Book Plunge: The African-American Guide to the Bible

What do I think about Dr. H.C. Felder’s book published by Christian Faith Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Let me say at the start that I am not an African-American. I am very much white. However, I know there are many people in the black community that do struggle with the Bible due to issues in it such as slavery and how it has been seen as a white man’s religion. When I lived in Charlotte, I used to hear some of Felder’s shows on the radio and so I wanted to get his book to see what he would say from his experience about these kinds of issues.

There was also another concern of mine. I had a fear that the approach would also somehow demean other races throughout and I had a hope that that would not happen. I am happy to say that Felder’s book does not do that. I did not feel at all attacked as a white person reading this book.

Let’s start with some nitpicky issues and such I disagreed with on the way and get those out of the way. As one who defended Mike Licona when Geisler went after him, I did think at times there was too much dependence on Geisler in the work. I would have liked to have seen interaction with scholars who specialize in the Bible more.

One such indication of that influence is on p. 145. In speaking of Genesis 2 and the reference to Cush, Felder says there is no reason to take the reference as symbolic. That right there is a pretty big assumption. Maybe there is. Can we be absolutely certain we know so much about the text that we can rule that out? I’m not stating that I think it is symbolic, but if someone can make a case, let’s be open to it. From there, Felder goes on to say that if we start taking those places as symbolic, how do we determine what is and isn’t symbolic? Maybe all of the creation account is. Maybe then the fall of man is negated and there’s no need for a savior and Christianity is false without a literal understanding of Genesis.

Which would mean that we have a strong case from the New Testament that Jesus was resurrected from the dead in the body and was fully God and fully man, but we might not be sure because Genesis isn’t literal? Not buying it. I don’t need a fully literal (Whatever that means) Genesis to know that man is fallen. I can see that turning on the evening news or just looking in myself. Felder even speaks in this paragraph of the slippery slope and it’s the one Geisler raised as well.

On p. 42, Felder also says that the disciples became martyrs for their faith. Some of them did, but in all honesty, we don’t have the best historical testimony for all of them. Sean McDowell spoke of this well in his book The Fate of the Apostles, a book I interviewed him on on my own show.

I also found the section on prophecy lacking as an orthodox Preterist, particularly the idea that the return of the people to Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment. Last I checked, that was supposed to be preceded by national repentance, not followed by it.

So now, let’s go to the positives. Felder does look at the issues very seriously. The discussions about race and such are all interesting. He shows that there were people of color, not necessarily black, but people of color, all throughout the Bible. We have had a tendency to “whitewash” the Bible as it were when we make movies and the like.

The discussion about race is quite eye-opening as Felder spends a good deal of time looking at what race is. This involves a look at it in ways I had never thought about before. It’s not a really cut and dried question and I leave that for interested readers.

There is good material on slavery as well. Those who are concerned about the issue I think will find good support here. Felder naturally speaks with a heart on this being from a people that in the past 200 years experienced slavery in this country.

Felder also answers objections such as why is it that the white man seemed to thrive while the black men didn’t? Don’t blacks routinely score lower on IQ tests? Aren’t there differences in the races since blacks are more prone to getting certain diseases? Felder does leave food for thought in all of this.

Still, I think overall as I’ve indicated, the Biblical looks are the most interesting. Felder goes through the testaments and shows who could be seen as people of color in the passages. He goes to great lengths to show that racism has no place in the life of any Christian. What is good about this is that it is clear no race as we put it is superior. Blacks, whites, Asians, Indians, Eskimos, whatever race you want to talk about, none are superior and none are inferior.

While this book is meant for the African-American community, I think it will benefit those of all races. Those who are white like myself could read it and get a perspective on what it is like to be of another race and see how the Bible is seen from that perspective. In the end, I appreciated the read and I hope you will too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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