When the Co-Moderators of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) promote a project titled “One Church, One Book,” what do you think the book would be?
Might you think it was the Bible?
What if it was described this way:
“Our hope is that it would start conversations. But it’s not just about reading the book. My hope is that we would be somewhat changed.” Jan Edmiston, Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly (2016)
Still think it’s the Bible? You’d be wrong.
The recommended book the highest ranking elected leaders of the PCUSA hope might change us it not the Bible. Edmiston, along with Co-Moderator Denise Anderson, is instead encouraging Presbyterians to read the book Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving.
The PCUSA Co-Moderators are promoting their “One Church, One Book,” project, inviting the denomination to “join them in a literary journey on race.”
This book, not the book you thought but Waking Up White should be read by Presbyterians anywhere they gather together, which may include pastor support groups, church school classes, book clubs or even … Bible studies. That’s right. The call is not to study the Bible in Bible study but this other book, vaunted as the one book for the one church.
Each of the four study guide sessions includes a quote from the Bible, along with a quote from the Confession of Belhar and two or three quotes from Waking Up White. It then includes a list of questions about race and racism.
One wonders how a four-week study (or longer) of the Bible might affect our opinions on race and racism?
Carmen LaBerge, President of the Presbyterian Lay Committee said that her four week Bible study on the subject would run “From Genesis to Revelation. You can’t start with the Imago Dei and end with representatives of every tribe and tongue bowing down to Christ the King and not get that people are people in the eyes of God. We are equally created in His image, equal in the totality of our depravity, equal at the foot of the cross, and equal before the throne.”
When asked to sketch out what a four week study might look like, LaBerge offered this outline:
- A confrontation of worldview: Racism is absolutely fine if the Bible is not True. Equality in Creation and at the foot of the Cross.
- A confrontation of the individual conscience wandering around with Jesus and then witnessing the expansion of the offer of salvation beyond the Jews to Gentiles. Facing that we’re all racist because we’re all sinners and we see that in others even if we like to deny it about ourselves.
- Philemon as God’s blueprint for reconciliation within the household of God
- A vision from the other side of eternity: seeing one another as eternal siblings, co-heirs of the Kingdom, children of the King.
Concluding, LaBerge added, “If I had four weeks to open the Book with believers on the subject of racial reconciliation, that’s where I’d turn.”
See related article: One Church, One Book” aims to jumpstart discussions about race