I am reading James Baldwin. When we were told to love everybody, I had thought that that meant every body,” he writes. “But no. It applied only to those who believed as we did.” I’m convinced, we would be better Christians if we practiced Baldwin’s theology of love.
In reality, Baldwin’s theology of love is rooted in a deep faith that takes seriously the story of Jesus. Baldwin was a theologian in the truest sense of the word: he made divine possibilities intelligible and offering an alternative world of love, freedom, hope and joy.
His theology of love was so powerful because he knew, and in quite haunting ways, the way the Church could be unloving. He knew the ways white supremacy and hatred of Blackness was justified, denied, and evaded in the name of Jesus. He knew how hard it was to love oneself.
Baldwin was clear: you can’t say you love God and hate yourself and your neighbor. Too often Christians justified hatred in the name of the Bible, the Ballot, and the Bullet. Baldwin knew such a faith was could not save us, he knew such a faith could not heal us and liberate us.
In Baldwin’s mind, a theology of love is not using the gospel to rule over others, “for the planting of the flag.” It is to make us more loving. He is right: “If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving.”
If our conception of love and gospel and good news and Jesus cannot do this, he writes, “then it is time we got rid of Him.” It is time, and always time, as he would say, to accept and reciprocate the love of God. Then, and only then, will it be said: “they had been with Jesus.”
If you have a moment, read this excellent essay by Dr. Carol Wayne White on James Baldwin: Religion, Race, and the Love of Humanity.


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More from @stewartdantec

9 Apr
I am thinking of all the wounded Black men. I am thinking of all the ways we've been harmed and harmed of others. I am thinking of all the ways others failed to love us and we failed at love. I want us to hold and be held. I believe with bell hooks: "wounded Black men can heal."
We have to find better ways of being human and finding joy and embracing love and fighting our way out of this deadly death-dealing system. I want us to cry. Weep, hold, heal together. I want us to find ways to love ourselves that don't depend on us hurting ourselves and others.
We are blamed and we are bruised and we are broken and we are bent and this country will continue to blame us and bruise us and break us and bend us in ways that are cruel, unyielding, and voyeuristic. Yet. We are beautiful and beauty and all things lovely, if we would see it.
Read 5 tweets
9 Apr
I am reading the Hebrew Bible this morning. I am in Ezekiel's story. "The LORD's power overcame me," he says, "he led me and set me down in the middle of a certain valley." This valley was full of bones, dry, deserted. It hit me: sometimes our way forward is through dead places.
Sometimes God does the work in us and around us by taking us, as God did earlier with the Children of Israel, around places of struggle. Sometimes God does the work in us and around us by taking us, as with Ezekiel, through the places of struggle. We just don't know.
Ezekiel is in this dead places. He didn't choose to be there. He didn't ask to be there. But God has him there. God asks, "Human one, can these bones live again?" Ezekiel responds, "LORD God, only you know." Haven't we felt like that? God asks things of us and we have no answers.
Read 9 tweets
7 Apr
James Baldwin just might be the greatest writer in American history. He mastered essays, non-fiction, fiction, plays, interviews, and more. He gave us theology, political theory, history, literary criticism, and more. He did it all through deep pain. He really loved us all.
I remember the first time I read Baldwin. It was 2016. We had just witness two public lynchings: Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Donald Trump was in office. I was in a white evangelical church, preaching and leading. White Christians chose Trump over Jesus and over us.
I was in denial. I kept leading. I kept preaching. I kept returning, again and again. Then I started to feel the angst. I started to feel, through every meeting, through what was not said, through what was said, that Black people didn’t matter. It was quite a revelation.
Read 10 tweets
7 Apr
One of the dangers of Christian theology is that our frameworks we inherit will make us see life as an academic endeavor, neighbors as enemies to be conquer, and the life of faith as a battle to be won. Sadly, our journey with Jesus will be less about love and more about fear.
Christianity’s theological history is full of communities who tried to imagine better ways of loving, being together, and being human. Yet also at work in our history are traditions of faith that made Jesus the warrior of our dreams and the community foot soldiers of control.
An ironic thing is that much of this has been centered around ideas of “purity” and nostalgia that rarely takes the world live in seriously, or history honestly, or image-bearers around us truthfully. “Purity” and “orthodoxy” were convenient ways to hide arrogance and insecurity.
Read 4 tweets
6 Apr
Black literature, Womanist, and Black theologies are not just an academic endeavor, a way of resisting whiteness, or reproductions of white theology. They are a way Black people show the deepest love, embrace God’s image on Black bodies, and say: the Black world is a real world.
Theologian James Cone said he didn’t discard white theology, "but black theology began with deconstruction—that is, dismantling the oppressive, white theologies I was taught.” These theologies not only ignored black people but “blinded me to the treasure in the black tradition."
Christians must take seriously the Black experience and make room for Black people to speak of and for God, and faith, and Jesus,and love, and hope out of our experience. Any theology that devalues, dismisses, or destroys the voice of Black people is not a theology of Jesus.
Read 6 tweets
5 Apr
Many of you are new here! I’m so happy to have you follow me. It’s so dope. So here’s an introduction.

🖤 People call me Stew. I am from the Black rural South. South Carolina. Between Swansea, Sandy Run, and St. Matthews to be exact.

🖤 I am the youngest of 4. I smile. A lot. Image
🖤 I went to Clemson University, where I earned my BA in Sociology and played football.

🖤I met my wife at Clemson. We’ve been married for what will be 7 years this May. We have a beautiful son, Asa Elijah, and beautiful daughter, Ava Elyse. ImageImageImageImage
🖤 I’m a minister at the historic Tabernacle Baptist Church, Augusta, GA

🖤 I’m a masters student at @CandlerTheology at @EmoryUniversity, where my emphasis is modern religious thought and experience. My work is at the intersection of Black literature, embodiment, and theology. ImageImage
Read 5 tweets

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