Léonce Crump, Pastor of Renovation Church in Atlanta, is a busy man. Amid juggling personal and pastoral life, he offers undivided time and attention to address the issues of race in America. From his leadership position in his multiethnic church, Crump communicates with compassion and brutal honesty and isn't afraid to tackle one issue that is particularly pressing and is dividing our country and the American church—slave reparations.
Crump, a black man whose wife is white, believes that for anyone to tackle the issues of race and slave reparations they must love and desire the different cultures around them. As he states, "I'm 100% sure that we can't see all of God with our own cultural lenses."
Crump believes that if we're going to properly address the issue of slave reparations we need to begin with prayer and scripture. When asked if scripture gives context to slave reparations, Crump provided two examples.
According to Crump, "We find it in the Old Testament and the New Testament." One Old Testament story that Crump notes as an example is that of Ruth, Boaz and the year of Jubilee—the celebration of release and liberty. Some Theologians believe that during this celebration, slaves were set free and given reparations for property that had previously been taken from them (Leviticus 25:15-32). And from the New Testament, he offers the story of Zacchaeus which tells of how what was stolen, was paid back—the righting of past wrongs. There are some Theologians who believe that Zacchaeus choosing to give back what he had stolen from the poor, – many of them Jewish – is a form of reparations.
There is wide believe among Theologians that Jesus endorses reparations because of the exchange that He and Zacchaeus have in Luke 19:9, that salvation has come upon Zacchaeus. Crump believes that these are just two stories in scripture that support reparations.
Crump is clear that before any Believer forms an opinion of slave reparations it should first align with the word of God. He believes many Christians have difficulty starting with scripture to form their perspectives because they put the barrier of their isolated cultural experience ahead of scripture's teachings and an understanding of broader cultures.
Although Crump does not give his opinion on a resolution to this issue, he has addressed his Atlanta-based congregation, a diverse blend of over 1,000 regular attendees from diverse race and cultural backgrounds, about the subject matter.
"By studying the word of God, I believe that people will get closer in making up their mind." Crump adds that "We have to ask questions of scripture when we're reading stories out of the Bible on this issue."
The pastor believes that we have to examine our own history when tackling the issue of slave reparations. He knows why some of our country's leaders, such as Senator Mitch McConnell, would say that they should not be held responsible for the actions of slave-holders nor the repercussions of slavery. However, while historically slave-holders were paid back after losing the war to the Northern soldiers. Crump notes that the slaves themselves never were compensated and have never fully benefited from their contributions to industry, commerce, and the subsequent economic reward.
Resolving the issues of slave reparations and racial unity is difficult, to say the least, but it is a topic that Christians must address as followers of Jesus. Crump is clear that we cannot forget our unity as Believers. "Our unity on racial diversity is something that I believe is worth fighting for as a Believer in Jesus." As Christians, we all should respond to that call.
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