Cone lectured on his new book, A Black Theology of Liberation. After class, Dad approached the professor.
“What is your definition of a Christian?” Dad asked in his deeply earnest way.
Cone looked at Dad with equal seriousness and responded: “A Christian is one who is striving for liberation.”
James Cone’s working definition of a Christian described a Christianity of the enslaved, not the Christianity of the slaveholders. Receiving this definition was a revelatory moment in Dad’s life. Ma had her own similar revelation in her Black student union—that Christianity was about struggle and liberation. My parents now had, separately, arrived at a creed with which to shape their lives, to be the type of Christians that Jesus the revolutionary inspired them to be. This new definition of a word that they’d already chosen as their core identity naturally transformed them.
“A Christian is one who is striving for liberation.” I like that. Far better than the Southern Strategy Christianity I grew up with.