BLACK AND WHITE – tyrants or oppressed?

When thinking about “Crossing Cultures”, there is so often a cultural boundary based on colour rather than differences in culture.

Rev. Dr. James Cone, an American Black theologian who died in 2018, wrote:
“Any message that is not related to the liberation of the poor in a society is not Christ’s message. Any theology that is indifferent to the theme of liberation is not Christian theology.”

“Like white American theology, black thought on Christianity has been influenced by its social context. But unlike white theologians, who spoke to and for the culture of the ruling class, black people’s religious ideas were shaped by the cultural and political existence of the victims in North America. Unlike Europeans who immigrated to this land to escape from tyranny, Africans came in chains to serve a nation of tyrants. It was the slave experience that shaped our idea of this land. And this difference in social existence between Europeans and Africans must be recognized, if we are to understand correctly the contrast in the form and content of black and white theology.”

Those of us who are white Christians MUST take this seriously, however uncomfortable it may make us feel.

James Cone was a descendant of slaves brought from Africa to America, which is the perspective he is writing from. But perhaps his views should also challenge any colonial powers, which have generally been White in the past. HOWEVER, I wonder if many of the Christian leaders of the Churches in Africa (who are actually Black themselves) also need to take heed. Is there a danger that many African Church leaders are also becoming “tyrannical” and dominant, whilst forgetting the servant model of humble Christian leadership which is concerned primarily with the liberation of the poor and oppressed? It is a tragedy if the old White colonial domination is replaced in Africa by tyrannical, autocratic, self-seeking and corrupt Black leaders, both Christian and political.

I will repeat what I quoted from James Cone at the start: “Any message that is not related to the liberation of the poor in a society is not Christ’s message. Any theology that is indifferent to the theme of liberation is not Christian theology.”

 

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