On September 30 Hip Hop artist Lecrae sat down at the Truth Table to discuss, well, himself, and the topic of race in Christianity/evangelicalism. One woman commented to Lecrae that some see him as having left “white evangelicalism”, and here are some comments he made in response:
Lecrae: “I was raised in a pro-black house…but when I became a believer, whether consciously or unconsciously, I was taught to lay that all aside, for Jesus…that stuff had to go.”
A former professor of mine, Randy Woodley (a Keetoowah Cherokee), tells a similar story in that when he became evangelical he was told to no longer dress and look like he was accustomed to, but to transition into dressing like a Christian (=white man). He had abandon a “pagan” culture in order to follow Jesus (see here for his interview with Rachel Held Evans). Interestingly white secular culture was not judged by the same standard.
Though this paradigm does not characterize all of evangelicalism in America (see here for a scholar-blogger’s response to Lecrae), we still must come to grips with the fact that similar stories are being told in many of our churches, stories in which people are told to put their culture aside and accept a “church” culture which has nothing to do with the New Testament. This does not mean that well-meaning Christians at the forefront of evangelism/conversion are white supremacists or white nationalists, but it does mean that they just might subconsciously view their culture as dominant.
Take the mission field for example: for some, going to an Haitian town or village to share the good news of Jesus is not the main goal; they must also go to teach and spread Western values, and they must civilize, or tame, those of that culture. But such a notion really has nothing to do with the New Testament and everything to do with an Enlightenment lens. We don’t do missions to spread our Western values, we do missions to share the gospel.
Recommended Resource: Scot McKnight on Paul’s vision for the church