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5 Stars Out Of 5
No other book like this; No, Not One
November 18, 2013
Certain books rake over the issues and the result is acquiring leaves. However, some books don't rake they dig and the result is you turn up with diamonds. THIS IS A BOOK THAT DIGS!!! This is a Christian History book that is written in a Systematic Theology style. Highly Recommended!!!
I was drawn to this book by its title. Thabiti Anyabwile has done an admirable job tracing the decline of Christian theology among African-Americans from the earliest days of slavery to the present. Writing from a reformed perspective, the author shows how that position dominated early Christian thought even among uneducated slaves. The theology of those days was unsystematized and passed along by means of folk song and story. Paradoxically, the same reformed faith that is credited for laying a strong spiritual foundation among the enslaved was also employed by slave masters to support the slave trade. This tension found release following emancipation when less-reformed and more-liberal theological positions captured the attention of a people who labored for more than a century striving for social equality. The result was the rise of a "Black theology" that was built on "experiential" rather than "revealed" truth. "Health and wealth" gospel, in time, became a natural outgrowth. The Scriptures were less literally interpreted and, when combined with the 20th-century mantra of "social redemption," created an unholy alliance with political movements. The author could have developed this theme more completely, which would have helped the reader understand why so many Black "reverends" are at the forefront of liberal movements and why so many African-Americans have departed from their rich spiritual heritage. Understandably, Anyabwile could not include every personality, but there are several notable omissions. I found myself searching the index for names that should have been a part of the story he tells. At the same time, he glosses over most of the Black pastors and theologians of our day who have remained true to the Scriptures and are leading their people to honor and serve God. The chapters cover several key theological doctrines--revelation, theology proper, anthropology, Christology, soteriology, and pneumatology--tracing the origin and decline of each in a consistently ordered manner. The author's final word holds out hope that a second edition may be in the works, hopefully adding detail to an already noteworthy work. I commend Anyabwile for tackling such a difficult and challenging task and making a significant contribution.
The Decline of African American Theology the author Thabiti Anyabwile has taken on is a challenging and difficult subject to be able to make a such broad stroke on any one culture or group of people to conclude that there is a decline in its theology. This is why I purchased the book because it peaked my interest to see if the author could do a responsible job in proving his thesis in this book. While I must commend the author for the research on the history of the African American theology, I believe that this is were the book falls short of supporting the title of the book. The people in whom he chooses to prove his point is limited to a small number of people and thought on the theology of African Americans. I believe this is the danger in our society when we take only a small segment of history, people and thought to speak for the whole of a people or a nation. Truly, it has been my experience in the African American church that the theology that I have been taught was biblical and doctrinally sound. Bishop TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar, or James Cone does not speak for every African American Christian and the rich biblically sound experience that makes up the African American Christian experience. Therefore, I believe the author falls short of extending the thought that the African American churches has experienced any greater decline in its theology than the overall view of Christianity in the 21 century has experienced a decline in theology. When we make such a scathing report, it does not help the plight of every Christian to stay true to the biblical theology of Christianity, this work helps continue some of the negative stereotypes of the world to a specific segment of people. Although, I might not agree with the author and his conclusion on this subject I believe that the material and research was well done.