Over 25 years ago, I began my freshman year at Wayne State University, in Detroit, Michigan. As a Christian college student, I wanted to make a difference for Christ on the campus, particularly with my fellow African-American students. So, I began sharing my faith. As I did this, “Afrocentrism” (also known as “Africentrism”) was in vogue on the college campuses. Many of my peers were getting into the serious study of our history and culture, as persons of African descent. Within this context, some of them began to see Christianity as a European invention, and therefore, something that was not culturally relevant. As I would attempt to witness to them about Jesus, they would often dismiss my message, saying, “Christianity is the White Man’s Religion,” or, “The Bible is the White Man’s Book.”
This sent me on a tailspin, and I began to question the relevance of my personal faith and my ability to effectively give an “apologetic” (or a defense) for Christianity. When the dust settled, I began to research the Black or African presence in the Bible, as well as other aspects of “Black Apologetics.” I read several books on this topic that motivated me to hold on more tightly to the faith that was passed on to me by my parents, Carl and Mary Bowman. What I found radically changed my view of “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints,” as it related to the cultural context in which I found myself. My research also gave me a new-found confidence as I interacted with people from various backgrounds.
Starting with the Book of Genesis, I set out to discover if there were any Black people in the Bible, and, to my surprise, I found that White people (Europeans) did not come into prominence until the New Testament. The first 39 books of the Bible, and beyond, were filled with people of color; people who looked like me. I began to see how “Black” the Bible really was. As I think back on this time, it was then that I came to fully appreciate that all human beings, regardless of color or class, have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” by our great Creator. I also came to embrace the fact that the Christian faith and the Bible are for everyone; not just “the White man” or a select few. Herein, I would like to share a sliver of what I found.
Imagine that we are members of a local church having a cookout, and the honored guests are Black characters from the Bible. I’d dare say that many of us would be surprised by who shows up, much like the parents in the movie, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”, when Dr. John Prentice showed up. This would especially be true if we were operating from our modern social constructs of “race” or “Blackness.” Keep in mind that “race” or our concept of what it means to be “Black” did not exist in the Bible days. This was socially constructed much later, for the purpose of dividing us. With this in mind, here are some people who might RSVP, and show up for the cookout . . .
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: The Front Porch
Joel A. Bowman, Sr.