Home Book Evaluate: Decolonizing Christianity – Phrase&Means

Evaluate: Decolonizing Christianity – Phrase&Means

Evaluate: Decolonizing Christianity – Phrase&Means

DECOLONIZING CHRISTIANITY: Changing into Badass Believers. By Miguel A. De La Torre. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2021. 232 pages.

I’ll confess up entrance that Miguel De La Torre’s newest e-book made me uncomfortable. That most likely means I’m not a “Badass Believer,” however I’m prepared to pay attention. Listening isn’t straightforward in case you are, like me, a white male straight extremely educated fairly well-off Christian. The discomfort one feels studying the e-book is rooted in De La Torre’s unrelenting critique (that’s to place it properly) of white Christianity, which presumably consists of me. This phrase about “decolonizing Christianity” pushes buttons, however right here’s the factor, De La Torre isn’t actually chatting with me, not less than in a roundabout way. That’s, he is aware of I’m listening in, however his true viewers, the badass believers, are Christians of colour. On this e-book, De La Torre invitations them to talk their minds, and never maintain again (understanding that white Christians are there within the viewers).

Robert D. Cornwall

Decolonizing Christianity is a follow-up e-book to De La Torre’s earlier e-book: Burying White Privilege: Resurrecting a Badass Christianity. I didn’t learn the e-book, however in accordance with the writer, the sooner e-book obtained blended critiques. Some readers appreciated the candor, however others pushed again. Some critics even demonized the writer. As I stated, I didn’t learn it, so I can’t converse to its contents. However for these of us who get pleasure from white privilege studying a e-book that seeks to bury it’d result in pushback.

Although I didn’t learn the sooner e-book, I did learn the sequel. Regardless of the earlier criticism of the e-book, that doesn’t cease him from reiterating the message. So, right here he does his finest to carry the toes of white supremacy to the fireplace. Now, De La Torre, who’s a professor of social ethics and Latinx research at Iliff College of Theology and writer of numerous books, is aware of that white Christians will not be monolithic. However that’s not the purpose. By portray in broad strokes, he could make clear the issues/complaints of individuals of colour who’ve suffered beneath white supremacy. He doesn’t really feel any compulsion to allow us to off the hook or provide us an answer. That’s for us to find. Thus, what we’ve here’s a strongly worded prophetic assertion calling for Christians of colour to decolonize their minds, that’s, set themselves free from the message drummed into them by white supremacist Christianity.

Written in late spring of 2020 when COVID was in its early levels — little did he know that the pandemic could be exhibiting no indicators of going away as we start the yr 2022. When the e-book was written, the nation was early in an election season that has turned the nation the wrong way up. Thus, when the e-book was written De La Torre didn’t know whether or not Donald Trump would win reelection or if a Democrat gained, who that individual is likely to be. Whereas Trump misplaced, Trumpism continues to face on the heart of the nationwide dialog. The very fact is, an awesome variety of white Christians, even mainline Christians, voted for Trump. We’re nonetheless dwelling with the aftermath as he gained’t go away, and white Christianity continues to degenerate because of this.

Having laid out why he wrote the e-book in reply to his critics, he writes in chapter 2 about “the day of judgment.” Right here he calls white Christianity to account. That’s, he takes white Christianity to court docket to look at how white Christianity helped erect and undergird a system by which white Christianity is deemed superior to all others. A perception system that has led to the oppression of those that will not be white. A part of this dialog offers with revealing the concern amongst many white Christians that they’re shedding energy and even heading towards turning into a minority. In different phrases, they concern a reversal of fortunes. That’s the reason Trump has been hailed as a hedge in opposition to this risk symbolized by the election and reelection of a black President.

Having laid out the costs in opposition to white supremacist Christianity that’s epitomized by Donald Trump, in chapter 3, which is titled “Accompanying the Least of These,” De La Torre asks questions concerning the relationship of white Christians, particularly white liberals, with those that have been marginalized. He explores biblical texts coping with the “least of those” and proposed options, together with “color-blindness.” As you may anticipate he calls these options into query. He reminds us that racism isn’t individualized prejudice and even ethnic discrimination. No, it’s “the institutionalization of uneven energy relationships primarily based on ethnicity or pores and skin pigmentation” (p. 104). As we’re seeing, there’s plenty of unease within the white group concerning elevating questions on methods. We could also be well-meaning in our private relationships however are we complicit within the methods? The reality is, we’re. So, De La Torre, who confesses his personal privilege as a straight male, must make use of our privilege to dismantle these buildings.

All of this results in a extra apocalyptic dialog in chapter 4. By that De La Torre speaks of the longer term and the way we take care of the concern and hatred operating rampant within the nation. He asks us to contemplate how therapeutic can happen if we proceed to disregard the realities of our day. Thus, “the tenets of nationalist Christianity should be slain.” The shape this has taken is embodied by the proclamation that Donald Trump is a modern-day King Cyrus, anointed by God, to defend and liberate oppressed white Christians. He notes that the explanation Christians have hailed him as King Cyrus is that this provides them the rationale to miss Trump’s lack of Christian virtues. Whereas De La Torre doesn’t imagine {that a} literal Antichrist is about to emerge, as many apocalypticists would recommend, signaling the top of days, Donald Trump does match with the outline of the antichrist present in Revelation 13:1-10. I have to say, this part was fascinating, and an necessary use of this imagery. Whereas that is unsettling, there’s in its midst a phrase of hope. For that’s the function of apocalyptic visions!

De La Torre concludes the e-book with a chapter titled “Badass Prophets.” Right here he makes use of Jonah because the protagonist. Whereas many people have used Jonah’s perspective and God’s grace as a sign that some within the Jewish group sought to maneuver away from a slim ethnocentric faith, a transfer that’s epitomized by God’s forgiveness of the Assyrians. De La Torre takes the picture of Jonah in a really completely different path. Whereas many people have envisioned Jonah’s sullen response negatively, De La Torre means that Jonah has some extent. He means that “Jonah’s God calls for that the disinherited go to the very thieves who stole their primary human rights and dignity to inform them they need to hunt down salvation.” (p. 160). Shouldn’t there be justice alongside the way in which? Ought to these people who will conquer finally conquer Israel be required not solely to repent however change their way of life on the earth? In different phrases, Jonah is correct in not being prepared for reconciliation simply but. So, work should be completed, and De La Torre isn’t able to allow us to off the hook (by us I imply white Christians, together with me). Although he holds the toes of white Christians to the fireplace, he acknowledges that whereas he is likely to be an individual of colour, he’s additionally male, cisgender, and straight. Thus, he has his personal realities to take care of. The query is, how will we reply, for we’re at a crossroads? Will we observe a path that results in liberation or retrenchment, defending our privileges?

As I stated, Decolonizing Christianity left me uncomfortable, however then that was its function. Might we heed the decision of the prophets to behave justly. If we accomplish that, then Miguel De La Torre will likely be one of many voices calling us to account.


You’ll be able to be taught extra about this e-book and Miguel De La Torre by listening to his dialogue with Brian Kaylor on our Harmful Dogma podcast:

This evaluate initially appeared on BobCornwall.com.

Robert D. Cornwall is an ordained minister within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Now retired from his ministry at Central Woodward Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Troy, Michigan, he serves as Minister-at-Massive in Troy. He holds a Ph.D. in Historic Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is the writer of quite a few books together with his newest books: Known as to Bless: Discovering Hope by Reclaiming Our Non secular Roots (Cascade Books, 2021) and Unfettered Spirit: Non secular Items for the New Nice Awakening, 2nd Version, (Energion Publications, 2021). His weblog Ponderings on a Religion Journey may be discovered at www.bobcornwall.com.


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