Calvin history professor Eric Washington has made a specialty of studying African Americans thought within the Reformed tradition of Christianity, specifically Calvinism. His interest in the topic dates back to 1998 when he embraced Reformed theology after reading Martin Luther's On the Bondage of the Will and R.C. Sproul's book Chosen by God: "It answered the tough questions I had regarding how a person comes to faith. Being African American and Baptist, I knew of no one in my circles who was Calvinist. This sparked my interest in searching for African American Calvinists." Washington, a native of New Orleans, La., did his undergraduate work at Loyola University before going on to earn a master's from Miami University in African history and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University in African American history.
How did your interest in African American participation in the Reformed and Calvinistic tradition begin?
When I began to study and immerse myself in Reformed theology, I realized that what I believed had historical relevance and that there is a connection between me and the "church universal." That naturally led me to think about and to begin investigating where people of African descent fall within Reformed Christianity. It wasn't until I got my hands on Anthony Carter's book, On Being Black and Reformed, that I really had a handy reference.
What happened as you began to move from your Baptist roots to a more Reformed approach to your faith?
I told my pastor that I was now a Calvinist, and I think it went over his head. But I served as an associate minister at the church where I was, and when I began teaching and preaching within the framework of Reformed theology, eventually I was asked to refrain from doing so. And that ended a long tenure at that church, which was tough, but I was at that point committed to the Reformed, Calvinist faith. Click here to Read Phil de Haan's entire interview . . .