One of the gravest questions of biblical Christianity, and particularly Reformed theology, is “Where is God when bad things happen?” In other words, if God is sovereign over all, then how is it that evil occurs in our world? God cannot certainly be both all-powerful and wholly good if there is sin present in the world. But biblical truth shows us He is. Even in the midst of bad, God is working good and is doing so because He is sovereign and He is good. To be sure, there is certainly tension in our understanding of these truths. It does not mean there is contradiction; it means we are finite in our comprehension and entrust ourselves to the One who is infinite. For these reasons, I am grateful for Anthony J. Carter’s 2nd edition of Black and Reformed: Seeing God’s Sovereignty in the African-American Experience. The book exposes the false dichotomy that one cannot be black and reformed. Rather, Carter gives testimony to the truth that African-Americans can most certainly be Reformed, even in the face of the sovereignty of God and slavery.
There is much to appreciate in Black and Reformed. Anthony J. Carter, an African-American pastor himself, writes on the touchy subject of the sovereignty of God in the historical context of slavery. He gives a balanced answer on why a black theology is needed (chapter 1) while making a case for reformed theology for the African-American context (chapter 3). He explains how the African-American church is a testimony to the sovereignty of God (Carter 65) and how Reformed theology actually “offers a biblical consistent hermeneutic…for understanding the providential hand of God in the African-American experience” (Carter 61). Carter gives a history lesson on slavery in chapter 3, revealing the good, bad, and ugly of the church’s response to slavery. Throughout the book, Carter points the reader to the sovereignty of God, to the sinfulness of humankind, and to the sufficiency of Christ. It is important in discussions like these that we are honest, humble, and truthful to one another.
Simply put, Black and Reformed is a historically truthful, biblically faithful, and experientially honest book. Anthony Carter approaches a sensitive subject in an edifying and fruitful manner. For African-Americans, this book convincingly presents how one can be black and Reformed, not having to sacrifice one because of the other. All Christians would do well to read this book and understand their sin while recognizing the sovereignty of God and sufficiency of Christ in all things.
I received this book for free from P&R Publishing via Gratia Press for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.