SUMMARY: To this day, church services across the nation are some of the most segregated times of the week. Is this by random chance, or was this intentional? In the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller The Color of Compromise, author Jemar Tisby details the sordid history of the American church and its complicity with racism.
“There would be no black church without racism in the white church,” Tisby writes. He details the story of Absalom Jones and Richard Allen leaving St. George’s Methodist Church and forming the Free African Society due to segregated services and other forms of racism.
In clear, forthright prose, Tisby chronicles the countless ways that the American church could have pushed back against the culture of racism, but chose not to. Many of the stories are disturbing and sad, yet the point of recounting church history is not to shame, but to acknowledge and recognize the roots of our churches in hopes that we do not repeat history.
“History and Scripture teaches us that there can be no reconciliation without repentance,” Tisby says. “There can be no repentance without confession. And there can be no confession without truth.”
Tisby finishes the book by giving several recommendations how the church and individuals can fight against racial justice. Our recommendation is to skip the final chapter and pick up Tisby’s second book, How to Fight Racism where he goes into detail about his extremely useful A.R.C. (Awareness, Relationship and Commitment) of racial justice.
KEY QUOTE: “One of the reasons churches can’t shake the shackles of segregation is that few have undertaken the regimen of aggressive treatment the malady requires. It seems like most Christians in America don’t know how bad racism really is, so they don’t respond with the necessary urgency. Even when Christians realize the need for change, they often shrink back from the sacrifices that transformation entails. “
BONUS: The Color of Compromise 12-part video series is sometimes included with Amazon Prime if you prefer to watch instead of read.
BONUS II: Watch Tisby highlight the major themes from his book in a speech for The Front Porch.
BONUS III: Tisby reads the first chapter of his book which happens to share the name of the title of the book.
DID YOU KNOW?: Sunday to Saturday has a Good Reads page where we post all of the books we have read – even the ones that didn’t make the cut.
More curated books on racism:
When a major cultural event, such as George Floyd’s murder, shifts the focus of a country, it is easy to assume that critiques of the American church and racism are a recent phenomenon. Oftentimes we are simply unaware of prophetic voices from the the past such as Howard Thurman and his quintessential Jesus and the Disinherited. Penned in 1949, Thurman critiques the church and its seduction with power while detailing the psyche and motivation of the oppressed. His ultimate conclusion is that belief in Jesus, in conjunction with community, can empower the disinherited.Keep reading
Grounded in Genesis in the Imago Dei The Gospel in Color firmly traces the evolution of racism back to the garden of Eden when sin entered the world. But, Jesus coming into the world and dying on a cross allows us to be reconciled to him while modeling what it takes to be reconciled to each other.Keep reading