In Today’s Conversation, Leith Anderson and Claude Alexander talk about the history of the black church, leaders in the movement, distinctions between white and black theology, and more.

In this podcast, you’ll hear Bishop Alexander, a leader in the African American church, share:

  • How African American Christians think about racism;
  • What prevents black Christians from attending predominately white churches;
  • How the black church can teach the white church; and
  • What excites him about the future of the black church.

Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: You know the old adage, “The teacher learned more than the teacher taught.” When I have a significant number of African American students in the class, I learn so much. I really do. So tell me — or tell us — what can white churches learn from black churches? What can you give to us to learn from the black church?

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Claude: Well, I think one, faithfulness to the gospel in the midst of suffering. Second, openness to the other in the midst of oppression.

The best example I can give you is Mother Emanuel. Those nine people welcoming Dylann Roof into the Bible study. That degree of openness. Not having in their minds what could be the possible outcome — that they could lose their lives just by being welcoming and open. But this openness to the other.

I think the third, which is going to be even more important in the days to come, and that is the capacity to speak with power from the margin or from the bottom. Historically, the Church — now I’m using big “c” — in America has been at the center and has been able to speak from the top and has been able to assume a degree of authority and influence with the culture.

Well that is no longer the case, and increasingly the Church is being pushed to the margin, which is an experience that for the white church is new, but it’s not for the black church. The black church has always spoken from the margin. And perhaps that’s the most important lesson that the black church can teach now is the ability to speak with power from the margin and trust God to work with that.

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