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Eschatology in Black Theology

May 25, 2013

eschaton = last thing

eschatology = study of beliefs about the end of the world

CONE

 WHAT IS THE GOSPEL MESSAGE?

 ‘Gospel’ means good news.

Church proclaims freedom and shares liberation struggle.

Societal values no longer important.

FALSE SPIRITUALITY

Retreats are naval-gazing worship of projected image

Prayer is not kneeling, it is the spirit in blacks when rise to fight oppression.

People received according to their ministering to human need – Matthew 25;31f sheep and goats parable

Whites escape death by hobbies; blacks live with death.

Cannot find answers to life and death questions by reading books.

Songs of pearly gates and golden streets are escapist – need to build Jerusalem here.

White missionaries have encouraged blacks to forget present injustices and promised future rewards.

Moltmann argued that eschatology has been interpreted as reward for obedient but resurrection of Christ means salvation now completed.

WHEN WILL GOD’S KINGDOM COME? IS IT AFTER WE DIE?  WHEN AN INDIVIDUAL IS CONVERTED? DOES IT COME A DIFFERENT KEY TIMES FOR DIFFERENT GROUPS?

 KAIROS

 Chronos = ordinary time

kairos = a special moment in time, the time of fulfilment

Now the day dawns for America to fulfil its promises of democracy

Abolition of slavery and end of American civil war raised hopes; could have been a kairos but unfulfilled.

1960s riots could have been but still unfulfilled

Period of entering into solidarity with other movements, eg. women, peace, ecology, other ethnic minorities

Ensure rise and continuation of prophetic tension between history and eschatology

Without that, either forsake this world and pin hopes on the hereafter or load all hopes on to history and become pessimistic as never fulfilled.

‘The eschatological implications for liberation are to speak of the promise of God’s Word of liberation, disclosed in his future breaking into our present and overthrowing the powers of evil that hold people in captivity’ (Cone, God of the oppressed)

‘We see in the present world-wide revolution and struggles the providential hand of Almighty God pulling down all structures and cultures and societies that dehumanise and enslave, and establishing upon earth new structures and cultures and societies founded upon justice wherein individuals are able and encouraged to reach their full potential as unique and authentic persons to the end that we all “…shall beat our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks…and study war no more…” and to the end that the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.’ (African Methodist Episcopal Church 1976)

SUFFERING AND POWER

IF THE BIBLE ACCEPTS SLAVERY AS NORMAL, IS IT PART OF GOD’S PLAN FOR THE WORLD?

I Peter 2;18 quoted at blacks – slaves must obey masters even when they are unfair.

Yet context is a society where slavery accepted as normal.

Elsewhere social differences transcended in Christ:

I Corinthians 7;21-23

Galatians 3;28

I Corinthians 12;13

Colossians 3;11

so principle of slavery was unacceptable

In Peter’s context, if slaves were disrespectful it would discredit the gospel – at that time in that place.

Really after the transformation of all human relationships.

IS ALL SUFFERING GOOD BECAUSE IT FORMS CHARACTERS FOR HEAVEN?

Distinction between oppressive suffering and redemptive suffering. Former must be challenged; latter endured as kingdom gradually grows.

WHEN BLACKS TAKE OVER WILL THEY COPY WHITE EXAMPLE AND MISTREAT WHITES?

Jesus does not see power of oppressed as aiming to take the place of the oppressors.

Thus Matthew 20;20-28 his disciples not to copy society’s hierarchies.

‘Unless we black theologians can make an adequate distinction  between divine revelation and human aspirations, there is nothing to keep black theology from identifying God’s will with anything black people should decide to do at any given historical moment.’ (Cone – in contrast to Cleage who identified God’s will with everything blacks do to effect liberation)

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