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Contrasts and Fragments: An Exploration of James Cone's Theological Methodology

Ryan P. Cumming

James H. Cone’s work Black Theology and Black Power, considered by many the first major work of black theology in North America, still garners relatively little sustained attention from white North American theologians. In the opening section of this paper, I offer several reasons for this neglect of Cone (and black theology, in general). I then explore the work of Edward Schillebeeckx and David Tracy, both of whom offer lenses to examine Cone’s theological method that ameliorate the ingrained tendencies which lead to widespread white neglect of black theology. Schillebeeckx’s category of “negative contrast experiences” and Tracy’s concept of “fragments” as sources for theology also provide an opportunity for readers to uncover the foundations of Cone’s often challenging rhetoric while demonstrating the significance of Cone’s contributions to theology as a discipline.

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