Dr James Cone was a proponent of black liberation theology and for racial justice. In 1971 he addressed the University of Richmond saying:

They can be no reconciliation with masters so long as they are masters. No reconciliation so long as men are in prison. There can be no communication between masters and slaves until the masters no longer exist as masters, are no longer present as masters.

The Christian task is to rebel against all masters, destroying their pretensions to authority and ridiculing their symbols of power. However it must be remembered that oppressors do not take kindly to those questioning their power ... they will try to silence them any way they can.

But if we believe our humanity transcends them and is not dependent upon their goodwill, then we can fight against them even though it may mean death.

How does Black liberation theology differ from the more well-known liberation theology with their option for the poor?

What are their main points of differences as well as their parallels?

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    Mainly, South vs North America? I always thought it sad Liberatiin Theology didn't spread more, it seems like a rare moment of Christianity being inspired by what Jesus actually would be doing..
    – CriglCragl
    May 4, 2018 at 13:42
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    A book that gives a basis for liberation theology; but how many of the actual players actually knew of Miranda, and his book, I don't know. "Marx and the Bible" by Jose P. Miranda. Miranda was a good man and did not get the attention he deserved while he was alive. Some of his lectures on philosophy in general are on YouTube. But in Spanish and I don't know Spanish. Miranda was influenced in the book I mention by the Bible, Marx, Bultmann, Heidegger and Ernst Bloch.
    – Gordon
    May 4, 2018 at 20:13
  • @Gordan: The Trial of Pope Benedict looks as though it would be an interesting and revealing read; I've never thought of Christianity qua Christianity as right-wing though of course I realise that often the Church in specific situations have backed right-wing elements. I'm reading Lissagarays history of the French Commune after the collapse of the Third Republic and it makes for interesting reading. Its a tough read, since it takes a lot of background for granted ... May 5, 2018 at 15:13
  • ...but at the moment it makes for more interesting reading than Marx's history of the French Civil War. He takes even more background for granted. Actually, Lissagarays book is introduced by one of Marx's daughters, Eleanor Marx. May 5, 2018 at 15:14
  • I'm guessing that the Churches support for the ancien regime lies at the root of anti-clericalism in French history. May 5, 2018 at 15:16

1 Answer 1



A fair, general description of liberation theology is given by Paul Surlis :

Initially described as second-order reflection on praxis in the light of faith and the word of God, liberation theology, as the description makes clear, is one result of a new way of living the Christian religion, a way that combines action on behalf of social justice with prayer and worship. And since those who saw their faith and the word of God as providing inspiration and empowerment for social struggle, were predominantly the poor, liberation theology represented the emergence of the poor as a new force in religion and concomitantly in society.

Liberation theology is definitely theology since it bases itself on Christian doctrine. What makes it liberationist is that, more than traditional or orthodox Christianity, it sees social justice, especially in regard to the poor, as integral to a proper understanding of Christian doctrine and a correct, indeed mandatory, dimension of Christian practice (praxis).


A useful source here is HAYES, DIANA. And Still We Rise: An Introduction to Black Liberation Theology. New York and Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1996. Key points emerge in a review by Linda E. Thomas :

[Hayes' thesis is] that black theology arises from the experience of being black and oppressed in the United States, and as such, its goal is to articulate a theology rendering meaning to black people in their context and to make plain the full dimensionality of being black and Christian. For Hayes, black theology's first obligation is to the black community and second- arily, and unabashedly, to proclaim a black liberationist perspective to the world. With this thesis, Hayes examines the African roots of black theology whose liberative theme is the result of the experience of Africans (both slave and free) who imagined God at work in their lives despite their having been forcibly re- moved from African soil, coerced to be chattel, and destined to bear children who, for successive generations to the present, were dehumanized because of their skin color. The positive history of black people in the United States and their invariable toil against prejudice, discrimination, and dehumanization is the fabric out of which black liberation theology is woven. African slaves and their descendants created a religion that gave meaning to the context in which they lived. According to Hayes, the foundational documents in constructing black the- ology were James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power (New York, 1969) and A Black Theology of Liberation (Philadelphia, 1970). Drawing on the biblical story of the God of liberation found in Exodus, Cone crafted a systematic and contextual- ized theology that incorporated the religious experiences found in the black Church. This institution uplifted and empowered black people who today con- tinue to ask: "What is God's purpose and meaning for us as a people of African descent in a country which seeks to deny our very humanity? How can and should we act as God's agents and live up to the Gospel mandate?" (p. 14). (Linda E. Thomas, The Journal of Religion, Vol. 78, No. 4 (Oct., 1998), pp. 642-643 : 642.)


The promotion of social justice, which is a hallmark of liberation theology, takes account in black liberation theology of the social injustices experienced specifically by blacks in the ways Linda E. Thomas spells out.


Liberation Theology: A Documentary History. Ed. Alfred T. Hennelly. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis. Pp. xxvi + 547.

Liberation Theology and Its Critics: Toward an Assessment. Arthur F. McGovern. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis. Pp. xxii + 281.

Rufus Burrow, James H. Cone and Black Liberation Theology, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 1994. Pp. xxi + 281.

  • These look like useful references, particularly the one by Diana Hayes. Thanks. May 5, 2018 at 15:06
  • Glad to have been of help. Best - GT
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    May 5, 2018 at 15:46

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