Thesis: The preaching of John Jasper is an example of how African American preaching congealed former slaves into a cohesive community of vibrate faith in the post-Civil War South.
African American preaching is often unaccounted for in histories of preaching. The sermons of African American preachers are often not available for study and their influence is sometimes less measurable. John Jasper, the long time pastor of the Sixteenth Mount Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, VA, was a preacher of enormous proportions. During his lifetime his name was printed in every newspaper in America and in many foreign countries. He was a household name throughout North America.
In response to attacks on the Bible and the origins of the human race, Jasper preached his famous sermon on the movement of the Sun. The sermon contended that the Sun moves and that the earth is flat. Of course, Jasper was wrong in his conclusions, but he gave a powerful apologetic for the sovereignty of God in creation and the biblical origins of man. Jasper was unwavering in his confidence in the infallibility of Scripture.
The sermon hurled Jasper onto the national stage. People came from all over the world to hear him preach the sermon in person at his Richmond church. Yet, the real effect of the sermon was to bolster a marginalized community’s faith in God and the Bible. The African American community in Richmond rallied around their pastor in affirming that God is never wrong.