The thesis of our book today, Woke Church, is An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice. This is what Evangelical Christianity could, and often does, look like when not mired in greed, hatred, and delusion.
The Black Evangelical churches have always been woke to oppression. So have many mainstream mostly White churches, such as the Quakers/Friends, and the Northern Baptists who would not allow slavers to be missionaries.
Rev. Dr. Mason writes
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.
I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
I recently wrote about how this is supposed to work.
Koan: His Words From My Mouth
It turns out that this only goes so far, in most cases. Paul is renowned for his misogyny and other errors as much as for what he got right, and it turns out that some of the Epistles of Paul were written by others.
Yeshua bar Yosef was a nice Jewish boy who constantly told his followers to wake up to love and compassion. He fed the poor when he had hardly anything of his own, and supported the widow and the orphan and the often hated foreigner who lived among the Jews. He fulfilled the requirements of an avatar of Vishnu and a Bodhisattva (Waking Being), among others, and is a prophet of Islam under the name Issa.
The ultra-MAGA Christian Nationalists hate him with the fire of a thousand suns, and substitute a multitude of blasphemous fantasies of Jeebus.
This is precisely what our author had in mind in writing this book.
WOKE: (wok) adj. 1. able to understand how cultural, socio-economic, philosophical, and historical realities inform our responsibility as believers in Jesus Christ.
The church in America should have rejected the first whispers of slavery. But we didn’t. We should have preached about the image of God when the dark-skinned among us were declared subhuman. But we didn’t. We should have stopped segregation and Jim Crow before they affected our communities. But we didn’t. We should have protested racial profiling and police brutality before anyone else. We should have been woke, but we’ve been asleep.
Dr. Eric Mason challenges the church in America: "Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead." It’s time to take a hard look at our history and stand together against the indignities and injustice in our world—to understand that justice is both theological and sociological—that there is no intimacy with God without justice in one’s heart.
No more waiting. No more sleeping. Christ our King is coming back, and He’ll be looking for a WOKE CHURCH.
Nearly every chapter in this book is about teaching the Bible and converting sinners, and other such Evangelical church concerns, interwoven with stories of kindness and desperation and activism. But chapter 7, A Vision for Change, focuses on what to do, namely get ahead of the current evils, and ultimately undo the disasters of systemic racism. We can all get behind that, in the face of implacable Jeebusism. However, Dr. Mason only writes about how the church can do this work, ignoring all of its allies.
Bach, Sleepers, Awake (Wachet Auf, Ruf Uns die Stimme)
Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
Do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber.
Dr. Eric Mason lives in the heart of Philadelphia with Yvette and his three sons Immanuel, Nehemiah, Ephraim, and Daughter Amalyah. Dr. Mason is founder and lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA. He is also, the founder and president of Thriving which is an urban ministry organization committed to training leaders for ministry in cities locally, nationally, and internationally. Dr. Mason is also the author of Manhood Restored (Leadership Kit and Study Guide), Beat God to the Punch, Unleashed, Woke Church, Urban Apologetics, Nehemiah for You (and companion study). Also, Dr. Mason has contributed to multiple publications to serve the body of Christ. Some would include The Mission of God Bible Study Bible, Keep Your Head Up, and several online articles.
Dr. Mason has been graced by God to preaching and teach at churches and conferences in the US and Abroad.
Christ has allowed Dr. Mason to serve in multiple ministry roles over the past almost 3 decades. Dr. Mason went to Bowie State University where he received a BS in Psychology. While at Bowie State University, he was burdened after trusting Christ to go into full-time vocational service to the Lord in ministry. While at BSU he acknowledged his calling under the leadership of Rev. Dr. James J. McCord at First Baptist Church of Highland Park in Landover MD. During the completion of his undergraduate degree, he taught bible studies on campus to the college students, lead people to Jesus, worked with youth and young adults at his church.
Seeking to be a biblically literate minister of the gospel, Dr. Mason ventured to Dallas Theological Seminary where he earned a Master of Theology (ThM) degree. Upon arrival to Dallas, he immediately became a member of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship under the pastoral leadership of Dr. Tony Evans who would then become his father in the Ministry. Meanwhile, Dr. Mason was hired by STEP/Bridge Builders (an inner-city organization) as a counselor and mentor to "at risk" in the Southern and Eastern sectors of Dallas Texas. The context of this service was several community centers, High schools, and projects discipling troubled youth and former gang members. He was co-youth pastor to over 500+ youth at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and then served the church as prison ministry director where he over saw 17 ministers who engaged troubled youth in the DFW metroplex.
Upon completion of Seminary, Dr. Mason received his ordination into the gospel ministry by the council of elders at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship with Dr. Tony Evans at the council's helm (May 2000). Dr. Mason ventured to Houston, TX to serve functionally in the role of Assistant Pastor of Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church (140+ yr old church home to the late Barbara Jordan) under the leadership of Dr. D. Z. Cofield who helped expand Dr. Mason's pastoral bandwidth. Dr. Mason counseled on every level, taught Wednesday nights, lead Sunday Morning Worship, Sunday School, preached 3 services multiple times a year, did weddings, led this church to transition to 70 small groups in this historic Black church (that is still going until this day), and much more. He was also, allowed by his pastor to begin a small but impactful itinerate ministry at this time.
None of the fictional characters in the Bible is less woke than Old Pharaoh (unnamed) in Exodus. The text says that its narcissistic and genocidal God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order to increase His own glory. So the enslaved and the later victims of the Klans and Jim Crow sang this at their oppressors. Some still do at the viciously anti-woke.
Louis Armstrong-Go Down Moses (Lyrics+Download)
“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.
I went looking for more music about waking up in Christianity, and found only a vast and depressing collection of Jeebus hymnology. So I have to close with Something Completely Different.
Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Atheists Don't Have No Songs Live on Letterman 03 16 2011 HD
But that’s not true. We who are Woke have all of the music of love and kindness no matter where it comes from nor why.