Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Imposing Preacher: Samuel DeWitt Proctor and Black Public Faith

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Imposing Preacher: Samuel DeWitt Proctor and Black Public Faith

Article excerpt

The Imposing Preacher: Samuel DeWitt Proctor and Black Public Faith. By Adam L. Bond. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2013. xi + 247 pp. $29.00 (paper).

In this timely book, Adam Bond acquaints the reader with the Reverend Samuel DeWitt Proctor, African American minister, educator, and humani- tarian, acknowledging parallels in Proctor's biography and that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Despite the fact that Proctor did not receive the notoriety of King or other prominent African American peers, Bond maintains that Proctor is perhaps one of the greatest ethicists, scholars, and theologians of his generation.

Following a short biographical introduction, Bond moves through the opening chapter unpacking "Black Public Faith." Here Bond juxtaposes Proctor's witness to the black public faith tradition with that of other prominent African American leaders and preachers. Proctor saw himself as a bridge, a pragmatic harmonizer, who represented the values and beliefs that shaped the civil rights movement. Bond demonstrates how Proctors theo-political understandings differed from those of black liberation theology, soul theology, rainbow theology, and the womanist and feminist movements. Here the reader gains insights into the works of James Cone, J. Deotis Roberts, Katie G. Cannon, Delores Williams, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Edward V. Hill, and James Melvin Washington. For Proctor and all these leaders, the common enemy was racism.

Where chapter 2 speaks of Proctor's foundational training as a pastor and preacher, chapter 3 delves into his formation as a public theologian. Bond surveys Proctor's theological positions on various topics, including orthodoxy and fundamentalism, science and creation, the authority of the Bible, the immanence and transcendence of God, and the church as advocate for society. Chapter 4 discusses Proctor's defense of black humanity and the notion that everybody is God's somebody, even in an America where racism and race divide our republic. This chapter articulates the imposing preacher's preaching voice, a voice now silenced for nearly twenty years, which encapsulated the same issues concerning race and racism as continue to exist in America today. Through these pages, many readers will hear one of the today's familiar slogans-"Black Lives Matter"-echo in their ears.

As noted throughout the Imposing Preacher, Proctor often lectured, preached, and wrote concerning race and racism in America. Proctor believed "racism is a community thing." Bond charts out Proctor's four stages of African American existence in America: disintegration, alienation, imitation (or acculturation), and reintegration. Here, Bond provides a summary review of one of Proctor's first books, The Young Negro in America (1966). Bond paints a passionate Proctor who spent most of his life preaching, teaching, and advocating for an "integrated, and prejudice-free society that affirms persons of all races" (p. …

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