Sometimes a particular culture influenced its members’ Christian discipleship. In the case of Clarence Jordan it was the Southern Bible-Belt religion that skewed the view of discipleship. The whites shunned individuals that were of another race, namely black people, and so, the blacks of the community made their own churches. Sadly, those instances of separation in the church still exist today.Clarence Jordan mentioned several instances in which people in his church were influenced by their culture and not by their beliefs. On page 91 of Biography as theology, the author tells a story of a man in Clarence’s church named Warden McDonald. One night, Clarence heard Warden torturing a black convict named Ed Russell. Ironically, Warden had been singing the esteemed hymn “Love Lifted Me” just hours earlier (1).
Apparently McDonald’s “Church switch” was set to “off” at the time he tortured that man because he had just finished praising the Lord with song and prayer, and then he committed that heinous act of torture.Of course, Warden McDonald is not representative of every church member today, but there are still a select few just like him. Research shows that most hate crimes are committed by good, law-abiding individuals who somehow find a way to justify their actions (2). A member of the church might be seen as a good, law-abiding person. So, then the question is, can one infer that most hate crimes are caused by members of the church? The answer appears to be “yes”. That is not to say that all church members are guilty of committing a hate crime, but it does mean that there is a problem today with churches segregating their brothers in Christ.
Also, Jordan’s Koinonian farm was heavily persecuted in 1956 by threatening phone calls. Suddenly those threats became more than just threats. Their community was bombed, crosses were burned, and houses faced gunfire. Both Jordan and the people of the community lived in constant fear (p.
97 of Substance). Those acts were probably not publicized until later, and the individuals who committed the hate crimes were probably not punished.Now, however, racial and hate crimes are made public via either the news media or by word of mouth, and the law often tries to intervene for better justice. Almost all crimes are at least investigated today. Several small communities are subject to differentiation in those cases, though.
Many of those small communities are still largely segregated between blacks and whites. Even though they all go to the same school and have the same rights, for some reason they are often treated unequally in smaller towns. There is a black Church for every white one. This culture fuels confusion in Christian discipleship among the members of that community.
One might ask why there are still two congregations for one church. The answer is that the barrier of race still exists in society today.In conclusion, culture can influence the way that some view Christian discipleship. Cultures have their own way to treat certain races in their society.
Racial barriers were a problem in Jordan’s times, and it is still a problem in today’s Churches.