The Crusader Newspaper Group

Straight Outta Africa

There is a lot of talk these days about being authentic. The discussion is made to encourage people to be who they authentically are at their core, regardless of the context in which they find themselves or the company in their presence. Always be authentic.

Yet in the area of theology the being authentic discussion falls woefully short.

Case in point, some members of my church have been examining the book “Black Church, White Theology,” authored by Dr. Theron Williams who pastors Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Indianapolis, IN.

Dr. Williams will be our guest preacher this Sunday April 21, 2024 at 11a.m. and after service, about 1p.m., he will sign books along with a brief book discussion of his latest book.

Being authentic for Black people of the Christian faith all too often falls short of who we are, and whose we are, concerning biblical literacy and spirituality.

Far too many Black believers in Jesus of Nazareth are content with the interpretations of the bible and theology that come from white evangelicals and their predecessors, the Puritans.

It was the Puritans who disregarded the first amendment clause that says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment or religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The framers of the constitution were NOT Christians but Deists, who believed that no deity would interfere with the activities of humans.

They were highly influenced by the enlightenment period in Europe and the writings of people like John Locke.

The Puritans however, of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, organized politically to put in political office people who would insert their religious beliefs into law (see Arizona reaching back to the 1860s for a Puritan law on abortion).

Those beliefs are the foundation of the present-day white evangelicals, moral majority and all right-wing Christian nationalists.
Their views on religion and faith have at the root patriotism, colonialism, nationalism and militarism.

It has been those beliefs of the Puritans, and the latter day Puritans in the form of white Evangelicals, who twisted the interpretations of scripture and theology to convince people of African ancestry that their indigenous forms of worship and belief were either primitive or demonic.

The objective was to institutionalize white versions of belief and negate all other forms of belief in order to normalize and standardize white beliefs about God, Jesus, the bible and theology.

Perhaps the worst outcome is that Christianity was started in Africa by Black Africans and the whole, entire bible is about Black African people navigating their faith through various forms of oppression.

It was the African Apostle Paul (and others) who evangelized many in Europe and converted them to this African faith tradition. Christianity in the language of the culture is “straight outta Africa.”

However, it was the empire of Rome that in later years organized the Christian belief system so that it would be palatable to the Roman oppressors. Thus began the great deception and erroneous belief that Christianity is a “white man’s religion.”

The sad fact is that many in the Black church are wedded to how the faith has been presented to them by good Black people who were taught in the Puritan model. And now many in the Black church don’t realize that they are not being authentic to the faith or to what God created them to be.

Dr. Williams’ book does a masterful job of identifying the “trail of tears,” of how the Black church began practicing white theology.
Black people, we are not trampling on ancestors, who because of their subjugation were taught a western white Puritan, evangelical version of the faith when we seek to recalibrate our view and perspective.

This ancient religion first belonged to people whose skin has been kissed by nature’s sun in order to be more authentic to how the faith was begun by an African revolutionary Jew who had “hair like lambs’ wool and skin as dark as burnt bronze.”

We actually honor our ancestors when we start by taking that picture of a white Jesus off our church walls and stained-glass windows and begin to investigate and study how Africans shaped the faith in its origins.

We invite the public to come hear the prophetic voice of Dr. Theron Williams and join in the discussion and book signing after service this Sunday.

It just might be the beginning of a great and mighty walk of authenticity, leading each of us closer to our divine destiny. Please join us.
Uhuru Sassa!

Knowing The Truth - Part I
Rev. John E. Jackson
Senior Pastor at | + posts

Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ-Gary, 1276 W. 20th Ave. in Gary. “We are not just another church but we are a culturally conscious, Christ-centered church, committed to the community; we are unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian.”

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