Thabiti Anyabwile and Rev. Wright

Lately I have been reading through Thabiti Anyabwile’s fabulous book The Decline of African American Theology. It is a very well-written, well-researched piece of scholarship that has given me a whole new spin on black Christian history. I am so thankful to him for introducing readers like me to black theologians like Jupiter Hammon and Lemuel Haynes (the “black Puritan”).

The recent racist statements by Sen. Obama’s pastor have, for me, been timely. I can see them through a whole new lens now that I am reading Anyabwile’s book. I have a greater appreciation for the development of black theological thought (not that I’m in any way an expert!) and I can see where the vitriol of Rev. Wright comes from. The statements by men like James Cone that I read quoted in Anyabwile’s book are shocking to say the least. Black Theology is a scary phenomenon and deeply racist.

As I read Victor Davis Hanson’s take on the Wright/Obama controversy, I was struck by these words:

Given the racist history of the United States, the black church has developed a
counter-narrative and history. Others outside the community are apparently not
fully aware of the vocabulary, metaphor and style of this sometimes problematic
and complicated milieu…

Reading Thabiti Anyabwile’s book only confirms a statement like this. I am now more than interested in reading his earlier work The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors.

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