meant to highlight the sociological as well as theological differences between the two. Thus where white theology concerns itself with logical systems, black religion concerns itself with narrative, the telling of story; where whites forced a wedge between thought and practice and worship and theology, blacks united them; whilst white theology sought to demonstrate the existence of God, blacks took that existence for granted. All these differences were due to the social position of blacks as slaves. Their concerns were more urgent and more practical than those of their masters. Hence they had to produce a language commensurate with their situation.

14 Cone, God of the Oppressed, pp. 46ff.

15 Some of the biographical aspects which have shaped Cone's approach to Black theology can be found in his My Soul Looks Back (Maryknoll, NY, Orbis Books, 1986).

16 Cone, God of the Oppressed, p. vL

17 Cone and Wilmore, *BIack Theology and African Theology*, in Cone and Wilmore (eds,), Black Theology, p. 468.

18 On the effects of racism on the self-consciousness of blacks as blacks see Franz Fanon, 1990, The Fact of Blackness', in David Theo Goldberg (ed.), Anatomy of Racism (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1990}, pp. 108-16.

19 For example, Jacquelyn Grant, White Women's Christ and Black Women's Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response (Atalanta, Scholars Press, 1989); also Katie G, Cannon, Black Womanist Ethics (Atalanta, Scholars Press, 1988),

10 J. H, Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, 20th Anniversary edn (New York, Orbis Books, 1990), p. 7.

21 Ibid. For a critical discussion of Cone's dependence on Tillich's use of the concept of 'symbol' see Witvliet, The Way of the Black Messiah, pp. 173-7.

22 Cf, John L. Hodge, 'Equality: Beyond Dualism and Oppression', in Goldberg (ed.), Anatomy of Racism^ pp. 89-107,

23 See, for example, Floya Anthias, 'Race and Class Revisited: Conceptualizing Race and Racisms', The Sociological Review 38(1} (February 1990), pp. 19-42, esp. p. 20,

24 Deotis Roberts, (A Creative Response to Racism: Black Theology', in Gregory Baum and John Coleman (eds.), Concilium: The Church and Racism (Edinburgh: TScT Clark, 1982), p. 38. See also his Black Theology Today: Liberation and Contextualization, Toronto Studies in Theology, vol. 12 (New York, The Edwin Mellen Press, 1983),

25 Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation^ p. 84,

26 Choan Seng Song, 1979, The Black Experience of the Exodus1, in Cone and Wilmore feds J, Black Theologyf p. 580- Cf. the NCBC statement of 1976

(1979), P* 34317 Desmond Tutu, (1979), 'Black Theology/African Theology', in Cone and Wilmore (eds.), Black Theology, pp. 483-4.

iS Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, pp. ii-iz.

l$ Roberts, *A Creative Response to Racism', in Baum and Coleman (eds.), Concilium^ pp. 38-9.

y> Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, pp. t 5^ff-

31 In My Soul Looks Back Cone speaks of freedom as a responsibility to liberate, something to be taken against the will of the oppressor.

32 Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation^ pp. 165-8»

33 Ibid, See the second edition published in 1986, p. 94.

35 J, H. Cone, Black Theology and Black Power (New York, Seabury Press, 1969), p. 32.

37 Ibid.

40 Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation ^ pp. 47-8,

41 Concj God of the Oppressed, pp. 17-18.

42 The problem here is accentuated if we recall Thiemann's discussion in his Theology and Revelation: The Gospel As Narrated Promise (Notre Dame, IN, University of Notre Dame Press, 1985) in which the search for the preveníence of God is central. Compare the radicalism of Earth's idea conccrning our knowledge of God. See Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of Gody ed. G, W. Bromiley and trans. T. F. Torrance (Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1957), 2,1:40ft

43 Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, pp. 82 and 85.

49 On the relationship between the Harlem Renaissance and Black theology see Roy D. Morrison II, 'Self Transformation in American Blacks: The Harlem Renaissance and Black Theology', in Lewis R. Gordon {ed.}, Existence in Black: An Anthology of Black Existential Philosophy {New York, Routledge, 1997),

50 Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, p. 64.

52 Ibid., p. 91. Cf. Cone and Wilmorc, Black Theology, p. 467.

55 Ibid., p. 85- Cone has been taken to task by Preston Williams in his paper 'James Cone and the Problem of a Black Ethic1, Harvard Theological Review 65, (October 1972), pp. 483-94. Williams says Cone's identification of God's intention for humanity with the black community is not based on empirical fact; its exclusivist claims invite us to jettison rational debate and argument because important aspects of Cone's thought are based on an arbitrary reading of God's acts in history- He urges that in Cone we should recover the universal dimension rather than place emphasis on exclusive loyalty to the black community: p. 488. Compare this with DusseVs remark, 'Totalization means the identification of the church with the temporal state or culture. All totalization is sin': E, DusseL Ethics and the Theology of Liberation 'Maryknoll, NY, Orbis Books, 19-Su p. 65-

56 O11 instrumenta liza tion and ideology see J. L. Segundo, Faith and Ideologies, trans. John Dairy (Maryknoll, NY, Orbis Books, 1984). According to Segundo

, . the most common and perhaps primitive function of explicit and recordable religions has been "ideological" in my sense of the term , . , they have served as instruments for any and every class of values/ Religion, in other words, is used as a tool to attain values that are 'independent of the god who is adopted and adored'; pp. 3 Sff-

57 In his later works Cone appears to have changed his mind somewhat for he now says: 'Also the white churches of Europe and North America have presented an enormous theological challenge to my understanding of the gospel. Although I have been critical of them, the criticism was meant to be prophetic and not cynical. I firmly believe that the gospel is available to all - including white people/ My Soul Looks Back, p. 13,

58 It must be remembered that Cone did his doctorate on Earth's theological anthropology. Sec My Soul Looks Back.

59 Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, p. 66.

60 Cone and Wilmore, Black Theology, p. 467.

61 See, for example, God of the Oppressed and Black Theology and Black Power♦

62 For a helpful philosophical critique of Cone's theology including his use of the Exodus see W, R. Jones, Theodicy: The Controlling Category for Black Theology' j Journal of Religious Thought, 30 (1973-74), pp. 28-38,

63 Cone, God of the Oppressed, pp. 61-72.

64 Without recanting his earlier position Cone now says, 'It was this universal-ism in the gospel that prevented me from elevating the black experience or the African reality to an absolute norm in black theology. . .we must never absolutize a particular struggle (whether black, African, Asian or Latin} to the exclusion of others': My Soul Looks Back¡ p, 99. It is hard to believe that Cone's earlier remarks about the absoluteness of black experience did nor have the effect that he is now trying to avoid here. If Cone was sufficiently convinced of the universality of the gospel it is strange that these qualifications were not introduced then. It is also strange that he does not discuss the way in which they relate to his earlier position.

65 Two interesting attempts at writing full-blown christologies using a Black theology paradigm are T. Mofokeng, The Crucified Among the Cross Bearers: Towards a Black Christology (Kok-Kampen, Uitgeversmaatschappj J, H,, 1983) and Kelly Douglas Brown, 1994, The Black Christ (Maryknoll, NY, Orbis Books, 1994).

66 Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, pp. 212-13.

67 Cone, Black Theology and Black Power ¡ p. 40.

68 Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, pp. 10iff.

73 Cone, God of the Oppressed* p. 134. Cf. A, B, Clcagc, Jr., The Black Messiah (New York, Shecd and Ward, 1968).

In God of the Oppressed, for example, he writes: 'Christ's blackness is both Lteral and symbolic. His blackness is literal in the sense that he truly becomes One with the oppressed blacks, taking their suffering as his suffering and revealing that he is found in the history of our struggle, the story of our pain and the rhythm of our bodies' (p. 136}, One suspects that behind this rather ambiguous racial biologisation of christology lies a crude notion of the nature of race and racism.

Self Help Affirmations

Self Help Affirmations

The big book of affirmations from personal development authors. An affirmation is something you say to yourself. Everybody uses them on purpose or accidentally. You get up in the morning, leap out of bed and proclaim,

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment