When Racism Becomes Mundane: Proclaiming a Holistic Hamartiology

  • Heather Joy Zimmerman


How can the American evangelical church rise up to represent Christ in the midst of the overwhelming weight of our racial history? How can the preacher proclaim prophetically from the pulpit to a people divided regarding the state of race in our Union? 

To claim I have the answers would be naïve at best or perpetuating a history of hypocritical colonization at worst. I write as a sister who has and is continuing to grapple with my own failings in racial justice. Yes, I have been through the wringer as a young evangelical woman working at the intersection of Biblical Studies and Homiletics. I know a weariness of waiting years for those in power to muster their own courage to face the tension that faithfulness to justice requires. But my own passion for racial justice does not derive from a false equivalency between my own experiences of systems not “ready” for me and those of my brothers and sisters of color. My conviction began out of an academic study of Romans. Today, I write to address just one of the dangers I see in the entanglement between the American Church and our Western society: a neglect of preaching a holistic understanding of sin. Our homilies and hymns do not sufficiently teach sin as more than individual actions.  I do not believe much of the American evangelical church will get racial injustice “right” until she gets her hamartiology right.