Groups

Theology Crawl - Reparations, Restoration, Racism & the Christian

July 18, 2022

Welcome to Theology Crawl

Yes, being in a conversation with drinks is fun, but we need some guidelines as you enter into conversation with one another:


Everyone is not right, and that's a good thing.

The concepts we talk about in theology can have multiple interpretations, but that doesn't mean they're all right. A lot of theology is investigating the words we use to see if they make sense and are if they're adequate for God. Being wrong is how we improve our theology, not by having all the answers.


Pay attention to how people are using words.

We all use words like “love,” “God,” and “grace,” but the the reality is we often mean vastly different things. Try to listen to how people use words and if they're using them the same way you would.


Ask for people to define what they mean.

We can't have a good conversation if we are all talking past each other. It's not embarrassing to ask people for a definitional a new word or concept, it's just how you have a good conversation.

Make this work for you.

Have someone in the group keep an eye on the questions and try to make sure you're staying on topic. At the same time, it's fine to go down the rabbit holes. Sometimes, the rabbit holes can help us clarify something that we missed.


Have fun.

You won't solve world hunger, you probably won't even convince that person in the group you disagree with. Relax, be respectful, and when the questions run out, enjoy yourself and talk about something that isn't theological. Hanging out can actually be pretty important for good theology too!

Reparations, Restoration, Racism & the Christian

Song: We need to Talk About It - Ben Harper (2022)

Slavery
We need to talk about it (we need to talk about it)
I say Black Lives Matter
'Cause history says we don't
You're either a Christian or a racist
You can't be both
Slavery
We need to talk about it (we need to talk about it)
What does it say about America?
What does it say about Africa?
And what (what) does it say (say) about all of us? (All of us)
Whoever said time heals all wounds
Wasn't a slave, I'm guessing (I'm guessing)
Hundreds of years
That's just too long of a lesson (we need to talk about it)
What does it say about the buyer?
And what does it say about the seller?
And what (what) does it say (say) about all of us? (All of us)
How does a ghost forgive? (We need to talk about it)
How are we supposed to live? (We need to talk about it)
With 12 million taken (oh, Lord)
Not one single reparation (we need to talk about slavery)
What does it say about forgiveness? (We need to talk about it)
What does it say about compassion? (We need to talk about slavery)
About justice and about fairness (we need to talk about slavery)
About the law and the land (we need to talk about it)
About then
What does it say about now? (We need to talk about slavery)

Discussion Questions

  • What does it mean for a community to be “diverse”?
  • What does “racial reconciliation” mean?
  • How does working for “diversity” differ from working toward “racial reconciliation?” 
  • How are they similar?
  • Do Christian Scriptures call for Christian communities to work toward racial reconciliation or diversity?
  • Is the Scriptural call for reconciliation different from non-Christian calls for reconciliation? If no, how are the the same? If yes, how so?
  • How does the Biblical concept of reconciliation interact with the Biblical concept of justice? Can reconciliation occur without justice?
  • Is societal inequality between races a barrier for racial reconciliation in Christian Churches? In other words, can disparities in power outside of the Church affect communal dynamics within the Church?
  • What does the concept of “reparations” mean to you?  
  • Are they related to the process of Biblical justice?
  • What should be the role of churches be in addressing societal level racial inequality?
  • What would it mean, in the American context, for racial reconciliation to be accomplished? Be concrete, what would it look like? What facts would be evident?
  • What would it mean, in American churches, for racial reconciliation to be accomplished? Be concrete, what would it look like? What facts would be evident?
  • What actions do you need to start taking to pursue racial equality and racial reconciliation? What actions do you need to stop/reconsider?

Definitions

  • Reconciliation (A) //  Reconciliation is the spiritual practice of seeking loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God and one another, and striving to heal and transform injustice and brokenness in ourselves, our communities, institutions and society. // The Episcopal Church
  • Reconciliation (B) // Reconciliation is the restoration of friendly relationships and of peace, where there had previously been hostility and alienation. Ordinarily, it also includes the removal of the offense that caused the disruption of peace and harmony // Dr. Eric Mason
  • Reparation // (1) The action of making amends for a wrong one has done, by providing payment or other assistance to those who have been wronged. (1.1) reparations, the compensation for war damage paid by a defeated state. // Oxford Living Dictionary

Important Facts

  • Wrongful Convictions // Black people are 12 times more likely to be wrongly convicted of drug-related crimes than white people. // CNN
  • Incarceration // 58 percent of prisoners are black or Hispanic, despite making up one quarter of the U.S. population. // NAACP
  • Segregation // 74 percent of black students and 80 percent of Latino students attend schools that are more than half-minority populations. // The Atlantic
  • Unemployment // In 2013, the unemployment rate for black college grads was almost twice as high as the rate for grads overall. // USED
  • Homebuying // Asian American homebuyers are shown 20 percent fewer homes than white homebuyers. // USHUD
  • Wealth Inequality // White families hold 90 percent of the national wealth. Black and Latino families combined hold less than five percent. // Demos

Important Scripture

  • If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today. // Deuteronomy 15:12-15
  • There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. // Galatians 3:28
  • For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. // Ephesians 2:14-16
  • All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. // 2 Corinthians 5:19
  • The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. // Matthew 25:40-46

Thoughts from Others

  • Gospel-grounded racial reconciliation begins with what Christ accomplished at the cross. He united one-time enemies to God and therefore to one another. He made the two one. Racial reconciliation begins, in other words, with the “indicative” of who we are in Christ. And then racial reconciliation shows itself in our love for the “other.” It flows from the Spirit-empowered obedience and demonstration of who we are in Christ. To define racial reconciliation as simply diversity, or to think that our churches are racially reconciled simply because they might be diverse, is misleading. // Jarvis J. Williams
  • One cannot escape the question by hand-waving at the past, disavowing the acts of one’s ancestors, nor by citing a recent date of ancestral immigration. The last slaveholder has been dead for a very long time. The last soldier to endure Valley Forge has been dead much longer. To proudly claim the veteran and disown the slaveholder is patriotism à la carte. A nation outlives its generations. // Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • America freed the slaves in 1863 through the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, but gave the slaves no land, nothing in reality to get started on. At the same time, America was giving away millions of acres of land in the west and the Midwest, which meant that there was a willingness to give the white peasants from Europe an economic base and yet it refused to give its black peasants from Africa who came here involuntarily, in chains, and had worked for free for 244 years, any kind of economic base. So Emancipation for the Negro was really freedom to hunger. It was freedom to the winds and rains of heaven. It was freedom without food to eat or land to cultivate and therefore it was freedom and famine at the same time. // Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Your privilege as a White Christian means you can practice this faith free of intellectual conflict. You needn’t worry about being taunted for choosing to believe and practice our faith because it was used to persecute and enslave your ancestors. Your whiteness shields you from the need to decolonize our religious text so that you can digest it. // D. Danyelle Thomas

Resources

Support an Organizations

  • Equal Justice Initiative
    The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
  • N’COBRA
    The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America is a mass-based coalition organized for the sole purpose of obtaining reparations for African descendants in the United States.
  • Emmanuel Gospel CenterRace and Christian Community Initiative
    We envision Christians continuing Christ’s reconciling work by collaborating across racial lines to foster shalom between individuals, communities, and systems damaged by racism.  We equip Christians in Greater Boston to engage issues of race in ways that honor the image of God in all people

The Reunion Team

We are a church who helps people discover Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did. Together we want to help all of the greater Boston area to experience the transformative love of Jesus.

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