Reviewed Elsewhere [Vol. 2, #49]

December 18, 2009


Favorite Books of 2009

David Fitch Reflects on
Soong-Chan Rah’s

For my money, J Kameron Carter’s (Professor of Theology and Black Studies at Duke Divinity School) Race: A Theological Account is the best book on the issue of race and the development of Western White Christianity. To grotesquely oversimplify, Kameron helps us see (through Foucault and others) how “race” was constituted by the West once the Roman church separated itself from the Jews (and the nation of Israel) in the first three centuries. In other words, once the church’s identity was no longer seen as an extension of the ONE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL, chosen for Mission to the world, and became in essence separated from the church of Jerusalem, race became a constituting factor in the church and it was an invention of the Western church to create all sorts of fleshly power relationships. If we would escape the cycle of race, we must escape the Western culture that shapes us by this concept of race. Rah is right about this. It is encoded in our language, our culture and the ways we relate in the Western church. It is part of democracy and part of capitalism. This is how deep Rah’s White Cultural Captivity goes. The question is, to what extent have the various ethnic churches now coalescing in America and indeed around the world, by their buying into capitalism and the great United States, become grafted into this same racist account of the world? And how do we all get out of it. We must deconstruct race as a constituting encoding of our very language and the way we think. Has Rah accomplished this in his book? Or moved us deeper into the ways race defines us? I seriously don’t know.

To my knowledge, the only ethnic group in N America able to call the church into diversity and out of white cultural captivity with a critical distance to prosperity-driven-capitalism-endorsing-Christianity, ARE THE NATIVE AMERICAN CHRISTIAN indigenous groups and their leaders that Rah talks about in his book (see here for instance). I know some of the leaders as friends, and frankly they have a reserve for buying into the American economic system (for obvious reasons) and yet have a love for Jesus Christ. For my money, these are the ones we should be looking to for leadership on this issue … but will we all listen?


Or our review of Kameron Carter’s RACE

The Next Evangelicalism:
Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity

Soong-Chan Rah.

Paperback: IVP Books, 2009.
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