- File Size: 877 KB
- Print Length: 250 pages
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- Publisher: Zondervan (January 22, 2019)
- Publication Date: January 22, 2019
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07BB6R827
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,918 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism Kindle Edition
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From the Publisher
Praise for The Color of Compromise
“My friend and brother, Jemar Tisby has written an incredible book. It’s powerful.”
— Lecrae, Grammy award-winning artist
“Jemar points courageously toward the open sore of racism-not with the resigned pessimism of the defeated but with the resilient hope of Christian faith.”
— Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor, Anacostia River Church
"The foundation of reconciliation begins with truth. Tisby encourages us to become courageous Christians who face our past with lament, hope, and humility. This is a must-read for all Christians who have hopes of seeing reconciliation."
— Latasha Morrison, author, Be the Bridge
"With the incision of a prophet, the rigor of a professor, and the heart of a pastor, Jemar Tisby offers a defining examination of the history of race and the church in America. Read this book. Share this book. Teach this book. The church in America will be better for it."
— Soong Chan Rah, North Park Theological Seminary
'With clinical precision, Jemar Tisby unpacks the tragic connection between the American church and the countless historic iterations of American racism. Readers are served well by Jemar's refusal to minimize the horror of this history or sanitize the church's hands from its complicity. For this reason and many others, The Color of Compromise is an appropriately discomforting volume for such a time as this. May it be referenced and heeded as a prophetic warning for decades to come.' (TYLER BURNS, vice president, The Witness)
'If you want to understand why we remain mired in racial unrighteousness, you need to read this book. Its pages radiate not just historical but also moral insight, as Tisby shines a light on to the dark places of American church history. The Color of Compromise tells the truth--and only the truth will set us free.' (HEATH W. CARTER, associate professor of history, Valparaiso University, author, Union Made)
The Color of Compromise is essential reading for American Christians. By telling the brutal history of white Christians' deliberate complicity in racial oppression, Jemar Tisby confronts the church with its own past. But his is not simply a story of condemnation. If racism can be made, it can be unmade, he reminds us. 'There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love,' Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote. Tisby's book is a labor of love and, ultimately, a work of hope. (KRISTIN DU MEZ, professor of history and gender studies, Calvin College)
Each individual and society is a compilation of what has come before them, whether they own this notion or not. Tisby's thoughtful work reminds us that you can run from, deny, or remix it, but history will find you out. The American church's history of wanting to hold holiness in one hand and racial stratification in the other has seeded a deeply corrupted tree. The book causes us to examine the implications of the historical trajectory of our theological influences. Yet this book, with the same intensity that it offers historical truth, provides grace. If race can be constructed, racism can be deconstructed. In Christ's name, it must be! (CHRISTINA EDMONDSON, dean for intercultural student development, Calvin College)
Christianity in the United States has had problems for centuries as it concerns racial injustice, and most American Christians need what can only be described as remedial education when it comes to understanding the abusive racist history of our faith tradition. In The Color of Compromise Jemar Tisby courageously challenges some of our long held collective assumptions and whitewashed accounts of rationalized racism for the church in America. With a thoroughly researched and detailed examination of archival documents and literary sources, he compels readers to focus on hard truths, addresses the realities of American Christianity's past, and does so in a well-reasoned and lovingly direct writing style. Upon reading this book, one will come away having to reconsider how individuals who proudly boast of a Christian way of life in America continue to do so at the expense of others. As a historian and a Christian, Tisby presents truth with accuracy but also with much love and humility. If it is true that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, then this book is a timely must-read for any Christian seeking justice and mercy, as we learn how problems in American Christianity's past could lead to solutions in our future. (ALEXANDER JUN, professor of higher education, Azusa Pacific University, author, White Out and White Jesus)
Reconciliation doesn't happen without truth telling. Jemar takes us on a historical journey laying out the racial complicity of the church. It's difficult to understand the complexities of the history of racial oppression in America; one must begin to identify the intentional and unintentional blind spots many have. Jemar calls the church to face its tragic history in an effort to build a new future and to save it from repeating past mistakes. The foundation of reconciliation begins with truth. Tisby encourages us to become courageous Christians who face our past with lament, hope, and humility. History is imperative to understanding the present. The Color of Comprise gives us an aerial view of our past with hopes of a Christian awakening. This is a must-read for all Christians who have hopes of seeing reconciliation. (LATASHA MORRISON, founder and president, Be the Bridge)
With the incision of a prophet, the rigor of a professor, and the heart of a pastor, Jemar Tisby offers a defining examination of the history of race and the church in America. Comprehensive in its scope of American history, Tisby's data provides the full truth and not a sanitized version that most American Christians have embraced. Read this book. Share this book. Teach this book. The church in America will be better for it. (SOONG-CHAN RAH, Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary, author, The Next Evangelicalism and Prophetic Lament)
In The Color of Compromise, Tisby reveals the role that racism has played in the American church and how that has manifested in policy making. Those following the relationship between white evangelicals and President Trump need to know that this union was a long time comin--even before the rise of the Moral Majority, led in part by the late Jerry Falwell, father of one of Trump's most vocal evangelical supporters, Jerry Falwell Jr. Tisby's book gives the historical context that is often missing from the conversation about how so many black and white Christians can be described as theologically conservative but vote so differently on Election Day. Compromise helps the reader understand that Martin Luther King Jr.'s assessment--that Sunday morning is the most racially divided hour in America--rings true today and manifests in the voting booths when Christians express their deeply held convictions. (EUGENE SCOTT, reporter covering identity politics for The Fix for The Washington Post)
Some American evangelical Christians are often confused and sometimes frustrated by all the talk surrounding white supremacy and American Christianity. Some think that racism and its deleterious intergenerational, personal, psychological, social, institutional, and systemic effects are of the past and too often exaggerated in the present or that in a certain way American Christianity was somehow immune to this national spiritual and moral pathology. In The Color of Compromise, Jemar Tisby has provided an account that reminds some of us and informs others of the sad demonstrably historical fact that the American church intentionally perpetuated racial injustice socially and politically while attempting to undergird all of this theologically. The claim itself will no doubt make some uncomfortable. We must nevertheless come to grips with these realities. Others may even become defensive, yet this response must be resisted. For those who care about the collective witness of the American church, it is necessary that readers journey with Tisby through this treacherous landscape of American church history. This sordid history should not be hidden, downplayed, or explained away. It must be confronted. There cannot be a way forward without a profound truth telling. This is exactly what The Color of Compromise does. Those who are deeply concerned about the witness of the American church must read this book and pass it on to others. By looking back, The Color of Compromise pushes us to look forward to live out a courageous Christianity that is authentically grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ. (PATRICK SMITH, associate research professor of theological ethics and bioethics, Duke Divinity School, senior fellow, Kenan Institute of Ethics, Duke University) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Jemar Tisby (B.A., University of Notre Dame, Mdiv Reformed Theological Seminary) is the president of The Witness, a Black Christian Collective where he writes about race, religion, politics, and culture. He is also the co-host of the Pass The Mic podcast. He has spoken nation-wide at conferences and his writing has been featured in the Washington Post, CNN, and Vox. Jemar is a PhD student in History at the University of Mississippi studying race, religion, and social movements in the twentieth century.
Lecrae Devaughn Moore, mononymously known as Lecrae, is an American Christian hip hop recording artist, songwriter, record producer, and actor.
Jemar Tisby (B.A., University of Notre Dame, Mdiv Reformed Theological Seminary) is the president of The Witness, a Black Christian Collective where he writes about race, religion, politics, and culture. He is also the co-host of the Pass The Mic podcast. He has spoken nation-wide at conferences and his writing has been featured in the Washington Post, CNN, and Vox. Jemar is a PhD student in History at the University of Mississippi studying race, religion, and social movements in the twentieth century.--This text refers to the mp3_cd edition.
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“Historically speaking,” Tisby writes, “when faced with the choice between racism and equality, the American church has tended to practice a complicit Christianity rather than a courageous Christianity. They chose comfort over constructive conflict and in so doing created and maintained a status quo of injustice.”
Tisby makes his case by means of a historical survey of people and events from the colonial era to the late-twentieth century. “Not only did white Christians fail to fight for black equality,” Tisby quotes historian Carolyn DuPont in summary, “they often labored mightily against it.” Did you know, for example, that…
• George Whitefield—the famous evangelist — urged the colony of Georgia, which had been founded as a free territory, to allow slavery. A large part of his motivation was the financial viability of his Bethesda Orphanage, which could be run more cheaply with slave than with paid labor.
• Prior to the Civil War, Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian denominations split into Northern and Southern branches because of the issue of slavery. Leading Southern theologians, such as Robert Lewis Dabney, defended white supremacy and slavery on providential and biblical grounds: “Was it nothing, that this [black] race, morally inferior, should be brought into close relations to a nobler race?”
• According to historian Linda Gordon, “It’s estimated that 40,000 ministers were members of the Klan, and these people were sermonizing regularly, explicitly urging people to join the Klan.” She’s referring to the second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan, which began in the early twentieth century and spread throughout the North as well as the South.
• W. A. Criswell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, spoke in opposition to desegregation at the 1956 South Carolina Baptist Convention. Desegregation was “a denial of all that we believe in,” Brown v. Board of Education was “foolishness” and “idiocy,” and anyone who advocated integration was “a bunch of infidels, dying from the neck up.” First Baptist was the largest Southern Baptist church at the time. For many decades, its most famous member was the evangelist Billy Graham, whose personal views were more moderate than Criswell’s but who stopped short of advocating civil rights for black Americans.
These are but four examples of white Christian complicity with racism, which I have chosen because of their relevance to white evangelical Christians. There are many other examples from across the spectrum of American Protestantism. It is sometimes forgotten, for example, that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail was written to mainline Protestant ministers and a Jewish rabbi. If you’re looking for a searing indictment of white moderates, consider King’s words:
"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”"
Of course, there were white Christians throughout American history who opposed racism. But Tisby’s disheartening survey suggests that they were exceptions rather than the rule. As a Pentecostal, for example, I am unaware of any leading white American Pentecostals who publicly supported the Civil Rights Movement during the crucial decade between the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
I don’t always agree with Tisby’s reading of the historical evidence. The closer in time he drew to the present day, the more I found myself saying, “That’s not how I would read that particular incident.” The value of Tisby’s survey is that he places those incidents in the light of larger historical forces, showing continuity between them and the past. As a white reader, I found this broader historical perspective forced me to go back and take a second look at how I had been interpreting those more recent events.
So, why bring up this history of white complicity with racism now? While great strides in civil rights have been made over the decades, racism still exists and disfigures American society. “History and Scripture teaches [sic] us that there can be no reconciliation without repentance,” writes Tisby. “There can be no repentance without confession. And there can be no confession without truth.” The Color of Compromise tells a hard truth, but one necessary to hear if racial equity is to be achieved in the Church or in America.
Tisby closes his book with practical suggestions. I don’t agree with all of the particulars, but his thoughts about “The ARC of Racial Justice” are an “entry point” for those on a journey to racial equity. ARC is an acronym for awareness, relationships, and commitment. Become aware of the issues. Build relationships across lines of race and ethnicity. And commit to concrete action…such as reading this thought-provoking book.
For instance, David French and Russell Moore come to mind. They seem to be racially sensitive (French has an adopted daughter from Ethiopia, and both of them were under fire for their 2016 anti-Trump stand). Additionally, French and Moore are both genuinely and passionately committed to pro-life and religious freedom causes.
Tisby also would have benefitted from learning a whole lot more about conservative economic and political philosophy, say, from Thomas Sowell's Conflict of Visions. (Sowell happens to be African-American.) Like most in academia, Tisby exists in a liberal monoculture, and simply does not understand how conservatives think, or why they passionately hold some of the viewpoints that they do.
For instance, while Tisby's main axiom is "racism never goes away; it just adapts," he seems not to be willing to entertain the possibility that, perhaps, actual solutions to racism and racial disparities adapt over time as well. Could it be, that today's liberal ideas and policies are not always the most helpful at attaining either racial reconciliation or African-American educational, vocational, and economic advancement?
Meanwhile, it is all too tempting to attribute the rise of the Religious Right entirely to racism, and ignore other complexities. It was a big mistake for Tisby to have relied so heavily on Randall Balmer's deeply problematic narrative. For starters, if Southern Baptists didn't start out as uniformly pro-life in the early 70's, then that's because the SBC wasn't all that conservative back then. (The SBC's Conservative Resurgence began in 1979.) Also, Balmer is hardly an objective evangelical historian; rather, he was part of that cottage industry of paranoid books about America's "theocracy" after George W. Bush was reelected in 2004. (Surely, Balmer would never, ever see left-wing religious involvement in politics as similarly "theocratic" but would only praise such efforts!)
Again, is it possible that some conservative evangelicals back in the 70's found Bob Jones' ban on interracial dating odious, but also found the idea of governmental meddling in Christian institutions frightening?
If so, then in fact, their fear wasn't unwarranted. Fast-forward a few decades after the 1983 BJU SCOTUS 1983, and - following identical legal logic - the U.S. Solicitor General in Obergefell (2015) realistically threatened the tax exempt status of every Christian church and para-church organization which attempts to faithfully teach and live out the church's 2000-year tradition of biblically orthodox, sexual ethics.
Tisby seems not to have engaged with any intelligent critics of the Black Lives Matter movement, such as Heather MacDonald. Although he does separate the organization from the hashtag slogan, he glosses over the fact that Michael Brown's supposed "Hands up! Don't shoot!" cry was a hoax that galvanized the BLM movement. He also doesn't mention that Michael Brown was violent (even if unarmed), and there appears to have been ample forensic evidence to have justly acquitted the cop, Darren Wilson. Eric Garner's death was horrific - and the NYPD cop on the scene who was in charge of the chokehold, Kizzy Adonis, is African-American. Half of the cops who were responsible for transporting Freddie Gray are African-American. Riots in cities such as Ferguson and Baltimore have crippled the economy (including minority-owned businesses), and cops pulled back on their police work, which led to a significant rise in the homicide rate (also affecting black lives).
Tisby's description of the rise of "The Fundamentals" crowd in the early 20th c. also didn't smell right to me. Would I be shocked to find out that there was latent (or overt) racism within this movement? No, I would not. However, the main motive behind the publication of "The Fundamentals" was a reaction against higher biblical criticism in Germany, which led to a lot of skepticism about the reliability of the biblical text. Walter Rauschenbusch represented the heterodoxy that "The Fundamentals" intended to oppose. Therefore, since Rauschenbusch's "social gospel" was aligned with the heterodox Christian camp, and "fundamentalists" (today's evangelicals and fundamentalists) wanted to clearly stand for orthodoxy, the two camps parted ways.
(However, I would completely agree with Tisby: Christian conversion and participating in God's plan for His new creation - including a more just and fair world - never ought to have separated in the first place; they are two inextricably linked parts of the same Gospel.)
The most horrific part of the book was the graphic description of lynchings. However, after reading the book, it also occurred to me just how violent and grisly an act abortion really is.
How is it that Tisby - as part of a group of people who've been so devastatingly dehumanized and terrorized over the centuries in the U.S. - can't see how awful it is that we dehumanize human fetuses, and the utterly grotesque and unjust violence we perpetrate on these innocent human victims, as a result of denying them human rights? I can understand that abortion is a wrenching and difficult subject, and can genuinely sympathize with women who struggle with unplanned pregnancies. However, why can't Tisby even acknowledge that the pro-life view - treating the human fetus as worth far more than a glob of expendable protoplasm - is a genuine issue of conscience and basic human rights?
I agree with Tisby, that we white evangelicals would do well to learn (and keep learning) about our complicity with racism. I think our voting for Trump was a disgrace, and badly damaged the credibility of our Christian witness, as well as grievously harming our minority brothers and sisters in Christ. (Unlike Tisby, however, I do understand the pressures that led conservative evangelicals to vote for Trump, many of whom feeling that he was the best of two awful presidential options.)
Tisby obviously has a passion for racial justice and reconciliation, as all Christians should. There are so many racial wounds that need addressing, not least, within the evangelical church.
However, until progressives like him truly welcome conservatives to the table - as conservatives - and genuinely try to understand how conservatives think and what their cherished beliefs are, and why, there will be no racial reconciliation. Either inside or outside the church.
Tisby's book is, sadly, a missed opportunity.