The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity, By Thabiti M. Anyabwile

The Decline of African American Theology

From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity

by Thabiti M. Anyabwile
Foreword by Mark A. Noll

The Decline of African American Theology
  • Length: 255 pages
  • Published: November 14, 2007
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 2827
  • ISBN: 9780830828272

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Who were Jupiter Hammon, Lemuel Haynes and Daniel Alexander Payne? And what do they have in common with Martin Luther King Jr., Howard Thurman and James Cone? All of these were African American Christian theologians, yet their theologies are, in many ways, worlds apart.

In this book, Thabiti Anyabwile offers a challenging and provocative assessment of the history of African American Christian theology, from its earliest beginnings to the present. He argues trenchantly that the modern fruit of African American theology has fallen far from the tree of its early predecessors. In doing so, Anyabwile closely examines the theological commitments of prominent African American theologians throughout American history. Chapter by chapter, he traces what he sees as the theological decline of African American theology from one generation to the next, concluding with an unflinching examination of several contemporary figures. Replete with primary texts and illustrations, this book is a gold mine for any reader interested in the history of African American Christianity. With a foreword by Mark Noll.

"It is remarkable that, to my knowledge, there has never been a book that attempts what Thabiti Anyabwile's The Decline of African American Theology attempts. For historical purposes, the book makes an unusually valuable contribution with its full account of the course of African American Christian thought. Theologically, it makes another signal contribution with its critique of the general development of that thought. For both historical and theological reasons, this is a very important volume. . . . Because I have already learned so much from its pages, I am delighted to recommend it wholeheartedly to others."

From the foreword by Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

"An impressive array of historical and theological reflections on the African American church's religious tradition. Anyabwile presents a cogent argument that places the demand on the church's leadership, its theologians and its laypeople to continually evaluate its biblical and theological foundations for both the church's self-understanding as the people of God, and its objectives as God's agents in the world."

Bruce L. Fields, associate professor of biblical and systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and author of Black Theology: Three Crucial Questions for the Evangelical Church

A welcomed addition to every pastor's library, whether African American or not. It will benefit African American pastors by giving them an excellent summary of the history of the African American theological heritage. Pastors of other cultural backgrounds will benefit from seeing some of the depth of theological insights in cultures different from their own. The last section of the book is also very valuable. In it the author gives a four-point plan to correct what he feels are the deficiencies in the categories of theology he has addresses. Anyabwile is to be commended for pointing out the problems and also for offering solutions.

John Bray with Glenn R. Kreider, Bibliotheca Sacra, October-December 2009

A good starting point to learn about trends current in African American theology.

J. Alan Branch, Midwestern Journal of Theology,

. . . A triumph. . . Anyabwile's work is a resounding call for the African-American church to return to orthodox views of Scripture held by the earliest Christians, the Reformers, and leading African-American theologians of the past.

C. E. Moore, The Christian Manifesto, February 20, 2008


Foreword by Mark Noll

1 "I Once Was Blind but Now I See"
The Doctrine of Revelation in the African American Experience

2 "A Father to the Fatherless"
The African American Doctrine of God

3 "Ain?t I a Man?"
African American Anthropology

4 "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"
The Christology of African Americans

5 "What Must I Do to Be Saved?"
African American Soteriology

6 "Gettin? in De Spirit"
Pneumatology in the African American Experience

Subject Index
Scripture Index


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Thabiti M. Anyabwile

Thabiti M. Anyabwile is senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Thabiti has a strong professional and educational background in community psychology, with special interest in the history and development of the African American church.