The Jazz Theologian

I have read Carl Ellis’ book, Free At Last?: The Gospel in the African-American Experience, at least once a year for almost a decade now. Save the scriptures, Free at Last?, has influenced my life and ministry more than any other book. One reason is that it speaks viscerally to me when it comes to how God was and is at work in the African-American experience. Carl Ellis does a masterful job of demonstrating how it is possible to “preach ‘the full counsel of God’ through our history, the way Stephen and later Paul were able to preach through Jewish history (Acts 7:2-53; 13:16-41).”[1]

I had never heard of this. I had learned that one can share the gospel through propositions or one’s own personal history, that is personal testimony, but I had never considered sharing the gospel through the history of my people…what a radical, Biblical idea! My primary reason for my returning to Carl’s work so often has been not just for what he is saying but for what he is doing—Jazz Theology.

Jazz Theology is an alternative way of approaching ministry, spiritual formation, church and the scriptures.

How do you share the gospel? Propositions? Personal Testimony? Have you ever shared the gospel through the corporate testimony of your people like Stephen and Paul?

[1] Carl Ellis, “Free At Last? The Gospel in the African-American Experience,” (Downers Grove: IVP, 1996), p38

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