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Black-Liberation-Theology

"To suggest that [Jesus] was speaking of a 'spiritual' liberation fails to take seriously Jesus’ thoroughly Hebrew view of human nature."    - James H. Cone ; A Black Theology of Liberation


"It is my contention that Christianity is essentially a religion of liberation. The function of theology is that of analyzing the meaning of that liberation for the oppressed so they can know that their struggle for political, social, and economic justice is consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. 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."    - James H. Cone ; A Black Theology of Liberation - Fortieth Anniversary Edition


"Anyone who claims to be fighting against the problem of oppression and does not analyze the exploitive role of capitalism is either naive or an agent of the enemies of freedom."      - James H. Cone ; A Black Theology of Liberation


“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.”    - Frederick Douglass ; If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress, 1857


"...there are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good-will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self-defeating effects of physical violence."

   - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ; 18 December 1963; Western Michigan University


"Christian theology is never just a rational study of the being of God. Rather it is a study of God’s liberating activity in the world, God’s activity in behalf of the oppressed."    - James H. Cone ; A Black Theology of Liberation


"What has the gospel to do with the oppressed of the land and their struggle for liberation? Any theologian who fails to place that question at the center of his or her work has ignored the essence of the gospel."    - James H. Cone ; God of the Oppressed


"I had crossed de line of which I had so long been dreaming. I was free; but dere was no one to welcome me to de land of freedom, I was a stranger in a strange land, and my home after all was down in de old cabin quarter, wid de ole folks, and my brudders and sisters. But to dis solemn resolution I came; I was free, and dey should be free also; I would make a home for dem in de North, and de Lord helping me, I would bring dem all dere. Oh, how I prayed den, lying all alone on de cold, damp ground; 'Oh, dear Lord,' I said, 'I haint got no friend but you. Come to my help, Lord, for I'm in trouble!'"    - Harriet Tubman ; Harriet, The Moses of Her People (1886)


"As we gather at tables, grieving the state of our nation, may we gain spiritual strength for the journey ahead, drawing on the deepest wells of wisdom from those on whose shoulders we stand and the various faith traditions that have fueled their freedom march and continue to energize ours. In the spirit of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Dr. King, may the pioneers of the civil rights movement collaborate with the young leaders in Ferguson, New York City and other cities, and may they impart their knowledge and understanding of nonviolent resistance that is not passive, but is spiritually active with an abiding faith that the universe is on the side of justice, and that, in the end, love will triumph over evil. May this spiritual strength, fueled by prophetic fire and love, reveal to us our neighbors’ humanity, our own complicity in their suffering and liberate us once and for all from the history that continues to enslave us."    - Peter Heltzel and Cornel West ; A Thanksgiving Prayer


"Liberation theologies including Christian feminists, charge that the experience out of which Christian theology has emerged is not universal experience but the experience of the dominant culture . . . liberationists therefore, propose that theology must emerge out of particular experiences of the oppressed people of God."    - Jacquelyn Grant ; White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus


"The cross has been transformed into a harmless, non-offensive ornament that Christians wear around their necks. Rather than reminding us of the 'cost of discipleship,' it has become a form of 'cheap grace,' an easy way to salvation that doesn’t force us to confront the power of Christ’s message and mission."    - James H. Cone ; The Cross and the Lynching Tree


"We must recognize the intersecting realities of all of these, that [misogyny, heterosexism, and homophobia] are all a part of a social political narrative of power. That is they are all a part of the white, patriarchal, imperialistic, capitalistic power. Misogyny, heterosexism, and homophobia are secreted by that narrative, and they feed the agenda of white, male hegemony.  In as much as non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual persons can be effectively marginalized, can be set against one another, and in as much as marginalized communities marginalize and oppress one another, well then. The white, male agenda of oppressive power has been served."    - Rev Dr. Kelly Brown Douglass ; Eradicating the Misogyny, Heterosexism, and Homophobia in Black Communities


"Any interpretation of the gospel in any historical period that fails to see Jesus as the Liberator of the oppressed is heretical. Any view of the gospel that fails to understand the Church as that community whose work and consciousness are defined by the community of the oppressed is not Christian and is thus heretical."    - James H. Cone ; God of the Oppressed


"Christian theology is language about the liberating character of God's presence in Jesus Christ as he calls his people into being for freedom in the world."    - James H. Cone ; God of the Oppressed


"The cross is a paradoxical religious symbol because it inverts the world’s value system with the news that hope comes by way of defeat, that suffering and death do not have the last word, that the last shall be first and the first last."    - James H. Cone ; The Cross and the Lynching Tree


"There can be no Christian theology that is not identified unreservedly with those who are humiliated and abused."    - James H. Cone ; A Black Theology of Liberation


"I offer my reflections because I believe that the cross placed alongside the lynching tree can help us to see Jesus in America in a new light, and thereby empower people who claim to follow him to take a stand against white supremacy and every kind of injustice."    - James H. Cone ; The Cross and the Lynching Tree


"God encounters us in the human condition as the liberator of the poor and the weak, empowering them to fight for freedom because they were made for it."    - James H. Cone ; A Black Theology of Liberation


"If the God of Jesus’ cross is found among the least, the crucified people of the world, then God is also found among those lynched in American history."
   - James H. Cone ; The Cross and the Lynching Tree


"The resurrection-event means that God’s liberating work is not only for the house of Israel but for all who are enslaved by principalities and powers."    - James H. Cone ; A Black Theology of Liberation


"The rise of Old Testament prophecy is due primarily to the lack of justice within that community. The prophets of Israel are prophets of social justice, reminding the people that Yahweh is the author of justice. It is important to note in this connection that the righteousness of God is not an abstract quality in the being of God, as with Greek philosophy. It is rather God’s active involvement in history, making right what human beings have made wrong."    - James H. Cone ; A Black Theology of Liberation


"When profits are more important than persons, disastrous results follow for the poor of all colors. It does not matter whether blacks or whites do it. This madness must be opposed."    - James H. Cone ; A Black Theology of Liberation


"I am convinced that no one should claim to be doing Christian theology today without making the liberation of the Third World from the exploitation of the First World and the Second World a central aspect of its purpose. There is an interconnectedness of all humanity that makes the freedom of one people dependent upon the liberation of all. No one can be free until all are set free. Martin Luther King, Jr., expressed this point persuasively: 'We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. What affects one directly, affects all indirectly. As long as there is poverty in this world, [no one] can be totally healthy…. Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.'"    - James H. Cone ; A Black Theology of Liberation


"The dominated classes need to transform their suffering, not submit to it. Submission to suffering is a form of annihilation, but transformation of suffering rekindles a faith that gives life."    - James H. Cone ; A Black Theology of Liberation


"The Nicene Fathers showed little interest in the christological significance of Jesus' deeds for the humiliated, because most of the discussion took place in the social context of the Church's position as the favored religion of the Roman State."      - James H. Cone ; God of the Oppressed.


"Our American Christians are too busy saving the souls of white Christians from burning in hellfire to save the lives of black ones from present burning in fires kindled by white Christians."    - Ida B. Wells ; Crusade for Justice


"The nation cannot profess Christianity, which makes the golden rule its foundation stone, and continue to deny equal opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to the black race."      - Ida B. Wells ; Our Country’s Lynching Record


"There was no place for the proud and the mighty, for people who think that God called them to rule over others."    - James H. Cone ; The Cross and the Lynching Tree


"The cross helped me to deal with the brutal legacy of the lynching tree, and the lynching tree helped me to understand the tragic meaning of the cross."    - James H. Cone ; The Cross and the Lynching Tree


"The Christian community, therefore, is that community that freely becomes oppressed, because they know that Jesus himself has defined humanity's liberation in the context of what happens to the little ones. Christians join the cause of the oppressed in the fight for justice not because of some philosophical principle of "the Good" or because of a religious feeling of sympathy for people in prison. Sympathy does not change the structures of injustice. The authentic identity of Christians with the poor is found in the claim which the Jesus-encounter lays upon their own life-style, a claim that connects the word "Christian" with the liberation of the poor. Christians fight not for humanity in general but for themselves and out of their love for concrete human beings."    - James H. Cone ; The God of the Oppressed


"The cross places God in the midst of crucified people, in the midst of people who are hung, shot, burned, and tortured."
   - James H. Cone ; The Cross and the Lynching Tree


"Both the cross and the lynching tree represented the worst in human beings and at the same time 'an unquenchable ontological thirst' for life that refuses to let the worst determine our final meaning."    - James H. Cone ; The Cross and the Lynching Tree


"The cross was God’s critique of power—white power—with powerless love, snatching victory out of defeat."    - James H. Cone ; The Cross and the Lynching Tree


"Until we can see the cross and the lynching tree together, until we can identify Christ with a 'recrucified' black body hanging from a lynching tree, there can be no genuine understanding of Christian identity in America, and no deliverance from the brutal legacy of slavery and white supremacy."    - James H. Cone ; The Cross and the Lynching Tree


"Christian theology is language about the liberating character of God's presence in Jesus Christ as he calls his people into being for freedom in the world."

   - James H. Cone ; God of the Oppressed


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