The problem of suffering is so often dissected by scholars as it is the most pressing theological question of the twentieth century. Throughout history, it remains unclear why moral individuals experience such terrible evils and discrimination. Those subjected to deep suffering in history have raised this question the highest.
Women, African American men, and African American women in history have been exposed to degrees of suffering unimaginable to a privileged individual today. The suffering experienced by women, African American men, and African American women led to the emergence of three branches of theology that address each religious need. African Americans were another ethnicity that experienced some of the worst sufferings early in history. During their intense suffering that started to seek out “black Jesus” as they felt that their sorrows were not being heard by white Christian Jesus.
Black theology deals primarily with the African-American community to make Christianity real for Blacks. They believed that Christianity was primarily based towards white people. It explains Christianity as a matter of liberation here and now, rather than in an afterlife. The goal of Black theology was not for them to receive special treatment they just wanted an universal Jesus that both African American and whites can pray to, believe in, trust, and fall back on. Instead these two races have been divided for hundreds of years. In Johnson’s article Jesus the Liberator, he wrote about the blacks reading the Jesus story through the lens of their own experiences.
Johnson demanded that one seek out the absolute humility of Jesus Christ. White Christian concepts taught to black persons that they are to be disregarded or ignored. Lynchings enforced white supremacy and intimidated blacks by racial terrorism. Which this is not what God wanted. God wanted everyone to be treated equal once African Americans started being lynched and segregation this made them reflect on what the Christianity really was and made them wonder why such an all loving God condemn this behavior. In James Cone’s book The Cross and The Lynching Tree, the theologian and social critic talked about the relationship between Jesus’ hanging on the cross and the history of the lynchings of blacks by Southern whites, it started in the pre American Civil War era and it leads all the way up to the early years of the 20th century. He talked about how hard it was for African American men to be able to relate to the “White Jesus”. Cone believes that the experience of being both black and Christian created a paradox in the world.
Cones faith in religion inspired him to be hopeful about God’s coming salvation and work in his life; as a black man, his life experiences of being a black in such a white dominated world and ever-present threat of death lead him to despair. Jesus’ hanging on the cross represents a similar paradox, as the cross is a place of both the agony of Christ’s crucifixion and the promise of God’s presence amidst that suffering. African American slaves struggled to be able to relate to the religious figures that their owners worshipped because they were being beaten and treated so poorly, and black theology gave these incredibly strong people a religion that could help them with their experiences as a African American in the world. Womanist theology was a reflection on the African American women’s experiences in the world. African American women had it the worse than anyone else. These women experienced every type of reitual there was.
Because of them being black women they had to not only struggle with racism but they also had to deal with sexism. This made it very difficult for them to be able to connect to any of the other religious views. The African American women were beaten and worked to the point that they could barely move at the end of the day. Even at times the African American men would put their work onto the women making their days even harder then what they already had to deal with.
What made everything worse was that they never really had anyone to connect to cause they didn’t receive any type of comfort from the white women. These strong women woke up everyday and fought till they went back to sleep. African American women just wanted something or someone to be able to relate to the suffering that they dealt with.
The African American women had it the hardest than anyone else in the world they were torchered and beaten just because of the color of their skin. This is when they would want to turn to their religion and faith. When times get tough you should turn to your religion for some stability in your life and that is something these African Americans had to do.
Between Feminist, African Americans, and African American women’s experiences early in American history they all went on to find their own branch of religion which Feminist theology, black theology, and womanist theology. These three unique set people were unable to find a place where their suffering could be heard, so they all created their own branch to help them fulfill their religious needs. In a way, these three branches are able to intertwine their history and problems through stories and preachings which ultimately is how a difference is made and how you make a change for the better. Suffering is a topic that is highly discussed within religion, suffering is so profound that it is difficult to embody all of the different groups because all of the men and women experienced suffering in their own way.