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Monday, August 18, 2014

What I’m Reading: Introducing Black Theology

This little book (134 pages including preface, notes, and indexes) by Bruce L. Fields (assistant professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is intended as a primer to the topic of Black Theology.  And, for what it is,Introducing Black Theology: Three Crucial Questions for the Evangelical Church [i] is a fine little book.

Fields addresses three questions: 1) What is Black Theology?  2) What can Black Theology Teach the Evangelical Church? And 3) What Is the Future of Black Theology?

He answers these questions, though not in any great detail.  This is just a primer, not a fully articulated and exhaustive study.  This is my biggest complaint about the book.  It was just too short. Fields often notes that ‘this topic could be elaborated much more, but that would require more space than this book allows.”  Sigh… “Always leave them wanting more,” might have been good advice from P.T. Barnum (that is, if the quote came from him originally) but it’s bothersome in a book I’m studying.  As a primer, however, Fields’ book will serve to expose interested readers to a number of other authors for further and continued study…

…especially James Cone.  Fields quotes so often from the various works of James Cone, that I wondered if I should have just started with his books instead. 

A couple of other smallish complaints:  the book seemed especially focused on Black Theology in an African American – (as in the USA) situation.  This isn’t necessarily a problem, but I wonder (because I have no experience) how Black Theology might be different in Europe, or South America or Africa or Australia…

Also the language was rather dry.  I don’t mind reading academic works, I don’t have a problem with technical language.  But Fields’ prose was somewhat lifeless.  Again... this isn’t a big issue but I could see it inhibiting others from reading. 

[i] Fields, Bruce L. Introducing Black Theology: Three Crucial Questions for the Evangelical Church, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, 2001.

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