Why I Wrote Letters

Today, my latest book, Letters to a Birmingham Jail, is released.  As you can imagine, this book deals with the still delicate subject of ethnicity, and you maybe wondering why?  Let me give you three clear reasons as to why I am convinced this book is needed:

1. We are still battling the enemy of passive indifference.  Dr. King wrote this opus of the civil right’s movement in response to clergy who were embarrassed that he and his army were descending on their beloved city in the spring of 1963.  These men of the cloth knew that national attention would be brought, and most, if not all of it, would not be endearing.  So they begged Dr. King to wait, to be patient.  King’s letter- which we have reprinted with permission in its entirety in the book- is his loving explanation as to why he had to exercise redemptive impatience.  This portion of the book alone is more than worth the price.

If your view of racism is men parading about in white sheets, or dogs unleashed on passive protesters, then we do not need another book on race.  However, if you believe that what the Jewish Rabbi who marched with Dr. King said is true, that the only thing worse than hate is indifference (Abraham Joshua Heschel), then you must agree that we are still dealing with the spirit of those clergy who were pleading with King to be passive.  A take it or leave it approach to race, instead of a Christ-exalting intentionality that pursues people from every language, tribe and tongue continues to plague our society.  Letters to a Birmingham Jail will inspire you towards redemptive impatience.

2. The tethering of the gospel and ethnicity.  Admittedly there’s a proliferation of books on ethnicity.  And admittedly there’s a deficiency of books that explicitly tether the sociological realities of ethnicity with the spiritual truth and hopefulness of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Letters to a Birmingham Jail is not just another book that is amidst the many sociological treatises on what went wrong, offering human solutions to the problem.  Instead, each contributor makes a clear call to get after horizontal reconciliation because of the vertical reconciliation that has been offered on a hill far away…on that old rugged cross.

3. A fresh approach.  I am the editor of Letters to a Birmingham Jail, and just one of many authors.  I felt deeply within my spirit that we needed to honor the legacy of Dr. King, and beyond that, the cross of Jesus Christ, by recruiting a multi-ethnic, multi-generational tribe of Jesus lovers who would call us to Christ-exalting diversity.  The ages range from 83 to 33, black, Asian and white, pastors of urban multi-ethnic churches, to suburban homogenous churches (that are planting multi-ethnic churches), to leaders of large church planting networks, as well as professors (Dr. Mark Noll, history professor at Notre Dame, wrote the Foreword), all with the singular passion to show how Christ offers the cure for the plague of passive indifference when it comes to matters of ethnicity.  To be blunt, I don’t know of a single book out there that has gathered the ensemble of authors, writing with the clarity and conviction that this volume provides. 

As you read these pages your heart will be inspired to pursue Christ-exalting diversity.