The Cross and the Lynching Tree The Cross and the Lynching tree is a recent work from James H. Cone. Currently a Systematic Theology professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, he is renowned as a founder of black liberation theology. In this book, he reflects on the most brutal chapter of white racism in the 20th century America where 5,000 innocent blacks were lynched to death by white mobs. And he tells us how blacks were able to survive the unspeakable reality of violence and torture with faith and hope in Christ. As a witness for blacks who were voiceless and ignored, he speaks out against the white church for saying little about slavery and racial justice. His passion for social justice comes from growing up in Arkansas in the Jim Crow era. The memories of his father and lynch mobs never left him. Black church comforted him, but made him wonder. “If the white churches are Christian, how come they segregate us? And if God is God, why is He letting us suffer?” (1) The lifelong quest for answers to these questions shaped his theology …show more content…
LeAnn Snow Flesher, an Old Testament professor at American Baptist Seminary of the West lauds his theology as something open and honest protest to their white male perspective, that emphasize the cross of redemption without naming the tragedy of violence on lynching trees. (4) Critics say he developed a divisive and racist theology out of the bitterness of growing up in segregation in 1960’s. James Ellis, III, the senior pastor of a nondenominational congregation in Washington D.C. says “For Christians, white cannot be synonymous with evil nor black with good, or vice versa. That sort of rhetoric has no place in the kingdom of God.” He asserts the racial peace comes not from condemnation of whites, but from the reconciliation with God.
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Stump’s two constraints of suffering, argues Draper, could not be taken place automatically in human experience. There is a group of people who cannot be justified by the negative benefit of harm prevention since they are sufficiently far away from the process of sanctification, and from the treatment of permanent separation with God. There are also those who do not consent to suffer for the future benefit of deeper union with God . Moreover, it is quite difficult to know how God knows exactly the human reaction to situations of suffering before allowing
The criticism made by the these eight clergyman epitomize the idea of whiteness and white privilege. Rather than to offer assistance and guidance for King and his efforts to diminish racial injustices prevalent in the South, they, instead, offer criticism in an attempt to depreciate King’s fight for racial equity. This rhetoric has occurred often throughout American history, where we see white individuals devaluing and hindering the progress made by individuals of color. For example, one of the critiques that King received was that The Negro community should be more patient and wait for society to move gradually toward civil rights. What white individuals fail to understand is that there is no such thing
In paragraphs 33 to 44 of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s response to “A Call for Unity,” a declaration by eight clergymen, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963), he expresses that despite his love for the church, he is disappointed with its lack of action regarding the Civil Rights Movement. Through powerful, emotionally-loaded diction, syntax, and figurative language, King adopts a disheartened tone later shifts into a determined tone in order to express and reflect on his disappointment with the church’s inaction and his goals for the future. King begins this section by bluntly stating that he is “greatly disappointed” (33) with the church, though he “will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen” (33). By appealing to ethos and informing the audience of his history with the church, he indicates that he is not criticizing the church for his own sake, but for the good of the church.
To those living in British America in the 1700’s, religion was a central fixture of everyday life. One’s denomination was intrinsically tied up in one’s ethnic and social identity, and local churches in the mid-Atlantic depended upon the participation and donations of their parishioners to survive. However, as the 18th century progressed, poorer farmers and ministers across the diverse sects of colonial America came to resent the domination of church life by the upper class. In a parallel development, a split had grown between the rationalists, who were typically wealthy, educated and influential men who represented the status quo, and the evangelicals, who disdained the impersonal pretention of the rationalists and promoted a spiritual and
He places the strong authority of the declaration on his side to show how the American people are in contradiction to their own “sacred obligation” and the Negros have gotten a “bad check.” A metaphor representing the unfulfilled promise of human rights for the African Americans. King skillfully evokes an emotional response from all races with the use of religion: “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” By doing this he finds a common ground that brings black and whites closer with a common belief in God they share, as well as the mention of
The victimization of fears and securities is a main weapon in the belt of those who wish to lead and conquer. This is proved when in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, Edwards uses dark imagery and tone, telling the congregation, “O, Sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in... You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it” (156).
The Reality of Religion Religion is a thing that brings people together, but in some cases, it’s the very force that tears people apart. When people are first introduced to it, it can either be a blessing or burden. In the narrative Blackboy, by Richard Wright, Richard describes his life growing up in the South during Jim Crow laws. He faces a great deal of oppression during his lifetime, but some of the most difficult conflicts he faces are with religion and his own family. Since a young age, Richard’s family was very religious, and they wanted Richard to follow in this path as well.
For centuries, Christianity has been used by white supremacists as a tool of oppression against people of color. More recently, Christianity has been used to justify the subjugation of black people through their enslavement and later segregation. Despite this, the black community has often been attracted to Christianity, “the religion of their oppressors,” for numerous reasons, including the hope for liberation (Brown Douglas xii). Black people raised in the Christian tradition have also rejected the religion in recognition of its unjust qualities. The challenge facing black Christians and those who deny white supremacy is whether to have faith in the liberating and positive aspects of Christianity, or to doubt the religious institution in light of its history of oppression.
MLK’s ultimate claim is that the church is to blame for these happenings and “the judgement of God is upon the Church as never before”(276). King stated how even the people who were in the church trying to fight for justice had been looked down upon and some had been kicked out of their own churches. King’s claims were passionately presented. He relentlessly provided evidence to prove his position on the issue of injustice and also showed ample amounts of examples to solve these problems.
He received a B.A. degree from Philander Smith College in Arkansas in 1958, a B.D. degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1961, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Northwestern University in 1963 and 1965, respectively. He taught theology and religion at Philander Smith College, Adrian College in Michigan, and beginning in 1970 at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he was awarded the distinguished Charles A. Briggs Chair in systematic theology in 1977. He taught theology and religion at Philander Smith College, Adrian College in Michigan, and beginning in 1970 at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he was awarded the distinguished Charles A. Briggs Chair in systematic theology in 1977. The thesis of this book is that one's social and historical context decides not only the questions 2 we address to God but also the mode or form of the
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
However, the church is failing to show the love of God to people of color. This relates to the the Holocaust because the Nazi regime thought Jews were inferior, and they dehumanized them. Garrison is calling out the church leaders to more aware of and empathic for their fellow human
He is composed, collective, and calm when writing his letter to the clergymen, and effectively used stirring diction and syntax to enlighten his audience on his mission towards racial justice that God Himself approves of. His letter is a testimonial to a black person’s life in America, where “we [black americans] creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter” (para 13). His letter was history in the making with every stroke of the pen. It truly showed that the pen is mightier than the the
During the civil rights era, the black church stood as a foundation for the African American community. It was a safe haven for those who felt like they didn’t have a voice outside of the church. The black church used to be a political atmosphere especially for those advocating black rights. It gave blacks the pedestal to vocalize the issues in the community and in the world to the oppressed. This was during a time when African Americans received no respect and were placed at the feet of injustice by the American society.
This reference in particular evokes the strongest emotional response from black people because many African Americans revered Lincoln for his decision to sign the revolutionary Emancipation Proclamation, and how the document symbolized a free future for slaves--the ancestors of the blacks in the crowd. But the next few lines following this allusion also persuades those ignorant of how little things have changed by highlighting the “manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination” that blacks still suffer from despite the hundred year gap. Here, he uses the connotations of “manacles” and “chains” to evoke a negative emotional response from the audience, especially from those unaware of the need to change, causing their opinion to match the speaker’s: against segregation. Additionally, King weaves biblical allusions into his speech to appeal to the Christians within the crowd. He uses the “dark and desolate valley of segregation” to illustrate the injustice African Americans have endured for centuries and juxtapositions it with the “sunlit path of racial justice” to exemplify a future where true freedom exists for