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Critique of Black Theology

May 25, 2013

White theology emerges from positions of privilege, dabbles in academic issues, is individualistic, assumes white is normal, argues that God-talk is objective, sings ‘God bless America’

Black theology begins in oppressed community, sees God on side of poor, is anchored in movement against racism, urges collective struggle and claims that all theologies reflect either the oppressor or the oppressed.

Danger of becoming an ideology

Positive use of word in French Enlightenment – ‘the formation of ideas’ rooted in rational nature, providing sound basis for acting in history

Negative use – ‘idle, subversive speculations completely divorced from reality’

Marx argued there could be no ‘pure theory’.

All ideologies reflect assumptions of the ruling class – so black theology is black people grasping the power held by whites.

Workers no longer regard special forces as a power they can share in but a foreign force which enslaves them.

An ideology takes the place of Christian faith – sets up a god who is less than what God wills.

Danger of identifying the Christian faith with a narrow ideology.

The ideology becomes exclusive and absolute, unable to admit it might have got things wrong.

It cuts itself off from the real world.

Its ideas become fossilised, unable to change.

It needs prejudices and clichés in order to survive.

E. J. Carnell – white evangelical: ‘Too much stress on racial injustice will divert the sinner’s attention from the need to repent of his totally self-centred life…..If we let the Negro buy a house in a fashionable suburb we do an injustice to vested property interests.’

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