Karl Vaters writes, “The most effective teachers, preachers and storytellers don’t just tell people what they already know. They share what they’re learning.” When the conversations on church and race finally started getting attention, I knew I didn’t know. But I want to point you to a book that is helping me with learning.
The book, Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope comes out September 1. (I’m part of the advance team for the book, but I preordered it before I knew there was an advance team.)
300 471 words, I can’t tell you all about the book. But I can point you to Esau McCaulley and point you to samples of his work.
Like some people, I am aware of bias, by everyone toward everyone. We feel more positive toward some people. We feel more negative toward other people. And if you thought, “Well of course HE would say that” while reading my words, you provided yourself with an example in support of my statement.
I’m also aware that there are patterns to this bias, and that organizational structures both reflect and reinforce these patterns. I am also fearful of jumping impulsively onto memewagons. I am aware of the kinds of research and reflection that engage my head and heart. And most importantly, I am aware that our experiences, both as individuals and as communities of faith, shape our reading of Scripture.
Somewhere in my twitter feed at the end of the spring, I met Esau McCaulley (@esaumccaulley). He was releasing a book October 31 (since moved up). In it, he was exploring looking at Scripture using the perspective he called “Black ecclesial interpretation.” I was hooked.
In approaching reflection about church and race, what might I learn about Scripture and what it teaches by standing in a different place?
Not diminishing the authority of Scripture, mind you, but using a long tradition of Biblical reflection that I don’t know, yet has shaped people I respect. (Some of you know this as a conversation about hermeneutics.)
Esau’s book is helping me learn.
For some of you, it’s helpful to know that Esau’s dissertation advisor was N.T. Wright, that he’s Anglican, that he teaches New Testament at Wheaton College (my alma mater), and that his book is from IVP. For others of you, it’s helpful to know that he’s been arrested multiple times simply for being black.
- He is an opinion writer for the NY Times: “The Christian Response to Coronavirus: Stay Home”.
- You can read an essay from the book at Christianity Today: “Paul’s Word to Police: Protect the Weak“
- And here’s the book in Esau’s spoken words: Reading While Black
- And here’s his website: esaumccaulley.com
I’ll have more later. But I wanted to let you know where I’m learning right now.