In June Christianity Today brought together five respected leaders from diverse backgrounds to discuss the findings reported in Michael Emerson and Christian Smith's Divided by Faith and the evangelical racial dilemma in general. The panelists included: Elward Ellis, senior pastor of Crossroads Presbyterian Church, a multiracial congregation in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and the former national director of black campus ministries for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Robert Franklin, president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, the largest historically African-American seminary in the U.S. Charles Lyons, senior pastor of Armitage Baptist Church, a multicultural congregation in Chicago that has made national headlines for its efforts in racial reconciliation. John Ortberg, teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. J. I. Packer, CT senior editor and professor of theology at Regent College in Vancouver. CT's Edward Gilbreath and Mark Galli moderated the discussion.

"I'm no racist"

Gilbreath: Emerson and Smith say that many white evangelicals are not so much racist as they are immersed in a "racialized society" in which race reflects a huge cultural chasm between people. They write, "A racialized society is a society wherein race matters profoundly for differences and life experiences. … It can also be said to be a society that allocates differential economic, political, social, and even psychological rewards to groups along racial lines."

Is this a helpful distinction?

Ortberg: I think we need language like this. As racial problems become more subtle, talking about them in this way will be helpful.

Franklin: This book is a report card for church leaders and, I hope, the ...

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October 2, 2000

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