James Deotis Roberts, 1980-1983

Dr. J. Deotis Roberts, circa 1995

Portrait of Dr. James Deotis Roberts, circa 1985.

J. Deotis Roberts was the fourth president of the Interdenominational Theological Center. Born July 12, 1927 in Spindale, North Carolina, he earned a Ph.D. in Philosophical Theology in 1957 and later received a Doctor of Letters Degree, both from the University of Edinburgh. Roberts also received degrees from Johnson C. Smith University (Bachelor of Arts), Shaw University Divinity School (Bachelor of Divinity), and Hartford Seminary (Master of Sacred Theology). He was a pioneer of Black theological discourse in the late 1960’s known as the Black Theology movement, whose most notable public figure is James Cone. As a highly respected and first generation African American theologian, Roberts offered a critical response to the early works of James Cone, particularly Cone’s Black Theology and Black Power. In addition to this work, Roberts has taught at several universities, training generations of scholars at educational institutions around the world including Howard University, Yale University, Duke University, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Buenos Aires. Outside his role as ITC President, Roberts has held different administrative posts, most notably as the first and only Black president of the American Theological Society, also being one of its earliest African American members. J. Deotis Roberts has published numerous books and articles, including The Prophethood of Black Believers: An African American Political Theology for Ministry Black Theology in Dialogue, and Liberation and Reconciliation: A Black Theology, and A Black Political Theology. He served as the president of the Interdenominational Theological Center from 1980-1983.