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Is ‘White Evangelicalism’ the Same as ‘Historic Christian Theology’? Christians Debate Evangelicalism’s Place in Church History on Twitter

Babylon Bee managing editor Joel Berry weighed in on Shenvi’s tweet, saying, “I have yet to convince any of these people [to] clearly define the difference between ‘white theology’ and ‘black theology.’”

Marsh responded that “one of the central tenets of white evangelicalism is the personalized gospel, where in the gospel is primarily about having a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus absent the actual need for existence in a community.”

“This is, of course, contrary to the teachings of church fathers all the way up to reformed theologians, who would never sever the connection between the church and the gospel, and held Christian worship in much higher regard than white American evangelicalism ever has,” Marsh continued. “Black historical theology in America has emphasized the role of community and the understanding that the gospel involves transforming that community, not just individuals, to be the body of Christ.”

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In response, Berry accused Marsh of racism for, in his view, equating collectivism with Blackness and individualism with Whiteness.

“The scholarship on the social gospel from white authors is just as immense as from black authors. Has nothing to do with race. You still haven’t listed the tenets of ‘white theology’ versus ‘black theology,’” Berry wrote. 

Marsh replied, “That’s your error, in assuming black theology = social gospel, which is not the case, and also ignores a significant difference between white liberal theology and black theology, which is quite conservative even in its communal emphases.”

Others pointed out that evangelicalism, as a distinct identity and theological tradition, is a relatively recent development when looking at the annals of church history as a whole.

“This is misinformed and misleading,” said Raymond Chang, president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative. “At MOST, white evangelicalism can be traced back some several hundred years. Its current form emerged during the last hundred and fifty years – concentrated in the last 50 or so years.”

Another commenter accused Shenvi’s original tweet of “showing disrespect for Christians of color. A strong theology of justice is essential to a complete pedagogy. Not to mention, most of the church fathers were of African descent.”

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Nevertheless, some agreed wholeheartedly with Shenvi’s assessment.