Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “ If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” This motivational line brought an uproar and spark in igniting the push towards the Civil Rights Movement from the 1930s-1970s. Him and advocators such as Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her public bus seat for a white person, demonstrated an act of courage and faith that the Black Church embodies to fight for their justice and stand their ground. This power arose to suppress the overbearing and controlling effects of white supremacy. A novel, Germania, was written in 98 AD explaining the origins of a “perfect” utopia filled with white germans that have the same morals and embodies the same identity. This nearly perfect vision shapes a corrupt American culture. White supremacy impacted the beauty and acceptance of everything including religion. Kelly Brown Douglas makes this point in her eye opening book, Stand Your Ground. She questions and finds black faith ironic because of its belief and promise of universal freedom after the brutality of oppression. However, the beliefs of the Black Church triggers and boosts the identity of Black Christians. This increases and helps the movement towards ending oppression.
A belief of Jennifer Harvey’s point of view In Dear White Christians, argues for a fundamental revision in how White Christians think about their effects of empowering themselves through White Supremacy. A reconciliation paradigm is a model that White Christians follow to seek a diverse community while disregarding the black identity. This cumulatively means that regardless of the cultural and beauty differences, Black People are now able to conform under our complete control. As the beliefs in the Black Church hopes to end oppression and form the Black Identity, Harvey formulates a solution for mending a split community and suggests that a reparation paradigm will require White Christians to acknowledge the problems and disputes committed due to White Supremacy to allow full acceptance of Black Culture. She believes this paradigm will shine the light and show how rawly violent and degrading the full “white” identity is. This model can be used to counterblow how a community sees racism as well as demonstrate the effects of modern oppression and segregation on society. Even though this novel questioned how ironic the Black Church was hoping in ultimate liberation after suffering, the reparation paradigm allows for an awakening and an improvement in moving forwards to end oppression.
On the contrary, James H. Cone has a different thesis that also supports how through faith, it increases Black Identity. From Black Identity, Black Liberation is shown through the relationship with Chrisitianity. God of the Oppressed provided a reason for believing in the Black Church by providing a sense of freedom and protection.
From being born there, he sought the differences between black church experience and the supremacy of white people. Black Church introduced him to black experience, expression of black people, and his aspiration of freedom. The Black Church believed in a God that would reassure people that they would be “home”, in other words, a heaven where the oppressed did not exist. The Black Church taught him about survival and grace. Cone also narrates that white people use their power, white supremacy, to manipulate black reality into their own interests. In contrary white people say that God created black to be the servants of whites therefore, if any black person was to retaliate, then they would be beaten. Blacks were discriminated socially as well as religiously under the christian faith, making christian teachings ironic. Theological discourse is universal and not constrained to one way of thinking. God is a sign of liberation or freedom and God’s words signify theological discourse. Theologists are teachers, preachers, and philosophers. They defend their faith, find the passion of the language of the faith, and interpret the perspectives of the faith.
Cone stated that the gospel or God’s words were all scripture ideas however not concrete words. This critical statement really opened my eyes to see a different perspective while reading anything. Cone is summarizing a complex way about how different people think entirely different when he or she is more biased to something or was raised and taught a certain way. I see scriptures as short stories about how God is trying to teach us how to be good people who sin minimally while other races such as blacks see these scriptures as reasons and proof that they are experiencing what only has been planned for them and at the end, they will be liberated. I really enjoyed reading this book and how it was able to make me see from a different perspective of how a race, specifically blacks, are able to symbolize their race as liberating and symbolic.
The idea of Black Theology was to redefine the meaning and role of church and religion in the lives of Black people. The theology of Blacks came to be because of racism, injustice, inhumanity, and inequality. Black Theology was created out of a liberal struggle for political freedom and of the development by the black religious experience. Throughout the development of Black Theology and the black church a sensitive topic has risen. Many feel that there is a large amount of sexuality throughout the black church. Four hundreds of years a major discussion raised among people has been the issue of sexuality as well as the black church, furthermore the combined idea of sexuality in the black church. Many theologians as well as philosophers have tried to grasp and place meaning to the connection that exist as well as the problem within sexuality in the black church. Blacks are known as sexual beings so obviously one would assume that there is an association of sexuality in the African church.
White Christian concepts taught to black persons that they are to be disregarded or ignored. The aspects of God’s person, his power and authority, as well as ‘subtle indications of God’s white maleness’ are said not to relate to the black experience, to the extent of sometimes being antagonistic. While trinitarian theology is a big concern, Jesus is still considered to be God. The focus is given to God’s actions and his delivering of the oppressed because of his righteousness. Immanence is stressed over transcendence, and as a result God is seen to be ‘in flux’ or ‘always changing’.Likewise, Cone based much of his liberationist theology on God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt in the Book of Exodus. He compared the United States to Egypt, predicting that oppressed people will soon be led to a promised land. For Cone, the theme of Yahweh’s concern was for ‘the lack of social, economic, and political justice for those who are poor and unwanted in society.’ Cone also says that the same God is working for the oppressed black people of the 20th century, and that ‘God is helping oppressed Blacks and has identified with them, God Himself is spoken of as ‘black.”Cone saw Christ from the aspect of oppression and liberation. Cone uses the Gospel of Luke to illustrate this point: ‘the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news preached to them’ (Luke 7:22). ”In Christ,’ Cone argues, ‘God enters human affairs and takes sides with the oppressed. Their suffering becomes his; their despair, divine despair.” Cone also argues that, ‘We cannot solve ethical questions of the twentieth century by looking at what Jesus did in the first. Our choices are not the same as his. Being Christians does not mean following ‘in his steps.”
Cone objected to the persistent portrayal of Jesus as white: It’s very important because you’ve got a lot of white images of Christ. In reality, Christ was not white, not European. That’s important to the psychic and to the spiritual consciousness of Black people who live in a ghetto and in a white society in which their lord and savior looks just like people who victimize them. God is whatever color God needs to be in order to let people know they’re not nobodies, they’re somebodies.
The power of faith and believing impacts a contemporary justice issue in the Black experience in present America. The Black Church like other churches, promises redemption and a free afterlife in return for following their duties as the time they serve God as humans. In the White Church, they see this a being sin free, not breaking the Ten Commandments, and spreading the teachings of God in hope to live an afterlife filled with bliss in heaven. However, the Black Church sees their oppression and enslavement as a recreation of the exact struggles and discrimination the Son of God, Jesus Christ, suffered through. With hope in liberation, the Black Church initially gave hope and a reason for Black people to still believe in God and also prove that their burdens will soon be lifted if they continue to take others violence. Believing in justice and taking a stand through Black Theology empowers both the Black Liberation Theology and Women Theology into many contemporary problems. Like in the book, God of the Oppressed, both Cone’s and Harvey’s ideas are similar in a way that white supremacy is predisposed and will affect anything including religion. Therefore, owning up to wrongdoings and viewing the effects of the full “white” identity would be a step into the true reapproach of absolution.