Saturday, August 16, 2014
I read and critiqued James Cone while I was a student. Probably the nearest thing in King's lifetime to what would be called Liberation theology was the Social Gospel. The Social Gospel emphasized the prophetic dimension of religion, and the liberatory essence of the prophetic tradition. Some even saw Jesus as a revolutionary. King was very much in tune with Social Gospel Theology and it formed a central PART OF this religious worldview. King first encountered that theological tendency through Benjamin E. Mays and George Kelsey at Morehouse--which was very important because most Social Gospel theologians were tuned into the "godless " injustices of class, but were relatively silent about racism. King's teachers at Morehouse focused on social gospel critiques of racism (unlike most white social Gospelers) without abandoning the class injustices. The let wing of the Personalist school tended to blend with Social Gospelism in its critique of social injustice as a violation of the inherent and "god given" dignity of every HUMAN personality. A specifically Black Liberation theology like the Liberation theology in Latin America fully emerged in the 1960s. Some of them see King as at least a forerunner of liberation theology.