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Is God A White Racist?: A Preamble to Black Theology Paperback – November 30, 1997
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One of the most important critical assessments of black theology, and one of the most widely regarded. —James Cone, author of Martin & Malcolm & America
"Black religious humanism has no more articulate exponent than William R. Jones. No liberation theology, black or white, can afford to ignore his searing critique of the idea of God's omnibenevolence, or the link he makes between natural evil and social oppression. For all that, he expounds not fatalism, but humanistic hope for us all." —John A. Buehrens, president, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
About the Author
William R. Jones (1933-2012) was a professor of religion and director of black studies at Florida State University. A well-known and respected African American theologian and scholar, he was the author of the groundbreaking book Is God A White Racist?, a deep and profound look at the connections between natural evil and social oppression.
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He wrote in the Introduction that it was Rabbi Richard Rubenstein's book After Auschwitz: Radical Theology and Contemporary Judaism that forced him to ask the question of the book's title. (Pg. xxii) He says that to speak of "divine racism" is to "raise questions about God's equal love and concern for all men"; it is to suggest that God may not be there for all men equally. (Pg. 7) He poses his disturbing question, after later noting that African-American misery, slavery, and oppression "all are POST-Resurrection events." (Pg. 119)
He argues that the Christian who wants to heal the sick must first confirm that the suffering at issue "is not deserved punishment." (Pg. 56) He thus criticizes the position of James Cone (e.g., A Black Theology of Liberation), because the classification of Afican-Americans as oppressed "clearly begs the question, and Cone's theodicy is invalid until this flaw is eliminated." (pg. 105)
He summarizes that the purpose and content of his book was an attempt to "make a place in the theological circle for a non-theistic model... the argument of this book explains why a humanistic model is necessary." (Pg. 171)
This is a challenging statement, and retains its vigor even today.
There is perhaps only one area where the book can be found lacking, and that is in its inconsideration of the faith-based possibility of divine involvement in human affairs on a spiritual or emotional level. While Jones picks apart anti-logical (a subset of illogical) arguments like a surgeon, he does not provide an "out" for the hard of heart by acknowledging that there are some realms of illogic that are not necessarily anti-logical and cannot be easily dismissed using conventional logic. This is a minor criticism, however, since the focus of the book is God's physical activity (or lack thereof) in this world. Jones' book is perhaps the most fascinating contemporary theological critique and treatise of the modern era.
In this work Jones looks at various major proponents of Black theology and seeks to show how each of their assumptions leave open the possibility of divine racism. Jones does have a proposal to get around the possibility of divine racism by seeking to replace the all-powerful God who is actively invovled in human events with a God that is not invovled and leaves humanity to work its own problems out. This position is what Jones has called Humanocentric Theism. God exists, but God ain't inovled.
Agree or disagree it is an important work that all of those interested in Black Liberation Theology should read.