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Tim and Isaac Adams resume the conversation on race and discuss practical insights and advice for the Church when we talk about race. They draw from a fictional shooting in Isaac’s book, Talking About Race, to explore ideas and practices for developing biblical conviction and faithful engagement with racial tensions and problems. The conversation also touches on systemic or structural racism, the centrality of forgiveness, and the relational newness we ought to demonstrate as a result of the new life in Christ. There are no quick fixes, but there is wisdom we can readily put into practice. This is part 2 of a 2-part conversation on race with Isaac Adams.


Isaac Adams: I fear the race conversation has many prophets, but few pastors. And prophets are great, we are all called to speak prophetically. Pastors are to speak prophetically. And so I'm thankful for prophets, but I fear we've reduced the prophetic task merely to confrontation and condemnation.

Tim Muehlhoff: Welcome to the Winsome Conviction Podcast, my name is Tim Muehlhoff. I'm a professor of communication at Biola University in La Mirada, California. I'm also the co-director of the Winsome Conviction Project, which seeks to reintroduce compassion, civility, kindness, back into our conversations about the most difficult of topics. Whatever happened to gentleness? We want to try to recover that, and this podcast is a huge part of it. I'm usually with my partner in crime, Dr. Rick Langer, but today I'm going solo. This podcast is not only going to serve as a podcast, but also an interview for Christianity today, and we will certainly send you the link when they post that. We have Isaac Adams with us, he serves as Lead Pastor of Iron City Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and he is the founder of United? We Pray, a ministry devoted to prayer about racial strife, especially between Christians. Welcome back, Isaac.

Isaac Adams: Thanks for having me back, Tim. Excited to continue the conversation with you, brother.

Tim Muehlhoff: Well, one thing we talked about Isaac was not just the content of your book, but I was particularly struck by the form of your book. You take a fictional shooting of a Black man at the hands of police, and then you introduce us to six characters. And we go on this journey with the six characters. And for the sake of time, we won't be able to go into all of them, but we've been taking a look at a friendship between Hunter, who's a White member of a church. And Darius, a Black deacon, and they're both trying to wrestle with this.

And if you didn't listen to the first part of the podcast, the first episode, we laid out the problem. And it was pretty sobering as we took a look at it, but now we get a little bit of Isaac stepping in with a pastor's heart, and he offers advice. And so let's go to Hunter first. And you say that for Hunter, he needs to understand that any conversation about race isn't simply between two people. And here's a great quote from your book, "It's between them and their personal histories, experiences, and communities." What do you mean when you say that we should weigh history before engaging in a conversation about race?

Isaac Adams: Yeah, what I mean is understanding. I think White brothers and sisters can unwittingly, and with no malicious intent, often just see it as this is this one-to-one conversation between me and my friend. When in reality many minorities are approaching the conversation simply with a different framework. They're understanding this is not just a conversation between you and me, but between our kind of communities, and how I feel my community has been treated by your community historically. And so, I talk about how when Darius sees this shooting, he's not just thinking of Malachi Brewers, this fictional character who was slain. He's thinking of Walter Scott, of Eric Garner, of Ahmaud Arbery, of George Floyd. I've only listed names in the last 10 years. We could go all the way back to what you and I talked about already Tim, with what my mom was thinking of. I'm moving to Birmingham, she's thinking immediately of the bombing of four girls who were her age when they were bombed.

And so, it was just simply we're carrying different weights in that sense, of what the conversation means to us. And if we're not careful, we can fumble that weight, and drop that weight on our listener's toe, and actually do some damage if we're just treating it as an abstract conversation, free from the weight of history. And that's what I want to encourage the Hunters of the world out there, is to try to weigh out history, and be like, "If I was coming from this other perspective, and my community had been treated like this, would I just kind of play Devil's advocate?" Well, no. I'd have a very different posture in the conversation, and I really get at this idea of historical asymmetry.

You're a communication professor, Tim. We agree that any racial slur is sin, but it is different for someone to call me the N-word than it is for someone to call you a cracker. Why is that? Well, there are different weights. Why is that? We're clear, a sin, is a sin, is a sin. We're clear on that, and yet we are embodied souls in these social dynamics, and we need to pay attention to some of these dynamics because this is why Tim we give more attention to men abusing women, rather than women abusing men. Is it because women abusing men is better? No, that happens, that's sin, that's terrible. But the former, men abusing women, is more common, it shows an abuse of power dynamics, and it's a particularly heinous abuse of power dynamics. And so, we give particular attention to that, because we're weighing what's actually happening in history and in the present, and trying to address it faithfully.

Tim Muehlhoff: That's so well said. Your second piece of advice reminded me of John Gottman, who's one of our top marital researchers. And he says, "The first 30 seconds of a conversation sets the tone for the entire conversation." That's just a piece of good marital advice for all of us.

Isaac Adams: I'm amening, because I'm like, "That is so true. Oh my goodness. Don't I know it."

Tim Muehlhoff: But here's what you say to Hunter, and of course to all of us who are reading. "Watch where you start." You say this quote, "For instance, White brothers and sisters may not mean to defend racism, but when they instantly critique Martin Luther king Jr., they seem not to be aware that they should be more concerned about King than they do about the racism he opposed." Now, here's how I want to take this question. Could this not equally apply to a White person's critique of Black Lives Matter, or critical race theory? Jumping in immediately with critical race theory. Well hey, the Marxist roots. You got to be careful with Black Lives Matter because they want to destroy the nuclear family, and they miss the concerns that gave rise to both critical race theory and Black Lives Matter.

Isaac Adams: Yeah, that's exactly right. What I say in the book is... I really go back to King, and there's another Presbyterian minister, C. Herbert Oliver, who had just some brilliant words from the civil rights era. And Oliver says, "The world often is leading the way against racism, and the church is falling behind." King would say, and ironically he was talking about the evils of Marxism, he was saying in responding to it, "The church is often a taillight, not a headlight." And what he meant, is that we are often just reactive to things rather than proactively addressing things. And so, when White brothers and sisters go on and on about their critiques with BLM or CRT, and I'm the first one to say those are legitimate critiques, but here is the more pressing question.

It's really easy to just say what you're against. Well, I'm against that. I as a pastor, want to know what you are for. Okay. So, we're against that. Great. How are you then addressing racism, racial injustice? How are you loving your neighbor? So I get that you're against all these things. Tell me what you're for positively. And in that Tim, what we see is that the reality is it's a lot easier to burn down a house than to build one. It's a lot easier to criticize something than to create a positive solution. That's why we so often opt for criticism. Anyone can sit on the sideline and be like, "I don't really like that." Well, now I want you to get in the game, and try to run the play. And you'll see it's actually not that easy. And so that's what I'm getting at in terms of that question, Tim.

Is you're free to have all your strong opinions. I'm like, "Okay, you don't like that. Give me something positive then to work for. Give me a positive vision." And for White brothers and sisters, I think their goal sadly is often, I just don't want to be racist. You're going to need a positive goal, not just a negative, I don't want to be this, but I actually positively want to do this, want to be like this. And that's what we see in Luke 10, the Samaritan is positively doing something. Get on my horse, I'm going to take you to this hotel, I'm going to pay for it, and I'm going to come back and check on you.

Tim Muehlhoff: That's great. You also mentioned that Hunter should lead with lament. I love that you evoke that concept, can you define lament real quick, and explain why it's important in the race conversation?

Isaac Adams: Yeah. Lament is a category we see in scripture that I think recently, brothers like [inaudible 00:09:42], Mark Vroegop have really helped us to rediscover us being evangelicals. Whereas simply I think Vroegop's definition is a complaint in hope to God, or something like that. Where we're simply grieving the fallen reality of this world, and bringing that to God in hope, but in honesty. And saying, "This isn't right." How many times do we see these two words in scripture, how long? These four words, how long, oh Lord?

And so, going back to your comment about the first 30 seconds of a conversation, if someone comes in guns blazing, "Why did you say that? You sound like the CRT mouthpiece, and you're sympathetic with all these things." And if someone comes in and is like, "Hey Isaac, I heard your mom had some concerns about Birmingham, and I never even thought of it that way. I'm so sorry. What's that like for you, as you talked to her, as you've lost her recently?" Do you see how different those two conversations are? One immediately brings about defensiveness, and it's exactly what Proverbs 15 says, "A harsh word stirs up anger, but a gentle word turns away wrath." And I think the lament brings about gentleness, and humanity in us, and decency, and civility in us, that is wonderfully disarming, and powerfully uniting.

Tim Muehlhoff: So let's say I honestly try to do that. I understand that race isn't just between two people, but rather communities. And I try to weigh history, and then I watch where I start. I have to be sensitive in how I talk about the issue like Black Lives Matter, or critical race theory, and then lead with lament, having gone through it. And again, not treating these as rhetorical tricks that now I've softened up the person, so I can say what I really want to say. But let's say I honestly did that. So then you are saying as a White majority person, it is okay for me to step in, and not just be empathetic, lament, but also to offer critique perhaps, or offer a solution. How would you view that?

Isaac Adams: Yeah, that's a great question. Yeah. I'll give you the pastoral answer Tim, that folks get frustrated with. But this is why Proverbs, they're axioms. They're not true in every circumstance, but they're generally true. And so, I give you general lesson, it depends. There are some times you just need to sit and listen, and that goes both ways. It's not just Whites to Black. So it's Ecclesiastes 3, "There is a time to listen, and there is a time to speak." Proverbs 26, "Answer a fool according to his folly. Next verse, don't answer a fool according to his folly." How do we know which one is which? You need wisdom. And so, this is what I would give you, Ephesians 4:29, "Speak as fits the occasion."

So, going to your hypothetical, you've come, you've weighed history, you've listened first. The shooting has just happened, I'm a mess, I'm angry, I'm sad. Do you have the right to offer your criticism, or your suggestion? Maybe, sure. But the Christian life is not about rights. It's not about taking up our rights, it's about laying them down for the benefit of others. So Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only, only, only, only such as good as for building up as fits the occasion that it may give grace to those who hear." So that's the lens, that's the kind of funnel you want to put your words through. Will this critique, will this suggestion give grace to those who hear?

If it will, say it. If it won't, don't say it. That's the arithmetic I'd give you in that conversation. So, let's say just going back to the hypothetical, it's been a couple months since the shooting, I'm really trying to do this work in this neighborhood. I know you have a lot of resources, and a lot of wisdom, and I asked you, "Tim, what do you think?" Or I'm like, "I'm really struggling with this." And you say, "Hey man, I know all these things. I know these dynamics. The reality is you and me, we're brothers in Christ. Can I just offer maybe a suggestion that I want to help you with?"

I'd be like, "Yeah, please help." Sorry this is a long answer, but Tim, we don't want to get to a place where it's like, don't help me. Because we need help if we're going to attack this Mount Everest of racial strife and problems in our country. We are going to have to work together, so we don't want to get to a place where it's like, you stay over there and don't come over here anymore. All the people with the resources who could actually help aren't welcome now, and so it's just a mess.

Tim Muehlhoff: Well, I love that. The sensitivity, the timing, that's what the Proverbs say, "A word spoken in the right circumstances is compared to a fine jewelry." We had on the Reverend James White on our podcast, and he said it so well. He said, "You don't run up to a traffic accident, pop your head in the window, and say, see, you should have been wearing seat belts." That is not the time.

Isaac Adams: Right, exactly. It's not the time or the place. And Tim, I'll say this, we also just won't always get it right on the time and place. And I think those of us on the other side of the conversation, I think sometimes we're so used to the tone deaf comments, it's just that frustrating. But we have to have grace for each other. I'm looking at this White person who is trembling on the inside, talking to me, and I'm like, "Sister it's okay. Just say what you would like to say. Let's have some grace for each other."

Tim Muehlhoff: Can I jump in on the grace part though? Because I'll be transparent. I don't feel grace. I feel like if I step in and say something I am really fearful I'm going to trip a wire, I'm going to say it wrong, I'm going to be insensitive when I'm precisely trying to do the opposite. So sometimes I feel I'm just not going to say anything when it comes to race, it's just so much easier. Especially in the cancel culture, where you could say something that could actually get you in trouble. So talk to me about giving grace to each other on both sides of this conversation. How do you actually bestow the grace that frees up conversations?

Isaac Adams: You remember the grace that has been bestowed to you. I mean Tim, this is kind of why I'm like, "I'm sticking with the Bible because I don't really have any better solutions myself." And frankly I don't think the world does either. And so yeah, it's true, you know your community hasn't been good to my community. That's true, but you know what? I haven't been good to God, and he's forgiven me. And so who am I? Who by definition with the parable of the unforgiving servant, I was in God's debt, 10 million dollars. And he did not only forgave me, he gave me then 10 million in Christ. And you're in my debt, let's call it a million, let's call it a hundred dollars. And I'm not going to forgive you. I mean, this is the joy of preaching Colossians yesterday to my church.

You want to talk about cancel culture, look at Colossians canceling. God, he has canceled the debt that we owed him, and pinned it to the cross in Christ. And so I'm like, "Do you see how the church should be a different world in this sense, the rules are different." In here, I'm actually going to hear you out. I'm not just going to look at you as an exemplar of your ethnicity, White privileged male.

But I'm going to say, "That's my brother in Christ before he's any of those things." Now he still might be those things, I'm not saying it's just all disappeared. So that's why we're talking history, listen, like this is how you can have a more helpful conversation. But at the end of the day, I have to be willing to extend the same grace, and that is why we can't go into this conversation fundamentally thinking this is just Black verse White. This is Christian with Christian, with Satan at our backs, and God in front of us. And we are trying to have an honest and a grace-filled conversation, because whatever has happened to me, whatever evil has happened to me, it never justifies me being evil in return. Never. Never, never, never.

Tim Muehlhoff: So what I appreciate about your book is that you really step into each one of these characters. And affirm, but also not afraid to say some very strong things, like let's go to Darius. Your advice for Darius, "You can be angry, but not rude or hateful." And then you have this great quote, "And Black people can say ethnically hateful things, just like White people can, just like Hispanics can, just like Koreans can, and so on." So that is such a interesting word. And can I frame it this way? Isaac real quick.

Isaac Adams: Yeah.

Tim Muehlhoff: Okay. But haven't those who have experienced racial hatred or discrimination earned the right to be angry when looking at the battered body of 14 year old Emmett Till. Why should minority voices have to watch what they say?

Isaac Adams: This is a good question. Have they earned the right to be angry? Of course, but with the right kind of anger. Now again, you don't run up to the car accident, and say, "Hey, make sure you have the right kind of anger and sadness over there." We're complex beings, this is messy. But there's a reason God says, "Be angry, but do not sin." In the scripture. David Powlison is interesting on anger. He says, "God is the angriest person in the universe." It's really striking if you think about it, it's true. He hates sin, he hates injustice, he hates oppression, and he sees it all. By definition, he must then be the angriest person in the universe, but his anger is always holy, it's always righteous, it's always pure. And ours can be that, but our righteous angers quickly becomes self-righteous anger.

And so you talk about quotes, I think Howard Thurman, monolith in the civil rights movement, kind of mentor to King. He said this in his classic work on justice, Jesus and the Disinherited, "In my analysis of hatred, it is customary to apply it only to the attitude of the strong toward the weak. The general impression is that White people hate Negros and that Negros are merely victims, such an assumption is quite ridiculous. I was once seated in a Jim Crow car, which extended across the highway at Railroad Station in Texas, two Negro girls of about 14 or 15 sat behind me. One of them looked out of the window and said, look at those kids, she referred to two little White girls who were skating toward the train. Wouldn't it be funny if they fell and spattered their brains all over the pavement."

Now those girls had a right to be angry about the injustice of Jim Crow. But this is why God says so much to Tim about vengeance. We don't have the moral acuity to dispense it accurately. And so he's like, "Don't take revenge. Leave that to me." One of my mom's phrases she instilled in us in his children. And again, I talk about her so much, because she just died.

Was, "The Lord will judge." And that's my mom who grew up in segregated America. "The Lord will judge, and he will." And so some people see that as capitulating, I see that as patience and trust. And so what we're talking about then Tim is perspectives on ourselves, perspectives on the Lord's work. "He is not slow as some count slowness." Peter says. And so yeah, the Lord will judge. And there's a perspective on the Lord. There's a perspective on it ourselves. Am I merely a victim? It goes right back to the parable of the unforgiving servant. Am I merely just someone who is owed something, or have I owed something to God? And those starting places will bring about very different conversations.

Tim Muehlhoff: You also mentioned as a piece of advice to Darius, that it's okay to leave your predominantly White church if you no longer trust leadership, or you feel it's become a... I thought this was interesting, a religious outpost of the GOP. But Isaac didn't Paul say that, "We should bear with each other, and love, and protect unity at all costs." Ephesians chapter four?

Isaac Adams: He did say that, that is true. Paul said that, but I want to be clear. I don't think that someone going to another church means they're necessarily not doing that. So this is what I'm getting at. And I'm kind of entering a conversation amongst Black Christians, and really Black evangelicals, to say I feel like the two options right now, the way some Black folks are treating each other, is if you stay in your predominantly White church, you're an Uncle Tom. If you leave, you're a theological liberal. And I think that's the Devil's deal. I think that is conscience binding in all the wrong ways. In other words, yes Tim, Paul said all those things about unity. He also said, "In Christ you are free. For freedom’s sake you've been set free." And so man, you have Christian freedom on where you want to go to church.

Now, do I think there are better or worse reasons to join or leave a church? Of course. And I walked through all of those in the book. But at the end of the day, Jesus has not commanded you to be in First Baptist Tuscaloosa, or whatever. He's commanded you to be a part of his people. He wants you to work for unity.

I certainly hope that doesn't mean that, because then what do we do with all the White people in their churches who refuse to go to Black churches that are preaching the gospel? Well, I don't want to say that they're either necessarily sinfully avoiding unity and all these things, maybe they are. But if that's the case, then we need to have a serious conversation just as... I don't know how you would have this conversation. Let's tear down our churches and integrate them all. Well, of course we know that's not realistic. I don't think that's what God's calling for. There are different communities. This is an all White neighborhood, even for maybe a simple reason. But Black people don't live over there. So again, we have to appreciate the fact that there are complexities in this conversation. And if we can't do that, it will just be the simplistic kind of Twitter spatting we so often see between Christians.

Tim Muehlhoff: Well, I thought Isaac as we kind of wrap up this interview and the podcast, I thought I'd just tackle something easy, like structural racism.

Isaac Adams: Perfect.

Tim Muehlhoff: And honestly I hesitate even to be a little light about that, even to joke about it with a fellow brother. Because Isaac, we have found that in conversations about race, the minute systemic racism is brought up... Or you refer to as structural racism. It is a conversation stopper. That people who might even talk about the ills of racism, it is a bridge too far to bring up systemic racism. So I wonder if you would offer your definition of structural racism, and how does that play into the conversation?

Isaac Adams: Yeah. One thing I have in the back of the book is a glossary Tim, and I have this because I think oftentimes we're using the same words, but we have different dictionaries to go back to our tower of babble example. So this is why I say in the book, "Structural racism, racism, and unjust system, EEG, or example, written or unwritten laws, traditions, procedures, formal, or informal habits, cultural practices that wrongly favors an ethnicity or race. Structural racism is so insidious because it can operate regardless of one's individual intentions." And so Tim, I think one thing that's helpful in these conversations is to find a common ground. So let's talk to someone who doesn't like that word, gets turned off by it. Okay, let's talk about Jim Crow segregation.

Would you call that structural racism? I just haven't found the person who's willing to be like, "No, that wasn't structural." Of course, we're all like, "Yeah, that was structural." But people are like, "Well, the Whites only signs are torn down, and you can't say it still exists." Well it's like, "Well maybe." But it's hard with racism because it's an insidious evil. And there's structural lust with the pornography industry, there are systems at play there. And there are some real and heinous examples of structural racism, or things that wrongly favor one ethnicity. In scripture, we even see ethnically partial laws made, "Injustice framed by statute." As the Psalm says. And so I try to walk through a historical example, a biblical example, and a present day example to get at the fact that this isn't just racism is more than I'm just thinking mean thoughts about you individually. Because if it was only that, the solution is just be nicer to people.

But if I agree we should be nicer, and you agree we should be nicer. Why is there still so much inequity and inequality today? So that's where I would start that conversation, and realize that really when I'm dealing with someone who's skeptical about systemic, structural racism, whatever they want to call. It's not so much again that they don't have the category for it, but they don't have the evidence. So they want to see some evidence of it. And yeah Tim, this is why segregation was so brilliant and insidious. Brilliant, of course I mean not in a positive sense. Sinister, let's say that. Because if your community is all clean, and there's no liquor stores, and everything's pretty nice, and they've built a highway so you don't have to drive next to these poor Black people who live downtown. Well of course, what are you talking about?

Look, Obama's up there. Ketanji Jackson just got to the Supreme Court. What are you talking about? Well, I think if you got to see some of the communities on which racism has taken its toll, you might think a bit differently. Let me end with this last parable, I liken the laws of structural racism to lit matches. So the match was lit. White's only drinking fountain. Well now the match has been blown out, those laws are off the books ostensibly. But what I'm trying to point people to Tim, is that the fact that the house is still on fire. So though the match is blown out, the house may very well still be burning. And I think the haunting question for us is, have we just gotten so used to looking at fire, that it doesn't really even bother us anymore? Do we even know where the fires are? Those are some questions that'll keep you up at night, but you have to be willing to entertain them. And if all you're interested in is offering your opinion about the terrors of CRT, you're never going to get there, that was a long answer.

Tim Muehlhoff: Oh Isaac, that is so good to consider. Let's close with a theological concept. I love how your book is so thoroughly immersed in scripture and theological insight. You mentioned forgiveness, and placed quite an emphasis on the need for forgiveness. You say it's central in our discussions of race. In fact, you dedicated an entire chapter to that issue. So in what way can offering forgiveness help? And is there any way that it might hurt in the fact that asking for forgiveness might come way too early in the conversation?

Isaac Adams: Yeah. I mean, this is a tricky conversation about forgiveness. There's a whole conversation about, is repentance necessary for forgiveness? But I was helped by Alan Jacobs was writing about this, of the goal is not just to have reparations. Let's just grab something that's an easy topic in this conversation. The goal is not just to have the debt cleared. The goal is for you and I to love one another in Christ I think. So there's a way to say, "Hey, I wronged you, you wronged me. Here's what you need. It's done. We'll go our separate ways." But again, in Christ, he is bringing us toward one another. And so I think sometimes we opt for, it's just a systemic conversation, it's just a justice conversation.

Or other people say, "No, it's just about relationships. It's just about reconciliation." Well, it's actually about both. The very reason you have justice is to restore relationship, Lord willing, in the best sense. Now in a fallen world, justice is still important. Don't get me wrong. But what I think we would all say would be the best thing, is for those people not just to get even, but to get closer, to love one another. And that's a really tricky thing to do when you're not even willing to get even, when you're not even willing to say, "Hey, this was wrong. And this is really complicated. How do we make this right?" But in some senses, you can't. We all know this in our marriages, when we're in an argument, we can't really climb out of the rabbit hole the same way we got doubted.

We're going to just have to hit a point where it's like, "Look, I forgive you. It's done. And it wasn't right whatever happened, but it's done." And again, looking at with what Christ has given us we want to think really... That's why I end with I hope a surprising chapter on forgiveness. I think folks will be surprised at who it is. Who's doing the apologizing at the end of the book, because it shows that this is not just, you owe me, and you're just in my debt, and I'm merely a victim. We both need to extend this grace. We both need to receive this grace, and how wonderful it is when that happens. So that's messy. And so let me say one last thing, I know you're trying to land the plane Tim.

But this is what pastors have to do. Anyone can get on Twitter and be a prophet, it's pretty easy. You just say super polarizing things, and you get on there, and you don't have to deal with the ramifications. A pastor has to deal with the messiness, the gray. And so I do intend for this book to be a pastoral word for the moment.

I fear the race conversation has many prophets, but few pastors. And prophets are great, we are all called to speak prophetically. Pastors are to speak prophetically. And so I'm thankful for prophets, but I fear we've reduced the prophetic task merely to confrontation and condemnation. When if you read Ezra 5:2 it says, "The prophets were with the people of God, supporting them at work. The prophets provided comfort of hope, of restoration with God." Otherwise, what good is the condemnation? It's just a sword at that point, it's just a hammer. That they're saying, "No, receive this hammer so you can have the hope of being right with God. And so you can have the hope of being right with each other Lord willing." And that is my Ted Talk.

Tim Muehlhoff: Oh, that's awesome man. Hey, so let's close with this.

Isaac Adams: [inaudible 00:35:43], you're a preacher man.

Tim Muehlhoff: You really encourage us to study, read, and continue this conversation. Give me the top three books if a person wants to weigh history, if a person wants to get this issue in context, what would that be?

Isaac Adams: Yeah. I mean, I offer I think 10 or 12 at the end. And I'll just give the kind of Sunday school answer, let's exclude the Bible from this conversation. As a pastor I'm always going to say the Bible, but let's see. The top three off the top of my head.

Oh man, I would say The Negro: his rights and wrongs, the forces for forum and against him by Francis Grimké. I think Francis Grimke Presbyterian pastor, 19th century. And it's just four sermons that I think are incredible on race. Oh man, this is hard. I mean, I will say just on the statistical conversation, American Apartheid by Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton. It's thick, that's a heavy lift. But man, if you want to get to, where are the fires? Just read that book. I think that book is challenging. Oh man, it's so hard to pick three.

Tim Muehlhoff: I know, and we can keep it at two, that's fine.

Isaac Adams: All right. Let's keep it at two.

Tim Muehlhoff: Let's keep it at two. I was slightly hurt you didn't mention Winsome Conversation by Tim Muehlhoff. That's okay.

Isaac Adams: That's the obvious one.

Tim Muehlhoff: You finish with this thought, that I thought would be just a great way to wrap up this conversation. You say, "If we talk about race because it's trendy, we won't last when the trials come, we'll be driven and tossed about by the wind. But if we talk about race because we believe it matters for the glory of God, we will press on despite challenge, or blessing, slander, or praise, resistance, or repentance." I think that is such a good word, Isaac. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this book. Thank you for the creative way that it's presented to us, and the pastoral wisdom, the theological insight that's in it. And thank you that you are out there on the front lines, trying to get us to think and pray about this difficult issue. Thank you so much for being a part of this podcast.

Isaac Adams: Thank you for having me brother, really appreciate it.

Tim Muehlhoff: If you want more information about this, we've also tried to tackle the issue of race with other guests, that very much are trying to paint a picture of this crucial conversation. Please go to our website,, and all of it's for free. And we certainly will post this with Isaac as soon as it's ready to go. So thank you so much for joining us, God bless.