Acts 7:30-40 – Full Acceptance, Not Partial

“After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to get a closer look, he heard the Lord say: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.’

“This is the same Moses they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out of Egypt and performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness.

“This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people. ’He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us.

“But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and, in their hearts, turned back to

Egypt. They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’ (NIV)

We humans are a confusing paradox of sinner and saint. We are majestic people, created in the image and likeness of a good God. We are also profoundly fallen, touched by sin in every area of our lives. Our hearts exist with both light and darkness, having the capacity for both incredible altruism as well as inexplicable evil.

So then, it will do no good to retreat into binary definitions of people as being either good or bad. No, we shine and shadow at the same time. What really gets us into a terrible mess is when we ignore or deny our shadow selves. We then demonize the other while claiming purity for ourselves.

This is precisely what occurred with Stephen and a group of his fellow Jews who refused to acknowledge their shadow side. And it resulted in Stephen’s stoning and death. Whereas Stephen lifted and brought to light the unseemly aspects of their collective heritage, the people wanted nothing to do with it. In our present day, the response might be something like, “Quit being so negative. We focus on the positive. Expel this recalcitrant troublemaker once and for all!”

Oy. Acceptance cuts two ways. We must accept both our blessings and our curses. And acceptance of reality will not occur apart from a solid self-acceptance of who we are and how we are feeling in any given situation. On the practical level, it works something like the following story…

Several years ago, I went on a leadership retreat in the Canadian wilderness. We were so far out in the sticks that we needed special first aid training before leaving because if someone got severely injured it would be hours before any medical attention could be received. There was no cell phone service, no towns, no anything except mile after square mile of wilderness. 

One day, it was very windy and several of us were on a lake canoeing to a destination. It was late May, which means the water was still ice cold in Canada. One of the canoes capsized and we had to act quickly and deliberately – which was no small feat in a stiff wind. More than fifteen minutes would result in hypothermia for the two people in the water.

I did not like being in that situation. In fact, I didn’t much like the Canadian wilderness. Too many black flies and giant mosquitoes for me. My shadow side was coming out. But here I was, and I had to accept the reality I was in. One of the lessons I learned in that moment was that acceptance can sit alongside other reactions and emotions.

For example, a person can be outraged by an injustice, as Stephen was, and accept that it is a reality. Acceptance does not mean complacency or giving up. We can accept something while at the same time trying to make it better.

I also needed to accept what was happening inside of me. I was cold and worried. Trying to push those feelings away would have only added to the stress of the situation. If I failed to accept what was true about myself, I would be less able to deal with the situation, and so, would compromise my ability to help two people at risk.

I needed to accept the whole circumstance, including myself. Accepting what is inside gave me more influence over the situation, not less. Self-acceptance became the key to acceptance of unwanted conditions, and more importantly, acceptance of one another as human beings.

In that moment of rescuing two people (which ultimately proved successful) I became aware of a part of myself – the part that gets afraid and irritated – and chose not to stuff it or deny its existence. I became the guy who talked to the panicked people in the water and kept them as calm as possible so that the others could get them out. I was able to do my part to help fearful people because I acknowledged and accepted my own fear.

Unlike my situation, however, Stephen’s experience ended in martyrdom. Just because we respond rightly is no guarantee that everything will work out for our benefit. Rather, we say and do the things we must say and do, while leaving the results to a sovereign Lord. It is our responsibility to work on ourselves, not others. And acceptance is the path to get there, all of it, not just part of it.

Jesus, let your mighty calmness lift me above my fears and frustrations. By your deep patience, give me tranquility and stillness of soul in you. Make me in this, and in all things, more and more like you. Amen.

Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 – Specially Crafted by the Divine

Psalm 139 stained glass by Dutch artist Ted Felen (1931-2016)

Lord, you have examined me.
    You know me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up.
    Even from far away, you comprehend my plans.
You study my traveling and resting.
    You are thoroughly familiar with all my ways.
There isn’t a word on my tongue, Lord,
    that you don’t already know completely.
You surround me—front and back.
    You put your hand on me.
That kind of knowledge is too much for me;
    it’s so high above me that I can’t reach it….

You are the one who created my innermost parts;
    you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb.
I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart.
    Your works are wonderful—I know that very well.
My bones weren’t hidden from you
    when I was being put together in a secret place,
    when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my embryo,
    and on your scroll every day was written that was being formed for me,
    before any one of them had yet happened.
God, your plans are incomprehensible to me!
    Their total number is countless!
If I tried to count them—they outnumber grains of sand!
    If I came to the very end—I’d still be with you. (CEB)

It is no wonder so many people struggle with their self-image. Beautiful people reign in television and movies; the rich and powerful are highlighted in the media; and people with perfect teeth and immaculate attire are splashed in front of us in the daily barrage of advertisements. Meanwhile, the rest of us 99% of the population quickly notice we do not measure up to such a standard. You don’t have to be a people watcher to know that less than perfect bodies are the norm and that most folks do not have a budget to live like the other 1% humanity.

If we make comparisons with others too much and for too long, it gets downright depressing. Yet, into this dark abyss of one’s self-image enters the biblical truth that each one of us, no matter our station in life, was personally hand-crafted by a heavenly Being who loves us dearly. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made.

The Creator God took great care to make us and form us just so. The psalmist, David, praised God for the way we were created. The real standard from which we ought to judge ourselves is this: God knows us intimately, inside-and-out, and neither condemns us nor shames us but loves us wholly.

Psalm 139 by Dutch painter Ellen Van Randeraat, 2013

So then, rather than wasting our emotional energy and mental faculties on wishing we looked different or were more like so-and-so who seems to always have it all together, try practicing what David did: Praise God. 

Whenever we have the notion that we do not measure up to our imposed arbitrary standard, keep in mind that the only real measurement is grace. No matter who we are, the entire race of humanity has been created in the image of God, and, on that basis alone, we have inherent value, worth, and majesty. Let us, then, treat ourselves and others with the yardstick of grace.

The inner critic, that is, the inner judgmental dialogue we have with ourselves, needs to be replaced with the truth of Psalm 139. Although we might be rather hard on ourselves and say things in the reclusive parts of our minds and hearts that we would never say to others, nor tolerate others saying about someone else – God speaks to us with tender words of grace. Perhaps you think that only you know the depth of your own sorrows, hurts, fears, insecurities, and worries.  Except….

God. The Lord knows it all intimately – and is not one bit repulsed. You see, God knows that the answer to all the self-doubts is Divine care and protection. You and I have the freedom to plumb the recesses of our hearts and souls – to bring out all that is inside the cluttered closet of our minds and lay it all on the table without fear of God calling you what you call yourself.

Therefore, please do not quickly pass over the inspired words from Holy Scripture contained in today’s psalm. Take the time to carefully digest each phrase slowly so that the message becomes internalized and believed in real-time experience.

One of the theories of human psychology is that people are driven by two primary needs: 

  1. To intimately know another person.
  2. To be intimately known by another person. 

God knows us even better than we know ourselves – and still loves us! There is nothing we learn about ourselves that God does not already know. No human relationship can even come close to the level of knowing that God has for us and about us.

To know God is perhaps the greatest and highest pursuit we could ever enjoy. God is so immense and infinite that we will spend an eternity getting to know the Lord and will never get to the end of it. That is the kind of God we serve. Be encouraged today and always with the reality that you are known and can know God – and even more, loved deeply as a specially fashioned creature.

O God, thank you that I am wonderfully made in your likeness.  I praise you that I am fully accepted, even when I do not accept myself.  In Jesus Christ you have demonstrated the height of your love and mercy.  May this grace be with me every day so that I will conduct myself in a manner worthy of being part of the human family.  Amen.

Romans 12:1-8 – Healthy Group Dynamics

Transformed

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will. 

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (NIV) 

Every person is important. Everyone is needed. Each one, according to this New Testament lesson, is to offer their entire lives to God through worship and the exercise of their spiritual giftsPeople are designed to be active in building up one another. 

When I was growing up, we had a fine china set that my parents kept in a beautiful china cabinet.  The set and the cabinet are old and were a prominent part of our living room. However, we almost never used it. I can only remember once or twice that my Mom got the china out to use. God is not looking for fine china that sits unused. He is looking for rough-and-tumble clay pots—the kind that can be used every day. God wants ordinary table-wear that can be handled in a crash-and-bang world.  

Followers of Jesus Christ were never meant to be a china cabinet, where precious pieces are safely stowed out of harm’s way. Instead, humanity is to be like a working kitchen, where well-worn pots are filled again and again to dispense their life-giving contents to a thirsty world; and, where common plates and cups are used again and again to provide a hungry population with the Bread of Life. 

Cup and Plate

Within the ancient Roman Church were both Jews and Gentiles – two groups vastly different from each other.  They tended to keep to themselves and only operate within their familiar and comfortable circles of friends and relatives.  But the Apostle Paul wanted them to be united by exercising their spiritual gifts for the benefit of the entire congregation, and not just certain persons. 

We are strongly encouraged to give ourselves in service to one another because of God’s mercy in Christ.  Since God has saved us from sin, we are to gratefully respond to him in worship that is dedicated to serving everyone.  The word “worship” in today’s text is where we get the word “liturgy.”  That is, Paul’s vision for the church was to have a daily liturgical rhythm of spiritual worship, not just on Sunday when we might pull out the fine china and impress people. 

Paul’s appeal was not to guilt people into serving but is an exhortation for all Christians to appropriately respond to God’s grace by offering their lives in sacrificial service. This is a form of saying “thanks” to God. To be oriented in a sacred liturgy that is fit for the daily will of God, our minds must be renewed. Through saturation in Scripture we discern our spiritual gifts, know what God wants us to do with those gifts, and use them effectively in the church and the world.   

Grace has been given to every believer in Jesus, not just a select few. We all have different gifts and have been graced with abilities for the benefit of others. When everyone collectively uses these spiritual gifts, there is the ability to know the will of God in any situation for any group of people. All the pronouns used in today’s verses are plural. There is to be a group dynamic which seeks to give minds and bodies completely to God in worship, using our spiritual gifts for building up one another, and discovering the will of God together. 

All believers in Jesus must share and work together by utilizing God’s grace, instead of getting burned-out because others are not serving. Grumbling about what others are not doing begs the question of whether we are over-functioning, or not. It could be that we have succumbed to the danger the Apostle Paul warned us about: thinking so highly of ourselves that we believe our gifts are superior to others, so we need to maintain our control and hegemony in the group. This is a terribly misguided notion.   

Body of Christ

We belong to one another.  Therefore, one major way of giving to God is through offering ourselves to each other with equity and without favoritism.  We must not separate Christ from his church.  To say that we need God, but do not need the church is to really say that we do not need God because the two are inseparable. Nowhere in Holy Scripture do we find individual Christians doing their own thing, isolated from a committed group of people, the church.  

When Jesus called people to follow him in service to God and a world in need, some gave him excuses that they were busy and had other pressing matters to attend to before they could follow him. Jesus simply left them and told them they were not fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:57-62) 

When people were preoccupied with building wealth, or gaining power, or jockeying for influence, Jesus told them to stop it, exercise some faith, and seek first the kingdom of God.  Build your treasure in heaven, Jesus said, because it will be permanent; and, not on earth where it is temporary. (Matthew 6:19-34)  

We are graced by God with abilities which God fully expects us to use. “Cheap grace” is merely embracing Christ as a personal Savior but not welcoming him as the Lord in whom we must sacrificially give our lives to service in the church and the world. Spiritual health and vitality cannot exist apart from every person using God’s given grace to contribute to the functioning of the Body of Christ.   

spiritual gifts

The list of spiritual gifts Paul provided is not exhaustive but represents a combination of speaking and serving gifts necessary to bless humanity. Paul exhorted the church to not restrain people’s exercise of gifts but let them go at it, full bore:  

  • “Prophesying” is not foretelling the future but a word meaning “inspired speech” from God that addresses what God’s people are to do considering his Word.   
  • “Serving” is a generic word referring to all types of hands-on service.   
  • “Teaching” is needed to instruct the faithful in all the revealed will of God.   
  • “Encouraging” involves both speaking and serving, as the one gifted in encouragement comes alongside others and helps them to do something with both verbal coaching and tangible help.   
  • Giving” specifically refers to the person who lives a simple life to be able to give generously and contribute to the needs of others.   
  • “Leading” is the ability to get out in front and show the way in obtaining the will of God.   
  • “Mercy” is the much-needed ability to see down-and-out hurting people and be a conduit of God’s grace to them. 

Here is a simple observation: There is no one person who possesses all these gifts. That is why everyone must work together to have a spiritually healthy community.  A spiritually toxic community is the inevitable result of only a few people using their gifts. 

The Apostle Paul communicated some important truth about what faithful Christians must do to be transformed by a renewal of the mind: exercise godly sacrifice; commitment to worship; intentional unity; and, an awareness of our spiritual gifts. The following are some thoughts on becoming aware of our spiritual gifts:   

  1. Pay attention.  Every spiritual gift reflects God’s grace and character, and so, you will find joy and satisfaction in expressing it. Your spiritual gift will be a place of deep spiritual formation and growth in your life, as God uses it both to powerfully connect you to him and to expose areas of your soul that need his forgiveness and redemption.   
  2. Try.  Give it a whirl.  Take the step to connect with a service or ministry, or just try doing what you feel might be something God wants you to do.  Gifts are discovered more from others observing and affirming your gift and less than going through a research process.  The encouragers among us will be happy to affirm the gifts of others. 
  3. Develop.  All spiritual gifts must be cultivated and developed.  Paul told his young protégé, Timothy, to fan into flame the gift of God.  Put yourself in a position to be taught and mentored. 

We were designed by God for worship and service. We will find our greatest delight in life through engaging those two activities. The result is a spiritually healthy and thriving Christian community that loves God, loves one another, and loves the world. 

God of grace, I come before you today praying for your Holy Spirit to stir up the gifts already placed inside your people. God Almighty, I pray that whatever gifts your Holy Spirit has decided to give and put within me and those around me that those gifts be activated and used for your glory and the edification of others.  I pray for peace and joy in the community, that no one will be jealous or covetous about anyone else’s gifts. Lord God, I pray also as these gifts grow and develop that the fruit of the Spirit will be manifested, to ensure the gifts are ministered in love. May you receive all praise honor and glory from the gifts you give, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen. 

A Damaged People

Legacy Museum in Montgomery Alabama
This verse of a Maya Angelou poem is on the outside of the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration in Montgomery, Alabama

I am an aging white male Protestant minister. From the inception of colonial America through the first one-hundred years of the United States, my kind ruled the roost.[i] We established schools and universities, advised governors and presidents, and held the reins of power. We were at the vanguard of the nation’s spiritual and moral development.[ii] Even after much of American society became increasingly secularized and more pluralistic, we white men of the cloth wielded a great deal of influence. We still hold respect (albeit less respected than earlier times in American history) and are typically given the benefit of the doubt in most situations.

For all the good we have done throughout American history, we also turned a blind eye to the slave trade and even championed slavery as a good for black Africans throughout most of the United States. Even in the North, where abolitionists could be found, far too many of us preached against slavery not for the inherent evil it is but because of fear that blacks might integrate with the more enlightened white society. Using their influence, ministers got behind efforts to send blacks back to Africa. Hence, the modern-day country of Liberia.[iii] Although today’s white male ministers are more diverse than ever in their theology and practice, there yet remains for us all a collective wound, a putrid abscess of a racialized society.

Something else to know about me: I have two academic degrees in history and did my graduate thesis on slaveholder religion in the antebellum South. I continue to keep abreast of historical research pertaining to my own expertise.[iv] I am both a church pastor and a hospital chaplain. Spiritual and pastoral care of parishioners, patients, and their families are the stuff of my workaday world. I exist in the lived world of people’s struggles, joys, hopes, and desires – bearing witness to all their myriad experiences of heartbreak, miracle, and everything in between.[v]

As both an historian and ordained minister, I agree with religion and social history professor, D.G. Hart, when he said, “There is a long history going all the way back to slavery, of white Americans not trusting black perspectives as truthful.”[vi] Indeed, this has been my own experience in discussing racism. I have come to expect that if I am in a room full of white male ministers, the subject of racism will not be broached – unless I bring it up. I am usually met with defensiveness and an insistence about not being racist; and, a rebuke of bringing up politics in the august clerical group. The assumptions in the room are that we, ministers, are color-blind (“I don’t see a person’s color when I preach.”); and, that racism means a specific political agenda (“All lives matter, not only black ones….”).[vii]

It would be untenable and unethical if I entered a patient room as a chaplain and spent my time providing for the nurse’s emotional and spiritual well-being. Yes, she has needs, too, and a good chunk of my job involves care of staff. Yet, in this scenario, it is the sick person we are both attending to. It will not do for me to argue, “I don’t see a person’s health when I look at them – I am health-blind.” And it would be ludicrous for me to insist that “all lives matter, not just sick ones,” and nonsense to say, “healthy lives matter.”

Yet, this is happening every day. It is as if a person is struck by a car and lies bleeding in the street while the ambulance and first responders rush to the driver who hit the person saying, “Are you okay? That must have been traumatic running over a person!” Yes, the driver is in shock and will likely need therapy to deal with what happened. However, this is not the primary need and focus of the moment.

Black men die in our streets and we focus on the unruly aspects of demonstrations and riots. Black women disproportionately lose their lives in maternity wards, along with an infant mortality rate more than twice that of whites.[viii] Black families on average have ten times less the annual income than white families, with little to no inherited property or wealth (due in large degree to widespread twentieth century zoning laws which excluded blacks from certain geographic areas and neighborhoods).[ix]

We need not look to other nations of the world for human rights violations. “Physician, heal thyself,” comes from the Gospel of Luke. Immediately after Jesus proclaimed that the poor, the prisoner, the blind, and the oppressed matter, he received pushback from the establishment to maintain the status quo. The good news of freedom and recovery is still subversive and scandalous today as it was all those centuries ago. The gospel still elicits anger from the privileged when resources are focused toward the underprivileged.[x]

I once had a fellow old white Protestant minister throw up his hands in exasperation after speaking with him about race saying, “Well, what do you want me to do about it!?” Indeed, what shall you do? How then shall we live?

The short answer: care. The following are a potpourri of practices I have personally engaged over the past few decades. Perhaps and hopefully you will find some ways to put a voice and some hands and feet to the caring:

  • Seek first to understand rather than be understood. Be informed. Read. Listen to another, without mentally arming yourself with a response. If you cannot state to a person you disagree with their position in a way they would say, “Yep, that’s it, that’s my position,” then you have not done your due diligence in listening well. The bibliography below are just a few books I have found helpful for me as a white person seeking to understand.
  • Engage in self-awareness. Explore what implicit bias and microaggressions are and take a fierce moral inventory of your own life regarding them.
  • Find out what the needs are in your local community. Projecting what you think the needs are of a place or a people is not the same as discovering what the needs really are. Many of my fellow whites cannot see past the demonstrations of black folk on the streets to the needs behind those demonstrations. People demonstrate because they have legitimate needs which are not being fulfilled and they possess little power to change the system which keeps those needs unfulfilled.
  • Exercise humility and repentance. Have a teachable spirit. Be willing to say when you are wrong without beating up yourself. True repentance is not shame – it is changing course when you see your previous path was down a damaging road. More than once I have stuck my foot in my mouth and said something racist that, at the time, I did not realize.
  • Embrace your power, position, or privilege. Use what you have for the benefit of those without. And, more difficult to do for most of my white brothers and sisters, share your power. If a round table discussion of all nice old white male Protestant ministers talk about what to do about race, we will only get a nice old white male Protestant minister answer about how to deal with it. Furthermore, token procedures and policies, as well as token representation will do diddly squat.
  • Keep the main thing the main thing. There are many things which require our (white) attention, including talking to our kids about race, common decency, etc. Yet, when black lynching continues in more modern and sophisticated forms, this requires our immediate attention. The white lady in the car is not bleeding in the street, so keep focused on the main thing.
  • Dedicate effort and resources to dismantling systemic and structural racism. We white folk built it. We can destroy it. The only assumptions we ought to be making is that racism exists everywhere and in every institution in some way, shape, or form. I define racism as vastly more than overt individual discriminatory words or actions – racism primarily exists as covert inequities which maintain white control of institutional power and decision-making, thus, making it more difficult for people of color to have access and opportunity to quality education, jobs, housing, healthcare, and equal treatment in the criminal justice system.

When one of us is wounded, we are all wounded. It is unacceptable we would ever refuse to weep with our brothers and sisters of color who weep. Until we, whites, can individually and collectively find it within ourselves to grieve and lament the loss of human life beside people of color, then we shall continue to be damaged together as one people. Pastors and faith leaders can play a special role in healing our wounds if we find within ourselves a commitment to such a worthy task.

Bibliography of Selected Works

Brown, Austin Channing I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, Colorado Springs, CO: Convergent Books, 2018.

Carter, J. Kameron Race: A Theological Account, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Coates, Ta-Nehesi Between the World and Me, New York: One World Press, 2015.

Cone, James H. The Cross and the Lynching Tree, New York: Orbis Press, 2013.

DiAngelo, Robin White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Boston: Beacon Press, 2018.

Douglass, Frederick The Complete Works of Frederick Douglass, Madison & Adams Press, 2018.

DuBois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.

Glaude, Eddie S. Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, New York: Broadway Books, 2017.

Guelzo, Allen C. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Kendi, Ibram X. How to Be an Antiracist, New York: One World Books, 2019.

Rah, Soong-Chan Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church, Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010.

Swanson, David W. Rediscipling the White Church: From Cheap Diversity to True Solidarity, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2020.

Tisby, Jemar The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 2019.

Endnotes

[i] E. Brooks Holifield, Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003): 1-4.

[ii] Sydney Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1972): xiii-xvi.

[iii] Edwin S. Gaustad, ed. A Documentary History of Religion in America to the Civil War (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1982): 485-490.

[iv] I have a B.A. in history from the University of Northern Iowa and an M.A. in 19th Century American Religious History from Western Michigan University – as well as an M.Div. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.  For a survey of recent historical research approaches, see Jay D. Green, Christian Historiography: Five Rival Trends (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2015).

[v] I am the Staff Chaplain at Aurora St. Luke’s South Shore Medical Center and the Pastor of the New Life Community Church, both in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

[vi] D.G. Hart, The Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism (Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2016): 46.

[vii] These statements have been said to me by several white ministers in the past ten years from various denominations, theological traditions, and geographical locales – enough for me to form anecdotal evidence regarding common presuppositions of race.

[viii] Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co., Report on African American Health Disparities, 2016.

[ix] Kriston McIntosh, Emily Moss, Ryan Nunn, and Jay Shambaugh, Examining the Black-White Wealth Gap (The Brookings Institute, 2020).

[x] Luke 4:14-30 in The Holy Bible.