"God be merciful to us & bless us, & cause His face to shine upon us.
That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.
Oh, let the nations be glad & sing for joy!"
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"Plain Theology for Plain People" by Charles Octavius Boothe. A Review
G.K. Chesterton once penned, “Tradition means giving
votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of
the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of
those who merely happen to be walking about” (“Orthodoxy”). Lexham Press has
taken a good stab at this “democracy of the dead” by resuscitating “Plain
Theology for Plain People” written in 1890 by an emancipated slave who became a
Christian preacher, Charles Octavius Boothe. This small, 151 page re-typeset,
reworked paperback was written by Boothe to help fellow emancipated slaves, who
had little education and little time to obtain formal instruction, grow deeper
in the depths of God’s love in Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is easily accessible
for folks from every walk of life. As Boothe put it, “this little book’s only
mission is to help plain people in
the study of the first principles of
divine truth” (3).
“Plain Theology for Plain People” is something of a
Bible-saturated Systematic Theology, or Manual of Christian Doctrine. It runs
through nine major loci from “The Being and Character of God” to “The Last
Things.” Boothe walks his students through Scripture on each of these subjects,
giving them hand-holds and waypoints in their trek. The author’s presentation
is thoughtful and thorough, without getting lost in the side trails. His
Baptist insignia shows forth clearly in regard to baptism as only immersion,
and in his ecclesiology. And his “Calvinism” comes out in his very gracious and
charitable handling of predestination, election, justification and
sanctification. A relentless theme that refreshingly streams forth from Boothe’s
pen in several places is that “the more we think of the sinfulness of sin, the
more wonderful the love of God will appear” (33). It was an easy read that can
quickly lend itself to a devotional book!
There is also an introduction written by Walter R.
Strickland II, assistant professor of Theology and Associate Vice President for
Kingdom Diversity at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. This short overview
gives a brief biography of Charles Octavius Boothe, and how “Plain Theology for
Plain People” came about. It left me
with a greater desire to learn more about Boothe and his other works.
“Plain Theology for Plain People” is a worthwhile voice
from “the most obscure of all classes.” It is also a valuable work displaying
sound, biblical theology from the pen of an emancipated American slave who
became a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I strongly encourage you to
snatch up a copy and give this brother your ear and your time.
My hearty thanks to Lexham Press for
providing, upon my request, the free copy of the book used for this review. The
assessments are mine given without restrictions or requirements (as per Federal
Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255).
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