Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His Servant?

Surprises in Church History II – “Black Puritans”*

A few other suprises about “black puritans” are found in the book of Thabiti M. Anyabwile (The Faithful Preacher).  I will mention here a few from the introduction of John Piper to this book.

 Did you know that in 1835 the South Carolina Assembly passed a law that said, “[If] any free person of color or slave shall keep any school or other place of instruction for teaching any slave or free person of color to read or write, such free person of color or slave shall be liable to the same fine, imprisonment, and corporal punishment as are by this Act imposed and afflicted upon free persons of color and slaves for teaching slaves to read or write”? 

This forced the closing of Daniel Payne’s school and led him to work out his vision for an educated black ministry within the northern context of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and in the leadership of Wilberforce University in Ohio, “the first institution of higher education owned and operated by African-Americans.”

Did you know that it was even possible for a free black man (Lemuel Haynes) in the eighteenth century to marry a white woman and pastor an all-white congregation in Vermont for over 30 years????

Did you know that Charles Hodge (professor of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary) taught African-American students such as Francis Grimke, who took the great reformed vision of God and spent his life working out its implications for race relations in the church while serving as pastor of 15th Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C.?

So there will be surprises.  But what should be no surprise is that there are treasures of biblical wisdom in centuries before our own and in cultures not our own.

I love the blow this book makes against chronological snobbery and ethnocentricity.

May the Lord of the Church, for the good of His people and the ingathering of His lost sheep and the glory of His name, give this book success.  AMEN.

* John Piper’s words from the introduction of the book: The Faithful Preacher.

2 responses

  1. Daniel Berry

    Very interesting.

    We do have a tendency to look down on previous generations as uneducated and our current generation as the pinnacle of enlightenment.

    Conversely, some people tend to idolize (often mythical) past civilizations…I’d probably be a Germanic or Celtic slave in the Roman Empire…

    February 2, 2008 at 8:42 am

  2. I agree with you Dan. Who knows what I’d be…?
    Perhaps a Roman 🙂

    February 2, 2008 at 8:50 am

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