In this handbook first published in 1890, Charles Octavius Boothe simply and beautifully lays out the basics of theology for common people. “Before the charge ‘know thyself,’” Boothe wrote, “ought to come the far greater charge, ‘know thy God.’” He brought the heights of academic theology down to everyday language, and he helps us do the same today. Plain Theology for Plain People shows that evangelicalism needs the wisdom and experience of African American Christians.
Walter R. Strickland II reintroduces this forgotten masterpiece for today.
By reprinting ... a book written for the average sharecropper, Walter R. Strickland has provided Christians with a helpful biblical and theological resource. Along with Strickland’s insightful introduction, this book’s reprinting provides another example (among many) of the contributions of black Christians to Christianity, their contributions to evangelical biblical and theological discourse, and their contributions to the intellectual environment of evangelical Christianity. Readers of Boothe’s work will especially appreciate his intentional efforts to make the bible and theology accessible to his original audience.
—Jarvis J. Williams, Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Any given Sunday in some black churches, a member of the congregation may encourage the pastor by saying, “Make it plain, preacher!” In Plain Theology for Plain People, Charles Octavius Boothe makes plain a systematic theology that is both faithful to biblical orthodoxy and responsive to the particular interests of black Christians. I am thankful to God that Walter Strickland discovered this literary jewel and now shares it with the contemporary people of the Lord. Too often, the black church is mischaracterized as being emotionally rich and intellectually shallow. Plain Theology shows this to be a harmful stereotype. All disciples of Jesus Christ interested in how to, in the words of Robert Smith Jr., make doctrine dance should read this book and apply it to the preaching of the plain and pure gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
—CJ Rhodes, Pastor of Mount Helm Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi
We are in Walter Strickland’s debt for publishing a new edition of Charles Boothe’s Plain Theology for Plain People, an extraordinary book by an extraordinary man. This is everyday theology from the margins, from below, from the perspective of the dispossessed. It is no dry textbook, but theology written by an African-American pastor, born into slavery, who sought to instruct ordinary people in the Christian faith. A classic volume, short, readable, informative, by an inspiring Christian leader.
—Michael F. Bird, Lecturer in Theology at Ridley College
“This still is the direct route to the ‘outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.’” (Page 28)
“in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness’” (Page 5)
“besides the freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem’” (Page 9)
“On June 13, 1845 Charles Octavius Boothe was born in Mobile County Alabama. He was the legal property of Nathaniel Howard.” (Page vii)
“A veritable divinity seems to have hedged us as we journeyed. I say it with all reverence.” (Page 5)
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Charles Octavius Boothe (1845–1924) was a Baptist pastor and educator. He was the founding minister of Dexter Avenue—King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama and one of the founding fathers of Selma University.
Walter R. Strickland II (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is assistant professor of theology and associate vice president for diversity at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He co-wrote Every Waking Hour with Benjamin Quinn.
Reid A Ferguson