The Continuing Task of Black Theology: The Challenges Emerging from the Contemporary Black Church in the United States

Bruce L. Fields


Because of continual shifts in the sociocultural, political, and economic realities of any setting, theology, in order to maintain relevance, must be reflective of such shifts. It must commit itself to the maintenance of recognised confessional constants, but it must speak in relevant ways to the needs of the church’s present situation. This is the voice of many African Christian theologians. Black theology in the United States is confronted with the same type of challenge, namely, what is relevant reflection for the black church and the black community in the present? Confronting and overcoming racism has been a constant challenge for people of African descent in the United States. What kind of theological reflection emerging from the black church, would best accomplish two things: to enable the black church to exercise leadership in the movement toward black flourishing despite the effects of racism, and to contribute to the enhancement of Christian theological reflection for the church of Jesus Christ, in general. There are a number of important factors to be considered, but I see three areas of needed consideration. First, what is the meaning of “blackness” in play today? Second, what is the nature of “oppression” experienced in the present? Finally, is there a place for forgiveness in the black church in the present?


Black church; black theology; blackness; oppression; forgiveness

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