Theology and Race

Authored by: Willie James Jennings

The Routledge Companion to Modern Christian Thought

Print publication date:  March  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782173
eBook ISBN: 9780203387856
Adobe ISBN: 9781136677922

10.4324/9780203387856.ch68

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Abstract

Since the latter half of the twentieth century many Christian theologians have begun to realize that race is a crucial reality for their work. Such realizations have not yet begun to shape how we narrate the history of Christian thought, or how we form Christian intellectuals, or even how we present Christian ideas. However, race has emerged not only as an object of study for theology but also as a means through which to analyze conceptual frames, to examine various subjectivities, and to consider processes of subject formation, of both collectives and individuals. Race is, however, not a new method for the study of theology, nor is it a new theoretical challenge to theology as an intellectual enterprise. Race marks a moment when Christian intellectuals might begin afresh to think through more substantial aspects of Christian identity. In this regard, race studies, along with gender studies, potentially makes possible a freer space within which theology might explore its collaboration with formations of identity in modernity. There are at least three aspects to the new possibility created by race studies. First, it opens up more comprehensive ways of grasping the modern condition of theology. Second, it allows for sustained analysis of the relation of whiteness to theology. Third, it brings into sharper focus the intellectual ecologies within which academic theology is performed.

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