Liberating Black Theology
Professor Anthony Bradley Releases New Book
NEW YORK, May 28, 2010—Prior to 2008, black liberation theology was an unknown among many Americans. But President Barack Obama’s former pastor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, brought black liberation theology front-and-center in the national debate.
But what, exactly, is Black Liberation Theology? As President Obama began campaigning, theology professor Dr. Anthony Bradley helped America answer that question. He was a regular in the national media, including spots on CNN/Headline News and as a regular commentator on NPR’s “News and Notes” hosted by Farai Chideya.
Now comes his new book, Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America. In it, he looks at a theology that grew out of the civil rights movement, which was supposed to be a movement of empowerment. However, as the movement developed, Black Liberation Theology taught black to see themselves as perpetual victims of white oppression. This interpretation became the dominant theological narrative—at the expense of other principles that shaped the moral influence of the black church. Left behind were moral discussions of personal sin and redemption creating a worldview that considers black suffering the sole basis of black consciousness.
Anthony Bradley says this narrative is both false and inadequate. Given the social pathologies facing many black communities there is a call for broader categories of liberation. What is needed, Bradley argues, is a new dialogue regarding the relationship between social injustice and human dignity because all people are made in the image of God.
In dialogue with Cornell West and James Cone, the book proposes a way forward that maintains the black church’s historic and prophetic voice while addressing both personal virtue and structural injustice. Bradley explains, “The fact of the fall and the accomplished redemptive work of Christ serve as the true foundation for the liberation of black people.”
Anthony Bradley (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is an Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics at The King’s College—New York City. He also serves as a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty and is a sought-after commentator on current issues for major broadcast media—including NPR, Fox News, CNN/Headline News, and many others. Dr. Bradley serves as a research fellow for the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in Grand Rapids, Mich.
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