In the black church, soul is not a philosophical category; it is the total response of the person to God.

I grew up in an interracial church alongside white folks who had chosen to remain in the church even though the neighborhood was changing. In our congregation, African Americans were the majority. But we learned to do what blacks and whites in most churches have been unable to do: love each other and live together in community.

This kind of church reflects the scriptural vision for bringing Christians of all races (and all denominational affiliations) together around a love for Christ. The foundation of such an integrated community of faith is a spirituality that draws upon both black and white traditions in order to move us closer to Christ.

Unfortunately, many Christians have never taken the time to learn from Christian communities outside their own. Black churches, white churches, Hispanic churches, and Asian-American churches usually keep to themselves. In my associations with Christian organizations, I have discovered that white Christians often do not take the views of black believers seriously. There is rarely any intentional or overt prejudice. But white Christians sometimes assume that black Christians are not theologically sophisticated because not many of them are trained scholars. But I appeal to white believers: Listen to the voices of African-American Christians as you progress on your spiritual journey. Learn about the “soul spirituality” of the black church. Only thus can we all move closer to God and to each other.

Soul Food

Within the black community, soul is a code word for many items and experiences: black cooking is often called “soul food”; certain music is branded “soul music”; and many blacks refer ...

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