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A Black Theology of Liberation Paperback – Deluxe Edition


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books; 40th Anniversary edition (October 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570758956
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570758959
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Twenty years ago, when the civil rights and "Black Power" movements were at their peak, James Cone introduced a revolutionary theology based on the African-American experience of oppression and the quest for liberation. The book brought a new perspective to theology in the United States. Cone contends that theology grows out of the experience of the community; the community itself defines what God means. Western European theology serves the oppressors; therefore theology for African-Americans should validate their struggle for liberation and justice. In seven brief chapters, he argues passionately that God must be on the side of oppressed black people and develops the concept of a black God, noting: "To say God is Creator means ... I am black because God is black!" The anniversary edition recognizes Cone's contribution to U.S. theology with a 50-page section of critical reflections by six leading theologians including Gayraud Wilmore, Robert McAfee Brown and Rosemary Radford Reuther. Cone responds to these commentaries in an afterword. The foreword points out Cone's influence on Latin American liberation theology. The interplay among text, commentaries, afterword and preface provides a lively discussion and analysis of developments in black liberation theology over the past two decades. The book should be read for the clarity with which it demonstrates the relationship between theology, oppression and liberation, and for its historic importance in raising the consciousness of its readers about the possibility of viewing God from a black perspective. Anyone concerned about U.S. social history, liberation theology and racism will find the book of interest. It is particularly suitable for university and seminary libraries. --Indepenedent Publishe

About the Author

James H. Cone is Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York City. His many books include Black Theology and Black Power, God of the Oppressed, The Spirituals and the Blues, and Martin & Malcolm & America.

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Customer Reviews

Jesus taught his followers to be in the World but not of the World.
Philip S Roeda
This is nothing more than a hate-mongering diatribe on why blacks should hate whites (and a poorly-written one at that).
Dad Of Four In Mississippi
While I do not hold to this view of theology, it did help me understand this viewpoint much better than before.
Joseph Valentine Dworak

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 43 people found the following review helpful By D. Kristof on December 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
Cone offers a radical reexamination of Christianity from the perspective of an oppressed Black community, dealing primarily with the notion that "white" theology cannot be accepted by African Americans, unless it can be directly related to "black" freedom from oppression. "Black" and "White" do not necessarily relate to skin pigmentation but to "one's attitude and action toward the liberation of the oppressed black people from white racism". Blackness is thus "an ontological symbol for all people who participate in the liberation of man from oppression". Seen in this light, "blackness" can be attributed to people who do not have black skin but who do work for the liberation of African Americans. By contrast, "whiteness" in Cone's thought symbolizes the ethnocentric activity of "madmen sick with their own self-concept" and thus blind to that which ails them and oppresses others. Whiteness, in Cone's view, symbolizes sickness and oppression, and White theology is therefore viewed as a theological extension of that sickness and oppression. Cone emphasizes that there is a very close relationship between black theology and what has been termed "black power". Cone says that black power is a phrase that represents both black freedom and black self-determination "wherein black people no longer view themselves as without human dignity but as men, human beings with the ability to carve out their own destiny." Cone's theology asks the question, "What does the Christian gospel have to say to powerless black men whose existence is threatened daily by the insidious tentacles of white power?" He says Black Theology is derived from "...common experience among black people in America that Black Theology elevates as the supreme test of truth".Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steven H. Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on May 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
James Hal Cone (born 1938) is the founder of Black Liberation Theology, a Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary, and author of books such as Black Theology and Black Power, God of the Oppressed, Black Theology: A Documentary History, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1970 book, "It is my contention that Christianity is essentially a religion of liberation... Any message that is not related to the liberation of the poor in the society is not Christ's message... Christian theology must become Black Theology, a theology that is unreservedly identified with the goals of the oppressed community and seeking to interpret the divine character of their struggle for liberation."

For Cone, the role of Black Theology is to tell black people to focus on their own self-determination as a community by preparing to do anything which the community believes to be necessary for its existence. (Pg. 41) Black Theology "rejects the tendency of classical Christianity to appeal to divine providence." (Pg. 44) Black Theology is only concerned with that tradition of Christianity "which is usable in the black liberation struggle." (Pg. 74)

He argues that the wrath of God is the love of God in regard to "the forces against his liberation of the oppressed." (Pg. 133) Moreover, Black Theology is suspicious of people who appeal to a universal, ideal humanity, because "the oppressors are ardent lovers of humanity." (Pg. 156)

Cone's book is more than 40 years old; but while some of its tone may seem to have been a "product of its time," other insights are still a piercing as they were in 1970.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By R. Borneman on October 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Is this a racist work or not?

While some have argued that Cone's symbolic (ontological) use of "blackness" and "whiteness" allows us to interpret his work as not an essentializing (phenotype-based) racist project (to use Omi and Winant's definition), I see not only his explicit reference to blackness as a "physiological trait" (footnote 5 on p. 204), his historical references to what have traditionally been figured African-American (phenotypes) in his pantheon of heros (p. 27), his historical references to what have been traditionally figured as phenotypically "white" list of American political oppressors (p. 56), his use of traditionally phenotypically based epithets "honkey" (p. 15) and "whitey" (p. 12), to essentializing propositions such as "minds incapable of black thinking" (p. 8) and his utter refusal/failure to cite any example of anyone who once was white but became black, but his discussion of color and colorlessness furthers the phenotypical (and thus essentializing) dichotomy with which his vision of division is rife.

Moving away from the symbolic binary of Black vs. White as Good vs. Evil he indicates that "Whites can not move beyond particular human beings to the universal human being because they have not experienced the reality of color." (emphasis his - p. 86) Whiteness resides in "the color of their skins... [and] there is little evidence that whites can deal with the reality of physical blackness as an appropriate form of human existence" (p. 14 - emphases mine). The essentializing is not limited to color alone (though that is one essential part) but goes to the core of humanity itself. When Cone asserts that "The biblical concept of image means that human beings are created in such a way that they cannot obey oppressive laws and still be human" (p.
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