The Black Church is Dead--Long Live the Black Church (ReligionDispatches)

A few weeks ago, Princeton’s Eddie Glaude Jr. published an obituary for the black church in the Huffington Post—the Digital-Age equivalent of nailing a set of theses to a church door. And while it is a brief article, short on the conventions of mourning, in it Glaude details the long, lingering illness of the venerable institution, and cites multiple causes of death. What has finally died, Glaude explains, is the idea of the black church as a singular idea; what remains are black churches, in the plural.Glaude concludes his provocative pronouncement with what Jonathan Walton refers to below as “a prophetic challenge.”

The death of the black church as we have known it occasions an opportunity to breathe new life into what it means to be black and Christian. Black churches and preachers must find their prophetic voices in this momentous present. And in doing so, black churches will rise again and insist that we all assert ourselves on the national stage not as sycophants to a glorious past, but as witnesses to the ongoing revelation of God’s love in the here and now as we work on behalf of those who suffer most.

RD asked a selection of historians, religious scholars, and other interpreters of the black church to respond to Glaude’s thesis, and to his challenge. Following is a set of comments and reflection:

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