James Cone and Karl Barth. derp.

How can I integrate Barth and social justice? Is it worth trying? I really don’t know. But when Cone writes that “The blackness of God means that God has made the oppressed condition God's own condition,” I want to say that this implies to me that before God assumes blackness, he is free to choose it. And in this thought I hear Barth. Is that fair? Can we say that without freedom then, the freedom of God to be God, justice is impossible? (A Black Theology of Liberation, p. 63)

I should probably let it go, but I feel nourished by both.


  1. Erin,

    Cone was a Barthian back then, so I think it is appropriate to link Barthian theology to social justice. In fact, Cone did his PhD dissertation on Barth's theological anthropology.

    Hope that helps.

  2. I know I'm a johnny-come-lately to this question, but I would begin by relocating Barth. It's my view that the Barth who is often talked about "as Barth" is already a shadow of Karl Barth, the Red Pastor, especially as related to social justice. How do those who separate Barth from social justice account for the powerful role of Crisis theology in Germany? With that said, I would question to degree to which Cone is truly "Barthian" at this point. Does Cone's construction of liberation theology truly allow for the freedom of God? Or is God captured by a political notion of liberation? If you notice page 60, Cone seems to be jettisoning Barth at this point while acknowledging his own formation within "white thought" as one of the oppressed who can't completely escape white theology (61). I could say more here, but thanks for the stimulating question.



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