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A Credible Witness: Reflections on Power, Evangelism and Race Paperback – February 28, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


McNeil's thin but meaty book is organized around a close reading of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). Even those who consider this story one of their favorites will gain fresh insights from McNeil's analysis. (Louis Markos, Touchstone, May 2009)

Unless we engage the theology of evangelism as a part of the larger Gospel, we will certainly re-create the dichotomization of left-right Western Christianity we've suffered under over the last 100 years. Hats off to McNeil for this early move in her book. (Outreach, March/April 2009)

No congregation in our postmodern, multiethnic, global world can afford to train evangelists without equipping them to understand dynamics of power and race. A Credible Witness is a labor of love that will make a great first step for churches on the road to effective witness in our complex times. (Lisa Sharon Harper, PRISM, January 2009)

. . .calls all of us, regardless of ethnicity, to examine our following of Jesus to see if our lives include vital relationships with representatives of all other followers. (Kethy Brawley, The Covenant Companion, June 2008)

Using the narrative of John 4, McNeil explains why our evangelism can't just introduce people to Jesus and hope they hit it off. It has to be a force that can overcome barriers of gender, race and social status. These themes should be central to evangelism today, she argues, not the secure-a-better-afterlife themes of yesterday. (InterVarsity Staff Site, March 2008)

"A church that is not unified is a scandal and a contradiction of the gospel. This book is a good place for us to begin in our contemplation of the biblical mandate for us to love one another. Brenda Salter McNeil allows us to look deeply into one African American woman who exemplifies how each of us can be empowered to overcome the social forces of history that have kept us from experiencing the 'tie that binds.' Her book will guide us on a journey to becoming a countercultural people who truly live out the values of the kingdom of God." (From the foreword by Tony Campolo, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Eastern University)

"Brenda Salter McNeil paints a wonderful picture of the power that our credible witness can have to a divided world. I wholeheartedly commend this book to anyone who wants to build bridges of reconciliation like Jesus did." (Dr. David Anderson, pastor, Bridgeway Community Church and author of Gracism)

"Drawing from Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, Dr. Salter McNeil engages the text in a fresh, insightful and relevant manner that urges the reader to move beyond the limitations of individual evangelism and embrace the much-needed reality of holistic reconciliation. Weaving aspects of her personal journey with the Samaritan woman's story, Dr. Salter McNeil exposes and expounds on the often-neglected interpersonal issues of sexism, elitism, ageism, racism and schism in an affable, poignant and yet convicting manner. I highly recommend and encourage everyone to acquire, read and above all live out the challenges and enduring principles graciously presented by Reverend Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil in A Credible Witness." (Luis A. Carlo, associate dean, Alliance Theological Seminary)

"McNeil sensitively shows us that if our love for Christ doesn't extend to caring for our cities and for the poor, if there isn't a commitment to racial reconciliation and justice as well as passionate concern for personal salvation, then our witness will be ineffective. This is an important contribution to the field of evangelism. I recommend it enthusiastically!" (Rebecca Manley Pippert, author of Out of the Saltshaker)

"Brenda Salter McNeil has done some wonderful critical thinking about evangelism and how the gospel is to be presented with justice and in a holistic manner. She details how community, race and culture need to be considered in our sharing of the good news. This is a must-read for serious-minded people striving to follow Christ in a postmodern world." (Wayne "Coach" Gordon, Lawndale Community Church)

"It's so simple: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. And yet the church today still struggles with 'But who is my neighbor?' Brenda Salter McNeil goes right to the heart of the problem of our faltering witness: We lack the urgency to bring down the barriers that divide us in the church, and we don't know how to live the gospel in a multicultural society. The chapters on intentionality and needing one another are themselves worth their weight in gold. If only we will listen!" (Neta Jackson, author of The Yada Yada Prayer Group novels)

"Through real-life stories and practical insights, Brenda Salter McNeil draws our attention to dynamics and values we often fail to address in our comfortable, lowest-common-denominator, minimalist efforts at evangelism. Dr. Salter McNeil gives us the vocabulary of justice, partnership, reciprocity and authenticity that, if heeded, gives us an opportunity for a genuine, authentic and credible witness to an increasingly diverse and rapidly changing cultural context." (Soong-Chan Rah, Milton B. Engebretson Assistant Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary)

About the Author

Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil is a dynamic speaker, author and trailblazer with over twenty-five years of experience in the ministry of racial, ethnic and gender reconciliation. She was featured as one of the fifty most influential women to watch by Christianity Today in 2012 and is an associate professor of reconciliation studies in the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University, where she also directs the Reconciliation Studies program. Salter McNeil was previously the president and founder of Salter McNeil & Associates, a reconciliation organization that provided speaking, training and consulting to colleges, churches and faith-based organizations. She also served on the staff of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for fourteen years as a Multiethnic Ministries Specialist. She earned a MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary, a DMin from Palmer Theological Seminary and was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters from North Park University. She is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church and is on the pastoral staff of Quest Church in Seattle. In addition, she serves on the board of directors for Wycliffe USA and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA. She is also the coauthor of The Heart of Racial Justice and the author of A Credible Witness. Brenda lives in Seattle with her husband Dr. J. Derek McNeil and their two children.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 159 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (February 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830834826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830834822
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil is recognized internationally as one of the foremost leaders of reconciliation and was featured as one of the 50 most influential women to watch by Christianity Today in 2012. She is an Associate Professor of Reconciliation Studies in the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University, where she also directs the Reconciliation Studies Minor program. Dr. Salter McNeil is an author, speaker and thought leader with over 25 years of ministry experience in the field of racial, ethnic and gender reconciliation. Her mission is to inspire and equip young Christian leaders to practice reconciliation around the world and to build reconciling communities that bridge the social divides of race, gender and class.

Prior to coming to Seattle Pacific University, Dr. Brenda spearheaded a faith-based speaking, training and consulting firm specializing in biblical reconciliation with colleges, universities, churches and other Christian organizations. In addition, she was on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for 14 years, where she served as a Multiethnic Ministries Specialist in Southern California and Chicago, Illinois.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. Hurley on March 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
In our present times the need for cultural competency and hope in reaching a place of unity could not be more necessary. Brenda Salter McNeil hits you in the deepest depths of your heart with this profound and captivating message of "her friend Sam". McNeil connects the dots of the Great Commission (for all Christians to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ) and the command to be Amabassadors of Reconciliation.

She allows the reader to walk with her on this journey of evangelism and reconciliation by providing sound biblical text, guiding principles and powerful testominals of real encounters in her life. She even leaves you with a charge to not just put the book on the shelf when completed but to reach out into your church, community and even the unfamiliar places to experience and share this message of hope and understanding.

Once you pick up "A Credible Witness", I promise you will not be able to put it down until you have completed this leg of the journey.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mary on May 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
Brenda points out that as we become a more multiethnic nation we must more than ever take Jesus seriously and revisit the way we do evangelism. She uses the familiar story of the Samaritan woman ("her friend Sam") to help us to take a closer look at ourselves and how we approach those not like us. She points out "that if we are to be credible witnesses of the gospel, we must understand that it's not just nice for us to engage people across racial, ethnic, gender, sociopolitical and cultural lines, it's necessary!" I agree with Brenda that we are all looking for an authentic experience of God in the context of community. I plan to use this book for a small group study for a leadership team that is planting a new church, in hopes we can create the community that Jesus desired for us.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Debra J. Flores on June 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
What an insightful book on the extremely important topics of evangelism and racial reconciliation. In this day and age of political correctness, often issues addressing diversity aren't adequately addressed and many people are unaware that people develop relationships and communicate in various styles. Because of this, it's helpful to read "A Credible Witness" and read helpful reflections on ways God would have us to spread his word -- showing reliance on others, going outside our comfort zone, building bridges, and more. Dr. Salter McNeil shares that all barriers that have divided us from God and from each other have been destroyed, and we are representatives of the kingdom, composed of people from every tribe, language and nation. I'd encourage you to read "A Credible Witness" since these issues are more important than ever today in our global society.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Diane S. Murphy on September 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
What a wonderful resource for those of us who long to learn more about racial reconciliation rooted and reflected in the ministry of Jesus. With experiential wisdom, Dr. Salter McNeil interprets Jesus' encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria and relates that significant story to her personal journey as an African American woman committed to the ministry of reconciliation. Readers will greatly value the appendix which offers discussion questions to promote depth of analysis and suggested applications to help us live out some of these ideas.
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