A week ago at this time I was somewhere over the Rockies on my way to Chicago and the Symposium on the Theological Interpretation of Scripture at North Park Theological Seminary. The three days at North Park were full and lively, with several great sessions on the topic of Race and Racism. Eventually the papers will be published in the annual journal Ex Auditu from Pickwick Publications, hence my presence there. Below you will find a teasing excerpt from each of the main papers. Keep in mind these are pulled from larger essays and the essays themselves may undergo revision before they are published some time next Spring. The title of the presentation may not be the title of the published essay, and so because of this, I am only providing the speakers’ names. You can follow links to find out more about who they are, where they work, etc. Videos of all of the sessions of the symposium are here.
The very employment of racial concepts and categories, in the absence of critical historical awareness—using “race” terminology in unmarked, unqualified, and ultimately non-deconstructive ways—comprises a naive realism, and is evidence of the power of socialization—the extent to which the church and its teachers are still captive to a “false consciousness”—the positing of a racial scheme as value-neutral, substantive explanatory concepts, one that conceals its historical origins and essential logic as a classificatory scheme underwriting a stratified social order which secured dominance by assigning persons to newly created status groups to which the goods of society would be disparately allocated.
If the Cross is the Lynching Tree, and the lynchee is the Suffering Servant, then salvation for Americans rests upon their acknowledgment of our racist past, most exemplified in the mass terror lynchings of African Americans. The inability to see Christ as the first lynchee results not merely from a lack of information but a lack of faith. Yet those who see that Christ was lynched on a tree can claim, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed” (Isa 53:6).
The goal of allyship is not for people in privileged groups to be shamed, punished, or retaliated against, but to eliminate the conditions that dehumanize us all, to restrain evil in our midst, and to seek our common good. Each and every one of us needs to be able to see what and who have been previously invisible as we cautiously move towards inhabiting the kinds of relationships that give honor to the gospel, risking pain but persisting in our desire to build the Beloved Community.
By entering into the shared narrative of the Treaties as equals, the possibility exists for a shared identity that does not necessitate the eradication of identity. Instead it is an opportunity to embrace the past and be open to a future of walking together in the Creator’s land in a good way. Treaty functioning as a shared narrative allows for a re-envisioning of history and becomes a tool for healing.
Coming up from the turbulent waters of initiation is new life, indeed a white person with a white body can participate differently. Rising from the drowning, ascending from hell is a rejection of Caucasian as an identity marker. The word is drowned in the depths and will not return. The initiation is a participation in something other than whiteness currently understood. The journey to hell exposes the fullness of white privilege and supremacy practiced by white-followers of Jesus. The journey down discloses the full white consciousness. The pain, misery, and shame that will occur to a white body that enters hell will emerge from the depths out of breath and seeking help from divine participants who are image-bearers-of-many-hues.
Néstor Medina (old CV):
Since the middle of the twentieth century, hermeneutics has changed at a faster pace in great part because the Eurocentric character of theology, biblical scholarship, and philosophy has been challenged. Those other cultural groups previously absent from prevalent versions of Christian scholarship and theology brought forth critical new approaches to interpretation, which reclaim the role of gender, social location, racial-ethnic background, and cultural tradition in the biblical text, from its original production when it was written to its reading and interpretation in multiple settings today.
Are translations responsible to present ancient tensions in new ways to help “address” our contemporary concerns and conversations or should they translate what “they see,” which is always interrelated in complex ways with how translators view their own contemporary world. It is not only language that changes, however; perspectives, in this case, with regard to ethnic conflict also changes. So are translators responsible to present ancient tensions in new ways to “address” (indirectly) contemporary conflicts?
Because [Onesimus was not a Christian in the house of a Christian master] is ignored as an exegetical and theological issue, the impact of the conversion of Onesimus is lessened. Instead great emphasis is given to Philemon’s benevolence and the return of a wayward slave. . . . This is both a distorted and limited reading of the letter. In my reading of Philemon, exclusion and its role in the unconverted condition of a house slave is an important theological issue. I believe that Onesimus departed and was not a Christian because of Philemon’s practice of selective inclusion. In this sense, the conversion of Onesimus serves as an indictment against Philemon and the church. In addition, the return of Onesimus as a Christian takes on a different kind of significance that what is argued by slave-flight interpreters.