Black and Reformed: Seeing God’s Sovereignty in the African-American Christian Experience by Anthony J. Carter
In this new second edition of the book, On Being Black and Reformed, Pastor Anthony J. Carter of East Point Church in Georgia has wedded two significant themes in his book; namely a Reformed view of theology and life and the experience of being African-American. He answers the question that many have been thinking early on, do we need a black theology we a resounding yes for various reasons (25). One, the alternative to a sound, biblical black theological perspective is an unbiblical one. A large number of African-American believers follows the truth claims of Christ, the Scriptures, and God and yet feel that the vast swath of Christian theology has ignored their contextual place in history alongside their circumstances. With a vicious past of racism, degradation, and failing to listen to the African-American voice, the Christian church at large needs to hear these brothers and sisters in Christ today.
Anthony begins his case in chapter 2 after outlining the need for a biblical black theological understanding in chapter 1 with a focus on the main emphases of reformed theology. What was striking and beautiful about this chapter was that Anthony didn’t just scroll through the five points of Calvinism and leave us there, but he brought us into three major headings of Reformed Theology: the sovereignty of God, the sinfulness of human and the sufficiency of Christ. These three pillars of the Reformed faith set the stage for a robust engagement with our culture, with Scripture, and with those all around us who need the gospel. At the end of the chapter, he gets to one consequence of the all-sufficiency of Christ by stating, “The power of the civil rights movement was in the power of Christianity. The power of Christianity is in the ability to display uncommon forgiveness (60).” The uncommon forgiveness that believers hold out to the world is on account of the work of Christ and it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we offer this kind of uncommon forgiveness.
The chapter on the Church from Chains is remarkable in Anthony’s ability to retell the plight of African-American believers’ actions in the face of utter wickedness. One nuance that he makes with respect to Richard Allen is helpful for us to hear, namely that, “The blacks’ response to such hypocrisy-laden Christianity could have been a complete rejection of the one true God in Christ. Yet instead of rejecting Christ, African-Americans rejected this brand of Christianity, separating what the Bible taught about Christian virtue from what so-called Christians practiced (79).” Anthony quotes from a long section in Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in which he narrates for us the despicable differences between these two brands of Christianity, one from the slave masters and the other from the slaves themselves.
With careful examination of African-American history and a solid engagement with Reformed theology, this is one book you don’t want to miss.
Thanks to Gratia Press and P&R Publishing for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.