I am currently teaching a course at Good News Seminary and Bible College titled: The Historical Contributions Africans made to Christianity. Although I realize I am not originally African, but American, my roots are from Africa, and I developed this course from an African-American perspective. This class is important to me professionally and personally from the standpoint that I attended two well-respected seminaries–a total of seven years–and not one of them had a course, or class, or even a discussion,on any contributions Africans made to Christianity.
Do I see this as an indictment on the schools or any of my former professors? No. I am not sure if they studied or were privy, or even interested in African Christian history. Nor am I sure the institutions were intentional in not presenting this subject due to the diverse student body, and array of races and cultures–singling out one race of people at the expense of others. Yet, they made sure European Christian history was taught and the contributions Europeans made to Christianity.
James Cone, in his book My Soul Looks Back, says, “The academic structure of white seminary and university curricula requires that black students reject their heritage or at least regard it as intellectually marginal. When black students study the Bible and church history, almost nothing is said about black people’s heritage which would suggest that they have anything to contribute intellectually in those areas.” Now I feel necessity has been laid upon me to teach and tell the story of black people’s contributions to Christianity, and seek the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God.
The African Christian story has been told incorrectly and improperly in books and seminaries for centuries. Within the last fifty years in particular, new information has been disseminated among Black and White scholars alike that has shown much of what has been written regarding African Christianity from the West, has historically been a distorted, academic racist, phenomenon. For example, European scholar John D. Baldwin, in his book Pre-historic Nations; or, Inquiries Concerning Some of the Great Peoples and Civilizations of Antiqu, considered Ethiopians Europeans, and located Ethiopia in Arabia. He states (on page 57) “in the early tradition and literary records of the Greeks, Arabia is described as Ethiopia. European Christian history students of antiquity have pointed out the people of Ethiopia seem to have been of the Caucasian race, meaning White people, and that the word was to the Greeks perhaps really a foreign word corrupted.” Dr. J. R. Beard makes a similar motif and states “these Ethiopians and Egyptians were not negroes, but a branch of the great Caucasian family.” One must posit, if the Egyptians were a Caucasian race, and not an African race, and scripture clearly indicates that Ham was the progenitor of African people, how can the Egyptians be regarded as Caucasian, without making Ham the progenitor of the Caucasian race? It goes without question from both Black and White scholars that Ham, one of the sons of Noah in the Old Testament, name means “hot, brown, black.” He was irreverently Black in Genesis 9:25-27, when the text known as the “Curse of Ham,” was incorrectly interpreted and used to justify the enslavement of Black people. This completely fabricated and erroneous theology has no exegetical warrant and has caused dark-skinned people a life-time of what Dr. Joy Degruy calls “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome”. Equally detrimental, is this religious neo-colonization has presented to our Black youth today, the millennials, the need to question Black Church Christendom, and therefore, call into question the essentials of the Christian faith.
As an African-American Christian professor, having researched African Christianity for the last 20 years, I feel it is my obligation to help keep getting this story right. That is why I created this class in order that pastors, preachers, and Christian leaders can glean this information and enlighten their churches, their communities, and especially their youth. If you take this course at GNSBC you will learn the modern discoveries from the top Black scholars and their research on African Christianity, the significant history of the Egyptian dynasties and their importance to Christianity, the number of African/Black people and places in the Old and New Testament, the full argument of the Curse of Ham and the justification for slavery, the development of African Christianity during the New Testament period, who was Jesus and His Black/African biblical lineage, and other revealing research on this subject.