Confessions of A Black Seminarian Pt.2: Letter to Seminary Students

Dear Seminary Student,

We have been friends for a long time. Thank you for sharing your stories about the grace of God in your life. I love hearing about what God is teaching you through your classes. Thank you for enduring my conversations about racial issues. Thank you for displaying humility and asking me difficult questions. Thank you for not unfriending me after reading my social media posts. Thank you for your encouragement.

I know you want the church to dwell together in unity. You have expressed your desire to plant a multi-ethnic church. I have heard about your racist family members and church members. I know you love the church.

But I confess I get upset with us. We are quick to speak and slow to listen. Often I find myself more concerned about responding than listening. We need to consider asking more questions, before speaking. The bible tells us the one who responds before he listens “it is to his folly” (Proverbs 18:13). We must learn to listen for understanding, not to respond. The fool takes pleasure in expressing his opinion, not gaining understanding (Proverbs 18:2).

We have discussed doctrine a lot. We have discussed ethics, ecclesiology, and hermeneutics. You know God has given humans value because he has made them in his image. I can see you are quick to rebuke false doctrine. But I have observed you are slow to rebuke false practice. I don’t see you speak out against discrimination. Discrimination infringes upon the God-given worth of minorities like me. I want to hear you like Paul rebuke those who are out of step with the gospel.

Many injustices have occurred since we have known each other. Each one cut me like a knife, and I confess I kept it to myself. I saw you posting about how I shouldn’t feel hurt. You underestimate the sin of racism in America. You can identify individualistic racism, but not structural racism. You don’t believe it is in our seminary and churches. I have seen you question anyone who says otherwise.

Do you remember all those conversations about racial issues? I have enjoyed them all. Thanks for listening to me. But I want you to know I don’t have any special knowledge or skills. In other words, I ain’t got all the answers about racial unity. We have received similar educations. We are both capable of researching and discerning. I have to do research often about racial issues. You can do this too. I would love to talk about your research if you decide to do it. This research will help us develop a broader base for cultural apologetics.

You could start here. If you want to know how to think critically about racial topics from a Christian perspective look up: Jemar Tisby, Thabiti Anyabwile, Dr. Jarvis Williams, Dr. Anthony Bradley, D. A. Horton, and Trillia Newbell. These are only a few.

You are my brothers and sisters in Christ and I desire us to have racial unity. I desire us to see racial reconciliation as a gospel issue. We are the next generation of church, ministry, and denominational leaders. We are being equipped in seminary to reach the lost. We must dwell together in unity to reach the lost. The great commission is a multi-ethnic mission and our collaboration must start in seminary.

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Romans 15:5-7

Sincerely,

Your Fellow Classmate

Supplemental Resources:

Jarvis Williams: How the Gospel addresses racial issues

Calling The Next Generation to Racial Reconciliation – Trip Lee Message

Racial Reconciliation, the Church, and the Gospel

Black, and White, and Red All Over: Why Racial Reconciliation is a Gospel Issue | Russell Moore

Panel on Race & Reconciliation in USA – Excerpt 3

Part One Letter to a Seminary Professor

P.S. You are welcome to comment, but I also invite you to sit down and talk about anything that you believe requires clarity. 

 

Three Souls of Black Folk

“So DeAron why do black people (insert action)?”  Before I attended college, I was never asked that question.  My friends and classmates had labeled me a black apologist.  I began to discover that my white friends had different filters for processing information. Our difference of filters caused many discussions. We need more discussions about how we process information in the church.

 Double Consciousness

W.E.B. Du Bois in his book “The Souls of Black Folk”,  introduces the concept of “double consciousness“. Double consciousness is having “warring ideals” within one’s soul.  He likens it to having “two souls”, “two thoughts”,  and “two unreconciled strivings”. The two warring ideals within black people are American ideals and African-American ideals. Schools and media teach us how to be good Americans.  Our families and churches instruct us in the ways of the black community. We attempt to balance these opposing cultures without being an outcast or losing opportunities. We fear Americanization and ethnocentricism. Du Bois’s concept of double consciousness is accurate. I propose black believers have another dimension of consciousness, which is Christian consciousness.

    Christian Consciousness

The war between Americanism and African-Americanism is often tiring because they rarely agree. The Christain consciousness is another opponent for both. Our Americanism and blackness must submit to our Christian consciousness. Romans 14 is an example of how our culture  can influence our Christianity. The Jews in the Roman church upheld holy days and did not eat meat because of their Jewish upbringing. Their Jewish culture and Christian freedom were at odds.

There have been times that I have discovered my thoughts are too ethnocentric or worldly. It is difficult because the Word of God has affected so much of my culture and this country. Our forefathers came to America for religious freedom. The Word of God gave black slaves the hope of freedom. The first book printed in America was the Bible and slaves had a yearning to read just to read it. Black believers have a triple consciousness that causes warring in our members.

Encouragement

Christians of color, our brothers need to hear our voices. They need to know why we are weeping and why we are mourning. They need to know we struggle with singing The Star Spangled Banner and supporting Black Lives Matter. Our brothers need to know we have wrestled with how to think and respond to racial issues. We have failed in responding without error, but we are trying. We must allow them to hear how we process information so they might develop compassion.

To our white brothers and sisters take the time to listen. Trust we have filtered our statements through history, society, and Christianity. We have wrestled before responding. Ask questions so you will comprehend our position(s). Listen before you identify us as heretics, race-baiters, or un-American.

I pray this helps us be slow to speak, quick to listen (James 1:19), speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) so that the body of Christ will be unified in thoughts, words, and deeds.