Jonathan Edwards and American Racism: Can the Theology of a Slaveholder be Trusted by the Descendants of Slaves


In this talk, Thabiti Anyabwile answers the difficult question — should African-Americans in particular claim, regard highly, and trust the theology of a slave-holder? This question carries the freight of centuries of Christian moral failure, racial oppression, and tension. Louis Love and Charlie Dates also respond to this question.

This lecture was given during the spring of 2012 at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where Thabiti Anyabwile presented the “Jonathan Edwards & the Church” lecture series, a joint-ministry of the Henry Center for Theological Understanding and Jonathan Edwards Center.

Thabiti Anyabwile
Thabiti Anyabwile serves as a pastor of Anacostia River Church (Washington DC). He is the happy husband of Kristie and the adoring father of two daughters and one son. Holler at him on Twitter: @ThabitiAnyabwil

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One response to “Jonathan Edwards and American Racism: Can the Theology of a Slaveholder be Trusted by the Descendants of Slaves”

  1. Tabulous says:

    Greetings Pastor T,

    I really enjoyed this talk. I enjoyed your well thought out presentation of Edwards theology and his faults. As a member of the “reformed camp” I have been called out by my current pastor (a member of the non-reformed camp… can’t wait for the new church plant in East River… wink wink) to think about the origins of Reformed theology. In essence, he is asking me why would I embrace a theology that was shared by slave owners. So, the conversation really hits home for me.

    The conversation also reminds me of Propaganda’s song “Precious Puritans” in which he calls out pastors for quoting from Puritan theologians/pastors in light of the Puritans involvement with slavery (according to Prop… chaplins on slave ships). In the Q&A section, you mentioned not wanting to use folks in a sermon that would present a stumbling block. Do you think that Edwards is a stumbling block given his slave ownership? Would you ever consider quoting a KKK pastor that had “good theology”? If not, why would it be ok in the case of a slave owner?

    To God be the Glory!!!

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