Josh McDowell steps back from ministry after controversial remarks on black families

Josh McDowell speaks at Talbot Chapel at Biola University in California on January 21, 2020.
Josh McDowell speaks at Talbot Chapel at Biola University in California on January 21, 2020. | YouTube/Biola University

Prominent Christian author and apologist Josh McDowell announced that he will step away from his ministry work and speaking events for the time being after making controversial remarks about minorities and education.

In a statement posted Wednesday afternoon to his Twitter account, the 82-year-old said that the backlash from his recent comments at the American Association of Christian Counselors conference on Saturday led him to conclude that he had to step away from his ministry efforts for a time.

"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," stated McDowell, who has authored and co-authored over 150 books. 

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"During this time of meeting with others and learning, I hope to personally grow and better understand how I can help contribute to the reconciliation and unity that God desires for us all."

McDowell added that his organization, Josh McDowell Ministry,  will continue to operate, but its daily work will be overseen by CEO Duane Zook.

While speaking at the conference, he criticized critical race theory. McDowell claimed that the majority of African American and other racial minority families do not emphasize the importance of education to their children. 

"I do not believe blacks, African Americans, and many other minorities have equal opportunity. Why? Most of them grew up in families where there is not a big emphasis on education," stated McDowell at the weekend gathering.

"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."

In his statement Wednesday, McDowell called his remarks "wrong" and caused "deep pain."

Central Baptist College Professor Aaron New was among those outraged by the comments, taking to Twitter to note that he was "kinda stunned" by McDowell's remarks.

"Apparently he also claims 'social justice is our next epidemic,'" tweeted New. "[McDowell, can] you confirm and/or explain? Because this is […] absolutely horrible."

"I'm not anyone of much significance. So he doesn't owe *me* anything," he added. "But I do think [McDowell] should clarify or explain or apologize - just for starters."

Grove City College Professor Warren Throckmorton wrote in a blog entry Sunday that McDowell "completely ignored the actual reasons for lack of equity in opportunity."

"He spent the first 10 minutes of his AACC speech blasting the concept of structural impediments to equity. So Mr. McDowell, what is the reason for lack of equal opportunity?" stated Throckmorton.

"I hope this incident will be a teachable moment for white evangelicals who have mindlessly accepted the word of their talking heads about CRT."

McDowell issued an apology soon after his Saturday speech in which he admitted that his comments were a "generalized statement that does not reflect reality."

"I apologize and reiterate my Christian love for all races, nationalities and people groups," he stated. "My desire is that we as Christians would deal with both racism and inequality as the sins that they are in order to restore the unity that God desires for all."  

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