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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reception of Black Theologies 1

Black Theology: A New Word, a Critical Project, and a Consolidation of Tradition

As I continue to work on the issue of whiteness in relation to theology, I am putting a few pieces of analysis on this site for response. Part 1.

In one sense, Black theology broke onto the scene as something new, an innovation in the late 1960s. Black theology offered a new word in the academy. Certainly, there were echoes and resonances of this new theology in other settings and with other names, such as the Latin American liberation theologies identified with Gustavo Gutierrez, the self-identified liberation theology of John Howard Yoder’s Politics of Jesus, and somewhat later, womanist theologies which sought to advance the insights of black theology and feminist theology with a more thoroughgoing liberationist method.

In a second sense, Black theology represented a critical project in theology. Having recognized the intransigence of so-called Christian institutions in confronting hierarchies of privilege and disadvantage grounded in race, Black theologians like James Cone began to put forth a Barthian “No” to the status quo of theological production.

Third, and perhaps most important, Black theologies consolidated in academic terms the preached, lived theological perspective of a community of people whose faith offered a vision of the world that bore witness to the divine denial of human systems of domination and divine faithfulness and love toward the oppressed and marginalized. These three impulses help to identify the black theology movement according to its purpose and emergence.

To be continued . . .

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