Interview: Doug Logan on Experiencing and Responding to Racism
By Doug Logan | April 11, 2022
Topic: Applied Theology—Ethics—Urban Theology
This is the second part of a multi-part interview with Doug Logan, President of Grimké Seminary. (Previous Post)
Joe Holland: I know that you’ve personally experienced racism before you were converted and after you were converted, before you were ordained and after you were ordained. Your wife has experienced racism. There are a lot of reasons why you could be very angry and very riled up. It would be easy for you to move from biblical anger at the injustice you’ve experienced to unbiblical anger. What has God done in your life to help you respond in a biblical way to the racism you’ve experienced?
Doug Logan: I’ll give a shout-out to my wife. My wife is white and is from a middle-class diverse community in South Jersey. When she grew up, her father was in the music business. So she grew up around every type of race, particularly living in her primarily black neighborhood. And her block, in particular, was a black neighborhood. Her family was the white family with the pool that everybody came to. I grew up in the ghetto, in Paterson, New Jersey. We both grew up in incredibly diverse communities.
Angel has been such a calming presence for me. She sees the racism, she despises it, and she handles it way better than I do. She experienced racism at my historically black church. The church that I grew up in, the church I was ordained in, was founded the day after the Emancipation Proclamation. It was a part of the Underground Railroad and all that. The subtle but consistent racism Angel experienced from a few pastors and leaders at that church as a white girl at a historic African American church was atrocious and evil. I’m not scared to say that as a black person. It needs to be said because it’s true. I’ve seen her cry. And at the same time, with gospel grace, she came back to the church that next Sunday with a smile, loving people and forgiving people. She’s been a rock for me in that example.
“We have to have this burning patience for people who haven’t seen the gospel rightly as it pertains to race.”—Doug Logan
For me, I had to learn to calm down. For me, the key was learning from Angel, learning from the way my kids endured racism graciously, learning from the Word of God, and having people that God blessed me with: you and the church you planted supporting us, Paul Tripp’s mentorship, Phil Ryken, Eric Mason . . . I had a diverse group of people on the front side of planting in Camden. And all of this was happening as I planted a church in the midst of being a part of a large white network, being a part of a super-duper, -duper, -duper, predominantly white denomination. For many years as a Presbyterian, I’ve experienced racism in both of those entities—my network and my denomination. And by God’s grace, I’ve been reconciled with many of those brothers over time. So, for me, I learned to endure racism early on from my wife, watching my kids, and all the great white friends I had.
And I should say, in those early days, that when I experienced racism, every time I tried to deal with it, I never really dealt with it well. I obsessed over it instead. I was not doing the work that God called me to do. I was arguing with white people about racism and neglecting my ministry. Of course, now, I’m not going to be silent about racism and excuse my silence by saying that I’m busy doing ministry. I am going to confront it. But by God’s grace, I don’t obsess over it like I used to.
There’s a level of balance we have to pursue in our ministries. God didn’t call me to confront just one sin. Racism is just one of many sins. The minister of the gospel confronts all sin and calls all people to repent and place their faith in Jesus. Because if grace is real and God’s patience is real, then we need to have this burning patience for mission. We have to have this burning patience for people who haven’t seen the gospel rightly as it pertains to race. I know I can’t just obsess over one sin, like racism, and make it my hobby horse. That isn’t what it means to be a shepherd.