Book Review: One Blood

One Blood:  Parting Words To The Church On Race, by John M. Perkins

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

When reading a book like this, I feel somewhat torn between wanting to be clear about what I find problematic about this book and a desire to express my general agreement with the author’s desire that believers should look beyond ethnicity and treat all believers as one blood in the way that the Bible commands.  Race and politics are thorny issues in the contemporary world and quite frequently this Appalachian-born, Southern-raised white man is put in the position of reviewing books that deal in complicated and not entirely satisfactory ways with the issue of race [1].  This book is satisfying if uncomfortable for me to read when the author is talking about his own experience and giving generally sound biblical exegesis about the issue of ethnicity within the Bible, but the book uses some dubious sources (like the Washington Post) and has an unacceptable moment when the author praises a white victim of South African black terrorism for apologizing to the terrorist because of fictive white guilt, something which is entirely unacceptable behavior.  If I have more positive than negative views of this book, the negative aspect is not entirely absent either.

This short book of a bit under 200 pages is divided into nine chapters along with various other materials, including four examples of churches that live out the ideal of racial reconciliation promoted by the author–Mosaic Church of Little Rock, Fellowship Church of Monrovia, California, Water of Life Community Church of Fontana, California, and Epiphany Fellowship of Philadelphia.  The author begins by stating that the church should look like the idealistic image of the early church with its clear focus on interethnic harmony (1) along with a statement that humanity is one race composed of one blood and redeemed by one savior (2).  The author offers a heartfelt lament for our broken past (3) and encourages Americans (especially white Americans) to seek the healing balm of confession for past wrongs (4).  Then the author looks at the issue of forgiveness (5) for past wrongs as well as the need to tear down the wall of segregation that makes religion the most segregated part of American life (6).  The author then moves towards his conclusion with a discussion of the need for courage in addressing the issue of race (7), the need to use prayer as weapons instead of violence (8), and the need for love to overcome fear and hatred (9).  The book has an afterword by the lead singer of Switchfoot to appeal to the thoughtful mainstream Christian audience this book is aimed at.

It is my belief that the author considerably overstates the importance of matters of ethnicity in terms of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  That said, this is frequently an understated issue, and since the book as a whole targets the author’s thoughts on race/ethnicity and its tortured history in the United States and other places within Christendom, that overemphasis is to be expected.  Ultimately, I think that the Church as a whole would be a lot better if we were able to acknowledge our fraught past and seek to do better in the future in terms of seeing other people not as members of various identity groups but as human beings created in the image and likeness of God and in need of repentance and reconciliation with God and others over their sins.  If we disagree on what are the best sources and best ways to find that reconciliation, I suppose it is more important to agree on the same desired end of a just Church and a just society than to agree on the right route to that, which will likely be very different depending on one’s starting point.  If too much of this book feels like blacksplaining, hopefully it encourages a less violent attitude among that side of the contemporary problem.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/06/05/book-review-lincoln-on-race-slavery/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/04/29/book-review-unified/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/04/02/book-review-appalachian-elegy/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/25/book-review-killing-rage-ending-racism/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/24/book-review-white-rage/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/01/15/book-review-under-our-skin/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity, History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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