Best-selling author and Christian apologist Josh McDowell has announced he is stepping back from ministry, following comments about Black families and minorities he made Saturday at a meeting of the American Association of Christian Counselors.
McDowell heads Josh McDowell Ministry, which is affiliated with Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. In a statement released Wednesday on Twitter, McDowell said:
At a recent conference, I made comments about race, the black family, and minorities that were wrong and hurt many people. It breaks my heart to know what deep pain I have caused. It has become clear to me, along with Cru Leadership, that I need to step back from my ministry and speaking engagements to enter a season of listening and addressing the growth areas that I have become aware of through this. During this time of meeting with others and learning, I hope to personally grow better and understand how I can help contribute to the reconciliation and unity that God desires for us all.
On Saturday, McDowell had identified critical race theory, a controversial academic theory on the nature of systemic racism, as one of the “five greatest global epidemics.” He also made a generalized statement regarding African Americans that sparked sharp criticism.
“I do not believe Blacks, African Americans, and many other minorities have equal opportunity,” McDowell said. “Why? Most of them grew up in families where there is not a big emphasis on education, security — you can do anything you want. You can change the world. If you work hard, you will make it. So many African Americans don’t have those privileges like I was brought up with.”
On Sunday, McDowell apologized on social media, saying his remarks do not reflect his own beliefs. He added that his comment about minority families “does not reflect reality.”
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Responses to McDowell’s recent announcement he is stepping back from ministry were mixed.
“This is beautifully humble and shows the qualities of true leadership,” one person tweeted. “May God honor your words here.”
This is beautifully humble and shows the qualities of true leadership.
May God honor your words here .
— Cristy is justsayin’ (@justsay72153365) September 23, 2021
But Kyle J. Howard, a theologian and racial trauma counselor, was sharply critical. “It’s not an apology if you don’t name your sin or actually name your offense,” he tweeted. “It baffles me how difficult it is for white evangelicalism to grasp this, especially when it comes to the sin of racism.”
It’s not an apology if you don’t name your sin or actually name your offense. It baffles me how difficult it is for white evangelicalism to grasp this, especially when it comes to the sin of racism.
— Kyle J. Howard (@KyleJamesHoward) September 23, 2021
Carson Weitnauer, a former director at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), tweeted that he’d like to meet with McDowell during his pause in ministry. Weitnauer has spoken at length about the pain both Josh and his son, Sean McDowell, caused to former RZIM employees when they did a complimentary podcast with RZIM executive, Abdu Murray, earlier this year.
“I appreciate your commitment to listening and growth,” Weitnauer said. “I would like to talk with you about reconciliation during this time.”
According to Josh McDowell’s statement, Duane Zook, CEO of Josh McDowell Ministry, will continue to lead the daily operations of McDowell’s ministry in his absence.