The academic jargon and endless quotes get in the way of a simpler, more profound message that needs to be lifted out. . It is a thought-provoking and convicting read. . For the record, it disappointed me in general. He calls for a re-reading of the OT with Israel at the center and Jesus the fulfillment of Israel. . Most of this work I will need to think about and reread in the months to come before I can say what I have learned, not learned, etc. If I was to recommend one theology book to pastors and teachers to read right now, it would be this one. . Jennings later promotes an alternative understanding where Jew & Gentile unify within Christ, where chosen/not chosen are made irrelevant. Several instances of this follow below. This narration of its invention in Iberian Christian colonial expansionism needs to be weighed alongside J. Kameron Carter’s assignment of this responsibility to Kant (Race: A Theological Account [Oxford: OUP, 2008]) and other accounts (e.g., Ivan Hannaford, Race: The History of an Idea in the West [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996]). People and space were separated, and domination of whites over all was spurred on by selective hermeneutics. . Jennings provided a narrative of the theological origins of race steeped in rigorous academic thought. The point Jennings stresses is that “Christian theology and segregationalist mentalities” are firmly entrenched within “a style of imagining social reality” that is “diseased . is the basis of their ethical actions in the worlds of allegiances and kinships . £16.99/$27.50 (paper). It was formerly a print journal operated by RTSF/UCCF in the UK, and it became a digital journal operated by The Gospel Coalition in 2008. Sensitivity towards Outsiders: Exploring the Dynamic Relationship between Mission and Ethics in the New Testament and Early Christianity, The Global Public Square: Religious Freedom and the Making of a World Safe for Diversity. In this ambitious and wide-ranging work, Willie James Jennings delves deep into the late medieval soil in which the modern Christian imagination grew, to reveal how Christianity's highly refined process of socialization has inadvertently created and maintained segregated societies. Such exchanges would consider “the reconfiguration of living space that might promote more just societies,” which, if undertaken, would convey “a compelling new invitation to life together” (p. 294). We’d love your help. 293–94). He emphasizes the importance of land in the shaping of one’s identity and how moving away from that (displacement) is detrimental. And sadly, it only reveals how much steeper of an uphill climb the church has ahead of it to undue the problems of race. I dare say it would be impossible to read this and think about race the same way. If the invaded people are worshipers of the satan and controlled by satan, then they are to be overcome, not wooed into the Christian faith. Jennings' claims in his conclusion are laudatory and necessary, I just find the historical argument he builds so limited as to be unconvincing and his prose heavily theory laden, repetitive, and tedious. To recapture a vision “more faithful to the God whose incarnate life established and establishes the contours, character, and content of Christian theology” (p. 10), “place” is thematized to reconstruct separatistic modernist schemes (racial, ethnic, and national identities) by way of Christology. In Jennings’s explication of the story of Jesus and Israel, “Jesus did not seek to destroy kinship, to undermine its defining power rooted in story, memory, and cultural practice. Historically, “race” took distinctive forms in differing locales; it thus admits of more than one construal and method of analysis. This is a deep read and unfortunately would be unapproachable for many people not familiar with the language of academic Christian theology, which is a shame because the arguments. There were amazing vistas, confounding paths, and heart-breaking valleys. Retelling the stories of Christian missions in Latin America, South Africa, England, and in the slave fields of North America, Jennings asserts that identity, land, and race are intricately connected and by displacing people from their land, they robbed them of identity. This book's description suggests that it has historical analysis as a major component, but the introduction makes clear that it won't, in favor of theological reflections. Beginning with a discussion of Christian missions work in South Africa, Latin America, North America, etc., Jennings sets out a foundation for understanding the conception of race based on identity, land, and race — ultimately highlighting their inextricability. "—Edward J. Blum, Journal of Religion Theologically, Jennings contends, this process depended upon late medieval European Christians’ use of a supersessionist hermeneutic, enacted, e.g., in the culmination of the Reconquista in fifteenth-century Spain. The “Christian-colonial way of imagining the world” (p. 209) ultimately expresses “loss of [the Christological] horizon and embodiment” of Christian doctrine (p. 106). Also a difficult read because he doesn't set out his thesis and then, point by point, explain how he is going to argue it, and then do it. This is a profound work which brings together history, Christian missional thinking and systematic theology to examine the way accommodation of slavery and the colonization of the new world demonstrated a deformation in the imagination of Christians with respect to people and land driven by the commodification of both. In the past 8 years since The Christian Imagination was released, I have seen a diverse group of Christians say that this is the most influential theology book of the last decade. ISBN: 9780300171365. Until we do, all theological discussions of reconciliation will be exactly what they tend to be: (a) ideological tools for facilitating negotiations of power; or (b) socially exhausted idealist claims masquerading as serious theological accounts. The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race by Willie James Jennings. “The concept of reconciliation is not irretrievable, but I am convinced that before we theologians can interpret the depths of the divine action of reconciliation we must first articulate the profound deformities of Christian intimacy and identity in modernity. It also points to possible cures to the disease so elegantly diagnosed." . Practically, broader conversations are required—between academic disciplines; “between those deeply involved in the formation of space and those concerned with identity formation;” and “between Jews and Christians” (pp. Throughout the 15th to the 19th centuries Christians of European dissent are following in Acosta’s footsteps and are not even sure that non-Europeans can hear the gospel message, both because they are not sure if non-Europeans are fully human and if they are fully human if they are worshipers of satan. Jennings provided a narrative of the theological origins of race steeped in rigorous academic thought. Very little preview and summary. A friend suggested this book to me as I began anew to think about race (as many have) in the midst of the renewed conversations about race in the wake of unspeakable tragedies involving the loss of life in the Black community in America this year. While a difficult and painful book as it recalls stories of horror and evil, this is essential reading for those who wish to look critically at the understanding of race that we have inevitably received. Currently my favorite book on theology and race, "The Christian Imagination" does a masterful job of showing how Christianity is made synonymous with the work and logic of colonialism. The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (Paperback) By Willie James Jennings. He emphasizes the importance of land in the shaping of one’s identity and how moving away from that (displacement) is de. The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race: Jennings, Willie James: Amazon.sg: Books No Comments. . The idea that (white) Christians are the New Israel, meaning that Christians become the chosen ones as Israel was in the Old Testament, moved European nations to see themselves as having divine right and thus divine obligation to subjugate the "heathen" particularly those of color. "Detailing the nooks and crannies of white supremacist Christianity, The Christian Imagination allows not only for greater sophistication when considering race and theology. This book is not an easy read for multiple reasons. Each has been well-written, provocative, and original. A third point of exploration is how the concept of providence and lack of empathy and viewing of Native Americans or Africans as fully human allowed Europeans to view colonialism as providential blessing from God. . Capitalism + colonialism = commodification, specifically as it relates to racialized bodies. in the kind of community imagined—its scope, character, and materiality. 248–49): A Christian doctrine of creation is first a doctrine of place and people, of divine love and divine touch, of human presence and embrace and of divine and human interaction . This is a theological and anthropological tank of a book. Absolutely required reading for seminaries, in my opinion. A thoughtful and erudite historical and theological analysis of the interrelationships between racism, capitalism, and Christian theology. "He (Acosta, a theologian in Peru during early Spanish colonialism) calculates the dramatic increase in wealth to Spain and the church as irrefutable signs of the workings of God through them not just for the propagation of the gospel but also for the financing of wars against the enemies of Christianity.” Acosta and many other Christians did not see the death and destruction brought about by colonialism as harmful but a blessing. Jennings lays a clear and long-standing case for white racial bias being imbedded in Western Christianity. Unless one realizes it is interwoven, one will miss how challenging overcoming racism will be. In this reviewer’s perspective, his treatment of group identities assigns too high a value to land as such. This was a TOUGH read, in many ways. Jennings is inviting the reader to reconstruct our Christian Imagination in a way that rejects supersessionism, embraces the full humanity of all and the sibling relationship to all people in and outside of the church, and to reattach ourselves to the land and sustainable human sized practices. This is the third book in the last year that I have read about the entanglement between Christian theology and racism. Dr. “Race” belongs to the former, while Jennings’s appropriation of Christology is properly ecclesiological. A friend suggested this book to me as I began anew to think about race (as many have) in the midst of the renewed conversations about race in the wake of unspeakable tragedies involving the loss of life in the Black community in America this year. Jennings argues that a more properly developed and more biblical theology would have better resisted the drift toward colonialism and white supremacy. 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