Talk:Black theology

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Womanist theology[edit]

It'd be nice to also include Womanist theology on this page since it pertains. 09:41, 5 Jun 2005

I agree. I it would also be good to include a seperate page on womanist theology generally. DaveTroy 9 Dec 2005

Black Theology vs Black theology[edit]

I question the redirect from Black Theology, as there is a distinction between "Black theology" (theology by people who happen to be blacvk) and "Black Theology" (a particular school of theology). SteveH 03:56, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

South African Black Theology[edit]

Is there a separate page for South African Black theology, and its link to Black Consciousness? Shouldn't there at least be a mention of it here, with a link to another page if necessary?

Because of this omission, I've marked this pagfe as a stub SteveH 03:56, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

James Cone[edit]

i heard on glenn beck quote "Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill all gods who do not belong to the black community. Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in black power which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love". anyone know if its true ??? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:25, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

I could find no reliable source to back it up. The sources previously provided were all from opinion pieces which referenced each other. You provide no source other than Glenn Beck and that's definitely not good enough for it to remain. Even if it is true, it looks to be another cherrypicked quote that hardly belongs in an encyclopedia article on black theology. - Maximusveritas (talk) 03:53, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

my sources are glennbeck, asian times and dallasnews. I am assuming that they are referencing the actual writings of james cohn, which of course is very relevant to black theology. Though I did not see in the article which book they specifically got the quote from. Now as for your cherry picking comment there are a few reasons I chose that quote. One is that a quote from one of the founders is a clear example of the theology, which helps illustrate what its about. The second thing is, I found that the article doesn’t demonstrate the hatred towards whites, so I found it misleading to just say its for oppressed people. All examples could be considered cherry picking, but an example can help bring a topic to life, help us better understand the topic, plus the quote adds a dynamic that’s not addressed in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:18, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

someone altered the message to

Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community, as well as the white community. Equality is implicit in the message. Neither superiority nor inferiority but living in harmony.

You know that’s beautiful and all but that’s not what james cohn wrote. I wish I knew the book but I don’t think all of the sources I listed could be wrong. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:10, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

ok i know the books now.

Black Theology and Black Power

A Black Theology of Liberation

this guy is the founder of the theology, i think its necessary to quote james cohn to understand the theology.

But what's the context of him saying it? Unless he said something like "Here's my definitive description of Black Theology" I don't see how it can be used. It looks like it was just a passage that these sources pulled out of context in order to make Cone and black theology look bad. - Maximusveritas (talk) 15:21, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Ken Blackwell, family research council. He is a former US ambassador at the UN. He says he has actually seen black liberation theology and argues that it is a different version of Christianity that tried to over throw and weaken the doctrine of the “white” Christian church. Since I didn’t read the book I myself can’t argue context but perhaps the opinion of a former US ambassador working at the UN might carry some weight. Sorry for always changing stuff before a discussion, but I find if I just post in the discussion no one answers me, they only answer when I change something. Also there were a lot of quotes that I put out, and they were paragraphs. The only thing missing in context is perhaps the black theology stems from oppression so we have to understand there radical view comes from the history. Nevertheless what he says is what he means, there are just a ton of quotes. Also as for your interpretation that it makes black theology look bad so we shouldn’t put it, well is odd. For example if I were to discuss Nazism, would I remove things that made it look bad ? also making something look bad is an interpretation but no one can argue that its unfair to quote the founder of the theology. The article doesn’t address what they think of whites, that’s censorship.

You can watch it in this clip, also they show one of the quotes, I know its on glenn beck and apparently conservatives are not reliable sources (I’ve had trouble on wikipedia when I reference fox lol) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:14, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

I found the quote, "Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community. . . . Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love." in African American Religious Thought: An Anthology By Cornel West, Eddie S. Glaude 2003 ISBN 0664224598 page 850. It's in Google Books: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:39, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

While the quote above is accurate, there is no context given to explain it. In A Black Theology of Liberation, James Cone first defines what he means when he uses the terms black and white. He is not speaking to the literal whiteness of a person or God, and saying that we must reject them for that reason. He redefines white and black in terms of good and bad, right and wrong. He is saying that one must commit themselves to being "black" (righteous) in order to truly live out the life of a Christian. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:09, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

James Cones Notes: "a rational study of the being of God in the world in light of the existential situation of an oppressed community, relating the forces of liberation to the essence of the gospel, which is Jesus Christ." James Cone strongly believed that we must first analyze the nature in which we speak of Jesus as it relates to the experience of oppressed Blacks. The oppressed communities used Jesus's take as a mean to find their own liberation. He saw the movement as a way to create the starting point for the Black experience to be heard. Cone says "it is this common experience among black people in America that Black Theology elevates as the supreme test of truth. To put it simply, Black Theology knows no authority more binding than the experience of oppression itself. This alone must be the ultimate authority in religious matters”(Cone, 1986). Cone defines theology as "a rational study of the being of God in the world in light of the existential situation of an oppressed community, relating the forces of liberation to the essence of the gospel, which is Jesus Christ"(Cone, 1986). Cone's theology asks the question, "What does the Christian gospel have to say to powerless black men whose existence is threatened daily by the insidious tentacles of white power?” (Cone 1986). It is important to note that not all Black Theologist felt this way, Marcus Garvey, made a point to speak on the belief that Jesus's color is of no relevance, it is the struggle that truly matters. “If the White man has the Idea of a white God let him worship his God as he desires. We have found a new ideal. Because God has No color, and yet it is HUMAN to see everything through ones own spectacles, and since the white people have seen their god thru their white spectacles, we have only now started to see our God thru our own Spectacles”

James H. Cone Black Theology and Black Power New York: Seabury Press, 1969 [1]

Luckky Lefty (talk) 17:20, 16 July 2013 (UTC)

Barack Obama section[edit]

This section does not belong in this article. The Barack Obama/Jeremiah Wright controversy belongs in Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008 and in Jeremiah Wright. johnpseudo 23:40, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

This section does belong in this section because Pastor Wright has made this a major point of national discourse by his recent statements associating himself with "Black Liberation Theology" and his taking on the role of spokesman for "The Black Church". In 2007 Dr. Wright was a guest on Fox News's "Hannity and Colms" where he specifically addressed his adherence to the writings and theology of both James Cone and Dwight Hopkins. On the night of April 26, 2008 that same show replayed that video clip, thus bringing Dr. Wrights theological background into the current argument, The argument is whether Dr. Wrights statements, and by inference the theology behind them, are intrinsically racist. There were, on that same cable show, statements played by a baptist minister saying that this theology is widespread but far from mainstream in black churches. therefore Dr. Wright, as a spokesman with a bully pulpit, does belong in this discussion, although I would not include senator Obama except as an historical aside. [[User: pamtcat Pamtncat (talk) 22:12, 30 April 2008 (UTC) pamtcat]] 18:05 EDT, 23 April, 2008

A Clear Understanding of Black Liberation Theology...This is Bigger than Dr. Jeremiah Wright or Senator Obama' ==[edit]

To me it seems that you guys are not thinking critically about this issue. By the way, the author's name is JAMES CONE and not JAMES COHN. He systematized Black "Liberation" Theology which has been implicit in the ethos and pathos of African American preaching and Christianity since slavery. Black Liberation Theology is heavily influenced by Gustavo Gutiérrez Merino's Latin Liberation Theology. Latin Liberation Theology challenged the Catholic Church to become more active in reducing poverty. It also challenged the Catholic Church to deal with the concerns of real people and issues in third world Latin America. Both theologies cast Jesus as a Savior who liberates the poor and oppressed. Jesus is a underdog"Savior" who identifies with the dispised and the dejected. Learning to understanding Liberation Theology in it's proper context, regardles of whether it is"Black," Hispanic, Womanist or Gay theology, will provide the reader with a better understanding of Liberation as a historical movement instead of just a passing phenomenon.

Liberation Theology is a champion of Social Justice and equality. In addition, it challenges systems, institutions and philosophies that promote any form of oppression or injustice.

For the Liberation Theologian, Crucifixion is a symbolic martyrism (a death as a result of speaking truth to power and defending the voiceless) and Ressurection is viewed as a form of Revolution (vendication of a fight against oppressive systems, personalities or cultures).

Liberation Theology also strongly critiques the Evangelical church for it's historic patterns of apathy and quiet complicitness with demonic(symbolic of oppression) influences, structures and systems of this world. Evangelical Theology (White Christian Theology) in the Liberation Theology perspective, is percieved as being TOO other-worldly and vertical. It is a theology of personal salvation that is not connected with social conscousness, justice and social-moral responsibility to the plight of those who live in the margins of society. As a result, to the Liberation Theologian, Evangelical Theology is percieved as anemic and irrelevant.


Therefore when James Cone suggests that "Blacks" should "KILL" God he is of course not speaking of an actual murder or abandoning his Christian FAITH. He is suggesting that African Americans should REJECT & DISMISS ANY THEOLOGICAL SYSTEM/RELIGIOUS UNDERSTANDING THAT INTERPRETS God as COMPLICIT IN A SYSTEM OF OPPRESSION or a hierachical arrangement in which someone has to be at the top and at the bottom.

(Black Theology rejects Evangelical Theology because of the following:)

In the subtext of Westernized Christainity, Christian Theology has adopted a White supremist model that has adopted to colonial culture. Jesus is always pictured as a "white" Italian with a British accent. This is the same Jesus that is prominently displayed in 1+ million dollar GOTHIC CATHEDRALS & STAIN GLASSED MURALS. The westernized Jesus is one who is PASSIVE, COMPLICIT, DETACHED, "UPPER-CLASS," accepted and unconcerned with confronting oppressive social systems. He is seen as a Jesus who is only interested in being loved, adored and worshipped.

In the Liberation Theological construct, Jesus is viewed as one WHO CAME FOR THE PURPOSE OF REWRITING WRONGS, bringing a humanity that is disconnected from God and itself back in harmony. However, in Black Liberation Theology harmony is not just worship, adoration and praise, but it is also social-justice. Without social justice, humanity suffers from the sin of disconnection, racism, sexism, and all the other isms which creates the foundations of hierachical social and cultural arrangments (some one or group at the top crushing the one or the group at the bottom)


Liberation Theology (Black, Womanist, Gay & etc) challenges believers to interpret God in a theological system that includes and NOT EXCLUDES them. For the African American God must be "BLACK" to identify with the unique struggles of African American people. So AGAIN for the BLACK LIBERATION THEOLOGIAN THE "WESTERN" GOD must be dethroned or "KILLED" because he does not identify with the heart, soul, authentic religious expression, cultural identity and struggles of African American people.

Rev. Andre Lamont Leaphart, MAED, M. Div. —Preceding unsigned comment added by EducateDaSoul (talkcontribs) 05:24, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

By the way, Please understand that James Cone's statement that GOD must be for us (Black) people and against White people, he was referring to a system called (White supremacy and social oppression). Cone uses White and oppressive systems interchangebly. Please understand that he was not referring to HATE FOR WHITE PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS OR AS A GROUP. He was ADVOCATING the overthrow of supremacy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by EducateDaSoul (talkcontribs) 05:37, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

This article[edit]

With all due respect, this article does little more than display the ignorance of its authors. To state that "Black theology" is a Christian Liberation theology is gravely simplistic and erroneous. I'll try to re-do this article in the near future. Ewenss (talk) 05:27, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

I added {{Totally-disputed}} to this article. If someone wishes to get a start on redoing this article, see The article, up to the section "Transcending Culture", does provide a very good overview of Black theology. Ewenss (talk) 22:01, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

It is sad that biased POV is preventing proper desciptions and understanding the obvious links and historical roots of Marxism, Liberation theology, and Black liberation theology. This is significant even without mentioning the current importance of Jeremiah Wright as mentor, Pastor, and friend to a large church congregation which includes Presidential Candidate Obama's family. The historical record should be clearly spelled out regarding these relationships. It would be best for all of us, for educational purposes if nothing else, to attempt NPOV and objectivity regarding these subjects. Dr. B. R. Lang (talk) 17:35, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Dr. Lang, I have read your reference and it is important to know that no scholar has a monopoly or the final thought when it comes to liberation theology. In my view, as well as the view James Cone, Dwight Hopkins and Cornell West. Liberation Theology enables "a people" to speak for themselves as subjects in history and not objects. The key phrase is that "it is important that groups speak for themselves."

Rev. Andre Lamont Leaphart, MAED, M. Div. —Preceding unsigned comment added by EducateDaSoul (talkcontribs) 20:24, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Dr. Lang, the link between Black Liberation theology and Latin American strains are minimal at best. The two grew out of separate situations. Black Liberation theology is, more than anything, a reaction to non-Christian black nationalism and historically was an attempt to co-opt elements of black pride in that movement and to construct a new missiology of black Christianity that would draw away converts of black Islam and make it less attractive to blacks who had been reared in culturally assimilationsist strains of Christianity. In short, it grew out of the long historic battle between Islam and Christianity...although saying so makes for a very poor conservative radio talking point, so we mostly hear misinformation about it. Ewenss (talk) 10:23, 26 April 2008 (UTC)

Unclear sentence[edit]

Hi, just passing through here. From the article: Differences in the church deal with the realms of the sacred and secular, public and private, and the focus of the afterlife. These two ideas are foreign to black culture... Which two of those five things are the two ideas that are foreign to black culture? This needs clarification. Cjoev (talk) 23:47, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

It's saying that the theology does not recognize the sacred/secular dichotomy that is, for example, part and parcel of Protestant dispensationalism. In this it shows its Calvinist roots in a way not shared by dispensationalists. Ewenss (talk) 10:09, 26 April 2008 (UTC)

Not sure whether this is noteworthy or not...[edit]

In his recent speech at the National Press Club, Jeremiah Wright spoke at some length about the black church and black theology. Among his comments (which you can see in full at the New York Times’ website) was the following:

In the late 1960s, when Dr. James Cone's powerful books burst onto the scene, the term "black liberation theology" began to be used. I do not in any way disagree with Dr. Cone, nor do I in any way diminish the inimitable and incomparable contributions that he has made and that he continues to make to the field of theology. Jim, incidentally, is a personal friend of mine.

I call our faith tradition, however, the prophetic tradition of the black church, because I take its origins back past Jim Cone, past the sermons and songs of Africans in bondage in the transatlantic slave trade. I take it back past the problem of Western ideology and notions of white supremacy.

I take and trace the theology of the black church back to the prophets in the Hebrew Bible and to its last prophet, in my tradition, the one we call Jesus of Nazareth.

Of course, Wright is just one minister (albeit one who has brought black theology to a wider audience, due to the current presidential campaign). I don't know how widespread his preferred terminology is, or whether it's sufficiently noteworthy to be included in this article. But I wanted to draw this notion to the attention to the editors of this article, so that if it is noteworthy it can be included.

Incidentally, what's up with the poorly formatted and disorganized list of quotations from Cone's book? Surely there's a better way to convey the central points of Cone's writing. As it is, it looks as if someone's taken some of the most inflammatory sentences out of Cone's book and placed them in this article without any regard to context (not unlike the way that Rev. Wright's sermons were used). —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 04:32, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

I checked the history, and they were all added en masse recently. I think that without context these quotations don't illuminate the reader, so I've removed them. (We should also remember that there are fair use concerns if an article contains too much quoted text.) —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 04:37, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

Wright is a local pastor more than anything and is not actually noteworthy in the field of Black theology. He has published nothing serious on it. His only contribution to the literature is a chapter in Living Stones in the Household of God, but he does not discuss the theology but only mentions it to show how its undergirding has been an impetus to the many social programs of his church, Trinity United Church of Christ. This is coming from someone (me!) who has read everything he has ever published. From his publication record, he is a minor specialist in practical ministry, not a serious theologian. Hence his chapter title in the book I just mentioned, "Doing Black Theology in the Black Church" (my emphasis). Ewenss (talk) 07:09, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

Wright is the most prominent minister of black theology and studied under a scholar who was a student of Cone. Cone cites Wright's church as the best example of the theology. It makes no sense other than "throw him under the bus" by excluding his contributions in this article. Wright may be unpopular in the mainstream press, but certainly has a large following as most of the African American press is largely supportive of him, his church and his message Bachcell (talk) 18:04, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Criticism section[edit]

While a properly sourced discussion of criticisms of black theology is entirely appropriate, I'm worried that the recently added criticism section is not sourced to sufficiently reliable sources, and that the critics mentioned aren't particularly noteworthy. In particular, the link to is inappropriate: Renew America is a highly partisan source affiliated with Alan Keyes. I'm not familiar with Robert A. Morley or Anthony Bradley, and neither has a Wikipedia page. Of course, that alone is no reason to exclude their views, but it would be useful to readers to understand who these critics are and where they're coming from. If Morley's views are truly noteworthy, they will have been published in a more reliable source. I'll leave the material up for now, but if a better source isn't found soon it should be deleted.

The Bradley article appears to represent a legitimate theological criticism, and I believe that the Christian Post is a reputable organ of conservative evangelical thought. But if anyone can find criticisms of black theology which antecede the current Jeremiah Wright controversy, and thus can't be seen as having election-year political undertones, that would be a big improvement.

Finally, I removed a completely unsourced paragraph [1] which seemed to me to be historically ignorant (suggesting that black theology had created a separation in the Church is silly, given that the historical separation of the white and black church in America rose out of racism and segregation, and antecedes James Cone's systematization by centuries). —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 19:44, 30 April 2008 (UTC)

Criticism from a partisan source IS criticism. You can't blacklist white christian viewpoints any more than radical leftist afrocentric viewpoints, which black theology is. The paper cited by Jon is widely quoted by many internet articles, which makes it even more relevant whether or not Cone or Wright agrees with them. Bachcell (talk) 18:02, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
It is criticism, but the question to be answered is whether it's noteworthy criticism. If white conservative Christians have expressed critical views of black liberation theology, it should be possible to find those criticisms in reliable sources. is not a reliable source. There are dozens of reliable organs of conservative Christian thought, which would be appropriate sources. Even among partisan sources, there are more noteworthy critics who have doubtless expressed their views on black liberation theology in the wake of the Wright controversy. It's not about what Cone or Wright think, it's about Wikipedia's reliable source policy. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 03:09, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Suggestion: Lock the page[edit]

Someone is posting material all over the internet supposedly quoting this page and saying that this religion advocates the murder of white people. Full text is below:

"This is Wikiepida's Definition on Black Liberation Theology

The goal of black theology is not for special treatment. Instead, "All Black theologians are asking for is for freedom and justice and death to white people by any means at the disposal of black people. No more, and no less. In asking for this, the Black theologians, turn to scripture as the sanction for their demand. The Psalmist writes for instance, 'If God is going to see righteousness established in the land, he himself must be particularly active as 'the helper of the fatherless' [6] to 'deliver the needy when he crieth; and the poor that hath no helper.'[7]"[8]"

I would recommend locking the page to prevent these preposterous claims from gaining any further traction. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:16, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

An anonymous vandal did add the text "and death to white people" to this page recently, but it was removed fairly swiftly. The page can be protected if there's a spate of vandalism. If people read this claim and have the sense to check the article, they'll see that the "death to white people" is not present. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 08:00, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Recent removal of material[edit]

Ewenss (talk · contribs) recently removed most of the description of James Cone's black theology from the article. I supported the removal of out-of-context quotations from Cone, but my layman's understanding is that Cone is an important figure in the systematization of black theology, and that his views should be represented in the article. In particular, I don't understand why material cited to Cone's books, an anthology of African American religious thought edited by Cornel West, and material apparently developed for an undergraduate course on "Religious Life in the United States" at Wake Forest University, should be described as "bogus" and "not a good source for black theology". To my layman's eye, these would appear to be adequate sources. I'm restoring the material pending further explanation. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 08:00, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Also appears to be consistent pattern of removing any reference to Rev Wright, his church, or any mention of the fact that the issue of BT appears to have dominated the national presidential race and debate as of April/May 2008. Wright and his church are the most visible and publicized example of this theology. Bachcell (talk) 18:00, 1 May 2008 (UTC)


Because it is cherry picked material done for political purposes and completely fails to contextualize anything. The people who added the current material have not added any material that comes from a scholarly understanding of Black theology and have sourced their additions to people who lack such as well. With one exception (retained in the current version), what has been added has come from journalists writing news articles and editorials in political sections (hint-hint), and from private websites of political partisans, neither who have training in theology, and very probably none who have seriously studied, lest ever heard of, "black theology" until a month or so ago.

Look, I can cherry pick material from any author on earth and make it imply what I want to meet my "story deadline", but scholarly exposition by, dare I say, experts, real experts who have spent a lifetime studying black theology, would lead to a completely different view and interpretation. It is egregious to weight Black theology with Cones's version of black liberation theology and ignore that that is just one non-majority version of black theology among blacks. Did you know that Cones's own brother, a black theology practitioner, published against his own brother's particular view? Did you know Cones's in his second book clarified and even backed away from some of his initial views, which are popularly quoted with such fervency?

To say that "Wright and his church are the most visible and publicized example of this theology" only bellies ignorance. Among people who have published on this subject, Wright is extremely minor, with relatively few publications in his lifetime. On specifically black theology, he has never written even one systematic work. His works are about practical ministry (how-to stuff). He boasts a few journal articles, one book review, and one chapter in the book, Living Stones in the Household of God,[2]. Among his small handful of named books, most out-of-print, they consist of transcripts of some of his early and completely non-controversial sermons; a biography of his father; a few books where he was the second author where practical ministry, not theology, was the main focus; and one he authored alone where, again, practical ministry was also the main focus, not systematic black theology.

The current version of the article is simply in egregious error, and is a terrible slam against blacks, and is a disservice to readers. I have accordingly stubbed the article. I hope others will build with me a consensus to keep the article that way until the page can be filled with a scholarly treatment of this subject (Hint: few sources cited will be available for free online, and check the extensive bibliography I've added to the article).

Ewenss (talk) 03:30, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

I'm honestly unsure whether the prior state of this article was bad enough to merit stubbing, and have asked for opinions at WP:RSN. My gut feeling is that although the sources weren't at the highest academic standard, they were sufficiently reliable that the article could remain as it was while we all work together to improve it.
As for the issue of Jeremiah Wright — although Wright may not be especially noteworthy in the academic field of black theology, it is his prominence in the news which has brought black theology to the attention of the general public. Although it may not be appropriate to present him as a significant figure in the field, I think it is certainly appropriate to mention the fact that black theology gained media attention in the wake of the Wright/Obama controversy. It's also appropriate to place Wright in context, using sources like these NPR stories, which although not scholarly do meet Wikipedia's standard for reliable sources. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 03:23, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
Incidentally, a professor of religious studies at the University of California at Riverside and expert in African-American religion here describes Wright as "the most visible adherent" of black liberation theology and "the most prominent, before all this controversy started." That would strongly argue against his exclusion from this article. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 04:48, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

A little patience, please!

Like this article had done, you're confusing "Black theology" with one strain of it, "Black liberation theology." Walton addressed specifically that strain of it. I've actually approached him to help rewrite this article.

And if you want further justification for my stubbing the article, you might read all of the interview with Walton and compare it with this article before I stubbed it, and ask, "Was the article accurate or even close to fair?"

Ewenss (talk) 05:08, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

I'd actually been wondering about "Black theology" vs. "Black liberation theology" — since Cone's seminal books are titled Black Theology and Black Power and A Black Theology of Liberation, I had assumed that the terms "Black theology" and "Black liberation theology" were interchangeable. Of course, I recognized that not all of the Black church follows this particular theological strand, but I assumed (perhaps wrongly) that the other major theological strands in the Black church were similar to those found in historically white churches, from dispensationalism to the new (and to my mind repellent) prosperity gospel, from an evangelical emphasis on individual salvation to a more liturgical emphasis in black Anglican and Catholic parishes.
The question I'd ask is whether the term "Black theology" is used to describe all the theologies held by people of African descent (in which case it wouldn't even be limited to Christian theologies), or a specific range of theological thought within the Black church (and African churches, and churches throughout the African diaspora), or if it's used to describe a specific theological school or doctrine within the Black church. If, as you suggest, "Black theology" is a wider term than "Black liberation theology", there should probably be a separate article on Black liberation theology, rather than having that term be a redirect to Black theology.
I'd say that the article as it was was incomplete, but not terribly unfair. There were of course major omissions: specifically, the context of how Christianity came to enslaved African-Americans, how they rejected the interpretations laid on the text by their white masters and found interpretations of their own, the specific context of the Black Power movement and the criticism of both white and black churches, the challenge of Islam and the development of black liberation theology beyond Cone. All these elements are important and should eventually be included in the article. But I guess I didn't see the need to remove all the content describing Cone's theology, which I thought could use adjustment rather than deletion.
It's mainly a question of editorial style. I find that outright deletion tends to upset contributors who've added material in good faith. If it's possible to work with pre-existing material, I usually prefer to do so — it's part of the collaborative ethos of Wikipedia. Of course, sometimes material is completely worthless and must be scrapped — but I don't think that was necessarily the case here. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 06:48, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
As you can tell by the length of the (incomplete) bibliography, this is one of those complex subjects, like medicine, where a little knowledge inevitably does more harm than good; hence, the {{expert}} tag I added and invitations I have extended. Ewenss (talk) 10:14, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Different Subjects: "Black Theology" vs. "Black Liberation Theology"[edit]

Black Liberation Theology should be a sub of Liberation Theology. Cone's thesis should remain as a sub under his name. There are as many variants of religious, social, and political demoniational devisions as there are individuals studying each subject. Grouping of various schools of thought and doctrinal divisions together is not helpful, but clearing describing the roots or origins of individual and specific subjects is.

Maintaining a NPOV seems to be difficult in regard to describing the ramifications of different schools of theological thought, and discussing volitile subjects like, 'how many angels dance on the head of a pin'. Since the term "Black Theology" being discussed here is primarily attributable to Cone it would prove more informative if seperated from "Black Liberation Theology" and "Liberation Theology", as well as maintaining it as a sub of James Hal Cone. Dr. B. R. Lang (talk) 19:31, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

It is erroneous, terribly erroneous, to lump Black Liberation Theology into Latin American Liberation Theology. Ewenss (talk) 00:04, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
At the moment, Black liberation theology redirects to Black theology. Also at the moment, the article Black theology provides no information about black liberation theology. I can see an argument for having separate articles on Black theology and Black liberation theology, but as has been pointed out above I'm far from an expert in the subject. For the time being, would it be better if Black liberation theology redirected to James Hal Cone? —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 06:54, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
Black Liberation Theology, according to Dr. Anthony Bradley [3], a fellow at the Acton Institute [4] and an associate professor at the Covenant Theological Seminary [5] in St. Louis, whose doctoral dissertation was on the intersection between Black Liberation Theology and the social commentary of Thomas Sowell, says that BLT was promulgated by James Hal Cone. Cone did not use Liberation Theology as the basis for his system. His brother Cecil, himself a theologian, initially criticized Cone's construct because it was based on European philosophy (James was classically trained). So Dr. James Cone pulled in thoughts from Denmark Vesey and others to address his brother's criticism. He also, according to Dr. Bradley, became enamored with Marxism as a prism through which to amplify the social justice emphasis of the theology. Further, Cornel West added to the canon of Black Liberation Theology with his books Prophesy Deliverance and an essay Black Theology and Marxist Thought. At this point Black Liberation Theology, even if involuntarily, morphed into Black Theology. What joins them, according to Dr. Bradley is an emphasis on Marxism.[6]
This part of my contribution is purely editorial, but how can dialectical materialism which forecloses on the existence of God reconcile with the divinity of Jesus that is fundamental to Christianity? The answer is, it can't and doesn't. Dr. Cone in a speech for a Harvard Divinity school series [7] in effect, removes the agency of God and therefore his divinity by suggesting that Jesus didn't want to go to the cross any more than black men lynched on a tree. He further said that neither had a choice. My understanding of Jesus is that aside from a brief stop at Gethsemane he "endured the cross, despising the shame." It is true that lynched black men probably had no choice, but that is the difficulty when Christianity is subordinated to another belief system while attempting to claim it still.Free onyx (talk) 20:31, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
Bradley's article must be viewed with skepticism because of 1) where he is coming from - Covenant Theological Seminary is an extremely conservative presbyterian institution; and 2) he is writing for a popular-audience in a popular magazine and not in a peer reviewed academic journal or academic press; and, 3) he immediately makes simple factual errors: "The notion of 'blackness' is not merely a reference to skin color, but rather is a symbol of oppression that can be applied to all persons of color who have a history of oppression (except whites, of course)" - he is correct here except that, even according to Cones, the "blackness" and "whiteness" metaphor he employed applied to all people and not skin color, and other writers later emphasized this because of misunderstandings about what it meant and to specifically argue that "being black" meant identifying with the oppressed and could of course be done by people with white skin; 4) his whole emphasis is myopic in that he extrapolates his snapshot of Black Theology from one book - Cone's 1970 book - and this is obviously a grave error; 5) his purpose in the piece is not scholarship but political commentary, so the piece must be viewed as political commentary and not a scholarly treatment of the subject. Also, Cone did not reject the particularism of Christ until later in his career, and his notion of this is not at all shared, and is even vigorously opposed, by other black theology practitioners (even Wright, for example, adheres to the particularism of Christ). Same goes for Cone's later selective use of Marxian thought as a tool of sociological analysis. All the more the reason to "beware the terrible simplifiers" and provide a nuanced and scholarly treatment of this subject from peer reviewed journals and academic presses rather than popular web sources and political commentary. Ewenss (talk) 20:45, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
Ewness, Dr. Bradley earned his Ph.D. from Westminster Theological Seminary. It is clear that you have not read Dr. Bradley's dissertation on this subject (which makes him an expert) and by definition, by the way, a Ph.D. dissertation is peer reviewed! Further, being "conservative" and Presbyterian does not invalidate one's research and trained, expert conclusion. Also, please WP:verify the source for your contention that Dr. Bradley made "simple factual errors." If you cannot support your contention with your own matching credentials or another credible source, then the whole of your contribution is irrelevant. Free onyx (talk) 22:42, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
Westminster Theological Seminary is the extreme of the extreme right wing and is associated with theocracy (replacing modern democratic governments with ones based upon the law of Moses, see Dominion Theology), Christian Reconstructionism, and people like Gary North ("In winning a nation to the gospel, the sword as well as the pen must be used"; "The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church’s public marks of the covenant - baptism and holy communion - must be denied citizenship.... The way to achieve this political goal is through successful mass evangelism followed by constitutional revision.") and R.J. Rushdoony. But either way his dissertation would obviously be legitimate material for inclusion in a balanced larger discussion, not this article you've pointed to, which is political commentary, except, of course, as political commentary. Bradley's view of Black theology would be considered an extreme minority fringe view and should be treated as such. CyberAnth (talk) 23:10, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
Again, I'm citing credible sources and have not seen credible sources that either invalidate what I've presented or that would support the various contentions about Dr. Bradley or his work, including the characterization that his view of Black theology would be "an extreme minority fringe view." I can more easily assert that Black Liberation theology is an extreme, minority, fringe view, in that it denies the divinity of Jesus!Free onyx (talk) 23:36, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
You've rested your own case. Feel free to look into some things in the extensive bibliography here, you might learn something. Ewenss (talk) 00:00, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
Were you to reference something, anything relevant from that extensive bibliography in this discussion, I'd be happy to "learn something!" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Free onyx (talkcontribs) 02:11, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

A great place to start is

  • Sernett, Milton C. African American Religious History: A Documentary Witness, Duke University Press (2nd ed), 1999, ISBN 0-8223-2449-0

Ewenss (talk) 05:30, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

And how is that relevant to or authoritative on this subject, does the book make a case different than that I've presented, do you have a quote? You may as well have given me King's papers at Boston University [8] (which predate BLT) or the Library of Congress as a reference. We are trying to clarify a muddled, confused topic. Thus far, the article provides no accurate guidance. This particular topic demands well researched, reasoned and documented treatment, not vague generalities.Free onyx (talk) 09:21, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

What is Black Liberation Theology[edit]

Here's the top Google results for BLT. Every single one refers to Cone/Wright version of the theology. According to Eweness, NONE of these hits is relevant to black theology, and any one who wants to research the controversy caused by Rev Wright's theology, which he identified as BLT, will find nothing in this article as some editor believes that only the point of view of an academic scholar of variations exclusing the Cone/Wright flavor should be included here.

News results for black liberation theology

WCSH-TV The Real Story Behind Rev. Wright's Controversial Black Liberation ... - 3 hours ago

In fact, the Vatican twice condemned the liberationists' acceptance of Marxism and violence, but just how does this relate to black liberation theology? ...

FOXNews - 396 related articles »

Black theology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThe modern American origins of contemporary black liberation theology can be traced to July 31, 1966, when an ad hoc group of 51 black pastors, ... - 46k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Asia Times Online :: Asian News, Business and Economy.Mar 18, 2008 ... In the black liberation theology taught by Wright, Cone and Hopkins ... In this respect black liberation theology is identical in content to ... - 40k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

A Black Theology of LiberationTo develop a theology that speaks to African-Americans, black liberation theologians such as James Cone begin with the person of Jesus, and specifically the ... - 14k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

A Closer Look at Black Liberation Theology : NPRMar 18, 2008 ... Black Liberation theology interprets the Bible and the gospels of Jesus through the struggle of African Americans against racism and ... - Similar pages - Note this

Black Liberation Theology, in its Founder's Words : NPRMar 31, 2008 ... The Rev. James H. Cone founded black liberation theology, which has roots in 1960s civil-rights activism. In an interview with Terry Gross, ... - Similar pages - Note this

American Thinker: The Real Agenda of Black Liberation TheologyMar 19, 2008 ... The sad truth is that neither the Reverend Wright nor black liberation theology is being misunderstood. Both, thanks to the candidacy of ... - 19k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Black Liberation Theology in North America: Black Power vs. White ...The primary architect of Black Liberation Theology in North America is James Cone. A Protestant minister who grew up in Arkansas under the heavy hand of ... - 26k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

What is Liberation Theology?However, Liberation Theology has moved from the poor peasants in South America to the poor blacks in America. We now have Black Liberation Theology being ... - 11k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Looking At Obama and Black Liberation Theology: WesternFront AmericaLooking At Obama and Black Liberation Theology: Barack Obama belongs to an unabashedly Black African-centered church. Its teachings focus on a «black value» ... - 138k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Crunchy Con - Rod Dreher, Conservative blog, Beliefnet ...James Cone, the pioneer of black liberation theology, is a much-admired .... I have not been aware of the "Black" Liberation Theology until it came up ... - 50k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bachcell (talkcontribs) 17:59, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Try reading a book. Ewenss (talk) 05:35, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Material restored, to be improved[edit]

Per the (one!) response I got at WP:RSN#When is it appropriate to stub an article?, I've restored the material Ewenss had removed. I hope that Ewenss will return and work with other editors to improve the material, and clarify the distinction between black theology and black liberation theology. But until then, I think it's better to have an article with a few flaws than one giving no information at all. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 02:54, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Alright, so its one to one—actually, more than that, you can also see an African American doctoral student in theology weigh against this article's material as fair and accurate. That wins, and you can find out who I am and know that I know somewhat I am talking about when I've said what I did above. Ewenss (talk) 05:32, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

What a terrible article[edit]

I come to Wikipedia to learn about Black liberation theology, and I get "List of Books About Black Theology," and a note on the talk page that I need to go read those books.

Come on, guys. Surely we can agree on a few non-controversial sentences that at least give people some idea what the hell Black liberation theology is (and how it differs from "Black theology")?? This article is worse than a stub - it doesn't even define its subject. Are we really deciding, after all this talk, that despite having about two hundred sources, we're incapable of writing a single sentence??! -- (talk) 15:31, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Feel free to read the sources in the bibliography and do that yourself rather than chide others for the matter. Ewenss (talk) 17:00, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
It seems to me, Ewenss, that you are repeatedly blanking sections of this article, essentially claiming ownership of it, and that you're the reason that no article exists on this subject. Just an observation. -- (talk) 17:46, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

From an email I sent to Frederick L. Ware, Ph.D.:

I read the article on "Black Theology". I regret that I do not have time to edit the article. However, I think the article provides a very good summary and directs the reader to a number of credible sources. Thanks for maintaining an internet site for quality information on black theology.

Ewenss (talk) 17:09, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Can relevant links be made to Religion and politics and Women as theological figures and the pages leading off from them. Jackiespeel (talk) 14:03, 9 June 2008 (UTC)


The African American experience of slavery formed the theology, yet the word 'slavery' has been absent in the main body of the article. Black theology existed in popular religion and in abolitionist thought long before Dr. Cone's articulation. The Hebrew experience of God is that of slavery, liberation and divine promises of land which is the black experience in the American Civil War and the Reconstruction. The black theology of Dr. Cone has roots not in the seminary, but in the popular religion of black folk. The historical kergyma of black preachers in this country has had the elements of Dr. Cone's conceptualization. Here is a bibliography I collected recently on the subject: Church of the Rain (talk) 22:18, 29 May 2015 (UTC)

Proposal to merge black liberation theology[edit]

There has been a lot of discussion above about liberation theology and black liberation theology, but there has not really been much discussion of the relationship between black theology and black liberation theology. Reading through both of the articles, it seems as though the main point of black liberation theology is the American regional variant and originator of black theology, with particular (appropriate) emphasis on James Cone. I therefore propose that these two articles be merged into black theology, with a new section for the American origins and development. Having these two articles separate is incredibly confusing to the average reader, especially as both articles use the terms interchangeably. Caorongjin (talk) 23:59, 8 September 2016 (UTC)

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Inline Challenges to Specific Items in On God and Jesus Christ[edit]

I challenged two specific statements in this section because I can't seem to find or recall statements to this effect in my study of Christianity. That's not to say it's not there. I just need someone to better clarify these statements.

More importantly, the entire paragraph seems to be lifted almost word for word from the cited work. The work itself is a non-referenced guidebook on various movements incorporating Christianity and is not the most rigorous. If this were a self-evident assertion ("the sky is blue"), it would be enough. But because it's not a mainstream teaching, at least not in my experience, I feel we need more evidence than what can be gleaned from Amazon's free preview of a chart book to keep these assertions in the article. -- Srwalden (talk) 06:46, 31 March 2018 (UTC)

  1. ^ James H. Cone Black Theology and Black Power New York: Seabury Press, 1969