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Rev. Albert Cleage - Black Christian Nationalism

Our church is in the midst of a re-structuring of our Christian Education Ministry and the primary point of transformation that is happening now is theological - what we believe about God and ourselves in relation to God. We have explored what I believe is the default theological identity in many African American protestant churches which is Evangelicalism with its four distinctive characteristics being:

  • Biblicism - the primacy of scripture

  • Crucicentrism - the core event of Jesus' life was his death on Calvary

  • Conversionism - stresses a personal relationship with Jesus as prompted by a dramatic event and

  • Activism - focus on missions and changing of society as a part of evangelical history

Recognizing that Evangelicalism (not to be confused with evangelism) has colored the lenses of so much of the American (and African American) Christian experience, during our class on Sunday, August 19, 2018 we turned to begin examining other theological avenues to God - namely Black Christian Nationalism and its founder Rev. Albert Cleage (who adopted the name Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman). We read chapter 4 of Cleage's text, Black Christian Nationalism: New Directions For The Black Church which is entitled, Salvation: A Group Experience. In stark contrast to the writings of Paul in scripture, Cleage describes individualistic salvation as a perversion of the teachings of Jesus and the "unpardonable sin."

I shared the presentation below with the class on this and other tenets of Black Christian Nationalism and Cleage's theological framework. As you can imagine, a passionate discussion ensued. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comment section!

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