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White Evangelicals, We Have a Responsibility for Women, Immigrants, and People of Color

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A new president has been elected. Under normal circumstances, the supporters of the new president are thrilled and the supporters of the defeated opponent are depressed. But for the most part, just about all Americans are willing to fall in behind the new administration and give it a chance to govern.

But those circumstances, alas, are not ours. A polarizing figure has been elected. Another polarizing figure was defeated. It is unfortunate that these were our two major choices. According to the New York Times, only 9 percent of Americans voted to nominate Clinton and Trump. That in itself is a galling reality. But it is still the reality.

There are protests all over the country, less it seems over the fact that Clinton lost and more over the fact that Trump won. But as I see it, the consternation goes deeper than that. Trump, because of his own statements and behavior, has sent the message to the nation that he is anti-immigrant, misogynistic, and racist. (When I say racist, it is not necessarily because he doesn’t like black people–rather, it is because he is supportive of power structures that favor white people). Women, minorities, and immigrants are afraid for their safety and security–because of how Trump has constructed his image over the past 18 months. They are also worried because, as has been underscored time and again, Trump is an unknown element. Nobody knows what to expect out of a Trump presidency, because he has been so short on details and long on generalizations and emotions.

And since eighty-one percent of evangelical Christians supported Trump, they have a particular responsibility to demonstrate support for women, minorities, and immigrants. Evangelicals have risked their public witness by abandoning their traditional conviction that persons who stand for office should have an honorable character. They have also, in their support of Trump, gained (maybe–I stress, maybe) a seat at the table of power, while wagering their own credibility in the public square. If evangelicals ignore those who have legitimate concerns about their futures, then they will indeed lose any and all credibility that remains for them in America.

Many evangelical Christians did not vote for Trump. But even those who did not have a special responsibility to marginalized people, because they will be implicated in Trump’s election whether they like it or not.

Ed Stetzer and Laurie Nichols have a piece out in Christianity Today laying out some helpful specifics on what evangelicals can do to show support for those who are anxious for the future. It’s very helpful, and evangelical Christians should follow their prescriptions.

Here is a portion of the article:

As such, let me share six ways that White Evangelicals, among others, can respond.

First, if you’ve never spoken up about some of the offensive things that Trump has said, this would be a good time to apologize for that.

I was deeply disappointed that many Evangelicals changed their views about the private character of public officials as President-elect Trump emerged. And many Evangelicals, who were deeply concerned about Hillary Clinton’s possible election, were inappropriately silent while Trump acted and spoke so divisively.

It’s a good time to apologize for that silence. Even if you made the decision that Hillary Clinton was a greater evil, if you never spoke up about some of Trump’s comments, you’ve failed those to whom those comments were addressed.

Second, if you are in ministry leadership, affirm (or begin) a commitment to developing a multicultural approach that more intentionally elevates people of color.

My friend Derwin Gray, who is lead pastor at Transformation Church in North Carolina, has a helpful video to help us get started in our churches. We must lead our churches in such a way that when non-Christians come in, they see a commitment to Oneness in the Body of Christ. We must provide places where each person in the church, regardless of race or gender or age, feels welcomed and affirmed.

The last place I spoke before the election was the Mosaix Conference, where I and many others expressed a hope (and plan) for a more diverse church. As our nation is more divided, at this moment, the church needs to become more visibly diverse.

Honestly, I don’t really consider myself a “White Evangelical,” and maybe you don’t either. I preach every week at Moody Church, a multicultural congregation of over 70 nations, but the fact that “White Evangelical” is so clearly a thing reminds us of the work we have to do.

Third, we must all speak for—and sometimes even join—those who are marginalized. My friend Charlie Dates, who serves as senior pastor of Progressive Baptist Church in Chicago, wrote a helpful piece on The Exchange recently. In it, Charlie wrote:

Evangelical churches in America can benefit from the testimony of other Christians who have long lived on the cultural margins, from a people group who wielded no political influence or economic superiority—a people who functioned largely as a subset, or minority in the larger American Evangelical story. In their history abides a witness, a recipe for thriving ministry, and an illustration of the gospel’s power to make buoyant a church relegated to the periphery of national significance.

His statement is powerful; it is a lesson for White Evangelicals to embrace the opportunity to join those who have historically been at the margins for the good of the Church and the glory of God.

This may mean more advocacy in the face of injustice. It may mean volunteering time with inner-city youth who come from single-parent homes. There are many opportunities for compassion and solidarity, and we should be looking for them.

Fourth, we must embrace the refugee, the immigrant, and people on the move. This is a particularly frightening time for some people, precisely because of campaign promises that were made by candidates and approved by voters. Some families genuinely have no idea what will happen next. We cannot underestimate their fears, and we should be the first ones ready to show love and care.

When World Relief launched it’s ‘We Welcome Refugees’ campaign, thousands of people planted a sign in their yards in a symbolic act of solidarity. As white Evangelicals, we pray hard and work hard so that those who find themselves without home and community have people of safety to run towards. We must be places of refuge.

Fifth, we must speak up and quickly condemn any and all racist comments flowing out of this election. Many were quick to condemn statements about other issues, and would have continued to speak out if things had gone a different way.

Racism is evil and we cannot pretend that it was not a part of the rhetoric in our culture these past several months. It simply must not continue, and we should be among the first to repudiate it.

Sixth, we must elevate non-Anglo evangelicals. If you have a platform, join me in sharing it with people of color. It’s not a mistake that I’ve just done a series on Race in America (hosting all African American Evangelicals) and been doing a series on Diaspora Missions (i.e. refugees). Share your pulpit, platform, conference, blog, and more with people of color.

Most of these things we already owe—as Christians, to brothers and sisters of Christ—but if we listen to our minority brothers and sisters, we owe them particularly now.

 

Blurbs for *Democracy in America* Abridgment Are In

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Democracy in America has always been essential reading for students of American history, and well as of the history of political and social thought. But teachers on the secondary-school and undergraduate levels who might otherwise make generous use of Tocqueville’s luminous text have often been daunted by the length and expense entailed in assigning the whole book. For such teachers, and their students, this careful abridgment of the Democracy, trimmed to half its original length and framed by the editor’s thoughtful introductory essay, will prove to be just what the doctor ordered.

Wilfred M. McClay
G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, and Director, Center for the History of Liberty
University of Oklahoma

Tocqueville’s unparalleled analysis of the American experiment — his praise of it, and his prescient warnings about a people detached from virtue and religion — should be required reading for every American citizen. This superb abridgment communicates the power of the original in a way that makes thinking with Tocqueville easier than ever. Recommended!

C.C. Pecknold
Associate Professor of Theology
The Catholic University of America

Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is one of the most important books–indeed, perhaps the most important book for understanding American politics and society. John D. Wilsey’s abridgment succeeds in placing an accessible version of this magnum opus in the hands of students and general readers, while his Introduction provides a clear guide for understanding the work. By sharing Tocqueville’s ideas broadly, Wilsey has contributed to educating the American democracy.

Jonathan Den Hartog
Associate Professor of History
University of Northwestern-St. Paul, Minnesota

John D. Wilsey’s edition of Democracy in America brings Tocqueville’s essential text into the classroom. Focusing on democracy, liberty, and racial prejudice, Wilsey draws attention to the important themes that have made Tocqueville’s work required reading as both a historical artifact and a statement of political philosophy. With careful abridgment and an approachable introduction, Wilsey helps faculty and students alike understand the meaning of Democracy in America in its own time and today.

Emily Conroy-Krutz
Michigan State University, Department of History

Wilsey’s volume on Tocqueville’s notoriously complex Democracy in America does an excellent job of contextualizing for the modern reader.  He reminds readers of the importance of reading Tocqueville in a historically critical manner that takes into account Tocqueville’s own views of democracy, as well as the fact that his writings should be properly understood as a “window into Jacksonian America.” Wilsey’s consideration of Tocqueville’s predictions on what slavery and racial inequality might mean for the United States are another important contribution this volume makes to the considerable scholarship on Tocqueville.

Jessica M. Parr
Adjunct Professor and Project Coordinator for Public History, UNH-Manchester
Author of Inventing George Whitefield: Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a Religious Icon

Wilsey’s marvelous editing of Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic Democracy in America is both timely and instructive, given our current political context and racial climate in twenty-first century America. Students, professors and the general reader will benefit from a renewed edition of Tocqueville’s prescient nineteenth century observations of our still-burgeoning Republic as well as from Wilsey’s skillful teasing out of Tocqueville’s views on race and slavery in a fresh, thoughtful and insightful introduction. This book will be a benefit to American classrooms and a “must have” for educator’s libraries for decades to come.

Otis W. Pickett
Assistant Professor of History
Mississippi College

John D. Wilsey has achieved something near impossible–the abridgment of Alexis de Tocqueville’s masterpiece Democracy in America while retaining its core contributions to our understanding of Jacksonian America up to the present. In his introduction, Wilsey provides readers an excellent guide for understanding Tocqueville’s treatment of equality, democracy, liberty, and especially slavery. This volume is perfect for high school and college students, but any curious reader could pick up a copy to start his or her study of this classic text.

James M. Patterson
Assistant Professor of Politics
Ave Maria University

Framed by a thoughtful introduction to Democracy in America’s historical context and its core philosophical and social concerns, this volume deftly balances reader accessibility with coverage of essential elements of the original text.

Lloyd Benson
W.K. Mattison Professor of History
Furman University

Alexis de Tocqueville is the greatest political theorist of democracy, and Democracy in America is his greatest writing. Editor John D. Wilsey provides an excellent introduction to Tocqueville’s thought and a judicious abridgement of the book that trims it down to half its original size, while retaining Tocqueville’s most important thoughts on issues such as democracy, liberty, religion, and race. Highly recommended.

Bruce Ashford
Provost and Professor of Theism and Culture
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

 

 

Are the Resurrection Accounts in the Gospels Contradictory? Part IV

Easter is never over. Here’s Part IV–summarizing Parts I-III–

To Breathe Your Free Air

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Let’s summarize our findings in this last part of the series on whether or not the gospel accounts of the resurrection are contradictory.

I am going to list all the events that are pertinent to the resurrection in chronological order. You can use the key below to reference each event as narrated in the gospel accounts.

Directions: Each event is listed in chronological order according to the gospel accounts. References are cited by the following code

a—Matthew 28

b—Mark 16

c—Luke 24

d—John 20-21

e—Acts 1

f—I Corinthians 15

g—Acts 9

The appropriate citations that correspond to the specific reference are given in superscript following the event.

  1. Mary Magdaleneabd, the other Maryab, Salomeb went to the tomb at early dawnabcd on the first day of the week.abcd

2-4 occur while the women were en route to the tomb.

  1. There was an earthquake.a

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Are the Resurrection Accounts in the Gospels Contradictory? Part III

Here’s Part III of the four part series on the gospel accounts of the resurrection–

To Breathe Your Free Air

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We have considered the questions about what the angels were doing and saying on the morning of the resurrection. Let’s take a look at the troubling apparent contradictions found in Mary Magdalene’s activities, and also those of Jesus himself.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels. New Testament scholars call them by that name because they are very similar in their content. Anyone who has given a cursory glance at these three gospels can readily see how similar they are.

But John’s gospel is different than the others. It does not contain any parables. And it is more theological than the Synoptics. So, we would expect to see wide agreement between the Synoptics concerning the details of the resurrection—which we do, especially in the sayings of the angels to the women as they perplexedly stood in the empty tomb.

John says that “on the first day of…

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Are the Resurrection Accounts in the Gospels Contradictory? Part II

This is Part II in a series on the gospel accounts of the Resurrection. Part III forthcoming later…

To Breathe Your Free Air

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In Part I, we considered several apparent contradictions in the four gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. To recap, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then the Scriptures have no meaning to us whatsoever, according to the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 15. If the accounts of the resurrection are unreliable, then we have no reasonable basis to believe the resurrection occurred. So the gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ are central to the Christian faith.

An apparent contradiction is not the same as an actual contradiction. To have an actual contradiction, you have to have an assertion that takes the following form:

  1. There is a tree growing in the pasture ten yards from the southwest corner of the fence.
  2. There is not a tree growing in the pasture ten yards from the southwest corner of the fence.

Either there is a tree at the specified location…

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Are the Resurrection Accounts in the Gospels Contradictory? Part I

This is Part I in a four part series on the gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I posted these last year. Hope you’ll find them helpful and edifying this year, too.

To Breathe Your Free Air

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The Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians that every assertion of the gospel rests on the truth of Jesus Christ’s rising from the dead on the third day. He wrote, “. . . if Christ is not raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. . . . For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (I Cor. 15.14, 16-17).

In other words, if Jesus did not, in fact, rise from the dead, then nothing that is affirmed in the New Testament is true. In fact, nothing in the Old Testament is true either, because as Jesus himself said, “[the Scriptures] testify about Me” (John 5.39) and “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I…

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Paul Putz’ List of New Books in AmRel History is Out

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Over at Religion in American History, Paul Putz has given us his first of three updates on new books in American religious history for 2016. His first post of the year covers books that will be released from January to April of this year. There are a lot of exciting new titles forthcoming, such as:

Stephen Prothero, Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): The Battles That Define America from Jefferson’s Heresies to Gay Marriage (HarperOne, January)

Matthew Avery Sutton and Darren Dochuk, eds., Faith in the New Millennium: The Future of Religion and American Politics (Oxford University Press, January) 

Daniel K. Williams, Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement before Roe v. Wade (Oxford University Press, January) 

Michael S. Evans, Seeking Good Debate: Religion, Science, and Conflict in American Public Life (University of California Press, February)

Peter Randolph, Sketches of Slave Life and From and From Slave Cabin to the Pulpit, ed. Katherine Clay Bassard (West Virginia University Press, February)

George Marsden, C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity: A Biography (Princeton University Press, March)

Christopher D. Cantwell, Heath W. Carter, and Janine Giordano Drake, eds., The Pew and the Picket Line: Christianity and the American Working Class (University of Illinois Press, March)

John Fea, The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society (Oxford University Press, March)

These few merely scratch the surface. Paul’s lists at RiAH are an invaluable resource for anyone interested in keeping abreast of the field of American religious history. Not only does he include the titles of forthcoming works, he also includes a link and short description–either a blurb, or the publisher’s summary.

See the entire list for January-April here.