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30 review for For My People: Black Theology and the Black Church

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    When one thinks about Christianity, too often the thought process has been dominated by a white Euro-American perspective that either minimizes or eliminates the voices of people of color, particularly Black Christians. But at the same time Black Americans like Stokely Carmichael and Malcom X were raising the cry of "Black Power", especially in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther Jr., Black Christians had to grapple with the history of a Christianity dominated by whiteness and in favor of the status q When one thinks about Christianity, too often the thought process has been dominated by a white Euro-American perspective that either minimizes or eliminates the voices of people of color, particularly Black Christians. But at the same time Black Americans like Stokely Carmichael and Malcom X were raising the cry of "Black Power", especially in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther Jr., Black Christians had to grapple with the history of a Christianity dominated by whiteness and in favor of the status quo that kept whites in power. Perhaps no voice was more prophetic during this period than James H. Cone as one of the first to bridge the gap between Black Power and Black Christianity. This book, written 15 years after Dr. Cone and other Black theologians introduced the concept of Black Theology, looks back on the development of the field, its strengths, its weaknesses, and how to move forward. And while this book is very dated (it refers to Rev. Jesse Jacksons run for the presidency as though it were not over yet), this is an invaluable book for understanding the basic concepts of Black Theology and its early development. There are three things that I greatly admired about this book: First, Dr. Cone's determination to develop a Black Theology not bound by the white Euro-Americanness of before; Second, Dr. Cone's unwavering commitment that a Black Theology be rooted in the liberation of the black poor, but also supportive of other oppressed groups' striving for liberation; Third, Dr. Cone's willingness to examine the field's and his own shortcomings, particularly when it comes to Black Theology's overlooking of Black women's issues. All of these make for a great read that should help enrich one's understanding of just how far-reaching and empowering Jesus Christ's and the global church's mission can be. The only drawback of this book is just how dated it is. This was published in 1984 and, as mentioned above, referred to Rev. Jesse Jackson's run for the presidency in the present tense. Thus, there is about 26 years separating this book from the present and I am sure that there are new developments even Dr. Cone could not have predicted. Thus, while this book is good for understanding Black Theology's early history and development, there may be more recent books that do the same thing and take into account recent developments in the field. As America continue's its racial reckoning in 2020, the American cannot be exempt from this examination. Reading books on Black Theology by Dr. Cone and other Black theologians not only can help us to better understand the moment we are in, but expand our faith beyond the esoteric debates of good vs. evil and soul-winning that white Euro-American theologians have boxed the faith into for too long.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steve Watson

    In 1984, Cone wrote this history of the first 18 years of the modern movement of Black theology: to theologize from within the black experience rather than be confined to duplicating the theology of Europe or white North America." (5) This is a very helpful background of the birth of liberation theology among African-Americans, a movement parallel to while also distinctive from the birth of liberation theology in Latin America. "The black clergy, in its response to black power, was suggesting fo In 1984, Cone wrote this history of the first 18 years of the modern movement of Black theology: to theologize from within the black experience rather than be confined to duplicating the theology of Europe or white North America." (5) This is a very helpful background of the birth of liberation theology among African-Americans, a movement parallel to while also distinctive from the birth of liberation theology in Latin America. "The black clergy, in its response to black power, was suggesting fo rate first time that white Christianity and the theology that justified it were bankrupt." (11) "Just as Luther spoke of 'the Babylonian captivity of the church,' attacking the doctrine of seven sacraments, we saw a similar analogy with the white church, enslaved, as it was, by its own racism." (40) Cone's summation of liberation theology: "The good news is God, the Holy One of Israel, has entered the human situation in Jesus and has transformed it through his cross and resurrection. The poor no longer have to remain in poverty. They are now free to fight for their freedom, because God is fighting with them. In the U.S.A. this claim meant that God was on the side of oppressed blacks in their struggle for freedom and against whites who victimized them. For black clergy radicals, the best way to describe that insight was to say that 'Jesus is black.'" (67) Vincent Harding, quoted on p.92 "Shall we continue to be reactors to the thrusts of white racism, producing eloquent protest documents by the tone and alienated black (persons) by the hundreds? Or shall we create programs and organizations and institutions which capture the initiative for our people and provide alternatives to alienation, romanticism, cooptation, and despair?" "To be sure, the concern for justice is the starting point of Christian obedience. No one can be a follower of Jesus Christ without a political commitment that expresses one's solidarity with victims. But the struggle for justice in this world is not the ultimate goal of faith. The hope engendered by faith is grounded in an eschatological affirmation that reaches beyond this world.... The eschatological theme of the 'home over yonder' is not an opium but a stimulant. It is the good news of the gospel, assuring us that our ultimate future is in the hands of the One who made us all." (187-188) "Black Christians refuse to allow oppressors to define who we are." (207)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melinda Mitchell

    Cone wrote this in 1984 and it's still valid today, especially chapters 1-3 that lay out an understanding of Black Theology as attacking White Theology and as Liberation Theology. He writes extensively about the civil rights movements of the 60's, police violence, MLK and Malcolm X, and sadly, not much has changed, but Cone's understanding and theological reflection is still sound and poignant. He writes of Black feminism as it was beginning, but misses a lot of even secular leaders of the time. Cone wrote this in 1984 and it's still valid today, especially chapters 1-3 that lay out an understanding of Black Theology as attacking White Theology and as Liberation Theology. He writes extensively about the civil rights movements of the 60's, police violence, MLK and Malcolm X, and sadly, not much has changed, but Cone's understanding and theological reflection is still sound and poignant. He writes of Black feminism as it was beginning, but misses a lot of even secular leaders of the time. I imagine he'd write much more extensively on Black Womanist theology today. It's still an excellent, accessible read with extensive notes for further reading.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Yolanda Butler

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alicia (PrettyBrownEyeReader)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marcia Taft

  8. 4 out of 5

    Wyatt Houtz

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maika

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Mabry

  12. 5 out of 5

    Virgil Walker

  13. 5 out of 5

    Redemption

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Brown

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

  16. 5 out of 5

    Leah

  17. 5 out of 5

    Travis Rogers

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

  20. 4 out of 5

    Diana Hayes

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mpole Masemola

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chris McNary

  23. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Gay

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eugene

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Morrison

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Gray

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dave Young

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dave Palmer

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shawna Garcia

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Stegall

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