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United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation As an Answer to the Problem of Race Paperback – September 23, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195177525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195177527
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.8 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #822,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As America grows ever more ethnically diverse, Christian churches remain racially homogeneous. This state of affairs must end, argues this earnest blend of religious moralizing and social science; indeed, church integration is so central both to the Christian mission and to racial equality at large that "the twenty-first century must be the century of multi-racial congregations." The authors, professors either of sociology or "reconciliation studies," base their claims on theology, church history and sociology. They look back to the diversity and cosmopolitanism of the early Church as a model for contemporary Christians, and trace the legacy of racism and segregation in American churches and attempts to overcome them. Drawing on questionnaires, interviews with church members and leaders, and on-site studies of four racially mixed congregations, they probe both the promise and pitfalls of church integration. The authors respond to minority critics who value uniracial churches as hothouses for distinctive worship styles, rallying points for activism and refuges from white social hegemony, and stress that integrated churches can and should guard against assimilationist pressures, preserve the unique cultures of all racial groups and cultivate a racially diverse church leadership. They never quite demonstrate the world-historical centrality of racially mixed congregations, and they concede the aura of awkward dutifulness that accompanies self-conscious attempts at church integration, observing that congregations are not truly integrated until all the racial groups feel somewhat uncomfortable in the resulting milieu. Still, the authors make a good case that this is a cross that Christian churches should take up.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Groundbreaking in establishing the moral and ethical basis for multiracial churches. It is truly prophetic in asserting that to be the church of Jesus Christ, the American church needs a multiracial movement." --Religious Studies Review

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A multiethnic group of authors (white, black, asian) tackle the topic of multiethnic Christian congregations (defined as congregations where no race makes up more the 80% of the congregation). These churches are rare today, and the authors lay out the argument for the need and benefit of multiracial congregations. From the sound theological basis the authors lay out to vignettes about successful multiethnic churches to debasing contemporary arguments in support of segregation, this book has it all. You will come away with a better understanding of the multiethnic church and the need for more such churches today, as well as an excitement for the task ahead.
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21 of 30 people found the following review helpful By John Roxborogh on February 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I would like to be more positive about this book than I feel able to be. It asks some good questions and it does tell some great stories. The cause of desegration in church and society, and the need for credible multicultural Christian witness certainly requires a combination of theology, history and sociology such as this book attempts. However in my view the overall treatment is unnecessarily disappointing.
Difficulties relate to taking Christian support for desegration as the exegetical key to the authors' historical and biblical understanding, a naive hermeneutic between New Testament past and contemporary present, a somewhat populist and slightly moralistic tone, and an inability to come to terms with the size of the multicultural issue. In addition some overaching difficulties derive from the authors' apparent assumption that the congregation is the fundamental unit of church, the one in which the cultural diversity of the church always needs to be represented. A wider view of what constitutes church and a less simplistic linkage between past and present would have greatly improved the quality and application of their research.
The North American historical experience at the heart of the their concern is, however tragic, neither universal in the problems it created nor of global relevance in the solutions it has tried. The reading of history through the lens of this experience has not only affected the reading of biblical and historical sources, it has also led to a new paradigm of what the authors believe to be a Christian imperative. How quickly we have moved from justification of "homogeneous unit principles" to the equally inadequate idea that all congregations must be multiracial!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen S. Stanley on October 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book stands as a profound appeal to North American Christians to accept the Church's unique challenge to offer a Biblical social vision to the larger culture. The authors' hermeneutic argues for an often overlooked understanding of the true multicultural people of God. The Church in its diversity can present a new cultural alternative by visibly demonstrating that the "wall of separation" has indeed been removed by Christ. Not claiming to have all the answers, the authors seek to help develop new sensibilities in Christians that will recognize and confront the pervasive influence of cultures of origin.

The book's outline of the problem, its biblical exposition, and its narratives of possibility lay a strong foundational argument for greater, wider reflection from Christians in North America, and elsewhere for that matter. Further consideration of diverse forms of congregational tradition and cultural context could enhance a continuing discussion, but the authors have already succeeded in their inspiring call for a greater engagement and faithfulness by the Church. This book should be read and discussed in real-life congregations.
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