New Series: Me and Black Liberation Theology

I’m gearing up for a class in the fall on contemporary theology.  One of the books we are reading is James Cone’s God of the Oppressed.  I hope to blog through it here at PJ starting in August.

I should start by saying that I’m not really a fan of Liberation theology.  But, that being said, I know that I have read very little Liberation theology, so my being ‘meh’ towards LT is based on summaries and overviews.  That’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to reading this book, because I’ll get to go a little more in-depth.

So, while I’m excited to read and to learn, I’m also kind of scared of what lays ahead.

I’m scared of what happens if I don’t agree with it.

If I disagree strongly with Cone, and Black LT in general, I’m scared that people will say, “well, you just don’t get it, because you’re not one of us.”  Will my disagreement with Cone be because I’m not part of the culture?  All theology is influenced by culture, obviously, but, my life experience of being a) Canadian, b) female, c)Scot-Ukrainian (translation: the palest pasty white you’ve ever seen), d) growing up in a multi-ethnic neighbourhood (mainly Italian, Vietnamese and Jewish) is so far removed from what Cone and other Black Liberation Theologians experienced in the U.S.

I’m scared of what happens if I agree with it.

Will people say, “you can’t really agree, because you haven’t lived it.  It’s ours.”  Should specific theologies be limited to a specific culture?

I’m scared of what happens if I just don’t get it.

Will people say, “Of course you don’t get it, you can’t get it. Don’t even try.

I’ve seen the hypothetical responses listed above in action, usually within Feminist circles.  To disagree with their position just proves that I’m still a product of the patriarchy, and thus my concerns, disagreements, etc., are tainted.

So here’s my question: How open is Black Liberation Theology to critique, and interaction?  Is there room for dialogue?  Can I be informed and influenced by Black Liberation Theology, and is there any room for this pasty, female Canadian at the discussion table?

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0 thoughts on “New Series: Me and Black Liberation Theology

  1. Rod of Alexandria

    How open is BLT to critique?

    Very much so. I don’t know if there hasn’t been a theologian since the 1970s that does NOT have a critique against it.

    Don’t let the political correctness police scare you.

    P.s., You should read, if you haven’t Stanley Grenz’s chapter in The Moral Quest on liberation theology.

    1. Amanda Mac Post author

      But, but, political correctness is taking over the world! Or something. It feels like it is anyway.

      Grrr. Another book to add to my reading list. Thanks Rod. 🙂 (How have I not read that book? It’s Grenz!)

  2. Ken Burroughs

    I’m wondering if it might also be a good idea to become familiar with a current perspective on the subject by the author? The anniversary edition of “A Black Theology of Liberation” provides a 50-page section of critical reflections on BLT by six leading theologians including Gayraud Wilmore, Robert McAfee Brown and Rosemary Radford Reuther. In the afterword Dr. Cone responds to these commentaries .

    Dr. Jeremiah Wright, a modern advocate and practitioner of BLT, who’s just as controversial as Dr. Cone also just completed an interview that might be instructive.

      1. Pastor Kenneth W. Wheeler

        As an African-American who grew up in the deep south, as a pastor for almost 30 years in a predominantly White Church body and as someone who has read extensively the works of James Cone, Martin Luther King Jr. and a number of Latin American Liberationist theologians I have never gotten the impression that any of the afforementioned persons or the works they have penned is so rigid that they would not be open to either critique or dialoge. What I have heard especially from Dr.Cone is that classical theology has been so quiet on the pecuilar institution of race in this country and in many instances white evangelical christians have been some of the greastest purveyors of racial violence by the ways in which they have interpreted the sacred text. I would recommend that you read an excellent article by Dr. Cone, a synopsis of a lecture that he delivered at Harvard entiled: “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.”

  3. Pingback: Interacting with God of the Oppressed 5 — What is the Good News? | Political Jesus

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