Big changes are afoot at the Reformed African American Network (RAAN). Last month, Yahoo “News” did a huge puff piece on Jemar Tisby, the head of RAAN, about how “tired” he has become from working so hard as a “peacemaker.”
In June, Tisby quietly resigned his position as director of the African-American Leadership Institute at Duncan’s Reformed Theological Seminary. He has stopped submitting articles to websites like the Gospel Coalition or Desiring God, which cater to a predominantly conservative evangelical audience. . . .
When I visited Tisby in his hometown in August, we spent the better part of a day exploring Helena, talking about the events of the last few years. He said that his focus was moving toward speaking and writing for a black audience primarily, rather than for whites.
“We have a lot of white evangelicals coming to us through RAAN. And that demonstrates a willingness to learn and a level of humility. And I’ll ride with you. I mean I’m not turning anybody away. But I’m not chasing you. I think that’s one way to characterize the difference,” he said. . . .
Part of Tisby’s tour through Helena took us through Magnolia Cemetery, a place of burial for Helena’s African-American population that had only recently begun to be reclaimed by members of the local community from decades of neglect.
We walked down a gravel road past crumbling headstones, surrounded by deep forest on both sides and by the deafening chirping of summer insects in the trees.
“I am sobered, chastened a bit in my hopefulness,” Tisby said. He added that he was “not hopeless.”
“I think I have a more realistic picture of what we’re facing when it comes to race and the church, and America more broadly. This is a long slog, and sometimes the best we can do in terms of success is to say we were faithful. We may not ever see the progress we desire. But I’m not despondent or cynical. I think I’m bolder now,” he said.
Tisby admitted he had been “naïve about some things, simply because I was young.” Namely, he overestimated how easy it would be to bring about racial reconciliation.
He said in subsequent conversations that he has not given up on the idea of reconciliation and still sees it as foundational to racial justice. But there are many Christians who are moving away from talk of racial reconciliation because they believe it “confuses white emotional catharsis with racial justice,” as Erna Kim Hackett, with the Christian organization InterVarsity, put it.
“[Black Lives Matter] insists on addressing systemic issues, and white Christianity is pathologically individualistic,” she wrote. This “explains why people love a photo of a cop hugging a black person, but dismiss claims of systemic racism in policing. It pretends that injustice is resolved when individuals hug.”
But Tisby hasn’t given up on relationships with white evangelicals. He still sees it as vital.
Of course white evangelicals are still “vital” to Tisby. His “gospel” is the gospel of gibsmedat, and white folks have the money.
However, while Reformed preachers and writers and websites are extremely influential in American Christianity, the vast majority of white evangelicals aren’t Reformed. So it’s time to head for greener pastures, where the big money is.
So they’re changing their name:
Now, Tisby and others at RAAN are in the process of changing the name of their organization. The word “Reformed” will no longer be part of the name. He told me this was a “pivot to emphasize African American concerns and highlight the black church tradition … while retaining a Reformed theological foundation.”
Right. Uh-huh. As if RAAN has been emphasizing anything BUT “African American concerns” for the last five years, non-stop.
No, this is all about the money.
Actually, it’s partly about the money, and partly because Ligon Duncan was taking so much heat from hiring an apostate like Tisby to lead the African-American Leadership Institute at RTS Jackson that he asked Tisby to resign.
And Duncan began feeling the heat after Faith and Heritage exposed what his pet token Tisby was preaching when we uploaded the transcript from the infamous Gender Apartheid episode of Truth’s Table, where Tisby and three black women preachers boldly proclaimed heresy and apostasy as the Gospel. If you check the RAAN archives, you’ll see it wasn’t too long after that the posting frequency on the site dropped drastically. It was clear something was going on behind the scenes. We posted the transcript in late April, and in June, Tisby “quietly resigned his position as director of the African-American Leadership Institute at Duncan’s Reformed Theological Seminary.” That’s not a coincidence.
It will be intriguing to see what comes of this. But it’s clear that Faith and Heritage is having an impact. And we intend to keep up the pressure. So stay tuned, because things are getting interesting.