Date of Award
University or Center
Interdenominational Theology Center (ITC)
[Note: Typographical errors in abstract were in original volume prior to digitization.]
The purpose of this project was to demonstrate strains of white theological racism in the language and practice of Mount Hermon Baptist Church of Flint, Michigan (Mount Hermon). The writer’s intends to do this by probing the congregation’s faith language of being made in the image of God. This investigation seeks to show how white theological racism is a part of Mount Hermon’s biblical, theological, and ideological understanding of being made in the image of God. It is the author’s contention that whether consciously or unconsciously, white theological racism exists in both the language and practice of many African-American churches. For this reason three questions propelled the author to undertake this project. The first being: How can we recognize white theological racism in the consciousness of Mount Hermon Baptist Church? The second question was: What role does Mount Hermon play in causing its congregants to feel they are unable to achieve at higher levels socially, politically, or economically because of their skin color? Thirdly: What steps are necessary to overcome this dilemma? The author addressed these questions at length in the project dissertation. The writer’s study of Mount Hermon’ s members began in the summer of 2001 and continued until the summer of 2005 Particular focus was given to members who were forty years of age and over. Most members in this age category have served on the Church Board of Christian Education. In preparation for this study, the writer led the church to select a biblical theme: Image of God and the Vision of Ourselves. All formal and informal church activities were informed by our theme, borrowed from Genesis 1:26-27. The writer’s intent was to raise church members’ consciousness of who they are in the image of God. The author hypothesized that the more we learn about the image of God in our vision of ourselves the better we will feel about ourselves. Our knowledge of God affects our ability to function dynamically as members of the body of Christ. Some members of Mount Hermon have consciously and unconsciously internalized strains of white theological racism, which minimize their image, promote self-hatred and are predicated on myths of inferiority, which began long before African enslavement in the United States of America. Damon Jones in “Understanding Racism to End Its Effects,” concludes that there are four ways that the myth of racism effected Africans and African Americans.1 Jones described the first major effect of the myth of racism occurred with the enslavement of Africans in North America during chattel slavery for over four centuries; thereby creating a consciousness of Black inferiority. He goes on to detail the second effect of the racism myth as building a platform that perpetuates the stigma of race in the American South. The third effect Jones described was the reinforcement of Black inferiority through education. Credible scholars of the day refder ed ifdifgs reif orcif g Black if eriority that were ifc orporated ifto pro essiofal jourfals o sciefce afd philosophy. Lastly, Jofes described the ourth e ect o the racist myth as the use o the Bible to support chattel slavery afd the lyfchif g o A ricaf males. White theological racism distorts the image o God if our visiof o who we are. It has provef aft i-productive if the past f or caf it serv e the preseft age. A survey was created to determife the embedded ideology afd theology preseft if Mouft Hermof Baptist Church’s aith expressiofs. This survey was desigfed to idefti y implicit afd explicit racist ideas, afd the lack o sel -esteem if the members’ aith expressiofs. If order to idefti y embedded biblical afd theological ufderstafdif gs withif the cofgr egatiof, the survey ifclude s questiofs addressifg participaft’s ideological, biblical, afd theological views.
The survey oufd that fe gative belie s afd attitudes cofcerfif g race did exist if Mouft Hermof afd they were harm ul afd based upof allacious if ormati of. Later. the same survey was givef to a group o the Wolverife State Baptist Cofveftiof o Michigaf mifisters. The author’s purpose if askifg this group o mifisters to participate was to compare afd coftrast the embedded ideological, biblical, afd theological ufdersta fdifgs o the cofv eftiof with those o Mouft Hermof Baptist Church. Whef comparifg afd cofirastif g the ifdifgs, the author oufd parallelisms afd dissimilarities if belie 5 afd ufde rstafdif gs. Completiof o the survey by mifisters ifdicated how white theology racism, doctrife, afd ethics are preseftl y shapifg cofg regatiofs. It was the author’s hope that mifisters who participated if the survey would idefti y straifs o white theological racism if their persofal theology afd motivate urther ifv estigatiof. 0 course, the writer’s theology mirrors the theology o Wolverife State Baptist Convention ministei~ thereby shaping ihe theology of our particular congregations. The survey used allowed the author to learn more about Mount Hermon’ s congregation~ fellow Baptist ministers, and most of all self. Mount Hermon can be helpful in validating, liberating, and raising the self-esteem of its believers. Moreover~ it is possible for Mount Hermon to have far-reaching influence into the future by dis-allowing faulty faith language and the influence of white theological racism to prevail in Christian Education efforts. Christian supremacist theology claims that morality is predicated upon unwavering faith in Jesus Christ and that the Bible is the source of law. This view sees all non-Christian beliefs as atheism and the root of wickedness in society. Christian supremacist theology is the parent of white supremacy 2 The writer’s study helped Mount Hermon Baptist Church and its pastor to see the continuing need for contemporary teaching resources to address Christian Education in African-American congregations at all ages. The author has come to understand the need for ongoing Christian Education to enlighten African-American church so that it might transform the future.
1 Damon R. Jones, “Understanding Racism to End Its Effects,” available from lmp:/!www.blackandchristian.c0m!a11ic1e5Iaca1~Y~J01~5~hl -07 .shtrnl; Internet.
2 Mitchell Kahie, “Opposing the Christian Supremacy Movement,” available fromhttp: ‘\Vww. lava. net/~.~hcssc/ChristianSuPremaCYMOve111ent.ht1T1l ] nternet.
Yarber, Kim DeWayne, "Image of god in our vision of ourselves:
white theological racism in the consciousness of
Mount Hermon Baptist Church of Flint, Michigan" (2007). ETD Collection for AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library. 323.