Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: Christianity Today

African Americans and the Bible

The January – February issue of Christianity Today carried an article entitled Black Bible Reading Endures. I would like to share some of the statistics and a couple of quotes from that article.

Twice as many African Americans as other Americans to say that Bible reading is crucial to their daily routine. They are twice as likely as white Americans to say that the Bible should be interpreted literally.

56% of African Americans believe the Bible is more important to the moral fabric of the country than the constitution. All other ethnic groups believe the constitution is more important.

What Bible do they read? 42% of black Americans read the King James Version, much higher than any other group.

These statistics, drawn from a couple of different sources, paint a picture of a large segment of the black population of the USA who are more dependent upon the Bible than other Americans.

Earon James, a black pastor, says “Traditional black preaching embraces the great narrative of Scripture, African American believers have historically not had the luxury of holding biblical propositions divorced from actual practice.”

Lisa Fields, founder of the Jude 3 Project, an online apologetics ministry for black Christians, says “In my experience, African American believers want the straight, unadulterated Word.  Often in evangelical circles, Bible study consists of lots of stories, with the Bible sprinkled in . . . but we don’t need apologies because something God has said sounds hard. Just give us the Word, there’s much grace to go with it.”

My thoughts: The King James version was carefully prepared to be read aloud so that all could understand, whether they could read or not. This version still has the strongest appeal to people who have historically not had access to much schooling. The simple words and powerful phrasing of this Bible touch the heart as well as the mind and are much easier to remember than other translations.

The appeal of the KJV seems to last for several generations among the descendents of such people The translations of recent years seem to be designed for effete Christians who want the hard parts taken out, as much as can be done without causing too much of a stir.

Youth and the church

Since the days of the youth movement, church youth work has often lacked that element of Christian sobriety that alone might enable it to recognize that the spirit of youth is not the Holy Spirit and that the future of the church is not youth itself but rather the Lord Jesus Christ alone. It is the task of youth not to reshape the church, but rather to listen to the Word of God; it is the task of the church not to capture the youth, but to teach and proclaim the Word of God.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

[I saw this quote in the current issue of Christianity Today and thought it was worth repeating. Bonhoeffer spent many years in children and youth ministry and  probably wrote this about 80 years ago.]

The Hoary Head

“Hello. Is this your mother? May I shake hands with her?”

My 95 year old mother and I were sitting in the food court of Midtown Plaza when a young lady, obviously of Asian descent, walked up to our table and asked these questions.

I was wary at first, expecting that she was going to try and sell us something. But as this young lady took my mother’s hand, I saw that she was close to tears. She told me that she was from Calgary and in Saskatoon for a Youth for Christ rally. She had seen this little old lady and it looked so good to her that she just had to come and hold her hand for a moment. Her own grandmother lived in Hong Kong and she hadn’t seen her for years.

I thought of the words of a friend who has spent many years as a missionary in India and Burma. “I see a respect for the elderly in all the Asian countries that we seem to have lost here at home.”

The current issue of Christianity Today features an article by Thomas Berger entitled, “When are we going to grow up?”, adapted from his book, The Juvenilization of American Christianity. The points he makes are quite valid, but in fact it is the whole of Western culture that has become juvenilized. Maturity and responsibility are no longer admired. Immaturity and irresponsibility are.

My suspicions dissipated as I saw the obvious sincerity of this young lady. She was with a friend who hung back, not quite knowing what to do. I admired this young lady for taking a brief time to freely show and express her love and respect for the elderly. I think this is really how things are supposed to be.

“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32).

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