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Who Is Sufficient?

Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne (18111893) was a free black, born in Charleston, South Carolina during the height of slavery. He joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in 1841, and in 1852 was, against his wishes, elected bishop of the New England Conference. His passion was for an educated church, beginning with the man in the pulpit. Thabiti Anyabwile writes, In [Paynes] view, an undereducated and ill-prepared minister was a scandal and affliction upon black churches. (The Faithful Preacher, Part Two, Bishop Daniel A. Payne: A Vision for an Educated Pastorate)

Thabiti Anyabwile   At the General conference of 1852, Daniel Payne received from Bishop Morris Brown a last-minute request to provide the opening address. Payne proved instant in season, out of season (2 Tim. 4:2) as he selected 2 Corinthians 2:16 and the theme Who is Sufficient for These Things? perhaps the text indicated Paynes four-year-long resistance to and fear of being chosen as a bishop, but it also provided a short outline for a preachers calling as Payne saw it. First the preacher is to preach the gospel. That vocation did not consist of loud declamation or vociferous talking or whooping, stamping and beating the Bible and the desk or seeing who halooes the loudest and speaks the longest. Preaching the gospel, according to Payne, required acquainting man with the holy God of heaven, with mans just condemnation, with his need for the savior, and with the necessity of repentance and faith. Second, a faithful minister cultivates maturity in the flock and thereby train[s] them for usefulness and for heaven. Third, a good pastor disciplines and governs the church. This difficult duty requires the pastor to make his flock intimately acquainted with the doctrines of the Christian Church, instruct them in the principles of Church government, reprove them for negligence and sin, admonish them of their duties and obligations, and then try and expel the obstinate, so as to keep the Church as pure as human wisdom, diligence and zeal, under divine guidance, can make it.

Payne could rightly ask along with the apostle Paul, who is sufficient for these things? These taskspreaching the gospel, cultivating Christian maturity in the congregation, and exercising biblical church disciplinewere only possible by fusing an educated mind with true Christian experience and piety while depending wholly on the sufficiency of God. The one who is sufficient for the life and work of the ministry is the one who lives the life of faith and prayer and who seeks to fill his head [with] all knowledge and his heart with all holiness in pursuit of his Lord.

Thabiti Anyabwile, The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors (Crossway, 2007), 8182.

Posted 2009·04·09 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Church History · Daniel A. Payne · Thabiti Anyabwile · The Faithful Preacher
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