Intentional: Kingdom Ethnicity in a Divided World

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.

Title:

Intensional: Kingdom Ethnicity in a Divided World

Author:

D.A. Horton

Publisher:

NavPress (in alliance with Tyndale House Publishers)

https://www.navpress.com

Publication Date:

October 22, 2019

Format:

Paperback

Length:

224 pages

OVERVIEW

As more stories about police brutality against minorities pour in, not to mention countless smaller stories about racism in America, evangelical churches are unsure how to respond. Like it or not, the American church (Catholic and Protestant) has been full of people who promoted racism from its earliest days. Thus, D.A. Horton argues that the American church doesn’t really need to pursue racial reconciliation. Reconciliation assumes that people were once in a state of conciliation, of oneness that they are aiming to get back to. So, the American church truly needs to learn how to finally achieve conciliation between various ethnic groups. Horton unpacks a Biblical view of ethnicity, drawing on insights from Genesis through the New Testament to establish the church was meant from the start to be multi-ethnic and multicultural. With that foundation in place, he considers what pastors need to do to cultivate empathy and friendship among diverse groups of people.

There’s an important problem with discussions about racism that not enough people talk about: the idea of race itself is flawed. Geneticists like Adam Rutherford have found that human genes interact such complex ways that they can’t find distinct genetic groupings to classify as racial characteristics (for more on this, see David VanDrunen’s chapter on pluralism and religious liberty in Politics After Christendom). Not only that, but as Horton notes in chapter 1 of this book, historians have shown that the modern concept of race was first developed in the colonial era. From the beginning, differentiating people groups purely in terms of skin color has been based in a worldview that assumed some skin colors were superior to others. Therefore, the first step to building churches where different tribes and tongues can work together is to frame the discussion around the more accurate term ethnicity. Scholars who specialize in certain fields have written about this, but too many Christian teachers are not aware of it. Fortunately, Horton begins his discussion with this point. He argues the Bible only talks humanity as being one race with various ethnic differences. In doing so, he creates a nuanced case for multicultural churches, one that stands up to academic critique.

Horton always does something very hard for pastors or public speakers to do: using topical references well. Many Christian authors reference current events to make a point, assuming audiences know the events they’re talking about. Unfortunately, those books can rely so much on those references that readers who don’t know those events can’t see the point. Authors can work so hard to be timely that their books don’t last past the current moment. Horton is careful to use his references as launching pads, and then carefully develops his following points. The result is a book that will almost certainly age well.

With sound wisdom and perceptive suggestions, Horton guides readers to a vision of multicultural churches that can thrive.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Church planters and ministry professionals looking to develop multicultural bridges in their churches.

Christian Impact

Horton bases every claim he makes in Scripture, persuasively arguing for repentance from racial bias and empathy across different cultural and ethnic groups. He particularly excels at explaining how Scriptural principles about love and wisdom connect to principles all Christian leaders should follow.

Intensional: Kingdom Ethnicity in a Divided World


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