Monday, July 05, 2010

REVIEW: Gracism (David Anderson)

One of the best books I've read this year is Owen Hylton's Crossing the Divide. David Anderson's Gracism stands influentially behind that book. David Anderson is a leader of a multicultural church and is seeking to overthrow racism and other similar divisiveness in the church by proposing the art of inclusion, called gracism.

"I define gracism as the positive extension of favour on other humans based on colour, class or culture"

Which might sound like an annoyingly Christianised version of positive discrimination.  And  you could read it that way. But actually what we find in this book is a careful unpacking of 1 Corinthians 12's teaching on the body, which is far more subversive than some kind of politically correct agenda.

From 1 Corinthians 12 Anderson develops seven sayings of a gracist: I will lift you up, I will cover you, I will share with you, I will honour you, I will stand with you, I will consider you, I will celebrate with you.

Too rarely are these my instincts, yet they are the instincts of the gospel. Anderson paints an attainable picture of the application of the gospel, set in ordinary church life. Much of it is filtered through racial examples but there are challenging illustrations from other areas of life too, and the applications and implications to other contexts are easy to do. If you're involved in University Christian Unions this would be a very good book to read to think well about unity.
"When you or I have the power to criticize another denomination, ministry, class or group, let's not take aim and fire. Let's power down and cover the body of Christ with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Attitudes and behaviours such as these will lead us down the road to reconciliation much faster... it is incumbent upon those with power or privilege to take on the responsibility to protect and cover those who don't have them" (p67-68)
This book is a breath of fresh air for the church that would help us to treat one another more lovingly. Like Hylton's book this helps us to embrace rather than ignore diversity, to respect one another more seriously and therefore to love better. The kind of communities that attempt gracism might just get close to Jesus' vision of a people who love one another.

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