Tag Archives: Kuyperian Christianity

justice and grace: ambivalence as post-colonial theological virtue

For various reasons, I find myself going back to Joerg Rieger’s Christ And Empire: From Paul To Postcolonial Times. One of the terms of postcolonial theory that I keep going back to is the concept of ambivalence. This academic understanding of ambivalence is one of the descriptors for the relationship between the colonizers and the colonized; one site puts it this way, “the ambiguous way in which colonizer and colonized regard one another. The colonizer often regards the colonized as both inferior yet exotically other, while the colonized regards the colonizer as both enviable yet corrupt.”

Rieger reframes ambivalence from a religious perspective. Christology, throughout church history, has been “employed both in support and in critique of empire,” and creates space for the members of the faithful who want to disrupt colonial discourse and its authority (page 11). Imperial forms of knowledge repress other knowledge. The wisdom of the colonizer is upheld over and against the intelligence of the colonial subject. For Rieger, and other post-colonial theologians, it’s like I sometimes say, subjugated knowledge is power.

This may sound all a little confusing so let me use myself as an example. Recently, in response to yet another evangelical blog post stating a desire to resurrect the ghost of Abraham Kuyper, I tweeted:

When I was in undergrad, one of the first systematic theologians I read was Abraham Kuyper’s Stone Lectures that he delivered at Princeton University before the turn of the 20th century. After reading his Notes on Calvinism, I identified with Reformational theology and Calvin. I still had hesitation about Kuyper’s politics, but I was more of a Kuyperian Calvinist at first. That was almost nine years ago, and now I find myself on the more critical, justice-oriented side of things now. Part of doing theology as Christ-Centered means making Jesus both as the source of criticism and appropriation of any given philosophy. Kuyper held hierarchal assumptions about culture; in fact one could very well be fair and say that it was a soft version of white supremacy. The source of resistance to cultural hieraarchies and white supremacist logic is Christ himself, the Judge, Liberator, and Reconciler.

Against this backdrop, my friend Daniel Jose Camacho has an excellent piece on Kuyper’s views on race and his doctrine of common grace that exemplifies the postcolonial virtue of ambivalence. Kuyper is an exemplar of a Christian who was politically involved in culture, but if we stop there, we fail to be truly objective, we don’t do his work justice, and neither are we extending grace to the colonized persons his writings and politics marginalized.  What Rieger refers to as the “Christological surplus” in colonial theologies, I prefer the term grace.  It is in the paradox of Law (Justice) and Grace (Freedom for others) that Christians must do theologies in conversation with society’s exiles, Scripture, and tradition.

Joel's Dream School: A College Dedicated to Ayn Rand

Our friend Joel is known for his very eager support for Ayn Rand‘s vision of the world, where selfish individuals and corporations with no checks at all run society (sorta like corporatism today).

Well now, once he graduates, there is a college teaching opportunity for him: Founders College in South Boston, Virginia. Complete with its own equestrian center, and an atmosphere that would not at all be hostile to Christian students who were home schooled.  With five dedicated professors advocating Objectivism, and 10 students, the campus looks to be promising.

The only problem is that it failed and closed down in 2009. Apparently the Virginia legislature would not help poor Founders College, leaving it all alone to pull itself up by its own bootstraps.  Maybe Joel can gather up some good Christians to help save Founders College; after all, Ayn Rand loved Christianity!

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Nancy Pelosi, Biblical Theologian?

Warning :this is not a Partisan attack  but An Adventure in “Kuperian” Christianity

Last week I posted on Abraham Kuyper and Woodrow Wilson.  I think they are the best examples I can give of persons who adhered to a brand of Reformed theology and global statism that is endemic of evangelical political practice.

There were a number of conservatives upset that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would invoke the name of Jesus (referring specifically) to John 1:1,18 while advancing her policy preferences.

You can see the video here!

Isn’t that exactly what many conservatives do as well?  Of course. A lot of Christians try to use Christ’s name in order to prove that God is on this side or that side. Jesus is used as a political puppet for our agendas.  But I refuse to refer to this a Constantinian Christianity, as many scholars have; rather, I would prefer KUYPERIAN Christianity, to avoid a polemic that has played itself out and has had more of historical implications here in the USA.

In the words of Baptist theologian Herschel Hobbs in the revised versions of E.Y. Mullin’s Axioms of Religion:

“Christ cannot be claimed as the special patron of any particular reform movement.”