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Listening to Black Voices

2020 has created a wealth of conversation over many issues related to racism, from American history to present realities and questions about police brutality and systemic issues. A complex matter like this can’t really be reduced to a bumper sticker or hashtag, but one phrase that has been repeated is the need to “listen to black voices”. Many, including Refuge Church, would absolutely agree.

The next question, of course, is… which black voices?

To answer that, we first have to step back from the particular issue (or any issue of skin color, culture, etc.) to the most general principle: on any given topic, whether it’s theology or application to morality, culture, conduct, etc. Christians are rarely (if ever) called to listen to the cultural zeitgeist without discernment. All voices are not truth. And IN truth, the orthodox, Christian voices speaking from sound doctrine to application are often the minority on any cultural matter, and often quite different in tone or content from the main megaphone of secular and/or compromised viewpoints. It’s no surprise, then, that when we approach this topic we must wisely, cautiously seek the voices of our black brothers and sisters in Christ, and most particularly those who are speaking from a biblical foundation to the systemic scaffolding we are presently scrutinizing.

Scripture warns us about “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air” and times when “people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions”. On any issue (racism included) there will be secular thought and spiritually manipulated elements that distort the true narrative, or truest response. Even from a practically standpoint, we can’t lump “black voices” into one stereotype, or we’ve failed as a community (again). The variation of thought on these issues within black communities is wide, differing and diverse… from liberal to conservative, Christian to Muslim, religious to atheist, socialist to libertarian, and on and on. Some might seek to make you think there is one shared mindset, but that assumption would ultimately be racist in and of itself. Amidst black voices, there is no uniform agreement on the scope of the problem, how to reconcile history, what the present reality is, or what functional solutions look like.

So who is Refuge listening to recently, and recommending?

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’re focused on finding and learning from black voices that are Christians, committed to keeping the gospel the central focus and speaking to all the connected issues through a biblical view of sin, race and reconciliation. These four black voices are a solid start, serving as a helpful primer to filter current events as well as the underlying, evergreen issues. These four have already been helpful to many, helpful to the leaders of Refuge Church, and we hope will continue to be of assistance to hearts, minds, conversations and relationships on the long road ahead.

VODDIE BAUCHAM is is a husband, father, former pastor, author, professor, conference speaker, and church planter. He currently serves as Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia. He teaches often on cultural apologetics. These 3 teaching sessions are beneficial.

Racial Reconciliation

Ethnic Gnosticism

Defining Social Justice 

2. DARREL B. HARRISON serves as Dean of Social Media at Grace to You, the bible-teaching ministry of John MacArthur. VIRGIL L. WALKER is the Discipleship Pastor at Westside Church in Omaha, Nebraska. Together they host the “Just Thinking” Podcast. Below are a sampling of episodes.

SAMUEL SEY is a Ghanaian-Canadian who lives in Brampton, just outside of Toronto. He is a member of Grace Fellowship Church and community liaison at the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform. His blog is “Slow to Write”, appropriately named for the passage in James chapter one: “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Indeed, these words should govern our listening and the rapidity of our reactions.

By Samuel Sey:

Lastly, when the death of George Floyd made headlines and sparked strong reactions, protests, and the wave of resultant conversation and action, we were going through the Book of Malachi as a church. Still, the text gave us reason to speak TO it, and so we’ll include it here for those who are interested.

As a church and community, we will continue to listen, be slow to anger, but be swift to prayer… and then speak as God guides our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We hope this is a time where all Christians can grow, mature, and love one another better regarding this issue and others.