Cone, James A Black Theology Of Liberation

In A Black Theology of Liberation, James H. Cone wrote of Jesus Christ as a symbol of opposition to oppression. He argues that black theology is the only legitimate theology because it emerges out of oppressed people and it applies to everyone, the oppressed and the oppressors. Jean Genet wrote the following: "One evening an actor asked me to write a play for an all Black cast. But what is a Black? First of all what's his color?" Cone would answer this question by stating that someone who is Black does not have a specific color. Cone uses the term "black" as a symbol for all whom are oppressed. In other words, regardless of the color of one's skin, an individual who is defined by someone else is oppressed and therefore black. Christian theology is never just a rational study of the being of God. Rather it is a study of God s liberating activity in the world, God s activity on behalf of the oppressed. A Black Theology of Liberation and the Gospel of Luke both contain the theme of liberating the oppressed.

Cone stated that "Black Theology is not the hope that promises a reward in heaven in order to ease the pain of injustice on earth. Rather it is hope which focuses in order to make men refuse to tolerate present inequalities. To see the future of God, as revealed in his resurrection in Christ, is to see also the contradiction of any earthly injustice with existence in Christ." The purpose of Black theology is not only to find eternal salvation, but also to create heaven on earth. In order to create heaven on earth, the oppressed must be liberated. The blackness of God means that the essence of the nature of God is to be found in the concept of liberation. Cone's main focus is on the concept of liberating the oppressed through the love of God. This is one similarity between Cone's definition of Black theology and Luke's meaning of salvation. Cone defined heaven on earth as a world with social justice and equality among people. Luke wrote that social justice is also equality among all, in addition we should love our enemies and treat others as we wish to be treated. In other words, both Luke and Cone sought a world where people helped each other, not a place where oppression and evil overruled human beings. Luke said that all who are low will be exalted in the kingdom of God. For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted. His focus in the gospel was on loving others and liberating those who are less fortunate in order to gain eternal salvation. Our time on earth is spent in preparation and anticipation of being welcomed into heaven. In order to be welcomed into heaven, Luke suggests that we must live according to Christ's teachings. Through being satisfied with what we have in life, and living in accordance with God's will, we shall seek salvation in heaven.

Luke wrote of human beings duty to God and our obligation to follow the teachings of Christ. In comparison to Cone whom stated that we need to individually figure out the path that God wants us to take, Luke's view was more reserved and direct. Cone stated that "We must make decisions about where God is at work so we can join him in his fight against evil. But there is no perfect guide for discerning God's movement in the world.... [T]he Bible is not a blueprint on this matter. It is a valuable symbol for pointing to God's revelation in Christ, but it is not self-interpreting. We are thus placed in an existential situation of freedom in which the burden is on us to make the decision without a guaranteed ethical guide. This is the risk of faith." In this quote Cone is stating that we must follow God in His fight against evil, but this has to be done in accordance with our personal definition of what we believe God wants us to do. The Bible directly tells us to follow the teachings of God, but Cone believes that we must have a driving force within us in order to have the truest form of faith in God. We need to make personal sacrifices. God had to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to open the gates of heaven to all and this was the sacrifice of his only son, Jesus Christ. Luke writes that those who pursue things for the sake of good will be rewarded. By finding our personal path to be followed in accordance with God s will and by working towards liberating those who are oppressed is the goal Cone and Luke exemplify for humanity.

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