Summary Of James Cone's A Black Theology Of Liberation

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Jonathan T. Stoner Dr. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen HT501: The Church’s Understanding of God and Christ in Its Theological Reflection June 9, 2016 CRITICAL RESPONSE # 3: James Cone’s A Black Theology of Liberation James Cone’s black liberation theology was his response to what he and many in the black community saw as the bankruptcy of the theology of white theologians, which was blind to black suffering while knowingly or unknowingly propping up the white-supremacist theology that had been the status quo in the United States since our nation’s founding. In A Black Theology of Liberation, which was his follow-up to God of the Oppressed, he fleshed out his black liberation theology that was rooted in the experience, cultural heritage, and distinctive…show more content…
In black theology the goal is to discern what God is up to and how God is working on behalf of the downtrodden and fighting for them against their oppressors. This line of thinking led Cone to make the bold claim, which must have been quite shocking and offensive, especially to white Christians in the late 60s and early 70s, that “any message that is not related to the liberation of the poor in the society is not Christ 's message,” which for him meant that “Christian theology must become Black Theology” that has as its primary consideration the needs of the oppressed and marginalized in society…show more content…
Cone’s theological project was similar to the work of liberation theologians in Latin America as they all viewed the Gospels through the lens of the crucified Christ and the bruised, battered, and crushed people that the Messiah identified with. Black theology contends that it is only by taking on the perspective of the black church – and the marginalized in general – that Christians can gain a proper understanding of the character and purposes of God and the work of Jesus Christ. Plantinga notes that Cone wanted “to stress the connection between black oppression and Christian faith in an unmistakable way,” which led Cone to make the provocative “claim that ‘God is black,’” and not literally black in terms of skin color or ethnicity but black in the sense of standing in solidarity with the oppressed. The unpleasant truth is that many of the white standard bearers for the Christian faith have been sending the message, either implicitly or explicitly, that God is white, I mean just look at stained glass windows in cathedrals or religious artwork of the past 500 years that has reinforced God’s unbearable whiteness of being. Cone forcefully argues that this idolatrous image of God needed to be broken to pieces in a similar manner to the iconoclasts who smashed to bits what they deemed to be idolatrous depictions of God in the Middle Ages
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