James Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation
I am not sure if there is another theological text that meant more than James Cone’s A Black Theology of Liberation. It was simply the text that affirmed for this young Black southern boy that I could be Black and a Christian without settling for white evangelicalism.
The mere thought of a black body being identified as Jesus elicits fears in the hearts of many people, white and black. In and of itself, the concept of a Black Jesus, is something that has been fought against in European circles for centuries. To admit the Emanuel –Jesus, God with us, is black is to impel the white world, and its socio-political structures, to recognize the full humanity of Black people. Moreover, the massive amounts of repentance and asking for forgiveness of the Black community would be necessary and logical. The implications of re-imaging the humanity of Jesus as Christ have many, diverse and structural repercussions. Such a confession would call for a substantial overhaul of theology. It would call for a completely new perspective about black people. It is what Kevin Considine called, “God-talk arising from the black community, speaking to the Black community, for the purpose of giving life and dignity to the Black community.” Why would such a communication need to happen? A god that fails to identify with the very people that God evolves from would discredit the theological significance of that group of people. If God is Black, and fails to bring value to God’s black people, then it is appropriate to determine that those people lack the approval for full humanity.This logic is one of the issues that James Cone is raising as he writes A Black Theology of Liberation. Cone employs a historiographical lens to engage and redirect our gaze to that which normally escapes our reflection. The cost of our usual aversion to engaging issues of the black experience is that of subjectively neutralizing black people’s ability to express grief and rage in social protest, in art, and in many forms of lament. Cone’s desire to enlighten the black community undergirds his Black Rage as he constructs a theology of liberation. Cone explores God through his Black Rage by venting his anger theologically in ABlack Theology of Liberation.