The Black Church in America: African American Christian Spirtuality / Edition 1

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This book gives readers a broad understanding of the Black Church in America and a sense of its uniqueness in the wider world.

  • Explores the history of the Black Church in America, its African roots, beliefs, practices, politics, and contemporary moral dilemmas
  • Argues that in the Black Church, individual and communal destiny are bound together
  • The author is a Priest in the Episcopal Church and teaches spirituality and Black Church studies at Duke University.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Michael Battle's book is a wise and bold treatment of the most complex phenomenon in Afro-American life: The Black Church. We need to listen to his words." Cornel West, Princeton University

"The key to understanding Battle's fine study of the black church is found in his background as an African American Episcopal priest. His major thesis is that a strong sense of community pervades African American spirituality, which comes from communal African religious traditions and the survival needs of enslaved Africans in a hostile American environment. Although Battle's treatment of the historical material is not new, his emphasis on the communal worship and spirituality of African American Christianity is an important theological direction. Deeply influenced by the theology of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who ordained him, Battle (Virginia Theological Seminary) argues that the communal spirituality of African Americans should be inclusive, eventually "inviting others to be black." He pushes this theme of community and reconciliation with a chapter that elaborates on Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of "the Beloved Community," indicating that the black church can be the fulfillment of that view. He concludes the study with two challenges: a "Churchless Black Church" and a "Womanless Black Church." The book includes a historical time line and a bibliography. Summing Up: Recommended. Advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and specialists in the field." Choice

"The African American churches need less absolutizing in order to undertake their great task of addressing the still rampant inequality and structural racism that criminalizes so many of their young males and reduces others to passivity. A radical gospel is needed more than ever, and it is to be hoped that this book will stimulate research to galvanize the churches into reflective action."
Theological Book Review

"An intriguing attempt at building a case for an African American Spirituality that is communal and relational in nature."
Expository Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405118927
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/19/2006
  • Series: Religious Life in America Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 1,031,351
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.05 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Battle served as Assistant Professor of Spirituality and Black Church Studies at Duke University and Rector of St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Raleigh, North Carolina before moving to Virginia Theological Seminary. He was also Vice Chairman of the board of the Ghandi Institute. He is the author of The Church Enslaved: A Spirituality of Racial Reconciliation (2005), Reconciliation in a Violent World (2005) Blessed are the Peacemakers: A Christian Spirituality of Nonviolence (2004), The Wisdom of Desmond Tutu (1999) and Reconciliation: The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu (1997).

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Table of Contents


Introduction: An Amphibious Worldview.

1. Emergence of What is African.

African Warnings.

What is African?.

2. The Particularity of African American Spirituality.

3. The Black Church in the Shadow of Slavery.

The Scourge of Slavery.

The Survival of Africanism.

The Emergence of Black Denominations.

4. Communal Worship.

The Controversy of Emotionalism.

“Spiritual Song” and the Emergence of Black Denominations.

African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

African American Baptists Churches.

National Baptist Convention, USA.

African American Pentecostalism.

Black Worship.

5. Inviting Others to Be Black.

African vs. Black: Dialectic Tension.

James Cone and Desmond Tutu.

African and Black: Communal Synthesis.

6. The Black Church as the Beloved Community.

King’s View: Prophecy and Nonviolence.

African American Responses to King.

King’s Dream of the Beloved Community.

Communal Antithesis for King.

7. Embodying African American Spirituality.

A Churchless Black Church.

A Womanless Black Church.

The Full Embodiment of the Black Church.

Timeline of the Black Church.

Websites for Historic Black Denominations.



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