Liberation Theology: Human Hope Confronts Christian History and American Power

By Rosemary Radford Ruether | Go to book overview

Chapter 9

Is There a Black Theology?
The Validity and Limits
of a Racial Perspective

The black church is the oldest institution of Black Power and the cradle of the modern theology done in the context of the black experience. Yet the black church has been somewhat late and ambivalent in responding to the cry for a Black ideology for the black movement. Part of this ambivalence is a reflection of the weakness of the black church, to be sure; a reflection of its subservient status in the white society, but a part of this ambivalence may reflect a deeper instinct; a sense that the character of black ideologies at the present time goes against the grain of the deep commitment of the black church to a black liberation in the context of a full human liberation. It is this validity, but also these limits to the black perspective for theology that will be sketched in this essay.

The black church is the nursemaid of Black Power. In the days of slavery and through the dark period of reaction after Reconstruction, the black church was the one institution owned and run by the black community. Black autonomy was pioneered by the black church when it broke from the white denominations to form autonomous black denominations. The

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