On Thursday, pastor and author Thabiti Anyabwile fired back at fellow evangelical leaders who stirred controversy about him on Twitter.
Anyabwile pastors Anacostia River Church in Washington, DC, has authored several books, and was formerly a Council member of The Gospel Coalition. He is an influential voice for pastors and church leaders of color and serves as the board president of The Crete Collective, a church planting network committed to growing churches in communities of color.
He’s also known by many on Twitter for his provocative reviews of Marvel and Star Wars films and television shows, which often challenge the popular opinion of the day.
The dispute started when Tom Buck, who serves as lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, tweeted a video of Anyabwile speaking at a Jude 3 Project event. Jude 3 Project exists “to help the Christian community know what they believe and why they believe it. Distinctive in its strong emphasis in equipping those of African descent in the United States and abroad.”
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In the video, Anyabwile spoke to those who might be considering leaving their churches due to the presence of white supremacy in the leadership.
“Some of you are in churches you need to leave, and it’s okay to leave. Maybe you need someone to tell you that it’s okay to leave,” Anyabwile said. “Because if that rascal’s in the pulpit is espousing, explicitly or in a veiled way, white supremacy, you don’t need to sit under that…Sometimes leaving is healthy.”
“But some of you are in churches with good pastors, who are swimming in the eddies and the undertows and the flood of this present moment, doing the best they can, fumbling sometimes, sometimes getting stuff a little bit right [but] they didn’t go as far as you wanted them to, and so you’re mad,” Anyabwile went on to say. “You probably need to stay and support that pastor. Because that pastor right now, if he needs anything, or she needs anything, it’s courage and encouragement.”
Buck shared the video to critique Anyabwile’s use of the feminine pronoun when referring to a pastor.
“Here @ThabitiAnyabwil says some people should leave their church because the pastor (“that rascal”) is a white supremacist either explicitly or implicitly,” Buck said in his tweet. “But he says you should stay in your church to support your ‘good’ pastor, which includes women pastors.”
Owen Strachan, provost and research professor of theology at Grace Bible Theological Seminary, retweeted the video with his own commentary.