Very Brief Review: Woke Church, Eric Mason

Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice by Eric Mason

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am torn on this book a bit. I almost gave a three star review because I believe the book is built on a fundamental confusion of categories regarding the gospel. In an early chapter Mason suggests that contending for racial justice is a gospel issue; yet, he builds his argument by quoting passages like Matt 23:23 where Jesus confronts the scribes and Pharisees. Here he tells them they are overly concerned about tithing herbs and not about the weightier matters of the law such as justice. Law, not gospel. Elsewhere he makes the same kind of move connecting Jesus’ summary of the law (loving God, loving neighbor) to the call for racial justice. Again, this confuses law with gospel.

That’s a pretty big deal. In other places, he is more careful with the wording and talks about reconciliation, racial justice, etc., as outworkings of the gospel. That is more accurate. AND, saying something is “law” doesn’t make it unimportant! Now, as the new covenant community, the law should be written on our hearts. It is still very relevant to us as Christ-followers!

After doing some mental reinterpretation of Mason’s framework, there is much in this book that I found very beneficial. The discussion of our “family history” and how it continues to shape us – whether we talking about our nuclear family or spiritual family – was very helpful. I very much appreciated his writing regarding the black church and how important an institution it has been and how it is often misunderstood and misrepresented by white evangelicals. His explanation of why the black church often is lukewarm or downright resistant to talks of integration was very helpful. Also, his advice on how to avoid ‘tokenism’ was helpful.

I wish the practical section was a bit more applicable to contexts other than the urban church, but understand why that was the focus. It will take a bit more translation to a small town context like Bloomington.

Overall, I recommend the book if the reader can avoid the gospel/law confusion.

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