A friend complained to me, “You white Christians preach to us blacks the message of Fanny Crosby’s hymn: ‘Take the World, but Give Me Jesus.’ We blacks received Jesus, and then we discovered that you white Christians took the world.” In the past, white Christians have looked down their long noses at black churches as too emotional, too simple, too legalistic, too immoral, and too biblically illiterate. It was always easy to dredge up examples that proved the point; and the less one knew about black churches, the easier it was to universalize such notions. But times are changing. Evangelicals have much to learn about black churches. For one thing, evangelicals would be surprised at the strength and pervasiveness of solid evangelical and biblical convictions within the black church. Liberalism never rotted away the biblical roots of black churches as it did white churches. For another, black preachers simply outclass their white peers in sheer oratorical power. And again, for churches of comparable size, the musical programs in black churches are vastly superior to those in white churches in their expression of intense, heartfelt worship of God. In this issue, James Tinney explores the soul of black music and finds it beautiful.

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