Alan Cross for about 9 years, and every time I'm around him, I learn something new, and I'm encouraged by both his wisdom, and hope in the Gospel. For this and many other reasons, I was pleased to write an endorsement of his newest book When Heaven and Earth Collide.
Alan is a pastor in Montgomery, Alabama--where slavery, racism, segregation and the subsequent civil rights movement all found their epicenter for a period of about 100 years. His book takes a hard look at how many southern evangelicals were a willing accomplice in the atrocities that plagued this part of our nation.
We speak often today about the temptation followers of Jesus face to simply ignore Scripture and capitulate to the prevailing views of culture, even if those views are contrary to Scripture. Alan's book illustrates that these are not new temptations. It also speaks honestly to a period in our history where the church in the south twisted the meaning of God's Word in order to prop up a sick and twisted view of humanity.
I'm a native southerner who was born in a time when these issues were beginning to finally be resolved. The "new south" I see now when I visit extended family is a very different place than the one in which I spent my formative years, and that's a good thing. I think Alan's book is important primarily because an entire generation is now coming of age that really doesn't understand how that history continues to affect not only race relations, but also social policy, demography, and economic disparity. But most importantly, Alan is frank and honest about how southern evangelical capitulation to "Jim Crow" has affected the perception of the Christian Gospel by so many we seek to reach with the message of Jesus.
Here is my endorsement, that appears in the preface of the book. Every human culture reflects both the image of God and the effects of the fall. My friend Alan Cross vividly describes a 100 year period in which southern evangelicalism's theology and culture collided in a violent way that continues to affect economics, demography, social policy, and race relations. Alan writes of an evangelical church largely unaware of how its own history has affected the perception of the Christian Gospel by so many. The hard questions he asks come from the humility of one who lived through some of that history, and the boldness of a Christ-follower determined to change it. Be prepared to be changed yourself!
The foreword was written by Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, TX and author of Beyond Roots: In Search of Blacks in the Bible.
This book will be an invaluable tool toward understanding the history of your culture if you live in the south. But regardless of where you live, the book will serve as a solemn reminder of the consequences that come each and every time the church rejects the clear teaching of Scripture in favor of the prevailing cultural presumptions that surround it. Buy this book to inform yourself, and to be encouraged by a faithful and hopeful pastor who is committed to changing history.