In the United States, February is the month that we celebrate Black History Month. It is extremely important to remember that Black History did not begin with slavery and the observance of the history is not exclusive to only Blacks, but for all of us. The collective contributions to our world by African Americans is something to acknowledge and celebrate together in this diverse nation with troubling roots.
This month, Hope Academy wants to bring Black History to the forefront of our minds by featuring guest writers and small biographies. Our intention is to raise our collective voices in proclaiming God’s goodness to His people through His plan in bringing the Gospel to the nations.
The following is an article by the talented artist Curt Kennedy:
Do you know what the greatest religious hoax towards the black community is? Christianity. But not for the reason you’d expect. In recent years, there has been a rise of black people leaving Christianity, for a number of reasons.
Among those reasons, there is one that consistently rises to the top. Christianity is a white man’s religion. Christianity is a religion designed by white people for white people. The black folks who are leaving, want to worship something that is specifically for black people.
To be honest, I can understand the resentment coming from black people. I am black myself. I’m as black as they come, at least in the way that black people tend to evaluate each other (Ghetto/Gangster = Black).
I grew up in the Washington, DC metropolitan area with no dad. I was raised by a single mother alongside my older brother by three years. I started getting arrested at age 7. Later, I would start selling crack cocaine and I was really good at it. This led to me eventually getting into a broad day shoot out with a rival gang, which then led to me facing 43 years in prison.
After doing some time, I got “saved,” but it was hard at times.
Believing in Jesus can be tough all on its own, especially when you keep hearing things like, “How could you believe in a God that let your ancestors be slaves?” or the all too familiar, “Black people weren’t Christians before the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
They used Christianity to keep us enslaved. We were kings and queens in Africa before white people came and kidnapped us!”
The African Role in Ancient and Modern Christianity
Now on the surface that may sound right. Yes, black people were enslaved. Yes, the church did relatively nothing about it. Yes, white people were the ones in charge of these atrocities. Yes, they often twisted the Bible to make blacks feel like being slaves was our God-given responsibility.
But is that Christianity? I think not. Is it true that black people are only Christians today because of slavery? I think double not.
This is where knowing real history pays off. The actual truth is that white people, still to this day, got their theology from Africans, not the other way around.
Beginning with the Bible, we see that Africa played a huge part in the early church. Some of the most influential church Father’s were African. Long before Europe ever heard of Jesus, Africans were getting baptized and preaching the gospel. A few things to take note of:
- Luke 23:26 Simon of Cyrene (North Africa/Lybia)
- Acts 2:10 Africans from Egypt and Libya were there at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came
- Acts 8:26-36 An Ethiopian Eunuch believes and is baptized. Ethiopia is Central Eastern Africa
- Acts 11:19-24 Men from North Africa (Cyrene) were pushing the girl of Jesus Christ
We must always remember that God wanted scripture to show that Africans were believing the Gospel. This was long before Europe was Europe, as well as, about 1600 years before Slavery.
Wait! There’s more!
Men like Tertullian (155-240), often called “the founder of Western Theology” was from Carthage (Tunisia) North Africa. He also invented the term “Trinity”
Origen of Alexandria (185-254) wrote On the First Principles, which systematically laid out principles for Christian Theology, which became foundational for theological writings that came after it.
There are more to choose from, but perhaps most important of all was Augustine of Hippo (354-430). To this day, his books The City of God, and On Christian Doctrine are revered as one of the important works in redemptive history. His writings have influenced Western Christianity and Western philosophy. He was from Hippo Regius in North Africa.
The Truth of Christianity
So the truth is this: Without Africa and Africans, there is no Christianity. God used black people to change the world forever. Christianity is not a white man’s religion. It was Black Africans that made it possible to understand some of the deepest truths about Christianity.
So, when I hear people say Christianity is a white man’s religion, I laugh, because without Black Africans, white people wouldn’t believe what they believe about God. That knowledge came from Africans.
I’m proud to be a Christian, if for no other reason than the rich African theological heritage.
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