Tag Archives: constructive theology

Can White People Do Contextual Theology Too?

A Response 5 Months Later

In March of this year, a group of bloggers and I decided to discuss our working theologies of the Bible: my post was entitled “Katie’s Cannonization: Inerrancy as White Evangelical Folklore.” Only this afternoon, as I was going through my archives did I realize that this post was the subject for discussion on the Ad Hoc Christianity podcast.

One commenter, I believe it may have been Matthew, found my label of White as offensive, and almost reverse racist. Now, what I think we need to realize is this: evangelical theology has a context. Yes, it does, and in the United States of America, evangelical culture finds its leadership, its denominations, and its scholarship in the hands of White people, white men to be exact. Do not get me wrong here, for whiteness is not evil. On the contrary, I think it is rather ambiguous. What happens, however, is that many well-intentioned religious thinkers try to hide this whiteness in the name of universality. The idea that even white people do contextual theology is disruptive. The left/right divide and the culture wars should be renamed the White Culture wars. I’m not joking on this point. Think about it. When you see the Gospel Coalition trying to reclaim the 1850s 1950’s version of masculinity and feminity in the name of being “countercultural” and “taking dominion”, this can only be understood from the standpoint of particularity. Arguments in favor of Complementarianism come from a place where racial segregation did not happen, where the women were fortunate to have THE HELP.

If I can put it this way, so as to not confuse anyone in what I am saying: most complementarians come from places of privilege, whereas during post-Reconstruction, Jim & Jane Crow–1950s, black women had to work, such as my great-grandmother and so forth. I am not saying that all black men are egalitarian; far from it. What I am saying is that the conflict between genders is different based on historical experience.

Just as I have argued in the past that concerning Dietrich Bonhoeffer should be considered a German Contextual theologian, so am I asking that White evangelicals to admit their own limitations. Now there are some that have, and that’s fine, but I am talking about the ones that say, well, my theology is from God, and if you argue against my theology, you are persecuting my god, and so you are a blasphemer. Again, God does not do theology; we do. God is the subject and object of our theology, which we do down here from below. Of course, this also means, as Katie so eloquently argued, that we must reject the supremacy of the “middle way”, for projects of the “third/middle way” always seem to justify the status quo, and vilify those on the margins.

The discomfort felt by the ad hoc Christianity podcast with my naming of inerrancy as a White Evangelical doctrine was a challenge to them (and others who saw it the same way) to stop playing referee and see theology from other contexts and perspectives.

“if you disagree with a given theologian’s claims about the way the sins of racism and sexism function in the contemporary world, step out of that referee’s uniform you have bought for yourself and come play the game with us.”

–Katie of WIT.

Picking My Sports Teams & Theologies I – Rod

Louisville Cardinals

Image via Wikipedia

Amanda posted earlier today about how she picks sports teams and theologies. I would like to do the same.

SPORTS

1. THE Team: This is the team that I will root for no matter who they are playing.  I will root for them no matter how horrible a season they are having.  I am 100% loyal to this team and will be for the rest of my life.  My team — THE UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE CARDINALS

“But what do I do if THE team is not playing?  How do I pick teams then?”

2. Simple, my answer is, depending on the season and time of year, to simply ignore everything in college sports and go with professional sports.

The Better Playing Team: This is the team where past performance matters.”

Performance, for me, is pretty subjective. I do not go by numbers or stats, but by team cohesiveness and strategy.  If it is baseball season, my favorite sport, I will stick with the only team I bother rooting for, The Chicago White Sox.  No matter how they are doing, I will always find a bright side (sad, I know).  In baseball, I am more likely to root for the team with the best pitching and defense (there is a pattern here). This holds true for other sports as well. I am always more interested in the teams with the best reputation for holding a line against the opponent.

3. The ‘I like a player on the team’ Team:  This is the team that I’ll root for solely because of a certain player on the team. This is how I originally selected my current favorite teams, but there are players I root for, like last year for college football, I loved watching Denard Robinson play quarterback at Michigan.

4. “The Underdog Team: This is the team that I root for simply because everyone is rooting for the other team. Also known as the ‘I’m being a contrarian’ method.” Always a possibility, especially since my favorite sports teams are never really the stylish or prettiest picks, even when they do win the championship, yeah like the 2005 White Sox.

5. “The ‘An event has soured me on this team’ Team: This is the team that I would normally be neutral on, but because of a decision or event I find myself unable to cheer for them.” 2 Words: Ohio State. Their president had no business hating on TCU Horned Frog football. Plus, their players were not suspended for benefitting from selling their jerseys. (Ah, but justice is served, Jim Tressel is out as coach, their quarterback is headed to the supplemental draft).

6.”The ‘I’ll never root for this team ever in my life’ Team”: the University of Kentucky. No question.

THEOLOGY

1.”This is the theologian that I will root for no matter what they write. I will root for them no matter what. I am 100% loyal to this theologian and will be for the rest of my life.” But like my favorite sports teams, this does not mean I am unwilling to sit down as armchair quarterback and criticize. My theologian– John Howard Yoder

2. “The Better Playing Theological Position/Theologian: This is the theologian where past performance matters. I’ll look up stats, reputation, and whether they’re currently on a ‘hot streak’.” Right now, I would say the theologians that are on the hottest streaks right now, meaning their books are must purchases, at least for me, are J. Kameron Carter and Joerg Rieger.

3. “The ‘I like a player on the team’ Theological Position: This is the theological position that I’ll root The ‘I like a player on the team’ Theological Position: This is the theological position that I’ll root for solely because of a certain theologian in the camp.” I cannot bear to defend neo-orthodoxy or “Word of God theologies” but I will root for Dietrich Bonhoeffer every time, and not for his symbolic martyrdom. His writings are quite provocative and persuasive. Maybe I need to find a theologian who has composed a sustained critique of Bonhoeffer. Have yet to discover her.

4. “The Underdog Theologian: This is the theologian that I root for simply because everyone is rooting for the other guy. Also known as the ‘I’m being a contrarian’ method.” Feminist theologians and James Cone. They are underdogs. Cone, because while liberation theologies have become passe in more theologically liberal circles, his critiques from his earlier works have been dismissed out of some notion of liberal racial progress, especially in Black Theology and Black Power, and his views about racial injustice from so-called moderates. Feminist theologians, like feminist biblical scholars are placed on the margins, even as their scholarship coincides with malestream research. There remains a hierarchy in the academy, that favors “great books” over works done by women and people of color, regardless of the discipline.

5. “The ‘an event has soured me on this theologian’ Theologian: This is the theologian that I would normally be neutral on, but because of a decision or event I find myself unable to cheer for them.” Karl Barth.

6. “The ‘I’ll never root for this theologian ever in my life’ Theologian”: Abraham Kuyper.

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