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Black Theology and Black Power

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Newly updated and expanded, this classic work is a product of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in America during the 1960's. Black Theology & Black Power is James H. Cone's initial attempt to identify liberation as the heart of the Christian gospel, and blackness as the primary mode of God's presence. As he explains in an introduction written for this edition, "I Newly updated and expanded, this classic work is a product of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in America during the 1960's. Black Theology & Black Power is James H. Cone's initial attempt to identify liberation as the heart of the Christian gospel, and blackness as the primary mode of God's presence. As he explains in an introduction written for this edition, "I wanted to speak on behalf of the voiceless black masses in the name of Jesus whose gospel I believed had been greatly distorted by the preaching and theology of white churches."


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Newly updated and expanded, this classic work is a product of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in America during the 1960's. Black Theology & Black Power is James H. Cone's initial attempt to identify liberation as the heart of the Christian gospel, and blackness as the primary mode of God's presence. As he explains in an introduction written for this edition, "I Newly updated and expanded, this classic work is a product of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in America during the 1960's. Black Theology & Black Power is James H. Cone's initial attempt to identify liberation as the heart of the Christian gospel, and blackness as the primary mode of God's presence. As he explains in an introduction written for this edition, "I wanted to speak on behalf of the voiceless black masses in the name of Jesus whose gospel I believed had been greatly distorted by the preaching and theology of white churches."

30 review for Black Theology and Black Power

  1. 4 out of 5

    Abby Shelton

    Honestly the most important theology I’ve ever read. Cone’s Black Theology + Black Power has redeemed Christianity for me. I can’t express how important this work is.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Danny

    This was a powerful book to read. Reading this as a white male American, it was incredibly convicting. There were no punches held back, and the challenge, for me, was to accept them graciously. Doing saw allowed me to see and hear the pain behind them… but even more importantly, the love that is buried in them, as well. The most striking aspect of the book is that a lot of the words and phrases are almost copy/paste of the messages of the black community and BLM, today, albeit a few word substitu This was a powerful book to read. Reading this as a white male American, it was incredibly convicting. There were no punches held back, and the challenge, for me, was to accept them graciously. Doing saw allowed me to see and hear the pain behind them… but even more importantly, the love that is buried in them, as well. The most striking aspect of the book is that a lot of the words and phrases are almost copy/paste of the messages of the black community and BLM, today, albeit a few word substitutions here and there. It goes to show that, for whatever progress America seems to believe it has made, the cries and the pleas have stayed the same. That, in itself, should be a wakeup call. That makes the most unique aspect of this work the connection to Theology, and the challenges to White American Theology, specifically. It unearths the terrible roots and reveals its flaws in the sense that it has settled into an oppressive culture rather than lead by God’s grace and the Spirits leading. This would be the “make-it-or-break-it” concept for readers. Either you choose to believe this and let it rock your faith in a good way (there’s hope for a more loving Theology!) or it will be denied and the old guard closely defended (oppression reigning). I’ll be blunt: Read this book if you find yourself to be somewhat mature and possibly open in even the slightest way to your ideas and way of life being wrong. Otherwise, continue to pray and seek the Lord and His love for all of His creation.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Pete

    There will be a lot to unpack from this one!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    When conjuring up an image of God, most of us will default to a white-bearded Charlton Heston à la Creation of Adam. How, then, does a person of colour process the claim that he or she is made in the image of God? Add centuries of slavery and unrestrained racism to the mix, and it becomes obvious why there might be some problem with asking the black community to accept a white theology. A euro-centric gospel is a poorly-fitted garment which is ill-suited to the need. I don't know how relevant the When conjuring up an image of God, most of us will default to a white-bearded Charlton Heston à la Creation of Adam. How, then, does a person of colour process the claim that he or she is made in the image of God? Add centuries of slavery and unrestrained racism to the mix, and it becomes obvious why there might be some problem with asking the black community to accept a white theology. A euro-centric gospel is a poorly-fitted garment which is ill-suited to the need. I don't know how relevant the message of this particular work remains today. Cone's writing is very much a product of its time, and the intentionally provocative language which peppers the text reflects an age where the immediacy of such struggles required more forceful dialogue. As an historical study or an intellectual exercise, though, it's a rewarding insight into the mind of cultural conflict. It also speaks to theology as a journey. In this regard, perhaps the best part of Cone's work is his 1989 introduction to the originial text. In addition to softening his stance in some regards, he also apologizes unreservedly for the sexist language he employed. The irony in oppressing women through language while railing against oppressors of any stripe isn't lost on him, and I have great admiration for Cone using it as an illustration of how theology is not--nor will it ever be--a static event.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Luke Hillier

    This is Cone's first book, and it is striking to see how consistent he remained throughout his career –– unfortunately, in part because his message continued to need said. While I found God of the Oppressed to carry more theological complexity and The Cross and the Lynching Tree to engage more deeply with historical analysis, this has its own raw power that makes it such a commanding and demanding read. From the outset, Cone dismisses the white Christian preference for polite neutrality and inst This is Cone's first book, and it is striking to see how consistent he remained throughout his career –– unfortunately, in part because his message continued to need said. While I found God of the Oppressed to carry more theological complexity and The Cross and the Lynching Tree to engage more deeply with historical analysis, this has its own raw power that makes it such a commanding and demanding read. From the outset, Cone dismisses the white Christian preference for polite neutrality and instead owns his anger, which simmers throughout the pages here. He pulls no punches, and directs a fair amount of ire not only to the white liberal but also to what he understands to be an iteration of the Black church that has been co-opted and watered down from its initial revolutionary purposes. I especially appreciated his deft analysis of African American Christianity's inclinations towards eschatology. He leaves room for nuance in naming that this sometimes functions (akin to Moltmann's theology of hope) as a future promise that imbues one with present dignity and courage, and other times as a solely spiritualitized means of fatalism regarding this life where one feels there is no option but to look to the one yet to come for their rewards. The chapter on The Gospel of Jesus is especially excellent, in which Cone points to the messiah as the ultimate model of solidarity with the oppressed, which then informs his model for the 3 purposes of the church: service, preaching, and fellowship, all of which must center and enact God's message of liberation. There is a consistent rebuke of abstract theology done by mostly white male theologians, although he does draw quite favorably from Tillich, Moltamann, and Barth at times. This in itself points to an implicit tension to the work that I think an overly sensitive reading is likely to miss. For example, at times Cone reads as a strict Black separatist ("At most, whites can only leave blacks alone") but then the final page of the book reveals that he does believe it's possible for white people to become Black in their spirit, and alternatively for Black people to be white. This is coupled with a sometimes frustrating lack of clarity as to what precisely he envisions Christ to be calling Christians to. He goes so far as to suggest that revolutionary violence may be a necessity, but we know from Cone's own biography that he never became an insurrectionist, suggesting he believed there were other avenues that are less explicitly stated. Lastly, the critique from womanists about his gendered language is incredibly notable here (I think just about every generic figure is referred to as "man"), and I really wish Cone was around now at the height of intersectional consideration to see how that may have influenced his writing. This critiques aside, this is a rousing, powerhouse book that sparks with an urgent shout that continues to echo for us today; certainly a great, concise starting point with Cone and worth reading for any Christian willing to take seriously what it is asking of them.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alex Bean

    A year after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Professor James Cone (30 years old at the time) puts pen to paper his thoughts, frustrations, and theology that even as I read it today could have certainly been written this year after George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s deaths. Many many insights and truths written here, he definitely does not hold back his anger and frustration, but to the best of his young selfs ability presents an objective systematic theology worth looking into, whether y A year after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Professor James Cone (30 years old at the time) puts pen to paper his thoughts, frustrations, and theology that even as I read it today could have certainly been written this year after George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s deaths. Many many insights and truths written here, he definitely does not hold back his anger and frustration, but to the best of his young selfs ability presents an objective systematic theology worth looking into, whether you are black or white or any individual person for that matter. Highly recommend!

  7. 5 out of 5

    LearningMum

    “The problem of values is not that white people need to instill values in the ghetto; but white society itself needs values so that it will no longer need a ghetto.” ~ James H. Cone

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris Theule-VanDam

    Sometimes you read a book and it reorients how you have been thinking... "God's word of reconciliation means that we can only be justified by becoming black. Reconciliation makes us all black." Sometimes you read a book and it reorients how you have been thinking... "God's word of reconciliation means that we can only be justified by becoming black. Reconciliation makes us all black."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Angélique (Angel)

    This was one of the most spiritually invigorating and and mentally stimulating books I have read to date. By combining abstract theological and philosophical principles with practical considerations of justice and the experience of oppression, Cone created a theological charge for real justice that I found extremely compelling and relevant. His blunt yet thoughtful approach lifted some of the misplaced guilt I have felt about my own conclusions about white Christianity and racism and deepened my This was one of the most spiritually invigorating and and mentally stimulating books I have read to date. By combining abstract theological and philosophical principles with practical considerations of justice and the experience of oppression, Cone created a theological charge for real justice that I found extremely compelling and relevant. His blunt yet thoughtful approach lifted some of the misplaced guilt I have felt about my own conclusions about white Christianity and racism and deepened my sense of a Christian calling to active anti-racism as well as other forms of justice work. I also greatly appreciated his willingness to acknowledge in the 1989 edition preface that he had received some deserved criticism after the initial publication in 1969 (from womanist scholars, for example) and had been striving to avoid the same pitfalls in his later works. I am looking forward to reading more of his writing in the near future.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Freddie

    I'm on the last chapter, but so far the book is solid in its justification for a black theology that is totally dependent on the ideas and experiences of black people. It rallies around the concept of self-determination-the very essence of Black Power. He speaks plainly on the failures of white American Christianity to reconcile the humanity of black people and the failures of the black church to take seriously its self-sacrificial role in the lives of black people. [The black church being escha I'm on the last chapter, but so far the book is solid in its justification for a black theology that is totally dependent on the ideas and experiences of black people. It rallies around the concept of self-determination-the very essence of Black Power. He speaks plainly on the failures of white American Christianity to reconcile the humanity of black people and the failures of the black church to take seriously its self-sacrificial role in the lives of black people. [The black church being eschatologically preoccupied is a failure in faith, not a strength. Maybe that's an overstatement, but that's what I got. ;) ] This book is for every black person who is sick to death of the black church in its current state. It is also for other cultures, economic classes, and variously oppressed groups that desire there be teeth in the message of Jesus.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    This was assigned reading for Chaplain-professor Dennis Haas' Christian Scriptures class at Grinnell College. Cone, we were informed, was teaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York. His presence and the fact that the much-respected Haas had gone there himself contributed to my decision to attend a conference there and then to apply for admission as a psychology major in their M.Div program. Although I never took one of his courses, theology not being my major, I did hear him lecture in o This was assigned reading for Chaplain-professor Dennis Haas' Christian Scriptures class at Grinnell College. Cone, we were informed, was teaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York. His presence and the fact that the much-respected Haas had gone there himself contributed to my decision to attend a conference there and then to apply for admission as a psychology major in their M.Div program. Although I never took one of his courses, theology not being my major, I did hear him lecture in one of Walter Wink's bible classes and speak at various symposia. UTS had under 400 students, so one got to know all the faculty, Cone being distinguished in any gathering by his enormous afro.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eddie Kahler

    I love that Cone's writing is painfully clear. It is so rare to read theologians that are precise, articulate, and to the point. This book, although written at another time, is still helpful and telling for our time today. I love that Cone's writing is painfully clear. It is so rare to read theologians that are precise, articulate, and to the point. This book, although written at another time, is still helpful and telling for our time today.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Beverlee

    One trait I believe that makes a book great is the writer’s ability to challenge a reader’s established beliefs. Black Theology & Black Power is that book for me. I grew up Baptist in the South and like many others a huge part of life revolves around church attendance and the church family. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with a group of believers gathering to worship. It makes sense to ask what do they believe and this is one of the ideas that Cone tries to make crystal clear in this text One trait I believe that makes a book great is the writer’s ability to challenge a reader’s established beliefs. Black Theology & Black Power is that book for me. I grew up Baptist in the South and like many others a huge part of life revolves around church attendance and the church family. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with a group of believers gathering to worship. It makes sense to ask what do they believe and this is one of the ideas that Cone tries to make crystal clear in this text. To be clear, theology is defined as the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially the study of God and God’s relation to the world. Black Power’s meaning is “the complete emancipation of black people from white oppression by whatever means black people deem necessary (selective buying, boycotting, marching, rebellion when needed). Black Power means black freedom, black self-determination, wherein black people no longer view themselves as without human dignity but as men, human beings with the ability to carve out their own destiny” (6). This sounds very much like living a life rooted in love and self respect, traits that are emphasized in Christianity. Nowhere is it expressed that any group of people should be hated or treated as inferior. As for rebellion, Cone explains it as an affirmation of humanity, a declaration of being in a society that insists you don’t matter. There are so many topics that are discussed in a relatively short book. Published originally in 1969, it reads very much like this era (marked by frustration). What I believe to be the heart of this book is the definition of what the Church is compared to what it should be. Cone speaks of the segregation of black & white churches and the message and the beliefs. Is it one & the same or completely different? According to Cone, the Church (the following quote is from the chapter on the White Church & Black Power) sets the tone for how society treats Black people by its silence on issues that affect us “like other segments of this society, the Church emphasizes obedience to the law of the land without asking whether the law is racist in character or without even questioning the everyday deadly violence which laws and law enforcers inflict on blacks in the ghetto. It was the Church which placed God’s approval on slavery and today places his blessings on the racist structure of American society” (75). As for the Black Church, Cone begins by acknowledging its birth in slavery and its role as a point of origin for revolution (formation of the AME Church, role in Underground Railroad, hidden & not so hidden messages in spirituals). Post Civil War is a turning point from the Church being a voice for freedom to “perversions of the gospel of Christ and places for accommodating the oppressed plight of black people” (106). In other words, the Church operated by not challenging the status quo (racism). It’s Cone’s opinion that the rise of MLK specifically signaled a return of the Church to being a place of liberation. How does reconciliation fit into this? Cone doesn’t equate dark skin with being black, rather it “depends on the color of your heart, soul, and mind” (151). In closing Cone asks the reader if they identify with oppressed blacks or white oppressors. “Let us hope that there are enough to answer this question correctly so that America will not be compelled to acknowledge a common humanity only by seeing that blood is always one color” (152). My thoughts- I wrote earlier that this book challenged my thinking, mainly in that what’s taught in church is usually word for word from the Bible. That in itself isn’t bad or wrong. What I need to learn more about is why...specifically how scriptures can be used to justify slavery and yet people still believe unquestionably in God. This book is one that was difficult to read at some points because theology is not an area I’m familiar with and the many references to European theologians lost me at some points. But it’s a worthwhile read, one that will hopefully lead to greater understanding of this world and the space I occupy.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Simon Robinson

    i came by this work through Nadya Tolokonnikova's 'Read and Riot'. i was impressed by this courageous and deeply intelligent, well-read revolutionary. I wanted to know WHY certain Christian theologians had inspired her so, and HOW they'd fueled her zeal. In short, it's a theological and political hand-grenade. It reads like a sucession of firebrand proclamation. Earthy, contemporary, erudite and loquacious, Cone is an exception scholar of both white european theologians, his own peers, popular c i came by this work through Nadya Tolokonnikova's 'Read and Riot'. i was impressed by this courageous and deeply intelligent, well-read revolutionary. I wanted to know WHY certain Christian theologians had inspired her so, and HOW they'd fueled her zeal. In short, it's a theological and political hand-grenade. It reads like a sucession of firebrand proclamation. Earthy, contemporary, erudite and loquacious, Cone is an exception scholar of both white european theologians, his own peers, popular culture and the zeitgeist. He adeptly grabs hold of Luther, Bonhoeffer, Moltmann, and Malcom X to make his point. While taking the best from the white euro and american crowd, he nonetheless takes them to task, along with the much-venerated Billy Graham [just, wow. Cone is the gun!] He also strips away the lie that Lincoln wanted to free the slaves, by using direct quotes that historians have white-washed from popular parlance! At a time when whites were dismissing african-americans as second rate human beings, what we have here is an exceptional theological and political tract that is as releveant today both in the US and here in our Aussie context. He also presents an insightful and withering critique of church and culture. For this white bloke, it unvelieved a deeper understanding of the black power movement worldwide; why riots and protests erupt nationwide, worldwide, over local race-based violence; and Black Lives Matter. I thought i'd put my red-neck past behind me years ago, but this work unveiled a deeper level of collusion with entrenched white power and privelege that needs to go. I am also firmly convicted of the witness of Jesus to nonviolence as the only way forward for humanity. Cone has thrown down a challenge for me, from the point of view of the slave, the oppressed, the captive. Overall, Cone's prophetic proclamation drives us to action. here are a couple of quotes [In the preface to this edition, he acknowleges and apologises for his misogynist language]: 'Occasionally, a church body passes a harmless resolution. Imagine, men dying of hunger, children maimed by rat bites, women dying of despair - and the Church passes a resolution. Perhaps it is impossible to prevent riots, but one can fight against the conditions that cause them.' 'But the Church has shown many times that it loves life and is not prepared to die for others. It has not really gone where the action is with a willingness to die for the neighbor, but has remained aloof from the sufferings of men. it is a chaplaincy of sick middle-class egos. It stands (or sits) condemned by its very whiteness.' 'Like the fundamentalists who stressed the verbal inspiration of the Scripture, this view suggests that ethical questions dealing with violence can be solved by asking, 'What would Jesus do?' We canot solve the ethical questions of the twentieth century by looking at what Jesus did in the first. Our choices are not the same as his. Being Christian does not simply mean following 'in his steps'...His steps are not ours; and thus we are placed in an existential situation in which we are forced to decide without knowing what Jesus would do. The Christian does not ask what Jesus would do, asi if Jesus were confined to the first century. He asks: "What is he doing? Where is he at work?" And even though these are the right questions, they cannot be answered once and for all. Each situation has its own problematice circumstances that force the believer to think through each act of obedience without an absolute ethical guide from Jesus. To look for such a guide is to deny the freedom of the Christain man. His ony point of reference is the freedom granted in Christ to be all for the neighbor.'

  15. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    I found this book to be extremely meaningful and helpful in understanding the black/white race dynamic in America and how theology factors into the experience of living in the United States as a black person. This book is certainly still relevant, especially in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, and I think it has a lot of powerful things to say. The message of the book requires a lot of the reader as it should. Cone uses white and black to discuss a lot of difficult realities and conc I found this book to be extremely meaningful and helpful in understanding the black/white race dynamic in America and how theology factors into the experience of living in the United States as a black person. This book is certainly still relevant, especially in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, and I think it has a lot of powerful things to say. The message of the book requires a lot of the reader as it should. Cone uses white and black to discuss a lot of difficult realities and concepts. At the most fundamental level, white is white supremacy, which exists systematically regardless of whether I, as a white person, am nice to blacks because I still have the advantage of being white in a system that grants privilege to whites. And black is black suffering, which exists regardless of how many white relationships they've fostered because blacks still live with the disadvantage of being black in a system that stigmatizes blackness. Theologically though, Cone uses the white/black dynamic to encapsulate a larger picture that goes beyond you and me and white or black individuals. Blacks become the people of God as the oppressed and the dispossessed who have taken up the cross, and Whites become the anti-Christ as the oppressors who dominate and subject God's children for their own gain (Native Americans, Blacks, other minorities, and all colonized groups which have been colonized for economic gain). While this does not mean that I, as one white female am the anti-Christ, it does mean that I need to be reconciled to those who suffer instead of simply existing, however nicely, in a system built on oppressing certain groups of people. It means that I can't be Christian and simultaneously espouse the ideology of supremacy and oppression and even complacency that has plagued White people, who are unaware of their privilege but are still terrified of losing it. It means that I can't expect black people to be more or act more "white" so that I am more comfortable, no, I have to let black people be black and love the beauty of their blackness. With this rough sketch of white and black dynamics in this book, know that when sitting down to read this book, you will have to check your pride, holier-than-thou, blameless attitudes and assumptions at the door and realize that this is about so much more than you. Don't get offended, be sympathetic. Don't get complacent, be spurred on to change. Don't feel attacked, feel admiration for the frank honesty that Cone is bringing to the table. Don't take the "higher ground" whatever you think that is, be real and imagine yourself in the place of a black individual--you'll find that you have no room to advise, criticize, or require anything of any black person who has systematically suffered under white oppression, regardless of whether you yourself have "done anything wrong" because many of us have done nothing to make it right. Don't mumble about letting bygones be bygones, especially since the suffering still continues and racism is not dead. And don't absolve yourself and avoid these difficult conversations for any reason. At the end of the day, "we all know that a racist structure will reject and threaten a black man in white skin as quickly as a black man in black skin. It accepts and rewards whites in black skins nearly as well as whites in white skins. Therefore, being reconciled to God does not mean that one's skin is physically black. It essentially depends on the color of your heart, soul, and mind. . . . The real questions are: Where is your identity? Where is your being? Does it lie with the oppressed blacks or with the white oppressors? Let us hope that there are enough to answer this question correctly so that America will not be compelled to acknowledge a common humanity only be seeing that blood is always one color." (151-152).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    This isn't a book that concerns itself much with what whites think about it, so in a very literal sense my thoughts as a white guy are pretty inconsequential. That said, if you are a Christian, and especially if you are a white Christian, you should read Black Theology. Like most American students, the primary civil rights leader I was introduced to growing up was Martin Luther King Jr. White church leaders and school history curricula prefer to fixate on his policy of nonviolence, while glazing This isn't a book that concerns itself much with what whites think about it, so in a very literal sense my thoughts as a white guy are pretty inconsequential. That said, if you are a Christian, and especially if you are a white Christian, you should read Black Theology. Like most American students, the primary civil rights leader I was introduced to growing up was Martin Luther King Jr. White church leaders and school history curricula prefer to fixate on his policy of nonviolence, while glazing over the fact that he also coined the phrase, "A riot is the language of the unheard." King embraced nonviolence as a tactic of protest, but he notably stopped short of condemning Black revolutionaries. In Black Theology, Cone further defends revolutionary violence, pointing out that there is a pre-existing condition of violence implicit in American systemic racism. He locates a theological justification for Black Power in the Gospel, arguing that Christ, himself a Black man, stood for the liberation of all oppressed people. For Cone, there is no contradiction between Christ's teachings of love and forgiveness, and the ongoing struggle of Black people in America to break the chains of racist oppression by any means necessary. As Christians, we all must ask ourselves, how can we claim to love Black people while we allow systemic racism to persist? This question sadly remains more important than ever today. (Note that Cone expresses solidarity with Muslim and secular Black Power advocates, and takes care to explain that Christian faith is in no way a prerequisite to being anti-racist; his aim, as a preacher, is rather to argue that all Christians should fight for Black Power.)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Malik

    Black Theology & Black Power, by James Cone, offers a fresh look at Christian theology as revolutionary and liberatory. Cone sees white Christianity, and it's hegemonic tendencies in America as anti-Black and anti-human. This necessarily means that a theology for and by Black people is required. Black theology, the religious wing of the political Black Power, is connected in order to provide a totalizing approach for Black people in America to understand their situation, and in God-like fashion, Black Theology & Black Power, by James Cone, offers a fresh look at Christian theology as revolutionary and liberatory. Cone sees white Christianity, and it's hegemonic tendencies in America as anti-Black and anti-human. This necessarily means that a theology for and by Black people is required. Black theology, the religious wing of the political Black Power, is connected in order to provide a totalizing approach for Black people in America to understand their situation, and in God-like fashion, acting upon their realizations. Cone uses scripture, anecdote and other theologians to argue that typical Christianity, created and used by white oppressors (eventually adopted by Black ministers as well) does nothing revolutionary for Black people. It instead causes a sense of complacency, turning the other cheek, rather than speaking to the material needs of Black people in this lifetime in this world. Rather than give time and energy to white theologians' discussions of the abstract afterlife, Cone argues that a meaningful Black theology is of this world, and shows "what the changeless gospel means in each new situation." "Black theology, a theology whose sole purpose is to apply the freeing power of the gospel to black people under white oppression."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    The level of hatred exposed in this book is not surprising because I have heard similar statements made by Black muslims and other Black Supremecists. But this man was a Christian theology professor at a seminary. His definition of Christianity and the Gosoel and salvation have been twisted to define all of the above as "Black Power". He blames White people for all the problems of American society and likens them to the devil. He advocates violence as an answer to "reconciliation" and mocks Jesu The level of hatred exposed in this book is not surprising because I have heard similar statements made by Black muslims and other Black Supremecists. But this man was a Christian theology professor at a seminary. His definition of Christianity and the Gosoel and salvation have been twisted to define all of the above as "Black Power". He blames White people for all the problems of American society and likens them to the devil. He advocates violence as an answer to "reconciliation" and mocks Jesus' admonition to "turn the other cheek". He gives credence to those who mock the Savior by quoting them: "Hell, Jesus couldn't even help his own self. He fooled around and got himself nailed to the cross." Changing the means of salvation from what the Bible presents, he states that salvation is only offered to Whites when "they must enter by means of their black brothers, who are a manifestation of God's presence on earth." His inclusion of at least two fictional descriptions of Black people resorting to murdering Whites as an understandable reaction to racism was beyond irresponsible. Avoid this racist nonsense and trust Christ alone for your salvation.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Julia Alberino

    I read this for a class, and I have to say that it may not be the best book to introduce a reader to the important work of James Cone. The exclusionary language (masculine pronouns throughout; no woman mentioned, etc) is something Cone himself apologized for in the preface to the 1989 edition and overcame in subsequent books. That said, once the female reader gets past that distraction, the book resonates. In the 51 years since the book first appeared, some progress has been made, but many of th I read this for a class, and I have to say that it may not be the best book to introduce a reader to the important work of James Cone. The exclusionary language (masculine pronouns throughout; no woman mentioned, etc) is something Cone himself apologized for in the preface to the 1989 edition and overcame in subsequent books. That said, once the female reader gets past that distraction, the book resonates. In the 51 years since the book first appeared, some progress has been made, but many of the issues are the same today as they were back then. It's at times hard to read, but worthwhile, and those of us who lived through the history recounted can stand a reminder both of how far we've come and how much is still left to do.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Blake Stewart

    For my church-going friends, I highly recommend reading this revolutionary book that has given me the gift of a new way of thinking. Cone is brilliant and has created a Christian perspective that is rooted in actual biblical principles. Written over fifty years ago, this book is timeless and has insights and lessons that ring true in today's society: a society in which black people are still treated as second class. Ultimately, the questions Cone poses fifty years ago remain true today: Where is For my church-going friends, I highly recommend reading this revolutionary book that has given me the gift of a new way of thinking. Cone is brilliant and has created a Christian perspective that is rooted in actual biblical principles. Written over fifty years ago, this book is timeless and has insights and lessons that ring true in today's society: a society in which black people are still treated as second class. Ultimately, the questions Cone poses fifty years ago remain true today: Where is your identity? Where is your being? Does it lie with the oppressed blacks or with the white oppressors? Unfortunately, from my perspective, white America continues to answer Cones' question incorrectly.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    I wanted to very much to like this book, but I found it a slog. This shouldn't detract from the good things that were said by Cone in the book. He made a great case for seeing black liberation as a modern embodiment of the work of Christ. He also did well to criticize white attempts to move slowly and methodically toward equality, as a refusal to be aligned with the Christian call--to allow partial oppression in the name of "progress" is to disallow personhood and the Divine Image. Cone should b I wanted to very much to like this book, but I found it a slog. This shouldn't detract from the good things that were said by Cone in the book. He made a great case for seeing black liberation as a modern embodiment of the work of Christ. He also did well to criticize white attempts to move slowly and methodically toward equality, as a refusal to be aligned with the Christian call--to allow partial oppression in the name of "progress" is to disallow personhood and the Divine Image. Cone should be read, but my advice is to read him quickly, as this book felt tedious to me, and I lost interest whenever I say it down.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dawson Cole

    “Ironically, and this is what white society also fails to understand, the man who enslaves another enslaves himself. Unrestricted freedom is a form of slavery. To be "free" to do what I will in relation to another is to be in bondage to the law of least resistance. This is the bondage of racism. Racism is that bondage in which whites are free to beat, rape, or kill blacks. Whites are thus enslaved to their own egos. Therefore, when blacks assert their freedom in self- determination, whites too a “Ironically, and this is what white society also fails to understand, the man who enslaves another enslaves himself. Unrestricted freedom is a form of slavery. To be "free" to do what I will in relation to another is to be in bondage to the law of least resistance. This is the bondage of racism. Racism is that bondage in which whites are free to beat, rape, or kill blacks. Whites are thus enslaved to their own egos. Therefore, when blacks assert their freedom in self- determination, whites too are liberated. They must now confront the black man as a person” (41). An amazing man! An amazing read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ike Unger

    I enjoy reading Cone. I can't imagine having read this book back when it was first released. This book will make many angry, and I think it should. It was difficult to really understand "Black Theology" and how it views reconciliation. The author himself seems unable to define what it looks like. Yes there is anger, yes the damage done seems irreparable, but isn't that the nature of Christ? I wish Cone had clarified better how Black Theology can help me understand what I need to do to be reconci I enjoy reading Cone. I can't imagine having read this book back when it was first released. This book will make many angry, and I think it should. It was difficult to really understand "Black Theology" and how it views reconciliation. The author himself seems unable to define what it looks like. Yes there is anger, yes the damage done seems irreparable, but isn't that the nature of Christ? I wish Cone had clarified better how Black Theology can help me understand what I need to do to be reconciled to blacks and how I can be part of the healing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    Preview to the Beginning Many comment on the subject and author of this book. The preview and the revised addition preview shed much light on this inspired work. I think reading this so long after the first release makes the genius within even greater. Reading the entirety of this book should and shall give one moments of pause and appreciation of the magnitude within this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Caleb

    James Cone's book was a product of its time, 1968, but also speak volumes about our present moment. Written with heartfelt emotion and thoughtful analysis, this book challenges the American church to consider its Black brothers and sisters and how the gospel is enriched by the lens of Black suffering and Black power. James Cone's book was a product of its time, 1968, but also speak volumes about our present moment. Written with heartfelt emotion and thoughtful analysis, this book challenges the American church to consider its Black brothers and sisters and how the gospel is enriched by the lens of Black suffering and Black power.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Summer Sattora

    If you call yourself Christian you need to read this book. Cone could have written these words today, which should tell you something right there. A fantastic book that has pushed me to keep protesting, to keep speaking out, to ask myself what it means to be a white Christian in our society.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mariko Sandico-Lee

    This was my first introduction to Liberation Theology, and a good one. The instances Cone highlights from the 60's are nearly parallel to the political and racial climate occurring in the church regarding Black lives today. This was my first introduction to Liberation Theology, and a good one. The instances Cone highlights from the 60's are nearly parallel to the political and racial climate occurring in the church regarding Black lives today.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Scott

    One of the most powerful & affirming books of the black experience I’ve ever read. A must-read for every Christian who cares about justice.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Glenda Stuckey

    A good read, highly recommended!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dingaan

    a very powerful book-well written, ideas well argued!

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