Today I had a review go up at the Gospel Coalition for the book PROOF by Timothy Paul Jones and Daniel Montgomery. It’s a good book that I think many will profit from. I said as much in my review. Still, I had one very big quibble with it:
…about a rather specific and unfortunate use of the phrase “camel-jockey” to refer to the patriarch Abraham (60). Maybe that’s just a colloquialism in some parts of the country, but as a Christian of Arab descent who’s been insulted with that term, I couldn’t help but flinch at the use of the slur. Given the authors’ robust defense of the racial universality of the gospel call, the offense was obviously unintended. Still, somebody in editing ought to have caught that phrase.
I wrote this with some trepidation because I didn’t want to sink or distract from the book. I had no ill-will towards Montgomery and Jones and I did think it was probably something careless or inadvertent. Still, I felt that it needed to be said to maintain my integrity. This is why I was so pleased to read this near-immediate response in the comments on The Gospel Coalition review by Timothy Paul Jones:
First off, thanks to Derek for his review of PROOF. Both Daniel and I deeply appreciate the care and attention Derek has taken in his reading and review. Second, neither of us were aware that “camel jockey” functions as a derogatory epithet, and we apologize that we erred by including anything in the book that might be hurtful to any ethnic group.
No matter how unintended it may have been, the hurtfulness inherent in such an epithet runs counter to everything toward which we are working at Sojourn Community Church–to rejoice in the diversity of cultures and languages that God brings together through faith in Jesus Christ. We are thankful to Derek for calling us to account in this area so that we may share the grace of Jesus Christ more effectively with persons from every tribe, every language, and every ethnicity.
This morning, we have already taken every necessary step to have this error corrected. The first printing of the book has already shipped, but we have been assured by the editors at Zondervan that this section will be reworded prior to the second printing of the book.
Pastors and leaders, this is a godly response. As I said in my original review, I believe they didn’t know “camel-jockey” to be a slur or they wouldn’t have used it. And yet, Jones still owned up for the unintentional offense and even thanked me for the correction!
A humble, gracious, and quick response such as this is one that flows from a desire to not see anything stain or besmirch the name of Jesus or the Gospel. I’m so grateful for this demonstration of Christ-centered humility on the part of these leaders in the church. In an age of manufactured press releases and micro-managed spin, it’s rare to see an actual apology and swift movement to course-correct.
Leaders who are striving after Christ don’t reject the well-intended, or even not-so-well-intended, criticisms of others out of hand. Instead, they stop, listen, examine themselves and their sources to see if it’s true and if, and in what way, there is any opportunity for repentance or correction. They can do this because they know that ultimately their identity is found in Christ, where they are securely held by their Savior, no matter what (true or false) criticisms come their way. Leaders care far more about the name of Christ than feeling the need to prove they get it perfectly every time. Indeed, they know that at times a quick apology for whatever offense they might have provoked (that isn’t simply the offense of the gospel, that is) is more God-glorifying than getting it perfect the first time.
This is a wonderful testimony that Montgomery and Jones have truly imbibed deeply of the message of grace they write about so powerfully in their book. In other words, it’s a little more proof that PROOF works.
Soli Deo Gloria
Just as I went to hit ‘publish’, I saw on Twitter that Jones had posted a follow-up to this statement on his blog. You can go read it here.