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When you read theology, how many of the theologians are white men?

As a means to start diversifying our theological reading, here are 10 important books by non-white theologians. These books will undoubtedly open the gates to a host of works by other authors.

1. The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race by Willie James Jennings

 

Why has Christianity, a religion premised upon neighborly love, failed in its attempts to heal social divisions?  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.  A probing study of the cultural fragmentation—social, spatial, and racial—that took root in the Western mind, this book shows how Christianity has consistently forged Christian nations rather than encouraging genuine communion between disparate groups and individuals.

Weaving together the stories of Zurara, the royal chronicler of Prince Henry, the Jesuit theologian Jose de Acosta, the famed Anglican Bishop John William Colenso, and the former slave writer Olaudah Equiano, Jennings narrates a tale of loss, forgetfulness, and missed opportunities for the transformation of Christian communities.  Touching on issues of slavery, geography, Native American history, Jewish-Christian relations, literacy, and translation, he brilliantly exposes how the loss of land and the supersessionist ideas behind the Christian missionary movement are both deeply implicated in the invention of race.

Using his bold, creative, and courageous critique to imagine a truly cosmopolitan citizenship that transcends geopolitical, nationalist, ethnic, and racial boundaries, Jennings charts, with great vision, new ways of imagining ourselves, our communities, and the landscapes we inhabit.

 

2. The Black Christ by Kelly Brown Douglas

This compelling portrait of who Jesus is for the black community surveys the history of the Black Christ from the early slave testimonies to the writings of prominent religious and literary figures through the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.

 

3. Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology by Kwok Pui-lan

The burgeoning field of postcolonial studies argues that most theology has been formed in dominant cultures, laden intrinsically with imperializing structures. An essential task facing theology is thus to "decolonize" the mind and free Christianity from colonizing bias and structures. Here, in this truly groundbreaking study, highly respected feminist theologian Kwok Pui-lan offers the first full-length theological treatment of what it means to do postcolonial feminist theology. She explains her methodological basis and explores several specific topics, including Christology, pluralism, and creation.

 

4. Water Buffalo Theology by Kosuke Koyama

Water Buffalo Theology marked the emergence of a self-conscious Asian Christian theology, on the world scene when it was published in 1974. In this twenty-fifth anniversary edition, Koyama thoroughly updates the original, adding an retrospective introduction that records how he has changed his mind on many topics but maintained his position on others. In addition to eliminating several chapters, Koyama also adds one on his "pilgrimage in mission."

 

5. The Touch of Transcendence: A Postcolonial Theology of God by Mayra Rivera

How far away is God? How different is God from human beings? This is the theological question of transcendence, and theology has long struggled to find answers that affirm a human relationship with God. In this provocative new work, Mayra Rivera's answer is that God is not within human grasp but is always within human touch. With a strikingly relevant concept of God as transcendent within--transcendence different from the ideas of God as far away, as outside human life and experience, or as above the human plane of existence--Rivera concentrates on transcendence as a relationship and uses it to describe how humans can touch God. In doing so, she engages a number of theological movements, including liberation theology, Radical Orthodoxy, feminism, and postcolonialism.

 

6. Embracing the Other: The Transformative Spirit of Love by Grace Ji-Sun Kim

An innovative Asian feminist perspective on God's Spirit We live in a time of great racial strife and global conflict. How do we work toward healing, reconciliation, and justice among all people, regardless of race or gender? In Embracing the Other Grace Ji-Sun Kim demonstrates that it is possible only through God's Spirit. Working from a feminist Asian perspective, Kim develops a new constructive global pneumatology that works toward gender and racial-ethnic justice. She draws on concepts from Asian and indigenous cultures to reimagine the divine as "Spirit God" who is restoring shalom in the world. Through the power of Spirit God, Kim says, our brokenness is healed and we can truly love and embrace the Other.

 

7. Just a Sister Away by Renita Weems

The "Essence" bestselling author of "Listening for God" reveals the timeless connection between today's women and their biblical sisters--and how to live a better life because of it. Aimed specially at black Christian women but appropriate for all feminist readers, these reflective tales/essays by a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church focus on biblical women's relationships: sometimes exploitative (Sarah and Hagar), sometimes mutually supportive (Ruth and Naomi). Most feature third-person narrative cum analysis and close with discussion questions; others are first-person narratives, like the imaginary letter from Lot's wife to her daughters. All display feminist passion, sensitively rather than stereotypically expressed.

 

8. Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision by Randy Woodley

Materialism. Greed. Loneliness. A manic pace. Abuse of the natural world. Inequality. Injustice. War. The endemic problems facing America today are staggering. We need change and restoration. But where to begin?

In Shalom and the Community of Creation Randy Woodley offers an answer: learn more about the Native American 'Harmony Way,' a concept that closely parallels biblical shalom. Doing so can bring reconciliation between Euro-Westerners and indigenous peoples, a new connectedness with the Creator and creation, an end to imperial warfare, the ability to live in the moment, justice, restoration -- and a more biblically authentic spirituality. Rooted in redemptive correction, this book calls for true partnership through the co-creation of new theological systems that foster wholeness and peace.

 

9. The Sacrifice of Africa by Emmanuel Katangole

Emmauel Katongole is a Catholic priest from Uganda, born in 1960, who lived through the reign of Idi Amin and has seen the postcolonial struggles of his home country and its sub-Saharan neighbors — Rwanda, the Congo, Zimbabwe, Liberia, and others — up close and personal.

Looking at this region, ravaged by war, corruption, terror, genocide, and disease, Katongole wonders at length what difference Christianity makes — or could make — in numerous African nation-states. The Sacrifice of Africa argues that in the face of Africa’s social, political, and economic turmoil, a new future truly is possible, and displays how such a new future, inspired by Christian faith, looks.

 

10. A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutiérrez

This is the credo and seminal text of the movement which was later characterized as liberation theology. The book burst upon the scene in the early seventies, and was swiftly acknowledged as a pioneering and prophetic approach to theology which famously made an option for the poor, placing the exploited, the alienated, and the economically wretched at the centre of a programme where "the oppressed and maimed and blind and lame" were prioritized at the expense of those who either maintained the status quo or who abused the structures of power for their own ends. This powerful, compassionate and radical book attracted criticism for daring to mix politics and religion in so explicit a manner, but was also welcomed by those who had the capacity to see that its agenda was nothing more nor less than to give "good news to the poor", and redeem God's people from bondage.

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