How evangelical Christian writer Jemar Tisby became a radioactive symbol of ‘wokeness’

by | May 30, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — Over the past decade, Jemar Tisby’s life has largely been shaped by two forces: the Bible, and the deaths of young Black men, often at the hands of law enforcement.About a decade ago, Tisby, then a seminary student in Jackson, Mississippi, helped start a new group called the Reformed African American Network — an offshoot of the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” movement that had spread like wildfire among evangelical Christians in the first decade of the 21st century.
The group hoped to write about racial reconciliation from the viewpoint of Reformed theology, the ideas most closely associated with the ideas of John Calvin and popularized at the time by preachers and authors such as John Piper. But amid this resurgence of Reformed thought, there were few resources to be had on race issues.
Then, in 2012 in Florida, Trayvon Martin, a Black teen, was killed by the neighborhood watch coordinator of a gated community. All of a sudden, people in the movement were listening.
At the time, Tisby said in an interview, he and others raised their hands and said they had something to offer. The mostly white leaders of the Reformed movement, he said, welcomed them. “I believed them,” he said. “I thought, we are here, …

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