When trying to solve any problem, large or small, it’s important to remember that hasty solutions based on poorly diagnosed problems lead to failure and frustration. This is true whether we’re talking about marketing, medicine, or ministry. And it’s especially true when it comes to repairing an injustice as complex as slavery and racism in America.
Today, there is a tendency to oversimplify the problem. But anyone objectively examining the history of American racism knows that the problem is far from simple. In his own reflections on American race relations, the Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck expressed confidence that the resources for a solution existed within Christianity. According to biographer James Eglinton, however, he lamented that this solution would never come to pass unless the American church “underwent a profound transformation.”
Unfortunately, I see little evidence that such a transformation has taken place. Although pockets of hope and moral clarity exist here and there, white evangelicals have largely glossed over the embarrassing parts of their history and reacted indignantly to any suggestion of needing to make amends.
In Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair, pastors Duke L. Kwon and Gregory Thompson offer something of a crash course in American racial injustice and the church’s complicity in it. They trace the history of white supremacy from the country’s founding to the present day, explaining why overcoming a 400-year legacy of personal and institutional sin requires getting a firm grasp on what happened, knowing why the Bible calls it sinful, and working toward repairing the wreckage.
Words like reparations and white supremacy often ...1
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