Urban Apologetics and the Image of God

I have a live podcast interview coming up in a few days on the topic of what it means to be made in God’s image.

The interview is this Thursday evening, August 6, at 9 pm Eastern time. I posted a brief notice on Facebook about the interview.

The interviewer is Alfredo Valentin (aka the BK Apologist).

Alfredo Valentin is a Nuyorican (a member of the Puerto Rican diaspora in New York city), whose specialty is “urban apologetics.”

This is a genre of apologetics that addresses questions especially relevant to the black and brown Christian demographic who are being targeted for proselytizing by religious groups like the Nation of Islam , the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ, or Israel United in Christ. Such groups often play on issues of identity and race, suggesting that orthodox Christianity is a religion of whiteness.

Alfredo tries to educate his listeners in an intelligent way about the claims of genuine Christian orthodoxy, often by interviewing scholars and practitioners in the faith who has particular insight to share about Scripture or theology.

Since one of the primary issues in urban apologetics is identity (Who are we? and What is our purpose in life?), the topic of the image of God is directly relevant.

Having written a book on the image of God (The Liberating Image), as well as various articles and blog posts on the subject, I’m looking forward to the conversation.

You can tune in to the live interview here on August 6, 2020, at 9 pm Eastern.

Walking and Driving while Black—Differences within America and between America and Jamaica

Here are two tales of police encounters, both by black men in America.

One is by Esau McCaulley, my former colleague who taught New Testament at Northeastern Seminary (now at Wheaton College). The other is by Garnette Cadogan, a writer friend who moved from Jamaica to the USA some years ago.

Driving while Black

In “Driving while Black,” Esau describes his experiences with the police as a black man driving in Alabama, his home state. He then contrasts this with his later (quite different) experiences in New England.

Esau’s piece was published in July 2016 on an Anglican website called Covenant.

Walking while Black

In “Walking while Black,” Garnette describes his love of walking, which began on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, when he was a schoolboy. He then describes his very different experience walking the streets of New Orleans, and later New York.

Garnette’s piece was originally published in October 2015 in the inaugural issue of Freeman’s (an anthology of writings collected by John Freeman); the theme of this issue was Arrival. The piece was re-published in July 2016 on the website of Literary Hub.and also in The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race (Scribner, 2016), ed. Jesmyn Ward.

Each of these is well worth reading.

You can access them on the web—Esau’s here, Garnette’s here.

Or you can download them as PDFs—Esau’s here, Garnette’s here.

I’d be interested in your thoughts; and I’m sure the authors would be too.

You can hear a PRI interview with Garnette Cadogan about his walking experiences here.

And you can watch his TEDx talk on walking here.

Does the Bible Support or Dismantle Racism?

My friend and colleague at Northeastern Seminary, Esau McCaulley, recently (Wednesday, October 11, 2017) gave a talk for the Nickel City Forum, a monthly meeting of Anglicans, held in Buffalo, NY, to discuss complex issues of faith and life in today’s world.

I myself will be giving a talk for this same group on Thursday, February 8, 2018. My topic will be how best to read the Genesis 1 creation account in our current polarized religious culture.

Esau’s talk was entitled: “Does the Bible Support or Dismantle Racism?

He began his talk with a quotation from Fredrick Douglass (1818-1895), “an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman” (Wikipedia), who lived for a time in Rochester, NY.

Due to Douglass’s significance for Rochester, the University of Rochester hosts The Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies.

Here is the quote, taken from Douglass’s 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

“I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion. . . . What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference — so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.”

You can read Esau’s timely analysis of how the Bible counters racism here.