Francis Grimke

An interesting case study of an African-American reformed pastor. The post suggests he is important for 3 reasons:

  1. He is an American. American Reformed political thinkers often appeal to theologians and theological traditions which neither originated nor found significant concrete expression in the United States. Its important that we take into consideration those whose theological engagement proceeds from the actual historical circumstances that we so often debate, not least chattel slavery and Jim Crow.
  2. He is Reformed. Grimke’s work bears out his indebtedness to his Princetonian Reformed education. Hodge, of whom Grimke spoke fondly for the rest of his life, once described Grimke “a very able man, highly educated, of high character, and worthy of all confidence.”  Princeton President James McCosh praised him when he said “I have heard him preach, and I feel as if I could listen to such preaching with profit from Sabbath to Sabbath”[2]
  3. He speaks from an oppressed position, a victim of America’s “original sin” of slavery. Most Reformed discourse concerning political theology is dominated by white males who have the privilege of theorizing without having to endure any form of bias or discrimination. Despite the degree to which this impasse of privilege and oppression has been alleviated, it nevertheless remains that white Reformed Americans are the products of a tradition that has often failed miserably and tragically when it comes to racial bias and discrimination. We need Grimke’s voice.
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