Tuesday, October 24, 2017
The roots of racism
The latest paper in the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Theological Conversations is by Professor Hak Joon Lee of Fuller Theological Seminary titled Redeeming Covenant: A Critical Reflection on Puritan Covenant Theology, Democracy and Racism in the United States. This is brilliant theological essay which clearly and precisely helped me understand the theological foundations of "America's original sin": racism. And these foundations are firmly rooted in the Reformed Tradition's commitment to covenant theology. How do we understand the continuing power and attraction of racist and white nationalist ideology within a nation that has such a robust Christian history? Professor Lee's thesis is that we must understand the roots of racism within our Christian history itself, and specifically within the themes of covenant theology which have been influential in our Reformed Tradition all the way back to the Puritans of New England.
I am copying here from the concluding section of this important essay:
"Covenant theology has played a morally ambiguous and contradictory role in American political, religious and social history. In a certain sense, the idea of covenant symbolizes the best and the worst aspects of the United States. Perhaps, the gap between the universal inclusiveness of the covenant of Christ and the Puritans' practice of racism discloses the fractures within the soul of America."
The web address to the essay is here: