Jason Byassee: The black church is dead?

No more than the rest of the mainline.

If you’ve been following our series “What’s the future of denominations?” here on Faith & Leadership, you might be interested in the dustup over Eddie Glaude’s recent “Huffington Post” piece that pronounced the death of the black church. Religion Dispatches’ followup provoked a flurry of comments and now is updated with a response from Glaude.

The headline is provocative, but Glaude’s purpose was more modest: to put an end to the myth of the black church, as 1) a single, uniform entity that is 2) inextricably linked with progressive politics in America. But there’s something else at work for Glaude. He’s had a personal faith awakening despite the black church, one which makes him aware of a “Desperate need of a new revelation now.”

My own sense of the need for the future of denominations is quite different. It’s no new revelation we need, for we can’t mix these up from scratch without the result being anything other than the worship of our own creation (read: idolatry). We rather need to respond anew to God’s one revelation of the divine nature in Christ, by the Spirit who unendingly joins us to that nature. This is an attractive enough a proposition that the church – mainline, black, and much farther afield still than either -- probably has a bit more left in the tank than headline grabbers like to let on.