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“Ethiopia Shall Stretch Forth Her Hands unto God”: The Problem of History in Black Theology

“Ethiopia Shall Stretch Forth Her Hands unto God”: The Problem of History in Black Theology

Chapter:
(p.66) 3 “Ethiopia Shall Stretch Forth Her Hands unto God”: The Problem of History in Black Theology
Source:
In a Shade of Blue
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226298269.003.0004

The black theological project was an extraordinary but flawed effort on the part of theologians such as James Cone to recast Christianity as essentially a religion of black liberation. This chapter addresses what it calls the “problem of History” informing much of the work of black liberation theologians, beginning with a brief sketch of three trends within black theology, with a particular focus on the work of Cone. It then examines ways in which the historical experiences of African Americans are used to ground some theological claims and the problems that arise from this use. More specifically, the book locates black theology in its historical moment as a response to the secular rants of black power, arguing that black theology has constituted a form of apologetics insofar as it has sought to justify its relevance to various forms of black militancy. The chapter also contends that its version of pragmatism offers the most appropriate way to answer the problematic invocations of history by some black theologians.

Keywords:   black theology, African Americans, problem of History, black militancy, black power, pragmatism, James Cone, black liberation, Christianity, religion

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