In the 1975 preface to GotO, Cone writes,
Theologians do not normally reveal the true source of their theological reflections. They often tell us about the books that are similar and not so similar to their perspectives, but seldom do they tell us about those non-intellectual factors that are decisive for the arguments advanced on a particular issue. More often than not, it is a theologian’s personal history, in a particular sociopolitical setting, that serves as the most important factor in shaping the methodology and content of his or her theological perspective. Thus theologians ought to be a little more honest, and let the reader know something about those non-intellectual factors that are so important for the opinions they advance. (pg xix)
Wahoo! I get to start my reading with actually agreeing with Cone!
In the 1997 preface, Cone applies the above to his own theology and writes,
I still regard the Bible as an important source of my theological reflections, but not the starting point. The black experience and the Bible together in dialectical tension serve as my point of departure today and yesterday. The order is significant. I am black first – and everything else comes after that. (pg xi)
This upfront methodology has me asking myself the question: Is there an order or hierarchy to the factors that influence my theology?
No doubt my being: a Canadian, a woman, coming from a non-Christian home, and being born in the post-modern age, all influence my theology. But I can’t say that there is an order.
I’d like to say that the Bible comes first in informing my theology, but in all honesty it probably doesn’t.
Intrigued and Want to Find Out More:
What will be interesting to explore further is Cone’s Christology. In the preface, Cone says that Jesus is not the only revelation of God.
No longer can I do theology as if Jesus is God’s sole revelation. Rather, he is an important revelatory event among many. (xiv)
Of course, my brain immediately took me to Barth (don’t mock me, it’s valid as Cone did his thesis on Barth), and how different Cone’s approach is. For Barth, Revelation is Jesus. Granted, Barth talks about the three-fold nature of Revelation: Revealed Word–Preached Word–Written Word, but ultimately, it all comes back to Jesus, and Jesus alone.