5 Books on Race and the Church

It might seem that keeping silent about racial tension in our country and in the church is a good way to keep the peace. However, Jesus did not call us to be peacekeepers, but peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). The difference being that a peacekeeper doesn’t rock the boat. A peacemaker acknowledges all perspectives, doing everything to create a just environment where God is honored and every human soul is valued.

The fact of the matter is that racial issues exist within the church, just as they do outside of the church. In order to better love your neighbor, it’s important to be able to understand multiple perspectives. Here are five books that discuss the issue of race in the church and what you can do to help:

Heal Us, Emmanuel

By Alexander Jun, Scott Sauls, et al.

The Book Description: “Most Christians would say they believe all people are made in the image of God and are equal before him. They would say red, brown, yellow, black, and white, they are precious in his sight. But do they have any friends of another race? Is there anyone at their church who does not look like them? Does this matter to God? The majority of American Christians do not have significant relationships with anyone who does not look like them, which makes them susceptible to cultural blind spots and less effective as ambassadors for biblical justice. The thirty church leaders who contributed to Heal Us, Emmanuel desire racial reconciliation, representation, and supernatural unity in all the churches of Christ.”

Why Are All of the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

By Beverly Daniel Tatum

*While this book is not specifically about the church, it is often recommended by people of faith to help readers understand the bigger picture of racial issues as they can be applied to the Christian community.

The Book Description: “Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.”

Divided by Faith

By Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith

From the Book Description: “The authors contend that it is not active racism that prevents evangelicals from recognizing ongoing problems in American society. Instead, it is the evangelical movement’s emphasis on individualism, free will, and personal relationships that makes invisible the pervasive injustice that perpetuates racial inequality. Most racial problems, the subjects told the authors, can be solved by the repentance and conversion of the sinful individuals at fault.”

United by Faith

By Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Michael O. Emerson, et al.

From the Book Description: “Faith can be the basis for healing, but too often Christian faith has been a field for injury and division. In this important new book, readers will glimpse a way forward, a path toward once again making the church the basis for racial reconciliation in our still-splintered nation.”

Disunity in Christ

By Christena Cleveland

From the Book Description: “With a personal touch and the trained eye of a social psychologist, Cleveland brings to bear the latest studies and research on the unseen dynamics at work that tend to separate us from others. Learn why Christians who have a heart for unity have such a hard time actually uniting. The author provides real insight for ministry leaders who have attempted to build bridges across boundaries. Here are the tools we need to understand how we can overcome the hidden forces that divide us.”

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