Reformed theology is nothing new. So why do more African Americans seem to be adopting it now?
We see evidence of Reformed teaching gaining traction in the African American community through organizations like the Reformed African American Network (RAAN), authors like Anthony Carter and Trillia Newbell, and urban conferences such as Legacy. But Reformed theology has been part of the Black church tradition since the days of slavery. However, as Thabiti Anyabwile observes in his book The Decline of African American Theology, African Americans were often prevented from acquiring formal education, so they haven’t always used academic and theological categories to express their religious beliefs. Nevertheless, ideas emphasized in Reformed theology — God’s sovereignty, the authority of the Bible, and God’s faithfulness — have long been hallmarks of the historic Black church. Even where theological jargon was absent, these ideas have been captured in the sermons of Black preachers, sung in Negro spirituals, and visible in the traditions of the African American church.
So why, then, have the formal categories of Reformed theology become more commonly circulated among African Americans in recent years? Here are five attempts to answer that question.
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