I really enjoyed putting up various kinds of bulletin boards. I rarely was only informational. My favourite bulletin board I designed, and one I hung up also at Royal As one of the Associate Pastors at Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, one of my responsibilities was the bulletin boards in the hallways. Then, around it I hung full-color pictures and texts. The pictures included famous artistic renderings of the crucifixion but also many modern ones. I also included an image of a black man being lynched.

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A Fork in the Road These are signposts that can be passed together as there is much that is mutually informing between the cross and the lynching tree, and Cone makes a strong case on the horizontal, human plane. When it comes to the vertical plane between God and the human community, however, reflection on the Scriptures may call for walking along another pathway. The reality of lament is illustrated by the parable of the servant who owed 10, talents Matt.

There was no way that the servant could pay that amount. His master could sell him and his family as slaves to obtain some payment, but it would never be enough. But the master chose to forgive the debt, astronomical as it was. There is a similar reality when it comes to the debt accumulated in the United States because of its racist heritage. Some crimes are so overwhelming to the senses and reason itself—inflicting pain and sorrow of unimaginable proportions—that no real restitution can be made for them.

Repentance for the sin of racism is appropriate, but much damage has been done. Recognition of this reality through the practice of lament is necessary for healing to begin. Forgiveness is foundational to the gospel. For the dehumanized, it can bring healing to the soul, particularly to the memory. It can also prevent the dehumanized from becoming dehumanizers. I would certainly agree that God is deeply concerned for the poor and the oppressed, but I see this as a critical, divine command that flows out of and demonstrates the gospel rather than as the gospel itself.

The cross can inspire movement against injustice and dehumanization, but it is also the foundation, along the vertical plane, for reconciliation with God Rom. Cone acknowledges the vertical reality of personal sin and the Christian call to repentance to receive forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ, but his focus remains fixed on the horizontal, human plane. However, this vertical call to repentance must continually be emphasized in the Christian proclamation, despite the concurrent need to confront sin in systemic manifestations.

We were made brothers and sisters by the blood of the lynching tree, the blood of sexual union, and the blood of the cross of Jesus.

No gulf between black and whites is too great to overcome, for our beauty is more enduring than our brutality. What God joined together, no one can tear apart. If we can maintain a balance between the essential foundations of our faith, which empowers authentic Christian living, and the necessary confronting of injustice and dehumanization, we may be able to walk together with Cone further down the way of The Cross and the Lynching Tree.

His areas of expertise include the Epistle to the Philippians and liberation and black theology.


The Cross and the Lynching Tree

Ray Jr. It was not a big affair in the town square; it happened on a dusty southern road. But its imprint and the communal denial in the small southern town that is our homeland have had lasting reverberations for generations of my family. It is the ubiquity of this experience that makes it a theological category. The theological methodology used by black theology is one which gives primacy to experience: experience of not only the divine but also of the vicissitudes of human pain and suffering caused by the workings of evil.


The Cross and the Lynching Tree Summary

The examination of this theme is commenced with the example of how the humiliating torture and execution of a convicted criminal was transformed into an story which inspired the most powerful religion in the history of the world. The point being made is that people interpret the facts of history according to the narrative perspective in which it is told. The history of lynching African-Americans has not been told from their perspective because it is a subject that is more easily left unspoken. Shame, humiliation, and fear conspired to keep their version of history unwritten while the perspective of those doing the lynching was splashed heroically across the screen in fictional images in Birth of a Nation while the ugly truth of factual imagery was suppressed by being kept out of history textbooks. Lynching is placed into juxtaposition with the Roman punishment of crucifixion in which the point was far less about punishing the criminal than sending the message to others to beware the consequences of overstepping their boundaries. The author also re-introduces conceptualization of written history as propaganda for its writers by analyzing the wide gulf—a gulf that can only be explained as a result of the power of controlling the facts of history by shaping and, if necessary, perverting the perspective of it—that separates the views of white Christian and black Christians toward understanding the symmetry of the cross and the lynching tree. The subject of lynching has no trouble inherent connecting the Roman cross for execution and the hanging tree for lynching as twin towers of terrorism while those connected to the legacy of carrying out lynching have historically seemed to be genetically averse to admitting this connection.

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