A Reimagination of Liberation and Reconciliation in the Black Theology of James H. Cone and J. Deotis Roberts: An Intergenerational and Interracial Analysis
The inability of black and white Christians to bear compelling and sustained witness to God’s love and justice in American society is reminiscent of Churchill’s sentiment concerning Russia: it is “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” This thesis seeks to explore how black leaders can faithfully engage a younger generation of black Christians who have grown increasingly frustrated with the American Church, specifically the lack of robust commitment to the liberation of black voices and bodies in the struggle against white racism. Additionally, it attempts to challenge all Christian leaders to reimagine the important work of liberation and reconciliation with this perspective in view.Based on engagement of mostly primary sources, this research delves into the remarkably relevant influences of James H. Cone and J. Deotis Roberts to the current intergenerational and interracial work before Christians in America today. I will argue that Cone’s revolutionary insight has been proven true: black rage against oppression is a very human reaction against unfreedom. Rebellion, in various forms, is a natural response to sustained systemic and structural violence against an oppressed people. However, I will also show that Roberts’ work offers a more inclusive and methodical approach to Christian unity in this perennial struggle. Cone’s liberating insight, balanced with Robert’s scriptural mandate of reconciliation between equals, still provides hope for solution-driven intergenerational and interracial dialogue and action for Christians.
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