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Against Cheap Grace in a World Come of Age

An Intellectual Biography of Clayton Powell, 1865-1953


Ralph Garlin Clingan

Clayton Powell (1865-1953) was one of a very few African-American religious, cultural, and social leaders of his era to oppose what he called the «cheap grace» of racist conservative and liberal ideologies in what he called «a world come of age.» His use of what a sociologist and several philosophers called «the emotionalization of the ideal» changed his congregations, cities, and nation, as well as one German Sunday school teacher – Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Ralph Garlin Clingan explores Powell’s role as a radical, progressive prophet with a well thought out program of emotionalizing the ideal of the meek, universal love of Jesus Christ, the center of his life and ideal church, and raising a standard for his community and the world. Powell is discussed in the context of his sources, current Bonhoeffer scholarship, and today’s issues.