I’ve been searching for Christian authors of color, to broaden my faith perspective and I’m excited to share these with you.
If you’re ready to skip on down to the list, I have you covered!
Christian Authors of Color, table of Contents
Over the last few years, I’ve been more intentional about seeking voices and authors of color to better understand our American history, how slavery and emancipation influenced economics, as well as the continued need to fight for civil rights, racial reconciliation, and antiracism. And recently, I’ve also wondered how cultural differences affect the way we approach scripture, faith, and God.
I wish I came to this awakening earlier, but now that I’m growing more aware, I want to be sure I’m an equipped teacher and that the knowledge and understanding I seek are in turn, readily available to my kids.
In the early stage of our ongoing family education, we visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. The Memorial is supported by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) founded in 1989 by Bryan Stevenson, a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer and bestselling author of color for Just Mercy. The energy that surrounds the Lynching Memorial felt like a funeral to me. A funeral of the limited, chock full of holes, history lessons of my childhood, and adulthood. That feeling was a heavy reckoning and acceptance of facts. And it was by design.
“The Memorial for Peace and Justice was conceived with the hope of creating a sober, meaningful site where people can gather and reflect on America’s history of racial inequality.” – from Equal Justice Initiative
Learning from Christian Authors of Color
For white readers, learning from authors of color, depending on the subject matter may create some of the same discomfort, reckoning with the glossed over, simplified history we were taught versus the ongoing factual timeline, and finally accepting the continued and very real need for civil rights organizations like EJI.
I say it here a lot, that we mustn’t parcel out our lives into God parts and non-God parts, but that God wants every part of us and our life. This is what creates a holistic faith; seeking God every day in the everyday. Pondering how culture and heritage must matter to God the creator of all life has led me to this point of opening my ears to hear about God from voices that experience a much different life than mine. We all have the same Bible, but the way the Holy Spirit uses those verses to minister to different cultures must get pretty personal. I don’t want to pillage the experience, but hear it and learn from the broader message.
I know culture affects our perception of all things, which undoubtedly also applies to our faith. Here are 10 Christian authors of color to help stretch that perspective to see our boundless God through a wider lens.
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10 Christian Authors of Color that push Faith boundaries
Aaron Layton (M.Div.-Covenant Theological Seminary 08’), is the founder and CEO of Relate2Color (R2C), a Christian diversity consulting firm. He also teaches and serves as the Director of Diversity at Westminster Christian Academy in MO. Aaron is also the author of the book, Dear White Christian: What every white Christian needs to know about how black Christians, see, think, & experience racism in America. Aaron and his wife, Gretchen live with their two teenage children in St. Charles, MO.
In the fall of 2014, during the racial and cultural events in Ferguson, MO, Aaron Layton desperately wanted to know what was going on in the minds of his white colleagues, friends, and fellow church members. When he began to ask, a trusted white friend responded: Here is the deal: we don’t understand it; we don’t know what to say, and we don’t know what to do. That response propelled Aaron to action to deepen the understanding of his white friends, with the hope that greater understanding would result in a greater unity that believers already possess in Christ. The lessons he learned are the foundation of this book a letter to the white Christians he dearly loves, as well as those he hopes to one day meet.
lisa Sharon harper
Ms. Harper’s faith-rooted approach to advocacy and organizing has activated people of faith across the U.S. and around the world to address structural and political injustice as an outward demonstration of their personal faith.
In this book, Harper considers how God once declared everything in the world “very good.” This “very good” declaration is shalom. Shalom is what the Kingdom of God looks like.
The Very Good Gospel shows us how to bring shalom to our nations, our communities, and our souls. Through a careful exploration of biblical text, particularly the first three chapters of Genesis, Lisa Sharon Harper shows us what “very good” can look like today, even after the Fall.
Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith, Multiple Authors
I can’t overlook this book where Harper is one of the multiple authors. Forgive Us explores and acknowledges the legitimacy of the anger and frustration many people feel towards organized religion and evangelical Christianity, in particular. In truth, Christianity in America has significant brokenness in its history that demands recognition and repentance.
Forgive Us is thus a call to confession. From Psalm 51 to the teachings of Jesus to the prayers of Nehemiah, confession is the proper biblical response when God’s people have injured others and turned their backs on God’s ways. In the book of Nehemiah, the author confesses not only his own sins, but also the sins of his ancestors. The history of the American church demands a Nehemiah-style confession both for our deeds and the deeds of those who came before us.
In each chapter of Forgive Us two pastors who are also academically trained historians provide accurate and compelling histories of some of the American church’s greatest shortcomings. Theologian Soong-Chan Rah and justice leader Lisa Sharon Harper then share theological reflections along with appropriate words of confession and repentance.
Passionate and purposeful, Forgive Us will challenge evangelical readers and issue a heart-felt request to the surrounding culture for forgiveness and a new beginning.
In addition to contributing to Forgive Us, which is shown above, Rah has written many other works. Prophetic Lament is one of these and I featured it on this list because it provides a biblical and theological lens for examining the church’s relationship with a suffering world. This exposition of the book of Lamentations critiques our success-centered triumphalism and calls us to repent of our hubris.
Desmond Mpilo Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 and was only the second black person ever to receive it. In 1986 he was elected archbishop of Cape Town, the highest position in the Anglican Church in South Africa. In 1994, after the end of apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela, Tutu was appointed as chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate apartheid-era crimes. His policy of forgiveness and reconciliation has become an international example of conflict resolution, and a trusted method of postconflict reconstruction.
Over the years the same questions have repeatedly been asked of Desmond Tutu: “How can you be so hopeful after witnessing so much evil? ” “Why are you so sure goodness will triumph in the end? ”
Co-authored with his daughter, Mpho Tutu, “Made for Goodness” is his answer. Now, more than any other time in history, our world needs this message: that we are made for goodness and it is up to us to live up to our destiny.
Kaitlin B. Curtice is a citizen of the Potawatomi Nation as well as a Christian, public speaker, and poet. She travels around the country speaking on faith and justice within the church as it relates to Indigenous peoples. My interest in this author of color was first piqued when I heard her on Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love podcast, discussing her calling to get reacquainted with her native culture. In another interview, Kaitlin discussed being on a hike with her husband and needing to nurse their one-year-old as they walked because there was no place to stop and sit. While managing this, she says that God reminded her of her heritage and how it mattered, telling her “This is what your ancestors did on the Trail of Death. This is what your great-great-great-grandmother did.” I was touched deeply at this reminder of how God cares about every detail of our being.
“Kaitlin Curtice is one of the braver writers I know. She won’t smooth any edges for you, and she won’t let you change the subject, but she’ll support you digging as deeply for your roots as she has for hers.”
—Barbara Brown Taylor, bestselling author of Holy Envy and Learning to Walk in the Dark
Native is about identity, soul-searching, and the never-ending journey of finding ourselves and finding God. As both a citizen of the Potawatomi Nation and a Christian, Kaitlin Curtice shares what it means to experience her faith through the lens of her Indigenous heritage and encourages us to embrace our own origins.
Krish Kandiah (PhD, Kings College London) is the founder and director of Home for Good, a UK charity finding homes for foster children and young refugees. An international speaker, he teaches regularly at Regent College and George Fox Seminary and is the author of several books, including Home for Good and Paradoxology.
Many of us have big questions about God that the Christian faith seems to leave unanswered, so we push them to the back of our minds for fear of destabilizing our beliefs. But leaving these questions unexamined is neither healthy for us nor honoring to God. Rather than shying away from the difficult questions, we need to face them head-on.
What if the tension between apparently opposing doctrines is exactly where faith comes alive? What if this ancient faith has survived so long not in spite of but precisely because of these apparent contradictions? What if it is in the difficult parts of the Bible that God is most clearly revealed? Kandiah boldly claims that by wrestling with these questions rather than pushing them out of mind, is the way to move forward together and individually.
In this classic theological treatise, the acclaimed theologian and religious leader Howard Thurman (1900-1981) demonstrates how the gospel may be read as a manual of resistance for the poor and disenfranchised.
In this work, Thurman recalls a conversation held during a speaking tour of South Asia in the 1930s. During this time, India struggled for independence from British colonialism. After one of his talks, a young Indian lawyer approached Thurman to state his observations and ask a penetrating question:
What are you doing over here? … More than three hundred years ago your forefathers were taken from the western coast of Africa as slaves. The people who dealt in the slave traffic were Christians. … The men who bought the slaves were Christians. Christian ministers, quoting the Christian apostle Paul, gave the sanction of religion to the system of slavery. … During all the period since then [emancipation] you have lived in a Christian nation in which you are segregated, lynched, and burned. Even in the church, I understand, there is segregation. … I am a Hindu. I do not understand. Here you are in my country, standing deep within the Christian faith and tradition. I do not wish to seem rude to you. But sir, I think you are a traitor to all the darker peoples of the earth. I am wondering what you, an intelligent man, can say in defense of your position.
Published in 1949, Jesus and the Disinherited is the fruit of Thurman’s attempt to answer this question and share what Jesus offers the oppressed.
Bianca Juarez Olthoff
Bianca Juarez Olthoff is a bible-teaching, word-slanging MexiRican who is passionate about raising up a generation of people passionate about Jesus Christ. As an author and speaker, she knows the power of words and wields them wisely. As a church planter and leader, she is committed to proclaiming the gospel domestically and internationally.
Raw, real, and relatable, this book is a woman’s guide to navigating life’s fires. Bianca Olthoff is here to show that our struggles and hardships may be the fire that refines us instead of destroys us, brings us hope instead of despair, and leads us right into the arms of a God who loves us.
Using the mythical creature, the Phoenix, which was also referenced by early church leaders, she parallels this story with God’s work in her own life, highlighting the beauty of reinvention with fire as both the impetus and the method for change. Olthoff reminds us that we serve a God who is redemptive and can take the worst situations and use them for His glory.
April Yamasaki is an ordained minister with 25 years of experience in pastoral ministry. She is currently Resident Author with a liturgical worship community; Managing Editor of “Purpose,” a monthly magazine of everyday inspiration; and speaks widely in churches and other settings.
In a fast-paced world full of distractions, Sacred Pauses offers fresh ways to find everyday personal renewal. Each chapter explores a different spiritual practice–from classic disciplines of Scripture reading and prayer to less conventional approaches like having fun and living simply. Through personal stories, scriptural insights, historical examples, and practical suggestions, April Yamasaki guides us into new connections with ourselves and others, with creation, and with God.
Dr. Tony Evans
One of the best known Christian authors of color, Dr. Tony Evans is the founder and president of The Urban Alternative, a national ministry dedicated to restoring hope in personal lives, families, churches and communities. Dr. Evans also serves as senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas. He is a bestselling author and his radio program, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, is heard on over 1,300 stations around the globe every day.
With the Bible as a guide and heaven as the goal, Oneness Embraced calls God’s people to kingdom-focused unity. It tells us why we don’t have it, what we need to get it, and what it will look like when we do.
Weaving his own story into this word to the church, Tony Evans tells of a life spent between two worlds. As a young theologian, he straddled black, urban culture and white, mainline evangelicalism. Now, three decades later, he offers seasoned reflections on matters of history, culture, the church, and social justice. In doing so he gives us a biblical and pastoral guide for striving for unity across racial and socioeconomic divides.
Why Read Christian Authors of Color
When we set an intention to listen to and see others in authenticity for the purpose of love and healing, we very much mirror the example Jesus set when he welcomed everyone into his presence. Reading Christian authors of color isn’t the same as having one on one conversations, but it does prepare us for having deeper conversations. Whether these conversations are with other believers who value a broadened knowledge of history and heightened faith perspective, or with those who remain set in their ways and seem unwilling to change, knowledge coupled with love is an incredibly powerful catalyst.
What have you been reading that widens your lens and let you take in more light? Which one of these authors of color will be next on your list? And of course, if you have another author of color that’s made a difference in your thinking, please share below!