The Inner Revolution

Words of Revolution, by Tom Skinner (Zondervan, 1970, 171 pp., $1.95), and How Black Is the Gospel?, by Tom Skinner (Lippincott, 1970, $4.95), are reviewed by Ralph Fasold, assistant professor of linguistics, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Both these books are addressed to those who are profoundly dissatisfied with the status quo in the churches and in the wider society while both preserve an essentially evangelical Christian outlook. How Black Is the Gospel? seems addressed primarily to blacks of a militant bent. Words of Revolution, according to its introduction, is addressed to the “evangelical world,” to “radical young people,” to “young militant blacks,” and as a prophetic warning to “the establishment.” Skinner seems willing to be offensive to the first and last groups but comes to the young and the black as one of their own. To them, he presents two themes in each book. First, he offers them Christ as a “contemporary, gutsy revolutionary with hair on his chest and dirt under his fingernails.” Second, he dissociates himself from that predominating brand of white evangelicalism which he sees as seriously implicated in the prejudice, racism, and injustice found in modern American life.

A difficulty arises when we examine Skinner’s notion of a revolutionary Christ. In both books, he draws striking parallels and contrasts between Christ and Barabbas. Vivid, free-wheeling analogies abound in Skinner’s black-preacher style of writing, and in one of these, Barabbas is pictured as a violent insurrectionist hurling Molotov cocktails into the homes of the honky Romans and Uncle Tom Jews. Christ is a revolutionary who agrees with Barabbas about the evil and oppressiveness of the Roman occupation and, ...

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