Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Decline of African-American Theology 4

The central question of any theological perspective is "Who is Jesus?" Thabiti reminds us that Liberal and Liberation theology has led the way for decline of Christology in traditional African-American theology. According to Thabiti, Marcus Garvey said, "The life of Christ was intended to show man that he could lift himself by obedience to the highest soul expression (p. 150)." When examining the works of Howard Thurman, Thabiti says,

"Dr. Thurman denied the uniqueness of Jesus implied in the formula 'the only begotten Son'. He believed that 'any who is as sure of God as was Jesus, can hear for himself: 'Thou art my son, my beloved, this day I have begotten thee.' Moreover, becoming the son of God in the sense of acquiring the mind of Christ and having a similar relationship to God, according to Thurman, 'may be achieved without any necessity whatsoever of making a God out of Jesus (p. 152).'"

The liberal theology of Howard Thurman laid the ground work for the liberation theology of James Cone.

The appeal of liberation theology is the expediency and the immediacy of the need. It seeks to address the existential cry of the image of God for freedom, equality, and peace. Yet, the cyanide in this kool-aid is that it perverts the person and work of Jesus into nothing more than an anthropocentric exorcism. Subsequently, Jesus is only relevant in so far as He is willing and able to address my core issues. Thus, I am able to mold Jesus into the god of my issues. This Jesus inevitably becomes more like me than I like Him. Daily this Jesus is being conformed to my image (real and imagined), instead of me being conformed to His image (eternal and true).

Howard Thurman popularized it. Cone made it academically viable. African-America theology has been on a steady decline ever since.

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