James Cone and #BlackLivesMatter

How James Cone’s ground-breaking, earth-shaking, woke-inducing, God of the Oppressed connects with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and speaks into (or against) the unfortunately too common response of ‘all lives matter’.

Image of James Cone speaking at the Rall Lectures in 1969 in the Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful.

“Cone’s work grants a new perspective on those who criticise “Black Lives Matter”, insisting on the adoption of the ‘universal’, “All Lives Matter”. Cone (dealing with this before we had #’s) counters, that yes, all lives do matter, just as all are oppressed, but when the person contending that is not a member of the oppressed it becomes another way to silence those crying for liberation.”

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Jesus the Trump Card

An extended reflection in two parts 1) why, despite the move away from Christianity and the church’s diminishing public influence, do people continue to employ Jesus as an argument in political and cultural debates. 2) With that background in mind, what positive claims about Jesus can we contribute to these discussions (in an attempt to save Jesus from becoming just another trump card).

Complexity is perhaps the most important contribution the church can make to discussions of Jesus and Christianity in the public sphere. Time and again, both Christians and non-Christians seek to win arguments by playing Jesus as a trump card. For the church, the best course of action may not be to challenge the Jesus trump card of the press with the Jesus trump card of the church, but rather to challenge the notion that Jesus is a trump card to begin with; that Jesus is an endorsement to be won. As we have explored, the memory of Jesus is deeply complex, rich in tradition and debate. For Christians who proclaim the risen Christ, Jesus is not a slogan, but the centre of a story, a living, breathing centre of a story, which began before time and has not ended. Perhaps we need to return to the efforts of Albert Schweitzer, and begin to counter the propensity of people to create a Jesus in their own image, by presenting pictures of the memory of Jesus; continual, full, and troublesome.

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