On May 8th at 2 p.m., I will graduate with a Doctor of Ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary during a formal ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. From The Daily Race to The Raceless Gospel Initiative at Good Faith Media, this vision of a raceless “kin-dom” has come a long way.
The Raceless Gospel is graduating! First comes a blog, then an initiative followed by a podcast and then a degree. But the work is just beginning.
“Take me to the water”: A raceless gospel as baptismal pedagogy for a desegregated church” is the title of my thesis. It’s part of the requirements for my Doctor of Ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. My “working paper” has been accepted by the academy. Can you believe it?
It represents three years of classes, conversations, and countless hours of writing, researching, revising, and refining this idea that the gospel has been racialized. In turns out that the North American church needs to be taken back to the water. But wading in the water when it comes to sociopolitical construct of race is not easy and can become a dead weight if we are not careful with how we treat it.
Working out my salvation from race has led me to this. Working through my faith and the sociopolitical construct of race has come down to this. I am a baptized believer, and nothing supersedes this. Since most Christians went down in the water, I am confident of this: “ruling relationships” were drowned in this reenactment of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
There is no coming back to our racialized selves or our submission to “white” supremacy after this.
From the European Slave Trade to American chattel slavery, it all starts in the water. The North American church provided theological cover and its spiritual endorsement, saying that baptism did not change the state of things or disrupt the social order. But it did and it does and it will.
“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28, NRSV). Paul’s letter to the Galatians led me back to the water and invited me to wade into my baptismal identity. No matter how many times I have read this verse, I am still ensnared by it. I cannot get away from its declaration and it has become my principal confession of faith.
So, while letters will be added in front of my name or behind my name, it doesn’t change a thing. I continue to search for common ground as Howard Thurman makes plain in The Search for Common Ground: “I have been on the scent of the tie that binds life at a level that the final privacy of the individual would be reinforced rather than threatened. I have always wanted to be me without making it difficult for you to be you.” Our work continues until this becomes a reality. Then, we’ll have a graduation ceremony.
5 thoughts on “The Raceless Gospel is graduating!”
Congratulations, Dr. Thomas! I am so proud of you! Sincerely — Tobias
what wonderful news are you spreading right now. My sincere
congratulations and good luck to the end of your scholarly endeavors. It
is my hope that some day I might be able to read your dissertation. Is
it going to be printed?
Very best wishes,
Thank you for your kindness, Erich! Yes, the dissertation will be published with new chapters. I’ll keep you posted via the blog.
Thank you for rejoicing with me!