Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Faith in the Fire: Wisdom for Life (BOOK REVIEW)

by Dr. Gardner C. Taylor
Edited by Edward L. Taylor
Smiley Books
Hardcover, $21.95
240 pages, Illustrated
With a bonus CD featuring an interview with the author by Tavis Smiley
ISBN: 978-1-4019- 2962-6

Book Review by Kam Williams

“Amazingly, many people of faith and members of the reading public have not heard of Gardner Taylor or his accomplishments. Publication of Faith in the Fire attempts to rectify this by providing an accessible introduction to Dr. Taylor’s enduring wisdom...
In 1948, Taylor became pastor of the Concord Baptist Church of Brooklyn, the church where he earned his reputation as a champion fighter for social justice and community uplift, and received acclaim as one of the great preachers in American history… Faith in the Fire: Wisdom for Life adds a unique contribution to Dr. Taylor’s legacy by attempting to gather his philosophical gems and present them in a fashion that readers can easily access.”

-Excerpted from the Introduction (pgs xii-xxi)

Despite being born the grandson of slaves in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 18, 1918, Gardner Calvin Taylor earned degrees from Leland College and Oberlin Graduate School of Theology before becoming the legendary pastor of Brooklyn’s Concord Baptist Church at the age of 30. And over the course of his enduring career there, he earned a reputation as one of the best preachers in the nation.
During the Civil Rights Movement, he also served as a mentor and confidant to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with whom he co-founded the Progressive National Baptist Convention. So, it only makes sense that the wealth of cultural contributions made by this eloquent pioneer for social justice, now 93, should be preserved for posterity.
The task of editing six decades worth of sermons and papers fell to Reverend Edward L. Taylor, no relation, a former resident fellow at Harvard University. The upshot of that effort is Faith in the Fire: Wisdom for Life, an enlightening opus distilling Dr. Taylor’s insights on a variety of subjects ranging from love to God to race to politics to motherhood to family.
For example, the author muses about the prospect for a Second Coming of Christ, suggesting that, upon His return, Jesus, “would be assassinated, lynched, or, if you prefer, crucified as before.” Thought provoking pearls of wisdom from the Poet Laureate of Progressive Protestantism.

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