When we began the Gospel & Race Project back in 2021, we had a twofold goal. First, we wanted to grow in training our powers of discernment to distinguish good and evil on the topic of race and ethnicity. In other words, we wanted to grow in thinking about these issues from a biblical perspective instead of secular perspective. Second, we want to grow in our desire and love for Jesus-exalting ethnic harmony in our relationships. This was a hot button issue in 2020 and we as pastors felt like we had a lot to learn on this topic and we wanted to take a few steps to grow together in this area this past year.
Our heart as pastors behind this project began with the biblical conviction that the church must speak to this issue in a manner that is different than the world that only wants to point fingers at those “other” people over there who are the cause of the problems. We want our church to be different when we approach this topic. Not shying away from it but leaning into hard conversations with a deep love for others with whom we might disagree.
GOSPEL & RACE PROJECT READINGS
Over the course of a year, we read about 10 books on the topic of race and ethnicity with the goal of better understanding these issues so that we can speak to others in an informed and winsome and manner. We read books from different perspectives on the topic. The relational pespective helped us understand how we are to neter the conversations. The biblical perspective helped us see how to understanding these issues from a biblical lens. The secular perspective helped us understand alternate approaches to the topic of race. The historical perspective helped us understand that this conversation in America is not happening in a vaccum but is rooted in history. By considering the problem from all the different angles, we hope to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the issues surrounding race and how we can enter into these difficult conversation. As we read these books, one of our pastors wrote a summary and analysis of the book along the way. Here is what we read over the course of a year and a few blog posts that summarize the content.
- Respect the Image, Tim Shorey – Tim is a fellow Sovereign Grace pastor who wrote this book on what it means for us to respect the image of God in one another and the critical implications this has for the way we speak and listen to one another broadly, but also on topics concerning race. This is the best book to begin with for someone who wants to wade into the difficult conversations surrounding race. Read our summary and posts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.
- Bloodlines, John Piper - Piper helps us see the beauty of ethnic diversity and helped us see this issue through the lens of the gospel instead of secular or political lenses that we have been trained to use by the media and our culture. Here are key posts summarizing the book:
- People from Every Nation, Daniel Hays - This book traces the theme of ethnicity that runs throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation pointing to the multiethnic dimensions in God’s plan of redemption for our world. Read our summary and analysis here.
- Weep With Me, Mark Voegrep – In this book, Voegrep helps us see how biblical lament can open the door for racial reconciliation. Read our summary and analysis here.
- Confronting Injustice Without compromising Truth, Thaddeus Williams – Williams provides a helpful critique of modern-day secular justice which is not compatible with a biblical vision of justice and human flourishing. Read our summary and analysis here.
- The New Reformation, Shai Linne – Shai helps us see what it means for people of all ethnicities to be the one people of God. Probably the most helpful book for me personally that I read over the course of this past year. Read our summary and analysis here.
- Color of Compromise, Jemar Tisby – Tisby writes an eye-opening account of the complicity of the churches in America, especially Reformed churches, during the antebellum and pre-civil rights era. Read our summary an analysis here.
- Letter From a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. – was written by Dr. King he was imprisoned as a participant in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation. It was his response to a public statement of concern and caution issued by eight white religious leaders of the South. Read the letter here which includes some helpful historical context.
We also read a couple of books offering different secular visions for assessing the problems surrounding race. Our goal in reading these books was to try to listen and understand what the culture is saying on these issues and then charitably yet critically be able to assess these books from a biblical perspective. We learned that while secular perspective may have varying levels of true common grace insights, they ultimately fall short of the solutions the Bible offers through the gospel.
- How to be an Antiracist, Ibrahim Kendi – Read our summary and analysis here.
- Discrimination & Disparities, Thomas Sowell – Read our summary and analysis here.
The following is a list of additional books, articles, blogs, on the topics of race and ethnicity that as pastors we commend to you. We will continue to build this list to serve our church in these conversations.
- Talking About Race, Isaac Adams
- Beyond Racial Division: A Unifying Alternative to Colorblindness and Antiracism, George Yancey
Critiquing Secular Justice
- A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory, Timothy Keller – A helpful short introduction to various secular liberal and secular conservative approaches to justice and a biblical critique of each.
- Critical Race Theory (CRT) Resources
- Framing Critical Race Theory - There are a lot of resources on this hot button issue. This series by Dr. Pat Sawyer is the best introduction to the topic. Before critiquing CRT, I would recommend his first post (Part 1) in the series in which he gives an overview of the unifying themes of CRT. He then follows up with a couple of insightful posts (Part 2, Part 3) on the cautions and concerns we should have concerning CRT.
- Critical Race Theory: What Christians Need to Know, D.A. Horton – a wise and insightful perspective with passion and nuance from Horton on CRT on the Christianity Today podcast.
- Justice: Postmodern vs Biblical Visions – a winsome conversation that is rooted in biblical truth between pastors from Redemption Church in Tempe on biblical and secular visions of justice.
African American Experience
- A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass
- Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington
Children’s Books and Resources