Jemar Tisby joins Derek and Alastair to discuss the history of racism in the American church in his latest book, The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism. Listen in as they discuss everything from the theological importance of “remembering” to why today’s political issues are often framed differently for black demographics and how our theology helps us to respond to issues of racism today.

Jemar will be participating in the upcoming conference, Joy and Justice: Reflecting On 400 Years of Black Joy and Justice. It is being hosted in Chicago from October 4th-5th. Please visit for more details.


Intro and thesis of The Color of Compromise [0:00 – 4:30]

How to handle difficult conversations like this without sensationalized rhetoric??? [4:30 – 6:55]

The theological importance of “remembering” [6:55 – 11:00]

What surprised Jemar about his research for the book [11:00 – 18:10]

How to identify the particular events that created a prejudiced society [18:10 – 19:50]

Why the study is not just a pessimistic look at history and why today’s political issues are often framed differently for black demographics [19:50 – 33:45]

Practices in one’s local community that are most helpful [33:45 – 39:01]

How to develop a theological language to speak about these issues and have a deeper conversation about sin + Conclusion [39:01 – 46:16]


Resources mentioned:

The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith


If you’re interested in supporting the show financially, you can check out our Patreon here.

Finally, as always, follow DerekAndrew, and Alastair for more tweet-sized brilliance. Thanks to Timothy Motte for his sound editing work. And thanks to The Joy Eternal for lending us their music, which everybody should download out of gratitude for their kindness.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Posted by Caleb Wait

Caleb Wait (MATS, Westminster Seminary California) is a writer and the producer of Mere Fidelity. He and his wife Kristin have two children and live in Northern California. You can follow him on Twitter @calebwait and he invites you to email him at


  1. Anthony Castellitto September 30, 2019 at 6:43 am

    Nice comments by two black men and white woman. We were made in Gods image which is what unites us and why we love and don’t have and want the true gospel to be maintained and/or reclaimed.

    “One of the main challenges I see in the spheres of influence I am privileged to be a part of is the lack of “grace” and “love” when it comes to believers attempting to live out their faith in a headline driven culture. When dealing with any of the following buzzwords: social justice, black lives matter, all lives matter, racial reconciliation, woke-ness, systematic racism, white-guilt, white privilege, etc. we see an immediate wall of division thrown up, and people forgetting to love even those they disagree with.

    The concept of “woke theology” as I have seen it in praxis within the church has only served to create an us vs. them mentality that too often has left me as a black man, who finds his identity first in Christ as an outsider. At the core of what “woke-ness” infers is a deeper level of knowledge and those who don’t agree are still sleeping.

    Such a theology is worshipping other than Christ. Proponents of woke theology should beware of not allowing hurt, disappointment and anger become bitterness, and unwittingly making idols of their ethnicity and by proxy of themselves.”

    “As an African (Black, born and bred in Africa) who by the grace of God has the privilege of living in Atlanta, I am always amazed by how African Americans say or hear the words racism or prejudice and immediate think “white man”. If everyone especially African Americans started the conversation with seeing that they too are racists, the conversation especially the one we are uncomfortably trying to have in the church would go a lot better.

    How can we accuse our white brothers of unconscious racism without 1st having to see that if it is true for them, it is also true for us.

    The same lack of grace and defensiveness many claim the white brothers have is as a result of black brothers not sharing in the mutual responsibility of the sin of racism. Partly because of the crazy idea that if your white brother is privileged and you are the victim, he is to bear the full burden.

    We are all sinfully racist…. but we can work together by casting off our fleshy tendencies and remembering our bond is the blood of Christ.

    I am honestly tired of my white brothers bowing to the ridiculous white privileged guilt, a burden not placed on them by Christ but by misguided worldly ideologies and I am tired of the whole woke theology being spewed by African Americans. I just want to go to church and worship God without being weighted down by these, just keeping in mind my blood bought connections to my brothers in Christ.”

    “I am a middle aged white woman. I’m part of a small church whose goal is to reach our community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We had the exciting privilege to attend a conference in Philadelphia put on by a predominantly black church community. It was such a strong gospel time of instructions and worship. It was wonderful to be immersed in a culture that was different in so many ways and yet gospel centered thereby proving the power of the gospel. Our local community is mostly black and Hispanic, so we learned all we could to better relate to those who were culturally different from us. In 2017 the Philadelphia conference theme was “urban apologetics” with a sub theme of #wokechurch. I had no idea what that meant. Throughout the 2 day conference we heard about white privilege, black lives matter among other things. We heard that white people were not able to minister or relate to black people because of this “white privilege”. The final plenary session was given by a man named Soong Chan Rah. It was all about the oppression of blacks by whites through out history and how lamentation for white behavior in the past was necessary. White people needed to repent of their white privilege. I will say I was never more confused. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I could not reconcile what I understood about biblical teaching on repentance and forgiveness with what was being said. I felt palpable distance between myself and others after that session because I was white. I left that conference feeling trapped by my “whiteness” but not knowing how to fix it. I’m a counselor at a pregnancy center and was almost paralyzed in thinking… “how am I going to talk to women with black skin if they think of me like this”. I have felt a wedge pushed between myself and black individuals in a way I have not felt my whole life. I can not say how thankful I am for this gospel centered article and teaching. I feel like I might not be crazy after all. I’m a faithful follower of your blog and new podcast. You put the Gospel front and center with confidence and eloquence. Be strengthened and encouraged as you teach to the praise of the one who alone is worthy.”

    Read More at Just Thinking….


  2. Anthony Castellitto September 30, 2019 at 7:40 am

    The Reformed Church is losing its purpose. Glorifying God. Everything else will fall in place. No program accomplishes this…


  3. Anthony Castellitto September 30, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    We voted AGAINST Hillary in an effort/attempt to preserve traditional marriage, rule of law, national sovereignty, religious freedom, non-interventionism, non-deficit spending, anti-trafficking, safe and lawful immigration, free speech, privacy, etc, etc…..

    Tisbys response there was disappointing. Most Christians are anti-Democrat for so many more reasons. He is not being transparent there. Maybe we should end the fed, the police state, the nanny state, military invasions, the CIA, etc… and rather glorify and trust God instead of corrupt individuals and institutions who hate God. At least resist the party that boos God. Most Christians do not see a political solution.

    Was Obama the messiah he was touted to be?

    I don’t trust the gop but the democrat option terrifies me. In fact, the whole political establishment is sold out to elite powers and principalities so it’s all moot


  4. While I appreciated some of the points Derek brought up, I came away from this podcast disappointed. And that is thankfully rare with Mere Fidelity.

    Mr. Tisby insists that white Christians are tarred with racism for supporting conservative politicians who are allegedly tainted with the stain do racism. Yet he appeared defensive at the suggestion that black Christians are also compromised by voting for the party of abortion. Both could be true, yet Mr. Tisby spent a great deal of time defending black voting in mass numbers for Democrats. Clearly he believes here is no compromise at all. Derek and Alastair hardly challenges him in this point.

    Mr. Tisby’s suggestion that the Republican Party has always been exclusive while the Democratic Party has always been inclusive, is simply laughable. The Democrat party is no longer the party of the poor, the working class, and the disenfranchised. Increasingly, it is the party of rich white atheists who are determined to visit their worldview on the rest of us. They would take away my religious liberty if they could, and are the political vanguard of the sexual and gender revolution. I strongly suspect that black and Latino Christians will begin to leave the party in the years to come, unable to stomach being part of a coalition in which they will have to embrace gender fluidity, homosexual militarism, and abortion in demand.

    Sadly neither Derek nor Alistair challenged him on this.

    Stripped of its thin theological veneer, the message I received from Mr. Tisby is, “all white Christians are guilty and must become leftists to atone for their guilt.” This seems to me to be neither true nor useful.


    1. Another problem with Mr. Tibbs speed chase is his suggestion that abortion rates drop during democrat administrations because they presumably increase


      1. Sorry, let me try that again another problem with Mr. Tisby’s case is his suggestion that abortions decline under Democratic Administrations, because Democrat presidents increase welfare payments, presumably convincing at risk mothers to keep their babies rather than a board them. This does not match with the abortion totals that I have.

        For instance, abortions continued to drop slightly in the late 1990s, right after President Clinton and Congress balanced the budget for the first time in decades, and signed a welfare reform overhaul bill that dramatically decreased payments to families overtime.

        Secondly, abortions continued to decrease during the Bush administration, at least through 2005, in the midst of the post-9/11 economic downturn.

        This point is not even a very good example of correlation, much less causation.


    2. Mike, I’m glad you usually don’t come away disappointed and that you are a regular listener. I hope that continues.

      A couple of points I’ll note:

      1. On the abortion point, I do wish I’d have been able to pull on that thread a bit more, but sadly (and this isn’t apparent in the recording) my sound actually cut out, so re-engaging the conversation was a little weird, so we moved on. But the point about the sort of “universal” complicity of any vote given the way the two-party system forces folks to choose between champions of competing claims and values is worth appreciating. On that standard, no vote allows you to get totally off the hook of accepting consequences of your party’s policies you don’t like. I also do think exploring the conflict between the Democratic party’s increasing secularism and typical minority ethical conservatism and religiosity would have been a good complication of the picture.

      2. I don’t think you’re being fair to Jemar with that last line at all. Stripping something of a “thin theological veneer” is a way of ignoring what’s actually being said for a suspicious restatement is not actually the way to process his message. It’s fine to disagree with Jemar’s thesis, but that’s not actually what Jemar did say or would say. I know Jemar believes only the atoning work of Jesus handles anybody’s guilt, so we’re in a dispute about what obedience to Jesus requires due to the universal call to justice.


      1. Thank you for reading and responding Derek! God bless and have a great day.


  5. […] Mere Fidelity — ‘The Color of Compromise’ // From the good people at Mere Orthodoxy, along with Jemar Tisby. […]


  6. […] HERE to listen in your browser, or you can listen to the show in your favorite podcast app, just search […]


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *