Is Christianity a white man’s religion? I recently read an article that a Facebook friend posted on line. The article was about a growing number of African Americans that are returning to native African religions in rejection of Christianity.
This caught my attention. I wanted to see what the arguments were for this shift away from classical Christianity and towards these other belief systems. As a convert myself, I am always interested in seeing the reasons others give for their conversions to another religion.
Why Do You Believe That?
Predictably, the reasons given were not well reasoned out. Two reasons in particular caught my eye. One was that “In 400 years, Jesus hasn’t saved us.” I think this is a profound misunderstanding of the Gospel. I will deal with first objection in a separate article.
The second reason given was one I’ve heard many times before. In the Christianity is a white man’s religion. It was used by the white slave holders to control the black slaves they took. So, what are we to make of this? Did white men teach slaves Christianity in order to control them?
Did Slave Holders Encourage Christianity?
In some cases, yes, they did. They were very keen for slave to learn verses of scripture that seemed to support slavery. Verses like Ephesians 6:5-9 were encouraged reading. But then, something predictable happened.
As the slaves read more of scripture, they began to notice that the way they were being treated did not jive with what the Bible taught. Many of them brought this to the attention of their masters. When this occurred, Bible reading was no longer encouraged. And this, I think, is critical.
You see, adherents of any belief system can abuse its teachings. There’s no shock in that. What’s important is to look at not how the followers of a religion may twist the teachings of its founder. The judge of a religion is what it actually teaches.
A quick look at scripture will lead one to exactly the same conclusion the slaves drew. That men and women are equal in all respects. No one has the right to mistreat another. We are all equal in our sin, and all in need of a savior.
But is Christianity a white man’s religion at its core? This seems ridiculous on the surface. After all, virtually all of people mentioned in the Bible, including Jesus, were middle eastern men. They were not white. And the Bible was written in the middle east in that culture. But to answer the question, we simply need to look a little further back in History.
As you can see from the map below, Christianity was thriving on the African continent early on in the movement. As early Christianity was taking root in the Mediterranean, it was also growing in Northern Africa as well.
In truth, Christianity was thriving in Africa over a thousand years before the Europeans began the abomination of the slave trade. It’s safe to say that Christianity was well entrenched in Northern Africa well before it ever reached the northern Europe.
The History Of Christianity In Africa
As it turns out, Africa produced some of the most influential Christian thinkers in history. Famed Christians such as Augustine of Hippo, Athanasius and Tertullian were all from Africa. The history of Christian thought would not be near as robust as it is now without their contributions.
So well before any Europeans were on the scene, Africans were already heavily invested in Christianity. The religion originated in the area, and much of its history took place on the African continent. It’s safe to say that while white men may have abused scripture for their own gains, the religion is in no way exclusively theirs.
Anyone interested in looking further into this can check out this comprehensive list of resources from the jude3project.
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