“We Have Refused to Listen”
Dr. Christopher Hall is president of Renovaré, an organization that provides resources for the spiritual formation of Christians. He lives in the Philadelphia area and taught at Palmer Seminary, a seminary that serves a largely African American community of students. I came to know Chris when I was working on the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture with Thomas Oden during my time at Drew University. Chris has also been instrumental in the work of the Center for Early African Christianity that was based at Eastern University before it moved to Yale. I used to serve as the director of the center before I took the call to Concordia University Wisconsin.
The center is concerned with reacquainting African Christians with their significant contribution to world Christianity during the first centuries of the church’s mission through such luminaries as Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen, Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria, and Augustine—to name only a few of the many influential early African Christians. As part of this concern, we are also interested in acquainting African American Christians with that history as spiritual descendants of that tradition. We believe our brothers and sisters in the faith will continue to have a significant contribution to offer world Christianity and especially Christianity here in North America. Historic African American Christianity has strong roots in the tradition and they have been stalwarts in the culture wars that currently seek to undermine the authority of traditions and beliefs Christians have held for centuries, if not millennia.
When George Floyd was killed this past month and the nation witnessed the turmoil and pain that his death occasioned, Chris wrote this piece. He understands that an important part of Christian witness is being able to listen. The humility necessary for listening is a humility our Lord taught us—something that was at the center of his very love for us. I invite you to listen to what Chris has to say: