Contemporary Themes in Eschatology: 21st Century Black America

Danica R. McKinney

What in the 21st Century is most relevant to how we view the end of the world/afterlife/reincarnation?

Black Liberation, African Spirituality, and the Black Hebrew Israelite

The Slave Narratives as A Source of Black Theological Discourse

  1. What does it mean to be “in the spirit”?
    1. How does this impact one’s perception of body/soul dualism? (Consider p. 60)
  2. So, is Heaven a place? Or a concept? (p. 57-58)
    1. What picture does this paint regarding what “Heaven” will be like?
  3. Considering the perception of “time”, what does this mean for the afterlife? (p. 58-59)
  4. What is the “final future”? (p. 58)
    1. What is the process of entry to Heaven? (p. 59)
  5. What is the significance of the quote in the middle of p. 61?
    The eschatological expectations shared in the slave testimonies showed that their encounter with the Spirit of the Lord enabled them to evolve a critique of racism and racists, dream a grand vision of freedom, nurture communal relationships, fight for freedom, defend each other, affirm their humanity, and hear the melody of the future with such clarity that they literally, in faith, were prepared at great cost to dance to teh melody of the future by acting in the present to create it. “Strangest thing,” said ex-slave John Crawford, “is that while Mammy was in her spell of prayin’ that a little boy was eight-year old up North who grew up and set the niggers free.”
    1. Is the 8-year-old the Messiah?

We Have Been Believers

  1. How does the concept of “time” impact thoughts regarding a “Parousia” or intermediate state?
  2. What are the three eschatological motifs? What theme is common among all three?
  3. In the second motif, (similar to what has been stated before) what are heaven and hell?
    1. How does this tie in with the collective and interpersonal dimension of hope? (p. 153)

A Black Theology of Liberation

  1. How does use of the word “nonexistence” impact the perception of what is to come after death? (p.136-37)
  2. What does this mean (pg. 137):
    An eschatological perspective that does not challenge the present order is faulty. If contemplation about the future distorts the present reality of injustice and reconciles the oppressed to unjust treatment committed against them, then it is unchristian and thus has nothing whatsoever to do with the Christ who came to liberate us. It is this that renders white talk about heaven and life after death fruitless for blacks.
  3. Does there appear to be a perception of individual or collective belief? (Consider p. 138)
  4. What do you feel is being stated in regard to present and future realities? (p.138-140)
  5. How is the perception of complacency demonstrated? (Staking one’s whole existence on heaven” – p. 142)

Black Hebrew Israelites

  1. How can the beliefs of the Black Hebrew Israelites be considered a reaction to history?
  2. If this information is correct, according to the Black Hebrew Israelites, is there a Heaven or a Hell? If not, then what does this say about the “afterlife” from their perspective?
  3. Who is the Messiah?
    1. If the Messiah is Jesus, would this also be considered “Parousia”?
  4. At the return of the Messiah, who will be gathered and where are they going?
    1. What is this place?
    2. How does the fate of those no-longer-remembered differentiate from stories we have read before?

African Spirituality

Article: The Importance of Spirituality in African American’s End of Life Experience

  1. If death does not represent the end of one’s life, what does it represent? (p. 143-144)
    1. Where have we seen a similar belief system?
    2. What is the state that one continues living in?

Article: What Most People Don’t Know About African Spirituality

  1. What gender is African Spirituality and how is that distinguished from literature we have read thus far?
  2. How might encouraging happiness correlate with the theme of hope and liberation?
  3. What is the spirit?
  4. If heaven and hell are of the same divine space, what does this mean in regard to an afterlife?