True Religion, Mystical Unity, and the Disinherited: Howard Thurman and the Black Social Gospel gary dorrien / union Theological seminary he black social gospel leaders that came of age in the 1920s and ’30s were long on graduate degrees, simmering anger, racial justice ambi- Ttion, and lecture circuit eloquence. most of them already assumed the social gospel when they began their careers. They came through the doors of educational achievement and ecumenical conferences, and a few became prominent by compelling the respect of audiences on both sides of the color line. mordecai Johnson, building a black intellectual powerhouse at howard university, epitomized the black social gospel. benjamin e. mays, teaching under Johnson at howard, was very much in Johnson’s mold. howard Thur - man, also teaching under Johnson at howard, for a time worked the social gospel lecture circuit even harder than Johnson and mays. but Thurman could not stump for racial justice in the activist mode of his role model, Johnson, and his friend, mays. he did not want to be the American gandhi, even though people urged him constantly to try. Thurman had a mystical call to be someone else—a pastoral witness to the hidden unity of
American Journal of Theology & Philosophy – University of Illinois Press
Published: Apr 27, 2018
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