Contemporary Black theology is complex and far-reaching. In this concise yet thorough volume, Noel Leo Erskine examines Black theology from every angle, seeking to answer the question, Why would Africa’s children turn to the God of their oppressors for liberation?
Beginning with the Middle Passage, which brought millions of Africans into the Caribbean and United States, Erskine unpacks the background and distinctive ideas of Black theology. Erskine covers major thinkers and illumines various areas of inquiry: suffering and theodicy, sin and reconciliation, baptism and the sacraments, womanism and Christology, and others. What unites these strands is the goal of liberation—of a faith that delivers not theoretical orthodoxies but real change in the lives of those buckling under racist oppression.
Black Theology and Black Faith is the perfect reading for students and scholars looking to recenter the voices of the marginalized in their theology. Readers will leave its pages with a faith more alive to God’s call to institute his kingdom on Earth.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Faith and History
1. The Social Context of Black Theology
2. Sin and Reconciliation
3. Remember Your Baptism
4. Salvation and Liberation
5. Christology and Grace in Womanist Thinking
6. Black Theology after James Cone
7. Black Lives Matter
8. Conclusion: God Is Our Salvation
“Noel Leo Erskine once again calls the many who research and read Black theology to go beyond the US-centeredness that too often diminishes and distorts the subject. He widens the horizon by holding together voices like Garvey, King, Marley, Sölle, Rastafarians, and more, leading to clearer visions and deeper insights—if we can shake off the hegemony.”
—David Emmanuel Goatley, Fuller Seminary
“Noel Erskine has long been the doyen of the Caribbean perspective on Black theology. From the emergence of his landmark Decolonizing Theology in the early 1980s, through to this excellent book, Erskine remains the key interlocutor for outlining a postcolonial, Caribbean take on Black liberation that unites Black peoples across the continent of North America and the Caribbean islands of his birth. In moving from luminaries of the past, such as Marcus Garvey, through to contemporary icons such as Katie Cannon, Jacquelyn Grant, and Kelly Brown Douglas, this book shows that Erskine has lost none of his prophetic edge. This is a must read!”
—Anthony Reddie, University of Oxford
“Noel L. Erskine has gifted us with the definitive argument and persuasive proof that Black faith and Black religion in the western hemisphere began with the majority populations of enslaved Africans in the Caribbean and Latin America, and not in the United States. This is a foundational paradigm shift, and Black theology and womanist theology, if they are to remain authentic, must shift as well.”
—Dwight N. Hopkins, University of Chicago
“A phenomenal contribution to the field, Black Theology and Black Faith offers a fascinating and insightful exploration of the complex interplay between faith and history. Through a vivid and convincing tour de force, it offers profound insights into Black investments in the liberation of Black lives. By exploring how Black faith and Black theology embraced suffering yet refused to make peace with those conditions, Professor Erskine shows that African religious beliefs and practices persisted and evolved in the face of oppression and erasure. A must read for all interested in liberatory and transformational conversations around race, religion, and social justice!”
—Kamari Maxine Clarke, University of Toronto