White Christianity-ism

In Free At Last?: The Gospel in the African-American Experience (Downers Grove: IVP, 1983/96) Carl Ellis makes a helpful distinction between Christianity and an imposter religion that tries to go by the same name in this country.

Christianity The gospel* applied in a cultural context, involving both its expression and the response of its adherents.  These cultural manifestations do not contradict or undercut the gospel itself.  On the contrary, a properly functioning cultural Christianity can bring out insights on the gospel not seen in other cultural contexts.

Christianity-ism; “Christianity”  This ugly term is most fitting, because of its ugliness, to refer to negative or unchristian religious practices expressed in the language of Christianity.*  Christianity-ism consists of making Christianity itself the object of faith* rather than an expression of faith in God’s solution to the problem of human unrighteousness and God’s revealed wrath on humankind.  In essence Christianity-ism is a subtle form of idol worship – the idol being institutional Christianity, and the form often being associated with racism.

This election cycle has shown that we have a lot of work to do in order to make clear the difference between authentic Christianity and White Christianity-ism.

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