Prostitution of the Black Preaching Tradition – Style but no Substance

The Black Preaching Tradition is a great gift to the larger Christian world. Many acknoweldge the vibrancy and the power of great Black Preaching. I also marvel at the improvisational genious of the great preachers in that tradition. While we accept this great gift of the African American church, we also must acknowledge that there are some who are today abusing this gift by taking it and preaching a Gospel that does not take into account the full counsel of God.


Not Just Personal Piety or Economic Breakthrough

Some are today using it to preach a Gospel that only emphasizes personal piety and does not deal with the fullness of the Black Preaching Tradition which includes many different domains of experience including corporate responsibility and accountability. Some are using it to speak of “breakthroughs” that ensure economic prosperity while not even dealing with important matters like Justice, Truth, and Equality.

Preach the Full Gospel

So today, we need to stop allowing individuals to prostitute the heritage of Black preaching and using it to support the status quo or simply to line the pockets of a few high profile ministers whether they be white or black. Great black preaching is not just style, nor is it just an elixir that helps people deal with their problems in this world, neither is it a totally “otherworldly” enterprice. No the Black Preaching tradition is preaching the full gospel of God’s active involvement in the liberation of humanity in all its spheres. Praise God for it. Don’t let someone who has the style but not the substance cloud your judgement of what is good and what is not.

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  • Anonymous

    HELLO My Brother in CHRIST
    “You” are right when you said WE need to stop allowing individuals to prostituting GOD word period because HE or SHE is eloquence with word I was at church ,and a young man came home to vistit ,and they grow up togather when the vistor came and took a saet(he was a preacher to) the other did,nt invited him to come up but talk about preachers with expensived suits made the young feel bad I could tell by the hurt on him face was that prostitution or what
    ? thanks for that word that really BLESSED ME

    GOD BLESS YOU

  • Rev. J.I. Harris

    I agree that we need to stop prostituting the Gospel by preaching that God is a cosmic genie who is obligated to grant our selfish wishes. Instead we need to preach about seeking God’s face to establish intimacy with Him. We need to preach a Gospel of empowerment so that we are clear that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can change our circumstances and our communities. However, the prosperity preachers have pulled us out of the “poverty is piety” pit so that we understand that we can attain prosperity in all areas of our lives if we live according to God’s Word and purpose.

  • Sherman Haywood Cox II

    Hello and Thank you for your comment,

    Certainly we are to live lives of empowerment. However, I wonder about a Gospel that would tell John the Baptist that his circumstances could have been changed if he had the right kind of faith. Financial prosperity in terms of the American Dream or a guaranteed healing from our Cancer or whatever ailment we face is not a guaranteed blessing to all Christians otherwise why do those who are truly God’s get sick and die? Yes, all who will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. At best the prosperity teachers have replaced one form of idolatry which you call “poverty is piety” with another one which I would say is “riches is piety.”

    The truth of the matter is that you live the life God would have you to live which is one of justice, peace, and kingdom living. The outcomes as far as riches or lack thereof is up to a sovereign God.

    God Bless and thanks for the conversation…

  • Nicholas Head

    Good job brotha!

  • Re.v. S. L. Miller

    A few weeks ago I witnessed an otherwise great preacher which visited our church use the bully pulpit against a certain Associate Minister that used belong to the church he pastors. It was obvious that his entire message was geared toward that one indiviual. I watch the puzzled faces of the congregation, his sermon was not received very well to say the least. What is so sad about it is that this preacher is known for preaching messages with substance and it was waste of his time and the churches to use this preaching moment only to take a swing at one person. It is to me at least, prostituting the preached Word in order to satiffy a personal problem that he could deal with one on one with that particular minister.

  • Rev. David C. Lannan

    This is a problem with many churches – too much style and no substance. They are the false teachers who are tickling the ears of their congregations for fear of losing members and their money. The reason the world is in the shape its in is because we have lost the art of preaching with substance or worse, we pick one pet sin and neglect to stand against ALL sins. I think the biggest sin in the church today is we have forgotten how to love our neighbors – because we feel their sin is greater than ours.

  • Loren Seibold

    I’ve always admired the black preaching style—something I can’t do, and not just because of my skin color. But I was at a black worship service a few years ago where the preacher turned it up to full bellowing volume in the first minute and stayed there the entire hour, saying nothing new, and making it nearly impossible to pick out anything useful just because it was all at that same intense level. He seemed to think that volume and intensity was what would make his sermon meaningful. Rather disappointing. I was ready to walk out within the first ten minutes, just to get relief from the screaming. I think the preacher would have modified his style if he wasn’t getting so much response from a few people who were reacting to the emotion, and probably not really hearing the (lack of) content. He would have accomplished more for me if he’d read one meaningful passage of Scripture with sincerity, and then sat down.