An objective for The Church at West Franklin in 2021 (and beyond) is for our church to embrace, love, learn from, and do life with those who have a different skin color. A tiny way we are moving in this direction is by having the staff ministry team read Esau McCaulley’s Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation As An Exercise in HopeBeing that today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day, I thought I would share some incredibly thought-provoking quotes from McCaulley’s book. I encourage and challenge you to consider. . .

  • But if we all read the biblical text assuming that God is able to speak a coherent word to us through it, then we can discuss the meanings our varied cultures have gleaned from the Scriptures. What I have in mind then is a unified mission in which our varied cultures turn to the text in dialogue with one another to discern the mind of Christ (22).
  • By my count, I have been stopped somewhere between seven and ten times on the road or for existing in public spaces for no crime other than being Black (28). 
  • A Christian theology of policing, then, must grow out of a Christian theology of persons. . . God is our creator, and he will have a word for those who attempt to mar the image of God in any person (40). 
  • What we know as the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” comes as a response not just to eight clergy but to a certain approach to religion (Christianity) that was focused more on law and order than the demands of the gospel (48). 
  • Isaiah was not rejected simply because he told Israel to worship Yahweh. He was rejected because Isaiah realized that true worship of Yahweh had implications for how one treated their neighbor. According to Isaiah, Israel’s oppression of the poor in his day betrayed a practical apostasy (58).
  • According to Paul, Jesus saves us from our sins, and he also calls us into a kingdom that treats its people better than the way Rome treats its citizens. (61).
  • Jesus does not say make peace between Christians, but make peace. He doesn’t say establish peace by making them Christians, but make peace. Why? Because peacemaking is evangelistic. Through our efforts to bring peace we show the world the kind of king and kingdom we represent (69).
  • Many in the Nation of Islam or other Black consciousness groups criticize Black Christians for following a religion that does so little for us (72).
  • To return to Nazareth, we encounter Mary being asked to give the entirety of herself to give birth to a son who would change the world in ways that she could not imagine. In this very risk, this yes to God, Mary stands in for Black (and all other) Christians who are called to give the entirety of themselves, their very bodies for a future that they cannot see. Mary is the patron saint of faithful activists who give their very bodies as witnesses to God’s saving work (86). 
  • God displays his glory precisely in rejecting the value systems posed by the world. It is the rejection of the world’s evaluation that lifts the soul of the Black Christian because this country has repeatedly claimed that Blacks are ontologically inferior (93).
  • 1 John 1:3-4 could be rewritten to say that the joyous fellowship of the people of God is incomplete without the ethnic groups he promised to include in his family (106). 
  • The Bible calls on us to develop a theological imagination within which we can see the world as a community and not a collection of hostilities. It does so by giving us the vision of a person who can heal our wounds and dismantle our hostilities (128).
  • I am convinced the God who had the power to judge me did not. Instead he invited me into communion with his Son and through that union with the Messiah I discover the resources to love that I did not possess before (134). 
  • If slavery is the result of the fall, then it is false to claim that God’s will is slavery (141). 
  • We have allowed a few misapplied passages to dominate the conversation for far too long (166).