In the article entitled "An African Views American Black Theology," Dr. Mbiti makes sharp distinctions between African Theology and Black Theology. In Mbiti words: "Apart from South Africa the concerns of Black Theology differ considerably from those of African Theology. The latter grows out of our joy in the experience of the Christian faith, whereas Black Theology emerges from the pains of oppression. African Theology is not so restricted in its concerns, nor does it have any ideology to propagate.
Black Theology hardly knows the situation of Christian living in Africa, and therefore its direct relevance for Africa is either nonexistent or only accidental. Of course, there is no reason why Black Theology should have meaning for Africa; it is not aimed at speaking for or about Africa."5 Mbiti argues, "Black Theology cannot and will not become African Theology. Black Theology and African Theology emerge from quite different historical and contemporary situations."6
Mbiti asserts, "Black Theology is a painful phenomenon in the history of the Church. Black Theology is full of sorrow, bitterness, anger and hatred. African Theology is one of hope that arises out of spontaneous joy in being a Christian, responding to life and ideas as one redeemed. It is a living phenomenon that will continue as long as the Church exists in our continent. African Theology is concerned with the relationship between Christianity and African culture, between Church and State, together with innumerable pastoral and liturgical problems."7 Mbiti is very critical of the central theme of liberation in Black Theology. He states,
"What I view as an excessive preoccupation with liberation may well be the chief limitation of Black Theology. When the immediate concerns of liberation are realized, it is not at all clear where Black Theology is supposed to go. There is no clue as to when one arrives at the paradise of liberation. One gets the feeling that Black Theology has created a semi-mythological urgency for liberation that it must at all costs keep alive. As a result it seems that Black Theology is avoiding other major theological issues not directly related to liberation."8
On the theme of "blackness" in Black Theology, Mbiti, Dr. Mbiti remarked, "It (Black Theology) want to see "blackness" in everything. It speaks of a Black God, Black Church, and Black Liberation, Black this and Black that. Blackness is nevertheless a color terminology arising out of the color consciousness of America society. It is necessary to remind oneself that racial color is not a theological concept in the Scriptures.9 Dr. Mbiti's final remarks on Black Theology and African Theology, "It would seem healthier if Black Theology and African Theology were each left to its own internal and external forces to grow in a natural way without artificial pressures and engineering. African Theology has no interest in coloring God or Christ black, no interest in reading liberation into every text, no interest in telling people to think or act "black." These are interests of Black Theology across the Atlantic, and they are admirable on the American scene. Black Theology and African Theology have each a variety of theological concerns, talents and opportunities. Insofar as each contributes something new or old to Christian Theology as such, it will serve its immediate communities and also serve the universal church."10
Anthony Simmons is a student attending St. Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois. He is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson, Illinois.