hebrew Israelities

The Death of Meme Theology

By: Cam Triggs

I've had it happen a dozen times. I respond to a Facebook post or Twitter thread dismantling some false statements about Christianity, and then someone responds with a MEME. No, not a book, reputable quote, article, or peer-reviewed research… but a meme. These memes often depict stereotypes, characterizations, and blatant fallacies concerning the Christian faith. Sadly, they are also the worst of quality… fuzzy memes with shallow logic. It's the worst. Even scarier is the blind allegiance and trust someone has towards these viral graphics.

I understand this cultural phenomenon. Of course, it is easier to run with a two-second message rather than listen to a two-hour lecture or read a two-hundred-page book. However, these memes are not good sources for intellectual exchange. They add absolutely nothing to most conversations. When challenged with research, history, and logic, many memes crumble like dry cornbread. 

A few questions could actually save you the intellectual embarrassment of relying on such poor sources. Simply think and ask: 

 

  1. What is the origin of this graphic?
  2. Can it stand the test of peer-reviewed research?
  3. Are there any scholars who agree or disagree? 
  4. Is it logical? 
  5. Is it historical? 
  6. Where is the burden of proof? 
  7. Is it biased? 
  8. What presuppositions are left unfounded? 

 

You can't make good arguments with sound conclusion relying on a picture produced for propaganda. No, not all memes are false or malicious. Some may actually point to truth and promote accurate information. Regardless, no meme should be a foundation for rejecting or accepting a belief. There is too much left uninvestigated or researched. This leaves people unable to accurately and adequately articulate what they believe.

Family, if there really was a malicious conspiracy theory out to destroy us all, I fully expect it would be hidden within the confines of a book versus fuzzy memes and poorly produced YouTube videos. Think about it; where would you put secret information? Online, where people are passing off poorly cited information? Or in a book, where few people are reading and actually fact-checking sources?

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently did a study that indicated “fake news” travels faster than facts.[1] This is why we need to truly research the information we access online. More importantly, we need receipts for every claim made.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's not amuse ourselves to death with inaccurate presumptions being created by someone with troll-like tendencies and endless time to waste. We need to reach deeper and research widely. Take a look. It's in a book. Read widely and critically. It’s bad practice to get your worldview from a meme. 

 

[1] http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43344256


CAM TRIGGS.jpg

As lead pastor of Grace Alive Church, Cam has a heart for Jesus and for the city of Orlando. He hopes to see people discover the greatness of Jesus through Grace Alive.

He graduated from the University of Central of Florida as a religious studies major and also received additional training at Reformed Theological Seminary-Orlando. During his time in Orlando, he made great friends and developed a passion for ministry in the Beautiful City.

More importantly, he is married to his beautiful best friend Tymara Triggs and the proud father of Cameron Triggs II and Charis Triggs.

10 Things to Study Before Engaging Black Hebrew Israelites

As Christian apologists, we are called to defend the hope we have within us (1 Peter 3:15). However, we must do this strategically and not ignorantly. Many times, well-meaning believers seek out maleficent arguments or renegade crusades without adequately preparing themselves through study. This is tragic because God calls us to be prepared and well-studied for the proclamation of His word (2 Timothy 2:15). One particular cult Christian apologists should certainly be prepared to engage are the Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI). Without preparation, a believer can walk away discouraged, deflated, and even dejected because of the strenuous effort of persuading this unique cult. Black Hebrew Israelites are often very well studied in the Bible, equipped with historical trivia, and familiar with frequent objections. They are often very passionate and, depending on the individual or cult, can be very condescending. Therefore, a soldier in the faith should be equipped, prepared, and bold to share the Gospel. Below are ten questions Christian apologists should understand, and be able to answer thoroughly, before engaging Black Hebrew Israelites.

 

1. Do you know how and why Christ has fulfilled the law?

This is a huge point that cannot be overlooked. Many Christians are fuzzy, at best, when it comes to declaring how the New Covenant and Old Covenant are related. Specifically, many Christians have accepted the “Americanized Jesus” and can no longer see the sunburnt Yeshua, who is the quintessential Jew. Redemptive History demonstrates Jesus as the coming Messiah who fulfilled the law and kept the commandments so sinners could have his imputed righteousness while he took the guilt, shame, and curse of our sin on the cross. It is the life, death, and resurrection of Christ that institutes a New Covenant and then calls both Jew and Gentile into the Law of Christ (Romans 10:14). As Christians, we need to be able to prove, from scripture, that the law cannot save us. Instead, we should be able to prove that faith in the person and work of Jesus saves us. After which, we are called to follow Him.

Helpful Scriptures:

  • Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20 KJV

  • Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭3:24-25‬ ‭KJV

  • Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; Ephesians‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Helpful Books:

  • Law and the Gospel by Ernest C. Reisnger

  • 40 Questions about Christians and Biblical Law by Thomas R. Schreiner

  • The End of the Law by Jason Meyer

Helpful Articleshttps://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/does-psalm-119-teach-salvation-comes-by-keeping-the-law

 

2. Do you know how we received and translate the Bible?

Christians should know how we received the Bible and how we translate it into modern day language. Many in the Black Hebrew Israelite camp believe that the King James Version is the only authentic version, while also affirming the Apocrypha. A Christian should be able to articulate the formation, reception, and preservation of the Biblical text, the process of textual criticism, and refute texts not in the Biblical Canon.

Helpful Scriptures:

  • All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16 KJV

  • For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. ~ 2 Peter 1:21 KJV

Helpful Books:

  • From God to Us by Norman Geisler

  • The King James Only Controversy by James White

Helpful Articles: https://www.gotquestions.org/apocrypha-deuterocanonical.html

 

3. Do you know the history of the Jewish People?

A central claim in much Black Hebrew Israeliteideology is the belief that people affected by the evil of the Transatlantic Slave trade are indeed the lost tribes of Israel.  This discussion could lead to many debates and rabbit trails, but the apologist should be aware of the formation of Israel in the Bible and some historical facts on the current Nation of Israel.

Helpful Scriptures:

  • And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee. -Zechariah 2:11 KJV

  • And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. – Exodus 12:37-38 KJV

  • For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. – Romans 2:28-29 KJV

Helpful Books:

  • Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel by Eugene H. Merrill

  • Israel & the Nations: The History of Israel from the Exodus to the Fall of the Second Temple by F. F. Bruce

Helpful Articles: https://carm.org/black-hebrew-israelites

 

4. Do you know God's redemptive plan to save all people and nations?

Different camps will disagree on this point. However, it is important to know the intention of God to save all people from different tribes, tongues, and nations when engaged with a camp that believes only Israelites will be saved.

Helpful Scriptures:

  • Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. ~ Isaiah 45:22 KJV

  • Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. - 1 Timothy 2:4 KJV

Helpful Books:

  • Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to the Nations by Walter C. Jr. Kaiser

  • From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race (New Studies in Biblical Theology) by J. Daniel Hays

  • The High Definition Leader: Building Multiethnic Churches in a Multiethnic World by Derwin L. Gray

Helpful Articles: https://www.gotquestions.org/Jews-saved.html

 

5. Are you competent enough to have a discussion about the Hebrew language?

In your dialogue with Black Hebrew Israelites, many topics will eventually touch on the meaning of a word in Hebrew. Having a firm grasp of how the Biblical languages work would be a huge benefit for a believer trying to defend the faith.

Helpful Books:

  • Hebrew for the Rest of Us: Using Hebrew Tools without Mastering Biblical Hebrew by Lee M. Fields

  • Old Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors by Douglas Stuart

  • A History of the Hebrew Language by Angel Sáenz-Badillos

 

6. Are you competent enough to have a discussion about racism and racial reconciliation?

Much of Black Hebrew Israelite mythology evolves around the idea that “Edomites”, or white people in America, are deceiving and pacifying people of color with a whitewashedChristianity.In some cases, this does happen. However, it is not a good representation of Global Christianity or the strong activism and Biblical worldview of the historic black church. This heresy often leads to racism and xenophobia amongst certain camps. Edomites are often seen as condemned and not part of God’s redemptive plan.

Helpful Scriptures:

  • Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land. ~Dueteromy 23:7 KJV

  • And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd ~John 10:16 KJV

Helpful Book:

  • Oneness Embraced: Reconciliation, the Kingdom, and How We are Stronger Together by Tony Evans

  • Defending Black Faith: Answers to Tough Questions About African-American Christianity by Craig S. Keener

Helpful Articles: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/trevinwax/2013/01/28/why-did-jesus-say-he-came-only-for-israel/

 

7. Do you have an accurate account of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade?

The Black Hebrew Israelites typically believe that the Trans-Atlantic slave trade is a biblical prophecy fulfilled in our American context. Admirably, they have an amazing knowledge of the horrific evils that took place in the slave trade. Sadly, much eisegesis is imposed on the Biblical text that is not a byproduct of helpful hermeneutics. 

Helpful Scriptures:

  • Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. -1 Corinthians 7:21 KJV

Helpful Books:

  • The Birth of African-American Culture: An Anthropological Perspective by Sidney Wilfred Mintz

  • Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall

Helpful Articles: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/four-differences-between-new-testament-servitude-and-new-world-slavery/

 

8. Have you consulted the best commentaries on Deuteronomy?

Referring back to point 7, much of the eisegesis and misapplication of scripture is from the book of Deuteronomy, in particular chapter 28. Many camps in the BHI cult believe that the curses found in this chapter apply to people of color displaced by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Reading exegetical articles will help you discern context and the meaning of these passages.

Helpful Scriptures:

  • And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. -Deuteronomy 28:64 KJV

  • And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.–Deuteronomy 28:68 KJV

Helpful Books:

  • Deuteronomy (Evangelical Press Study Commentary) (EPSC Commentary Series) by John D. Currid

  • Deuteronomy (Apollos Old Testament Commentary) by J. G. McConville

Helpful Articles: https://www.equip.org/article/origin-insufficiency-black-hebrew-israelite-movement-article/

 

9. Are you aware of the black presence in the Bible& Church History?

A great portion of Black Hebrew Israelites are well trained to see the kaleidoscope of color in the Bible. If you read the Bible through a colorblind lens, you will miss the richness of God’s redemptive plan and appear to be brainwashed by this cult. Knowing the black presence in the Bible creates a common ground and enhances mutual dialogues, especially when one must challenge other points of interpretation. More ground can be gained in quoting sources if one is aware many of the early church fathers were indeed African.

Helpful Scriptures:

  • The Sons of Ham (Genesis 2:13; 10:6)

  • Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-10; 11:2)

  • Caleb (Genesis 15:19; Joshua 14:6)

  • Jethro (Judges1:16)

  • The mixed ancestry of Jesus; Hamitic Descent from Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Ruth (Matthew 1:1-16)

Helpful Books:

  • The Black Presence in the Bible by Walter Arthur McCray

  • How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity by Thomas C. Oden

Helpful Articles: https://iamernestgrant.com/2016/02/28/its-not-the-white-mans-religion-2/

 

10. Do you know the camp you are reaching?

Last but not least, it is helpful to know which camp of the Black Hebrew Israelites you are talking with. Many have different beliefs, and it would be helpful to ask questions about the specific camp, instead of assuming.

Helpful Scriptures:

  • Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath – James 1:19 KJV

  • If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. -Romans 12:18 KJV

  • He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. – Proverbs 18:13 KJV

Helpful Articles: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/5864-black-hebrew-israelites

Helpful Books:

  • Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions by Jacob S. Dorman

  • Barack Obama vs the Black Hebrew Israelites: Introduction to the History & Beliefs of 1West Hebrew Israelism by Vocab Malone


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As lead pastor of Grace Alive Church, Cam has a heart for Jesus and for the city of Orlando. He hopes to see people discover the greatness of Jesus through Grace Alive.

He graduated from the University of Central of Florida as a religious studies major and also received additional training at Reformed Theological Seminary-Orlando. During his time in Orlando, he made great friends and developed a passion for ministry in the Beautiful City.

Cam is married to his best friend Tymara and together they are raising their son affectionately known as Baby Cam.


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Early African Christianity: Nubia

Multiethnic Roots of Christianity Part II

By: Dr. Vince Bantu

The sentiment that Christianity is the “white man’s religion” is a perception that does not find resonance in biblical or historical reality. Christianity is not “becoming” a global religion; it has always been a global religion. At every point, the Christian faith has found Afrocentric expression and it is God’s heart that the Gospel take firm root among every nation, tribe and tongue. The proclamation of the psalter that “Kush will soon stretch out her hands to God,” (Ps. 68:31) finds unique application in the reality that the descendants of the Kushites—the Nubians—not only embraced Christianity as the national religion as early as the fifth century CE, but fought off Arab Muslim invasion in order to maintain an indigenous, black Christian kingdom that would flourish for a thousand years. The late antique Kushite kingdom centered at Meroë fell away in the late fourth century. While there is not much evidence to suggest a significant Christian presence in the Sudan during its Meroitic Kushite period, it is noteworthy that the “Ethiopian” eunuch mentioned in Acts 8 was likely from Kush, rather than the southern Axumite kingdom of Ethiopia. The queens of Kush were commonly called Candace (or Kandake) and “Ethiopia” (or Greek Aithopia) was often used to refer to black inhabitants south of Egypt conflating both the Nubian kingdoms of the Sudan and the Axumite empire of Ethiopia. However, the earliest detailed account of the introduction of Christianity into Nubia came in the sixth century through the historical account of the Syrian bishop John of Ephesus. According to John, Byzantine Roman empress Theodora sent missionaries to Nubia through Egypt who led the Nubian royal court to Christ resulting in the Christianization of northern Nubia (Nobatia). A century before this Roman intervention, however, one of the earliest Nubian kings to consolidate the Nobatian Empire—king Silko—declared in a victory inscription belief in one God who granted him military victory in Nubia. This could indicate a gradual progression of monotheistic transformation in the previously polytheistic Nubian religious landscape. There is also fifth-century evidence of Nubian refugees taking shelter in the Coptic monasteries of Upper Egypt. Whenever Christianity entered Nubia, it is likely to have done so through contact with Egyptian Christians with whom the Nubians maintained close ecclesiastical affiliation throughout the entirety of their Christian history. In solidarity with the other major African churches of Egypt and Ethiopia, Nubian Christianity maintained an anti-Chalcedonian—or, Miaphysite—nature, indicating a belief in the essential unity of the human and divine natures of Christ. Not long after Christianity took firm root in Nubia, the Islamic Conquest presented new challenges for Christians in Africa. Egypt was swiftly conquered in the mid-seventh century and the Arab Muslims quickly turned their attention to the Nubians south of Egypt. The Arab Muslim attempt at conquering Nubia was historically significant in that the Nubians were one of the only people groups to successfully fight off Muslim invaders. Several Arab Muslim historians who recount the Nubian victory credit the Nubian warriors’ skill with the bow and arrow—a skill long associated with Nubians and ancient Kushites since Pharaonic times. The Christian Nubians and Arab Muslim rulers of Egypt created a peace treaty stipulating the exchange of goods and a mutual understanding that Egypt would remain under Muslim control and Nubia remain Christian. Almost everywhere the early Muslim armies went during the seventh century fell under Muslim control (Persia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Libya). Nubia was unique in its ability to fight off the Muslims and create an unprecedented peace treaty that would last for centuries. This historical background also significantly complicates the assumption among some African-descended people that Christianity is the white man’s religion and Islam is the black man’s religion. In the case of Nubia, we see an autonomous black Christian kingdom successfully fighting off would-be Arab Muslim invaders. While Christianity’s introduction into Africa during the first millennium was freely adopted and accepted as the state religion of many of the earliest African kingdoms, Islam’s first introduction into the continent was by force and was resisted by the indigenous African nations whose identity was synonymous with being followers of Christ. Although Christianity eventually died out in Nubia by the beginning of the sixteenth century due to increasing migrations of Islamic ethnic groups, the Christian autonomy initiated by the Nubian-Muslim peace treaty, or baqt, paved the way for a golden era of Nubian Christian culture from the eighth to the thirteenth centuries. Nubian Christianity flourished during this period largely because the central kingdoms of the Sudan—Nobatia, Makouria and Alodia—were all predominately Christian and consolidated as one united kingdom no later than the early ninth century. Some examples of the many unique features of Nubian Christianity include a distinctive ecclesiastical and diplomatic leader known as the eparch, a distinguished form of church architecture including a specific passageway unique only to Nubian churches and indigenous religious vestments depicted in Nubian iconography. The language of medieval Sudan—Old Nubian—survives in a small collection of texts that are overwhelmingly religious (i.e. Christian) in nature. This fact further illustrates the degree to which the ancient African civilization of Nubia was intricately imbedded in and held together by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

ICYMI: Multiethnic Roots of Christianity Part I - Early African Christianity: Eygpt

Also, check out our interview with Dr. Vince Bantu below:


Dr. Vince L. Bantu joined Covenant Theological Seminary in 2016 as Visiting Professor of Missiology. He holds a PhD in Semitic and Egyptian languages from the Catholic University of America and serves as co-chair of the Theology Committee of the Christian Community Development Association. Dr. Bantu is an MDiv graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education in Boston, and served the Cambridge Community Fellowship Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a church-planting apprentice of Dr. Soong-Chan Rah. He also served as a program coordinator for the Emmanuel Gospel Center.

Dr. Bantu also holds a ThM in church history from Princeton Seminary and a BA in theology from Wheaton College. His primary interests include racial reconciliation, non-Western Christianity, and theological education in under-resourced communities. He has served as an adjunct faculty member for several institutions, including Nyack College, New York Theological Seminary, North Park Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, the Center for Early African Christianity, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Bantu is happy to be back in his native St Louis, where he is a teaching pastor at Jubilee Community Church. Dr. Bantu, his wife, Diana, and their two daughters enjoy traveling, parks, games, and are huge movie fans.

To Quote or Not to Quote

"That's a white scholar, he can’t be trusted."

"Show me a black theologian that believes that..."

"That's an Edomite!" 

 

If you are engaged in urban apologetics you have heard these objections before, in one form or the other. Typically, defenders of black cults, radical black liberation theologians, or extreme pan-Africanist utilize these retorts. When so, they often are assuming we have been brainwashed by white Christians/Scholars and all the while forsaking the faith and teachings of our ancestors.

The basis of these objections are ironic to say the least. Two generic misnomers are made already at this junction. It is absurd to assume all African Americans have the same ancestry and even more absurd to assume those ancestors accepted the same worldviews as a whole. There are thousands of beliefs in ancient and modern Africa. Also, just because our ancestors believed it doesn't necessarily make it true. We know this reality all too well. Opening an umbrella under the roof doesn't guarantee any misfortune, putting your purse on the floor won't make you broke, and getting your clothes wet while you wash dishes doesn't guarantee you will marry a drunk. All superstition and jokes aside, our ancestors have been correct in some areas and incorrect in others.  We must be able to evaluate their claims against truth and do it with love. On the other hand, I believe there are three substantial points to be made against those who don't warrant the quoting of white theologians in dialogue or who request black scholars as puppeteer citations. 

 

Truth is truth regardless of whom it comes from

To say something is false simply based on the source is a logical fallacy. Specifically, the proper term is a genetic fallacy. That is a false logical conclusion that diminishes the truth of a statement based solely on its origins or history. These simplistic conclusions rarely determine the truth claim based on the merits of the claim itself. For example, a student is taught basic arithmetic in a school under a vicious dictatorship. Does that student have a warrant to then say 2 + 2 is not equal to 4? Of course not! Although suspicion would be warranted the truth claim itself must be evaluated on its own terms as well. As logical human beings we can condemn the vicious character of a teacher and still evaluate their teachings on the basis of truth. Yes, we should be cautious and hesitant to promote such teachers. But if they said anything true we should acknowledge it was true instead of delegitimizing those valid statements. Such is the case when consulting the written work of white theologians.  Facts are facts, regardless of their skin color.      

 

Requesting books by African American theologians of the past ignores the reality of educational oppression

When Black cultist or extreme pan-Africanist beg for books by African American theologians & scholars from the past to prove or disprove Christianity in the written form they often project the standards of privilege that ignores the educational oppression we faced. Due to these harsh realities, we have very few people of color in all of the major academic disciplines that have written extensively in our country. We lack people of color historically laying the foundation for modern physics in America yet I rest assure we still board airplanes that utilize such knowledge from "suspect" sources. Specifically concerning radical black liberation theologians I am especially confounded. They castigate "conservative" African American preachers for quoting white evangelicals. However, they too have hypocritically built their theologies on the backs of German liberals and neo-Orthodox theologians such as Karl Barth. 

These objections are sad because with it, many lose sight of the primary means intellectual and theological contributions have been made to God’s Kingdom. Black cult leaders & pan-Africanist often presuppose that such contributions do not exist from these traditions because they have not come through the vehicles often accepted within the prominent presentations of books. As a result, black cult leaders and pan-Africanist subversively acknowledge academic voices as more legitimate. Again, not realizing they are espousing a standard of privilege that should be challenged and critiqued itself. By doing so, the theological contributions of John Jasper, Lemuel Haynes, Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, & Phyllis Wheatley are not evaluated, quoted, or adopted. One must realize that the primary theological and apologetic vehicles in our recent past were the sermons, narratives, and spirituals. Due to other systematic obstacles and cultural manifestations, the sermon was the book, lecture, and scholarly article for the African American tradition. The spirituals were the canon of beliefs and relief. The narratives were the autobiographies of our spiritual heroes. That does not make the robust content found in these sermons, spirituals, or narratives any less helpful to our apologetic agenda. Our souls would be blessed to resurrect the intellectual power found in these homiletical gems, doctrinal melodies, and poetic narratives.  Brothers and sisters of brown and black hue should gladly accept them as historical evidence that we too have been believers. 

 

The formation of traditional Christian Theology is indebted to African Scholars

The prominent Christians of antiquity were in fact people of color. To simply make my point I will utilize two major pillars in Christian theology. Augustine of Hippo was an "African" bishop that articulated original sin, the bondage of our wills, and Christ's atoning death. That's before Muhammed & Islam hit Africa. That's before the Middle Ages and Medieval thought. In the essentials of the Christian faith, an African Bishop was the most influential theologian; perhaps the most influential outside of the Bible. In essence, much of traditional Christian theology is the product of African thought. Another African contributor that truly shaped the doctrine of Christianity was Athanasius. Through his zeal and intellectual capabilities Christians formally formulated the doctrine of the Trinity. His writings also demonstrate the circulation of New Testament writings in the early church. Though there are more examples, these two figures are more than enough to demonstrate that Christianity is deeply indebted to Africa. 

Some object that paintings of these writers are white so how could they be African? Regardless of the inaccurate paintings you have seen, many Christian church fathers were African. Remember, the paintings we often see are portraits not photographs. These portraits often came centuries later in other context. Therefore, we cannot discount Augustine or Athanasius though those painters erroneously depict their ethnicity. A modern day example would be the depiction of ancient Egyptians by only white actors in Hollywood films. We know that to be historically inaccurate but we don't write off the brilliance of our Egyptian ancestors, devalue their contributions, or white wash their ethnicity. 

 

Finally, consider this:

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” Isaiah 40:8 ESV

We are faced with many different “winds of doctrine”. Many have disputed Christianity and it’s place in the black community, nonetheless the one source that remains to be true and unchanged is God’s Word.  That being said, the Bible is the only source that has the final say on any matter.  Without the Bible we do not have sufficient authority to determine truth. We need divine inspiration, a supernatural absolute personality to clearly communicate truth and hold us accountable. Without this, we are left with autonomous reason that cannot adequately answer authoritatively nor explore options exhaustively. Instead of relying on quotes from people we trust or distrust due to color or ancestry we should indeed align all statements up to the ultimate standard: God's Word. We must do that utilizing proper context while understanding the grammar and historical background of the text. Let every person we quote align himself or herself with the Book. 

 

For God's Glory, 

Cam Triggs

 

 


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Cam Triggs loves Jesus. God saved Cam from wrath, sin, death, and Satan in 2005. He began studies at University of Central Florida as a Religious Studies major & continued his education at Reformed Theological Seminary where he earned a Masters of Arts in Theological Studies. During his time at RTS, Cam was privileged to study under the apologist John Frame. In the future,  he looks forward to further study in the areas of philosophy, theology, and African American studies. He now enjoys loving God & loving students at Shiloh Church. More importantly, he is married to his beautiful best friend Tymara Triggs and the proud father of Cameron Triggs II. Stay connected with him at camtriggs.com.