A Credible Witness: Reflections on Power, Evangelism and Race
I read this book while completing my racial reconciliation studies in seminary. I continue to reread and reference it because the book is just that good!
Who Should Read A Credible Witness:
This is a necessary read for American Christians, particularly those who are struggling to live out their faith in a culture that elevates the powerful over the powerless and the dominate over the dominated. This book can be a catalyst for important conversations that must happen in our homes and churches about race and injustice.
What’s in Store for You:
The author, Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, in an Associate Professor of Reconciliation Studies in the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University. She is a global teacher, preacher, advocate, reconciler, and leader. She has used this book and her vast experiences to challenge the church to live the whole gospel, and be a credible witness of the gospel we proclaim.
Grounded in the John 4 text of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, Dr. McNeil presents the both/and message of evangelism and reconciliation. The gospel is sharing and telling the “good news” that Jesus saves, and the gospel restores the broken relationships between us and God, and our relationships with our neighbors. She writes, “Evangelism is more than getting people into heaven. It is calling people into a new community, inviting them into the household of God.”
She uses her passion for reconciliation to address gender, generational, racial, ethnic, class, socioeconomic, and religious divides. She calls us out of our places of comfort and asks the reader to consider cultural images, stereotypes, and reality. Then she communicates the truth that “we are called to be reconcilers.” Reconciliation for the sake of the gospel is necessary because God requires it of us. Reconciliation is not simply “a good idea, its God’s idea.”
My personal take-aways?
This book gave me theological and practical insights to pursue the work of racial reconciliation and justice. It also provided a global perspective in which I have not yet personally experienced. I respect and admire Dr. McNeil’s passion, expertise, and desire to speak truth to life. This work gives me confidence to move from where I am and see God at work in the world. It is such an encouragement to me about my identity and work in God’s kingdom.
The book has a group discussion guide which includes prayer, reflection, application, and accountability.
“To choose Christ is to also choose his community.” @RevDocBrenda
“Humility is one of the most important characteristics in the ministry of reconciliation.” @RevDocBrenda
“The kingdom is a movement to make disciples of all nations and not just individual converts.” @RevDocBrenda
“The future of evangelism will rest on how seriously we take the global postmodern generation and understand the ways that they need us to reach them.” – Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil
“If your organization is to be a credible witness of the gospel, it is critical that we recognize…power dynamics and the ways we control others. People who have not had power in the system must be empowered to give their perspectives, raise their concerns, contribute their expertise and be able to influence change.” – Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil
“The kingdom of God is not of this world, and to be a credible representation of it we must be willing to take countercultural social action. Jesus did more than talk about reconciliation and crossing barriers—he did it!” – Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil
Next Up on This Topic:
The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change by Brenda Salter McNeil & Rick Richardson
What are your thoughts about the connection or disconnect between evangelism and reconciliation?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2015