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Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice

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“Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference.” –Frederick Douglass, 1845 The prophets of old were not easy to listen to because they did not flatter.  They did not cajole. They spoke hard words that often chafed and unsettled their listeners. Like the Old Testament prophets, and more recent prophetic voic “Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference.” –Frederick Douglass, 1845 The prophets of old were not easy to listen to because they did not flatter.  They did not cajole. They spoke hard words that often chafed and unsettled their listeners. Like the Old Testament prophets, and more recent prophetic voices like Frederick Douglass, Dr. Eric Mason calls the evangelical church to a much-needed reckoning. In a time when many feel confused, complacent, or even angry, he challenges the church to: Be Aware – to understand that the issue of justice is not a black issue, it’s a kingdom issue. To learn how the history of racism in America and in the church has tainted our witness to a watching world. Be Redemptive – to grieve and lament what we have lost and to regain our prophetic voice, calling the church to remember our gospel imperative to promote justice and mercy. Be Active – to move beyond polite, safe conversations about reconciliation and begin to set things aright for our soon-coming King, who will be looking for a WOKE CHURCH.


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“Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference.” –Frederick Douglass, 1845 The prophets of old were not easy to listen to because they did not flatter.  They did not cajole. They spoke hard words that often chafed and unsettled their listeners. Like the Old Testament prophets, and more recent prophetic voic “Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference.” –Frederick Douglass, 1845 The prophets of old were not easy to listen to because they did not flatter.  They did not cajole. They spoke hard words that often chafed and unsettled their listeners. Like the Old Testament prophets, and more recent prophetic voices like Frederick Douglass, Dr. Eric Mason calls the evangelical church to a much-needed reckoning. In a time when many feel confused, complacent, or even angry, he challenges the church to: Be Aware – to understand that the issue of justice is not a black issue, it’s a kingdom issue. To learn how the history of racism in America and in the church has tainted our witness to a watching world. Be Redemptive – to grieve and lament what we have lost and to regain our prophetic voice, calling the church to remember our gospel imperative to promote justice and mercy. Be Active – to move beyond polite, safe conversations about reconciliation and begin to set things aright for our soon-coming King, who will be looking for a WOKE CHURCH.

30 review for Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    If you pick up this book expecting to find a landmark contribution to the social justice debate, you will be disappointed. In it, Dr. Mason is presenting his vision for a socially-engaged church, not directly engaging with the debate that has surfaced over the last several years. He's not staying out of it - the title gives it away, Dr. Mason is on the social justice side of things - but he is presenting a moderated position in favor of SJ. His desire is to redeem the term "woke", to promote fra If you pick up this book expecting to find a landmark contribution to the social justice debate, you will be disappointed. In it, Dr. Mason is presenting his vision for a socially-engaged church, not directly engaging with the debate that has surfaced over the last several years. He's not staying out of it - the title gives it away, Dr. Mason is on the social justice side of things - but he is presenting a moderated position in favor of SJ. His desire is to redeem the term "woke", to promote frameworks and terms that progressive Christians are known for, but he is committed to historic Christian orthodoxy and to staying within the evangelical camp. Speaking of terms, one of the weaknesses of this book is that it leaves too many of them undefined. The term "woke" is defined, sure, but the definition of a multitude of other frequent terms is assumed. Words like "race" and "racism", "culture", "people of color", are left without a definition, thereby placing terms like "cultural needs", "racial trauma", "majority/minority culture" in a very abstract realm, while assuming a framework where they have particular meanings. This is one of the reasons this book will probably not convince a careful reader that is aware of other views: the meaning of terms like "culture" and "race" are part of the issue being debated (which, by implication, would influence our view on whether or not "woke" is a term that can be redeemed). In my view, Dr. Mason's position suffers, among other things, from a faulty understanding of identity. In the opening pages of the book, he tells the story of how his son understood his connection to people in Libya because "they looked like him." In the preceding paragraph, we read of Dr. Mason telling his son that "these are our people." The establishment of this identification between groups of people based on how they look should make us pause and think. Do we (naturally) make this connection of identity based on physical features (height, eye color, etc.) other than skin color? Or even with skin color, does that mean that people with white skin all have a shared (cultural?) identity across ethnicities, countries and continents? A commendable aspect of the book is the correction of a conversion-hunting attitude among Christians, where regeneration is made the only thing that matters, to the exclusion of sanctification and obedience (individual and corporate). The Gospel does have implications, and I'm thankful that Dr. Mason affirms the distinction between the Gospel message and its implications. However, there are several pages in the book dedicated to the doctrine of justification that could have been much improved. He states that justification "extends beyond 'being declared righteous'", that it "isn't merely a position, but a practice" (p. 45). Even under the most charitable reading, many of the statements in that section need clarification. One way to improve his point would be to speak about "being made right", instead of the theological category of justification - a forensic word reserved in evangelical theology for the imputation of Christ's righteousness to sinners. Another aspect where the book could use some theological clarity is its hint at over-realized eschatology, such as the statement that by working for justice Christians "help realize shalom." There's a difference between desiring to reflect the shalom that Christians possess in Christ and thinking that our efforts at societal reform are helping realize it. In the same realm of eschatology, the author's worldview reveals a sub-Christian confusion of revolutions and reformations, going so far as calling Jesus "the eternal revolutionary." Giving particular attention to the soundbite of a counter-argument, Dr. Mason rejects color-blindness and finds it oppressive. But he gives a blanket condemnation, without specifying any cases where it would be useful. Should readers think of the blindfold of Lady Justice as oppressive? Would the colorblind forces of a free market be oppressive? The practical side Dr. Mason presents is not as unclear: most of them would not only be approved, but encouraged by Christians who disagree with him on principles and rhetoric. (The book could have used some editing.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brent

    Written for evangelicals as in introduction to racial reconciliation and justice. A book to hold their hand and patiently explain how racial justice isn't some scary "liberal agenda" but is actually rooted in the Bible. Unfortunately, as another reviewer pointed out, these are the very people most likely to be offended by the title and never read it. Written for evangelicals as in introduction to racial reconciliation and justice. A book to hold their hand and patiently explain how racial justice isn't some scary "liberal agenda" but is actually rooted in the Bible. Unfortunately, as another reviewer pointed out, these are the very people most likely to be offended by the title and never read it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Wade Stotts

    Eric Mason has no plan. Just a lot of bluster. Some of the bluster I agree with; some I don’t. But let’s get specific, man. What exactly is wrong and what would you like to do about it? Also, the writing is abysmal. Like a freshman’s first college paper.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Ventura

    If you already know what you think about the SJW movement and their relationship to the reformed tradition, this book will not change your mind. This will be red meat for the already "woke" and cringy to MacArthurites. There were parts that I thought were excellent critiques of the way evangelicalism has had a truncated gospel proclamation, but the pieces that Eric Mason sees as missing get filled in with some nonsensical and short-sighted "solutions." There's a reason why the woke are so friend If you already know what you think about the SJW movement and their relationship to the reformed tradition, this book will not change your mind. This will be red meat for the already "woke" and cringy to MacArthurites. There were parts that I thought were excellent critiques of the way evangelicalism has had a truncated gospel proclamation, but the pieces that Eric Mason sees as missing get filled in with some nonsensical and short-sighted "solutions." There's a reason why the woke are so friendly with democratic and socialist ideals and are sexual egalitarians. When women are preaching and teaching in woke churches, it won't be long before the liberalism sweeps them away like the mainline denominations.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Thanks to Netgalley and Moody Publishers for this ARC. This was a difficult read for me because it forced me to admit and assess my own prejudices. There is a lot of history here, which was both fascinating and appalling. The arguments for a Woke Church are crystal clear and will resonate in my heart forever, I hope. Honestly, I highlighted 1/3 of the book. The book is filled with clarion calls for justice and action. I was moved profoundly by the comparison of the Church’s reaction to the issues Thanks to Netgalley and Moody Publishers for this ARC. This was a difficult read for me because it forced me to admit and assess my own prejudices. There is a lot of history here, which was both fascinating and appalling. The arguments for a Woke Church are crystal clear and will resonate in my heart forever, I hope. Honestly, I highlighted 1/3 of the book. The book is filled with clarion calls for justice and action. I was moved profoundly by the comparison of the Church’s reaction to the issues of abortion and human trafficking to its inaction towards the very real issue of systemic racism and injustice. I do not doubt that this is an important book. I was just put off towards the end as it occurred to me that the author who argues so eloquently for racial reconciliation has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to gender equality.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Convicting on many fronts and insanely readable. For those wary of the word "woke," please read the book. I've appreciated listening to Dr. Mason's preaching over the past year, and I'm glad to read this book and recommend it. My only complaint is that it's so short. [Note: toying with the idea of writing a full, in-depth review after the first of the year.] Convicting on many fronts and insanely readable. For those wary of the word "woke," please read the book. I've appreciated listening to Dr. Mason's preaching over the past year, and I'm glad to read this book and recommend it. My only complaint is that it's so short. [Note: toying with the idea of writing a full, in-depth review after the first of the year.]

  7. 5 out of 5

    Clint Adams

    ***DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED THIS BOOK FOR FREE FROM MOODY PUBLISHERS TO REVIEW*** Eric Mason’s Woke Church aims to “shine a spotlight on one of the aspects of the gospel that has been neglected and dismissed as inappropriate for discourse” (p. 43; that aspect he refers to is justice). This book represents the seventh book that I have reviewed for Moody Publishers. It is by far the worst book I have reviewed for Moody. This review explains why I would not recommend it. This book has two forewords (wr ***DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED THIS BOOK FOR FREE FROM MOODY PUBLISHERS TO REVIEW*** Eric Mason’s Woke Church aims to “shine a spotlight on one of the aspects of the gospel that has been neglected and dismissed as inappropriate for discourse” (p. 43; that aspect he refers to is justice). This book represents the seventh book that I have reviewed for Moody Publishers. It is by far the worst book I have reviewed for Moody. This review explains why I would not recommend it. This book has two forewords (written by John M. Perkins and Ligon Duncan) and four parts. With the exception of part one, each part has two chapters. PART ONE: BE AWARE (CHAPTERS 1-3) Part One begins with a chapter that basically gives an overview on the book. In chapter two, Mason claims direct revelation from God (p. 42), adds to Scripture (p. 49) and uses language that seemingly is in alignment with the unbiblical movement known as the Seven Mountain Mandate (p. 58). Claiming direct revelation from God represents a subtle denial of the sufficiency of Scripture. Furthermore, adding to God’s Word makes one a liar (Proverbs 30:6). Finally, the Seven Mountain Mandate is basically an unbiblical replacement for the Great Commission. It has its roots in another unbiblical movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation. He continues the N.A.R. talk in chapter three. PART TWO: BE WILLING TO ACKNOWLEDGE (CHAPTERS 4-5) Part Two both asks if the church is asleep and discusses the things for the church to lament (pp. 75-114). Chapter four is basically a 30,000 foot overview of the “timeline of the system of slavery to segregation and beyond” (p. 92). In chapter five, Mason continues his claiming direct revelation from God (p. 96). Mason also begins to show why his book fails from a grammar standpoint when he fails to correctly spell the name of Gardner C. Taylor (p. 105). He instead spells it “Gardener.” After doing various checks online to verify the correct spelling, Mason’s spelling is indeed incorrect. Perhaps both he and/or his editor are to blame for that gaffe. Mason also makes a weak claim regarding the “Philando Castile” incident when he fails to name the names of those evangelicals who supposedly “made some unfortunate and non-empathetic statements” in relation to that tragedy (p. 107). While he accurately details the incident, making a weak claim from it by refusing to name the names of those evangelicals who supposedly “made some unfortunate and non-empathetic statements” hurts his credibility a bit. PART THREE: BE ACCOUNTABLE (CHAPTERS 6-7) Part Three covers “reclaiming our prophetic voice” and “a vision for change” (p. 115-144). Mason continues his bad grammar and adding to God’s Word (habits already established at this point) in chapter six. The bad grammar perhaps hits a breaking point in chapter seven. In this chapter, Mason discusses three types of justice; they are intervening, preventative and systemic (pp. 133-141). However, in his introduction to discussing these three things, he initially describes the third justice as systematic, not systemic. It is obvious from his frequent usage of the word “systemic” that he meant that word instead of the initial “systematic” word. Nevertheless, the grammar error is still bad and too glaring to ignore. PART FOUR: BE ACTIVE (CHAPTERS 8-9) Part Four covers “The Woke Church In Action” and “Seeing Through The Lens Of The End” (pp. 145-182). While he doesn’t outright state his support for women pastors, he comes as close as it gets to affirming it without actually affirming it when he states “…many churches lack a vision to see women beyond traditional roles. It is incumbent on leadership to reevaluate areas where women have been relegated to serve that are not based on biblical prohibitions but rather on cultural practices that may be extensions of sexism and misogyny. Black women should be affirmed to serve in greater capacities than the traditional roles of children’s ministry, choir and hospitality” (p. 155). What Mason seemingly fails to understand is that the whole concept of female pastors is unbiblical (see 1 Timothy 2:9-15 and 1 Corinthians 14). Furthermore, its being an unbiblical concept has absolutely nothing to do with misogyny or sexism. Instead, the passages show how the Apostle Paul goes back to creation to explain why the concept is unbiblical. Mason misses the mark here. Mason also really misses the mark in terms of his information. He explained how Philadelphia Eagles’ “quarterback” Malcolm Jenkins once did a silent interview with reporters (p. 157). There’s only one problem; Jenkins is not a quarterback as Mason states. Instead, he is a safety. He formerly played cornerback. Both of those positions are on defense whereas the quarterback position is on offense. While this bringing up this particular matter is petty of me, it nonetheless illustrates how neither Mason nor his editor did the best job of fact-checking information. As a result, Mason’s credibility suffers. It suffers more when he states on page 160 that “The Jude 3 Project, led by Lisa Fields, is committed to equipping the local church in fulfilling the mandate of Jude 13 — contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” I don’t know why he states Jude 13 in that part given the fact Jude 13 does not make mention of contending for the faith per se. Rather, it pairs with verse 12 in describing the characteristics of a false teacher. This is simply another example of poor proofreading by Mason and/or whoever edited this book. Finally, in chapter nine, Mason demonstrates how he subscribes to the false “purpose” theology when he states God created you for a purpose (p. 170). He fails to understand that Christians were created for good works (plural; see Ephesians 2:10), not a purpose (singular). It’s simply the cherry on top to a mess of a book. CONCLUSION While this is certainly not the worst book I’ve ever read, it’s most definitely the worst book I have reviewed for Moody. Mason misses the mark on so many levels that I cannot recommend this work. Unless you’re reading this book for research purposes, stay away from it. GRADE: 2.0 out of 5

  8. 5 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Short thoughts: I am mixed on the title. There is nothing wrong with it, but those that are in most need of the book are probably those that would be most turned off by the title. Woke has a connotation among people that are skeptical of the need for racial justice and I think I would have titled it differently. But the book is worth reading. The early sections of history and biographical sketches about how the church has been on the wrong side of injustice, specially racial justice are well don Short thoughts: I am mixed on the title. There is nothing wrong with it, but those that are in most need of the book are probably those that would be most turned off by the title. Woke has a connotation among people that are skeptical of the need for racial justice and I think I would have titled it differently. But the book is worth reading. The early sections of history and biographical sketches about how the church has been on the wrong side of injustice, specially racial justice are well done. But I think the strongest sections of the book are about the prophetic role of the church and discussion of the prophetic in the Old Testament. The final section is about how to be active in the fight against injustice. This is a descriptive look at Mason's church not a prescriptive descriptions. These are all in the line of John Perkins, who wrote an introduction to the book. My longer thoughts are on my blog at http://bookwi.se/woke-church/

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Penn

    I feel like Dr. Mason is a man who is swimming in the ocean of Scripture, but understands the current of the present. What I learned...You don’t really know God or His Bible unless you know about and join in His push for justice. We need to engage our broken culture and prophetically speak/act against racism and injustice. We need to know how broken we are, how great Jesus is, and how awesome the end is going to be when Jesus returns.

  10. 4 out of 5

    John

    Eric Mason founded Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia in 2006, the same year I started pastoral ministry 45 northeast. The impact of Mason’s ministry was felt in New Jersey and it continues to grow in influence. Mason is known as a leader in multiethnic ministry. Mason is one of the leaders I want to be listening to when it comes to racial division and justice. I am grateful for Mason’s ministry and for his willingness to lend his voice to the broader church in Woke Church. Mason appropriates th Eric Mason founded Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia in 2006, the same year I started pastoral ministry 45 northeast. The impact of Mason’s ministry was felt in New Jersey and it continues to grow in influence. Mason is known as a leader in multiethnic ministry. Mason is one of the leaders I want to be listening to when it comes to racial division and justice. I am grateful for Mason’s ministry and for his willingness to lend his voice to the broader church in Woke Church. Mason appropriates the term woke (which means to be aware and responsive to issues of injustice, especially racial injustice) to refer to being “awakened to the reality of implicit and explicit racism and injustice in society.” Mason draws from biblical language of waking up—think Paul’s language in Ephesians, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Mason says such a spirit-filled church is characterized by: 1) Awareness to the truths that unite the body of Christ including the relationship of justice to the gospel and the church as God’s family; 2) Acknowledgment of the history of racism of American Christianity; 3) Accountability for churches to reclaim their calling to be salt and light through prophetic preaching and advocacy for justice and action. This provides the structure of the book with the conclusion being Mason’s study of the book of Revelation and a picture of where God’s big story of people is going. This was my favorite chapter, such a compelling vision of the future that calls for action today. Mason says that he struggles finding a home in the evangelical or the mainline church. He is committed to the gospel and to exegetically-based preaching, but appreciates the mainline church’s emphasis on social action. I’m sure this will be a hurdle for evangelicals, but I encourage evangelicals to hang in there and listen. It’s important for us to understand not only the history of racism in America, but the ongoing impact of racism. Mason says, “One of the most difficult things for me to deal with is the refusal for many evangelicals to acknowledge the truths about what has happened in our country. Our history has been hard for people of color, and the church must be willing to acknowledge those hard truths if we are to move toward healing. Much of our history is shrouded in darkness because it is hard to talk about and even harder to understand from our vantage point today.” Mason spends a chapter offering a brief history of racism in America. While the reader certainly ought to read more on this, I’m glad that he includes this chapter. Mason tells us that colorblind theology is harmful, not helpful, when it comes to understanding the problem. He says, “Colorblind theology denies Christ’s power to heal racial divisions, disparities, and injustices by ignoring their ongoing impact. Colorblind theology undermines unity in the church by refusing to acknowledge significant ethnic differences or address significant problems.” Mason is committed to the gospel. He wants to “shine a spotlight on one of the aspects of the gospel that has been neglected and dismissed as inappropriate for discourse,” that is, justice. My second favorite chapter was Mason’s second chapter, which is one of the strongest expositions on God’s justice I’ve ever read. Mason argues that righteousness is an active, not static attribute of God’s. He forcefully argues that for us to understand the righteousness of God, we have to understand that God’s righteousness works itself out in the world. This is what justice is, and just as we do not sit back and say that God’s love will one day win out, but that has no bearing on our today, so too we must see an active call for today in God’s righteousness. Mason calls the church to act. It’s not enough to be awake to the issues, we need to act. “The Woke Church is one that is aware of the urgent needs in its community and does more than just talk about those needs.” The opposite is true as well, “You can speak on justice and race with rhetorical excellence, but if the gospel isn’t presented, heart change won’t happen.” Mason explains that, “We must address the things that happen in our culture exegetically, expositionally, theologically, historically, critically, lovingly, passionately, humbly, and with Jesus at the center.” Mason says the gospel makes a new family, a family that isn’t homogenous, a family that cares about one another. “The gospel is supposed to bring people together who wouldn’t naturally be together.” That is well said. The only critique I have about Mason’s Woke Church is that at times Mason paints with a little too broad a brush. Further, while I so appreciate Mason’s call to action, I am a little hesitant on how much Mason encourages the church to bring inside her doors. The most successful churches I’ve witnessed who engage in active gospel ministry in their communities form strong and fairly narrow partnerships. While some have taken issue with Mason’s appropriation of the term “woke,” that doesn’t concern me so much. I believe the church can redeem just about any word and I think Mason has done so admirably. The book is well worth the read for any church leader. I commend it to you. Thank you for your hard work and your heart for Christ and his church, Dr. Mason. For more reviews see www.thebeehive.live.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Richard Lawrence

    "So in many ways I have one foot in conservative Christianity and the other foot in liberal Christianity, but I don't feel fully secure in either boat." chapter 6, page 116. Eric Mason's desire to hold onto the biblical gospel whilst pursuing a social programme learned from liberal Christianity leads to a lot of confusion. Additionally Eric Mason genuinely believes that as a black man in America there is a significant risk that his children could be murdered by the police, he states this in chapte "So in many ways I have one foot in conservative Christianity and the other foot in liberal Christianity, but I don't feel fully secure in either boat." chapter 6, page 116. Eric Mason's desire to hold onto the biblical gospel whilst pursuing a social programme learned from liberal Christianity leads to a lot of confusion. Additionally Eric Mason genuinely believes that as a black man in America there is a significant risk that his children could be murdered by the police, he states this in chapter 5, page 97 I think that this belief motivates his approach to several points in the book. This is a difficult book to review because of the inherent contradictions running through it, it makes some brilliant points and some awful points, so let's look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The Good 1. This book highlights the history of racism in America AND the unpleasant truth that many christians have been complicit in that racism. It calls all it's readers to oppose racism whenever and wherever they see it. 2. This book points to the wonderful truth that in Christ there is reconciliation across any divide, and that the ultimate solution to all division will be seen when Christ returns. 3. Despite various confusions and redefinitions this book does state the correct biblical gospel and the true way of salvation. 4. This book encourages us to be realistic about the past and not pretend that our generation started with a blank slate - if we're going to address people impacted by historic problems this is very important. The Bad 1. This book overemphasises the role of ethnicity in the world - at times implying that everything needs to be seen through the lens of American racism, whilst it is an important topic many people are not primarily identified by their race - the repeated use of "whites" as a derogatory term is also unhelpful. 2. This book overemphasises the role of America in the world - it would be useful to teach Americans that there are many places across the sea, and that their history is not the interpretive grid for everything else. 3. This book seems to assume that all churches are megachurches - the action plan towards the end has nothing to say to churches with less than 100 members. 4. Reference is made to the official BLM organisation including quotes from their website and it is implied that their agenda is a good one - I believe that most christians reading that website should not be able to agree with this. The Ugly 1. The book draws on liberal scholars such as Fleming Rutledge and Ernst Käsemann to ground it's agenda BUT in doing so imports their redefinitions of some critical doctrines. This brings unnecessary confusion to the gospel. In chapter 2, on page 45 the reformed doctrine of justification is condemned as an aspect of "western theology" that is too limited. Justification apparently is both the doctrine of right standing before God AND the doctrine of making the world a better place. This later point may be a good thing to be doing but is nothing to do with "justification" in either historic theology or the Bible. Similarly still in chapter 2 on page 46 divine righteousness and justice is defined as an activity rather than a state or characteristic of God, if followed to its conclusion this change would shatter the gospel message. 2. The book does not mention the doctrine of sanctification or historic christian ethics which are where many of the topics it's discussing should be grounded. 3. The word "justice" is used like all purpose solvent throughout the book - it means whatever is useful on the current page - the lack of consistent definition results in a lot ambiguity and confusion in what is being discussed and also the use of the wrong biblical passages for many points. 4. In general the bible is handled in a sloppy fashion, in a couple of places hermeneutics and exegesis are explicitly denigrated (e.g. on page 48) as things that christians spend too much time on. The result is seen in the shoddy exegesis that Mason uses. 5. On page 106 an unnamed white christian is pronounced a heretic for promoting "colour blind theology", the detail given is sufficient to identify the man in question as Dr James White and the idea being condemned as a statement White made that the Lord's supper is about Christ not our ethnicities, so when gathering for the super we don't think about our ethnicity but only about our status as sinners saved by Christ. At a minimum this treatment of Dr White is uncharitable. Conclusion I believe that christians do need to think carefully about Biblical approaches to racism both modern and historic and how to be welcoming and show love to people of any and all backgrounds. I agree that there is a lot of horror to be seen in American history. I think this book is good at drawing attention to these points, however I largely disagree with the conclusions drawn and I am alarmed at the careless approach taken to the handling of scripture and theology.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julius Tennal II

    Summary: The woke church must: 1. be aware of how sin manifests in our communities and how the gospel addresses these issues; 2. be willing to acknowledge that our country’s history of racism continues to impact our communities today; 3. be accountable to move beyond just talking about injustices to developing a plan to engage them with the gospel 4. be active by proclaiming the gospel, meeting pressing needs, and partnering together to bring gospel change. What I appreciate about Eric Mason is that Summary: The woke church must: 1. be aware of how sin manifests in our communities and how the gospel addresses these issues; 2. be willing to acknowledge that our country’s history of racism continues to impact our communities today; 3. be accountable to move beyond just talking about injustices to developing a plan to engage them with the gospel 4. be active by proclaiming the gospel, meeting pressing needs, and partnering together to bring gospel change. What I appreciate about Eric Mason is that this book isn’t an academic theory for him; it’s the result of faithful gospel ministry in his urban context.

  13. 5 out of 5

    George P.

    The word woke  is slang for being “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” Dr. Eric Mason appropriates this term to describe a church that has been “awakened to the reality of implicit and explicit racism and injustice in [American] society.” Such a church is characterized by four attributes: Awareness of the “overarching truths” that unite the Body of Christ, including the relationship of justice to the gospel (chapt The word woke  is slang for being “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” Dr. Eric Mason appropriates this term to describe a church that has been “awakened to the reality of implicit and explicit racism and injustice in [American] society.” Such a church is characterized by four attributes: Awareness of the “overarching truths” that unite the Body of Christ, including the relationship of justice to the gospel (chapter 2) and the Church as the holy family of God (chapter 3); Acknowledgement of the history of racism among American Christians (chapter 4), which provides a list of beliefs and practices to lament (chapter 5); Accountability for churches to “reclaim our roles as light and salt in the world” by means of “prophetic preaching” (chapter 6) and advocacy for justice, which is understood to encompass how both individuals and systems act and react (chapter 7); and Action, which suggests “ten action steps” churches can take “to bring healing and justice into our spheres [of influence]” (chapter 8). Mason concludes the book (chapter 9) with a brief study of the book of Revelation, which paints the “bigger picture” of God’s vision of the Church. “If the church can keep this image of what is to come before us,” Mason writes, “we will be energized to accomplish His purposes in the earth. We will work as one unified body, across all ethnic lines” (Revelation 7:9–10). Mason is the founder and pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA. He is a black evangelical who describes himself as “exegetically at home with my conservative family on the doctrines of grace, but ethically at home with my liberal family on issues of race and justice.” My guess is that Mason’s dual at-home-ness may frustrate readers. Conservatives may think some of his suggestions go too far, while liberals may think they don’t go far enough. As a conservative white evangelical, the best piece of advice I can give to readers like me is this: listen. White and black Christians may read the same Bible, but they read it from very different social locations. And in my experience, white Christians are often unaware of the breadth and depth of racism in American history, including the history of the American church. Until we listen to our black brothers and sisters we cannot hope even to begin bridging the racial divide in our churches, let alone our country. Dr. Eric Mason’s Woke Church is a right step in that direction. Book Reviewed Eric Mason, Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice (Chicago: Moody, 2018). P.S. If you like my review, please vote “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Matuch

    This book is just what the subtitle says it is: "an urgent call for Christians in America to confront reason and injustice." I read it for that, and that's what I got. I like the way the book is organized: 1. Be aware, 2. Be willing to acknowledge, 3. Be accountable, 4. Be active. Those four steps will stay with me as things I can do to progress in my ability to be a reconciler. I understand that the writing style is not for everyone, but I would encourage people to listen to some of Dr. Mason's This book is just what the subtitle says it is: "an urgent call for Christians in America to confront reason and injustice." I read it for that, and that's what I got. I like the way the book is organized: 1. Be aware, 2. Be willing to acknowledge, 3. Be accountable, 4. Be active. Those four steps will stay with me as things I can do to progress in my ability to be a reconciler. I understand that the writing style is not for everyone, but I would encourage people to listen to some of Dr. Mason's sermons before reading. I had already done this prior to reading the book, so some of his word choices and syntax made more sense to me where it might not have otherwise. This reads very much like I think he would say it. In any case, I appreciated this book for its encouragement to pursue racial reconciliation. Because of this book, and what's been on my heart recently, I reached out to someone from my church to have a tough conversation about how we view current issues in our country differently. Any book that can effect real action and change like that is worth your time. Be ready to be challenged.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Choate

    Woke Church focuses on two overarching truths that lead to initiatives the Church must face. 1: The Gospel is transformative. 2: Justice is an effect of a Gospel-believing church. The Gospel has the ability to change our souls and our circumstance, and the truth is that American Christians have largely been held captive by their political identities. Yet, God’s character is intrinsically tied to his justice. The Woke Church is a Church that doesn’t limit the transcendence of the Gospel to do inte Woke Church focuses on two overarching truths that lead to initiatives the Church must face. 1: The Gospel is transformative. 2: Justice is an effect of a Gospel-believing church. The Gospel has the ability to change our souls and our circumstance, and the truth is that American Christians have largely been held captive by their political identities. Yet, God’s character is intrinsically tied to his justice. The Woke Church is a Church that doesn’t limit the transcendence of the Gospel to do intervening, preventative, and systemic justice. “How big is the gospel? I believe in a gospel that is big enough to root out indifference, apathy, ignorance, and poverty of soul. It’s big enough to change utterly lost men and women into bold champions of the faith. It’s big enough to wake a slumbering church from its sleep. It’s a gospel that cries out for a Woke Church” I appreciate many of the practical examples Dr. Mason gives to help cause real change in our communities.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nadia L. Hohn

    What a wonderful book! I also bought the physical copy because the audible version went so quickly and there were a lot of scriptures I’d like to look up. This is the first book club pick for my facebook group.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Carl

    I need to actually give this book two ratings: -2.5 Stars for theological content. -4 stars for practical advice and motivation for churches to be the hands and feet of Christ (orthopraxy) In honesty, I don’t think I was ready to read this book a year ago. I most likely would have bristled at every notion and theological curve. The last year has given me much time to reflect and pray over ethnic relations, the church, individual responsibility, the sins of racism and ethnic hatred, social injustice I need to actually give this book two ratings: -2.5 Stars for theological content. -4 stars for practical advice and motivation for churches to be the hands and feet of Christ (orthopraxy) In honesty, I don’t think I was ready to read this book a year ago. I most likely would have bristled at every notion and theological curve. The last year has given me much time to reflect and pray over ethnic relations, the church, individual responsibility, the sins of racism and ethnic hatred, social injustices, and a whole host of other interwoven issues. The Spirit of God has softened my heart towards the message of reconciliation and love towards neighbor and I’m grateful for it. Now, as far as the content of the book goes. Theological: My major issue is Dr. Mason’s view of justification as expounded in chapter 3. He borrows heavily from Kasseman in his understanding of justification and slips into, what I believe to be major theological error here. “Justification is a huge greenhouse of truth that extends beyond ‘being declared righteous’! Justified isn’t merely a position, but a practice!” (p45) This is the same theological error NPP advocates make, especially as taught by Sanders, Dunn, and Wright. This is fundamentally wrong. Confusion of justification and sanctification leads to a works based faith and the Apostle Paul militates vehemently against this in Romans and Galatians. Dr. Mason conflates sanctification and justification and in so doing jeopardizes the gospel message at its core. To that effect, sanctification is a necessary part of the life of the covenant believer, but it is not consubstantial in justification with the penal substitutionary atonement and double imputation as Dr. Mason seems to indicate. Another puzzling and trouble thing for me is his dip into CRT, albeit slight and subtle. He defines the life and consciousness of a Christian to require three woke components: 1. Woke to white perception 2. Woke to black perception 3. Woke to the gospel This is confusing to me because it seems to rely on the baseless presuppositions of CRT that one must be “enlightened” to certain Gnostic knowledge to truly be able to understand certain concepts and aspects of life. I’m not denying that it is hard for a white person to put oneself into the shoes of a black person, and vice versa. Or an Asian man to understand the life and mind of a black inner city female. Yet, the Word of God working in the hearts and minds of believers of all ethnicities through the power of the Spirit is adequate to enlighten the mind and heart towards sins that may be locked up or unknown. I’m not advocating for completely abandoning social sciences, sociology, psychology, anthropology and every other ology that might help us better understand one another as various ethnicities, but the push for a special racial wokeness seems reductionistic and Gnostic. Practical: I was moved by Dr. Mason’s narratives about his life and the life of his sons. I was amazed at the level of practical love that his church, Epiphany Fellowship showed to the surrounding community. It made me desire, and rightfully so, to be more actively engaged in bringing both the gospel and the cup of cold water to all men, women, and children. I believe the concept of Two Kingdoms and Spirituality of the church has done far more harm than good. These two doctrines have turned, especially many Reformed churches (at least the ones I’m aware of), into insulated little seminaries meeting on Sunday morning with very little praxy driven by orthodoxy. Dr. Mason’s encouragement and admonition to bring the gospel and the cup of water to those in spiritual and physical need is a message in desperate need to be blasted from every reformed pulpit. Lastly, like any niche book about a particular subject, I believe Dr. Mason pigeon holes race into biblical texts unnecessarily and incorrectly. Especially evidenced in his exegesis of Revelation in the last chapter. All that being said, I enjoyed the book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Bautista

    I'm thankful that God has really used this past Black History Month to challenge me in the way I view race relations in our culture today. This book is an important catalyst for me in this. And the challenge is not simply one to shout out that as water is wet, obviously race and racism STILL plays a major role in America. But the challenge is to the church of Jesus Christ (of which I belong) to not be asleep to the issues of race, to be complicit in silence to the suffering of people due to raci I'm thankful that God has really used this past Black History Month to challenge me in the way I view race relations in our culture today. This book is an important catalyst for me in this. And the challenge is not simply one to shout out that as water is wet, obviously race and racism STILL plays a major role in America. But the challenge is to the church of Jesus Christ (of which I belong) to not be asleep to the issues of race, to be complicit in silence to the suffering of people due to racism, and to be an active player, even leaders, in making and doing right in the world, bringing God's justice to this world. I think one who only sees the cover and title of this book may find it to be a contrived perspective and messy topic along the lines of thinking of ourselves as being in a "post-racial" society or feeling like talking about social justice takes away from the work of the Gospel. Eric Mason handles these and other rebuttals of the importance and urgency of dealing with race and racism with Bible-driven confidence and grace for brothers and sisters of faith that have yet to embrace social justice as an important, even essential, Gospel work. But make no mistake, Eric Mason urges the Church to not remain asleep, but to be awake, woke, to these problems that race and racism have put upon African Americans. This book probably hits home the strongest for Christians who seek to understand better the Biblical underpinnings of the Church's involvement in social justice as a Gospel work. But also for non-Christians, there are strong history and anthropology lessons also that can help someone like me as a non-African American understand better how "institutionalized racism" not only works, but how it works on a generational level. It'd be fascinating if it weren't so heartbreaking. Briefly, I did check out this book in physical form as well as consuming it primarily as an audiobook. I noticed that there are some charts in the physical book that are referred to, but not described in the audiobook. The book was readily available in both formats at my library, so I'd recommend that if you listen to this book (like me), take a few moments to find this book in physical form at the library and browse through. Take time during Black History Month to take notice of race in our world today. Use this book as a way to engage this conversation.

  19. 5 out of 5

    John-Jennifer Divito

    Rating a book like Eric Mason's Woke Church is difficult. Is my rating based on how helpful reading this book has been in my study of social justice and the church? Or should I rate his book in light of my agreement with his argument and conclusions? Ultimately, I am torn. On the one hand, I appreciated reading Mason's perspective on racism and injustice in America today. He speaks for many in this call for Christian social action, and his book was thought-provoking and clear. On the other hand, Rating a book like Eric Mason's Woke Church is difficult. Is my rating based on how helpful reading this book has been in my study of social justice and the church? Or should I rate his book in light of my agreement with his argument and conclusions? Ultimately, I am torn. On the one hand, I appreciated reading Mason's perspective on racism and injustice in America today. He speaks for many in this call for Christian social action, and his book was thought-provoking and clear. On the other hand, I have not found Mason to be a reliable guide through these important and controversial issues. Let me explain why: First, I was disappointed with how Mason handled Scripture. He would often quote Bible verses to prove his arguments, but his proof-texting frequently lacked any exposition and was all too often devoid of context. As a result, I remained unconvinced of a number of his conclusions. And when I did agree with Mason, I still desired a more robust defense of these truths from God's Word. Second, I am unsure whether Mason is trying to baptize and repurpose social justice language and concepts in order to fully explain Christian ministry, or if he is seeking to import and integrate contemporary social justice tenets and conclusions into the practice of Christian ministry. Either way, modern social justice beliefs and practices are rooted in a worldview which is antithetical to biblical Christianity. So if the former is true, then I find Mason's project unnecessary. Instead, we should commit ourselves to a thorough study and practice of what God's Word calls us to do in pursuing justice. But if the later is true, then I find Mason's call one which compromises biblical truth by wedding it with a contemporary worldly philosophy that is opposed to God. Such syncretism is dangerous. Third, Mason seems to hold to Neo-Calvinistic Transformationalism. While he never directly tackles the subject of the relationship between the church and culture, his calls for church ministry regularly are focused on social improvement. Unfortunately, such a broad concept of kingdom work undermines the specific mission and purpose of Christ's church and quickly undermines the centrality of the gospel in church ministry. Once again, Mason reminds me of the importance of recovering the Two Kingdoms doctrine and rejecting Transformationalism. Much more could be said, but I hope that my brief summary of concerns is helpful. While Mason helped me to better understand the recent calls for Christians to become "woke," he also renewed my commitment to turn to the Scriptures as a sufficient guide to confront racism and injustice in our nation.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dan Waugh

    I am torn on this book a bit. I almost gave a three star review because I believe the book is built on a fundamental confusion of categories regarding the gospel. In an early chapter Mason suggests that contending for racial justice is a gospel issue; yet, he builds his argument by quoting passages like Matt 23:23 where Jesus confronts the scribes and Pharisees. Here he tells them they are overly concerned about tithing herbs and not about the *weightier matters of the law* such as justice. Law, I am torn on this book a bit. I almost gave a three star review because I believe the book is built on a fundamental confusion of categories regarding the gospel. In an early chapter Mason suggests that contending for racial justice is a gospel issue; yet, he builds his argument by quoting passages like Matt 23:23 where Jesus confronts the scribes and Pharisees. Here he tells them they are overly concerned about tithing herbs and not about the *weightier matters of the law* such as justice. Law, not gospel. Elsewhere he makes the same kind of move connecting Jesus' summary of the *law* (loving God, loving neighbor) to the call for racial justice. Again, this confuses law with gospel. That's a pretty big deal. In other places, he is more careful with the wording and talks about reconciliation, racial justice, etc., as *outworkings* of the gospel. That is more accurate. AND, saying something is "law" doesn't make it unimportant! Now, as the new covenant community, the law should be written on our hearts. It is still very relevant to us as Christ-followers! After doing some mental reinterpretation of Mason's framework, there is much in this book that I found very beneficial. The discussion of our "family history" and how it continues to shape us - whether we talking about our nuclear family or spiritual family - was very helpful. I very much appreciated his writing regarding the black church and how important an institution it has been and how it is often misunderstood and misrepresented by white evangelicals. His explanation of why the black church often is lukewarm or downright resistant to talks of integration was very helpful. Also, his advice on how to avoid 'tokenism' was helpful. I wish the practical section was a bit more applicable to contexts other than the urban church, but understand why that was the focus. It will take a bit more translation to a small town context like Bloomington. Overall, I recommend the book if the reader can avoid the gospel/law confusion.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marshall Griffin

    Highly recommend, especially for those wondering about the place of the church in issues of justice. Mason explores racial injustice and how the church should respond theologically, historically, and practically. In easily accessible writing, he makes clear how the gospel compels us to care, speak, and act for justice. Quotes and Notes: "The church should be the main communicator about challenges that happen in our country on race and justice. We should be the first place that people look to for Highly recommend, especially for those wondering about the place of the church in issues of justice. Mason explores racial injustice and how the church should respond theologically, historically, and practically. In easily accessible writing, he makes clear how the gospel compels us to care, speak, and act for justice. Quotes and Notes: "The church should be the main communicator about challenges that happen in our country on race and justice. We should be the first place that people look to for answers. We should be the ones presenting a clear, viable mode of how that lies within us." "My desire in this book is to encourage the church to utilize the mind of Christ and to be fully awake to the issues of race and injustice in this country. The believer is able to be aware of sin and challenge it wherever it is - seeing all of the issues and being able to connect cultural, socioeconomic, philosophical, historical, and ethical dots." "We proclaim and engage in activism that flows from the gospel." Be Aware Be Willing to Acknowledge Be Accountable Be Active "God’s covenant community is the purveyor of his character in all of life." "What if the things that are happening right now on our country are God’s way of telling us it’s time to wake up and act like family?" On Philemon - that’s how you change a system, through the poor and the elite at the same time. Who God is - who we are - what we do. Starts with God’s holiness. "Being God’s holy people (set apart) means that we are uniquely tailored to accomplish the purpose is he has given us in this world." This is not about you making yourself holy, but about living out and reflecting the holiness God has given you. “God’s covenant community is the purveyor of his character in all of life.”

  22. 4 out of 5

    Noah Adams

    Best book on the subject I’ve read. Not perfect but that’s more on me than the author. He offers practical steps forward but his vision is more for the Church than the church. I’d love an additional chapter on how normative size churches with hurting budgets can engage effectively and intentionally. But overall, great read and very doctrinally and biblically sound.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Mahalik

    This is a very important book and and eye opening one to read. God showed me a lot of close mindedness and arrogance in my heart that I never knew was there. However, I was hungry for him to get practical about good steps to take towards racial reconciliation in the church but I felt that part was lacking. He had some general stuff and some idealized stuff that his church does, but not much for the “unwoke church” who I thought this book was aimed at.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nirupa Mathew

    4.5 stars

  25. 4 out of 5

    Grant Young

    Necessary for those in the American church who want to address the systemic racial issues in this country.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tom Bazan

    I would recommend reading this book. The thing I appreciate most about the book is that the heart that Mason has for the Church is evident throughout the book--even in the tough parts of the book. It is evident that he yearns for an American (and global) Church that stands up to the racism in its (and society's) past and present. His heart breaks to see racism in society and a Church that is not on the front lines addressing the problem. The book doesn't dive deeply into any of the topics that it I would recommend reading this book. The thing I appreciate most about the book is that the heart that Mason has for the Church is evident throughout the book--even in the tough parts of the book. It is evident that he yearns for an American (and global) Church that stands up to the racism in its (and society's) past and present. His heart breaks to see racism in society and a Church that is not on the front lines addressing the problem. The book doesn't dive deeply into any of the topics that it covers (such as the history of racism in the American Church or actions the Church can take). Instead, it is an overview of many of those topics, allowing the reader to see how many of the issues connect to other parts. He focuses on calling readers up to a higher standard, rather than calling out readers for past failings. In that way, his book read as hopeful for the future--especially the chapter on having a long-term perspective where the Church is united.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    An important to read for all christians, especially white christians. I believe many white christians will struggle with this book as it does not give a pretty 3 step plan to end racism, because that does not exist. There is hard work ahead that Mason preferences and expounds well — while giving crucial historical contextualization of how the church has gotten where we are today. At best the evangelical church has been on the sidelines of fighting racial injustice, and more commonly been an oppr An important to read for all christians, especially white christians. I believe many white christians will struggle with this book as it does not give a pretty 3 step plan to end racism, because that does not exist. There is hard work ahead that Mason preferences and expounds well — while giving crucial historical contextualization of how the church has gotten where we are today. At best the evangelical church has been on the sidelines of fighting racial injustice, and more commonly been an oppressor and negligent brother. The chapter on Lament was especially enlightening to me, and breaking. How have i/we been so blind? sin sin sin. For me this book is a posture, now it is a matter of how I will respond? Do I continue to stay silent and comfortable? Or will i/we see, lament, listen and act. Excited to read this book again and again. a gift.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Noah York

    Starting with the broader issues, the book is not well organized or well written. Its very much formatted like a 200 page rant. In relation to content, the book had a few good portions, especially when it came to our focus on eternality should affect our principles now, and therefore make us care about justice. But Mason's application of justice seemed to be an excuse to pair liberal politics with Christianity. There were a number of issues with his sections on things like Black Lives Matter, hi Starting with the broader issues, the book is not well organized or well written. Its very much formatted like a 200 page rant. In relation to content, the book had a few good portions, especially when it came to our focus on eternality should affect our principles now, and therefore make us care about justice. But Mason's application of justice seemed to be an excuse to pair liberal politics with Christianity. There were a number of issues with his sections on things like Black Lives Matter, his ways of dealing with criminal justice, and even his use of New Perspectives on Paul as a fundamental citation. Overall, not well written, poor content, even though a blind squirrel will find an acorn of truth every once and a while.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kavin Kramer

    It shook me, then it woke me. There were moments I loved it, hated it, was in deep thought, and literally yelled at how "stupid" it is, but then I came back around. This is chalk full of understanding needed to bridge a gap that many like myself would say doesn't exist. I was wrong. I already hated racism and now I hate injustice, too. I can't say I agree with every word but I do believe I will agree with it more and more as time goes on. As a follower of Jesus, justice must be something I fight f It shook me, then it woke me. There were moments I loved it, hated it, was in deep thought, and literally yelled at how "stupid" it is, but then I came back around. This is chalk full of understanding needed to bridge a gap that many like myself would say doesn't exist. I was wrong. I already hated racism and now I hate injustice, too. I can't say I agree with every word but I do believe I will agree with it more and more as time goes on. As a follower of Jesus, justice must be something I fight for and love doing. Lord, heal your Church. I want to be part of this.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Smooth Via

    Dr. Mason's book is both eye opening and convicting. Every white christian in America needs to read this book. If I was pastoring a church in America, I would make this required reading for every staff member. Dr. Mason handles tough racial issues with biblical clarity and a commitment to black history and culture. Thank you Dr. Mason for opening my eyes when I already thought I was "woke." I cannot recommend this book enough. Dr. Mason's book is both eye opening and convicting. Every white christian in America needs to read this book. If I was pastoring a church in America, I would make this required reading for every staff member. Dr. Mason handles tough racial issues with biblical clarity and a commitment to black history and culture. Thank you Dr. Mason for opening my eyes when I already thought I was "woke." I cannot recommend this book enough.

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