James Cone

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A Black Theology of Liberation
By James H. Cone
“Christian theology is a theology of liberation. It is a rational study of the being of God in the world in light of existential situations of an oppressed community, relating the forces of liberation to the essence of the gospel, which is Jesus Christ.” (pp. 1) James H. Cone stresses the idea that theology is not universal, but tied to specific historical contexts. In A Black Theology of Liberation James, Cone explains what Black theology is and uses the Exodus story, found in the Old Testament and the life of Jesus Christ, New Testament, to give examples of the oppression and liberation. Cone believes both stories are vital and necessary in understanding God and God’s relationship with the black community. Cone must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples. Either God is identified with the oppressed to the point that their experience becomes God's experience, or God is a God of racism. The blackness of God means that God has made the oppressed condition God's own condition according to Cone. By choosing Israelite slaves as the people of God and by becoming the Oppressed One in Jesus Christ, the human race is made to understand that God is known where human beings experience humiliation and suffering. Liberation is not an afterthought, but the very essence of divine activity. (63-64) Cone's understanding of human freedom is connected to his thoughts about the nature of God. God's chosen people are the oppressed, and human freedom is being oppressed and fighting for the liberation of that oppressed community. Thus theonly way to be truly free is to try and do God's work of liberating one's oppressed community. This freedom cannot be bought, inherited or given, but it must be taken, by force, in the attempt to liberate the oppressed of the world, or God's chosen people. Cone defines freedom as doing all that you can to try and please God and...
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