Imago Dei Economics
Anthony Bradley Tackles Black Liberation Theology and Social Justice
Dr. Anthony Bradley is a theologian, economist, and a Visiting Professor at The King's College for the 2009-2010 academic year. And if those accomplishments are not enough, he has set his sites on an even loftier goal: to redefine a term he believes has been hijacked by liberation theology – especially black theologians and activists such as Cornel West and Jesse Jackson. That term is “social justice.”
Bradley said the meaning of “justice” and “social justice” has been reduced to mean merely those social programs aimed at improving the material well-being of the lower class. Bradley argues that social justice is and should be a much bigger idea. He said it is fundamentally whether a person “is being treated with dignity as someone created in the image of God.”
Bradley shared his thoughts on Mon., Oct. 12, at The King’s College in New York City as part of the school’s Distinguished Visitor Series.
As an African-American raised in the suburbs of Atlanta, Bradley first heard black liberation theology preached at his home church, though he did not immediately recognize it. Bradley became a “full time nerd” and “retro-progressive” in college when he was introduced to Reformed theology and discovered that man’s identity ultimately rests in his status as “imago dei,” or being “created in the image of God.” Bradley’s intellectual transformation led him to seriously question black liberation theology and modern understandings of social justice.
Bradley’s new book, “Liberating Black Theology,” due out in February 2010, explains how social justice should be redefined. Bradley said black liberation theology “has to be liberated from itself” because its fundamental starting point is that “the human person is victim of social oppression.” This starting point, Bradley says, leads to “nothing more than a socio-political theology” and short sighted solutions. To find lasting solutions to social issues, Bradley wants to “switch the conversation” from humans as “victims” to humans as “created in the image of God.”
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