiritual identity it is Christ and Christ alone without any human properties as a source.

    Your human properties and identity certain are legitimate at home or in other contexts of other divine institutions but not in the body of Christ.

    • Laura

      Alex, I agree that race is a human construct, but would you agree that as a human construct it has real dynamics that go along with it? In other words, we can’t pretend racism away, or talk it away, or ignore it away. We have to address it with the gospel, and that sometimes requires talking about this human construct of race. After all, not everyone sees it as a human construct.

      Besides which, ethnicity is very real, and there are cultural issues at work in this conversation as well — or sub-cultural issues, at the very least. I hope you wouldn’t tell people to quit talking about the “Southern church” or the “Urban church” or whatever, because “Southern” and “Urban” are artificial human constructs. I also find it strange that you think it’s cool to talk about race “at home or in other contexts” but not in the body of Christ. So we’re going to leave this conversation to the world and let them figure out how to discuss race, culture, ethnicity? That’s irresponsible. And talk about an artificial division. As a Christian, all of my life is as part of Christ’s body. I can’t separate my connection with the church from the “rest of my life” and I actually don’t know what it would mean to do so.

      • Alex Guggenheim

        Culture is anecdotal, it serves the gospel community, the gospel community does not serve it. To construct a local assembly based on cultural needs, wants or preferences is to make the gospel serve culture. That is wrong.

        Local culture will be present but it is anecdotal. The food that is eaten and the clothes worn will reflect culture but that is merely anecdotal. Even the instruments and music will reflect culture, that again is anecdotal.

        But even with these cultural things they are always subordinate to Christ and the body of Christ who do not identify with and come together around culture in the body of Christ but identify with and come together around Christ.

        In Christ and when the body functions, there is no “black theology” no “white theology” there is no “black spirituality” no “white spirituality”, there is only Biblical theology and spirituality that stems from God’s Spirit and His Word.

        What is taught in one church should be taught in another. That is not culture but Christ. That is not race but Christ.

        Unique experiences, whether individual or collectively as a race, does not permit one to develop and promote a “special” or “proprietary” spirituality and theology. The Bible, no where and no place, gives such permission.

        As to other context, well race or genetics (that is human properties) do have a role such as family. I never said it is “cool”. But that is God’s design. He, in the body of Christ, removed these properties as sources to identify and interact with God’s people unlike during the Theocracy of Israel.

        “Holy Nation, Holy Priesthood, Royal Priesthood”. These are all centered and based in and around Christ and Christ only.

        Now you can discuss race all you want with other Christians but it has no bearing or relevancy with regard to spirituality, the body of Christ and Biblical Theology.

    • Kevin Chen

      TO ALEX:

      Uh oh, that is a dangerous argument to make…

      I guess my gender is also incidental, anecdotal and irrelevant to my spiritual identity since Paul says in Gal 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

      Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. God is a sovereign creator and Christ’s resurrection is both physical and spiritual.

      • Alex Guggenheim

        You are correct, it is irrelevant to your spiritual identity. Your human properties and its identity have property contexts and their identification plays a role in certain Divine Institutions, but with regard to spiritual constructs, the body of Christ and Biblical Theology, there is no such thing as “male Theology”, “female Theology”, “the black church”, “the female church”, “the hispanic church” and so on.

        Once you enter the body of Christ and you are functioning in a spiritual context, your human means of identification is removed and your identification is now, Christ and Christ alone. Your relationship to other believers is based in and cause by Christ and Christ alone. You have brothers and sisters in the Lord for one reason and one reason only, Christ.

        You are to relate to them with regard to spiritual matters upon which the constitution of the body of Christ moves and builds itself, namely Christ and Christ alone. You are to speak Christ’s Words, not “black Christ Words” or “white Christ Words” for there is no such thing, only Christ’s Words. You are to worship in Spirit and in Truth and there is no “hispanic Spirit and Truth” there is only God’s Spirit and Truth.

        While other constructs of Divine Institutions are based upon human properties such as family, the body of Christ is not based upon that construct, it is a spiritual construct based on spiritual realities, none of which stem from human properties.

    • Luke

      Alex, I have to say that the only people in any given culture who can look at their racial identity as incidental, are those in power. White people don’t really know their white. Black people cannot forget they are black.

      The gospel does reconcile and these distinctions can be brought in unity through Jesus, but what you are suggesting is not unity, it’s ignorance.

      • Alex Guggenheim

        When the culture you are in is “the body of Christ” Christ is the one in power. You have your construct based in the world and not the Bible and here lies one of your fundamental problems and why you cannot move past this.

    • Gerard

      This is to Alex Guggenhiem.

      Alex you went on Justin Taylor’s blog and said the same thing

      “Quit identifying self with race within the church and this won’t be the problem it is. Peter is quite clear, we are a Royal Priesthood, Holy Nation and Holy Priesthood and so on. And first and foremost our spiritual identity is centered around Christ, not our humanity which is for other divine institutions such as family.

      Quit allowing yourself to refer to these men as “black Ministers” and quit calling their churches “black churches” because there is no such thing. They are spiritual ministers of Christ, their race is irrelevant.

      Quit treating them like objects but like spiritual brothers who are gifted to teach all men. It might be an anecdotal point that some of the congregations are made up of blacks by majority or great majority, so what? It isn’t a black church, it is a spiritual body.

      The more you use this unbiblical construct and assign to these Ministers unbiblical categories, the more you exacerbate the problem.

      And to these men:

      Stop seeing yourself this way. You are a Minister of Christ of the tribe of Christ. Your human identity is not the source of your spiritual identity. Stop with this humanism, now. You were saved into Christ and identify with Christ in your doctrine. Your race is incidental, anecdotal and irrelevant to your spiritual identity. When the Bible presents the believer’s spiritual identity it is Christ and Christ alone without any human properties as a source.

      Your human properties and identity certain are legitimate at home or in other contexts of other divine institutions but not in the body of Christ.”

      You seem to be a very contentious person that has an issue with Black Christians?

      • Alex Guggenheim

        “You seem to be a very contentious person that has an issue with Black Christians?”

        Herein lies your problem. It has nothing to do with “Black Christians”. You think it does because that is how you think. The Bible only knows of “Christians”.

        The issue is about importing into our spiritual identity that of a human property whether it be white or black or any thing else. There is no such thing as “white theology” or “black theology” only Biblical theology.

        But I said all these things already, you simply ignored them and attempted to insinuate, it was an issue of race, specifically the black race implying some racist issue, when it is a Biblical issue.

        The Bible is just as opposed to “white Christian” as it is “black Christian” since there is no such thing in Christ. Our spiritual identity is not from any human property, white, black, brown or whatever. These are anecdotal.

        Now you seem to have a problem with God’s Word on the matter which is a far more serious problem than the one you wished to imagine I had.

        • John

          I don’t pretend to understand all you hare written. But what you propose seems anything other than biblical way of ministering to people compared to what is seen in acts. Paul has completely differing means of communicating the gospel to various groups and will do anything (apart from modifying the gospel) to communicate and live out the gospel.

        • Harrison

          Just a reminder to all that Jesus was all truth and all grace. What I am seeing on here is a whole lot of truth, but not a lot of grace. It’s the seminary disease – in many ways Christians can use truth as a club to clobber others or as a means to gain power in the christian world. The unfortunate part is that if it is about you in any way, as if it matters to you that you win arguments and sound smart, and not about loving the other person into god’s truth, then it’s a waste of time. It’s a 1 Cor 13 clanging gong. There are people in the world that can fathom all of the depths of philosophy and even people who can practice wonders and miracles, sometimes using Jesus name, but if they have not love, they are what?


          Isn’t the point of truth to change how we live, love and treat each other, not simply to accumulate the most truth?

          Let’s make sure we remember not to be like the rest of the blogging world, thinking that the big words we use or how theologically astute we may be makes any difference. The difference comes on the mission field, and so if any of us aren’t up to the level of approaching people in real life with these kinds of issues (namely sharing the gospel), then I think we need to log off and focus on loving people first before we are licensed to blog about it.

  • Matt Hauck

    PS. I’m not advocating my current response. It was more of a reflection with the intent of expressing the helpfulness of these videos. Given I would not have even *thought* of these issues since I am culturally removed from it (even though I am one of few whites in my home church in Berkeley; mostly Asian).

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  • Steve

    Excellent video! I can relate to the fact about getting angry when you come to understand the truth in light of Reformed Theology and then attack the place where you came from accusing them of not preaching the truth.

    I came out of a large well known mega church in Brooklyn, NY. I attended there for more than 20 years. Very charismatic and pentecostal in its theology. The majority of attendees were black and many were fans of T.D. Jakes, Paula White, Myles Monroe, etc. Though I am not black I have a heart to see my brothers in Christ come to a more biblical theological position and to really understand reformed theology. But many just don’t get it. And I can’t help to think that it is mainly due to the lack of black Christians within the Reformed camp. But I thank God for men like Thabiti Anyabwile, Eric Mason, Anthony Carter, Voddie Buacham, and artists like Lecrae, Trip Lee, Shai Linne.

    I just finished reading The Decline of African American Theology and I want to get that into the hands of some of my brothers. Most of them are not aware of the rich theological heritage they have in the faith. The only African American Christian I think we ever heard of in regards to church history was Brother Seymour from Azusa Street. Not exactly the sound biblical theology you want to build your faith upon. But when I read about Lemuel Hayes and other black men of God who had a passion for people and a passion for God’s Truth I was blessed and encouraged to see even in the midst of the horrible conditions of slavery that God raised up solid men of God to minister to slaves and free. God is Sovereign.

    I also read Anthony Carter’s books and am about to read Glory Road as well.

    My hearts desire is to see a multi-racial Church in Brooklyn that preaches the Doctrines of Grace and worships God passionately.

    Now on another note, and I might be wrong, but I also see that for many of my black friends who are Christians, they would have a huge problem with the style of music we sing in some of our more reformed white churches. I have heard churches say that they want to see blacks and latinos come. But when the music is mainly white evangelical rock and roll it is kind of hard to get passed that for some people. Me included, and I am white. LOL!

    I am not saying this as a general blanket statement but I do believe that it is a factor and if stops many from coming and sitting under solid reformed expository biblical preaching.

    Just my humble opinion.


  • CL Edwards

    I grew up in the black church,the churches I attended ranged from a social justice message to straight up charismatic chaos. Like many other black men I felt church was not for me, it was all just superstition, hollering, and really effeminate. So I became a Muslim, Sunni in the Salafi movement, and I can tell you right now in America the majority of Muslim converts are black, and in places like NY, NJ, Philly, Detroit, Atl there is a large black Salafi and Sufi Muslim population. To us it was like we had discovered some secret other black people didn’t know about, Christianity was no offense.. dumb to us, we were above that level(we spent countless hours reading memorizing Quran and books of Islamic theology). My favorite activity was getting into a debate with a black Christians and destroying them, because all they had was emotionalism no knowledge. I was a pure Anti Christ no doubt about it. Well long story short I got elected…lol, Christ redeemed me and made me Christian. I don’t wear Reformed theology like a flag but I lean heavy towards it. I will tell you the truth right now, if I had of been exposed to reformed theology and the doctrines of grace when I was younger I would never have left the church for Islam. I know a lot of these black Muslim converts if they had of been exposed to sound doctrine and a good dose of apologetic’s would not be Muslim now.

    • Harrison

      Wow, that’s an amazing story. That’s really encouraging to hear as someone who is in the african mission field (in uganda) and works with muslims. The churches here don’t even believe they NEED to reach muslims or ever should talk to them, let alone think about what theology to use to speak to them. African churches really need some good teaching and inspiration to understand all of the ways the bible calls us to deeper life and deeper understanding. I wish you could come over and share your story everywhere, because I know people could appreciate it. Coming from white missionaries doesn’t work as well as coming from a black missionary – they are still in the worldly mindset of listening to their own brothers more than us oftentimes. You can also tell your words come from experience, and that is something that gets across to people in speeches and sermons.

      God bless.

  • patrick fontaine

     This is right on the money!!! For real

  • Trey Harris

    Yo, this joint here is off the meter fo’real!! I was that dude that Lecrae was talking about!!! Literally!! Since then I have by God’s grace calmed down a lot and have begun the journey of seriously figuring out what it looks like for me to take the Gospel to the place I grew up in that was by in large, gopel-less. Great vid, deeply encouraged by these men. Grace and peace

  • Michael “Mike Streezy” Strong

    I enjoyed this discussion very much. What I like most about it is that it brought about some questions inside of me that I didn’t really grasp were there. Let me give you a little background before I ask my question.

    I am a white emcee out of Little Rock, AR. Within the last year I felt the need to switch from secular rap to strictly christian. I have battled with knowing that I need to know more about the Bible (and theology to an extent) in order to present the correct information to any that may be listening. I immersed myself, but there is still so much more to learn. I am trying to enroll in Boyce College currently, but before I get sidetracked let me give you a little more pertinent information. I have all of my needs met, but I live in the middle of the hood. There are very few white people that live in my neighborhood or area of town at all. With that being said, how does the fact that Christianity being viewed as the “white man’s religion” and the presenter (me) being white affect the opportunity for effectiveness? Are there any tools to assist in my ministry that you might refer me to?

    • eve

      Hey Mike.

      Others can answer your excellent question a lot better than I, but I do want to warn you against any future temptation to paint this with a broad racial brush. Where you live actually represents a SUBCULTURE of Black culture. Subculture in the sense that within Black America it represents a specific region, economic state, etc. that doesn’t define others within Black culture. So whatever you do — whether it’s getting like-minded Black dudes to co-labor with you or using another method — keep in mind that you’re approaching a specific culture WITHIN Black culture. Don’t assume you can use just anything considered “Black” to connect with these specific folks.


  • Michael “Mike Streezy” Strong

    I am unsure if I explained this well enough. I am caught between cultures. Where I live and the way I minister could be viewed as foreign to most white members of my church. My race and message could be viewed as foreign by those who would most likely see my ministry in my neighborhood and at a show I perform in. This divide is not something I have addressed quite the way it was spoken of above, but I have encountered it. My life seems to be the most influential factor in extending the message, but most won’t get to see my life. With that in mind, I still believe God is using my music to minister as well as my life to reinforce it. What tools or advice might anyone offer to assist me in either understanding how to prepare for this divide more effectively or to assist in getting past these possible differences in a more rapid rate? Thanks for any advice or links, tools, etc.

  • eve

    One other quick remark about this video …

    I love the way E Mase alludes to the fact that African Americans have had a long history of biblical orthodoxy (even back to the 1700s) so the “Black Church” many of us experienced was actually a departure from who we had always been. Haynes & Grimke come to mind & such congregations have always existed in U.S. history but unfortunately they’re not the majority & megachurch pastors get more press.

  • Jesse Gistand

    I am amazed at just how volatile this subject remains among blacks and white.

    About 5yrs ago when other blogs were devoted to this discussion having for the most part dissapeared, with the exception of Reformed blacks of America, Ellis, X and others being contributors;

    It was this same unendng labryinth of discussion, which amounted to essentially, no real hope for a tangible unity, of either understanding the cultural difference between blacks and whites
    or the substantive manifestations of ongoing companionship in the gospel, beyond these seemed tokens of gesture as demonstrated by this blog. (gratetful for that by the way)

    Being An African American pastor in a diverse and multi-racial church, amidst very divided churches, I realize the light and merciful tenure givn to me, to preach and teach the gospel of the glory of God in Christ freely, wihtout having to placate either side.

    I am authentically black and genuinely reformed in my theology and our expression of worship. And attracting all nations.

    Until we can all live under the same roof, and are thus compelled work through our differences, a formidable reinforcment of ethnic and cultural distinctives will continue to preserve that insidious wall which should have been torn down in Christ.

    BUT! The conversation must go on


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  • Harrison

    So for those of us who don’t know, what are / were historically black American churches centered on if not gospel-centered theology?

    I live in Uganda at the moment and it’s interesting to me that “the gospel” differs from church to church. For some it’s healing, for some it’s spiritual warfare, for some its holiness, for some it’s Jesus as santa clause. For few it’s biblical centered teaching because that is less bombastic and charismatic than the fact someone could get healed today. Hopefully the Spirit helps us recognize that the center should be Christ’s spiritual work on our behalf and how that changes everything about the way we live.

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