Liberating Black Theology, The Bible and the Black Experience in America

Anthony B. Bradley has done what I thought needed to be done since I first read some things by James Cone. The late Harvie Conn and several others have written effectively on liberation theology demonstrating its Marxist underpinnings but when the most recent political campaign was in full swing and people such as Jeremiah Wright came to the forefront, I was reminded that liberation theology is still alive in the black community. Bradley did his doctoral work at Westminster Theological Seminary Philadelphia and now has become one of the outstanding voices among young African Americans committed to the Reformed faith and Kingdom world and life view.

He was the obvious one to write this book. Wy Plummer of the PCA Mission to North America was right on when he said that Bradley unapologetically maintains a biblical, orthodox perspective while at the same time had some sympathy for the issues and concerns raised by black liberation theology. He has taught at Covenant Theological Seminary and presently professor of theology at Kings College in New York City.

There are so many outstanding things in this book that I hardly know which to highlight to encourage you to read this book. With the things going on in the United States today politically, as well as theologically, this book is needed to help not only black America but each of us to know how to think, assess, and conclude with an understanding of biblical Christianity and the orthodox faith. (Notice I said “orthodox” not “neo-orthodox.”) So much of black liberation theology is a reflection of Neo Orthodox theology combined with the Marxist socialistic foundation. Bradley is to be commended for taking on this topic and fairly dealing with it.

His focus on the real problems in that line of thinking is most perceptive, descriptive, and prescriptive. His understanding, explanation, and results of the “victimization” philosophy of that theology and how it has permeated so much our present culture are outstanding. For example, Bradley says while black theology affirms blackness, that theology should not be construed as an antiwhite reactionary theology…It is not merely a reference to skin color but rather a symbol of oppression that can be applied to all persons who have a history of oppression such as homosexuals. From oppression as the starting point, Bradley explains how from that starting point, the theology is formulated.

One of the observations is that in dealing with black’s circumstances and trying to apply the Neo-Orthodox/ liberal Marxist scenario, the problems are simply proliferated because it ultimately addresses the wrong issues today. Again an example is how the focus of victimization actually keeps racism alive today and hinders any real working together with the white community.

Bradley not only critiques that theology, he offers some prescriptive ideas necessary for black theology to be reconstructed. He mentions the following as presuppositions for a new black theology: the absolute triune God as the starting point, the absolute primacy of biblical authority, human dignity grounded in the image of God, rediscovering a biblical doctrine of sin, personal and social justice in line with the redemptive mission of God. Bradley points out that any right understanding of justice must be built on man in God’s image and the redemption required to reverse the fall into sin. The concluding paragraph in this book sums it up. “All true liberation, biblically speaking, flows from the sovereign God of redemptive history, incarnate in Jesus Christ, so that humanity and creation conform to the will and glory of God revealed in Scriptures.”Read this book and encourage others to do the same.

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