Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Today's review is Glory Road: The Journey of 10 African Americans into Reformed Christianity. At this time, I do not attend either an African American church nor a church that is based solely on the doctrines of Grace. I would have to say having attended both kinds of churches in the past, I would be very comfortable in either of those institutions.
The basic structure of the book is that each of the ten men pictured on the cover is given one chapter to tell their story. Interwoven through their life story and conversion experience is how reformed theology has impacted their life and ministry.
Sometimes a book with 10 different authors can feel segmented and difficult to follow. Anthony J. Carter the editor and one of the 10 essayists does an excellent job imbuing the book with a cohesive energy.
Many of the authors discuss the acrostic TULIP which explains the 5 points of Calvinism (Calvinism, Reformed Theology and Doctrines of Grace are all used interchangeably through the book,) T stands for Total Depravity , U Unconditional Election, L limited atonement, I Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. The authors do a good job of putting meat on that flower. So I will gladly let them unpack it for you.
I told my wife that the theology in this book was readable. She took that as a slam on the writing, when I meant the exact opposite. Some theology books read like stereo instructions. When Louis Love Jr., for example, uses theological terms like soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) or says regeneration is monergistic (the work of God alone) he defines those terms immediately. Instead of referring to the 5 solas and the TULIP acrostic, Anthony Bradley defines them in easy to follow terms.
The ten authors came from varied backgrounds and came to embrace the doctrines of grace in different ways. Four distinct elements permeate these journeys:
1) Modern day authors and preachers like J.I. Packer, James Montgomery Boice, R.C. Sproul, John Piper and others had an influence on these men's theology through books, magazine articles, radio programs and conferences.
2) The historical impact of men such as John Calvin, John Bunyan, John Owen and others (some not even named John) had a steadying influence in their journey.
3) Reformed Theology had a practical and personal application to their lives and was not just some academic discipline.
4) As Anthony Carter implies in the title of the afterward these men are black, reformed but foremost Christian.
When I first heard of Glory Road I was intrigued. Now that I have completed my journey of digging into this excellent tome, my initial curiosity has blossomed into a deep respect for this assemblage of pastors. I really appreciated the fine appendix that will give those interested in pursuing these matters further, books and authors (like those mentioned above) a suitable starting point.
I hope you found this review helpful. This is just one of many fine reviews being featured at the 23rd Book Review Blog Carnival at Bart's Bookshelf. To see all my Library Thing Early Reviewer reviews click here.
Next Time: Trying New Things