Christianity is one of the most diverse world religions. In his book, Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical, author Tim Keller argues that Christianity is the only major world religion that is not centralized in one particular region. It is practiced by billions globally and has been a liberating force for good in many communities.
While Christianity at its core is a gospel of liberation and hope, the reality is that the faith has been abused and institutionalized. It has been used to justify so many evils around the world, including slavery and colonialism. Professor and author Cornel West refers to Christianity that oppresses others and supports imperialism and enslavement as “Constantinian Christianity.” The label is derived from Constantine, the 4th century emperor who institutionalized Christianity in the Roman Empire and used it as a force to oppress Jews and other non-Christians.
Much of the oppression and evil around the world done by people who claim to be Christians has been blatant and overt. However, there are many subtle ways that Christians have oppressed and brainwashed communities and in particular, communities that they have ministered to. This is particularly an issue with American Christianity that has been responsible for a lot of missionary work around the world. Despite its good intentions, the U.S. church has whitewashed and Americanized a Christian faith born in the Middle East and Northern Africa and practiced passionately at every end of the earth.
When we talk about “whitewashed” or “Americanized” Christianity, we are talking about a gospel that teaches people that White American culture is normal and ideal. Furthermore, to whitewash Christianity is to suggest to non-Whites around the world that the right way to be a Christian is to adopt worship styles and customs that are attributed to predominantly White communities. This harms both White and non-White Christians. It robs non-White Christians of their culture and community and blinds White Christians to the rich diversity within God’s Kingdom. In essence, preaching that “whiteness” is synonymous with Christianity is teaching false doctrine. Below are three false doctrines that have whitewashed churches globally.