A black female in a white man’s world: My review of Bloodlines by John Piper

By Trillia Newbell

Recently I began to read Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the Christian, by John Piper. I grew up in the south and have always been awarebloodlines cover of the potential for and most definitely the blatant racism around me. My father would tell me stories about growing up and once being beaten for not singing Dixie. If I were raised in the 50’s or 60’s, I’d like to think I would have been in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. At the University of Tennessee I spent one year as the Director of Diversity of Affairs for the student government and hosted talks about racial reconciliation and differences. I was quite involved and aware.

But recently I’d say I’ve grown a bit comfortable. That is until I began reading Piper’s book. As Piper began to share his own story of growing up and discovering that he was a racist, I realized I am a black female in a white man’s world. Let me explain. My bosses are white, my pastors are white and yes, my husband is white. I had grown comfortable with the differences and it never occurred to me that one of them might in fact have once been racist. Does it matter?  Yes and No. No:  If they have placed their hope and trust in the blood of Jesus and have repented of their pride and hatred, then they are forgiven. By all means, if God who is Holy and just and right to pour out His wrath on us yet poured it out on His Son,  forgave them, surely I can. Yes: It matters because we are still sinners and as Piper argues in his book there could be a silent, tendency towards superiority that is not biblical and is indeed sinful.

Bloodlines is broken up into two sections: Our World, The Need for the Gospel and section two, God’s Word: The Power of The Gospel. Within the sections are 14 chapters of personal stories, research, and Scripture.  The book is just as much a historical reference as it is a guide to understanding racism from a biblical perspective, and for this I am grateful.

Piper does an exceptional job sharing the general history of black and white relationships in the United States. In Chapter 4 he explains why Bloodlines’ focus is on black and white relations and doesn’t veer into all ethnic groups.

“…African Americans are the only people group in our land who suffered centuries of race-based slavery at the hands of white masters. Adding the  weight of that experience is the fact that during most of the time this slavery was accompanied by, and often justified by, the public conceptions of black inferiority,” (location 725, Kindle edition).

I believe in order for anyone to appreciate the black experience one must learn the history.  Piper doesn’t stop there. He explores current struggles and arguments both sociological and political. Including references to Bill Cosby and Michael Dyson.

Piper continues by sharing the good news that the gospel is for every tribe and tongue. He also gives hope to the racist, black and white, sharing the power of the gospel to break the power of pride.

“Racial tensions are rife with pride- the pride of white supremacy, the pride of black power, the pride of intellectual analysis, the pride of anti-intellectual scorn…Where pride holds sway, there is no hope for the kind of listening and patience and understanding and openness to correction that relationships require…The gospel of Jesus breaks the power of pride by revealing the magnitude of the ugliness and the deadliness of it, even as it provides deliverance from it,” (Location 1273, Kindle edition).

For the remainder of the book Piper applies the gospel to relationship between blacks and whites including an argument for why interracial marriage is a “positive in our day” (Chapter 15). At the end of the book, Piper shares notes and appendixes and several references.

Every Pastor should read this book

If you are a pastor and you are interested in caring for your flock, you’ll read this book. That seems like a strong statement but if you read the book, you will quickly see the statistical changes occurring in churches worldwide. More importantly, if you have a black congregant and you are a white pastor, Bloodlines will give you a perspective into the world that your members live daily. Please don’t assume that racism is dead, it’s not. I know this from personal experience but all one must do is turn on the television.

Piper’s humility in confessing his own racism and need for the gospel is refreshing and such an encouragement. As a black female, living in the south, married to a white man, and member of a predominately white church I can hardly recommend this book enough. Read it and then go speak with your black members to see what they are experiencing in your congregation. You might be surprised.

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3 Comments to “A black female in a white man’s world: My review of Bloodlines by John Piper”

  1. RendaleeV says:

    I know this is about the black experience of the worship. We have a few members that are biracial. But, our congregation is basically considered a dutch church. When someone new comes, and they are not dutch, they often feel out of place. We sing some music that is on the contemporary radio but others are hymns that might not be heard in other denominations (certainly not on the radio). The worship style found on TV or internet is not how we do things. Although we like to believe we reach out, new believers have difficulty fitting in. I think the concepts in this review seem to shed a little light on how any church culture need to show compassion.

  2. […] Her book review of Bloodlines entitled, A Black Female in a White Man’s World can be found here. […]

  3. Kara says:

    I’m looking forward to reading Piper’s book. It seems I read a great article by him awhile ago about this topic. Perhaps it was when the book was published!

    Regarding learning the history… I’m looking for a book-list for my elementary aged children, especially to introduce them to the perspectives of people of color in American history. There are some in our curriculum (Sonlight) but I’d love to have more.