There has been a lot of talk in evangelical circles about social justice lately. A statement by some individuals was released stating their views and opinions and then others have responded with a whole host of articles and podcasts. It’s time that someone speak a little more at length to the subject and that is why I am grateful for a new book by Eric Mason called Woke Church.
Mason is not just speaking on the subject, he is living it. His church, Epiphany Fellowship, lies in an urban community in Philadelphia and Mason fills his book with many real life stories that add authority to what he is advocating for.
Mason starts out by saying, “My desire in this book is to encourage the church to utilize the mind of Christ and to be fully awake to issues of race in this country” (17). I know for many, the term “woke” may be a tripping point. It may even be a reason you don’t pick up this book. Mason goes on to say, “Pan-Africanists and Black nationalists use the term ‘woke’ to refer to no longer being naive nor in mental slavery. We have borrowed the term and redeemed it to be used in the context of being awakened from deadened, sinful thinking” (17). That being said, don’t let the term stop you from reading the book.
I know personally, being a white person in a predominately white context, I hadn’t thought much about many things you will encounter in this book. Much of it was eye opening for me. Even after having lived in New Orleans for two years, I was still largely ignorant to the struggles and pains of my black brothers and sisters in Christ. I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to read what Mason is saying and I am grateful he’s taken the time to say it.
In this book Mason is raw and honest. He shares his pain and hurt and put his heart on these pages. In a particular insight he says, “Much of my zeal and anger around the issue of justice comes from impatience with those who know very well what Scripture teaches, but choose to apply it selectively” (52). This raw honesty is needed and we will do well to receive these things with humility and understanding.
Mason calls for us to open our hearts and minds and listen to each other even if we disagree. I found my heart aching with Mason through many of the stories he shared. My understanding of black brothers and sisters broadened as I made my way through the book. We are called to hurt with each other.
Living in rural Kentucky, we don’t have a lot of racial diversity in this area. I was so appreciate for Mason touching on this and other questions I’ve wondered during all of this discussion toward the end of the book.
My greatest appreciation is Mason’s emphasis on the centrality of the gospel. From start to finish he makes clear that the gospel is the main thing and justice is application of the gospel that we treasure. During the short sound bites on Twitter, I wasn’t sure what I thought of Eric Mason. After reading his book and hearing his heart, I like to think of him as a brother and a friend. It’s my joy to highly recommend everyone read Woke Church and may we do all we can to hurt with one another, laugh with one another, and advocate for one another.
Disclaimer: I received a free, digital copy of this book in order to give a fair, honest review. All thoughts expressed are my own.