Re-membering Christian imagination

/ 22 June 2016

One of my favorite contemporary theologians is Willie James Jennings. We have been privileged to have him speak at the Religious Education Association conference, and at Luther. I continue to return to his book The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, for his trenchant analysis of the heart of Christianity and the ways in which Christians have so often walked away from it, rather than towards its mutuality, inclusivity and deep love.

You can find excerpts, lectures and reviews of his work all over the web, but here are just a few quotes from that book:

(81) Detached from the land, oblivious to the ongoing decimation of native ecologies, deeply suspicious of native religious practices, and most important, enclosed within Iberian whiteness, the performance of Christian theology would produce a new, deformed, and deforming, intellectual circuit. (83) The faith that believes and the faith that is believed are tightly bound together, and the ambiguity of the new situation rests first in the believing subject but soon enters the content of faith. The inner coherence of traditioned Christian inquiry was grafted onto the inner coherence of colonialism. (106) Christianity is a teaching faith. It carries in its heart the making of disciples through teaching. Yet its pedagogical vision is inside its Christological horizon and embodiment, inside its participatio Christi and its imitatio Christi. The colonialist moment indicates the loss of that horizon and embodiment through its enclosure in exaggerated judgment, hyperevaluation tied to a racial optic. Pedagogical evaluation in the New World set the context within which the theological imagination functioned. Theology was inverted with pedagogy. Teaching was not envisioned inside discipleship, but discipleship was envisioned inside teaching.