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Review: The Color of Compromise

Fewer contentious topics exist in present-day America than race. With a history of racial tension undergirding the national narrative, Americans in general—and Christians in particular—are forced to confront and make sense of these matters. Jemar Tisby, a Christian historian and sociologist, has presented his arresting new book, The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church's Complicity in Racism (Zondervan, 2019) to help demystify and un-romanticize America's racist past.

Tisby contends that American church history is a history of racial complicity, one that has ignored the Bible's teaching on human dignity. He weds racism and religion tightly and locates Christians during key events in American racism, from slavery to the Civil War to Jim Crow to Black Lives Matter. Through it all, Tisby identifies the systems that must be changed in order to avoid a repetition of history. His careful, objective research is paired with a fiery—almost prophetic—call to justice and social action. The purpose in writing this book, as Tisby asserts, is not to shame white, evangelical Christians but to present the past in a way that inspires changing the future.

Tisby's book is much-needed at this time and is a confronting read. Tisby writes in a clear, logical manner that makes it easy to understand his main arguments. His chronological approach traces complicity through America's two-hundred-year history. This book has a call to both white and black Christians to pursue love and equality. To be sure, Tisby focuses on African-American race relations with little to no discussion of Hispanic, Asian, or Native American relations with the church—but this, of course, is not a major downfall. This book should be essential reading for students, church leaders, and pastors seeking to better discern how to reconcile the Bible's teaching on loving others with modern cultural forces.

(A complimentary review copy was given in exchange for an honest review.)


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