And it doesn't say that you have a prosperity gospel. It doesn't even say how many people did you convert to Christianity? It talks about the same thing that Luke 4:18 talks about: the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, the thirsty, those who are in prison.

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.

The role of the prophet is the one who is raised up by God to say, "Thus saith the Lord." So, what happened with the Jeremiah Wright piece is that the 30-second sound bytes only show the damned, the condemnation part. It doesn’t show, "If you’re going to be my people, you must come, you must turn back to your glorious days."

But anybody who heard the whole sermon will know the other part of the formula. Covenant is made, people break covenant, God sends prophets to damn the people, and then people hear the message and they return. They leave their wayward way and then they enjoy the fruits of the original covenant. So the full flow is not expressed in 10 seconds of a sermon. So people just hear "God damn America," not "God bless America."

Has that prophetic tradition also continued through all parts of the black church? 

To various degrees people would speak out. They will speak out against injustices, but they would choose different forms of speaking out. 

 As we're looking at black liberation theology and the black church, are there differences in theologies or emphasis between black churches and the mainline traditional Protestant churches?

The biggest difference between black churches and the mainline churches would be race. The other contrast would be, in forms of worship. Black churches in the main encourage and accept bodily movement, accept this notion of call and response, which is that the preacher preaches from the pulpit and the congregation responds.

There's also the form of preaching. People will say that the congregation actually helps the preacher finish the sermon. So the laypeople's participation is something that's a little different. The songs are different, and also the ones that they have in common are sung differently. The cultural issues, the racial issues, those two are broad categories, or things that are contrasting.

What is the most common inaccuracy or misperception that you have seen with all the Jeremiah Wright news?

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