For the month of February, the Racial Equity Team will be celebrating Black History Month by reading Reggie William’s book, BONHOEFFER’S BLACK JESUS: HARLEM RENAISSANCE THEOLOGY AND AN ETHIC OF RESISTANCE. Please join us as we share our reflections with you each week. We have copies of the book available for purchase (or donate what you can) if you would like to read it. Please talk to Vicar Tamika. We will continue our conversation on Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus in Lent, so this a great way to get a head start!
Here’s the first reflection:
In the first chapter, Williams gives us a brief summary of how Bonhoeffer’s theology of the cross and the idea of “cheap grace,” and “costly grace” was influenced by his time in America during the Harlem Renaissance era.
Bonhoeffer visited Sunday worship services at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem with his friend and colleague Albert Fisher, and it is there that he experienced the black church and black Jesus. It was this experience with black Jesus among the community in Harlem, where Bonhoeffer came to have a different perspective of G-d’s presence among the suffering. “Bonhoeffer found Christ existing as community where historically marginalized and oppressed black people knew Jesus as cosufferer and the gospel spoke authoritatively into all areas of life. (p. 26)” This Christology, or theology relating to the role of Jesus the Christ, broadened Bonhoeffer’s own theology of the cross, and how Jesus not only stood with and among the oppressed but was also with them in their resistance and struggle against the injustices of racism and white supremacy.