After introducing his argument and discussing the sources for theological truth, James Cone in God of the Oppressed (1975) turns in Chapter 3 to “The Social Context of Theology” – in other words, all words about God are necessarily limited by the culture of those speaking those words.
“What people think about God cannot be divorced from their place and time in a definite history and culture. While God may exist in some heavenly city beyond time and space, human beings cannot transcend history. … Theology is subjective speech about God, a speech that tells us far more about the hopes and dreams of certain God-talkers than about the Maker and Creator of heaven and earth.” (p. 41)
“A serious encounter with Marx will make theologians confess their limitations, their inability to say anything about God which is not at the same time a statement about the social context of their own existence. … [N]ot only the questions which theologians ask but the answers given in their discourse about the gospel are limited by their social perceptions and thus largely a reflection of the material conditions of a given society. Theology arises out of life and thus reflects a people’s struggle to create meaning in life.” (p. 43)
So does that mean we can’t say anything true about God? No. Cone is simply dethroning centuries of White-centered theology that has pretended to universality while sidelining black speech about God: Continue reading ‘The God of Black Experience Was Not a Metaphysical Idea’: God of the Oppressed, Part 3