Black Liberation Theology and Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Professor Dwight Hopkins answers questions about the black church, black liberation theology, and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

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And the third is John 3:16, "God so loved the world that God gave God's only begotten son." The point there is that God loved the whole world, not just internal healing, but the whole world. The whole world includes politics, economics, culture, international affairs, all of that. God loves all of God's creation. So, black theology liberation doesn't believe that it should be a little separate island, a monastery, but that it should go out into all of the world that God loves. 

It's a theology of love, actually. It's just that it loves the whole world, and it fights for God's whole world, particularly for those who don't have a voice to speak out, or people who don't have resources to allow them to have input on how the world that God loves should be run. The black church, in general terms, is there for lifting up the spirits through celebration and adoration. And part of a way of doing that is to involve in social justice issues.

Can you put that in the context of the black church? Has there always been that connection between faith and politics?

Yes, it's always had that connection.

There are various forms of African-American churches, but, underneath all the various forms of black church expression, there is this continuum between personal salvation and social justice, political social justice. And most churches and black churches in America fluctuate along that continuum. Black theology liberation is the best expression of holding both foci together in a very positive way. So, those black churches that carry out black theology liberation are those that hold both the personal healing and the prophetic message together.


So not every predominantly black church in America is going to subscribe exactly to black liberation theology?

No, no, not every church. But they do operate on that continuum.

What does the "the prophetic tradition" really mean? How does it relate to Jeremiah Wright's comments?

The phrase "prophetic tradition" is based on particularly the Hebrew Scriptures in the Old Testament. The story line in the Old Testament is that God made a covenant with ancient Hebrew people. God would be with them as long as they kept God as the highest God and would not make any false idols.

Now, when the people turn away from this covenant of grace and love, God raises up prophets to condemn and to damn the wayward actions of the people. This condemnation and this divine damnation is in order to bring them back to the correct path of the covenant, of love, faith, resources, justice.

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