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James Cone on Universal and Particular

I realize that my theological limitations and my close identity with the social conditions of black people could blind me to the truth of the gospel. And maybe our white theologians are right when they insist that I have overlooked the universal significance of Jesus’ message. But I contend that there is no universalism that is not particular. Indeed their insistence upon the universal note of the gospel arises out of their own particular political and social interests. As long as they can be sure that he gospel is for everybody, ignoring that God liberated a particular people from Egypt, came in a particular man called Jesus, and for the particular purpose of liberating the oppressed, then they can continue to talk in theological abstractions, failing to recognize that such talk is not the gospel unless it is related to the concrete freedom of the little ones.

James Cone, God of the Oppressed, 126.


  1. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Wow, this is powerful.

    Wednesday, March 28, 2007 at 9:32 pm | Permalink
  2. Bobby Grow wrote:

    Cone has some endearing things to say. I think he’s on to something with this quote.

    Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 9:34 pm | Permalink
  3. david wrote:

    He might be a little bit more than just endearing. heh.

    Though it is interesting to read something by him and then to hear him read something. The text itself is a powerful theological and racial critique, but to hear Cone’s preacher voice with all his passion takes it to a whole different level, into something existential as he embodies the pain and anger of oppression as his voice growls or cracks. I would highly recommend finding an audio clip of him on the net somewhere.

    Friday, March 30, 2007 at 8:20 am | Permalink

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