Today’s episode of the Antioch Podcast is titled EMPIRE AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD: A Power Analysis of the Temple and the Contemporary Church, comparing the center and margins of power from the past to the present. Using a power analysis is a useful way to learn who serves and is served by systems and institutions. It also helps us analyze how to be a more just body of Christ. There is an accompanying video of this section of the podcast, which is offered as a free teaching tool. You can view this video on the Antioch Podcast’s YouTube Channel, by following this link:
To conclude this episode on centers and margins of power, I’d like to share with you an example of someone who changed his perspective as a leader, the recently sainted Catholic Archbishop, Oscar Romero. I read about his story in a recent article written by Kate Kooyman, and asked her if she would share her article with us on the Antioch Podcast.
Kate Kooyman is a minister in the Reformed Church in America, and works at the CRC’s Office of Social Justice. She is s a regular contributor to the Reformed Journal’s blog, and her writing also can be found on her website www.katekooyman.com. Kate often writes about the intersection of faith and politics.
WHITE WORK: the Antiracism Journeys of White People
Racial violence is, unfortunately, not a new phenomenon in the United States. But the media hasn’t always covered these incidents to the degree that they do now. With the advent of the cell-phone video cameras and social media, now everyday-citizens are able to record incidents of racial violence from their vantage point, and distribute the record of these events with ease to the broader public. This has two effects. On the one hand, these recordings educate the general public about the prevalence and seriousness of racist violence. On the other hand, people of color exposed to the footage often are traumatized by the images.
So how could churches respond? Recent studies show that the American church in general, and majority-white churches in particular, find this topic challenging. While many churches don’t’ talk about race at all, those that do still find it difficult to know how to respond where there are national incidents of racial violence such as the recent shooting of Asian women in Georgia, the rise hate crimes against the AAPI community in the past year, or the numerous racial protests over the past decade in response to the killing of unarmed Black men and women by the police.
Our team gathered around the mics to talk about how churches could respond to national incidents of violence against racialized communities.
WHITE WORK: the Antiracism Journeys of White People
On Tuesday, March 16th, 2021, a white gunman went into 3 Asian Spas in Atlanta, Georgia, massacring a number of staff and patrons, almost all of whom were Asian women. Regular listers will note that we dedicated our last episode to the alarming rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. We had no idea that the episode would have been so timely. As we have done with regrettably increasing frequency, after a traumatic racial moment in the country, we dedicate an episode to processing together. This time, we invited back our guests, Dr. Pennylyn Dystra Pruim and Dr. Nina Kim Hanson, to talk with us about how we are all responding to these shocking events.
NOTE: This episode was recorded before the mass-shooting of Asian-American women in Atlanta had occurred. We will respond to this incident in an upcoming episode.
A year ago in March, then President Donald Trump began describing the emerging COVID-19 pandemic using anti-Asian rhetoric, like “Kung Flu” and “the China virus.” In the following days, according to the group Stop AAPI Hate, between March 19, 2020 to December 31, 2020, there were over 2,808 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate from 47 states and the District of Columbia. In 2021 around the Lunar New Year, another spate of anti-Asian hate crime, often perpetrated against elderly Asian-Americans, began being reported. According to the group #hateisavirus, since the start of the pandemic, hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans have spiked 1900% from the previous year. Most Americans, however, are unaware of this. Most American churches, including many multiethnic churches where Asian and Asian Americans worship, also have not mentioned this alarming rise in hate-crimes as a matter for prayer.
This week, the regular members of the Antioch Podcast Team gathered along with several guests to talk about why this is happening, and how congregations – and Christians of all races – can respond.
In today’s episode we return to our series Radical Acts, a story of how the early church transformed from a monoethnic religious sect to a multiethnic and multicultural religious movement. In today’s episode, we look at the story in the third chapter of Acts, which opens up with two of Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John interact with a man who was forced to beg in the temple court to support himself, since he was born unable to walk.
Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.
Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarfs
When Diversity Isn’t Enough by Korrie Little Edwards
Anti-racism is at times emotionally and physically exhausting work, and the causes of this toll are different depending on the person. This week, the members of our team talked about a few of the things that can be wearying about passionately pursuing the work of justice, as well as a few things that we have learned about how to cope more effectively with these periodic situation
Regular listeners to the podcast may notice that we aren’t talking about the book of Acts today, which is strange right after we kicked off the series in episode 125. A number of the members of our team had urgent matters that they needed to attend to the day of our recording, and so as a team we decided to wait to continue our series until a majority of the group was able to be there.
Beginning this episode, we are starting a new series on the Antioch Podcast looking at the book of Acts. It is the story of how the Holy Spirit took a mono-ethnic group of followers of Jesus (who could all fit into a second-floor apartment) to a multi-ethnic religious community capable of withstanding the centuries-long persecution of an imperial empire. How is this even possible? This episode begins this series with a look at the seeds of this diverse, justice-seeking community in the second chapter of Acts.
NOTE: Regular listeners will notice that we are missing cover art and links. This week the podcast has been struck with a series of computer viruses, which are being attended to. We pray that soon all things are restored. Until then, this “stripped down” version of the podcast is the best we can do. Our apologies for this inconvienience.
This week the women of the Antioch Podcast team lead us in a conversation about women’s leadership in the church. Usually on the Antioch Podcast we have conversations about “Biblical” antiracism. For those of you new to the podcast, we talk about anti-racism, because racism is a form of oppression. An aspect of God’s desire for humanity is that no humans are oppressed. Christians have a special calling to therefore strive to create a world that treats all people as equals, where one group does not profit off the oppression of another group, and were we tend to the loving caretaking of the planet and our communities because we are all equals. Christians have not always lived up to this calling. In fact, the history of Christianity is littered with many stories of how we misused our power to do the opposite. It is true – In the past, as well as the present – people have misused scripture to justify treating people differently, often based on perceived racial differences. We on the Antioch Podcast stand in firm opposition to that. It is why we talk about Biblical antiracism, in the hopes that our conversations are one model (albeit a flawed one) of the kinds of conversations we hope Christians have to keep racism from continuing to infect the body of Christ broadly.
Another form of oppression is gender-based oppression. Again, people in the past and the present misuse scripture to justify creating a world where men are considered superior, and women inferior. Some would say this is God’s design, but we on the Antioch Podcast stand in solidarity with women, affirming them in the use of their gifts as co-equals with men, to build up the body of Christ broadly.
But, not all Christians feel this way. Women with leadership gifts often find it difficult to use their gifts, find employment in religious spaces, or be perceived by some Christian men and women to be as authoritative as men.
Vice President Kamala Harris is running into similar issues as the first female Vice President of the United States. Some Southern Baptist ministers are calling her a modern-day Jezebel.
Our team had something to say about that. All three female cohosts of the Antioch Podcast team preach and teach regularly in their home churches and in other institutions, and they took this moment, to talk about their experiences openly on this recording, with us all. Pastor Reggie was unable to be present at the start of our recording session, but you will hear his voice part-way through as he was able to join us mid-way through the conversation.
On February 1st, 2021 Christ the King Reformed Church in Charlotte, Michigan was formally classified as a white nationalist group in an annual report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center. This church was formerly a part of the Christian Reformed Church of North America, the denominational home for most of the members of the Antioch Podcast Team. Christ the King Reformed Church (and it’s now former pastor) left the denomination because the church had been espousing the ideology of Kinism. Kinism teaches that the races should be kept separate in racially pure “religio-ethnic states,” supporting white supremacy. Put more simply, Kinism is essentially a white nationalist interpretation of Christianity. This teaching was declared a heresy by the CRCNA in 2019.
Reggie Smith was one of several staff of the CRCNA initially involved in the Christian Reformed Church’s denominational response to Christ the King and its Kinist ideology back in 2019. In hearing that the church was recently declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, he shared his thoughts with the rest of our team, sparking a deeper discussion about the similarities and differences between Kinist ideology and the white dominant culture that pervades many monoracial and multiracial churches in the present day.
A recent Lifeway Research study on the American church was released this past week. The study revealed that more pastors believe that they would receive pushback if they spoke on the topic of racial reconciliation than they would have the year before the Trump presidency. While it is true that white Evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump at rates higher than white Americans in general, it is noteworthy that this now seems to correlate with an increased sense that preaching on the Biblical topic of racial reconciliation is less welcome than it has been in the recent past.
Our team had a few thoughts about this which you’ll hear when you listen.
Over the past few episodes, our team has been discussing the article by Dr. Kelly Hamren called “Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics.” This episode, sadly, is our last conversation based on this article where we talk about one final argument some people give for rejecting the Black Lives Matter movement. This argument goes as follows:
“The concept of “white privilege” is unjust because it blames white people today for atrocities, such as slavery and segregation, that were set up generations ago and they had no hand in creating. It also suggests that white people today should feel guilty for racism even if they are not racists themselves.”
Sound like a conversation you might have had before? It certainly sounds like some familiar talking points for me… so what would our multiethnic group of Christian antiracism educators and friends have to say? You are about to find out!
(10) When you hear the phrase “white privilege,” what feelings do you have?
(11) What examples of white privilege have you observed? When have you seen white people being given “the benefit of the doubt” that other groups of people may not get as often?
(16) How might white people maintain their privilege when they are no longer the numeric majority in the USA? What justice issues does Michelle mention to make her point about this?
(17) What is meritocracy? If you don’t know, Google it or look it up in a dictionary. Share what definitions you discover.
(21) How do white people use Black conservatives like Candace Owns to reinforce their prejudices?
(23) During reconstruction, white northerners and white southerners felt a strong urge to “forgive each other.” Who does Pastor Reggie say was left out of this “forgiveness conversation?” Where do you see this happening in modern times? How is this different from how the Jews remember the Exodus?
(26) How are racism and money connected in the past and today? How does Eric say money and racism may be linked for some white people?
(31) How does the 1776 Project want to change the historical narrative around slavery in its attempt to tell a “patriotic” history of the United States?
(36) What kinds of government assistance is give out in the United States which disproportionately helps white Americans? In reflecting on this, what do you feel emotionally? Have you learned about the laws written over the years explicitly benefiting white people? Why do you think most white people are unaware of this part of American legal history?
(40) What does Michelle say is the difference between white people and whiteness? How is this distinction helpful in discussing issues of racism?
(46) “White people … read themselves as Jews and not Romans.” What makes it comfortable for people to read themselves into the story as the “good guys?” How might we grow when we read the story and identify with the “bad guys?” How did it affect Susie to do this? How did it affect Michelle? How might it affect you?
(51) “White privilege is being able to cast yourself in a role where you are not the bad guy, where you are not the bad woman, and no one challenges you on casting yourself this way.” How do you respond to this insight? “Not having white privilege is desiring to cast yourself as the good guy, the good gal, and nobody allows you to own that story because they are challenging you on your right to be a good person.” How does this statement strike you?
(53) Representation. Why do you think this matters for people of color? What did Michelle and Susie say about how representation affects their imaginations? How did it affect them emotionally recently watching Hamilton? Why do you think this happened? How similar or dis-similar is their experience from yours when you watch TV, movies or go to the theater?
(59) “I want to point out the white privilege to learn about racism from a book or a podcast, and then turn it off and forget about it.” When Libby said this, what does it make you think about?
Over the past few episodes, our team has been discussing the article by Dr. Kelly Hamren called “Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics.” So it is with pleasure that we welcomed the author herself to join us on the podcast to talk about this article. For a little background, Kelly Hamren serves as an assistant professor at Liberty University. She began her career in English and has specialized in this area with a focus on Russian literature and world literatures in general. Her dissertation focused on twentieth-century Russian poetry, with an emphasis on the horrors resulting from Marxist-Leninist ideology in the Soviet Union.
This past week, the nation watched as a group of protesters, some of which are self-avowed white nationalists, lay siege to the US Capitol Building carrying with them Confederate flags, Trump Flags and Christian flags and crosses. It is not a stretch to say that most Americans never thought they would see a day when something like this happened, and that symbols of racism and Christianity would be so much a part of it. Because of these events, the Antioch Podcast is releasing this episode ahead of schedule, in place of the episode we would normally release each Thursday.
Our multiethnic team took time to reflect together, and share some of our thoughts here.
This is the fourth episode in our five-part miniseries on Christianity and Critical Race Theory or CRT for short. If you missed our opening episode, go back to episode 115 to begin the series before returning to this one.
In today’s episode, our team gathered around the mics to talk about Dr. Kelly Harmen’s article she wrote for Christianity Today in July of 2020 entitled “Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics.” In this part of her article she describes and counters an argument she has heard from people who disparage Critical Race Theory. She describes this argument as “The Black Lives Matter movement is Marxist and supportive of the LGBTQ community’s attempts to criminalize traditional, biblical views of sexuality.”
Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.
Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics
Looking at Marxism and Critical Race Theory in light of the problem of racism in America.
Today’s podcast is an intermission between the episodes of our five-part miniseries on Christianity and Critical Race Theory or CRT. Don’t worry, we will be back with the remaining episodes very soon. We wanted as many of our contributors as possible to be present as we tackled the remaining two episodes in our CRT series.
So, while some of our team couldn’t make it to record this week, those of us who were around took some time to gather around the mics to have not one … but TWO conversations about Biblical Antiracism!
In the first conversation, Pastor Reggie, Libby and I gathered to check in with one another about this tenuous space we find ourselves in – a place caught between an outgoing presidential administration, and the unanswered questions about a new one administration coming in. Pastor Reggie had put some of his thoughts down in an article he titled, “Searching for Hope”, which appeared in the blog Do Justice. We talked about this blog post together.
In the second-half of this episode, I sat down with Libby to talk about the seemingly paradoxical place of being a white person involved in antiracism education. She talks about some of the places she finds herself as a white antiracism educator who knows she is believed by other white people, and yet wants these same people to listen to and believe the many people of color who have been talking about these same things – seemingly forever – and yet have not garnered the audiences white people seem able to do when talking about the same issues.
This is the second episode in our five-part miniseries on Christianity and Critical Race Theory or CRT for short. If you missed our opening episode, go back to episode 115 to begin the series before returning to this one.
In today’s episode, our team gathered around the mics to talk about Dr. Kelly Harmen’s article she wrote for Christianity Today in July of 2020 entitled “Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics” discussing the first argument she posits which reads as follows: Quote: “Argument #2: Like all sin, racism originates in the human heart. Therefore, the solution to racism is for people’s hears to change. ‘Systemic Racism.’ on the other hand, is a Marxist idea.” End quote. In typical Antioch Podcast fashion, we had a lot to say about this, and some of it may come as a surprise, or … perhaps not. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics
Looking at Marxism and Critical Race Theory in light of the problem of racism in America.
(12) In the episode, the Antioch team puts forth the idea that parts of Marxism are antithetical to the Gospel and other parts are useful. Rather than categorizing ideas as either “completely good” or “completely bad”, this kind of discernment uses the strategy of thinking of ideas as “more useful” or “less useful.” What might be gained from using this kind of discernment strategy? What may be difficult about using this more nuanced strategy?
(13) What does the term “common grace” mean? How could you imagine this theological idea informing the process of discernment?
(14) Kelly Harmon says about Marxism “As a Christian scholar, I will not agree with all of its tenets… [but] Marx was not wrong about absolutely everything. Very few thinkers are…”. What two ideas does she agree with Marx on?
(18) Reforming sinful systems can be rewarding and difficult. Share a story from your life of a time you tried to correct or improve upon a routine way of doing something. What was challenging for you? What helped you move forward? If it ended badly, what might you do to improve your attempt at reform next time?
(20) Eric remarked that the church re-invents itself every 500 years. Have you heard this idea before? What three major events in church history occurred at 500-year intervals since the birth of the church (If you don’t know, look them up!)? How does the notion of being in a period of theological reform affect you emotionally? Explain your emotional response, if possible.
(21) Have you ever observed times when power was used to oppress others unjustly? Describe these times. When has the church used its power to oppress others unjustly in church history? Have you ever observed the church using its power to oppress others in your lifetime? For example, what groups of people may be treated without dignity or respect (by churches in the USA? How might the church use its power to oppress people, beyond the use of “strong language”?
(23) God cares about Justice. Jesus cared about injustice. What injustices does God care about that fall outside of your political bias or the political bias of your church? This can be hard to think about or talk about if partisan political affiliation is a strong part of your identity. For example, in your opinion, what injustices might Republican Christians overlook that Democratic Christians get right? In other instances, what injustices may Democratic Christians ignore that Republican Christians see more clearly? Lastly, what injustices (there are many) do you imagine that Christians of both political parties fail to address, or remain complicit in? Reflect on these questions for a few minutes privately before answering, since as American Christians we tend not to take time to consider another person or party’s point of view.
(25) Biblical justice. What are your favorite passages in scripture that address this major Biblical Theme? Eric did not know many of these passages, and needed to re-read scripture to notice how plentiful these passages were in scripture. Why do you think he needed to re-read scripture to see this? Do you know many passages that talk about this? Does your faith tradition talk about these passages? What do you think the reasons are for the way your faith tradition handles this Biblical theme in the way that it does? (NOTE: This may make for some interesting reading to find out why your church does or does not have a strong tradition of seeking Biblical justice. Most church traditions have strong historical reasons why they do or do not talk about this theme much.)
(27) What social programs are you aware of in the book of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, as well as the book of Acts that are mentioned in this episode? Are you aware of others? What might these regulatory measures have taught the people about the values and personhood of God? (NOTE: If you are unfamiliar with these parts of the Bible, do some reading to better educate yourself. Consider using the book Acts: A Theological Commentary on the Bible (Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible) 2017https://www.amazon.com/Acts-Theological-Commentary-Bible-Belief/dp/0664234003 to get started.)
(33) Pastor Reggie said, “The rest of the world reads scripture together.” Consider the area of “personal devotions.” How might we be formed by scripture differently if we had our daily devotions in community? Consider how experiencing scripture like a support group could be different from other ways we read scripture when we are alone – as if scripture was somewhat like a novel, an instruction manual or a book of inspirational quotes.
(34) What are the overall demographic characteristics of those at the center of power at your church? Often the center of power in a church are the pastors, elders and deacons, church staff and the wealthiest people who give large sums of money to the church. How would your church respond if someone prominently voiced a Biblical critique of the ethics of one or more of those people at the church’s center of power? Have you ever seen this happen? If so, describe what that was like. Have you ever seen this happen in another church?
(40) What things may Christians say to explain why they don’t do more to help the poor? If we are honest with ourselves, why is it often difficult for each of us as Americans to follow Jesus’ commands on giving to the poor? What might happen if we as Christians believed that all money is God’s money?
(44) What are ways that “fairness” is different from Biblical justice? Describe an example that shows these differences. What examples do the podcast team mention in this episode?
(46) Is grace fair? How might our ethics change if we understood God’s grace more? If we better understood how to be “like Christ” in our desires and our actions, how might an outside observer notice a difference in how we each individually embodied God’s grace compared to the world around us? How might the same outside observer notice how our church advocated for grace-filled public policies? Give an example of what you imagine a grace-filled policy or change in the law could look like.
(50) If we understood grace deeply, how would we care for the poor differently as a society than we do now? How might Christians care for the poor differently than we do now? Compare this to the parable of the workers in the field (Matthew 20:1-16). Reflect on where we see ourselves in the story.
(54) How does the Antioch Podcast’s practice of “reading together” differ from an individualistic practice of reading in private? What do you notice are distinctive characteristics of their conversations? What do you think they may do to foster these kinds of vulnerable cross-racial conversations?
This is the second episode in our five-part miniseries on Christianity and Critical Race Theory or CRT for short. If you missed our opening episode, go back to episode 115 to begin the series before returning to this one.
In today’s episode, our team gathered around the mics to talk about Dr. Kelly Harmen’s article she wrote for Christianity Today in July of 2020 entitled “Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics” discussing the first argument she posits which reads as follows: Quote: “Argument #1: Like all sin, racism originates in the human heart. Therefore, the solution to racism is for people’s hears to change. ‘Systemic Racism.’ on the other hand, is a Marxist idea.” End quote. In typical Antioch Podcast fashion, we had a lot to say about this, and some of it may come as a surprise, or … perhaps not. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics Looking at Marxism and Critical Race Theory in light of the problem of racism in America. KELLY HAMREN
SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS from Episode 116 (Approximate minute markers noted in parenthesis)
(8) How would you answer a person who asked, “Why do you keep talking about race? Isn’t talking about it just creating more division in the world when we need to be looking at our unity in Christ instead?”
(12) Why does the podcast team believe that asking the question “Who is missing” is important? How do we each center ourselves when reading scripture? What might we miss by centering ourselves in scripture? How might identifying with difficult characters in the Bible shape our own character? As the podcast goes on, notice the examples of how imagining oneself as a character in a Bible story happen in this podcast.
(16) What is the difference between the sin of individual racism and the sin of systemic racism? Why might it be important to make this distinction?
(20) What might you say to someone who alleges that the sin of systemic racism is actually a Marxist idea? According to the article and the podcast team, what does Marxism ask questions about? What does “conversations about systemic racism” (which is another way of talking about Critical Race Theory) ask questions about?
(22) How does history affect our hearts? How does history affect injustice? What scriptural example is used in the podcast to make this point?
(26) What example is given of how individual racism may come to affect a system or institution? How may boardrooms of people – who have a shared negative impression or prejudice – create policies that enforce their prejudicial beliefs? Can you think of examples in history or the church when a group made decisions that affected another group negatively for a lengthy period of time? Describe these examples with the group. (If you can’t think of any, why might an institution keep these kind of stories a secret?)
(26) Did you know about the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments (your answer may have a strong correlation with your race)? What are the reasons you do or do not know much (or anything) about this incident? If you don’t know anything, do a quick search on the internet to find out more before answering this question.
(28) Why do you imagine that white people often struggle with talking about privilege? What mistakes may someone make if they don’t know how to recognize or talk about their privilege? What problems might groups of people who are unable to recognize or talk about their privilege create?
(31) What are some of the costs of being a Person of Color (POC) in a predominantly-white environment? Did this information surprise you? What other kinds of negative effects may come from being marginalized in a school, workplace or church environment?
(34) What is the “scary question” people in power are afraid to ask, according to Pastor Reggie?
(35) What is different between CRT and Marxism, especially for Christians?
(36) How is the book of Acts an example of how a new system tries to address sin problems?
(40) Pastor Reggie said, “If me becomes more important that we, we aren’t talking about Christianity.” What makes this truth difficult to accept? How might we be convicted to act differently the more deeply we believe this truth? Discuss how you personally might live differently as you allow this scriptural idea to affect you more deeply.
Photos of Favorite Childhood Toys
Michelle: 1966 Mattel Yackers Skumk Pull String Toy
In today’s episode, we are going to talk about some of the academic ideas related to Biblical Antiracism. Critical Race Theory – or CRT – may be something you have heard discussed in recent years in Christian circles. Marxism and Socialism have been terms repeatedly used and weaponized in political discourse in the United States. Some people link Critical Race Theory and Marxism together, but go one step further, insinuating that these ideas are both Un-American and Un-Christian. In many ways, there exists a sense in some Christian circles that Critical Race Theory, Marxism and Socialism are implicitly evil, and that Christians must resist them at all costs. But is this actually true?
Most of us are not experts in Marxism or Socialism. Most of us take the word of people whom we believe know more than we do on these issues, and adopt their positions as our own.
One of our listeners recently wrote to us, asking us to talk about the topic of Critical Race Theory, and we agreed. This would be good to talk about … and while we all were familiar with Critical Race Theory and had explored these ideas at some depth, none of us could claim to be academic experts on this topic. So… we looked to find someone who was.
There are many resources out there about Critical Race Theory written by people who identify as Christians as well as those who do not. So if you are wondering about this topic, we would encourage you to feed your intellectual curiosity by reading more about Critical Race Theory yourself. We have provided a short reading list in the links on this episode page.
Among the many thoughtful books and articles on Critical Race Theory was a piece written by Kelly Hamren PhD, a Christian professor at the Evangelical institution Liberty Univeristy – who writes and teaches on Russian literature, Marxism and Critical Race Theory. Her article, “Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism and Biblical Ethics” came out in June of 2020 in Christianity Today, and will serve as the basis of this miniseries we are doing here on the Antioch Podcast we are calling “Christianity and Critical Race Theory” where we will talk about each of the four arguments she puts forth in her article. This is the first episode, covering the introduction to the article, in this series.
(14) What do members of the podcast sayin response to Michelle’s question, “What is Critical Race Theory (CRT)?” Did anything they said surprise you?
(16) Pastor Reggie asks, “What does it mean to have identity?” How would you describe your identity based on our demographic labels like the members of the podcast team do at the start of every episode? How do you feel about the idea that American history could be told from the vantage point of many different demographic groups? Notice these feelings, writing them down.
(17) How might telling the American story in terms of “both the good and the bad” be different than how you learned history as a child? NOTE: There may be noteworthy generational differences here, so if you are in a small group, leave time for different members to share their recollections of how they were taught history as children, and whose viewpoints curated the facts that were included in the historical curriculum and which facts were excluded.
(21) How would you describe social justice? How does the podcast team describe social justice? What ideas stood out to you?
(25) How might seeing where the word “you” is meant to be understood as a plural (collective) pronoun help you read the Bible more accurately? What Bible verses does asking this question make you curious about?” Use the link to the Calvin Seminary Scripture Study App to learn more.
(28) What is the difference between “intent” and “impact”? How might thinking about these ideas affect your understanding of social justice?
(31) What examples do you hear the podcast team identify as examples of how overtly racist policies from the past still affect people today? How often do you think about these things? What may be possible reasons for why you think of them as often as you do? How often might you think of them if you were a person of another race?
(37) “Personal Responsibility”. Have you ever heard someone use this phrase to imply that an individual is somewhat or entirely responsible for their unfortunate life circumstances? How might understanding systemic sin give us an outlook on these differences that are characterized by the Fruit of the Spirit?
(39) Pastor Reggie talks about how Black Christianity as the Black church speaks to Black Christians. How does he describe this? How might these ideas be communicated to the congregation? (Be specific if you can.)
(40) “…we seem to divorce our history from our ethics.” Give examples from the history of the White church where this kind of complicity with the sin of racism happened. (Be as specific as you can.). What might a reckoning with this history be like in the White church?
(40) Why do you imagine the phrase “White privilege” makes many white people uncomfortable? If you are a White person, talk about your own emotional reaction to this phrase over time. How did you first respond when you heard or read the phrase “White privilege”? How do you respond to it today? How do you think God responds to it? Libby describes White privilege as “White people getting something that is a human right that other people aren’t given.” How does this idea strike you?
(44) Michelle says, “If you are a person of color (POC) you are not assumed to be middle-class or upper-class especially if you are dressed casually or athletically.” Reflect on this statement and the story of the jogger that follows. Notice your thoughts and emotions, writing them down. How might you personally (whatever racial group you identify with) pray about these reactions, asking God to heal what may be in your heart? NOTE: this story was first told in Episode 71 if you want to listen to it.
(47) Eric says, “People who are experts in racism are the people who experience it often … listen and believe that they are telling the truth.” Why might it be difficult to believe someone who has different experiences that we never have had? Why do you think we come to believe some people’s stories that are different from our own, but challenge or reject other stories? What are the consequences for POC when they are repeatedly disbelieved by individuals and systemically disbelieved or ignored by institutions?
(50) How does Pastor Reggie characterize the book of Exodus? He goes on to say, “you cannot disconnect justice from ethics.” How has your church responded to the Black Lives Matter movement? How have you responded? What factors influence the way you and your church responded? What holds you back from doing more?
(52) Libby talks about the introductory chapters written by theologians who are women or persons of color. How would you describe the biases you have, considering how your identity has shaped your experiences and therefore how you read scripture and view the world? For fun, write out how you would explain the biases and viewpoints your experiences have given you and how they impact the way you read and think about the Bible. Read these descriptions aloud in a small group as a way to get to know one another.
(57) What might you have to unlearn to read the Bible more accurately? When might we improperly silence ourselves because we fear that we may be biased? When do we each need to be quiet to listen to the viewpoints of people who are not like us? Whose voices have we each personally never considered listening to as it relates to how they view scripture or other matters?
(*) Going deeper: Notice that on the Antioch Podcast, white and male viewpoints are represented, but not dominant. How might this impact the kinds of conversations they have?
(1:02) John Calvin, James Cone, and Katie Cannon. What do you know about these three theologians, if anything? Why do you think this is? If you know one or two of them, but not the other(s), use the links in the show notes to further educate yourself.
Social scientists tell us that multiracial churches are growing in number from 6% in 1998 to 16% in 2019. These same social scientists are telling us that these same churches may not be promoting the flourishing of Black people and other people of color.
Jemar Tisby, president of the Witness: a Black Christian collective, podcaster, author of the Color of Compromise and his forthcoming book How to Fight Racism, wrote a piece on his blog entitled, Why Multiracial Churches Fail, discussing these two factors. We would encourage you to read his piece yourself, which is linked to the show notes for this episode on our webpage www.antiochpodcast.com . Our team gathered around the mics to talk about this, as all of us attend multiracial churches, to share our experiences, observations and thoughts about this phenomenon.
O Come All Ye Faithful
Angels We Have Heard on High
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Sweet Little Jesus Boy
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Jesus the Light of the World
Go Tell It On the Mountain
Joy to the World
Jesus, Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child
Notes from Eric:
This has been a year of loss and longing. Many of us have been unable to worship face-to-face for months, have not been able to embrace people we love, and have needed to stay physically apart from the people we care about the most. Our nation too has been torn apart by fearmongering and racism, and many of us feel separate in spirit from people we used to count as friends. Some of us have been celebrating holidays in solitude, and are looking at marking Christmas alone as well. Some of us are isolated to keep from getting COVID, while others of us presently have COVID, and are quarantined from the public in our homes, rehab centers, and hospital units.
Jesus came into a world very similar to ours. The powerful government of Rome used their military to police the people’s they ruled over, often using terror to instill a sense of fear into those subjugated people. Leprosy and other incurable diseases of the time separated people from one another, making some call out “unclean” so that people would know to keep their distance. We remember Christmas as a time when Jesus came to rescue us from these manifestations of a broken world, among the many other fingerprints sin has left on our world.
Since the beginning of the quarantine period, I have learned how to make the musical backgrounds and interludes for the Antioch Podcast. I’ve enjoyed learning how to make music that is not designed to be the focus of attention, but is created to be in the background to enhance the mood of a conversation. This music is designed in the same spirit of the podcast, to be music for the background of your conversations with God whether it is on a walk or a drive, or with others in your kitchen or perhaps during a meal. I put together this selection of Christmas songs for those marking this holiday time in solitude. In particular, I was thinking of the people I know who are isolated on COVID units in hospitals, rehab centers, or are recuperating sequestered to their homes. But wherever you are, I hope these notes and sounds give you a sense of the presence of God in your life during this season. I hope you have enjoyed it.
All musical arrangements and improvisations by Eric Nykamp
Michelle Loyd-Paige is the most senior contributor to the Antioch Podcast in our group. She is a woman with a lot of life experience and a LOT of titles she has racked up: preacher, professor, doctor, and most recently Executive Associate to the President for Diversity & Inclusion at Calvin University. She also is a wife, mother, grandmother and on this podcast a friend and cohost. In this episode, Michelle shares the story of how she came to be on her antiracism journey, when it started, challenges she has faced, and ultimately where it has brought her today.
This was a conversation that many of us on the podcast have been eagerly awaiting to hear, and we hope YOU, the listener, find her story as moving and inspiring as we did.
Where we are recording in Michigan, the leaves have now blown off the trees, there is no sunlight by the time we eat dinner, winds are picking up and the temperature is dropping. We are in a time of transition. Winter is coming. The election is behind us (mostly) and we await a new administration. COVID numbers continue to rise nationally. Many of us on our team have had loved ones fall sick and some have died this season. All of these things are true, God has not left us, and we have moments when we also need to pause and feel the weightiness of these moments because we are human beings with hearts full of emotion. It is the way God has made us.
Against this backdrop, our team thought it may be good to take a mental break from all the heaviness, even for a moment, in the spirit of the Thanksgiving season. Gratitude, it turns out, is one of the practices that social scientists have shown to diminish anxiety and help people shift into hope-filled mindsets. So today we are going to spend some time remembering those people who are our antiracism inspirations, people from history as well as people we’ve known personally whose lives give us encouragement when it may seem difficult to keep going.
Some of our team were away leading an antiracism workshop, while the rest of us gathered virtually around the microphones to visit and share stories together.
No credits this episode, but it was still good, eh?
We caught Professor Kristin Kobes Du Mez at her home on a Friday afternoon after a week of teaching American History at Calvin University. It also happened to be the week of the 2020 election, and at the time we recorded, no presidential winner had been formally declared. Her past month had been a blur of interviews. Her book, Jesus and John Wayne, a history of white evangelicalism, has put her in the spotlight as white evangelicals have been one the most reliable voting constituencies for Donald Trump. This fact puzzles many outside of evangelicalism, who seek her out for comment, since many outside this tradition widely see Donald Trump as someone whose language and behavior are antithetical to the morality of scripture. Yet Du Mez describes in her thoroughly-researched book how notions of militancy and masculinity have been strong themes through generations of white evangelical communities until this present day. The militant, masculine approach of Donald Trump seems to explain why he, more than any other presidential candidate in recent history, has garnered the support and admiration of white evangelicals. Her cultural history of this segment of white Christianity was why were so honored to have her join us to talk about her book.
On October 28th 2020, USA Today ran an article stating that 70% of U.S. adults say that the presidential election is a significant source of stress, according to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America Survey. This is up dramatically compared to stress rates during the 2016 election which clocked in at 52%. In an election whose outcome affects many of the issues Christians concerned about Biblical Antiracism care about, the past four years have been trying ones, and many people are feeling the stress even more intensely in these weeks leading up to the election.
Our team gathered around the microphones to talk about our experiences, reflect on the importance of resilience, and ended with a discussion of things we each are practicing to stay grounded during these trying days of waiting for the election to be over.
This is a special episode of the Antioch Podcast where we stepping away from our regular conversational format to hear from two of our regular team members. Up first, we will hear a chapel presentation given by Dr. Michelle Loyd Paige for Calvin Univerity’s Unlearn week. Unlearn is a yearlong program that kicks off with a week of special presentations on diversity and inclusion at Calvin University. Some of you will remember that a couple episodes back, we released an episode of the podcast that the entire Antioch team did for Unlearn week. Unlearn is a yearlong program that kicks off with a week of special presentations on diversity and inclusion at Calvin University. This talk, based on the book of Jerimiah, captures the sense of longing many people are feeling at this time when were are preparing for a national election in an era of racial unrest and the resurgence of COVID-19 across the United States.
The episode will conclude with a reflection on Psalm 37, a psalm about waiting during unsettled times. This felt appropriate as many of us are anxiously awaiting the outcome of a presidential election which has been rife with language and policy proposals of concern to people committed to Biblical Antiracism.