Black British Gnosticism: No such thing as a ‘Black’ Experience

#Gafartawa in Hausa means ‘Forgiveness’ – The one that has been ‘forgiven much loveth much; but the one has been forgiven little loveth little’ (Luke 7:47). It is not our ability to love and forgive that proves that we are christians; it is rather the revelation of who Christ is that allows us to love and forgive – Remain blessed in the Lord.

Blogger: Tholani Alli | Twitter: @Gafartawa | Enquiries:  gafartawablog@gmail.com

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(this blog post was inspired from a conversation I heard from Dr. Voddie Bachaum and Dr. James White about Ethnic Gnosticism)

Gnostics generally believe that salvation or identities of divine and eternal worth comes by the ‘taking in’ of secret knowledge through various: A ceremony, a ritual or experience undertaken that will put you on a higher plane than just the regular old people. An ethnic gnostic says: You cannot address the experience of an ethnic group if you don’t walk in their shoes. In other words: outsiders need not comment. You need to have a certain melanin count. And it has absolutely, positively, assuredly nothing to do with the commandments.

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It’s a common sight to see many within the contemporary 25 – 35 year old #BlackBritish generation narrate, film and debate on what it means to be Black Britain in this part of the 21st century – post 2018 to be precise. I’ve done the same myself. Trendy bloggers, videobloggers and writers filled with the ‘afrocentrisicms’ in videos. Black in London, Black in the Workplace, Black Abroad, Black growing up, Black ordering my first Chinese takeaway, Black getting on the train and so on.

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For me as a black male blogger born and raised in East London to ascribe to this worldview is ludicrous. There is no such thing in my worldview as a black experience. Most of the Black British Narratives I read about here in London from various books, postgraduate bloggers, black social commentators and so on speak about life growing up as a black person in London within either a majoritarian white british/ethnic neighbourhood or within a predominantly black neighbourhood amongst an ethnic mix. We were the only black family in my flat in Shadwell within a majority Bengali estate – and by no means will I accept anyone that tells me intercultural community problems do not exists within so called ‘non-white British’ surroundings. I have no problems with confirming that i have been racially abused and assaulted whilst growing up in the UK and it wasn’t from so-called ‘white British’ folks. In my worldview; because I believe in Total Depravity; all men and all women from all walks of life at their very best are hell deserving sinners. Ethnic Gnostics will and must disagree with this. They say: Some ethnicities are worser than others and because of this ‘we’ can only really interpret our ethnic narrative ourselves. Their views will be similar to as seen below:

“I’m black and I have a black experience; you’re not black and therefore you cannot understand my experience. Now I can understand your experience because I live in your world and understand your experience… but you can’t understand my experience and actually it’s racist if you try and act like you can understand my experience” This is Gnosticism.

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I’m real enough to understand that there will be some within my community that may stumble across this read and disagree with me if I was to tell them that I do not ascribe neither is the primary lens of my worldview a racial one. It isn’t. We have in this part of the world been so engrained with racial focus that it is an absolute rejected possibility that one can view the entire human race in an alternative way: Depraved, Fallen & Hell Deserving.

“The violation of instructions leads to consequences. But the problem with us human beings is that we question the consequences rather than investigate the instructions.” (Atheism Greatly Misunderstood in Kenya, Chaka Sichangi)

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The ethnic gnostic is in grave theological danger when they claim to be a christian. When your race, culturalism and ethnicity becomes the first primary lense through which you view everything else; I can’t subscribe to it – because there isn’t any scriptural foundation for it. A believer will always view the human race and the world through the lens of: No one does good All sin (Eccles 7.20); All are by human nature children of wrath deserving of God’s Wrath because of their sin (Eph 2.3); the wrath that man deserves (Col 3.6) fell upon Christ (Isa 53.5); in spite of their sin God is not wanting anyone to perish but all to come to repentance (2 Pet 3.9). Dear Christian; please understand that there is great danger when you place as your primary interpretive grid something other than that which is provided by the Word of God and Spirit of God.

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So what happens is: when we start talking about issues with ‘people of colour’ (I term that I will use for the betterment of this arguing though I don’t subscribe to) – it’s very easy for me to go back to my blackness, my experience, my upbringing and so on but white people don’t have backgrounds and upbringings – and if they do – it’s all the same. Ethnic Gnosticism is why you have to bring black guys in to have black guys speak to the certain issues to give you cover because if you buy into ethnic Gnosticism – you admit that you can’t speak to these issues because you’re not part of the community.  People get away with it: the broader culture, division with black church circles (those that are more separatists and those that are more assimilationists).

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Now I’m not saying that I have never thought like this; but I am saying that the one who has met the Lord in the scriptures will have this and all over worldly sinful world-views shattered. Because you will now see mankind spiritually from another perspective and it’s this: Totally dead in sin with a free will so depraved that it doesn’t have a choice of whether it drinks vomit; it only has a choice of which vomit it wants to drink; but for God’s Love and God’s Grace in Christ – the paradise that Christ secured and the wrath that Christ satisfied for believing souls – unbelieving souls will drink eternally. Because the human race is sinful; our anger is sinful. We pick and choose what offends us. Once upon a time; the British enslaved the Scots, the Ottoman and Barbery pirates acquired European slaves and the Arabs for 1400 years enslaved much of North, West and East Africa – All are fallen (Romans 3.23), All are deserving of wrath (Col 3.6) – but don’t tell Ethnic Gnostics that…

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Young Christian; be encouraged. Don’t allow anyone to force you or tempt you and even persecute you replace as your primary interpretive grid something other than that which is provided by the Word of God and Spirit of God. No matter where you are from or your background remember that all men and all women from all nations across the face of the earth are deserving of God’s Just Wrath – but we Thank the Lord that our sin which is as deep as the grave – His Grace is deeper still. Let us prepare our hearts to be re-united with him and share this eternal truth within this temporary and perishing world.

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