urban apologetics

Kongolese Christianity in the Americas of the 17th and 18th Centuries

By: Dr. David Daniels

 Since the shape and contour of Kongolese Christianity in Africa is a contested topic within the study of Christian history, its presence within the Americas is even more controversial within academic circles. This paper strives to outline the ways that scholarly proponents of Kongolese Christianity as a religious movement indicate how it exhibited itself in the Americas. This paper contends that Kongolese Christianity was a discernible current within the stream of early diasporic African Christianity in the Americas by building upon the work of scholars who explore the presence of the Kongolese and Kongolese Christianity in the Americas: John K. Thornton, Linda M. Heywood, Jason R. Young, Jane G. Landers, Michael A. Gomez, Elizabeth W. Kiddy, James H. Sweet and Karen Wanjiru Ngonya.1 With a focus on intercontinental linkages between Africa and South America as well as North America, this paper strives to veer away from the debate about africanism and African retentions. Rather, the discussion focuses the contributions of Kongolese and Angolan practicing Christians along with their nominal Christian counterparts as well as non-Christian Central Africans. For all these populations, they recognized Christianity as a religion that had Kongolese and Angolan adherents. These three populations participated in varying ways in creating a religious climate in the Americas that was conducive to enslaved Africans embracing Christianity. For the latter category, while Christianity was not their religion, it existed within the Central African religious orbit in which they operate. While this paper resist identifying Kongolese Christianity solely in terms of a set of doctrines, practices, or institutions, there will be a discussion of the role of institutions such as confraternities and practices such as “the ring shout.” The discussions of these elements are only meant to point towards the existence of a Kongolese Christianity as a religious arc or thrust.Rather than enter a debate about the location of these elements on a continuum of Christian expressions, a contention of this paper is how Kongolese and Angolans identified themselves as Christians. In this paper, it will be argued that Kongolese Christianity was a contributing factor in the emergence and development of Christianity among people of African descent throughout various communities within the Americas during the 17th  and 18th  centuries.

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David D. Daniels III joined the faculty of McCormick Theological Seminary in 1987 and was inaugurated Professor of Church History in 2003.

David received the Bachelor of Arts from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, in 1976, majoring in religion and economics. In 1979 he obtained the Master of Divinity from Yale University. During his years at Yale, he was a Benjamin E. Mays Fellow for the Fund for Theological Education. David earned a Ph.D. in Church History from Union Theological Seminary in New York in May, 1992. From 1979 to 1983 he was instructor of Religion at the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH.

David has been a member of the American Academy of Religion since 1989, the Society for the Study of Black Religion since 1993 and the Society for Pentecostal Studies since 1979. He is a member of the steering committee of the Evangelical Theology Group and Afro-American History Group of the American Academy of Religion. He is a member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and Pentecostal International Dialogue. He has served as commissioner for the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches U.S. A. for the 1988-91 quadrennium and has participated on consultations sponsored by the National council of Churches in the United States and the World Council of Churches in united States and Costa Rica.

He is author of various articles on the history of Christianity and book reviews published in Theological Education in Pneuma, Christianity Century, Encyclopedia of African American Religions, and A Sourcebook for the Community of Religions. David also served as an advisor to Legacy of A Leader, a 1991 video documentary on Charles Harrison Mason. He serves on the editorial committee of a new history of World Christianity project funded by Orbis Press.

David serves as a member of various research projects: Religion in Urban America
directed by Dr. Lowell Livezey and the Funding of Black Churches project directed Dr. Thomas Hoyt. He has served as a member of the Lay formation and Education Project directed by Dr. Dorothy Bass and the Wesleyan/Holiness project directed by William Faupel. He has served on the advisory committee of Contextualized Urban Theological Education Enablement Program directed by Dr. Edith Blumhofer.

David has lectured at various colleges and seminaries in the United States, including Northern Illinois University, Alma College, Adrian College, North Park University, Butler university, Lewis University, and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He has also lectured at the Bossey Institute in Switzerland, the Spiritan International School of Theology in Attakwu, Enugu, Nigeria, the Cheikh A. Diop University of Dakar, Dakar, Senegal, and Emmanuel College of Victoria University at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.

David has been an ordained minister in the Church of God in Christ since 1980. 

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


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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Courageous Conversations 2019

Nick Cannon and the Moors

In light of Nick Cannon's recent comments on the Breakfast Club, we decided to repost a blog by our friend and brother, DA Horton, on the Moors a.k.a The Moorish Science Temple.  

Watch Nick Cannon's comments below:

Overview of The Moorish Science Temple (The Moors)

By: DA Horton (Orginally posted on DAHorton.com)

The Founder: Timothy Drew, later known as Noble Drew Ali was born in North Carolina in 1886. Ali began to teach the ”Negroes” in America they are truly ”Asiatic”[1] with a lineage going back to the Moors who lived in Northwest and Southwest Africa before they were enslaved in North America. Ali taught his followers that Marcus Garvey his forerunner similar to what John the Baptist was to Jesus. In 1913, Ali founded the Canaanite Temple in Newark, New Jersey whose named served as an “indication that the so-called Negroes were of Asiatic origin from the Holy Land of Canaan”[2]. After a fractional break off in 1916, Ali moved changed the name of his movement to the “Holy Moabite Temple of the World” and in 1925 he moved his congregation from Newark to Chicago.[3] In 1926 Ali changed the name of his movement again to “Moorish Temple of Science” and in 1928 the organization reorganized under the name “Moorish Science Temple of America”[4]. In 1929 Ali passed away and shortly after at the 2ndAnnual National convention, controversy would over future leadership would split the movement in three ways.

The Followers: During Ali’s lifetime his movement grew to have over 30,000 followers with in New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Michigan, and Illinois.[5] Today there are roughly 400-600 Moors located in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.[6] Although these numbers seem low, the Moors recent and future growth has taken place due to their evangelism inside of America’s prisons.

The Focus: The overall goal of the Moorish Science Temple of America is to see divine salvation brought to their people. In 48:6-8 of the Circle Seven Koran, Ali declares they, his pure nation, does not desire to marry the pale skin nations of Europe, serve the gods of the Europeans, and are therefore, “returning the Church and Christianity back to the European Nations, as it was prepared by their forefathers for their earthly salvation.While we, the Moorish Americans are returning to Islam, which was founded by our forefathers for our earthly and divine salvation.” (48:6—8)

The Faith: The doctrine for the Moorish Science Temple derives from The Holy Koran of The Moorish Science Temple of America (also known as the Circle Seven Koran). It is said to have been written by Ali between 1913—1929.[7]

The Friction: In the very first verse of Chapter 1 titled, “The Creation and Fall of Man”, it is said that there was not a time when man didn’t exist because he is a “spirit and a part of Allah”. Ali arrives at this conclusion because he believes man is a thought of Allah and all of Allah’s thoughts are infinite, so man is then an infinite being. The Circle Seven Koran takes the liberty of quoting Jesus supporting the worship of Allah and even going as far to say all people worship Allah even though He is said to be Zeus, Thoth, Yahweh, and Parabrahm to some yet, is the same being.[8]

The Moorish doctrine of salvation is one the proclaims the forgiveness of sins through ceremonial washing and the “purity of life” (4:18). In 4:19—28 the narrative expresses the fact that as the body is being washed, it is symbolizing the soul’s cleansing. Chapter 7:27 records Jesus’ describing salvation as; “Salvation is a ladder reaching from the heart of man to heart of Allah.” the Circle Seven Koran teaches that in 7:24 heaven and hell are not above or below, because Allah never created a heaven or hell to put man in, man does this to himself (12:9). What this teaching is saying is that heaven and hell are here on this side of eternity. The struggles and pain we have on this side of eternity are hell while heaven is defined as, when one is filled with peace and joy after they have toiled (12:6). To reinforce this teaching, Ali quotes Jesus in 12:8 saying “heaven is a state of mind”.


D.A. Horton serves as Pastor of Reach Fellowship a church plant in North Long Beach, CA & as Chief Evangelist for the Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI). Prior to his current roles he served as an urban church planter/pastor in Kansas City, MO, a National Coordinator of Urban Student Ministries at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the Executive Director at ReachLife Ministries, the non-profit ministry of Reach Records.

He earned his B.S. in Biblical Studies from Calvary Bible College, his Masters Degree in Christian Studies from Calvary Theological Seminary and is currently working on his Ph.D. in Applied Theology with a North American Missions emphasis at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

He has authored three books; G.O.S.P.E.L.DNA: Foundations of the Faith (published through Moody Publishers) and Bound to Be Free: Escaping Performance to be Captured by Grace, (published through NavPress). He and his wife of 13 years Elicia are co-authoring a book on marriage. D.A. and Elicia have two daughters, Izabelle and Lola and one son, D.A. Jr. (aka Duce).

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




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.


By: Ernest Grant (Article Orginally Posted at iamernestgrant.com)

When the Academy of Motion Picture and Science announced early this year that only white actors and actresses were among those selected to be chosen for an academy award for the second year in a row, it ignited a firestorm.

It resulted in the resurgence of the social mediahashtag #OscarsSoWhite and raised a bevy of concerns about the lack of diversity in motion pictures.[1]

“Whitewashing” is the purposeful exclusion of ethnic minorities in mainstream leading roles, leaving them only to play supporting or villainous ones. It goes back as far as Elizabeth Taylor playing the role of Cleopatra in the 1960s, and sadly, over a half-century later, whites are still cast into minority roles.

It’s a shameful depiction and representation of people of color that exposes the underlying racial prejudice of Hollywood, and in the words of Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, it feeds into the perception that “black people just don’t quite measure up.”

It’s Crept into the Church as Well

Sadly, however, the practice of whitewashing has subtly crept into Christianity. Whitewashing Christianity occurs institutionally and structurally when the contributions of the African Diaspora to theology, ethics, and culture are largely ignored, and the influence of people groups of European descent are accentuated.

It demonstrates the implicit cultural and historical bias within conservative Evangelical communities and bolsters the notion that people of color will remain unequal to our white counterparts, regardless of our credentialing or accomplishment[2]

Maybe you are curious about the whitewashing of evangelicalism or are suspicious about its existence. If so, here are three areas where we see such whitewashing in the evangelical community.

1) Conservative Evangelicals Tend to be More Informed about European Participation in the History of Christianity than we are of African Involvement.

As one noted scholar stated so eloquently, the prominent distinguishing factor of African-Americans is the history of social, economic and political oppression that they have experienced based upon color discrimination.[3]

Such oppression has lead to systemic and institutional racism, violence, and discrimination, but it’s also contributed to the widespread ignorance of the African-Americas influence in this country.

It can be equally true within evangelical circles because many of my white brothers and sisters are largely ignorant of the Christian communities that thrived in Africa following Christianity’s inceptions.

North Africa

In North Africa, Christianity spread more broadly and more quickly than other parts of the Roman Empire, and as one scholar noted, it was through Africa that Christianity became the religion of the world.[4] It’s credited with nearly half of the most prominent church leaders in the first few centuries, and a fair number of them were fairly dark in complexion. The Gospel found one of its surest homes until it grew weaker because of internal doctrinal schisms and Islamic conquests sweeping the region.


A little further south in Nubia, Christianity continued to grow rapidly in the region and archeologist discovered that his splendor was similar to Rome. The first non-Jewish Christian in the New Testament, The Ethiopian Eunuch, who came to faith in Acts 8, was a high-ranking member of Queen Candace’s court, represented the ancient Nubian civilization.

It continued to flourish into the 300s and 400s and became a predominately Christian nation, when it’s ruler, who practiced human sacrifices at the time, converted to Christianity in the 400s.

Nubians accepted Christianity without the sway of Roman influence and clung to it tenaciously despite organizational weakness and Islamic conquest in most of North Africa. It would eventually succumb, but it was a brilliant Christian civilization that remained largely forgotten until archeologist discovered it’s remarkable accomplishments in the second half of the 21st century.[5]


Abyssinia, or Ethiopia, in East Africa, holds a very significant place in Christian history. Christianity became the religion of Ethiopia around the same time that it became the state religion of Rome. It accepted the same doctrines of North Africa while formally recognizing the Councils of Nicea (325 A.D.), Constantinople (381 A.D.), and Ephesus (431 A.D.). Ethiopia may have been the most open and ready nation in which Christianity has ever taken root. When Islam began to spread, it was Ethiopia that fought for the rights of oppressed Christians in foreign lands and it’s the first Sub-Sahara nation to accept Christianity.[6]

We cannot become a victim of European historiography that exclusively acknowledges its own cultural and historical contributions, then assumes that the resulting ethnocentric position represents the only history worth engaging. Such philosophy only reinforces the false assumption that our history is substandard to other cultures in general, but to the dominant culture in particular.

2) Whitewashing has Crept into the Ivory Towers of Many Conservative Evangelical Seminary

Minority students in conservative evangelical seminaries have unwittingly experienced the effects of this phenomenon, as well. While being educated in some of our schools, minorities will study the Apostolic Fathers, Ante-Nicene Writers, The Medieval Church, Scholasticism, the Reformation, the Enlightenment Church, Modern & Post-Modern Churches, but have little to no working knowledge of African-American history, especially key periods and social movements in African-American Religious History.

They have no working knowledge of the history of Christianity in Africa (i.e. North Africa, Nubia, Abyssinia, etc.), the African-American Church, the Reconstruction period, The Great Migration, the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of Black Nationalism, nor have they read any books by contemporary African-American authors. Because of this many graduates and find themselves largely unequipped to minister in minority context because they lack a socio-historical lens to pastor people of color.

What’s even more unnerving is the growing number of African-Americans, especially in Reformed circles, who will not listen to sermons by black pastors unless they’ve received a stamp of approval from an evangelical Christian leader, blogged for TGC, are a part of Acts29 or the Southern Baptist Conference, or have preached in the reformed conference circuit. It’s saddening.

3) Whitewashing Implies that Being a Christian Means Assimilating into the Dominant Culture.

At times, many White Americans assume that “being Christian” means assuming into the values and norms of the majority context, and some of the same members object when ethnic minorities seek to learn more about their heritage and focus much of their effort on the betterment of their own people.

As lovers of Jesus who are unified by his atoning work, we cannot define unity in terms that suppress rather than welcomes brothers and sisters discovering our cultural heritage.  As Christians, when we recognize the credence of other ethnicities and the value of their distinctive customs, lifestyles, dress, food preference, and particularly their economic and political beliefs it causes us to appreciate God using them as agents of gospel witnesses in their communities.

At times when minorities assimilate into the dominant culture and dismiss their cultural heritage, it leaves them unable to culturally connect and find solidarity with marginalized communities.


There’s much that we can talk about regarding this subject. Instead of whitewashing, let’s give credence to the contributions of minority cultures to Christianity and western civilization as a whole, and reverse the effects of whitewashing by affirming Paul’s great call for racial, social, gender, and cultural equality (Gal. 3:28) in Christ Jesus.

Talk to you soon.

Grace and peace.



[3] IBN, 24


[5] Davidson, Basil. Africa in History: Themes and Outlines. New York: Collier, 1991. 102

[6] Hansberry, W. L., & Harris, J. E. (1974). Pillars in Ethiopian history. Washington: Howard University Press.


 Ernest Grant, II is an inner city missionary with a heart for the urban context. He’s served as the Connections Pastor at Epiphany Fellowship of Camden for the past 5 years, and his role focuses on community outreach, civic engagement, the assimilation of new converts & disenfranchised Christians into the life and mission of the church, and discovering new & innovative ways to reach people in his city for Jesus. He graduated with a degree in Earth Science from Kean University and worked at a large Environmental Investigation/Remediation firm before completing his Master’s at Reformed Theological Seminary (D.C). He’s currently pursuing his Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership at Richard Stockton University and is  privileged to be married to the love of his life, Sarah. The two have a beautiful baby girl named Amaela Folasade.


By: Vocab Malone of Urban Theologian Radio

Hebrew Israelite groups gather and proselytize in metropolitan areas. This group is usually made up of black and brown Americans who claim to be the true Israelites and that modern day Jews are impostors. Their presence in America has increased over the past decade. They have stepped up their efforts and are growing - both online and on the streets. This is a current cultural issue, especially in the urban community.

If you live in a major city and haven’t met a Hebrew Israelite yet, give it time – you will. Whether clad in camo or purple and gold, the Hebrew Israelites go where you go. Yelling, swearing, debating, pointing, and loudly pontificating; they go hard. They usually pick a favorite spot and post up every Saturday. In Phoenix, I’ve seen them at the light rail station, the State Fair, Super Bowl XLIX, Arizona State University and the Occupy Phoenix protests. They’ve even been known to storm in churches and disrupt services. 

Some think this group is obscure and irrelevant. Amar’e Stoudemire disagrees. The former Phoenix Sun and NBA star identifies as a Hebrew Israelite. When SB1070 (a controversial immigration bill) was the hot topic in Arizona, Stoudemire tweeted out his disagreement with the legislation. The reason? The “Latin community” is part of “the 12 tribes of Israel,” which is, “one nation under Yah.” Stoudemire is an executive producer of “Village of Peace”, a documentary about Chicago-based Hebrew Israelites moving to Israel in the 60’s. He’s applied for Israeli citizenship and is part owner of an Israeli basketball team. I could go on: St. Louis rapper Chingy of “Right Thurr” fame and Antoine Dodson of “Bed Intruder” fame both came out as Hebrew Israelites. Boyz II Men crooners Shawn Stockman and Wayna Morris claim this faith. Whitney Houston visited a Hebrew Israelite leader when she went to Israel. Hebrew Israelite influence outweighs their numbers.

If you run into a Hebrew Israelite, you’d be wise to know what they believe. Even though they often yell and curse, knowing something about their ideology can assist you in having a more productive dialogue.

10 Hebrew Israelite Beliefs

  1. Hebrew Israelites believe those whose ancestors were put in bondage during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade are the true descendants of Biblical Israel.
  2. Hebrew Israelites believe modern day Israelites and Europeanized Jews are impostors and not the real descendants of true Israel.
  3. Hebrew Israelites usually hold the King James Version of the Bible as authoritative. Some only hold to the Old Testament. Most hold to the Apocrypha as well.
  4. Hebrew Israelites believe the “time of the Gentiles” means “the time of the white Europeans”, whom they refer to as Edomites or Esau. They believe this time is almost over; America and its allies will soon be judged.
  5. Hebrew Israelites believe righteousness is achieved by law keeping. Strict Sabbath-keeping, dietary restrictions and a certain physical appearance is important (e.g., fringes and beards are good).
  6. Hebrew Israelites believe Jesus Christ (although they use a different name - “Yahshuah” - or some other name) was a black man.
  7. Many (not all) Hebrew Israelites believe “Edomites” (white people) can’t be saved. They are destined to be killed or slaves for Hebrew Israelites after the Messiah returns. Others believe “Gentiles” (non-Hebrew Israelites) can be grafted into the Kingdom if they keep the law and are under the authority of a Hebrew Israelite.
  8. Hebrew Israelites believe both heaven and hell are conditions – mere “states of mind”. Neither are viewed as metaphysical realities as they are in orthodox Christianity.
  9. Hebrew Israelites are usually part of the Sacred Name movement: they believe you must refer to God as “Yah” (or some other name). Their preference for God’s name usually depends on their individual sect (which they call “camp”).
  10. Hebrew Israelites believe by spreading their message they are gathering the scattered Israelites who do not yet know their true ancestry and heritage. In essence, their mission is to build a nation.

Five Common Practices/Characteristics

  1. On the street, Hebrew Israelites tend to be boisterous, belligerent and bold. They blurt, blare and bellow. If you engage a member on the street, be prepared for a noisy encounter. They often enjoy shouting obscenities at pedestrians and onlookers, especially those whom they deem to be morally repugnant (e.g., women wearing pants, black-and-white couples, etc.).
  2. Hebrew Israelites craft their own signage. Common images include politicians with devil horns, “white Jesus” portrayals, images of slavery (men with scarred backs, slave ship diagrams, etc.) and the all-important 12 Tribes of Israel genealogy chart. For example, the Tribe of Judah is said to be the ancestors of black Americans, Isaachar for Mexicans and Gad for Native Americans.
  3. Hebrew Israelites travel in groups. I’ve seen anywhere from three to a dozen congregate.
  4. Hebrew Israelites members love to carry tattered old Bibles. Their messages include heavy doses of Scripture. Usually, there is a primary speaker and then a Scripture reader. The speaker will shout a verse to the reader - “Give me that Deuteronomy 28!” – and then the reader yells it out – loudly.
  5. Most Hebrew Israelites will engage you – to a certain extent. If they view you as “having a demon” (a common accusation they make against opponents), they act dismissive and aggressive. If they see you as interested (but not too “talky”), they love the chance to lecture and even “cross-examine” you (“What does ADAM mean?” “What does Judah mean?”).

If you are a Christian, you should engage Hebrew Israelites when you see them. Why? They will benefit from well-informed brothers and sisters in Christ dropping knowledge. If you call yourself a Christian but don’t know your stuff, study up and come back – they eat the biblically ignorant alive!

Remember, it’s not just knowledge they need; the Hebrew Israelites need to see authentic love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control and patience. If you are going to converse with them, ask the Lord for a double-dose of the last one – patience.

If you know the Bible well and are quick on your feet, they may show some extra respect to you, but then again, they may become more irritated than usual – it all depends on the makeup of the group and the nature of the crowd. As you can imagine, engaging a Hebrew Israelite in this environment can be intimidating.

My main goal in this piece was to give the reader the basics about the Hebrew Israelites. It is not intended to be an all-out rebuttal; I’m writing more in the vein of “heads up, coming at you.” In the future, I’d love to tackle some of the truth claims Hebrew Israelite adherents make.

For more information about Black Hebrew Israelites, check out Vocab's interview with the Jude 3 Project below:

Vocab Malone is a Christian hip hop artist and slam poet as well as Pastor of Teaching and Outreach at Roosevelt Community Church. He obtained a Master’s Degree from Phoenix Seminary. Vocab is currently enrolled at Talbot School of Theology, working on a doctorate of ministry under philosophers Garrett DeWeese and JP Moreland. Vocab loves to geek out with his wife, Nicole. Together, they have four children who have been adopted.

Block Apologetics 101

By: Ernest Grant, II (Originally posted on www.iamernestgrant.com)

After waking up in the middle of the night to the signature high-pitched cries of my sweet daughter, I rolled out of bed to warm a bottle of milk and reached for my iPhone.  When my blurry sight cleared, I saw that I received a text message from a pastor at my church; it was a link to a recent interview by the hip-hop and social media phenom Kevin Gates.

His interviews always provide cultural insight. With over a million people following his Instagram account, he has a cult-like following that adhere to his words and rhymes like he’s a modern hip-hop prophet. So, after putting the baby to sleep, I popped in my headphones and listened to the controversial Baton Rogue rapper open up about his marriage, new album, and belief in God.

He was very upfront about his beliefs. It was a combination of Islamic and Christian thought laced with rawness and profanity. He believed that each religion served the same God and could be reduced to three principles: love God, love your neighbor, and love everyone around you. Because of his worldview, it wouldn’t be uncommon for him to pull the tour bus over to pray to the east, get religious tattoos, or be seen reading the Bible.

Before falling into an exhaustion-induced coma, I thought about how Gates’ philosophy of religion was not much different from the people that we encounter everyday in the inner city. He confirmed what inner-city missionaries have long known–many people in the urban context have complex, ever-evolving pluralistic religious worldviews. They combine different, often contradictory, spiritual elements and blend religious practices to form a personal pseudo-religion that suits their lifestyles and passions. It’s urban syncretism in its purest sense.

I probably shouldn’t be, but I’m always surprised by the number and variety of worldviews masquerading as truth, especially in our inner cities. So how is the Christian to engage the multiplicity of religious viewpoints? How do I combat heresy in a way that conveys God’s truth in a faithful manner? The answer is simple, but not easy. Be a block apologist! Drink deeply from the Scriptures, live dependently upon the Spirit, and contend for the faith with coherent responses to skeptics.

Here’s a crash course in what I like to call “Block Apologetics 101.”

Apologetics is “the art of explaining the faith in such a way as to make a reasoned defense against its detractors.” [1] It’s was originally used as a speech of defense in a courtroom as part of the judicial system, and a classic example of this is Paul’s verbal sparring match in the Areopagus (Acts 17). He observed, listened, reasoned, and disputed pluralistic claims of the philosophers.

With this in mind, I want to give you 3 helpful tidbits about being a Block Apologist in your context.

1) Develop a Robust Foundation

This may sound rudimentary, but it’s essential. Relieve yourself of the pressure to know everything about all of the convoluted worldviews in the inner city. You should definitely know about competing religious views, but you can accumulate your knowledge progressively. That’s one of the biggest pressures we face. Know the Gospel cold! Nail down key doctrines like the Trinity, deity of Christ, and defending the authority of Scripture, specifically the accurate transmission and translation of the Bible. This is your sure foundation! (Acts 18:28, Eph 2:20) Memorize some scriptures location and have a quick reference key in your bible with a list of go to verses. This will aid you in your engagement.

2) Don’t Be Afraid to “Catch an ‘L’”

Few things are more humbling than “catching an ‘L.’” You’re not always going to have the answer to obscure bible questions, and sometimes you’ll get tripped up while evangelizing. I was evangelizing once and a young lady flipped me like a pancake when I explained the Trinity. It was embarrassing, but it turned out to be one of the most fruitful experiences of my spiritual life. The Lord used the event to spark fervor for the study of the Scriptures. So, when you’re on the block and get stumped by some confusing line of reasoning, simply tell the person you want to do more research, grab their contact information, and reach out to them once you’ve studied more. God uses little experiences like this to build relational bridges and sanctify us.

3) Earnestly Desire the Salvation of the People You Engage

Finally, when I hit the block, I keep in mind that God has sent me as his witness. I’m not out there to win debates or be a theological bully. I’m there to display the excellence of Christ in my witness and to invite people into a relationship with Him. Every time I get on the street I ask God to help me earnestly desire the salvation of people. I believe that many of the people that He is drawing near to Himself are in those streets, and I want them to know the power of the atoning work of my Lord! I always pray through 2 Thessalonians. 3:1 “Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored.” I want the Word of God to be honored and I’m praying that he does the work before I hit the block.

What are some helpful ways you’ve sought to share Christ in your city?

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the section below.

Grace and peace!


[1] Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.


 Ernest Grant, II is an inner city missionary with a heart for the urban context. He’s served as the Connections Pastor at Epiphany Fellowship of Camden for the past 5 years, and his role focuses on community outreach, civic engagement, the assimilation of new converts & disenfranchised Christians into the life and mission of the church, and discovering new & innovative ways to reach people in his city for Jesus. He graduated with a degree in Earth Science from Kean University and worked at a large Environmental Investigation/Remediation firm before completing his Master’s at Reformed Theological Seminary (D.C). He’s currently pursuing his Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership at Richard Stockton University and is  privileged to be married to the love of his life, Sarah. The two have a beautiful baby girl named Amaela Folasade.

Urban and Black ARE NOT Synonymous

By: Lisa Fields

As I scroll through my social media timelines, I am constantly struck by the use of the word “urban” in the idea of black apologetic ministry. While urban is usually synonymous with major metropolitan cities, it seems to be taking on another meaning in the minds of many. Now instead of thinking of urban as metropolitan cities, it now seems to be synonymous with blacks in the inner city. This redefinition of urban seems to have infiltrated the minds of many evangelicals and has limited their scope in the area of apologetics. Now in the minds of some, urban apologetics is synonymous with black apologetics in the context of the inner city. As a person who has devoted my life to helping black people know what they believe and why they believe it, many people assume that my focus is limited to their idea of urban. That is not the case. It is of the utmost importance that we understand that urban and black aren’t synonymous.

The black church not only has a diversity of thought, but it also has diversity in its socioeconomic status. While many black churches are located in the inner city, many are not populated with those that have the same struggles as those in the inner city. Several black churches located in the inner city are populated with the black middle class. In the book Preaching to the Black Middle Class, Dr. Marvin McMickle explained, “The people inside and outside the black churches of inner city America may look like each other, but in terms of values, vocabulary, world-view, and a vision for the future, the socioeconomic factors that divide them are far more significant than the single racial identification that links them together.”[1] In other words, while our skin color may unite us, our experiences divide us.

The issues that plague the inner city are not always the same issues that plague the black middle class. Therefore, painting with a broad brush is very dangerous. Hence, we must have a holistic approach to apologetic ministry tailored to all black communities.  To effectively engage all black communities, I believe that there are three essential keys:

1.       Don’t assume.

Assumptions are deadly things. Assumptions allow our presuppositions to dictate our approach. Not every black person is wrestling with whether or not Christianity is the white man’s religion. Neither are they troubled by the racist history of evangelicalism. Many are more concerned with the problem of evil, authority of scripture, exclusivity of salvation, the doctrine of hell, etc.

2.       Listen.

Many times we try to answer questions people are not even asking. Remember we are all are complex. Many times we fall into the trap of viewing people through the lenses of statistics and media depictions and fail to actually listen and get to know them. I have discovered that often people’s issues with the Christian faith are related to deeper emotional experiences that we have not dealt with.

3.       Acknowledge.

Sometimes, we are too defensive when it comes to objections to our faith. It is important that we acknowledge that the questions and challenges that people have are valid.

If we approach every situation without assuming, listening intently, and making sure to acknowledge; we will be more effective at defending the faith. In order to effectively engage Black culture, we must always remember that there are subcultures within the community. Furthermore, to successfully contend for the faith, we must acknowledge the diversity within races in the faith.


[1] McMickle, Marvin Andrew. Preaching to the Black Middle Class: Words of Challenge, Words of Hope. Judson Press, 2000., 2

Lisa Fields graduated from the University of North Florida  with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Religious Studies and Liberty University with a Master of Divinity with a focus in Theology. She has spoken at evangelism, apologetic, and biblical literacy events at various universities and churches and is also the founder and President of the Jude 3 Project.