In the Feb. 27 issue of WORLD Magazine, editor in chief Marvin Olasky interviews Anthony Bradley about his new book, Liberating Black Theology (2010, Crossway Books). Bradley is a research fellow at the Acton Institute, a professor at The King’s College in New York, and a contributor at WORLDmag.com. Excerpt:

Olasky: From what does black liberation theology have to be liberated?

Anthony Bradley

Anthony Bradley

Bradley: Black theology has to be liberated from itself. Its primary anthropological presupposition is that humans are victims of social oppression: That is the starting point of a person’s identity. I want to switch the conversation and say, “Slavery happened, injustice happened because the devil is real and the Fall is real, so you’ll always have injustice. But the core of a person’s identity is that of the Imago Dei, being made in God’s image.”

Olasky: Where does black theology fail?

Bradley: If theology emphasizes “victim status” and not something more ontological, the remedy is often short-sighted: When your theology is nothing but politics and sociology, it doesn’t help you when you get cancer or your husband leaves you. If your theology of liberation is grounded in the Imago Dei, you’re much more open to looking at the multiple ways in which the Fall affects human life.

Download the introduction to Bradley’s new book and the first few pages of Chapter One here.

Here’s the brief description of Liberating Black Theology from Crossway:

When the beliefs of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, assumed the spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaign, the influence of black liberation theology became hotly debated not just within theological circles but across cultural lines. How many of today’s African-American congregations-and how many Americans in general-have been shaped by its view of blacks as perpetual victims of white oppression?

bradley_bookIn this interdisciplinary, biblical critique of the black experience in America, Anthony Bradley introduces audiences to black liberation theology and its spiritual and social impact. He starts with James Cone’s proposition that the “victim” mind-set is inherent within black consciousness. Bradley then explores how such biblical misinterpretation has historically hindered black churches in addressing the diverse issues of their communities and prevented adherents from experiencing the freedoms of the gospel. Yet Liberating Black Theology does more than consider the ramifications of this belief system; it suggests an alternate approach to the black experience that can truly liberate all Christ-followers.

Watch for it soon in the Acton Bookshoppe!


  • Patrick

    Anthony Bradley is taking a courageous and dangerous step in writing about Black Liberation Theology. Once a month one of my customers and I go out for dinner, just the two of us, to discuss our businesses. Most of our talk concerns customer relations, time/family management, and employee issures. My friend has a small, successful business related to construction/property management. He is black, but it is not uncommon for him to work in the homes of celebrities and institutions whose names would be immediately recognizable to anyone reading this blog.
    I mention the case of the Japanese to demonstrate that Bradley is definitely on to something in taking black liberation theology to task. Victimhood is both a teaching and a choice. Those who have a vested interest in maintaining the black victim mindset will retaliate.
    This week he brought up a friend of his who suffers from the outlook of those afflicted by Liberation Theology thinking. My friend said his friend viewed the entire world from a victim mentality, although when questioned, he could name no particular person or institution that had harmed him. Yet, he was convinced that he had been born into a victim’s life.
    Since churches are influencers within a community, liberation theology eventually permeates the thinking of both the church-goers and unchurched. A theology that fails to insist on the God given dignity of the person does harm to many more than just those in the pews.
    I think my friend’s friend is looking for a theology that can convince him of his inherent dignity as a child of God. Yet, many have built institutions exploiting the crippled self-concept engendered by liberation theology…that includes drugs, criminality, social services programs and a nearly non-existent family structure.
    By way of contrast, my wife is of Japanese ancestry. We are helping her father in his final years. He spent the WW-II years interned at Santa Anita with other West Coast Japanese. Working hard as a farmer and landscaper, his old age is comfortable and his children are productive members of society. While the Japanese community would seem to have every reason to assume a victim mentality, few have. Forget about reparations, the amount paid wasn’t enough to cover a year’s college costs, and he had four children.

  • http://www.abc-of-christianity.com/ Willem Kooijman

    Let me begin by saying that I am not a black American. I am a retired Dutch teacher of English and religion and now that I do not have to work any more I spend a lot of time reading Christian websites and blogs.
    When a text I read appeals to me I sometimes write a short comment.
    Here are a few thoughts that have to do with Anthony Bradley’s book and the comment by Patrick:
    — It is true that as a result of the Fall all people must suffer during their earthly life and all people are the victims of the unfavourable circumstances in which we have to live our lives. We should not forget that besides the African people who were shipped to America some centuries ago there are many other peoples who have every right to feel victimized. Let me mentioon a few:
    –the millions of Jews who were killed in the second world war
    — the millions of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America who were not transported to another continent but became the victims and the virtual slaves of their colonizers (in most cases Europeans)
    — the hundreds of thousands of people in third world countries that were killed by their own countrymen in the 20th and 21st centuries in all sorts of tribal wars and civil wars
    — the more than 1000 million people who live in third world countries and have to live on less than a dollar a day. People who lack food, water, shelter, clothes, work, education, medical care.
    — The many millions of people who were victimized in the 20th century by tyranical regimes that were communist or fascist.

    To a certain extent I think all people have a lot of reasons to feel the victims of other people, unfavourable political and economic systems, personal weaknesses and misfortunes.

    I think that it is very Chrisian and very Biblical to be convinced that all people need liberation and salvation.
    Even people who are so lucky as to live in pleasant countries where their governments take good care of them (like we here in Holland).
    But even people who have a pleasant life will one day become the victims of old age, sickness, weakness and ultimately death. And we need to be liberated and to be saved from these horrors that befall all people.

    Christianity and the Bible tell us that it is possible for all people to be liberated and saved from whatever suffering they must undergo on this earth. If they live in such a way that they will be admitted into God’s great Kingdom (at the end of our presnt human history) they will be liberated from all possible misery and be able to live in perfect happiness for ever and ever.
    Christianity has a message of hope and a message of liberation and salvation. And Christians think this message is true. It comes from God and God cannot lie.