Addressing Racism in the Church: A Historical, Sociological, Theological, and Practical Account
In the past decade, a growing body of literature has examined the pernicious relationship between racism and Christianity, making it an increasingly pressing issue for modern-day ministers to address. However, many are either ill-equipped or unmotivated to take practical steps to address racial injustice and inequality in their church and community. This thesis is an interdisciplinary synthesis of cultural commentary on racism’s structural embeddedness in American history and systems, and theological consideration of the church’s complicity. The American church has discarded Scripture’s robust understanding of God’s redemptive Kingdom, embodied in Jesus’ holistic ministry, for a hyper-individualized and disembodied theology unable to address the realities of racism in America. In doing so, the church has not only enabled, but historically supported racial ideology that is fundamentally opposed to the Gospel of reconciliation. Through critical study of racism’s roots and modern ecclesial attempts to rectify its effects, this thesis suggests accessible and effective ways forward that account for common pitfalls, and go beyond well-intentioned colorblind approaches.