What I'm Reading

The Color of Compromise

Bill Mowry

The Color of Compromise: The truth about the American church’s complicity in racism by Jemar Tisby.

Want a book that keeps you up at night thinking? The Color of Compromise is one of those books. Why is it so provocative? Pastor and author John Piper has been quoted as saying, “We all have blind spots and blank spaces.” This is particularly true in the white community when it comes to race and racism in the church. Tisby will expose some of those blind spots and blank spaces.

Tisby provides a historical overview of the church’s attitude towards race from the time of our country’s founding to the present day. He writes as a historian and theologian. The book is not a polemic against white privilege or the white evangelical church but a reasoned and historical approach about how the church (both Protestant and Catholic) embraced racism and slavery. Tisby frequently contrasts the predominant white culture’s interpretation of events with the perspective of the African-American church and its leaders.

You will discover that our churches and church leaders suffered from some blind spots about race. We all have “blank spaces” in our lives, spaces where the history of the African-American experience is absent and needs to be filled in. The Color of Compromise can fill in some of those spaces.

I’ve been sensitized to the issue of racism because African-Americans are a part of our family. Listening to their stories and experiences has revealed some blind spots in my life and filled in some of those blank spaces — spaces that were created by growing up in an all-white, rural community in the 1950s.

It’s easy to treat the current racial issues as the domain of a “radical left.” While radical elements are in our current social justice movement, just as radical elements are in conservative causes, it does not diminish the need for education and biblical steps towards justice and reconciliation.

Be warned. Some will love the book and others may be offended. I find it good to read books that stir my conscience, challenge my stereotypes, and raise my blood pressure. It forces me to think from a biblical perspective and not only from the safety of my settled conclusions. May we all sort out how to apply what “the Lord requires of us” in Micah 6:8 – “to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”

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