Crossway has recently published a paperback by Thabiti M. Anyabwile with the title The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors. Anyabwile is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman Island. This book is the result of Pastor Anyabwile’s search to understand pastoral ministry. Anyabwile points out in his introduction that there are many new ideas about how to do ministry. However, these new ideas are fatally flawed in that they are unproven. As Anyabwile asks, “Who really wants to approach shepherding the Lord’s sheep by trial and error?” The solution to this problem, as Anyabwile sees it, is to first look to the “Master Himself” and “His apostles” for direction in pastoral ministry. In addition to these resources we also have available to us “lesser luminaries, men, who were not apostles but who were faithful students and shepherds.”
This book is a look at three of these “lesser luminaries from the African-American experience.” Anyabwile breaks this book up into three different sections. The first section tells the story of Lemuel Haynes, the second Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne, and the third Francis J. Grimke. Here is how Anyabwile describes these three pastors:
They were puritans. They committed themselves to sound theology in the pulpit, theologically informed practice in the church, and theologically reformed living in the world. They saw Christ in all things and endeavored to see Him glorified before all people. They were from the African-American tradition of Christianity, but like all true saints, they belong to all Christians of every background and era. They were gifts to the Body of Christ Himself, and they will befriend every leader with a God-given desire to glorify Christ through beautifying the Church.
Anyabwile begins each section with a short biographical sketch of each of these men, and then provides three sermons/lectures/speeches which were written by these men. Within these sermons/lectures/speeches readers will find sound theology blended perfectly with devotion to Christ. These men were heralds of God’s Words, and under-shepherds of the Church who deserve the attention and reverence of this generation.
As someone who has always been enthralled by American History, Church History, and Theology this book was somewhat of a perfect storm combination of the three. I was quite surprised to read that Lemuel Haynes, an African-American in colonial America, married a white woman and pastored an all white church for thirty years before being dismissed. I was moved to read of the battle that Daniel Alexander Payne fought to educate black pastors in an era of slavery. And I was amazed at how Francis J. Grimike’s words on race relations in a post-WWI era remain relevant for us today.
John Piper said it well in his introduction to this book:
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.
I loved everything about this book. As always I enjoyed the feel of a Crossway paperback, and the cover design gives is a great look. It is about 191 pages (you will wish it were 250), and a quick read. The biographical sketches are to the point and informative. The sermons/lectures/speeches will take slightly more concentration, as will anything written that long ago, but it will be well worth the effort. I would highly recommend this book to all my readers.