Jesus lays out the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. The Great Commission includes the command to “make disciples of all nations.” The Greek word translated “nations” is ethnos, connoting peoples (as in “all peoples”) or people groups. Part of fulfilling the Great Commission is to ensure that there are disciples from all peoples. If there are common hindrances hindering certain peoples from believing the truth of the gospel message, disciples of Christ must labor in the Spirit to remove said hindrances.
There is a new teaching – Black Hebrew Israelite doctrine – which is becoming a serious hindrance towards young black and brown men from coming to Christ. The “Hebrew Israelites” (as they prefer to be called) target minorities and are thriving in the inner-city. I ran into them on the street once. We had an hour-long debate. I posted the audio online. The discussion garnered a large amount of downloads. Since then, I have received numerous pleas for help by people who have been negatively affected by this group.
The Great Commission’s charge entails aiding all peoples to become disciples; combating false historical and cultural narratives falls under this mandate. An example is from the ministry of Jesus in John 4, where Jesus encounters Samaritan doctrinal idiosyncracies (“which mountain is the right one to worship on?”). As a despised minority in Israelite society, the Samaritan woman’s objections were tied up in both historical and cultural considerations. There is a parallel to be drawn between a group like the Samaritans of Israel and black and Hispanic Americans.
In 1 Peter 3:15, the apostle exhorts Christians to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Different people in different contexts get asked different questions about the hope that is in them. A black Christian living in the inner-city is more likely to hear these questions:
“Look at this picture of this white man. Why do you worship a white Jesus”?
“Don’t you know your Bible is a history book of the black Israelites”?
“Why do you go to a church building, listen to a con man, and pay him money”?
“Do you call the white man your brother and attend church with the Devil”?
Most white Christians do not face these objections. Yet a Hebrew Israelite (and others like them) will ask these questions – and more. This movement especially affects the traditional black church, but also Christian congregations made up of diverse peoples. The black Christian community has been negatively affected by the mini-exodus of young black men from their midst. There are few apologetic resources to help black Christians as they seek to receive and give wise answers. In order to help other Christians obey 1 Peter 3:15, some Christians need to be writing and speaking on the Hebrew Israelite heresy to provide the relevant information.
There has been almost nothing done to combat this teaching by orthodox Christians. Still, there are a few books which provide some assistance in dealing with them. Very few books deal with their claims directly (the first two briefly do), so the reader must apply the truth in these books more directly to the issues raised by the Hebrew Israelites. Here is a small bibliography to assist those wondering where to start as they begin to research this group and learn the truth about their claims:
ISSUES CONCERNING BLACK AND URBAN CHRISTIANS
Urban Apologetics: Why the Gospel is Good News for the City – Christopher W. Brooks (2014)
Black Man’s Religion: Can Christianity Be Afrocentric? – Glenn Usry and Craig S. Keener (1996)
How Black is the Gospel? – Tom Skinner (1970)
Beyond Roots: In Search of Blacks in the Bible – William Dwight McKissic, Sr. (1990)
Beyond Roots II: If Anybody Ask You Who I Am: A Deeper Look at Blacks in the Bible – William Dwight McKissic, Sr. and Anthony T. Evans (1994)
Introducing Black Theology: Three Crucial Questions for the Evangelical Church – Bruce L. Fields (2001)
A BIBLICAL VIEW OF PEOPLES AND CULTURES
From Every People and Nation – J. Daniel Hays (2003)
One Race One Blood: The Biblical Answer to Racism – Ken Ham and A. Charles Ware (2010)
Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the Christian – John Piper (2011)
One Human Family: The Bible, Science, Race and Culture – Carl Wieland (2014)
One New Man: The Cross and Racial Reconciliation in Pauline Theology – Jarvis Williams (2010)
Christ and the Dominions of Civilization – Love L. Sechrest (2009)
AFRICA IN THE BIBLE AND IN CHRISTIAN HISTORY
The Blessing of Africa: The Bible and African Christianity – Keith Augustus Burton (2007)
Africa and the Bible – Edwin M. Yamauchi (2004)
A History of Christianity in Africa: From Antiquity to the Present – Elizabeth Isichei (1995)
A PRIMER ON THE REAL HISTORY OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL
Israel and the Nations – FF Bruce (1963)
UNDERSTANDING THE LAW AND THE OLD COVENANT
Five Views on Law and Gospel – Stanley Gundry, editor (1999)
What Do Jewish People Think About Jesus? – Michael L. Brown (2007)
40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law – Thomas R. Schreiner (2010)
From Sabbath to Lord’s Day – DA Carson, editor (1999)
In the course of my research, I have uncovered many more books which are helpful for those entering into this mission field. Let me know (e-mail me at email@example.com) if you want me to share them with you in a future post.
Host, Urban Theologian Radio
Staff, Roosevelt Community Church
Student, Talbot School of Theology