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Unapologetic Apologetics: The Essence of Black Anglican Preaching

Harold T. Lewis

In his 1892 sermon preached at the centennial celebration of St. Thomas Church, Philadelphia, the Rt. Rev. Henry Codman Potter, bishop of New York, declared, “I do not think it would have been very strange if the colored race, after it had been freed, should have refused to follow the white people’s God. It shows a higher order of intelligence and an acute discernment in the African race to have distinguished the good from the evil, in a religion that taught all men were brothers, and practiced the opposite.” In this brief homiletical observation, Bishop Potter captured the perennial challenge of the Afro-Anglican preacher, who, despite experience to the contrary, must demonstrate that the catholic and incarnational truths of the gospel are no less demonstrable in the lives of people of color. This article maintains that this is accomplished both apologetically, in the classical sense of its being argued on the basis of biblical and theological truths, yet unapologetically, in the colloquial sense of being straightforward and without apology, as in the homiletic offerings of such preachers as Demond Tutu, Walter Dennis, and Kelly Brown Douglas.

 
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