Cover image for Risks of faith : the emergence of a Black theology of liberation, 1968-1998
Risks of faith : the emergence of a Black theology of liberation, 1968-1998
Cone, James H.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston, Mass. : Beacon Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxvi, 168 pages ; 24 cm
Section 1. Black theology and Black power. Christianity and Black power, 1968 ; Black spirituals: a theological interpretation, 1972 ; Black theology on revolution, violence, and reconciliation, 1975 ; Black theology and the Black church: where do we go from here? 1977 -- Section 2. Martin and Malcolm. The theology of Martin Luther King, Jr., 1986 ; Martin Luther King, Jr., Black theology-Black church, 1984 ; Martin Luther King, Jr., and the third world, 1987 ; Demystifying Martin and Malcolm, 1994 -- Section 3. Going forward. New roles in the ministry: a theological appraisal, 1976 ; Black theology and the Black college student, 1976 ; White theology revisited, 1998 ; Whose earth is it, anyway? 1998.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library BT82.7 .C675 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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"American religious thought at its best."-Michael Eric Dyson, author of I May Not Get There with You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr. From the birth of Black Theology to James Cone's seminal work on the theology of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the philosophy of Malcolm X, to the importance of the environmental movement, Risks of Faith presents the best and breadth of Black Theology. "James Hal Cone has almost singlehandedly re-shaped western theological thought to make it racially inclusive by demythologizing the conventional myths and shibboleths which kept it a white spiritual and philosophical preserve for centuries."-C. Eric Lincoln, William Rand Kenan Professor of Religion and Culture (Emeritus), Duke University "This volume of new and classic texts offers a wide-ranging introduction to the esteemed theologian's work."-Emerge "Risks of Faith shows that Cone is as much a prophet after thirty years as he was in the beginning."-Delores S. Williams, author of Black Theology in a New Key "Risks of Faith will be a revelation to those unaware that Black Religion reflects the finest modern manifestation of Jesus' teachings."-Derrick Bell, author of Gospel Choirs

Author Notes

A leading African American theologian and an advocate of black theology, James H. Cone was born in Fordyce, Arkansas. Cone came of age during the civil rights movement and he was drawn to the black power movement that gained prominence in the late 1960s. Rejecting the nonviolence of Martin Luther King, Jr., Cone moved to join theology with the militant, separatist vision of Malcolm X, with its espousal of forceful societal change to achieve racial equality. Cone's book Black Theology and Black Power (1969) eloquently equated black power with the political and spiritual liberation of black Americans. In it, he equated blackness as symbolic of oppression and whiteness as symbolic of the oppressors. Cone continued his teachings of what soon became known as "black theology" in a second book, A Black Theology of Liberation (1971), which strongly condemned racism and oppression.

During the 1970s, Cone became a force in the development of liberation theologies in Third World countries. Beginning in 1976, he became an important figure in the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians.

Cone's association with liberation theologies also broadened and transformed his vision of Christian theology. In Crosscurrents, published in 1977, he strongly articulated the view that Christian theology must move beyond reaction to white racism in America.

Cone joined the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in 1969 and was appointed to the distinguished Charles A. Biggs chair of systematic theology in 1977.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In a series of essays, Cone, a black theologian, evaluates the gospel of Jesus Christ and the black liberation struggle over a 30-year period. He reflects on the shortcomings of white theologians and their theoretical focus at the expense of engaging real-world concerns and on the black church for conceding too much in hopes of garnering white acceptance. Nonetheless, the black church provides the foundation for what he calls black theology, from which he draws. He also notes the black church's long history of supporting activists. In one essay, he critiques the activist theology of Martin Luther King Jr. and assesses King's use of Christian gospel in addressing the needs of the poor and the oppressed, placing King as an important, if not the most important, theologian in the U.S. Cone further asserts that no critique of King and black theology is complete without examining Malcolm X, who provided a sharper critique of white America. In this absorbing book, Cone also examines the deeper spiritual side of black theology, which allows practitioners to stand against innumerable odds. --Vernon Ford

Publisher's Weekly Review

Cone turned more than a few heads in 1969 with his ground-breaking book Black Theology and Black Power, in which then-young seminary professor offered a Christian defense of the black power movement. His career has been a lifelong effort to articulate what it means to be Christian (represented by Martin Luther King Jr., whom he considers American history's greatest theologian) and black (represented by Malcolm X, whom Cone considers a great "cultural revolutionary"). A collection of Cone's most influential essays, this book is an outstanding introduction to his thought. "White theology" receives severe criticism, for example, for its centuries of focusing attention on the abstract "problem of evil" while never acknowledging the concrete historical evil of white racism. But Cone, an equal-opportunity prophet, also pulls no punches in naming the failings of the black church. Indeed, one of the ironies of Cone's career is that the black church itself has by and large skirted the more radical implicationsÄboth theological and politicalÄof black theology. These pages give little hint of that, nor do they address the problems that the collapse of Marxism and the rise of the black middle class have created for Cone's facile, and incessant, use of such terms as "oppressors" and "oppressed." The book, however, provides stunning and vital insights into American realities and the possibilities for American theology. If some of the early essays seem tame now in comparison to the controversy they originally generated, that is simply a tribute to Cone's influence. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Both of these well-written and easily accessible books situate black theology in the context of the African American church and in opposition to white-dominated theologies. After a brief introduction to black theology during the slave period, Hopkins (theology, Univ. of Chicago; Shoes That Fit Our Feet) traces its more recent history--from the the Civil Rights era (1950s and 1960s) to the present. He considers the generation of the founders, examines the second generation (which came at theology from different political and cultural perspectives), and then treats more modern movements (especially vis-…-vis women and the Third World). He concludes with reflections on the challenges facing black theology today. Cone (theology, Union Theological Seminary; Black Theology and Black Power) offers a collection of essays he wrote over the last 30 years. He argues that Christ's central message to 20th-century Americans is black power, supports women's greater participation in the black church, and encourages black undergraduates to recognize the role of theology in their studies. He also suggests that Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X had a complementary influence on black theology. Both of these books have the potential to make readers who are not African American somewhat uncomfortable because of the challenges they contain. Still, all readers would benefit from a reflective study of these thoughtful texts. Recommended for African American studies collections, seminaries, and larger libraries.--Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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