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James H. Cone and Black Liberation Theology

Monday, September 15, 2008

As some of you may know I’m a postulant for the priesthood in the Episcopal Church in America (of the Anglican Communion) and I started graduate school to get my masters in theology (well, technically divinity, I don’t want to complicate the issue) three weeks ago.

One of the books I’m reading is James Cone’s God of the Oppressed.  I would like to share one of the things that struck me most:

Briefly, the form of black religious thought is expressed in the style of story and its content is liberation.  Black Theology, then, is the story of black people’s struggle for liberation in an extreme situation of oppression.  Consequently there is no sharp distinction between thought and practice, worship and theology, because black theological reflections about God occurred in the black struggle of freedom.

The difference in the form of black and white religious thought is, on one hand, sociological.  Since blacks were slaves…they did not have time for the art of philosophical and theological discourse…

Black people did not devise various philosophical arguments for God’s existence, because the God of black experience was not a metaphysical idea.  He was the God of history, the Liberator of the oppressed from bondage. [1]


1. James H. Cone, God of the Oppressed, New York: The Seabury Press, 1975 ,54-55.


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