Pinn, Anthony B(ernard) 1964-

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PINN, Anthony B(ernard) 1964-

PERSONAL: Born May 2, 1964, in Buffalo, NY; son of Raymond and Anne H. (a minister) Pinn; married Cheryl Johnson. Ethnicity: "African-American." Education: Columbia University, B.A., 1986; Harvard University, M.Div., 1989, M.A., 1991, Ph.D., 1994. Religion: "Humanism."

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Religious Studies, Macalester College, 1600 Grand Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105; fax 612-696-6008. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston, MA, instructor at Center for Urban Ministerial Education, 1993, 1994; Macalester College, St. Paul, MN, assistant professor 1994-1999, associate professor, 1999-2002, professor of religious studies, 2002—, and director of African-American Studies Program, professor, 2002. Suffolk University, senior lecturer, 1993, 1994; University of New Mexico, visiting professor, 1995; speaker at colleges and universities, including Tufts University and Boston University, 1990, Shaw University, 1991, Bates College, 1994, North Hennepin Community College, 1995, 1996, Carleton College, 1996, and State University of Bahia, 1997; guest on television programs.

MEMBER: American Academy of Religion, Society for the Study of Black Religion, Association for Religion and Intellectual Life, American Association of University Professors, Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, African Americans for Humanism.

AWARDS, HONORS: Coolidge fellow, Research Colloquium, Association for Religion and Intellectual Life, 1997; African American Humanist Award, Council for Secular Humanism, 1999.


Why, Lord? Suffering and Evil in Black Theology, Continuum (New York, NY), 1995.

Varieties of African-American Religious Experience: A Theological Introduction, Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 1998.

(With mother, Anne Pinn) Fortress Introduction to Black Church History, Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

The Black Church in the Post-Civil Rights Era, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY), 2002.

Terror and Triumph: The Nature of Black Religion, Fortress (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

African American Humanist Principles: Living and Thinking Like the Children of Nimrod, Palegrave (New York, NY), 2004.


Making the Gospel Plain: The Writings of Bishop Reverdy C. Ransom, Trinity Press International (Harrisburg, PA), 1999.

(With Stephen W. Angell) Social Protest Thought in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1862-1939, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 2000.

By These Hands: A Documentary History of African-American Humanism, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2001.

(With Benjamin Valentin) The Ties That Bind: African American and Hispanic American/Latino: A Theology in Dialogue, Continuum (New York, NY), 2001.

Moral Evil and Redemptive Suffering: A History of Theodicy in African-American Religious Thought, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 2002.

Noise and Spirit: The Religious and Spiritual Sensibilities of Rap Music, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to Voices on the Future: Black Religion after the Million Man March, edited by G. Kasimu Baker-Fletcher, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY). General coeditor of the series "Studies in African-American Religious Thought and Life," Trinity Press International, and "Studies in the History of African-American Religions," University Presses of Florida (Gainesville, FL). Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including American Journal of Theology and Philosophy, Religious Studies News, African American Review, Journal of Religious Thought, Journal of African-American Men, and Free Inquiry.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Earth Bound: Toward a Theology of Fragile Cultural Memory and Religious Diversity (tentative title), for Fortress.

SIDELIGHTS: Anthony Pinn, who teaches religious studies at Macalester College, writes on topics of the African-American religious experience. His Why, Lord? Suffering and Evil in Black Theology drew the attention of African American Review contributor Dwight Hopkins, who noted that the author presents views counter to two established tenets of black faith in America: The first being that "God is all-powerful, good, and just," and second, that "evil and suffering exist." Traditionally, Hopkins continued, "black believers never blame God for racial oppression. Furthermore, black churches have preached fervently a gospel advocating how suffering for the black race has built strong positive character." Pinn, noted Hopkins, "problematizes this cornerstone of black Christianity and rejects the reality of God in the process. Specifically, he argues that the Christian doctrine of redemptive suffering is fundamentally and irreparably flawed."

Hopkins questioned Pinn's thesis, saying that the author's own explanation of "enslaved Africans and African Americans created and deployed the redemptive suffering in the spirituals reveals, in practice, how some forms of suffering enabled enslaved ebony bodies to endure, hope, and struggle." In Hopkins's view, "Many black Christians believe in redemptive suffering … because life has shown them that their black race would have undergone possible genocide without such an understanding of evil." Still, the critic found Why, Lord? a "positive contribution to the discourse of black theology in particular, and the debate over suffering and freedom in the African-American community in general."

In Varieties of African-American Religious Experience, Pinn covers a spectrum that includes Christianity, Islam, Humanism, Voodoo, and Yoruba—but Willie James Jennings of Interpretation saw even this list as "too narrow a canon of resources." In this work Pinn contends that religious scholars should consider the great range of faith to more fully grasp what the reviewer called the "widest possible picture of black cultural reality." But to Jennings, "The central drawback of the text is that it bypasses a number of pressing issues in theology," including "the relation of personal identity to essentialist definitions of culture, race, and gender." More positive notices greeted Social Protest Thought in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The place of the AME church in African-American life has been well documented in the past; but reviewer Lewis Baldwin wrote in the Journal ofChurch and State that Pinn and coeditor Stephen Angell "skillfully selected documents that reflected the vitality and range of social and political ideas" in the church, particularly during the turbulent times of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Pinn and his mother, minister Anne Pinn, produced Fortress Introduction to Black Church History in 2001. "I wanted to develop a text that provided the rough outline of black church development," he told Jacqueline Trussell in a Black and Christian interview. "And I wanted to base this study on one central question: What are the roots of the Black Church Tradition celebrated in the twenty-first century?" A Publishers Weekly reviewer felt that the Pinns were to be "commended for consistently paying attention to women" in their volume, such as AME preacher Mary Evans. While Fortress Introduction "is not terrifically analytical," the critic concluded, the book nonetheless "provides a fact-packed, handy introduction to African-American Christian history."



African American Review, fall, 1997, Dwight Hopkins, review of Why, Lord? Suffering and Evil in Black Theology, p. 514.

Interpretation, October, 1999, Willie James Jennings, review of Varieties of African-American Religious Experience: A Theological Introduction, p. 436.

Journal of Church and State, summer, 2000, Lewis Baldwin, review of Social Protest Thought in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, p. 589.

Publishers Weekly, November 12, 2001, review of Fortress Introduction to Black Church History, p. 56.


Black and Christian, (September 19, 2002), Jacqueline Trussell, "BNC Academy Exclusive: An E-Interview with Anthony Pinn."

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Pinn, Anthony B(ernard) 1964-

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