The Best Books on Race and Christian Religion in America

recommended by Zach_Aument

There may be no topic in the American church that deserves more attention in this season than that of race and Christianity. Few topics address both theology and current events better than this. We owe it to both Jesus and our future generations to give this our undivided focus in the next decade.

  • 1

    Buy

    The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race
    by Willie James Jennings

    The recent passing of James Cone left Willie Jennings as perhaps the most significant living black theologian. Don't be fooled, while a brilliant academic and intellectual, "The Christian Imagination" is shockingly accessible and engaging! Jennings lays out a history of major ideas in race using a series of vignettes and stories.

  • 2

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    Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
    by Michael O. Emerson & Christian Smith

    This is without question the best book for those just beginning in the study of race and Christianity in America. Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, both sociologists, use personal testimony from the most thorough research projects on the topic ever conducted. It serves as a primer on the subject that has led to several subsequent investigations by researchers in every field imaginable.

  • 3

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    Christians and the Color Line: Race and Religion after Divided by Faith
    by J. Russell Hawkins & Phillip Luke Sinitiere

    Having mentioned continued projects following Emerson and Smith's "Divided by Faith," it would be a shame to not include one. Russell Hawkins is a historian and with Phillip Sinitiere, have published what is the most constructive and significant follow-up to DbF. This book is not only an important constructive work, it is also a picture of what history should be at its best!

  • 4

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    The Cross and the Lynching Tree
    by James H. Cone

    James Cone is a titan in the area of black theology. Having written a number of monumental works on the subject of black theology early in his career, one of them moved the conversation of the attributes of God forward across all disciplines of Christian systematic theology! But this book was an effort to speak to a far wider audience. It is truly accessible and artfully reaches past the common conversation to speak directly to the heart and mind of Christians. It also represents some of the last written thoughts on Cone's mature doctrine of Christ.

  • 5

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    Race: A Theological Account
    by J. Kameron Carter

    J Kameron Carter is part of a short list of the most exceptional black theologians (all of which belong on the short list of greatest living theologians, period). While not as accessible as Jennings work mentioned above, Carter provides an equally substantial account of the theology of race. This book is not for the faint of heart, but will leave readers with a richness of understanding few others can promise.

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