Browse category by RACE
EVANGELICALISM’S FATAL FLAW

EVANGELICALISM’S FATAL FLAW

February 2, 2024 By dwayman

The leading Free Methodist author, Rev. Dr. Howard Snyder, provides an insightful historical and theological study of why the Evangelical church has lost its way.  Though most Free Methodists identify as Wesleyan rather than Evangelical due to the reasons noted in this study, it is important to understand what has and is happening within a large branch of American Christianity.

Evangelicalism’s Fatal Flaw Howard A. Snyder

Evangelicalism in the U.S. suffers from a fatal flaw.

What in the world is “evangelicalism”? The term is contested and variously defined. In the United States however it has come to mean doctrinally conservative Protestants, especially white Protestants, who are also very conservative politically. That perception has taken hold in the media and is backed by evangelicals’ voting record in the past several Presidential elections, going back to Ronald Reagan.

What is evangelicalism really though, theologically speaking? British Baptist historian David Bebbington formulated a definition in the 1980s that is now widely accepted. According to Bebbington, evangelicals are defined by four marks: biblicism (a high view of biblical authority); crucicentrism (central focus on Christ’s atonement); conversionism (conversion by faith in Jesus Christ is essential); and activism (the Christian duty to evangelize).

I have never liked this definition. It doesn’t really click with my own experience growing up in the Free Methodist Church. I always felt something was missing, especially for those of us in the Wesleyan and holiness tradition.

I used to think Bebbington’s definition wasn’t quite right.

THE SUFFERING WITNESS                 by Ayebale Barigye

THE SUFFERING WITNESS by Ayebale Barigye

October 14, 2021 By dwayman

The necessity of hearing the Word of God preached by a variety of unique pastors is vital to a full understanding of the Gospel. Each pastor not only comes from their own place in history but also in geography and culture.  Pastor Ayebale Barigye was born in Uganda and raised in the United States.  He is a graduate of Greenville University.  This blend of international and national experience not only causes Pastor Barigye to have a clear understanding of the justice our faith requires, but the importance of following our Suffering Savior as we also pick up our own cross and follow him.  This sermon is a part of the series on Suffering preached at St. Paul’s Free Methodist Church in Greenville, IL.

This sermon was given on October 10, 2021.  The audio is available on YouTube by clicking here.

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A COLORBLIND CHRISTIANITY

August 19, 2021 By dwayman

With the 2020 Census revealing that we are increasingly a multicultural nation and therefor must be a multicultural denomination if we are to reach this and future generations, this article provides both an analysis and a call upon us.  Written by Amar D. Peterman in August 17, 2021 the author begins:

“In its early stages, the multiracial church movement felt promising. Inspired by the 2004 book United by Faith, this movement held bold aspirations of a racially reconciled, Revelation-like worshiping community. While many questioned whether this elusive dream might become a reality, I wanted it to be true.

Yet, as Tom Gjelten reported for NPR last year, the multiracial church movement failed. While the movement succeeded in racially integrating congregants, many multiracial congregations remained steeped in a Christian faith governed by whiteness. Congregations grew in diversity, yet governance and meaningful decision-making power was safeguarded by cohorts of predominantly white male leadership.

For all its promises, the multiracial church movement was unequipped and under-resourced to deliver. Most importantly, this movement failed to address the distorted imagination of belonging.

To understand this, one must start with a core interpretive assumption held among mainstream evangelicals. The task of hermeneutics, as I was taught at an evangelical Bible college, is a process of ridding oneself of the baggage — the “bias” and “presuppositions” — we bring to the text: our experiences,

THE BLACK CHURCH

THE BLACK CHURCH

February 22, 2021 By dwayman

Available both as a book and as a PBS Documentary, THE BLACK CHURCH by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the central role that the church played and plays in the lives of African American people.  Here is the available introduction (read an excerpt) of his work:

“INTRODUCTION

No pillar of the African American community has been more central to its history, identity, and social justice vision than the “Black Church.”* To be sure, there is no single Black Church, just as there is no single Black religion, but the traditions and faiths that fall under the umbrella of African American religion, particularly Christianity, constitute two stories: one of a people defining themselves in the presence of a higher power and the other of their journey for freedom and equality in a land where power itself—and even humanity—for so long was (and still is) denied them. Collectively, these churches make up the old‑ est institution created and controlled by African Americans, and they are more than simply places of worship. In the centuries since its birth in the time of slavery, the Black Church has stood as the foundation of Black religious, political, economic, and social life.
For a people systematically brutalized and debased by the in‑ humane system of human slavery, followed by a century of Jim Crow racism, the church provided a refuge: a place of racial and

*  Although there is no monolithic “Black Church,” just as there is no monolithic “Black vote” or “Black perspective,” for clarity throughout this book,

Critical [G]race Theory: The Promise & Perils of CRT

December 17, 2020 By dwayman

We often have a misunderstanding of scholarly work because of the way it is spun, often divisively,  in the various media outlets.  Additionally, our perspective as Christians often takes truth as it is discovered by scholars and gives it a larger reframe and corrective such that we recognize the way God is preveniently at work in the world.  In this article by pastor Rasool Berry, we not only are given an academic understanding of Critical Race Theory, but are given insightful observations about how God’s Grace is at work.  In his article Pastor Berry also imbeds a compelling video of his own.

Pastor Berry writes in part:

“Critical Theorists and Christians often disagree on the answers to key philosophical questions such as the existence of truth or the moral grounding of social justice, BUT we do agree that questions surrounding these issues are crucial. Both the critical race theorists who don’t identify as Christians (contrary to popular belief some do as we will see below) and Christians who uphold the Scriptures agree that human liberation from tyrannical oppression is good, and that our justice system should treat everyone fairly regardless of their economic status, race, ethnicity or gender. We, no doubt, disagree on some aspects of what “human liberation” or “justice” look like. But we all agree that racial discrimination is wrong. C. S. Lewis wrote “The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others,

PREVENIENT GRACE and SOCIAL JUSTICE WORK

November 7, 2020 By dwayman

One of the most important Wesleyan theological concepts is that of Prevenient Grace.  In this paper by David N. Field, a research associate in the Institute for Theology and Religion, at the University of South Africa, South Africa, Dr. Field gives not only a comprehensive understanding of the meaning of Prevenient Grace, but also the application to our 21st century church.

Dr. Field’s definition of Wesley’s concept is best understood as he compares it to the Reformed theology.  He writes:

Prevenient grace in the theology of John Wesley

 John Wesley developed his theology of prevenient grace within the context of his rather heated debate with his Calvinist contemporaries. Wesley, along with Calvinistic theology, strongly affirmed human sinfulness and the inability and unwillingness of human beings, in their natural state, to seek God. If anything his description of human sin is more pessimistic than Calvin’s. However he rejected the Calvinist solution that God chose some human beings to  be saved and then through a special intervention of God’s grace called these and only these out of sin, enabling them to repent and believe. Wesley argued that God loved all human  beings; that Christ had died for the salvation of all,

RACIAL BARRIERS OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

October 15, 2020 By dwayman

In a compelling move by the Business Roundtable, leaders in major corporations are recognizing, accepting, and taking action to bring justice into the lives of all people, particularly those who have been hindered from economic growth.

Graphically exploring the reality between People of Color and those who are white the evidence speaks volumes for the underlying injustice of the economic systems of the United States:

“Despite some significant strides over the generations, the events of 2020 have illustrated how far we still have to go to ensure that every person can fully realize opportunity and justice in America.

As some of the country’s largest employers, Business Roundtable CEOs believe they have a role to play in driving real change. On June 5, 2020, Business Roundtable Chairman Doug McMillon of Walmart established a Special Committee of the Board to identify meaningful steps Business Roundtable companies can take to advance racial equity and justice. On July 1, 2020, the Special Committee outlined proposals for federal policing reform legislation and launched an effort to persuade Congress to pass a bipartisan bill.”

These Chief Executive Officers of major US companies have gone on record with these encouraging statements:

CEO PERSPECTIVES ON RACIAL EQUITY & JUSTICE

“The racial inequities that exist for many Americans of color are real and deeply rooted. These longstanding systemic challenges have far too often prevented access to the benefits of economic growth and mobility for far too many,

It’s Bias That Hobbles People of Color, Not Lack of a Leadership Pipeline

It’s Bias That Hobbles People of Color, Not Lack of a Leadership Pipeline

August 11, 2020 By dwayman

In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, researchers Frances Kunreuther and Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, discovered that it is not the lack of training that is limiting people of color from top positions in the non-profit world, but rather racial bias.  This challenges the thinking and action of many organizations working to bring people of color into top positions.  They write in part:

“Why are there so few leaders of color in nonprofit organizations?

It’s because of a persistent bias in the nonprofit world that systematically weeds out qualified candidates of color, we found in a study of more than 4,000 people — not a lack of aspiring leaders ready for the job, as is commonly assumed.

Despite years of deliberating the question of diversity, little has changed. Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and other racial and ethnic minorities still fill fewer than 20 percent of nonprofit executive-director positions, a figure that hasn’t budged for more than a decade.

Whether you look at the 2006 CompassPoint/Meyer Foundation study “Daring to Lead,”which showed 17 percent of the top leaders are people of color, or BoardSource’s 2015 “Leading With Intent” report, which put the figure at only 11 percent, it is clear that nonprofit leaders too seldom reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.

To better understand this racial leadership gap, we not only surveyed people from across the nonprofit landscape but also conducted focus groups and more than three dozen interviews with nonprofit and foundation leaders as well as management experts to hear their views of the barriers people of color face.

Repudiating Any and All Forms of White-Supremacy by Bishop Emeritus David Kendall

June 17, 2020 By dwayman

Bishop Emeritus David Kendall

Making clear and informed statements about racism is a necessary part of leadership.  This is true not only of those who are now leading churches, businesses and organizations, but those who influence the leaders of our world.  Free Methodist Bishop Emeritus David Kendall is one of those influencers.  Having served faithfully for many years as pastor, superintendent and Bishop, Dr. Kendall also has an earned doctorate in Biblical studies.  Writing from this wealth of experience and training, Kendall recently wrote a blog on Racism.

He says in part:

“As a follower of Jesus, I repudiate racism.  This is a matter of commitment to Jesus as Lord.  It strikes me as unthinkable that any trace of racism should lodge in my heart, mind, spirit, sentiments, tendencies, actions or reactions.  Truly.  As soon as I say/write this, though, I recall other attitudes, feelings, tendencies, responses that once lingered within me for some time before I even knew it and then remained for some additional time as I dealt with them and put them aside.  I’m talking about things that are unworthy and contrary to the way of Jesus, such as anger, envy, bitterness and unforgiveness. Likewise, there are things I once put off by the grace of God only later to resurface, sometimes worse than before.  So, I do repudiate racism, and yet I am asking what lingers in my heart that I never knew was there? 

A Neo-Free Methodism: Shadow-Work as a Model for Racial Justice

A Neo-Free Methodism: Shadow-Work as a Model for Racial Justice

May 29, 2020 By dwayman

Having the tools to heal pervasive and spiritually damaging racism requires our best thinking and practice.  In this work by Free Methodist scholar Rev. Dr. Liz Simmons, as a specialist in spiritual formation, we find a persuasive adaptation of Jungian “shadow work” to assist us in identifying and repenting from these suppressed and repressed projections.

Simmons work is stated clearly in her abstract:

“The increase of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States is on a trajectory to shift the demographic of the Church over time to majority non-white. Because of the abolitionist spirit of its genesis, Free Methodist church contexts have the historical and theological foundations to become hosts for multicultural communities and culturally engaging conversations leading to racial justice. The homogeneous demographic of many Free Methodist churches today, however, results in blindness toward privilege and resistance toward social engagement, reinforcing an insulated identity narrative.”(x)

“…this dissertation seeks to answer this question: What could it look like for white people to do their own internal work to take responsibility for their part in racial justice, particularly in majority-culture churches where the surrounding community is also majority white? First, this research recovers and analyzes the inception of the Free Methodist movement in order to understand the gap between its abolitionist beginnings and its present reality. Second, this work identifies the need for a theology of liberation in Free Methodist churches by reviewing the strengths and challenges of Liberation Theology.