THREE-FIFTHS THEOLOGY: Challenging Racism in American Christianity

THREE-FIFTHS THEOLOGY: Challenging Racism in American Christianity


by Lewis T. Tait, Jr. & Christian van Gorder


Three-Fifths Theology is a unique book by two authors from different intellectual perspectives who both share an important perspective with one goal in mind. Written by an African American and a European American, this book enters the conversation about racism in American Christianity. The term, “three-fifth theology,” is used by both authors to describe the way aberrant American Christianity often supports status quo injustices because it is founded in cultural contexts and political assumptions that are racist. Tracing how “three-fifths theology” has allowed de facto segregation to flourish at the expense of Biblical Christian unity, both authors aim to call the church to social justice and to present key characteristics of an afrocentric worldview as antidotes for the problems inherent in contemporary American Christianity.


The book is divided into three sections. The four chapters in the first section are designed to provide the reader with an afrocentric perspective on American society and examine the need for African American Christians to educate their numbers in a more afrocentric view and for Euro-Americans to confront the legacy of segregation in their faith and culture. The first section concludes with an evaluation of the political forces at work in contemporary culture that maintain de facto segregation. In section two, Tait, Jr. and van

Gorder engage and discuss specific issues in a direct, personal dialogue. The book’s third section includes theological perspectives on the problem of American Christianity’s de facto apartheid.


Prophetic and timely, Three-Fifths Theology is confrontative without wallowing in the

mire of victimization. It offers bold, provocative solutions, which the authors hope will

inspire discussion and debate. Thorough in its scope, this motivational book will appeal

to both academic and non-professional readers.



LEWIS T. TAIT, JRhas a Doctorate of Ministry in Afrocentric Pastoring and Preaching from the United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio. In 1993 the Reverend Tait, Jr. was called upon by the Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ to organize the Harambee United Church of Christ—the first African American Church in the history of the Conference. He has been the Organizing Pastor of New Life United Church of Christ in Stone Mountain, Georgia since February 2000.


CHRISTIAN VAN GORDERis Professor of World Christianity at the Department of Biblical Studies, Religion, and Philosophy at Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania.