From strength to strength : African American church praxis and the changing black thematic universe
From within the disciplinary location of Practical Theology, this study will argue that some of the practices of the contemporary Black Church are not as relevant and constructive as they could be. This current state of Black Church praxis is due, in part, to inadequate methods used in the creation and maintenance of Black Church praxis. Using a Practical Theology method, this thesis will study this phenomenon and seek to find ways to address key issues that impact church praxis in the African American context and develop an approach to creating Black Church praxis that is relevant, constructive and faithful to the Christian gospel message. This study will show how the values and meanings that are in and behind Black Church praxis are the products of particular and historical locations, or Black thematic universe. This study will also show how the historical Black thematic universe, which shaped much of the early Black Church in America, has begun to fade and there is emerging a contemporary Black thematic universe whose dominant realities differ from it. This study will also argue that the religious and historical legacy of the Black Church is characterized by a praxiological commitment to the creation and maintenance of relevant and constructive praxis. That praxis, historically, was created and maintained by drawing on the full resources of the Black faith community – historical, cultural, religious, and theological – to create an informed faith response to the existential realities of is contextual location. This is a key strength of the Black faith tradition in America, which this study argues must be recovered and revised in light of the contemporary context in which the Black Church now finds itself.