Reading While Not Black

How a group of white church planters learned to listen to African Americans and build a better Christian community.

We didn’t know anything about critical race theory. Or implicit bias. There was no elaborate argument for centering minority voices. But as a group of 20-somethings from an almost-all-white suburb about to plant a church in the former capital of the Confederacy, we were thinking a lot of racism, reading the Scripture, and praying.

And something happened. On the basis of simple Christian beliefs—the sort every follower of Jesus would affirm—our new church saw the benefit of hearing black voices and learning from black sources.

To begin with, the Scriptures are clear that while truth is objective, every knower is inescapably subjective. We are warned that our inherent limitations are fraught with self-deception (Jer. 17:9; Ps. 19:12–13)—a deception so deep that it often manifests long after we have received the restorative gift of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 2:11–14). In other words, one of the fundamental problems we face isn’t simply that we are ignorant of important subjects that we ought to know but that we have sinfully misguided assumptions and prejudices that we aren’t even aware of. This is particularly concerning for those who have been called to preach the truth!

Yet C. S. Lewis would remind us that, while we all have blind spots, we do not all have the same blind spots. So diversity helps us correct our self-deception. All the more reason to obey the command we received through the apostle James: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

At the start of Remnant Church, my fellow pastors and I were thinking about that old truth that those who are called are not necessarily …

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