An article written by Kate Shellnutt in “Christianity Today” claims that African Americans are the only racial group that see the Bible as more important for the moral fabric of the nation than the constitution.
Why is this so? Statistical evidence shows they are more biblically literate, with ninety-two percent owning a Bible. Moreover, they are twice as likely to say that Bible reading is crucial to their daily routine. Having once been a member of a predominantly African-American church myself, these facts do not surprise me. African-American Christians, in my experience, center their social and moral fabric on the witness of Scripture. Their preaching and ordinary conversation is soaked with biblical illusions.
While traditionally white, mainline protestant congregations (Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists) are declining, African American churches, on the other hand, are thriving. To the point: African-Americans read their bible, and only from it do they form their political and moral opinions.
While this may be true for African-Americans, it is not true for our country as a whole.
We are more loyal to our politics than we are our theology, and that, I believe, is a major problem. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a heated debate on a matter of biblical interpretation. However, all one has to do now is just mention an issue in our current news cycle and the floodgates open.
We’re shaped more by the conversations in Washington, than the “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Like it or not, political problems such as crime, immigration, economic disparity etc will not be solved by political solutions alone. While they are political problems, they are also human problems.
Human problems need divine solutions. My hope is that people of faith would look to their theological tradition as their moral shaping apparatus, rather than the rhetoric of our two dominant parties. Let’s be people of faith first, and from that standpoint, form our political convictions.
Faith informs our politics, not the other way around.
(Rev. Will Wilson is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Kilgore. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)