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Glory Road: The Journeys of 10 African-Americans into Reformed Christianity Paperback – June 17, 2009
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"This book is a wonderful encouragement to those who love the doctrines of grace. The ten men described are African Americans-but quite frankly, what their ethnicity is does not matter nearly as much as their common delight in Christ and his gospel. Their stories are sufficiently diverse that they cannot be reduced to a simplistic mold; they have enough similarity that together they bring us back to God's sovereign goodness in the cross of his Son. Read this book and rejoice."
—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Cofounder, The Gospel Coalition
"Here we have readable, compelling personal histories that, at the same time, teach us more about God, Christ, and the Bible and give accounts of these men coming to Christ. I love reading people's testimonies of conversion! What more do we want in a book? To be encouraged, instructed, and edified, read these stories."
—Mark Dever, Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; President, 9Marks
"A reading of Glory Road is a journey of sober rejoicing. The joy is in the taste of future glory where men and women from every tribe and language and people and nation will together worship the Lamb. We rejoice in the first fruits of that glory evident in the testimonies of these gifted African-Americans now in Reformed churches. We also weep that their testimonies are so few due to these churches' long blindness to gospel priorities despite their historic commitment to doctrinal orthodoxy. May Glory Road lead to a new dawn, greeted with tears but leading to songs of joy before the day is done."
—Bryan Chapell, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, Illinois
"I'm very grateful for Anthony Carter's passion for writing. I bought a case of his first book-On Being Black and Reformed, to distribute at conferences and events. My plan is to do the same thing with Glory Road, an amazing collection of testimonies. The consistent message from all the contributors is the paucity of Reformed teaching in the black community. I share with Carl Ellis the vision of seeing an indigenous Reformed movement in the African-American community. Books like Glory Road will help to facilitate this movement."
—Wy Plummer, African American Ministries Coordinator, Mission to North America, Presbyterian Church in America
"History is good for us all, but when you see it occurring right before your eyes, well that's just about as good as it gets. To the chorus of 'Dead White Men,' we now add these voices of Living Color. Together we'll all be singing praises to our sovereign God and all-sufficient Savior."
—Stephen J. Nichols, President, Reformation Bible College; Chief Academic Officer, Ligonier Ministries; author, Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought and The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World
"As a first-generation preacher of Reformed Theology in Antigua and Barbuda and the eastern Caribbean, I am confident and encouraged that these personal testimonies from our African-American brothers will work for a wider propagation of the message of the supremacy of God in all things throughout the global African Diaspora. The common themes of being disillusioned with the religious status quo, struggling with the inadequacy of man-centered views that were strongly defended for years, facing the loneliness and ostracism of taking a stand on an island of truth in a sea of pluralism, and the surprising discovery that the Lord had all along 'reserved . . . seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal,' are all compelling and refreshing in the narrative of each experience."
—Hensworth W.C. Jonas, Executive Director, East Caribbean Baptist Mission, St. John's, Antigua & Barbuda
About the Author
Anthony J. Carter (MA, Reformed Theological Seminary) serves as the lead pastor of East Point Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the author of two books and numerous magazine and journal articles, and blogs at Non Nobis Domine. Carter travels frequently as a conference speaker and guest lecturer. He is also an organizing member of the Council of Reforming Churches.
Eric C. Redmond (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is assistant professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois, and associate pastor of adult ministries at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois. He previously served on the council of the Gospel Coalition and as the senior pastor of Reformation Alive Baptist Church in Temple Hills, Maryland. Eric lives in Brookfield, Illinois, with his wife, Pamela, and their five children.
Anthony B. Bradley (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is associate professor of religious studies at the King's College in New York City, where he serves as the director of the Center for the Study of Human Flourishing and chair of the Religious and Theological Studies program. He also serves as a research fellow for the Acton Institute. He has also published cultural commentary in a variety of periodicals and lives in New York City.
Thabiti M. Anyabwile (MS, North Carolina State University) serves as a pastor at Anacostia River Church in Washington, DC, and is the author of numerous books. He serves as a council member of the Gospel Coalition, is a lead writer for 9Marks Ministries, and regularly blogs at The Front Porch and Pure Church. He and his wife, Kristie, have three children.
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This book is light to moderate on theology, so it's not one to pick up if you're looking for an expose on Calvinim. Instead, think of it as a collection of 10 short auto-biographies where each man's reformed theology emerges in his writing. One appendix even includes books and teachers that/who were influential to each man.
Definitely a great read.
Glory Road uses their personal accounts to trace their conversion to Christianity, their introduction to and embrace of Reformed theology, and the effect of such theology on their lives and ministries. In addition to the book's editor, Carter, Glory Road includes contributions from such notable African American Christian leaders as Reddit Andrews III, Thabiti Anyabwile, Anthony B. Bradley, Ken Jones, Michael Leach, Lance Lewis, Louis C. Love Jr., Eric C. Redmond, and Roger Skepple.
It is fitting that this book should be published in the year we remember John Calvin's five hundredth birthday. The authors are glad to consider themselves "the grateful beneficiaries of the Christ-centered, biblically-grounded theology he labored so diligently to teach and preach" (p. 12). In entitling the book as they did, their desire is that "when reading our stories, you will get a glimpse of God's glory and would be moved to come and share the road" (p. 13).
In an era when many relish bragging that their faith is "not your father's Protestantism," Carter and his co-authors return to the faith practiced not only by Calvin, Luther, and Edwards, but also by African American forebears such as Lemeul Haynes, who was often known as "the Black Puritan." Thus Glory Road is not just for African Americans, just as Reformation theology transcends ethnicity and race.
Readers may be anticipating a dull, dead, dry theology tome (which true theology never is anyway). The ten accounts in Glory Road are anything but lifeless. Each African American co-author tells his story without any sugar coating. We read of rebellion against God in their youth, of water-down, irrelevant theology in liberal churches during their upbringing, and of amazing conversion narratives. We also read the at-times conflicting battle to embrace a theology that some of their ancestors and peers found less-than-liberating.
So what led them to the rejection of other theologies and the embrace of Reformed theology? While the road was unique for each of these ten men, the path had some common markers. The most common was a lifelong pursuit of real answers for real problems. Reddit Andrews' experience is representative. "Though I regularly read the Scriptures, I was drowning in questions for which I had no answers" (p. 28). It was their fervent search for changeless truth in changing times that attracted these deep thinkers and honest seekers to the Reformed faith. Their faith commitment resulted in what Anthony Bradley describes as "applying the Scriptures to our real, day-to-day encounters with the brokenness in this world" (p. 49).
Reading Glory Road I was repeatedly struck with each writer's profound trust in and commitment to God's Word. Whether it was popular or not in their church environment, each pastor, each professor, took risk after risk to teach the sound doctrines of grace. They clearly convey that truth--absolute truth--is not the exclusive domain of any one race.
They also communicate that such truth results in life--real life. As Eric Redmond portrays it in his life: "I had learned the inherent truth of the gospel that united all of life, the cross, and the resurrection: God wants me to glorify him by enjoying him forever in every area of my life" (p. 147). "For me, Reformed theology is not about theories to be disputed in the blogosphere. It is about a theology to be lived out in the real world" (p. 154).
As a student of African American church history (see Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction, Kellemen and Edwards), my only disappointment with this otherwise powerful book is what seems to me to be an overemphasis on the "newness" of Reformed thinking among African Americans. The aforementioned Lemuel Haynes, along with Oluadah Equiano, Daniel Alexander Payne, and many other African Americans from Black Church history, professed and lived a similar faith. Linking more often to this historic legacy would, I believe, produce an even more influential argument. It would communicate that then and now Reformed theology is not just by and for "a bunch of dead white guys."
Still, these ten authors consistently echo the passion of the aging John Newton. "I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior." As Carter notes in his Afterword, all of his co-authors have at least three things in common: they are black, they are Reformed, but foremost they are Christians. Glory Road tells the riveting narrative of their heritage that transcends their ethnicity. As Carter puts it, "We understand that we have as much in common with Martin Luther as we do with Martin Luther King Jr." (p. 174).
Glory Road shows the source of emancipation from the slavery of sin--Christ's gospel of grace. It shares life-changing accounts of God's providential leading in bringing African American leaders to the truths of salvation. And it encourages all who read its message to commit to the same foundation.
Reviewed By: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC, Author of Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care, Soul Physicians, Spiritual Friends, Sacred Friendships, and God's Healing for Life's Losses