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The Political Economy of Liberation

Thomas Sowell and James Cone on the Black Experience


Anthony Bradley

James Cone and Thomas Sowell tower as African American intellectuals who have influenced ideas around the world for decades on issues such as poverty and justice. Although Thomas Sowell writes as a secular economist, his views harmonize more genuinely with classical Christian social thought than do the liberation theology of James Cone. In the traditional black church, theology and economics have always been partners in pursuing the means of liberation for African Americans. This is the first book to put a black economist and a black theologian into direct dialogue with one another in order to distill the strengths of each discipline, thus providing a long-term vision for the economic sustainability of the black community. The implications of the Protestant teaching of sphere sovereignty and the Roman Catholic principle of subsidiarity inform the disciplines of theology, economics, and political philosophy to cast a new vision for black liberation serving religious and political theorists alike. A provocative dynamism emerges because Cone and Sowell maintain alternative and competing visions that engage classical Christian theology in different ways. This book offers the opportunity for a new trajectory of dialogue between theologians and political economists about poverty, human dignity, and justice in ways previously unexplored. The Political Economy of Liberation is an invaluable resource in courses in African American studies, race and religion, political economy, social ethics, Christianity and society, Christian social thought, social justice, and theological ethics at the upper-level undergraduate or graduate level.


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Notes 139


Notes Introduction 1. James Cone, My Soul Looks Back (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1986), 37. Italics are the au- thor’s. 2. Anthony B. Bradley, Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2010). 3. J. Kameron Carter, Race: A Theological Account (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 159. Chapter One: Anthropology 1. Thomas Sowell A Conflict of Visions (New York: Basic Books, 2002), 3. 2. Ibid., 4. Italics are the author’s. 3. Ibid., 5. 4. Ibid., 5. 5. Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 3d ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Re- formed Publishing, 1967), 99. 6. Ibid., 100. 7. Ibid. 8. Ibid., 101. 9. Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1994), 10. Bradley Final_Bradley fin 1/12/12 2:32 PM Page 139 10. Greg L. Bahsen, Van Til ’s Apologetic: Reading and Analysis (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1998), 284–5. 11. John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Re- formed Publishing, 1987), 130. 12. Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 2. 13. Ibid. 14. Ibid. 15. Ibid., 3. 16. Bahsen, 501–2. 17. Sowell, Conflict, 10. 18. Sowell, Vision, 104. 19. Sowell, Conflict, 12. 20. Ibid., 13. 21. Ibid., 14. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid. 24. Ibid. Italics are the author’s. 25. James Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy (New York: McGraw-Hill,...

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