November 1, 2005

Scholars discuss black theology

Through Friday, the University will host a weeklong conference entitled “Black Theology and Womanist Theology in Dialogue: Which Way Forward for the Church and the Academy?” The focus of the conference will be on an alternative “liberation theology” for the black community.

Developed by black church leaders during the 1960s civil rights movement, black theology emphasizes the fundamental role of the Christian church as a liberator, aiming to alleviate inequality among the oppressed.

“By definition, [black theology] is primarily concerned with changing America, hopefully its soul and its materiality,” said Dwight Hopkins, professor in the Divinity School and coordinator of the conference.

According to Hopkins, since black theology is the only theology to have arisen outside of the academic realm, the conference provides a unique opportunity to bring issues of public concern for black society into the scholarly debate.

Womanist theology was formed as a direct response to black theology, and it addresses the perceived gender bias within the latter. In addition to racial inequalities, black women face the hurdle of sexism, according to Linda Thomas, professor at the Lutheran School of Theology and co-director of the conference. Thomas cited “race, gender, class, ecology and sexual orientation” as focal issues for black women.

The conference examines the future of black theology from both male and female perspectives, addressing concerns of the black community, and their relation to American society in general.

“Black Theology and Womanist Theology in Dialogue” runs through November 4, from 2 to 9:30 p.m., and is free and open to the public. For more information, visit