Summer Special: The Gospel in Color — A Theology of Racial Reconciliation for Families (w/ Jarvis Williams)

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Host: Isaac Adams

Guest: Jarvis Williams

Overview: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:10-12)

In this Summer Special, Isaac Adams sits with Jarvis Williams, professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The brothers discuss Dr. Williams’ latest work for children and families, “The Gospel in Color — A Theology of Racial Reconciliation for Families.” 

As the song goes, “Jesus loves the little children—red and yellow, black, and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” What do the truths of this hymn mean for us as Christians and Christian parents? What is race, racism, and racial reconciliation, and how does the gospel intersect with these issues? These are the questions Jarvis and Isaac tackle. Other questions include: 

  • Is the Christian perspective on these matters to ignore racial difference?

  • How can anti-racist work be gospel work?

  • What does forgiveness look like in this conversation?

  • Why does prayer matter in this conversation?

  • What is whiteness? What is blackness?

  • Why is there something particularly redemptive about an *African-American* man teaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary?

Jarvis goes on to share what it’s like to be a parent of color and a Christian. At a Christian School, Jarvis’ son was told by a classmate that he was stupid because his skin was brown. Jarvis went on to teach his son why his skin color shouldn’t be an object of shame, and why God loves his brown skin. 

There are more reasons to talk about race with our children. Three Jarvis and his co-author, Curtis Woods, lay out are: 

  1. Current racial divisions

  2. Colorblindness isn’t a solution, and it inadvertently perpetuates the racism it seeks to avoid

  3. Race is a systemic problem

Join Isaac and Jarvis for prayer, and check out this latest resource for parents and their children. 

Links & Show Notes:

1. Book: “Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1975” by Carolyn Renée Dupont 

2. Book: “Doctrine and Race: African American Evangelicals and Fundamentalism between the Wars” by Mary Beth Mathews

3. Book: “One New Man: The Cross and Racial Reconciliation” by Jarvis Williams

4. Buy the books here: https://shop.wearepatrol.com/collections/tgic

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Recorded and produced by Karl Magnuson
Graphic design by
Rob Alvey

0208 - Season 2 Finale: Pray Without What?

Hosts: Isaac Adams & Trillia Newbell

Overview: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

In the Season 2 Finale, Trillia and Isaac reflect upon God’s grace throughout another season of United? We Pray. They reflect upon 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 — “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This verse becomes the summer, if not lifetime, homework for listeners of U?WP. 

During this episode, Trillia and Isaac reflect on how prayer is an indispensable balm for wounds that are centuries old. They look back at past episodes, remembering that “racial reconciliation is a lifestyle, not an event.” Racial reconciliation is not a problem merely to be fixed and done away with; it’s an aim to love and enjoy one another and praise God for the different people he has made and united in Christ. Given these truths, “we will continue to pray until we’re face to face with God,” as Trillia reminded us, because there is always work to be done. 

Join Trillia and Isaac as they encourage anyone pursuing racial reconciliation to endure, rejoice, and pray without ceasing. 

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Recorded and produced by Karl Magnuson
Graphic design by
Rob Alvey

0207 - What About The Other “Other”? More Than A Black/White Conversation (w/ Duke Kwon)

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Hosts: Isaac Adams & Trillia Newbell

Guest: Duke Kwon

Overview: “The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11)

Should our conversations about race and the church only be black and white? What is lost if we don’t have a wider conversation, and what is gained from having a broader conversation that includes those of other ethnicities? 

Korean-American pastor Duke Kwon joins Trillia Newbell and Isaac Adams to discuss his experience as the other “other.” What is it like to be considered different than the norm? How has the model minority myth factored into the race conversation even in the church—and what is that myth? 

Kwon explains how different experiences can be even within certain cultures. Cambodians experience life differently than Vietnamese, and these experiences can be very different than that of Koreans. And yet, in Christ, we are one — how can we live out that unity? Kwon explains what pushes back against that unity and why many Asian-Americans will take about being perpetually foreign. 

“No matter how long you’ve been here,” Kwon said,  “You’re always seen as different and foreign. People are always asking you where you’re from, and it leads to an ongoing sense of marginalization. It’s a subtle thing, but very impactful: When you get asked ‘Where are you from?’ your entire life, again and again, you start to internalize this message: I must not belong. I must not be from here. I must not be seen as a true neighbor.” 

Join Isaac, Trillia, and Duke as they discuss how Asian-Americans have been used as a foil for black people and how understanding what it means to be black and white in this country informs what it means to be Asian in this country. 

“If we’re going to unravel this crazy, broken, sometimes sinful knot that is what it means to be a racial person in this country, we need to get to the heart of the black/white struggle,” Kwon said. He continued to discuss why it is that people draw from other resources besides Scripture in this conversation, and why that leads to defensiveness. Yet it also presents an opportunity to the American church to mix up their conversation and biblically inform it so that conversations about race are a part of faithful, biblical discipleship. 

Links & Show Notes:

1. Article: “Why Asian Americans Struggle to Feel at Home in White-Majority Churches” by Steve Chang

2. Article: “Being Asian American in a White Church” by Tim Chiang

3. Academic Article: “The History of the Idea of Race…and Why It Matters” by Audrey Smedley

4. Book: “White Awake: An Honest Look at What it Means to Be White” by Daniel Hill

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Recorded and produced by Karl Magnuson
Graphic design by
Rob Alvey

0206 - How Can I Help My Pastor In A Time of Racial Suspicion? (w/ Miguel Davilla)

Hosts: Isaac Adams & Trillia Newbell

Guest: Miguel Davilla

Overview: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

How can lay church members help their pastors in times of racial suspicion? What is racial suspicion? Trillia Newbell and Isaac Adams sit with pastor Miguel Davilla to discuss the posture church members can have to serve, love, and encourage their pastors in times of racial division. Join them for the conversation with each other and their prayers to God. 

In this conversation, Miguel talks about what it’s like to pastor a church in a divided country. What are resources that pastors wish they had? How did the racial conversation get to where it’s at? Why are racial issues more prevalent today than they were five years ago? What’s a way forward in a way that we would all shake our head yes to? 

The answers to these questions are complex, and pastors don’t have all the answers. “We’re imperfect men called to an impossible task,” Miguel says. Part of that task is loving people who might disagree with each other and/or with their pastors. “All brothers and sisters in Christ are all coming to the race conversation at different stages—it’s as though we’re all boarding the train at different stations but assuming we all boarded the train at the same time.” 

And yet, how do people aboard this train love their pastor? Miguel answers: “Loving your pastor in a time of racial suspicion is about the posture we have — where there’s not this suspiciousness that says, ‘I’ve already created a judgment about where you stand, and now I want you to prove me wrong  vs. I’m assuming you’re on the most God-centered view as possible, and I’m hoping you don’t prove me wrong.”  

Join Trillia, Isaac, and Miguel as they pray for pastors in the trenches of racial division. Most importantly, we pray this episode encourages you to pray for your own congregation. Grace & peace. 

Links & Show Notes:

1. The Whole in Our Holiness Ligon Duncan's message from T4G 2018 Isaac mentioned at the top of the episode (homework assignment!)

2. A Quiet Exodus: Why Black Worshipers Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Recorded and produced by Karl Magnuson
Graphic design by
Rob Alvey

0205 - Stopping By Ephesus: Reflections 50 Years After MLK Jr.’s Assassination (w/ John Perkins)

Host: Isaac Adams

Guest: John Perkins

Overview: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) 

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. Fifty years later to the day, Isaac Adams sat with Dr. John Perkins, an 87-year-old civil rights activist, a few blocks from where Dr. King was killed.  There, Isaac heard Perkins’ reflections on race and the church in light of his work and MLK Jr.’s legacy. 

Originally, Isaac and John were supposed to record on April 3, 2018. Dr. Perkins noted how he saw God’s sovereignty in the fact that they wound up recording on April 4 — 50 years to the day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. 

And Dr. Perkins was right. 

Reflecting on Emmett Till, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Perkins talks about how he was teaching in a rural school when he heard MLK Jr. was killed. He speaks of the vanishing of hope on that day, a “horrible moment in the history of the world.” Dr. Perkins continued to meditate on how necessary prayer is in the work of racial reconciliation. We pray because “the problems are greater than the resources.” 

If you want to hear how suffering can be redemptive; if you want to hear how God used Perkins’ son to bring about his conversion; if you want to hear this titan of justice and advocacy pray for the church, then this is the episode for you. In this episode, Dr. Perkins seeks to put the gospel at the center of the conversation. Respectfully rebutting prosperity theology, Perkins makes clear that repentance is necessary for everyone because “sin, in its final analysis, is against God.” 

At the end of this episode, Dr. Perkins likens his life, which he readily admits is coming to a close, to Paul’s parting words in Acts 20. Perkins has done what we could with what God gave him. He has served his generation. He was grateful to come another 50 years since MLK Jr. was killed. Though things have changed a lot, and many things have not changed, Dr. Perkins would say goodbye this way: 

“You probably won’t see my face no more. I’m saying goodbye like Paul to the church at Ephesus…but it’s sort of joyful.” 

Links & Show Notes:

1. The Final Call of John Perkins A wonderful profile of John Perkins life, written by Sarah Zylstra. 

2. John Perkins Has Hope for Racial Reconciliation. Do We? A review of “One Blood” by Pastor Duke Kwon 

3. One Blood John Perkins’ parting words to the church on race. There is an entire chapter devoted to prayer in this work, “the weapon of our warfare.”

4. Dream With Me John Perkins’ latest memoir. 

5. Let Justice Roll Down John Perkins first book. 

6. The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues) Switchfoot wrote this song in honor of Dr. Perkins. He speaks about it in the beginning of his memoir, Dream With Me. This is the song played at the end of the episode. 

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Recorded and produced by Karl Magnuson
Graphic design by
Rob Alvey

0204 - 20 Years Later: Why Are Evangelicals (Still) Divided by Faith? (w/ Michael Emerson)

Hosts: Isaac Adams & Trillia Newbell

Guest: Michael Emerson

Overview: "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." (James 1:19)

In this episode, Trillia Newbell and Isaac Adams talk with Michael Emerson, one of the authors of the seminal work, Divided by Faith. Published nearly 20 years ago, Divided by Faith examines evangelicals and the problem of race from a sociological perspective. 

What personal and professional experiences led Dr. Emerson to write Divided by Faith? Why did he seek to live in a community where he was in the racial minority and send his kids to school where they're in the racial minority?  Dr. Emerson speaks to systemic and individual solutions to racial inequalities while providing both a warning and a word of hope to evangelicals today.  

Having done thousands of interviews about this topic, Dr. Emerson encourages us to remember that "one of the ways we can addresses our history of racial division and inequality is to come together in our churches: to worship, to share leadership, to give voices to one another. If we can do this in authentic, biblical ways, it will make a profound difference." What do those authentic, biblical ways look like? Join us in this episode. 

Links & Show Notes:

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Recorded and produced by Karl Magnuson
Graphic design by
Rob Alvey

0203 - Colorblindness: What If I Don’t See You As My Black Friend?

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Hosts: Isaac Adams & Trillia Newbell

Overview: "After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands." (Revelation 7:9)

Colorblindness is the theory that if we ignore race, then racial problems will eventually cease. Is this term and theory helpful or unhelpful. Why or why not? How is it present in our culture, and how is it present in our churches? Join Isaac Adams and Trillia Newbell as they discuss colorblindness and why the idea keeps appearing in Christian conversations about race? 

In this conversation, Trillia and Isaac discuss how colorblindness has been embedded in popular culture and why it leads some folks to say things like, “I don’t see you as my black friend; I just see you as my friend.” A phrase like this might be said with the best of intentions to love that other person, but may ultimately reflect a zeal not according to knowledge. 

Being colorblind prevents us from being able to fully weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. One of the glorious aspects of God is that he has made us to depict his beauty, and no one person or ethnicity can do that fully. Instead, we can celebrate and embrace our diversity as a part of God’s good idea and design. Praise God, and enjoy this episode! 

Links & Show Notes:

1. Galatians 3:28 Does NOT Encourage Color-blind Christianity! by Jarvis Williams

2. 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t be Colorblind by Trillia Newbell

3. Don’t Be Colorblind at Church by Isaac Adams

4. I Don’t See You as a Black Friend by Garrett Kell

5. Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland. Cleveland has a section, “Should We All Be Colorblind?” starting on p. 186.

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Recorded and produced by Karl Magnuson
Graphic design by
Rob Alvey

0202 - What’s The Goal Of Racial Reconciliation?

Hosts: Isaac Adams & Trillia Newbell

Overview: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” (Romans 13:9)

In this episode, Trillia and Isaac talk and pray about the goal of racial reconciliation. Why is it helpful or unhelpful? What isn’t the goal of racial reconciliation? Join us in prayer. And as you do, consider what we suggest the goal of reconciliation is:

NOT THIS: We begin this episode by focusing on the fact that the goal of reconciliation is not merely appeasing minorities or showing off apparent diversity like a college brochure would. As Dr. Jarvis Williams suggests, “Many Christians equate racial diversity with racial reconciliation, so they conclude that if diversity is present than reconciliation is as well.” There’s an important implication of this point: it means that reconciliation can hardly have a metric put on it. It’s messy, it’s relational, and people know when you’re faking it. Instead of a quick, one-time fix, reconciliation is al lifestyle, not an event as civil rights activist John Perkins said. 

BUT THAT: What do we mean, then, by reconciliation? We mean genuine love for the “other” — a 1 Corinthians 13 love that sparks Philippians 2 service. A love that transforms the conversation and the pursuit of one another. 

Links & Show Notes:

1. Matt Hall’s United? We Pray Episode Season 1 episode referenced in the episode!

2. One New Man Book by Dr. Jarvis Williams

3. Divided by Faith Book by Michael Emmerson and Christian Smith, which contains a review 

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Recorded and produced by Karl Magnuson
Graphic design by
Rob Alvey

0201 - Interracial Marriages: One Flesh but Two Families? (w/ SharDavia Walker)

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Hosts: Isaac Adams & Trillia Newbell

Guest: SharDavia Walker

Overview: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:9)

In the opening to season two, Trillia Newbell and Isaac Adams talk and pray with SharDavia Walker about interracial marriages—the beauty of them and the difficulty of them in and outside the church. How do you humbly and honestly navigate conversations with family who don’t approve of interracial relationships? Does the Bible speak about interracial marriages? How does the message of the gospel apply to this conversation? 

Facing different forms of awkwardness, difficulty, and outright opposition—from humorous things to horrible things—Isaac, Trillia, and Shar reflect on God’s faithfulness to them as those who are in interracial marriages. Regarding difficulties, Shar spoke wonderfully to the need for compassion and humility, especially in a way that reminded us of Francis Grimké, the brother who inspired this podcast. In 1898, Francis said: “Let us meet in our places of worship, and there…devoutly pray to Almighty God: First, that if it is our fault that the hearts of our fellow countrymen are so cruelly turned against us, he will show us the evil, and give us the wisdom to remove it.”

In other words, as we seek to be honest with others and call for repentance, let us also do the same in our own lives. May God grant us humility and honesty as we pursue unity and pray for it. 

Links & Show Notes:

Note: Due to the sensitive nature of this conversation, please be aware that as stories are recounted at the 8 minute mark, the n-word is used. You can read more about the context surrounding that sad story here: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/mizzou-and-a-more-excellent-way/

1. Mark Dever’s Sermon Introduction In a sermon following the 2016 Presidential Election, Mark Dever shares a testimony about a friend of his who met opposition when pursuing a white sister.

2. Our Interracial Marriage and the Gospel A video testimony of Trillia Newbell’s interracial marriage. 

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Recorded and produced by Karl Magnuson
Graphic design by
Rob Alvey

0200 - So, We’re Still Praying?

Overview: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12b)

Taking racial struggles to the throne, United? We Pray is a podcast that calls for prayer about racial divisions in churches. With all that could be said about race and the church, why have a podcast on prayer? Here are four reasons: 

  1. The Bible commands prayer.

  2. Church History commends prayer.

  3. Pastors know about prayer.

  4. Christians agree on prayer.

And so we pray. We’d love for you to join us for this second season as we approach the throne of grace—will you?

Links & Show Notes:

1. Francis Grimké Sermon Series "The Negro His Rights and Wrongs, The Forces For Him and Against Him"

2. Trillia Newbell’s Call to Prayer Blog Post

3. Isaac Adams’ Four Reasons for United? We Pray

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Recorded and produced by Karl Magnuson
Graphic design by
Rob Alvey