Black Liberation Theology

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Black Liberation Theology can be defined as the relationship that blacks have with god in their struggle to end oppression. It sees god as a god of history and the liberator of the oppressed from bondage. Black Liberation theology views God and Christianity as a gospel relevant to blacks who struggle daily under the oppression of whites. Because of slavery, blacks concept of God was totally different from the masters who enslaved them. White Christians saw god as more of a spiritual savior, the reflection of God for blacks came in the struggle for freedom by blacks. Although the term black liberation theology is a fairly new, becoming popular in the early 1960’s with Black Theology and Black Power, a book written by James H. Cone, its ideas are pretty old, which can be clearly seen in spirituals sang by Africans during the time of slavery nearly 400 years ago.# It was through these hymns that black liberation spawned. Although Cone is given credit for “the discovery of black liberation theology,” it’s beliefs can quite clearly be seen in the efforts of men like preacher Nat Turner and his rebellion of slavery in mid 1800’s or Marcus Garvey, one of the first men to “see god through black spectacles” in the early 1900’s. More recently black theology emerged as a formal discipline. Beginning with the "black power" movement in 1966, black clergy in many major denominations began to reassess the relationship of the Christian church to the black community. Black caucuses developed in the Catholic, Presbyterian, and Episcopal churches. "The central thrust of these new groups was to redefine the meaning and role of the church and religion in the lives of black people. Out of this reexamination has come what some have called Black Theology.# Although closely related and often confused with black power, the two differ in concepts. While black power focuses on the political, social, and economic condition of black people, Black Theology sees black identity from a theological context. Much of black liberation theology’s foundation comes from God's deliverance of Israel from oppression under the Egyptians. According to James Cone, “the consistent theme in Israelite prophecy is Yahweh's concern for "the lack of social, economic, and political justice for those who are poor and unwanted in the society."# The dominate view of Black Liberation theologists is “God in action, delivering the oppressed because of His righteousness. He is to be seen, not in the transcendent way of Greek philosophy, but immanent, among His people." God is "immanent”” because he is present in many historical moments that focus on liberation of the poor. Its derives it beliefs from the fact that in the bible, God often enters human affairs and takes the side of the oppressed, that god is heavily worshipped where human beings experience humiliation and suffering. Because of these beliefs, blacks adopted a gospel relevant to the uplifting of blacks and ending black struggle under white oppression.# Black theology places both our past and present actions toward black liberation in a theological context, eliminating all false Gods and creating value structures according to the God of black freedom.

Black theology can be traced back to when slavery times. During this time Christianity became the blacks man’s purpose of life, the principle around which lives were structured. For blacks during slave times, church served as school, social club, political arena, and conservatory of music. Of course when Africans arrived to the New World they did not know Christianity. Although these slaves came from various tribes along the west coast of Africa, their religion populated by several powers, including the forces of nature and a legion of magical spirits, most tribes believed in a Supreme Being who was viewed as a creator, giver of rain, and sunshine, the all-seeing one, the one who exists by himself. Moreover traditional African religion made no distinction...
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