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A gospel for all

2022 BOOKS OF THE YEAR | Christianity is an inherently diverse religion

A gospel for all
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A growing faction in America claims that evangelical Christianity is racist, sexist, and hypocritical, and the insistent voices pushing critical theory have built a huge stage for these accusations.

In More Than a White Man’s Religion (Zondervan 2022), Abdu Murray tackles the false notion that Christianity is an elite club for white men.

As a Middle Eastern child of immigrants and a former Muslim, Murray strongly empathizes with racial minorities and women who live in patriarchal societies. But he reminds us of Christianity’s beginning: On the day of Pentecost, the earliest converts were men—and women—not only from Europe but also Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Christianity grew westward, and the 14th-century expansion of Islam into Africa and the Middle East masked the diverse roots of the church. But in recent years, Christianity is seeing a resurgence in Africa, Iran, and China.

After that brief history lesson, Murray gets to the heart of his ­message: The gospel has never been exclusively white, male, or just another religion. He admits, “Christendom has had its pockmarked history of racism, misogyny, and social ills.” He doesn’t gloss over the fact that some Christians condoned, and even participated, in the transatlantic slave trade and that some Christian men have treated women with gross disrespect and even abuse.

The gospel message is the wrong target of our collective outrage because it may be the solution for the very ills for which it is blamed.

Murray says his humble goal is not to address political movements but “to show that the gospel message is the wrong target of our collective outrage because it may be the solution for the very ills for which it is blamed.”

He asserts we can celebrate our skin color, gender, ethnicity, and other authentic features because God made us unique. But Jesus broke the barriers, and through Him, we have more in common than we have differences. The gospel provides balance. It values our varied identities instead of using them to divide us.

Humans will always disappoint. But the person of Jesus gives us hope and dignity no matter how others see us or treat us. Our identity is in Him.

Perhaps Murray could have more firmly rebuked social justice warriors, but, because of his even tone, More Than a White Man’s Religion could become an important book for young Christians.

It’s winsome enough to woo gospel skeptics and persuasive enough to influence those swayed by loud cultural voices pushing narratives about perceived Christian oppression.

Next in this 2022 Books of the Year special issue: “Honorable mentions: Political and private insights.”

Sandy Barwick

Sandy reviews Christian fiction and is a development officer on WORLD’s fundraising team. She is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute. She resides near Asheville, N.C.


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