number 7, december 11, 1998

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Take Black Theology seriously, WCC told

By Noel Bruyns

The WCC should take seriously the theology of black people if it wants to address racism, says a statement by six European church officials involved in black-white Christian relations.

They say the council has acknowledged the "shift in tghe centre of Christianity from the one-third to the two-thirds world" but now this has to become "incarnational" in church life.

"How can the WCC give voice and visibility to the theologising from the two-thirds world? How does the WCC’s decision making and consultative process reflkect a resolve to take the contribution of black people seriously?" they ask.

They point to the need for adequate resources for the Program to Combat Racism and the work of black theologians across the world.

Black theology as a theology of liberation came to prominence over 30 years ago. From its initial appearance in the United States, it has spread, and is in evidence noticeably in South Africa, the Caribbean and most recently in the United Kingdom and The Netherlands.

"Theology refers to what is articulated about God. Black Theology refers to what is said, believed and expressed ... by black people concerning God. Black Theology as such is black God-talk or black God-expression," their statement said, quoting a journal on the subject.

"The recent Ecumenical Study Process on Racism, spearheaded by the WCC’s Program to Combat Racism (PCR), has presented the WCC with a kairos.

"For the WCC to address racism, it needs to take seriously the self-expressed theology of black people as they reflect on their own realities. Any other approach is patronising and a perpetuation of the heresy of white supremacy," they said.

Their statement expands on a similar one addressed to the Harare assembly from the Dutch-based South Hope for Europe without Barriers (SHEBA), set up with WCC support in 1987.

Signatories include Bishop Joseph Aldred, director of the Centre for Black and White Christian Partnership (UK), the Rev. Marjorie Lewis-Cooper, a Multiracial, Multicultural worker with the United Reformed Church (UK), Mr Naboth Muchapo, racial justice secretary (Methodist Church, UK), and Ms Doreen Hazel of Multiracial, Multicultural Development (Reformed Church, The Netherlands).

Read other articles in this issue:

Union wants WCC to tackle Mugabe on banning strikes
Padare: the good and the bad story
Africans put their case to the West
Take Black Theology seriously, WCC told
Polygamy issue resolved
African 'gentility, humility' model for next millennium
Africa's gift of Ubuntu
Don't turn other cheek, women victims told
Churches want state to re-regulate markets
Malawi president won't sign death penalty
Chaz is all over the campus

8th Assembly and 50th Anniversary

copyright 1998 World Council of Churches. Remarks to webeditor