How to Heal Our Racial Divide – Derwin Gray

How to Heal Our Racial Divide Derwin Gray
How to Heal Our Racial Divide by Derwin Gray
Also by this author: The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches about Finding True Happiness
Published by Tyndale on April 5, 2022
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Racial Reconciliation
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Why must everything be so black and white? Like many of us, Derwin Gray is weary of the racial divide in our society. He longs to see hurts healed, wrongs corrected, and trust replace distrust.

The good news is that the Bible has a lot to say about how to heal our persistent racial divides. In this book, popular Bible teacher Derwin Gray walks us through Scripture, showing us the heart of God—how God from the beginning envisioned a reconciled multiethnic family in loving community, reflecting his beauty and healing presence in the world. This message is central to the gospel itself.

After reading this book, you won’t read the Bible the same way again—and you’ll want to walk through this eye-opening scriptural journey with your friends or small group.

As founding pastor of Transformation Church, a multiethnic church located in the Charlotte metro area, Derwin knows firsthand the hurdles and challenges to the reconciliation that Scripture commands. That is why he carefully outlines in this book how to establish color-blessed discipleship in your own church.

Together, we can become the change that God yearns to see in this world.

Growing up, I thought that racism was a thing of the past. Like, I understood it was recent past. My (white) mom talked about how a Black family she babysat for in the late 70s was surprised she would take their kids out in public when she babysat. But I thought that we’d pretty much healed that divide, right? It was a new generation. We knew better now. And then I grew up. I first began to suspect that racism was still a big problem with the election of Barack Obama. On one hand, a Black man had been elected President. On the other hand, certain factions were burning him in effigy. And then I moved out of my nearly all-white rural town into a pretty diverse city. And took a ministry position where I was one of three white people in a congregation of 200. And then I adopted two Black children.

The biggest factor is my own journey toward being an advocate for racial reconciliation was simply awareness and relationship. I had people around me to share their experiences, to teach me, and be my friend. That sort of relational awareness is what’s at the heart of Derwin Gray’s How to Heal Our Racial Divide. Gray calls readers to go beyond hashtag activism or performative wokeness and develop a Holy Spirit-generated love for other people.

The first part of the book takes a look at race in Scripture. Derwin takes a look at the way Scripture portrays ethnicity (correctly noting that how we current define race is a social, not biological or cultural construct) and makes the case that God has always been for inclusion and unity. In one chapter, he highlights Jesus’s interactions with Gentiles and how he went out of his way to invite non-Jews into God’s family. He presents the early church as a model of how to recognize and heal racial tensions and divides. How to Heal Our Racial Divide adeptly takes us on a sweeping journey through the racial divides of Scripture and shows us how we can learn from their examples to put within our current contexts.

The second part of the book moves from the theological to the applicational. Gray challenges believers to move from a colorblind ideology that overlooks ethnic identity to a color-blessed ideology that sees people in all their vibrant beauty and seeks to love everyone in all their diversity. In this, Derwin challenges the common evangelical belief in a gospel that’s too individualistic and consumeristic and instead points toward the early church’s gospel of community and conciliation.

Each chapter in the book ends with a prayer, a list of things to think about, discussion questions to either answer for yourself or as part of a group, and a challenge to do something practical. It’s easy to read a book. How to Heal Our Racial Divide prods us to go a step further and critically engage with the content and actually do something as a result. For so many who have recently awakened to this racial divide, however you came to it, you might be wondering what you can do. Derwin provides readers with a solid, biblical introduction to racial reconciliation that’s accessible for everyone.

Derwin also understands that a lot of his audience probably trends toward conservative evangelicalism. If you’ve been scared off by James Cone or Willie James Jennings, Derwin Gray might be a good point into the conversation on racial reconciliation. With so many outside voices lambasting evangelicalism (rightly!) for its subtle or even overt racism, Derwin is a calm, inside voice whose criticism is valid, clear, and compassionate. How to Heal Our Racial Divide is rooted in Scripture and worked out in the experience of Gray’s ministry. It’s a call to change, to reconstruct, rather than destruct; to believe that we can have a small part of the Kingdom now, rather than simply focusing on heaven; and to take seriously God’s call to be a multicultural and unified body.

As Derwin closes How to Heal Our Racial Divide, he writes: There is no better time than now to be a healer and reconciler. There is too much at stake for us to indifferent or complacent. Reconciliation matters to God; therefore, it must matter to us. We need more conservative evangelical theologians and pastors who think this way. It’s necessary for the future of the American church and it’s necessary for the flourishing of the Gospel. Derwin offers the evangelical church some prophetic words. Time will tell if they will be heeded.