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Book Review: ‘Woke Church’ by Dr. Eric Mason

Woke Church by Dr. Eric Mason The Garrett Ashley Mullet Show

After having recently read and reviewed Owen Strachan’s book, ‘Christianity and Wokism: How the Social Justice Movement Is Hijacking the Gospel – and the Way To Stop It,’ and picking up from an episode published last August – ‘Dr. Eric Mason and the Council of Philadelphia‘ – I finally made time this week to read Mason’s 2018 book, ‘Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice.’

Mason, you may recall, is the founder and senior pastor of Epiphany Fellowship Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And I think even less now after reading his book that I mistook his tweet storm from 2018 , the same year he published ‘Woke Church,’ in which he called for a modern day ecumenical council there to denounce as heretics those who disagree with allegations of systemic racism in America today, or who express dissent regarding CRT.

That is, I think now it would be hard to deny after reading his book that Mason is more than open to the ordination of women in the Church. This is an important finding to me personally because included in the Twitter back-and-forth I referenced in my podcast episode from last August was an at least debatable bit about women pastors being invited to the proposed Council of Philadelphia. And this in turn was of interest to me at the time I discovered these tweets because I was trying to ascertain what Paul David Tripp – who attends Epiphany Fellowship Church and calls Mason his pastor – personally believes about the ordination of women, given some themes I observed in ‘Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in Christ’s Church,’ which I have also podcasted about my reservations concerning here.

Now after reading ‘Woke Church’ I believe there is yet more evidence that Mason regards as sexist those theologically conservative Christians who oppose women being made overseers, elders, and pastors in the Church.

Just so, I believe all the more now, after reading Mason in his own words at-length in ‘Woke Church,’ that he regards as racist those theologically conservative Christians opposed to the claims at the heart of social justice and Critical Race Theory.

But this goes back to one of the most helpful confirmations I gleaned from Strachan’s ‘Christianity and Wokeness’ when I read that work as well this past weekend. As he points out, most of the books promoting social justice and CRT to Christians don’t actually use the technical terms for either. Rather, they deftly confine themselves to arguing the presuppositional claims so as to prime readers to view the Woke conclusions as inescapable and foregone, and in-so-doing make it all the easier to agree with them for those unfamiliar, and make all the more difficult the task of calling them out for it for those who are more versed in the history, political philosophy, and aims of the Left in America over the past century.

This is to say also that Mason here need not tell us explicitly in ‘Woke Church’ that he is for CRT and the ordination of women in those exact words for the discerning reader able to make 4 out of 2+2. To bemoan as he does that so many women he and his wife are friends with who’ve graduated from seminaries but have a hard time getting hired by churches because of “traditional” and “cultural” stereotypes about gender – it does not leave much to the imagination, nor is it reaching to read between the lines on this point and several others and to arrive at meaningful conclusions.

For that matter, an odd kind of double-speak is present here where Mason gives an example of what he’s hoping we’ll see more of in the American church. He tells how Matt Chandler emailed him and several other black ministers after the shooting death of Philando Castille to extend condolences and apologize.

But, wait. Do those same black ministers also email Matt Chandler and all the other white ministers they know when a young white man is shot by police in questionable circumstances? Or should they? 

Of course not! But then these are just the sorts of questions which we are expected to not ask, just the sort of observations we are required to not make out loud. And if we ask and assert anyways, we who are opposed to the inroads of Wokism in the American church do so on pain of being accused of racism and insensitivity.

But thus there is no consistency. And young black men being appointed to leadership roles in majority white churches and organizations is presented by Mason as objectionable and insulting because it’s tokenism. But not having enough young black men represented in leadership is also offensive. So there’s no winning, and the game is rigged to the foregone conclusion that white people can only not be racists if they agree to join in anti-racism on the terms laid out by the Left.

Herein, I think, is the test of whether this is the heart’s cry of a humble minister of the gospel. Is Mason so willing to hear correction and calls to repentance if they might mean letting go some of the Leftist assumptions he’s picked up at the academy and in the hood? And are theologically conservative white brothers and sisters just as free to have a conversation about race and the church in America as Mason is?

Or is Mason’s idea of what constitutes a conversation about racism in America like that of so many other Woke folk I’ve been friends and family to – a one-sided lecture rather than a genuine give and take dialogue borne of honesty and good faith?

From reading ‘Woke Church,’ I’m sorry to say I have a near certainty that the latter is the answer. And that really is regrettable.

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