Theological frameworks have a tendency to get stuck. My own frameworks certainly have gone through that hardening over time. I need to realize my framework is certainly ONE framework, but not the only framework. In the past few years it has led to an expansion of theological voices in my life. Mainly at this point it has been black and a bit of Native American Christian theology. It has helped.

But this certainly stuck out to me:

Scot McKnight reviews black theology and its formation in this article. (I am not sure if it’s behind a paywall.)

The crucial role played by ML King Jr in the civil rights movement, his own conversion to a more social justice frame, and a theology on the way toward Black Theology was not embraced by everyone. A major critic of MLK was Joseph Washington who argued MLK made Christianity a social ethic and that the Black Church was in need of embracing the essence of traditional Christian theology, that is white theology, and that the Black Church was not so much Christianity as it was a black folk religion. Washington, whose work at the time was highly regarded by mainline, liberal professors and authors, saw Black Church theology and white church theology as different things.

White evangelical theology has diminished greatly in these turbulent times. In the last 50 plus years we have reduced salvation to “me and Jesus” and “I am saved so I can go to heaven.”

Black theology is broader, including the theology of salvation (but beyond “me and Jesus”) and the impact of the gospel in community.

James Cone saw two theologies, as Joseph Washington did, but in a slightly different way. Cone saw black theology as more full and white theology as defective:

…it was white theology that was wrong and inadequate and sub-Christian. The white church was apostate by not seeing the church’s mission as social transformation.

These are challenges not to be lightly dismissed (which is the “white” thing to do). They should be carefully examined.

One thought on “We tend to think “theology” and it’s really, too often, “white theology”

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