Thursday, March 19, 2009
Facing Racism and Heresy in the African American Community -part 5- a recommended book list
This is not an exhaustive list. I am putting a star by those books that up-hold good orthodox and/or Reformed theology.
I began this study by reading two books in opposition to each other. One book was recommended to me by Rev. Mark Lomax pastor of First African Presbyterian Church in Lithonia, Georgia. That is Black Religion and Black Radicalism by Gayraud S. Wilmore.
It is written by a professor who was himself a part of the various civil rights and Black Nationalist events in the sixties.27 That makes the end of his book something of an oral history and very interesting. However, I do add some caution. Wilmore is very liberal and he tends to turn stories of early Christian slaves into those seeking mainly power and earthly liberation. That is a half truth.
The book I countered this with was written by a Reformed Baptist Pastor, Thabiti M. Anyabwile. His book *The Decline of African American Theology: from Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity, is laid out in a unique way.
He looks at a different biblical doctrine in each chapter and then assesses the historical theology of African American Christians from slavery to the present day under that heading. Anyabwile's stories of early Reformed African American Christians are uniquely uplifting but of course sad. He also provides excellent information on both Liberation theology and some of the heretical teachings of the Charismatic movement.
Another good Reformed book written by an African American is *On Being Black and Reformed: A New Perspective on the African-American Christian Experience, by Anthony J. Carter.
I will explain this book by quoting John Piper, “When I met Anthony Carter several years ago, I detected a rigorous mind, a righteous concern for racial justice, and a Reformed vision of God-a rare combination. Since then I have wanted to be a listener. Now this book makes that easier. May the Lord of nations use it to shape a powerful movement of God-centered Christians from all peoples who have tasted suffering.” An important part of this book is the inclusion of three confessions of the sin of racism by, The Assemblies of God, The Southern Baptist Convention and The Presbyterian Church in America.
On Africa and history I will recommend several books. Thomas c. Oden's book, *How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity, is meant to encourage the reader to return to the early African Church Fathers and Mothers.
Oden wants the reader to understand that these men and women were truly African and their Christianity was orthodox. One particularly interesting part of this book is his tracing of early Christianity along the Nile and other inland areas of Africa. This book is part of a project, “The Center for Early African Christianity,” meant to interest scholars in the study of ancient Christianity in Africa.
Edwin M. Yamauchi, in his book *Africa and the Bible sets out to disprove some of the more persistent untruths about Africa and the Bible. Here is material that refutes racist's ideas from both sides including the “curse of Ham.” Yamauchi's text is also helpful in simply studying the Bible. Africa and the Bible has a comprehensive section on Afrocentric Christianity.
For those who wish to pursue simply the study of African religions, another book recommended to me by Rev. Lomax is African Religions and Philosophy by John S. Mbiti. I found it very helpful although I did not always agree with some of his definitions.
27 See “Activist James Forman being remembered as change agent for the Church” PNS http://www.pcusa.org/pcnews/2005/05026.htm