Why James H. Cone’s Liberation Theology Matters More Than Ever


In 1975’s God of the Oppressed, theologian James H. Cone described how Christian responses to the 1967 Detroit riot revealed not only an insensitivity to black suffering but, as he argued, a larger theological bankruptcy on the part of white theologians.

As he saw it, many white theologians of that era were not genuinely concerned about all cases of violence. Worried about the threat of black revolutionaries, they did not see the structure of violence embedded in U.S. law and carried out by the police. Cone asked: “Why didn’t we hear from the so-called nonviolent Christians when black people were violently enslaved, violently lynched, and violently ghettoized in the name of freedom and democracy?”

Ferguson, Baltimore, and Cleveland have shown us that not much has changed since the summer of 1967.

While Cone proceeded to reimagine theology and American Christianity, many Christians ignored him or rejected his work. The national spotlight brought upon Cone’s black liberation theology in 2008 by the Jeremiah Wright-Obama controversy led to some sympathetic hearings but also sparked Christian accusations of “Marxist victimology.”

Conservative Christians have consistently ignored or rejected Cone—and liberation theologies—as heretical, unbiblical, reverse-racist class-warfare. A Christianity Today piece on Michael Brown suggests that Cone’s gospel is “for hatred, bitterness, [and] unforgiveness.” Even when he is not vehemently repudiated, I believe that Cone is largely misunderstood.

Read more at http://religiondispatches.org/why-james-h-cones-liberation-theology-matters-more-than-ever/


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