Black Liberation Theology: so You Think Jesus Was White?

Topics: African American, Black people, Catholic Church Pages: 28 (8090 words) Published: October 17, 2013
Black Liberation Theology: so You Think Jesus Was White?




Hosea Bennett


I. Liberation Theology

a.What is Liberation Theology?

b. Its origins and roots

II.Black Liberation Theology

a.It‘s true meaning

b.James Cone - It’s Founder

c.Luke’s social message to all

d. History of Black Catholics

III. Black Spirituality & Culture.

a.Black Spirituality

b.What We Have Seen and Heard – Pastoral Letter on Evangelization

c.Catholic Teaching on Racism

IV. Conclusion


The purpose of this paper is to inform the reader about the true meaning of Black Liberation Theology. I want to present this paper as an enlightening pit of information to all who read it. I hope that will be an enlightenment and appreciation of the culture and spirituality of Blacks by non Blacks. And for Blacks I hope to affirm that our culture and spirituality is a depiction of our past, present, and future relationship with God.

“Black Liberation Theology and Black Theology” are terms that walk hand in hand. For both share it’s African and slave roots since the 1560s. Long before the landing of The Mayflower at Plymouth Rock in 1620. There are a lot of differences between the two. Black Liberation Theology is more “vocal” in proclaiming liberation from oppression. Often it presents itself as hatred. An example of this is the speech of Rev. Jeremiah Wright on March 13, 2008.

Black Theology, from a Black Catholic perspective, works in the line of tradition within the Catholic Community. Such hatred is not spoken by Catholic Black theologians like Cyprian Davis, Dr. Jamie Phelps, and Diana Hayes,

Black Catholics must hold to our culture as well as our spirituality. These are gifts from God our Creator. Who loves us with a love that no one can ever imagine. A love that is never shows anger toward his people. We are a people of high morals and integrity. We not only have various gifts that the Creator has given us, but we love to share these gifts with all our brothers and sisters, regardless of their nationality, faith or culture.


Before we can discuss what Black Liberation Theology is all about, we must first understand what “Liberation Theology” is.

Back in the late 60s a new type of social and intellectual movement came to Latin America. It was rooted mainly in the Scripture and the Christian faiths, which seek to bring social justice to the people. Although this movement originated in Latin America, its message was for the entire Third World and any social situation of oppression. Members of numerous religious orders at the time were committed to the vow of poverty and did not own any property at all, yet they enjoyed a standard of living and security that separated them from the daily agony of the poor in Latin America. A question then arose, “what is the ideal of poverty in a situation where most are suffering poverty, and what should the Catholic Church do about it?” Thus liberation theology came into being as a result of this; a discipline which reflected on Christian faith. Liberation theology interprets the Bible and its Christian doctrines through the experiences of the poor. In that interpretation of the Bible, the poor learn to read the Scripture in a way that affirms their dignity and self worth, and their right to struggle together for a more decent life.

Let’s look at the historical elements, or the beginning of how Liberation theology evolved. The Catholic Church played a major part in the colonization of Latin America. It all began back in 1492 under a decree from Pope Alexander VI who divided the world that was not under the Christian rule between the Spanish and Portuguese monarchs. This gave the Church the right and duty to propagate the Catholic faith. As with all conquerors, take over was done with unbelievable cruelty and complete disregard to any human decency, let...

References: Phillip Berryman “Liberation Theology. Essential Facts About the Revolutionary Movement in Latin America and Beyond”. New York: Pantheon Books, 1987.
Enrique Dussell “A History of the Church in Latin America. Colonialism to Liberation 1492 – 1979”. Revise by Alan Neely, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1981
James H. Cone “Risks of Faith”: The Emergence of Black Theology of Liberation, 1968 – 1998. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1999
Cyprian Davis, O.S.B.”The History of Black Catholics in the United States”. New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Co, 1990.
Diana L Hayes and Cyprian Davis, O.S.B. “Taking Down Our Harps.” Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1998
Jamie T. Phelps, O.P. “Spiritual Traditions for the Contemporary Church”. Nashville Ablingdon Press, 1990
“What We Have Seen And Heard,” A Pastoral Letter on Evangelization From the Black Bishops of the United States. Document downloaded from “The National Black Catholic Congress website:
Catholic Teaching on Racism, excerpts taken from “United States Conference Of Catholic Bishops” website:,
Brothers and Sisters To Us; Washington, D.C., 1975, page 3.
“Various Quotes On Racism & Social Justice,” taken from resource packet: “One Bread, One Body: The 25th Commemoration of Brothers & Sisters to Us,”
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