Evangelical Alliance lays into popular Black theologian over C4 documentary
The Evangelical Alliance (EA) has attacked a Channel 4 documentary by Black theologian Robert Beckford which looked at the challenge facing the Church of England in light of evangelicalism in both Britain and Africa.
In a written statement the EA's general director Joel Edwards criticised the documentary 'God is Black' for "falling back on stereotypes"
In the two-part documentary Robert Beckford considered the future of Anglicanism, specific Evangelical churches, the popularity of the Alpha course as well as the position of the ultra-conservative group Reform, all of which he suggested could call upon a powerful ally in the shape of African Christianity, which is generally evangelical in nature.
In particular Edwards singled out the way that several ministries and organisations were treated in the documentary.
"Beckford chose to show the ministry of T.B. Joshua in Nigeria and Kingsway International Christian Centre in London. It was regrettable that these churches, while influential, were used merely as a warning of things to come and used divisively in terms of the impact on the Anglican community" he said.
"By talking at some length to members of Reform, Beckford gives the impression that this summarises the evangelical viewpoint of the C of E. He should know that this group is small in comparison to the constituencies such as the Church of England Evangelical Council, the Evangelical Alliance, the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance, New Wine and Forward in Faith."
Accusing Beckford of "sloppy journalism" the statement went on to say that the theologian had failed to adequately define terms such as "Evangelical" or "Fundamentalist" or to show the historical context for their use.
In "the current world political climate" said the EA's head man, "this is surely at best irresponsible/naive?"
"He too easily looked for the sensational and in so doing gave a distorted picture of what is really happening."
Robert Beckford is a regular and popular speaker at the annual Greenbelt arts festival. Drawing on his experience of working with the social services and the police in Birmingham, as well as with the gangs themselves, he will be speaking on 'Gangs and Guns' at this year's Greenbelt (27 - 30 August 2004).
He is also the author of "Jesus is Dread: Black theology and black culture in Britain" and "Dread and Pentecostal" which explores the future of Black British Pentecostalism.