FINALLY, a scholarly description of the development of Black preaching in the United States that is accessible to the average reader, but also contributes to the academic conversation about both style and theological content. Written from the perspective of a seasoned practitioner and tenured practical theologian, Thomas surveys Black preaching as it has responded to various social and historical time periods. Starting with the brutality of chattel slavery, early formations in segregated Southern life, rapid migration to and urbanization in Northern cities, and various events throughout the post-civil rights era, the book gives convincing details and examples of how the Black preacher helped to guide and sustain the masses of African American people through the wilderness of social change. At the heart of the book, three prime examples are presented as models of the real ""genius"" of Black preaching. The reader will never again think about Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson in the same way. A special chapter is devoted to the contributions of Black women preachers along with a closing chapter that makes new proposals for the future. The book is a provocative and critical analysis of why Black preaching still matters. ""Voices in the Wilderness is insightful, impactful, and inspirational reading for anyone interested in and committed to the relevance of Black preaching. John L. Thomas, Jr. takes us into the wilderness to understand our suffering, and baptizes us in the Jordan River to fuel our hope. He juxtaposes a way out, and a way forward that respects the rich tradition of Black preaching, while calling for a social gospel committed to social justice for all people."" --DuWayne Battle, Associate Professor, The State University of New Jersey ""Du Bois described the Black preacher as 'the most unique personality developed by the Negro on American soil. A leader, a politician, an orator, a ""boss,"" and intriguer, an idealist...' Voices in the Wilderness gives life to Du Bois's sentiment by demonstrating the theologically complex and socio-politically diverse role of the Black preaching tradition. By identifying multiple streams of homiletic emphasis based on the shifting terrains of Black life in America, Thomas shows Black preaching to embody both the best aspirations and worst aspects of the larger society. This book will provoke important and valuable conversations about this vital intellectual tradition."" --Jonathan L. Walton, Plummer Professor, Harvard University John L. Thomas Jr. is Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Phillips Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. n
Voices in the Wilderness was published by Cascade Books in January 2018. The ISBN for Voices in the Wilderness is 9781498238991.