Cone’s Binary View of Africanness and Christianity Through the Eyes of his African American Critics
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AbstractUnlike some of his American colleagues, James Cone tended to distance Black Theology from Africanness in general and African Traditional Religions in particular. Throughout his life this tendency has evolved, but never disappeared altogether. This article sets out to achieve three goals. First, I give a historical account of Cone’s relationship with Africa, particularly with African religiosity, focusing on the criticism he received from his colleagues in the U.S. (notably Gayraud Wilmore, Cecil Cone and Charles Long). Second, I analyse the tension between the Christian and the African in Cone’s theological outlook by probing his notion of indigenization/Africanization among others. Third, I seek to interpret Cone’s binary view of Christianity and Africanness in the light of his chief locus of enunciation, namely Western Christianity (albeit contested). My attempt here is to lay foundations for an engagement with Cone’s attitude toward Africanness from the current South African (decolonial) perspective by considering it, first, within its original African American context.