More than 15 years ago, one of the theologians on this list—Bruce L. Fields—asked the question: What can black theology teach the evangelical church?

Protestant leaders in the US have been asking a similar question since black theology began gaining momentum 50 years ago. Writers in Christianity Today’s own pages discussed African American leaders’ necessary work in dismantling white superiority in the American evangelical church and wondered about the place of the movement in the greater body of Christ. In the decades since James Cone and J. Deotis Roberts developed the “seed of ‘black theology,’” theologians have risen up across traditions and denominations to powerfully assert how the faith and fight of black Christians embodies the gospel.

Their teachings and leadership have inspired the black church across generations—and challenge the church at large to think more deeply about the biblical call for justice, an end to oppression, and freedom in Christ.

This year for Black History Month, CT reached out to several black Christian leaders to hear about a few of the African American theologians, past and present, who have had the greatest impact on their faith. Here are the names they shared.

Octavia Albert

“There’s a reason black preachers often quote their mothers and grandmothers from the pulpit—these women are among the wisest theologians of the church. Octavia Albert, a former slave and author of The House of Bondage, is case in point. Albert’s Louisiana home became a gathering place for blacks in the Reconstruction era. She captures their stories, some 250 years of black history, from her kitchen table and challenges the ...

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