Saturday, December 06, 2014

A little history

This morning I read Rejecting separate but equal again by David Prince and Rubén Cabrera. It is a very thoughtful article that passes along some good points. For examples:
The church of Jesus Christ is the community of Christ-redeemed image bearers from every tribe, tongue, and nation who will ultimately be gathered in the consummated kingdom of Christ. A local church is an already visible outpost of the kingdom of Christ. A local church provides a vertical display of gospel reconciliation (God-to-man) but also a display of horizontal gospel reconciliation (man-to-man).
Our ethnic and racial identity must be reshaped by the gospel and subordinate to our shared identity in Christ.
Unfortunately, it also passes along an historically uninformed assessment of the existence of segregated churches. They reference "the historically sinful refusal of white evangelicals in America to include African-Americans led to segregated white and black churches."

First, I believe it is historically inaccurate to reduce the existence of racially segregated churches to one cause or reason. These churches, in different times and eras, can be shown to have arisen for different reasons.

Second, the idea that the chief cause of segregated churches was whites not allowing blacks in the churches is incorrect. White attitudes toward blacks, and what might agree with what Prince and Cabrera call "paternalistic ethos" are an underlying cause. I haven't researched the Northern churches very much in this regard. But in the South, before the end of slavery whites and blacks attended the same churches together. It was the new found freedom and the exercise thereof that caused blacks to desire to have their own churches. The white push-back against this new feeling no doubt exacerbated the problem. This is what I have seen in most church and associational minutes that I have examined. The general mindset is that after emancipation the whites kicked their former slaves out of the churches. That is not a clear portrayal of what happened. In this short post I don't have time to look at all the ins and outs of the matter. But suffice it to say that this is a more complicated matter that many make overly simplistic.

Finally, I'm not sure why they injected the word "evangelical" into the statement describing the churches.

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