On a recent Dividing Line episode, Reformed Apologist James White makes the assertion that while anti-intellectualism exists all over the spectrum, it is especially prominent in black churches and there are very few churches that are theologically sound.
Eric Mason, pastor and author of the book, Woke Church, responds with a list of black theologians and calls James White “racist.”
Dr. James White makes an interesting commentary about the multiethnic and particularly black churches. He deems black churches as the most unsound, anti-intellectual, history theologically resistant etc in the body of Christ globally. He basically said black churches lack pulpit soundness over all. It sounds as if he is saying the black church is the most theologically unsound church in any vineyard of the kingdom.
I’ve ministered in both sectors. He must have never heard of the EK Bailey expository preaching conference, Williams Harris Waddles preaching conference, Dr Tony Evans church development conference from the 90’s and other conferences in the black spheres that have invested in the HUNGER for those who minister in these types of contexts. Of course there are pockets of unhealthy in the black church just like others.
For him to make this statement and not listened to Gardner C Taylor, Francis Grimpke, C.B.T. Smith, Immanuel Scott, EK Bailey, Freddy Haynes, L.K. Curry, A. Lewis Patterson, E.V. Hill, G.E. Patterson, Tony Evans and I could just keep going. This doesn’t count the younger generation of preachers today, the professor, the women as well.
Many of the black church preaching heroes aren’t authors or have their preaching catalog made readily available, but it’s too much out their to be ignorant and make racists comments like this. Yes this is racist!
Now, is what James White said “racist”?
No. I will never argue that making and stating an observation is racist. That’s stupid and it’s what Critical Race Theorists do. However, I do take exception to what White said because though White acknowledged that anti-intellectualism does exist elsewhere, it’s more prominent in these black churches. I’d honestly say it’s just as prominent in white churches.
That being said, Dr. White is still correct. Historically speaking, the black church is filled with anti-intellectual social justice-based emotionally-charged Liberation Theology and is so to an extreme. But it’s also filled with charismaticism and Pentecostalism — which is equally as bad.
Admittedly, I don’t recognize all the names on that list Mason offered up, but I do recognize quite a few of them, and most of them are not really all that solid. Besides Tony Evans being a Pelagian — a rank heretic who denies original sin (and who Eric Mason calls his “spiritual father”) — many of the rest of these are given to some form of social gospel or Liberation Theology or they are charismatics or Pentecostals which, by the way, is the exact opposite of intellectualism — it’s emotionalism and experientialism.
The only thing I would say, though, is let’s be fair. It’s just as bad in the “white church.” But it is absolutely true that there are very few sound Reformed black churches that aren’t social justice-centered or otherwise given to some kind anti-intellectual experientialism. There are some — and those are the ones we should all support.