Saturday, October 19, 2013

*Oneness Embraced*

 Oneness Embraced: Through the Eyes of Tony Evans

First, I need to say that I feel silly even trying to write this review, because I simply do not know enough about what it has been like to be black in America throughout history to understand it rightly and to be able to talk about it in a way that gives black history and experience the justice it is due.
As a follower of Christ, I hope to increase my understanding through books, sermons, and films that remind us of the experiences that our black brothers and sisters have had.
Mostly, I want to hear some of their stories. That's often how we come to know and love each other best: through hearing each other's stories. So I hope that the stories in Oneness Embraced have helped me to understand some of black history a little bit better.

I feel uncomfortable having to use the words "black church" and "black community" over and over again in my review: It frustrates me because it feels like I'm putting "them" at an arms distance, separating them from "me" somehow. I wish there was a way to avoid those separations while still preserving the beauty of racial distinctions! Perhaps that is the heart of Oneness Embraced, acknowledging that I am white {really more pinkish} and you may be black {maybe chestnut, maybe coffee-and-cream, maybe dark chocolate!} but that we are all people, whose relationship in humanity and in Christ binds us together, placing my hand in yours.

The best book I have read up till this point that deals with race relations from a solidly Biblical perspective has been "Dominion" by Randy Alcorn. Dominion is a work of fiction, and written by a white man, yet it brought out some powerful themes through the perceptive eyes of black newspaper columnist Clarence Abernathy. That book gave me a window into a black family and their struggles and triumphs as they worked out what being black in America means.
Combine that with the fact that several of the preachers whose sermons I have benefited most from are black preachers, and I was convinced that I needed to read this book.

Through reading Dr. Evans' book, I think I've learned a little of it's like to be a part of the black church, of how a black congregation thinks about themselves in light of Scripture, and of how much Scriptural heritage dark-skinned people have. There is so much black heritage in the Bible that is all too often passed over, and it was really great to encounter some of that in Dr. Evans book.
I think I know a little of how black history has helped shape the black church, and how different movements have risen out of the black community over the years. As in every people-group, there have been both the constructive movements and the destructive movements.

I also read some very sad accounts of ways that Scripture and America's laws have been twisted over the centuries, and used to sanction and justify and promote abuse and racism.
Instead of upholding Jesus Christ as the savior of all men, some preachers managed to instill the idea that Christianity was "white religion."
Instead of letting the laws of this nation protect ever upright citizen, we have allowed the law to harm
black citizens until some gave up on it completely as "white law."
For these sins: driving people away from Jesus through our actions and oppressing them with the laws we created, we need forgiveness and mercy. May God restore what we have broken!

This book was written to speak to the hearts of all readers: black, white or any other color.
There were sections specifically written to me as a white person, and also specifically to black men and women about how we can all help heal racial hurts and how we can all walk in the fulness of Christ, contributing our God-given gifts to the Church and the Nation.

I also got a glimpse into the heart of a man, Dr. Tony Evans, who desires that all men know Christ, and who can specifically speak to both black and white on the issue of racial hurt and healing.

Oneness Embraced  was a book I was very eager to read, and glad I read, and I want to thank the Moody Press Newsroom for sending me a copy to review.

Dr. Tony Evans is one of the country’s most respected leaders in evangelical circles. As a pastor, teacher, author and speaker, he serves the body of Christ through his unique ability to communicate complex theological truths through simple, yet profound, illustrations. While addressing the practical issues of today, Dr. Evans is known as a relevant expositor. New and veteran pastors alike regard him as a pastor of pastors and a father in the faith.
The first African-American to graduate with a doctoral degree from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), he served as an associate professor in DTS’ Pastoral Ministries Department in the areas of evangelism, homiletics and black church studies. He continues to serve DTS on the Board of Incorporate Members. Dr. Evans holds the rare honor of serving as chaplain for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks over the last three decades, the longest standing NBA chaplaincy on record. He is also the former chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys.

Through his local church and national ministry Dr. Evans promotes a Kingdom agenda philosophy that teaches God’s comprehensive rule over every sphere of life as demonstrated through the individual, family, church and society.

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