Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One More Thing about Dr. Cone

In January of this year I attended the annual meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics (SCE), which was held in Chicago. I flew to Chicago on an early morning flight, and when I arrived at the meeting site, Rev. Jeremiah Wright had just begun speaking. (Actually, it was partly because of his scheduled talk that I decided rather belatedly to make the trip to Chicago and to attend the SCE meeting.)

Rev. Wright, of course, is the former pastor of President Obama; he was pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago from 1972 to early 2008. (At the time of his retirement, the TUCC had about 8,500 members; it was the largest church in the UCC, a primarily white denomination.)

I found most of Rev. Wright's presentation to the SCE very interesting--also quite powerful, but not particularly controversial. In particularly, I was interested in hearing him say that Dr. James Cone was his mentor.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

James Cone at a KKK Meeting

Dr. Cone came to Japan at the invitation of the Korean Church in Japan. The pastor of the Korean Church in Fukuoka City, where my wife and I lived for thirty-six years, was my good friend Glen Davis from Canada. At that time, Glen was also the president of a group of gaijin (foreigners) who met once a month for a study meeting. The name of the group was the Kyushu Kenkyu Kai. (Kyushu is the name of the island on which Fukuoka, and Nagasaki, is located; kenkyu is the Japanese word for study, and kai is the word for meeting).

The Kyushu Kenkyu Kai was having its regular monthly meeting during the time Dr. Cone was in the city. Glen invited Dr. Cone to speak to the group, and he graciously consented to do so. When the time came for Glen to introduce Dr. Cone to the group, he said how happy he was to have Dr. Cone to attend our KKK meeting that evening -- and then immediately realized that the initials we often used to refer to our study group had another meaning, one that was not so pleasant for Dr. Cone. Glen soon explained what KKK meant in our context, and Dr. Cone good-naturedly began his presentation.

(A few years later, our daughter Karen kept saying that she thought we should change the name of the group--when we finally did. So then for years it was known not as the KKK but the FKK, the Fukuoka Kenkyu Kai.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

James Cone

Chapter Six of The Limits of Liberalism is "The Limits of Liberalism's Understanding of God." But before writing about the problem areas, I point out what I see as positive aspects of liberalism's view of God--such as its emphasis on the justice of God.

In connection with the justice of God, just this morning I added the following statement by Dr. James Cone: "God is the political God, the Protector of the poor and the Establisher of the right for those who are oppressed. To know God is to experience the acts of God in the concrete affairs and relationships of people, liberating the weak and the helpless from pain and humiliation. For theologians to speak of this God, they too must become interested in politics and economics, recognizing that there is no truth about Yahweh unless it is the truth of freedom as that event is revealed in the oppressed people’s struggle for justice in this world" (God of the Oppressed, revised edition, 1997, p. 57).

Cone, who was born ten days before me (in 1938), is giving the Binns Lectures at William Jewell College this fall, and I am looking forward to hearing him again. More than thirty years ago he was in Fukuoka, and I had the privilege of introducing him at a Seinan Gakuin University chapel service. Maybe later I can write up an amusing thing that happened when Dr. Cone spoke to a group of missionaries at one of their regular study meetings.

The Limits of Liberalism

Currently I am in the final stage of writing my second book, The Limits of Liberalism: A Historical, Theological, and Personal Appraisal of Christian Liberalism. This is the sequel to my book Fed Up with Fundamentalism: A Historical, Theological, and Personal Appraisal of Christian Fundamentalism, published in December 2007.

I started writing the second book on October 1, 2005, and my goal is to have it ready for publication by September 30, 2009. I am almost through with the writing now, but there is a lot of editing that still needs to be done.

I am looking forward to finishing the book and seeing it in print before too many months have passed.

Getting started

I don't know how much I will use this, but I decided to start this and see what happens.