Black Theology has not served the black community well. As a theology of liberation, it has, like all Marxian and neo-Marxian movements, produced the opposite of its intended ends. Black Theology, proferred as the theological energy behind the Black Power movement, a movement intended to liberate Blacks from their continuing oppression under Whites, has perpetuated that oppression by essentially defining it, in Hegelian terms, as “the march of God on earth.” For all its talk of liberation, this theology tells its adherents (even if only tacitly) that they must always be, or understand themselves to be, in a condition of oppression; they can never really be liberated – not if they are to remain in relationship with God.
Recall that, according to Dr. Cone, “The blackness of God means that God has made the oppressed condition God’s own condition.” So, as he further explains:
Being black…has little to do with skin color. Being black means that your heart, your soul, your mind, and your body are where the dispossessed are. (Black Theology and Black Power, p. 1)
And if there are no dispossessed? If there are no oppressed? What then? Do away with dispossession and oppression, one does away with God. And, what’s more, since there must be someone being dispossessed and oppressed (the people of God), there must always be someone doing the dispossessing and oppressing (the enemies of God). So Blacks, however, the term may be defined, will never cease being oppressed; and someone must always be in the role of oppressor, who will always be white, however, that term may be defined (and regardless of his actual skin color).
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As the intellectual motif behind the Black Power movement, Black Theology can give no power of liberation. For all its desires to the contrary, Black Liberation Theology does not result in Black Liberation; it results in Black Oppression. Paradoxically, Black Theology is in the end not a theology of liberation; it is a theology of oppression.
This is not to say that the oppression of Blacks, or any other group, is a myth. Neither is it to say that oppression is not a problem. No false teaching can have much longevity if it did not contain a bit of truth. And the larger the bit of truth, the more dangerous the error, because the temptation to ignore or deny the seriousness of the error is greater. Arius, for example, did not deny that Christ is divine; he denied that Christ’s divinity is of the same substance as the Father’s. And what difference does it really make so long as we agree that Christ is in some sense divine and that he saves us by his death?
The difference is that He cannot save us in the way that the Scriptures teach if his divinity is not the same as the Father’s. We cannot be united to the Father through our union with the Son if the Son does not possess the same divine nature as the Father. Neither can we be united to the Son if he does not possess our human nature in its fullness, with the exception of sinful corruption. Ultimately those who hold to the orthodox view and those who hold to various forms of Arianism ended up with differing soteriologies. But Arianism persists because it maintains other truths, such as the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
Can anyone deny that woke and non-woke Christians are nearing a point at which they also will have two differing soteriologies? We already have differing Christologies. Recently, in a now-viral TikTok video, Brandon Robertson, (borrowing from Miguel de la Torre) accused the Lord Jesus Christ of racism, which is a sin. The lamb of God, in woke Christology, is not so spotless, after all, despite the Scriptures’ teaching to the contrary. But if Christ is not spotless, then we should ask: (i) what does he save us from and (ii) how does he do so?
The soteriological differences are not yet as clear as they soon will be. As of yet, the most visible distinction is that the woke are concerned with justice (so-called), and other “gospel issues,” while the non-woke dismiss them as Marxists. The deeper soteriological differences will be undeniable within five to ten years. Right now, however, the strength of woke evangelicalism is its superficial, lexical semblance to confessional Protestantism.
Back to the topic at hand, while it is true that oppression is a reality, it does need to be said that not every proposed solution to a problem is truly adequate to the problem. Indeed some proposed solutions only exacerbate the problems they purport to solve. Such is the case with Black Theology, I think. The term liberation is in the theological glossary, but it is a concept ultimately devoid of content. As all of the operative terms are defined, liberation is the last thing Blacks should want or could even have. Oppression is the essence of life with God, hence Cone’s claim that salvation for Whites is to be found in becoming black, that is, making the oppressed condition their own. If God is with the oppressed, then why in the world would one wish to be liberated?
And that is why it really doesn’t matter how the trial turns out. A guilty verdict will only mean no – or fewer – riots. An acquittal – well we know what that likely means. Either way, the oppression narrative is going nowhere. It can’t: it is the heart and soul of Black Theology and the Marxist (yes, Marxist) vision it peddles.